Posts Tagged 'John'

Jesus Is Alive!

 

kcaco

John 19:28 – 20:31

John was a master in using ironic phrases, especially in his buildup to the Crucifixion.  For example, Jesus referred to this event as “the time of His glorification.”  What an ironic way to describe the way He was going to die!

John also devoted more time describing in minute detail the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion than the other Gospel writers.  We can learn a lot about the Crucifixion from reading what John wrote, and we can also learn a lot about God’s eternal purposes in how he wrote it.

1.      Jesus died and was buried, John 19:28-30; 38-42

(a)  The Lamb of God, 19:28-30

Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures said, Im thirsty.  A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so a sponge was soaked in it and put on a hyssop branch and held up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, It is finished, and bowed his head and dismissed his spirit.  (John 19:28-30 TLB)

Only John gives us the very profound theological background for Jesus’ words, “I’m thirsty.”  It’s remarkable to contemplate, but even in His last few moments of life, Jesus was fully aware of His mission and completely dedicated to its completion.  The word “finished” in verse 28 refers to the “perfect completion of the whole prophetic image.”  With the utmost care and attention to detail, Jesus carried out His mission on Earth for man’s good and His Father’s glory.  It reminds us of what Jesus had  prayed just a couple of chapters earlier:

I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to.  (John 17:4 TLB)

But not only was Jesus fulfilling His mission, He was also fulfilling Scripture, specifically Old Testament symbolism.  The use of the “hyssop branch,” for example.  The hyssop was used in certain Passover observances in memory of Exodus 12:22, where it was used like a paint brush, painting and sprinkling blood around the doors of Jewish homes.  In John’s Gospel, Jesus is referred to both as the Lamb and the door!  The Jewish Passover was perfectly fulfilled in the sacrifice of the true Paschal Lamb.

In verse 30, Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished.”  What was finished?  His earthly life, certainly was finished, but the word He used, tetelestai, refers to the absolute completion of His job on earth.  This expression has been interpreted in various ways:  a cry of relief, a cry of painful anguish, or a shout of victory.  Given the stress in John’s Gospel on the fact of Jesus’ control of all the events we’re reading about, the last interpretation seem best.  “It is finished” was Jesus’ cry of absolute victory.  This was, as some scholars have noted, the last report of Jesus from earth to His Father in Heaven.  IT IS FINISHED!  was the Victor’s cry, not a victim’s whimper.  Jesus, remarkably, remained in complete control of Himself and events until He gave up His life.

(b)  Compassionate religious leaders, 19:38-42

Together they wrapped Jesus body in a long linen cloth saturated with the spices, as is the Jewish custom of burial.  (John 19:40  TLB)

In another ironic twist, all of Jesus’ disciples had fled the scene.  It was two of Jesus’ “secret disciples,” Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, who worked together to prepare Jesus’ body for proper burial, which in the Middle East, takes place within 24 hours after death.  Had these two religious leaders not intervened, Jesus’ body would have been tossed into a common grave, along with the other two who had been crucified with Jesus. 

Joseph of Arimathaea was a wealthy man and member of the Sanhedrin.  Luke gives us this insight:

Then a man named Joseph, a member of the Jewish Supreme Court, from the city of Arimathea in Judea, went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He was a godly man who had been expecting the Messiahs coming and had not agreed with the decision and actions of the other Jewish leaders.  (Luke 23:50-52  TLB)

Nicodemus, was also a member of the Sanhedrin, who first visited our Lord “by night,” suggesting there were other visits.  Both men were wealthy and both men were followers of Jesus.  How much did Nicodemus think of Jesus?  Apparently he brought enough spices to bury a king.

2.   Jesus rose from the dead, John 20:1-8; 19-20

The accounts of Jesus’ Resurrection differ from Gospel to Gospel, each emphasizing a different aspect of the event.  But no Gospel gives details about the three-day interval between His death and Easter morning. 

(a)  An empty tomb, verses 1-5

Then Simon Peter arrived and went on inside. He also noticed the cloth lying there, while the swath that had covered Jesus head was rolled up in a bundle and was lying at the side. Then I went in too, and saw, and believed that he had risen.  (John 20:6-8  TLB)

If the biography of Jesus had ended at chapter 19, Jesus’ would have been just another religious leader; a man of exceptional character whose teachings changed lives and whose sincerity could never be questioned.  Every biography of every human being ends in their death. But the story of Jesus was far from over.

John may have hesitated entering the tomb of Jesus, but Peter had no problem barging ahead of his friend.  What they saw was startling.  No wonder John wrote that he “believed that he had risen.”  In all, there were three convincing proofs:

   The stone was rolled away.

   The grave clothes were  now lying in a neat pile;

   The body of Jesus was gone.

At this point, John had not seen the risen Lord, but he believed.  The word used, episteusen, means John simply made up his  mind.  It was a real step of faith, especially in light of verse 9:

 ...for until then we hadnt realized that the Scriptures said he would come to life again!  (TLB)

Right now, they believed the evidence of their own eyes, but they didn’t grasp the teachings of the Scriptures in this regard.  But what Scripture or Scriptures does this verse refer to?  We may only offer an educated guess.  On the Day of Pentecost, Peter delivered his amazing sermon and quoted Psalm 16:10–

For you will not leave me among the dead; you will not allow your beloved one to rot in the grave. (TLB)

For these two men, John and Peter, the real truth of the Resurrection of Christ was just beginning to dawn on them.  They didn’t possess the full revelation, but they knew enough to know something miraculous had just happened!

(b)  A holy encounter, verses 19, 20

That evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors, in fear of the Jewish leaders, when suddenly Jesus was standing there among them! After greeting them, he showed them his hands and side. And how wonderful was their joy as they saw their Lord!  (TLB)

This is actually the third appearance of Jesus after He rose from the dead.  John does not record the appearances to Peter and to the men on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).  This visit of Jesus to the group of disciples was of vital importance because, though they believed a miracle had taken place, they were still filled with fear.  They had almost been arrested in the Garden, they were under suspicion, and they were without Jesus, the Leader they depended on.

The doors were shut and locked, but that didn’t  keep Jesus out!  His first words indicated He knew exactly what these people needed at this moment in time:  Peace.  But really, what this group of frightened believers needed most of all was Jesus Himself.  To prove to them that He was the genuine article, Jesus showed them His wounds and the result was “joy.”  The people were filled with joy.

3.  Jesus is Lord and God, John 20:24-31

The Resurrection was and remains a life-changing and world-changing  event.  But even it wasn’t the end of the story.  The Resurrection was more than just Jesus coming back to life; there was a meaning and a purpose behind it.  The disciples needed more than just to know Jesus had come back to life; they needed to know the meaning behind the event:  His continued ministry on Earth IN them.

(a) Doubting Thomas, verses 24-28

Thomas was absent when Jesus visited the other disciples in verses 19 and 20.  Why he wasn’t there is obvious:  he was a doubter, so what was the point in meeting together as though Jesus were alive?  Obviously their leader was dead, so why keep the band of followers together?  As far as Thomas was concerned, people didn’t return to life and Jesus was dead.  The hopeful thought that Jesus might have been the Messiah was just that:  a thought.  And this is why Jesus had to come and see Thomas.

 “I wont believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his handsand put my fingers into themand place my hand into his side.  (verse 27  TLB)

Only John records this visit.  It may be unfair to nickname Thomas “Doubting Thomas,” because all the disciples had their doubts.  Maybe a better nickname would be “Pessimistic Thomas,” or “Thomas, the Dark Cloud.”  He was a practical man that leaned toward being pessimistic.  The events of the last few days simply confirmed his worst fears. 

Thomas should have been with the other believers – doubts and pessimism aside – the night Jesus visited the group.  Instead of fellowship, he chose to be by himself and that was a big mistake.  Fortunately for him, Jesus cut Thomas some slack.  A week later, Jesus appeared to Thomas and that visit must have scared Thomas witless! 

Then he said to Thomas, Put your finger into my hands. Put your hand into my side. Dont be faithless any longer. Believe!  (verse 28  TLB)

Jesus’ direction to Thomas shows that Jesus knew what Thomas had said to his friends even though He was nowhere around!  

This visit to Thomas teaches us some very important things about the Christian life. First, whether we like it or not, Jesus is always around us.  He hears what we say. He knows what’s in our hearts.

And second, there are levels of faith; we aren’t all the same and our faith changes.  There are those believers who depend on seeing with their eyes before they believe.  Their salvation is real, but Christians like this are missing out on the blessedness that comes to those who believe in Jesus AND  in what He can do for them beyond saving them.  Christians that depend on what they see are limited in their experiences with God because they unknowingly limit God.  But those who believe in Jesus AND see Jesus as actively involved in their lives open themselves up to wonderful, limitless spiritual vistas.  Such was the case with Thomas.  In a life-changing encounter, Jesus showed the skeptic how involved He could be in a believer’s life!  Jesus proved to Thomas that He knew what Thomas had told His friends and then paid him a personal visit to encourage the man’s faith.  There could be no doubt any more that not only had Jesus risen from the dead, but that He was somehow more than just alive.  He was divine.

(b)  Stunning proclamation, verse 29

Then Jesus told him, You believe because you have seen me. But blessed are those who havent seen me and believe anyway.  (verse 29  TLB)

Sight is important, but it isn’t everything.  It was important for His disciples to “see” who He was.  Through miracles and the Resurrection, His disciples believed because they “saw” these things.  This included Thomas.  But the main part of this verse is what comes after because Jesus is referring to the many future believers who would manifest saving faith in spite of never having seen Jesus perform a miracle or seen Him in His Resurrected state. 

Even though this isn’t the very end of the Gospel, it is the climax because it shows Jesus as truly divine for His appearance elicited a profession of faith from the disciples, including Thomas.  It shows Jesus as victorious over death and the grave; sin and sorrow; doubt and fear.  In the experience of Thomas, John shows how faith can grow into maturity and how that growth can change the direction of a single life.

Jesus:  the most remarkable Man who ever lived.  And died!  And lived again!  Had He remained in the tomb the world would barely have noticed Him.  But the tomb couldn’t hold Jesus.  He rose from the dead.  Because of the Resurrection, redemption had been made available to all who call upon His Name.

Jesus: The True Vine

 

A vineyard in Israel

A vineyard in Israel

John 15:1-27

Jesus is known many different ways throughout the Gospels.  He’s the Light, the Life, the Gate or Door, and the Good Shepherd.  These are all apt and wonderful ways of describing our Lord; they help us understand the nature of His character and His work.  The metaphor of the Vine and the branches is not so much a description of Jesus than it is a way to consider discipleship – the relationship between Christ and His people.

Throughout the New Testament there is the basic requirement of all believers:  to be IN Christ.  This is not an option; we are to abide in Christ.  But what does this really mean?  What it does NOT mean is that we lose our identities when we become disciples of Christ. We do not dissolve into God’s cosmic consciousness like a drop of water in the ocean.  That’s Buddhism, not Christianity!  In fact, for Christians the exact opposite is true:  we find ourselves in Christ!  It’s like the person we are deep down inside is set free, and it is only as we remain IN Christ that we become the kind of person God intends for us to become.

1.      A vine has branches, John 15:1-6

It’s an odd fact while Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record Jesus’ last night on Earth in amazing detail, John, the most intimate Gospel of all, leaves out what might be the most important event of that night:  the Last Supper!  John, who wrote his Gospel after the other three, was probably well aware of their content and felt it necessary to record something else:  a vital teaching on discipleship.

(a) Products of the Word, verses 1-3

This is a masterful teaching that blends reality and figure so perfectly that a correct interpretation is possible without having guess at what Jesus was saying.  It’s also a teaching as old as the Old Testament (see Isaiah 5; Psalm 80; Jeremiah 2, for examples), so the disciples would have been familiar with imagery.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.   He cuts off every branch in me  that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  (John 15:1-3 NIV84)

Jesus calls Himself  the “true vine.”  The Greek word used here is alethino, which properly means “genuine.”  Jesus is “genuine vine” as opposed to a counterfeit vine.   Jesus’ purpose in His use of alethino is clear:  it is not Jewish blood or adherence to a particular set of doctrines that results in salvation but rather simple faith in Him.  For the disciples with their deep-seated Jewish concepts, what Jesus said was truly revolutionary:  Israel (or the Jewish faith) is NOT the true vine, HE IS.  These disciples needed to understand that the most important thing for them from now on was to be “related” to Jesus, the genuine vine, not the plastic vines of their heritage. 

The Heavenly Father is the one who “tills the ground,” or “tends the vine.”  This is important and almost never preached on.  Why is the mention of the gardener so important?  It’s because of what he does, which is revealed in verse 2.  You don’t have a vineyard for no reason; there is a purpose:  a vineyard is supposed to produce fruit.  The gardener’s job is to tend the vine; to cultivate healthy, quality branches that produce fruit.  Sometimes this job involves skillfully removing branches that don’t produce any fruit.  Jesus may have had mind Judas when He said this.  As the saying goes, “one bad apple spoils the bunch.”  A fruitless branch – a Christian who professes Christ but refuses to bear fruit – weakens the whole plant – the Body of Christ.

Branches – believers – that are producing fruit, the gardener – God – prunes, or encourages to bear even more.  This a powerful statement of how God works in believers to keep them clean or pure.  This cleansing in the life of the disciples was the result of “the Word” Christ spoke to them.  It was belief in His Word that justified them, but this cleansing was effected at Pentecost and it is the presence of Christ in the life of the believer today in the Person of the Holy Spirit that cleanses them.  It’s sanctification, the process of becoming Christ-like.  We are justified by the Word and sanctified by the Spirit.

(b)  Connectivity, verses 4-6

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  (John 15:4 NIV84)

The imperative, “remain in me,” with its corollary, “I will remain in you”  shows how close a relationship ought to exist between our Lord and believers.  It’s more than an attachment.  We are IN Him and He is IN us.  We are in Him by faith – our faith in Him – and He is in us by the Holy Spirit.  The evidence of this spiritual connectivity is that a believer will be bearing fruit.  If one who says to you they are a Christian yet you see no evidence of the corresponding fruit, you have to wonder what’s going on!   Jesus makes it so simple, and in fact, Christianity is simple, though not easy. 

There is a note of judgment in verse 6.  The one who does not remain in Jesus is in for trouble:

If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  (John 15:6 NIV84)

Notice what Jesus says and what He leaves out.  There is the possibility that a believer may not want to remain in Jesus but nowhere does Jesus say that He will leave Him.  Jesus cuts no one off; it’s all on us to remain in Him.  But what happens to these unfruitful branches?  In all, there are five stages:  he (singular) is thrown out; he (singular) is withered; they (plural) are gathered; they (plural) will be thrown them into the fire; they (plural) will be burned.   When a believer (a branch) separates himself inwardly, eventually he will be separated outwardly; he will be removed from among the body of believers (the fruitful branches).  The idea is that there exists the possibility that there will eventually be many such unfruitful branches.  And because there are so many stages between leaving the vine and being finally burned up, there is plenty of time for repentance and a change of heart.  This dark part of the allegory reminds us of Paul’s advice to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 5.  Here is how the Church is to deal with an unfruitful member:

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.  (1 Corinthians 5:11 NIV84)

2.  Remaining in the vine, John 15:7-15

(a)   Intimate prayer, verses 7, 8

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.   (John 15:7 NIV84)

Here, answered prayer is all but guaranteed if we remain in Jesus.  But, the key is that “His words remain in us.”  The beauty in intimate prayer is that when the Word is in us we will pray in accordance to that Word and God will never fail to fulfill that Word.   And verse 8 suggests an element of pride:

This is to my Fathers glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8 NIV84)

A fruitful vine is a source of pride to the gardener; a fruitful believer is the glory of God.  Here again is proof of discipleship; as believers produce fruit they “show” (prove) that they are true followers of Christ.

(b)  Joyful living, verses 9-11

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  (John 15:11 NIV84)

The secret to lasting “joy” is making sure that you are in Christ and knowing that He is in you.  But the beauty of verse 11 is two-fold.  First, how wonderful is that that our Lord wants us to be full of joy?  Jesus doesn’t want any of His followers to be dour or morose!  Second, the love of Jesus for us is not just a fact; we are meant to enjoy that love.  Jesus tells us that His love is in us and He tells us that so that we may experience FULL joy.  If the love of God in Christ completes our joy, we don’t need anything else!  He is enough.

(c)  The ultimate commandment, verses 12-15

All the things Jesus “commands” His followers to do may be reduced to one:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  (John 15:12 NIV84)

He’s said this before, but with the Cross so close, Jesus introduces a new element:  what real love looks like:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  (John 15:13 NIV84)

Jesus isn’t specifically referencing His upcoming crucifixion, but rather, this is depth of love believers should have for each other.  This is fullest manifestation of real love.  And, of course, in a short while, Jesus will show His disciples just how much He loved them.

3.  Produce fruit, John 15:16-21, 26-27

(a)  Fruit in spite of opposition, verses 16-21

Jesus had just called His disciples “His friends,” and in truth all believers are His friends.  The foundation of that friendship, though, is not that we are such great people that Jesus wants to be our good pal.  This friendship Christ has with us is not based on our merit or works.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruitfruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.   (John 15:16 NIV84)

Jesus specifically chose to be friends with us!  This is not to suggest that man does not have a free will, but to absolutely affirm that without Him, man is impotent.  And, in this case, Jesus is not referring to any kind of predestination to salvation, but rather the choice of who His friends would be.  If Christ chose us to be His friends, it follows that He has “appointed” or “ordained” us to produce fruit “that will last.”  It’s another corollary; it’s logical:  if you are a friend of Jesus, you will produce fruit.  Furthermore, it’s the fruit that is important, not the circumstances.  Even in a hateful and hate-filled world, Christians – friends of Jesus – are to be producing good fruit! 

Friendship with Jesus will result in the world hating you.  One follows the other.  This is not to say we should go looking for trouble or confrontations with unbelievers.  Generally speaking, the world will not be impressed with out love and our fruit for Jesus. 

(b)  The role of the Holy Spirit, verses 26, 27

The whole “vine-branch” analogy is a good news/bad news proposition.  The good news is obvious.  What could be better than being a friend to the Son of God?  The bad news is being a friend to the Son of God will make it difficult to live on Earth without facing some opposition to our faith.  To deal with that, Jesus offered this:

When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me.  And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.  (John 15:26-27 NIV84)

We won’t be going at this alone!  Producing fruit will not always be easy or even desirable, but Jesus personally takes care of this for us by giving us the “Counselor” or “Advocate”, the Holy Spirit.   He is also known as “the Spirit of truth,” in that what He says is always the truth.  The Holy Spirit “testifies” about Jesus truthfully, as we must also.  In a world that hates us, the Spirit testifies to them about their greatest need.  In the Church, He offers comfort.  Whenever a friend of Jesus opens his mouth to talk about Jesus – within the Church or without – it’s a work of the Spirit.  Whenever a believer by word or example points other to Christ, it’s a work of the Spirit.  The world will probably not receive the work of the Spirit, but we must never restrict the work.

In the night before His Crucifixion, the night Jesus had His last meal with His friends, He broke bread and drank wine.  It was natural to talk about “the vine” as a symbol of spiritual fruitfulness.    It was important for the disciples to NOT follow the example of Judas, but to remain in the Vine, in Christ, in His Word and in His love.  Jesus is the true vine – the genuine Vine.  Jesus lived an exemplary life, died in obedience, and arose in power.  In a word, Jesus’ work was FRUITFUL.  He expects that kind of fruitfulness from us.

Jesus: The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd would give His life for one lost sheep.

The Good Shepherd would give His life for one lost sheep.

John 10:1 – 29

That Jesus is “the Good Shepherd” is not a new idea.  Children learn about this in Sunday School.  It’s an enduring image of a Savior caring for white, fluffy, bleating sheep; protecting them from wild beasts; keeping them fed, warm, and secure.  But is there more to the figure of “the Good Shepherd” than we first thought?

In Scripture, context is everything.  While our English Bibles (the NIV in our study) insert a chapter break between the last verse of chapter 9 and the first verse of chapter 10, there is no break in the original.  In the new chapter, Jesus continues to speak to exactly the same group of people He was addressing in the previous chapter:  some disciples, some Pharisees, some Jews, and the man born blind, whom Jesus healed.  The last few verses of chapter 9 sets up Jesus’ teaching on “the Good Shepherd.”

Jesus said, For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.  Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, What? Are we blind too?  Jesus said, If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.  (John 9:39-41 NIV84)

What Jesus said here is really quite stunning, considering Jesus has said on numerous occasions that He did NOT come into the world to judge it, but to save the lost.  So what does He mean?  There are two types of people Jesus has in mind here.  First, the blind like the man born blind, whom He just healed.  His blindness was not caused by his actions – he was a “victim of circumstances” – he was literally born in blindness with no choice in the matter.  This kind of blind person, Jesus said, “will see.”  The second type of blind person is represented by the assembled Pharisees, who were willingly blind.  They claimed to see, but they were just as blind as the man born blind, only their blindness was spiritual.  This kind of blind person “will become blind,” or they can’t be helped because they don’t think they need help.  This kind of blind person has deluded himself into thinking he has great spiritual vision, so much so that he leads others who are blind, looking to be led.  In reality, these Pharisees were spiritually blind and were not really leaders or teachers as they portrayed themselves.   They were pseudo-leaders and pseudo-teachers who did more damage than good.

Against these “false shepherds” is “the Good Shepherd,” Jesus.

1.  Jesus leads and saves, John 10:1 – 10

(a)     The genuine Shepherd, verses 1, 2

I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.  The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.   (John 10:1-2 NIV84)

These two verses constitute a mashal – a parable – and even though it is very brief, it is powerful.  The image is that of a sheep pen; a fenced-in yard where the sheep spend the night.  During the day they are led out to pasture.  But the important part of this mashal is not the sheep pen and not the sheep but the two men:  the one who sneaks into the sheep pen and the one who enters the sheep pen the correct way – through the door.  The first man is not a good man, he’s a “thief and a robber,” while the second man is a good man, he’s the shepherd.

Knowing the context makes the parable clear.  A thief is a person who is determined to take another’s private property and a robber is one who uses violence to get the goods.  Of course this first person would never go through the front door because it’s locked at night and it has a door-keeper.  Therefore, this nefarious man will climb over the fence to get what he wants.  This is what the Pharisees were doing. They were hostile to Jesus and they were cheating!  They were trying to sway the people of Israel by tricking them into thinking they (the Pharisees) were great and caring spiritual leaders.  They used intimidation and threats to keep “their people” from leaving them to follow Jesus.  Therefore, the Pharisees were thieves and robbers.

Over against them is Jesus, who had been appointed by God the Father and sent from Heaven to be the Good Shepherd.  He goes in and out of sheep pen through the door.  He doesn’t have to be sneaky with the sheep.  He has no reason to trick them.  They belong to Him!

(b)  The guiding Shepherd, verses 3 – 5

The mashal is over, but Jesus goes on and expands it so as to make His meaning crystal clear.  During the night, the true shepherd has been by his sheep.  He has slept near by, guarding them.  He knows each sheep and each sheep knows him.  He spends so much time with the sheep that they recognize everything about their shepherd; they know how he walks, where he goes, and the sound of his voice.  They’ll follow their shepherd anywhere because they know him and they have come to trust him.  Jesus is describing how real sheep are, but He is also describing how true disciples are.  Jesus, as “the Good Shepherd,” personally knows those who are following Him; those He has saved.

When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.   But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a strangers voice.   (John 10:4-5 NIV84)

There’s an exclusiveness about being a member of Jesus’ flock.  There is ONE voice we hear.  There is ONE Shepherd we follow.  There is ONE direction we go.  This kind of message may not go over well in our PC-charged age, but it is the way life in the Kingdom is supposed to be.  This  kind of Christ-centered life virtually guarantees one’s protection from heresy and backsliding.  If Christ is your focus, everything else blurs.  The Christian, like true sheep, must continually orient their lives around Christ, the true Shepherd.

(c)  The saving Shepherd, verses 6 – 10

The Pharisees had no clue what Jesus was talking about.  Even though Jesus, the master mashal teller, used an Old Testament analogy, these so-called experts in the Scriptures failed to grasp the truth.  As the old saying goes, “There is none so blind those who will not see.”  The Pharisees, and all those listening who did not understand the meaning of Jesus’ teaching, were literally proving the truthfulness of it!

Therefore, Jesus takes another stab at them.  This time, he doesn’t retell the mashal, He amplifies it.

Therefore Jesus said again, I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.   All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.”   (John 10:7-8 NIV84)

Again we see just how exclusive the way of faith is.  Christ is the way to Christ.   We live in a day when people who live moral and ethical lives and who say they believe in God are called “Christians.”  No, a Christian is one who knows who Christ is, who listens to Christ, and who follows Christ.  Throughout human history, men have come with wise teachings and helpful sayings claiming they had the keys to heaven, yet even the teachings of Moses had been perverted by the Pharisees as though they were life-giving and life-saving.  Not so, says Jesus.  The way to Christ is only by way of Christ!  The way to obtain eternal life is to become a sheep of the Great Shepherd.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  (John 10:10 NIV84)

The work of “the thief,” who we know represents the Pharisees or the religious elite is starkly contrasted with the work of Jesus, “the Good Shepherd.”  The work of one party is the polar opposite to the other!  Even though the Pharisees looked like the real article, the work of Jesus and the ensuing result shows the truth:  He brings life, and that shows how phony the Pharisees really were.

2.  Jesus lays down His life, John 10:11 – 18

Jesus makes His teaching even simpler for the dull-witted Pharisees to grasp.  These verses contain some of the most beautiful claims Jesus ever made about Himself.

(a)     The dedication of the Shepherd, verses 11 – 13

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  (John 10:11 NIV84)

The character of the true shepherd, the Good Shepherd, is illustrated by Himself.  The Greek looks a little different than its English translation:

I am the shepherd, the good one.

It’s the adjective that’s important.  Jesus isn’t just a Shepherd, He’s the GOOD one!  But the Greek word used for “good” really means excellent.  Jesus, then, is the Excellent Shepherd!  In every way, Jesus’ character is that of the absolute best shepherd that could possibly exist.

How excellent is His character?  It’s so excellent that not only does Jesus care for His sheep and watch over them constantly, but He would even die for them if need be.  Jesus would give up His own life for the benefit of His sheep, He cares for them so much.   In this statement we have a very basic definition of the Atonement:  Jesus would die only for His sheep. In a sense, the great Atonement wrought at the Cross is only for the benefit of the sheep – the true followers of Christ.

But the point of these three verses is to show how dependable the Good Shepherd is.  A hireling may abandon the sheep if confronted with danger, but not the Good Shepherd!  He’s so excellent He would step in harm’s way to protect His sheep.

(b)  The reach of the Shepherd, verses 14 – 16

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Fatherand I lay down my life for the sheep.  (John 10:14-15 NIV84)

Jesus here repeats what He has previously said and emphasizes a number of points.  First, with Jesus, it’s always personal.  He knows His sheep, and they know Him.  This implies that the Pharisees, the false shepherds, were really strangers.  They didn’t really know the sheep and the sheep didn’t know them.

Second, note the sheep belong to the Good Shepherd.  He isn’t tending somebody elses’ herd, He owns each and every sheep in the pen!  No wonder He knows them so well.

Third, Jesus knows His followers as well as the Father knows Him and He knows the Father.  Not only does this show an intimate, personal relationship, but it also describes the kind of knowledge Jesus has:  it’s love.  He doesn’t just know us, He loves us.  That’s the kind of relationship that exists between the Father and the Son and that’s precisely the kind of relationship that exists between Jesus the Good Shepherd and us, the sheep.

But, it goes ever farther.  Look at the scope  or the reach of the Good Shepherd:

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.  (John 10:16 NIV84)

The other sheep refer, not to Mormons, but to the future Gentile believers of His day and to future believers yet unborn,!  They all belong to Jesus.  He knows who they are and who they will be.  The foreknowledge of the Good Shepherd is flawless.

God’s love is not just for some, but for all, John 3:16.  Yes, God loves the world, but only some in the world will become part of the great flock.

The voluntary, self-giving nature of Jesus’s sacrifice is given as a kind of climax in His own interpretation of this wonderful mashal:

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my lifeonly to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.  (John 10:17-18 NIV84)

The love that exists between the Father and the Son and the self-giving of the Son are so bound together they cannot be separated.  In Christian circles, we often sing hymns or hear Gospel songs that tell us it was out of love for US that Jesus died.  That may be true to an extent, but Jesus did what He did on the Cross because of the great love He had (has) for His Father.

Jesus is very forceful when He speaks of His upcoming death as being His choice and His choice alone.  The enemies of Christ won NO victory when they crucified Him and the followers of Christ need not despair as if He was defeated.

Jesus was always in control of the events leading up to the Cross and beyond.

The death and resurrection of our Lord were not experiences, but deeds.  They were not things that happened to Jesus that He made the best of.  They were deeds of perfect obedience and love – love for His Father and, yes, love for the lost.  It was Jesus’ right to lay down His life.  It was His right to lay it down and also to take it again.  Jesus in these statements reveals that He is, in every sense of the word free.  He is free to do as He wills, within the bounds of His Father’s will.  We humans speak of freedom, but Jesus alone experiences it to the fullest.

It’s little wonder the religious leaders of the day  hated Jesus so much.  Not only did His teachings challenge the status quo, but Jesus was living a life they could only dream of living.  Bound by endless rules and regulations, the Pharisees were locked in a religious prison they themselves made.  But Jesus, as the only truly free Man ever, was free to live and to die – and to live again –  because He chose to.

Jesus: The Light of the World

Two lights in the darkness

Two lights in the darkness

JESUS:  LIGHT OF THE WORLD

As dark as our post-modern society has become, we Christians have no concept how dark the world was when Jesus was born.  Rome was at the height of its power and upon his death, Caesar Augustus was declared to be a god.  For the Jews, their association with the Roman Empire gave them peace and security at the cost of their freedom due to burdensome taxation.  Their religion became an extension of the Roman government, with high priests being appointed by that government.  Worship services became excuses for even more taxation.

Yes, things were worse than bleak when Jesus came into the world.  No wonder He was called “the light of the world!”  But how was Jesus “the light?”

1.  The light revealed, John 1:4—9; 12

In the stunning prologue to his Gospel, John introduces its main themes:  word, life, light, John the Baptist, children of God, the Incarnation, the Law, and grace.  The concept of “light” is the subject of verses 4—9.

(a)  Shining in the darkness, verses 4, 5

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Word, Jesus Christ, is the source of life.  The way the word “life” is used here, it refers to the fullest life possible; the highest life that may be attained by any human being.  All human beings have life in the sense that they are living beings.  John is not referring to this life, although it is true that all living beings come into existence by a creative act of the Word.  The context demands that the life in the Word, the life the Word gives human beings, is the blessed life of God; it’s a gift to believers from the Word.

This life, John says, is the “light of all mankind.”  What does that phrase mean?  The Word, Jesus, is God’s personal revelation to all people.  It is personal in the sense that the light proceeds from God and is directed to man.   The purpose of the light was (is) spiritual in nature.  The sun also produces light, and man is able to see and work in the light.  We all know how beneficial physical light is.  In the spiritual realm, Jesus’ life and light is just as beneficial and they go hand-in-glove:

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.  (Psalm 36:9 NIV)

The purpose of the light is to enlighten man; to teach man the truth of God.  The truth of God is not just intellectual in nature; it is life-giving.  The truth of God affects man’s whole being, spiritual and physical.  Everything about life is made better when one possesses the life that proceeds from Christ, revealed to us by the light.

(b)  Shining in darkness, verses 6—9

The light points man to the life.  John the Baptist, wrote John the apostle, was like a “minor light,” pointing man to the true light, Jesus Christ.  In that sense, all believers are “minor lights,” because we are to point unbelievers to the light as John the Baptist did.

Verse 9 captures the universal nature of the true light:

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

God did not send His Son into the world for some, but for all!   Naturally, not all would receive that light, but some did.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…  (John 1:12 NIV)

Man, wandering around in the darkness searching for meaning to his life is able to, thanks to the light, find that meaning in the life that is in Christ, which He freely gives to those who ask.

(c)  A new temple, a new light  8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

When we note the context for this verse, it becomes even more powerful than it sounds on its own.  There was a sharp argument among the Jewish leaders that began in back in 7:25.  It was a heated “discussion” about Jesus, who was in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles.  At the start of this Feast, a large candelabra was lit in the busy Temple courtyard.  The Mishnah suggests that the light from those massive burning candles was so bright, it lit up the city.  The burning candles represented God, as the illuminating guide that directed the children of Israel in the desert.  Even as God was their guide then, so Jesus is the I AM of the present – illuminating, guiding and chasing away the spiritual darkness that engulfs, not just the Jews, but of “whoever follows” Him.

2.  Come to the light, John 3:19—21; 12:46—50

(a)  A choice that must be made, 3:19—21

Jesus had been speaking of judgment:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  (John 3:17  NIV)

He did not come into the world to judge it, but then we read in the very next verse:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  (John 3:18  NIV)

What was Jesus getting at here?  The answer is verse 19.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  (John 3:19 NIV)

“Judgment” depends, not on Jesus, but on the decision of people.  If all people loved Jesus and followed Him, there would be no judgment.  But because some men will stubbornly refuse to believe, judgment becomes necessary for them.  It’s man’s decision to make, though.  Man decides if he wants to be judged or not.  If he wants to be judged, then he will refuse to follow the Light.  But if man wants to avoid judgment, all he has to do if follow the light.  This is simplicity itself!

(b)  The finality of unbelief, 12:46—50

There is no cure for unbelief when a person makes up his mind to turn away from the light.

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.  (John 12:46  NIV)

To not follow the light that is Jesus is to remain in the darkness (of sin).  To reject Him is to choose the darkness of sin.  Jesus’ purpose of coming into the world—the Incarnation—was not to judge the world but to save the world from the judgment that is to come.  Our Lord wants desperately to save men, not destroy them!  But the offer of salvation demands a decision for or against the One making the offer.  To reject the offer is to reject Jesus Christ and that guarantees judgment.

3.  The light gives sight, John 9:1—7, 35—41

Chapter 9 opens with the healing of a man born blind.  While we believe this miracle really did take place, it also serves to illustrate in a practical way the spiritual state of all men:  they are born spiritually blind.  The giving of sight to this blind man is quite literally what the light of Jesus does for the spiritually blind.

(a)  A physical healing, verses 1—7

“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  (verse 2)

The disciples asked this question of Jesus regarding the blind man.  It revealed the Jewish belief of the day that the sins of the parents were visited upon their children.  It also reflects a bizarre notion held by some of Jesus’ time that a person could actually sin the womb or even in some previous existence!   The disciples were positive this man’s blindness was caused by someone’s sin.

Jesus took their ignorance as an opportunity, not to berate them for holding such ridiculous ideas, but to teach them the truth.  This blind man was not blind because any particular person sinned, causing this blindness as a sort of divine punishment.

Now, sometimes sinful conduct does result in the one sinning reaping awful consequences:

Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”  (John 5:14)

But this most certainly isn’t always the case.  Sin always produces unintended consequences in ways we may never fully realize in this life.  It’s not Jesus’ purpose to go into an in-depth treatment of that subject.  What He needed His disciples to know is the foolishness of trying link one’s present state to some sin way back in the past.  What they should have been doing is trying to discover what God’s will was; how God could use this man’s predicament for God’s glory.  In the broader scope, Christians need to understand there is a special, divine purpose in allowing suffering to come upon a person.

…“but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”  (verse 3 NIV)

In our vernacular, Jesus might have said this, “On the contrary, this man was born blind so that…”  The structure of the Greek makes it clear:  this man’s blindness was for the express purpose of a future event—so that all may see “the works of God” displayed in the blind man.  And the works of God certainly included the physical healing, but went way, way beyond merely giving sight to the blind!  The works of God are a manifestation of His grace and mercy to one in need.  According to Jesus, while the blind man would be the recipient of a great miracle, onlookers would receive something too:  God’s light would shine out from him making the works of God obvious for the spiritually blind to see.

(b)  A spiritual healing, verses 35—41

When the blind man received his sight, his whole life changed.  He literally moved from a life of darkness to a life full of light.  When he was confronted by the religious elite, we read one of the most humorous exchanges in the New Testament:

Then they hurled insults at [the formerly blind man] and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses!  We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”  The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.  If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”  (verses 28—33)

We know that this man knew Jesus came from God—he deduced it.  But he had never actually seen Jesus!  Jesus had told the man while he was blind to go away and wash his eyes and he would be able to see.  Having never seen Jesus, the once-blind man figured out on his own that whoever this man was, he must have come from God.

But then the greatest miracle happened when He met Jesus a second time with his eyes wide open:

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”  Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”  Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.  (verses 35—38  NIV)

He had been physically healed, but now he had been spiritual healed!  He was shown the light and that light led him to the Life that is Jesus, which our Lord in turn gave to Him.

This man’s “new life” wasn’t in word only, it was also in deed:  he confessed Christ, then he worshiped Him!

 

Jesus: The Son of God

The-Son-of-God-became-man-to-enable-men-to-become-sons-of-God

John:  Part Two

America is study of oddities.  For example, in 2004, 84% of Americans identified themselves as “Christians.”  What’s odd is that just 82% of that number believed Jesus to be the Son of God and only 79% believed in the Virgin Birth!  How odd indeed.  There is a definite disconnect between one’s claim to be a Christian and one’s belief in the most basic of Bible doctrines:  the divinity of Christ.

Part of the problem is a lack of teaching.  Far too many church-goers in America attend churches with little or no solid teaching.  Churches light on teaching may make good clubs or places for good fellowship, but they produce dismal Christians.  Another problem is that a lot of self-identified American Christians are self-taught; they attend no formal church.  There is a belief that anybody can grasp Bible doctrines; that theological education and training aren’t necessary.   Who needs a church or a pastor?  Of course, since these folk are self-taught, they obviously didn’t get to the verses teaching the necessity of regular church attendance or the fact the God gave the church pastors/teachers…

At any rate, what a Christian thinks of Jesus Christ is of the utmost importance.  Is He divine?  Is He human?  Or is He both?

1.  A great confession, John 1:45-51

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) all wait until the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry to bring out the truth of His divine nature.  John, however, places this truth at the very beginning in the form of a confession from one of the disciples.

(a)     Nathanael, the doubter, verses 45-48

At this juncture in John’s Gospel, Jesus decided it was time to move on, so He crossed over the Jordan and headed to Galilee.  During the journey, He found Philip, who would become the His latest apostle.  To Philip, Jesus simply said, “Follow me,” and he did just that.

Philip was one the Twelve that was consciously looking for the Messiah to come.  And he seemed to know Jesus was He.  Excitedly, the new apostle found Nathaniel, who was from Cana, to share the good news.  Looking at the order of the words spoken by Philip to Nathaniel, it becomes obvious that Nathaniel was going to be a hard sell.  Philip begins with a declaration that he has found the Messiah, and ends with the word “Nazareth,” which is the first word Nathaniel hears!

Nazareth! Can anything good come from there? Nathanael asked.Come and see, said Philip.  (John 1:46 NIV84)

 The two ideas – Messiah and Nazareth –  were to Nathaniel contradictory ideas.  “Nathaniel” means “gift from God” is and comparable to the Greek name “Theodore.”  Nathaniel was probably the “Bartholomew” of the Synoptics.  He was obviously well-versed in the Old Testament and believed that “nothing good ever came out of Nazareth.”  Fortunately for him, Philip was very insistent and didn’t give up.

(b)  Nathanael’s revelation, verses 49-51

Then Nathanael declared, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.  (John 1:49 NIV84)

 Philip’s invitation to Nathanael, “Come and see,” is really an invitation from Jesus Himself.  The exchange between Nathanael and Jesus is at first glance quite humorous:

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false. How do you know me? Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”  (John 1:47-48 NIV84)

Just what did that whole exchange mean?  Apparently, Nathanael had been sitting under a fig tree doing something.  But what?  Was he taking a nap?  The clue comes from what Jesus said in verse 51:

He then added, I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.  (John 1:51 NIV84)

That is clearly a reference to Jacob’s experience  at Bethel (Genesis 28:10-17).  Maybe Nathanael had been sitting beneath the shade of the tree reading that very story; about Jacob, an Israelite who was truly filled with deceit.  To Jacob God granted great visions.  To Nathanael, who was not deceitful, would be granted even more:  a Divine revelation of who Jesus Christ really was:

Then Nathanael declared, Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.  (John 1:49 NIV84)

Where did Nathanael get that idea?  It must have come from the mind of God Himself.  This points to an important lesson.  Many people have no problem acknowledging the existence of God.  A lot of people without hesitation would answer the question, “Do you believe in God” in the affirmative.  But the real issue is not belief in God; even the Devil believes in God!  No, the question of the ages is:  “Who do you think Jesus is?”  The human mind rebels at the thought of God and Man existing in One Perfect Person.  It takes a work of grace for the human mind to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus Christ.

2.   God sent His Son, John 3:16-18; 27-36

 John 3 is a most remarkable chapter for two reasons.  First, it is a prime example of why, sometimes, chapter breaks are not put in the proper place.  The last verse of chapter 2 is really a set-up for the conversations of chapter 3:

He did not need mans testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.(  John 2:25 NIV84)

There should be no break between that thought and the introduction of Nicodemus, a  man who he had never met Jesus, yet Jesus knew all about him.

The second reason John 3 is so remarkable is because of verse 16, a declaration that God sent Jesus, His Son.

(a)     A word for Nicodemus, verses 16-18

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   (John 3:16 NIV84)

This is probably the most famous verse in the whole Bible, but it is really just part of a lengthy conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus.  It is also the very first mention of God’s love in John’s Gospel.  It’s a dominant theme, so it’s surprising it took three chapters to get to it!  The word to this noble Pharisee was that God was reaching out to the whole world; that God’s love is universal.  God’s love isn’t just for some, but for all people, everywhere.  This is the WHY God did what He did in sending His Son:  He loved.  The Greek word used for “love” here is egapesen, a love that does things for others with no thought for self.  It’s describes a love that would risk all for another; a love that counts no price too great if somebody else could benefit.  It really describes an absolute love.

That was the first word to Nicodemus:  the nature of God’s love.  The second word to this Pharisee is the requirement to believe.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of Gods one and only Son.  (John 3:18 NIV84)

We see the absolute necessity of making a conscious decision to believe in Jesus Christ.  Belief in God only gets a person so far.  Belief in Jesus Christ, with all that that entails, is what makes the difference in one’s life and one’s eternal destination.  Judgment and condemnation await all those who do not believe, but for those who do believe, those things irrelevant.

As succinctly noted by Joseph Mayfield, there is an “open door to life,” and it has three characteristics, all of which were explained to Nicodemus:  (1)  It is God’s great gift from above; (2) It comes only to the one who has faith; and (3) The alternative to life is God’s judgment.

(b)  The herald of God’s sending, verses 27-36

After the encounter with Nicodemus and after celebrating Passover, Jesus, along with some of His disciples, left Jerusalem and ventured into the countryside of Judea.  This period of ministry is unique to John – it’s not in the Synoptics – and it portrays the relationship that existed between Jesus and the man who heralded His coming, John the Baptist.  The thing about John the Baptist was that he knew who he was.

You yourselves can testify that I said, I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.  The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegrooms voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.  He must become greater; I must become less.  (John 3:28-30 NIV84)

John the Baptist was resolutely convinced of Jesus’s divine nature because of where Jesus came from.  In fact, the Baptist understood a very profound thing:

For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.   (John 3:34 (NIV84)

The ministry – the very words and teachings – of Jesus did not originate in Him, but rather God poured out His wisdom and power into Jesus by the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, John knew that his role role in the ministry of salvation is limited, but he had the wisdom (from God) to see that Jesus’ role was limitless because to Him alone has been given power over all things.

3.  The Son gives life, John 5:19-30

 (a)  Jesus defends His actions, verses 9-23

The big problem with Jesus in the eyes of the religious elite was not that He went around healing people, but that He did it on the Sabbath.  He seemed to do this deliberately, because each time He faced such an angry accusation, He used it as a “teachable moment,” usually to discuss His unique relationship with God.

Jesus gave them this answer: I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.   (John 5:19 NIV84)

In a sense, the accusing Jews were partly right and partly wrong:

For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.  (John 5:18 NIV84)

Jesus was, in fact, making Himself equal with God!  But they were wrong in suggesting He was breaking the Sabbath.  The very fact that Jesus is the Son of God made violating the Sabbath an impossibility!

Jesus gives life because God gives life!

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.   (John 5:21 NIV84)

Jesus raised the dead, but that power came from God by way of the Holy Spirit.  The religious elite couldn’t debate the fact that Jesus raised the dead, but the fact that He did it on the wrong day really bent them out of shape!

The second part of this verse is the subject of Jesus’ preaching:  the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.  What that really means is explained in the verses that follow.

(b)  Jesus preaches the Gospel, verses  24-30

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”   (John 5:24 NIV84)

This simple statement explains what Jesus meant when He said that He gives life to whom He is pleased to give it.  Jesus was referring to spiritual life, not raising the dead.  And He was not saying that He was pleased to give life to some but not to others.  Whoever hears the Gospel and believes, to him Jesus is pleased to give life!  This was something Paul readily grasped:

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.   (Romans 1:16 (NIV84)

The Gospel is life-giving.  When a sinner hears it, it begins a work in his heart, whether he knows it or not.  That work can be resisted.  A depraved nature can stifle the work of the Word; it can be ignored.  But it doesn’t have to be!  The Word – the Gospel – is the power of God for salvation!  Depraved man has the capacity to believe in what he is hearing; he cannot save Himself, but he can incline his ear toward the Gospel.  The hearing and the believing go together. They are always correlatives of the Word, that is, the Word is intended for the very purpose of being heard and believed.

He that hears and believes receives eternal, and this life literally flows from God, it is grounded in God, it joins the redeemed soul to God, and it leads to God (10:28). The very second a sinner receives this life he is made alive, literally born again. And the really exciting thing is this:  the physical death we will all one day experience only leads us into a fuller measure of this life.

 

Jesus: God Incarnate

john

The Gospel of John, Part One

 The “Incarnation” is a powerful Christian doctrine.  The doctrine teaches that God enfleshed Himself in Jesus Christ  and is the doctrine behind Christmas.  “Incarnation” comes from the Latin “in-carnis,” meaning “in flesh.”

The Gospel of John emphasizes the Incarnation unlike the other three.  The Synoptic Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – are histories of the life and times of Jesus Christ.  John’s Gospel is different in content and emphasis.  John’s Gospel isn’t so much a history of Jesus as it is a study of Jesus as both the Son of Man and the Son of God.  The Incarnation is the central theme of this great Gospel.

1.  The Word comes to us in the flesh, John 1:1-5; 10-14

 (a)  Glimpses of Genesis, 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  (John 1:1-4 NIV84)

This Gospel has been called “the paragon among the Gospels, the one, tender, real crown-Gospel of them all,” so said Martin Luther.  The introductory paragraph might well be the most overtly theological paragraph in all the Bible.  It’s a magnificent beginning because it portrays the life of Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, in eternity, long before the creation of the material universe.  With echoes of the book of Genesis, John’s readers would have been reminded of the Creative work of God.  When God did His work of creation, Christ was there with Him.  That would have been a powerful thought for the readers of this Gospel.

The opening paragraph not only reveals the eternity of Christ, it reveals something about its author, John.  The writing style is so lyrical it shows a depth skill and ability not usually equated with fishermen.  When the heavens were created, “the Word” was there.  What did John mean by referring to Jesus as “the Word?”  A lot of discussion has taken place around this question.  Was Christ “an expression” from the mind of God?  That’s what Greek philosophers might say.  But Christ as “the Word” means a lot more than that.   The Second Person of the Trinity is a Person, not merely an “idea” or “expression” proceeding from the mind of God.  Consider these verses:

And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.  (Genesis 1:3 NIV84)

Then God said, Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”  (Genesis 1:26 NIV84)

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God…  (Hebrews 11:3 KJV)

 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.  (Psalms 33:4 KJV)

 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.  (Psalms 33:6 KJV)

 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.  (Psalms 33:9 KJV)

 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.  (Psalms 107:20 KJV)

 These were not mere words or sounds that God made, like we make when we speak.  In these words and commands, we see the Son of God at the Father’s side, revealed in omnipotence and creative power, active since eternity past.

The Word “was with God” in the past.  Verse two describes the closest possible relationship that existed between the Word and God:  the Word was “face to face with God.”  Finally John makes the statement that settles any argument about just who Jesus is:  He not only was with God, but is  God.

(b)  Jesus versus the world, 1:10-14

In this group of verses, John, using a simple yet majestic writing style, tells his readers the fact, the purpose, and the result of the Incarnation.

The Fact:  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.   (John 1:10 NIV84)

The Purpose:  He came to that which was his own…  (John 1:11a NIV84)

The Result(s):  ...his own did not receive him.  (John 1:11b NIV84); Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…  (John 1:12  NIV84)

Verse 14 could be the most profound statement in all human history:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John 1:14 NIV84)

The Word, who has existed from all eternity at God’s side; the Creator of all there is, became a human being.  He left eternity and inserted Himself into our time and history.  The phrase “made his dwelling among us” means “to pitch one’s tent” where man pitches his.  What a descriptive phrase!

Though many rejected Him, many did not.  The tragedy of verse 11 should be highlighted.

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.   (John 1:11 NIV84)

It was not the “natural world” that rejected Jesus.  At worst, the world simply did not recognize Him.  Tragically, Jesus was rejected – willfully rejected –  by His very own people.

2.  God the Father Revealed, John 1:18; 12:44, 45; 14:5-11

 (a)  Jesus:  God visible, 1:18

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Fathers side, has made him known.  (John 1:18 NIV84)

It was a firm, Jewish conviction that no one had ever seen God, which is why John wrote what he did.  Moses “saw” God, but never really got to know God personally.  Job hit on something profound when he observed:

Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know?  (Job 11:7, 8 KJV)

God is a spirit, and spirits cannot be seen.  God may have “appeared” so some fortunate souls in the Old Testament, but whatever it was they saw with their eyes, it could not have been God’s literal form.  That’s what makes the Incarnation such a rich and powerful doctrine.  For the first time ever in human history, man could “see” God “face to face.”  In other words, only through the Incarnation and subsequent faith in Jesus Christ is it possible for a human being to fellowship with the Almighty.

(b)  Jesus is the “sent one,” 12:44, 45

Then Jesus cried out, When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me.  When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me.”   (John 12:44, 45 NIV84)

When John wrote that “Jesus cried out,” he was making it clear that what Jesus said was meant to be heard by the crowd, not just His disciples.  This was like a summary statement; Jesus made it clear as He could to His own who He was and what He wanted from them.  Knowing Christ means knowing the Father.  To look constantly and intently at Jesus – to observe how He lived and to listen to what He said –  is to literally know God the Father.

Knowing Jesus is knowing God, the One who sent Him.  The Jews claimed to know God, but the very fact that they rejected Jesus, the One He sent, proved that they really did not know God at all.  Had they known God as well as they claimed, they would have easily recognized Jesus for who and for what He was.

(c)  Jesus is the way to God the Father, 14:5-11

After three long years of working together, Jesus told His disciples that He would be leaving soon.  This prompted Thomas to ask a question.

Thomas said to him, Lord, we dont know where you are going, so how can we know the way?  (John 14:5 NIV84)

Thomas spoke for all the disciples, but it was a question born of discouragement; he was not trying to be argumentative.  He was being pessimistic.  Thomas had some faith, but not quite enough to see what Jesus was saying.

Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  (John 14:6 NIV84)

This is one of the seven great “I am’s” of his Gospel.  Jesus doesn’t say He is just “one way” among others.  He doesn’t say that He is “a way.”  Jesus makes it crystal clear that He is the ONLY way to God the Father.  There is NO OTHER way to get to God except through Jesus Christ. He was sent by, came from, and will return to, the Father.

3.  Unity of the Father and the Son, John 17:1-26

Understanding the Trinity has always been a challenge, and it was a real challenge for the early church.  Judaism routinely affirmed that God is one.  Christianity, with its first Jewish members, had to broach the idea of “the three-in-one” carefully and deftly.  Gentile Christians in the early church came from religions with many Gods, so teaching about the Trinity had to be very clear so as not to confuse them!  At the Council of Nicea in 325, the doctrine of the Trinity was ratified, upholding what the Bible taught:  there is a relationship between the Father and the Son within the Trinity; they are “of the same substance” yet different.

(a)  Jesus prays for His disciples, 17:1-19

 Chapter 17 contains the “real Lord’s Prayer.”  In His high priestly prayer, Jesus prays for Himself (verses 1-5); for His disciples  (verses 6-19); and other believers (the church, verses 20-26).

As Jesus prays specifically for His disciples, He is their only advocate.  But when He prays for them, it becomes clear that two great forces come together  on their behalf:  “I,” the One praying, and the “Father,” the One to whom Jesus is praying.  With that kind of support, no disciple should ever fear failure!  Jesus prays for their protection, but the main thrust of the request is verse 17-

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  (John 17:17  NIV84)

In His prayer, Jesus told the Father that He wasn’t praying for His disciples to be taken out of the world, but that they would be protected while living in the world.  But in verse 17, He prays for their sanctification.  That word simply means “so be separated” from.  So while the disciples were to remain in the world, they were to be separate from the world.  This separation would be accomplished through the power of the Word.  No man can sanctify himself.  It can only be accomplished through the power of God in the truth of the Word.

(b)  Jesus prays for the church, 17:20-26

 Closing out His lengthy prayer, Jesus prays for unity among all believers.

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”  (John 17:20-21 NIV84)

The unity Jesus is praying for is not some kind Ecumenicism; it is not just an outward unity.  The unity that should exist among believers must be like the unity of the Trinity.  Unity must be of a spiritual nature.  Of course, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are of the same essence, but believers need to be of one mind, effort and purpose when it comes to things concerning the Church and the work of the Kingdom.

But the Trinity is not just model of the kind of unity Jesus wants, it is the foundation of that unity.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make the impossible possible:  unity among believers.

This unity is vitally important because as the world sees Christians living in unity, they would be pointed to Heavenward, to the Messiah.  When Christians are united in faith and when they put forth that unity of faith to the world, they will be a powerful force for God.  But the opposite is also true.  When the Church of Jesus Christ is torn apart by dissension and controversy, the lost will simply shake their heads in disbelief, not knowing what to  make of them.

So, of all the worthy things a church may be involved in, the most important may be to foster a sense of unity around the Word, which will result in a church at peace.  But note, unity must be around the truth of the Word, not around any doctrine or practice of man.

 

JOHN, FINAL

Our Lord, leaving His tomb for the last time.

JOHN 20, 21

What sets the biographies of Jesus Christ apart from all other biographies are the accounts of His miraculous Resurrection. Everybody dies, but not everybody rises from the dead! And so John 20 begins the story after the story of the life and times of Jesus Christ.

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. (20:1)

How fitting it is for John to begin his account of the Resurrection with the experience of Mary Magdalene. She had been forgiven of so much and her love for Jesus was genuine and boundless. What she saw would change the course of history: the stone had been removed; the initial evidence of the Resurrection.  Perhaps out of fear, she went no further, but instead went to get Peter and John and told them an amazing thing:

“They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (verse 2)

That she had reached the wrong conclusion about what she saw led to Barclay to describe Mary as “the great example of bewildered love.” She couldn’t believe her eyes and jumped to the obvious (and wrong) conclusion.

Upon reaching the tomb, John arrived first, followed tentatively by Peter, who entered the tomb while John stayed outside for a moment. What Peter saw, and what John would later see, caused John “to believe” that Jesus had truly risen from the dead (verses 8, 9).

Inside the empty tomb, 20:6, 7

He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.

Peter had no fear when he reached the tomb, so went straight in. He saw Jesus’ grave clothes (the strips of linen soaked in herbs and spices) lying there but the thing that caught his eye (and John’s) was the head cloth. It was separate from the rest and “still lying in its place.” What does that mean? It means that it was still holding the shape and contour of Jesus’ head! Clearly, no grave robber would have left the grave clothes lying in the exact, orderly position Peter was observing. The tomb must have looked for all intents and purposes as though Jesus has simply removed all of His grave clothes and neatly left them lying there.

John does not give any indication that Peter immediately figured out what he was bearing witness to; namely, that Jesus had risen from the grave. We get the impression that he reached that conclusion a little later than did John. John saw exactly the same things Peter saw, but believed the evidence of his eyes immediately. He had no vision of the risen Christ; the mere sight of the empty tomb and the abandoned grave clothes was enough to convince John that Jesus was no longer dead; that He had indeed risen. The parenthetical observation of verse 9 should be noted:

(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Evidently, these disciples had not understood the many Old Testament Scriptures that foretold of this very event. Even with the Lord’s help and teaching, their minds failed to grasp those elemental truths.

Personal appearances

    What followed the discovery of the empty tomb is a series of personal appearances of Jesus Christ to certain individuals. John is very careful to note that his intention in writing his account of the Resurrection was not to provide an exhaustive account; he just wanted to “hit the high points” of the story in order to help his readers believe. In fact, that was his purpose in writing the entire Gospel:

    Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (verses 30, 31)

    • Mary Magdalene.

    After Peter and John left the empty tomb to return home, Mary Magdalene remained behind. We have no indication that she entered the tomb and saw what the disciples had seen, but what she did saw must have made her jaw drop!

    [She] saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. (verse 11)

    When they spoke to her, inexplicably she exhibited neither fear nor awe; she remained concerned about the disappearance of her Lord. She believed His body had been stolen; the incongruity of that conclusion escaped her. The empty grave clothes apparently meant nothing to Mary, if she noticed them at all. A singular lesson can be learned here. God comes to people in different ways, always respecting their temperaments. All John needed to see was some bandages on the ground for him to believe. Mary Magdalene needed a little more.

    Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (verse 16)

    After the angels, Jesus appeared to her, yet she did not recognize Him. There are likely three good reasons why. First, she was looking for a dead Christ, not a living one. Second, Mary did not seek Him, the living Lord, out, He came to her. Third, even though she wanted to find Jesus with all her heart, when she found Him, she did not recognize Him. Jesus comes in unsuspected ways! Much has been written about what Jesus said to her:

    “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” (verse 17)

    It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t want to be touched; He would later encourage Thomas to do just that so that he would believe. Jesus was simply telling Mary not to hold Him, for He had not yet ascended to the Father. The key in understanding why Jesus said what He said were His instructions to Mary to go to the disciples and give them the news of His Resurrection. What a great lesson for modern believers latch onto: our faith is meant to be spread, not held onto; Jesus is meant to be shared, not kept to oneself.

    • The Ten.

    What John records as the second appearance of Jesus is really the third because he does not include the appearances to Simon and to the travelers on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13—35). Jesus came to the Ten in order to calm their collective fears. They had much to fear; narrowly escaping arrest in the Garden along with Jesus, they could well be considered political agitators and religious troublemakers. Doubtless, the religious leaders would have been on the lookout for any gathering of Jesus’ followers.

    Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” (verse 19)

    John does not indicate how Jesus entered the room; the doors were locked tight. His words of greeting are significant: “Peace be with you.” He had already given them peace as a parting gift back in 14:27, so why did they need it now? The peace Jesus gives is abiding peace that rests within the believer by faith; it is independent of outside influences. Sometimes, however, that faith is shaken by outside circumstances, and when that happens, Jesus in His grace comes and gives even more peace. He not only wished the peace, but vindicated their faith by proving His claims—

    [H]e showed them his hands and side. (verse 20)

    This dispelled any doubt that contributed to their fear. But John records something else He gave them in addition to peace: a mission and the Holy Spirit. This bestowal of the Holy Spirit is not the same as that described in Acts 2:4. This is an initial filling similar to the way Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb, and just as Jesus needed to be baptized in the Spirit before He began His ministry, so the disciples would need a further empowering of the Spirit in order to fulfill their commission. This commission included a special kind of authority—

    If you forgive the sins of anyone, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. (verse 23)

    What is the nature of this authority? Were the disciples really given the authority to forgive a sinners’ sin? The Greek construction of the sentence gives us a clue as to what Jesus was getting at—“Those whose sins you forgive have already been forgiven; those whose sins you do not forgive have not been forgiven.” A.T. Robertson’s thoughts are illuminating:

    What [Jesus] commits to the disciples and to us is the power and privilege of giving assurance of forgiveness of sins by God by correctly announcing the terms of that forgiveness.

    In other words, we do not decide who will be forgiven nor does God grant forgiveness based on our wishes. Believers announce forgiveness; we do not create it. This is the Gospel! This is the essence of what salvation is all about, and this is the glorious message the disciples were being commissioned to bring to the world.

    • To Thomas and the Ten.

    We don’t know why Thomas was absent from the gather of the Ten. He should have been with the others. Because he was absent, he missed out on the peace and the blessing of the Holy Spirit’s presence. And he surely needed both desperately—

    “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (verse 25)

    Because he had withdrawn himself from other believers, Thomas was full of doubt, restlessness, and nervousness. He was a devoted disciple, but he had lost his hope in Christ, and such people are “to be pitied more than all others” (1 Corinthians 15:19). But our Lord had compassion and he singled the doubter out for special treatment and Thomas’ confession is the classic statement of triumph over disbelief—

    “My Lord and my God!” (verse 28)

    Jesus’ commendation of Thomas for making that confession (verse 29) is extended to all who make a similar confession who, unlike Thomas, never have the opportunity to see the risen Lord in person. Only John records this incident, and surely the Gospel would be incomplete without it. A week later, we see Thomas right where he belonged: with the company of believes.

    This whole incident with Thomas demonstrates that there are levels of faith in the Christian life. For some believers, their faith depends on visible evidences. These believers, as genuine as can be, are unable to realize the full blessedness that comes with believing in who Jesus is rather than what He does for them. Such believers live in a very small world, full of limitations and fear. But to those whose faith is based solely in the Person of Jesus, horizons are limitless and opportunities for blessings are boundless.

    The disciples go fishing, 21:1—14

      Chapter 21 is really an epilogue to the Gospel of John. There are three incidents in this chapter and each incident demonstrates the power of Jesus portrays Jesus as the Lord over different areas of our lives.

      First, we see the disciples fishing, and we see how Jesus is the Lord of our wills and He directs our service. John gives no details as to the length of time between the appearance of Jesus to Thomas and the other disciples and His appearance to those who had gone fishing. At first, they didn’t recognize Jesus, but when they did, we see Peter doing, well, what Peter always did—

      “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. (verse 7)

      He still wasn’t walking on it, but not even water could stand in Peter’s way! He was excited!  But the real lesson of this story is that the risen Lord directs the lives of His own. Jesus gives us His instructions and we are to obey. When we obey, success is ours. Jesus points us in the right direction, but it is up to walk that way.

      A minor lesson, which is the one preachers usually stress, is that when Jesus provides, He provided in abundance. The net not only filled up, but it it was chock-full of fish. This is a common theme in John’s writings. The water pots at the wedding feast were FULL of wine. The baskets of food were FULL after Jesus provided enough food for over 5,000 people. But there is another lesson that many Bible readers miss—

      When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you caught.” (verses 9, 10)

      It was a wonderful scene that greeted the disciples when the reached the shore. Jesus had breakfast waiting for them! He not only provided the miraculous catch, but also breakfast. It was a sharp contrast for the disciples to contemplate: their inability to provide for themselves contrasted with the ease at which Jesus provided for their every need. What strikes us, though, is the command of Jesus to “bring some of the fish” they had just caught. He didn’t want all of them, just some of them. He asked the disciples to give up a few of the small fry. What a wonderful lesson for believes today, who are literally choking on their blessings, finding it hard to return a mere portion of them to God in the form of an offering.

      Jesus and Peter, 21:15—19

        After breakfast, Jesus turned to Peter in order to publicly reinstate him. The circumstances surrounding this scene must have struck Peter. Consider—

        • Peter denied Christ around a charcoal fire (18:18) and it here, around another charcoal fire, that Peter is reinstated.
        • Peter denied Jesus three times (18:17, 25, 27) and Jesus called Peter to “own” Him three times (21:15—17).
        • Jesus’ warning that Peter would betray Him was introduced with the solemn, “Very truly I tell you…” and here Peter’s future is introduced in a similar way.

        Peter’s reinstatement must have been a relief to him, but what followed indicated the end of reckless, irresponsibility. The future of this impulsive disciple was deadly serious—

        Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. (verse 18)

        Hoskyns comments:

        The boisterous and irresponsibility of youth is now at an end. He can no longer act as he had just acted when he girded himself, and left the fish half caught, and swam alone to the shore.

        Here see Jesus as the Lord of our hearts. He knows us as we really are and He asks us probing questions that penetrate deep down inside and force us to see ourselves as He does. Our hearts must be wholly Christ’s. Serving Him is serious business, as Peter would find out.

        Jesus and John, 21:20—23

          Peter’s question to Jesus about John may have been asked out of curiosity or maybe uneasiness. Peter had been given an important commission and a solemn indication of his future, so what about his good friend? What does the future hold for John? Would John share the same responsibilities and the same danger?

          “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (verse 22)

          Jesus’ reply shows that He must be the Lord of our minds. What His will was for John should have been no concern of Peter’s. If it was God’s will that John outlive Peter, then so be it. That knowledge should have made no difference to Peter’s service. To come to martyrdom as a follower of Jesus may have been Peter’s destiny, but it was not John’s, and martyrdom itself is not what brings glory to God, it is dedicated service; how one dies is not what gives glory to God! It’s how one lives.

          John’s conclusion

          John’s two-verse conclusion seem to indicate that John was writing to a second generation of believers who were far-removed from the incidents recorded.

          This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. (verse 24)

          “This” must refer to John, not Peter or Jesus or anybody else. By the time of the composition of this Gospel, in all likelihood Peter was dead. Given this, the passage means that John is still bearing witness to the things he has written down. John was testifying to the Truth in print and in word, even at his advanced age. A true witness for Christ never retires.

          Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (verse 25)

          This concluding verse is a fitting end to a record of a Man who changed the world. John is not exaggerating when he says that Jesus did so many things all the books in all the world could not contain a written record of them. The Living Word can never be fully expressed in written words.

          (c)  2010, WitzEnd

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