The Prayer for the Chosen

June 22, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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The prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer,” but it is really a model prayer which Jesus taught to His disciples as an example of how THEY ought to pray. He would not have prayed this prayer for Himself. However, John Chapter 17 is a prayer that Jesus DID in fact pray for Himself and His disciples. As far back as the mid- to late-1500s this prayer (possibly given the name by theologian David Chytraeus) has been known as “The High Priestly Prayer.” If anyone asked me (and they haven’t!), I would call John 17 “The Lord’s Prayer,” and give the other one a different name. I hope that you appreicate the awesome privilege of being able to permissively eavesdrop on this amazing moment of loving intimacy, intercession, and insight between the eternal Son and the eternal Father.

John 17 is a chapter of the Bible which inspires special solemnity and humility and worship.

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

John 17:1

This possibly took place while Jesus and the Disciples were still in the upper room, or they might have already started making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. The word “glory” or “glorified” is used eight times in the prayer, and eight of them are in the first five verses. Was it egocentric for Jesus to ask God to glorify Him? No, the Father and Son share the glory that the Son receives in His Incarnation, His Crucifixion, His Resurrection, His Ascension, and His Exaltation.

As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

John 17:2

In the opening verses He prayed for Himself. He spoke directly to the Father, but He spoke of Himself in the third person. This indicates that Jesus was praying personally, but still formally, and with an awareness that this was a semi-public prayer, and that the Disciples were listening and were supposed to be listening, and that this would become inspired Scripture – to be read by us even today.

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

John 17:3-5

Here eternal life is defined as “knowing” God, so it can’t mean a mere intellectual grasp that the Biblical God is the correct God. It is a personal, intimate knowledge. Those who are in Christ, as shown in I Corinthians, are the “Knows,” and no one can really know God in a saving way without knowing Christ.

Jesus’s love for the Father is tied to His obedience, just as our love for Jesus is tied to our obedience.

The Word had been with God, and the Word had laid aside His glory (not His Deity).

He prayed in preparation for what He was about to go through, and He prayed (not selfishly) that God would glorify Him for the glory of the Father. He asked for the return of His preincarnate glory. Then He went on to pray for His Disciples – the capital D Disciples, the ones who were with Him at the time.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

John 17:9-11

The “world” is another major concept in this prayer, along with “glory.” If you are a Christian you were “of the world” at one time. If you are not a Christian you are still “of the world.” If you are a Christian, even though you were “of the world” before trusting Jesus, you actually secretly belonged to God. He gave you to Jesus, and Jesus prayed for you in this prayer before you were ever born. In a very real sense you were chosen by Jesus, knowing that you already belonged to God, so that Jesus could present you back to God in Him, and He would be glorified for rescuing you from a system in which you had been captive. Yet you remain “in the world,” although you are no longer “of the world,” and Jesus has prayed for your protection, that you would be kept in God’s name, and we share in the love of the Father and the Son and in their eternal covenant, not as gods ourselves, but as redeemed children eternally united to God and Christ.

This was a prayer for the Disciples’ protection and their continuance in the faith, as well as for their sanctification.

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

John 17:14-17

He ultimately prayed also for you and me – all future Christians.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

John 17:20-21

He prayed for our unity in the faith, and, coming back full circle to the idea of glory, that even we may be glorified with the Son and the Father.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

John 17:22-26

A Secret at Supper

June 12, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.

John 13:21-22

The Disciples honestly didn’t know who Jesus meant, and to their credit they were probably not only troubled by the presence of a traitor in their midst, but by the very real possibility that “could it be ME?!” We should not ever boast of our own valour in never betraying Jesus. Few of us have faced much harsh persecution or the confusion and threat of danger that fell upon those who publicly followed Jesus.

Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

John 13:23

This is an odd scene to us. The Jewish custom at that time was to sit on chairs at a table to eat, but the ancient Greek and Roman custom was to recline on the floor, leaning on the left elbow and eating with the right hand, feet extended out to the side and away from the table, placing those gathered for the meal in very close proximity. Also, we must keep in mind that the taboo about men expressing pure non-sinful friendship through physical touch going beyond handshakes, high fives, back slaps, and brief hugs is fairly recent, so nothing strange should be read into the fact that John (most likely the Disciple “whom Jesus loved”) leaned his head back against Jesus’s chest to be in a whispering position.

Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.

John 13:24

Peter didn’t like the not knowing (which may be part of the rationale behind Da Vinci’s decision to paint him holding a dagger in his painting of this scene in “The Last Supper), and prompted John to ask Jesus who it was.

He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?

John 13:25

This, as I said, was obviously whispered or at least spoken sotto voce:

Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

John 13:26

He may have meant a piece of bread dipped in wine or olive oil, or a morsel of meat from a common platter or bowl. The emphasis is not on the culinary details, but on Judas. Perhaps it was a last opportunity for Judas to repent and ask forgiveness, but, if so, it was rejected, and Judas willingly turned the reins of his will completely over to Satan, which means that Jesus addressed Satan directly, although no one else realized it at the time.

And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.

John 13:27-30

The refernce to the night is both literal as to the chronology, and figurative as to the hour of the power of darkness.

Living Your Best Life

May 28, 2020 at 2:06 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.

John 10:12-19

I have discussed before the “division” that Jesus caused and still causes today as He drives a wedge between the true and the false, between the spiritual and the worldly and the fleshly, between man-centered religious expectations and the truth that God’s righteousness requires a sacrifice for sin.

And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?

John 10:22

Many thought that talking about the fact that no one could take His life from Him, but that He could lay it down and take it back up again sounded like crazy talk, but:

Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

John 10:21

The incontrovertible evidence of His miraculous healing power being used for a noble purpose was still there to be dealt with.

And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.

John 10:22

This festival is not found in the Old Testament. It originated in the intertestamental period. After Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the Temple in Jerusalem by setting up a pagan altar a “freedom fighter” named Judas Macabbeus led a group of Israeli fighters to overthrow him and rededicate the Temple. It is celebrated today as Hanukkah, with the menorahs or lamps burning in people’s homes for 12 days.

And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.

John 10:23-24

They demanded that He spell it out for them, whether or not He was claiming to be the Messiah, so, while knowing that nothing would cause them to change their minds about Him – neither His teaching nor His miracles – He nevertheless stated His Divine identity clearly.

Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him.

John 10:25-31

This time Jesus did not escape, but stayed to speak with them, and reasoned with them from the Scriptures for a while. Of course, they still didn’t believe, so eventually He did escape.

Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode.

John 10:39-40

This is an inclusio, indicating that the key turning point in the Gospel of John – the break from Jesus’s early ministry and the transition to the final days on earth – is probably not at the end of Chapter 11, as most commentators say, but here at the end of Chapter 10 and on through Chapter 11. John starts off with the ministry of John the Baptist, and here returns to it to show that John’s preaching about Jesus was true.

So far in our study of the Gospel of John we have seen Jesus show Himself to be the bread of life, the water of life, and the light of life. Food, water, and light are all necessary for life, but now we will see that Jesus IS the life. Lately I’ve been seeing people post pictures of themselves, their friends, their family members, even their pets, with the curious caption, “Living my/his/their best life.”

If Jesus is truly eternal, abundant Life personified, then, by necessity, you can’t be living your best life apart from Him. Get your life on the right track by knowing and following Him.

John Chapter 11 is where we find the account of Lazarus (probably not the same Lazarus from the story of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16), a man who was part of a family that was especially close to Jesus, a family from Bethany (one of the Bethanys in that area) near Jerusalem which Jesus had left for the time being because of the attempts of the Pharisees to kill Him.

Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

John 11:1-2

This lets us know that at the time when the Holy Spirit inspired John to write his Gospel, the account of Mary anointing Jesus’s feet with oil, which will happen in Chapter 12, was already well-known.

Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

John 11:3-4

God had brought about Lazarus’s (temporarily) fatal illness so that both the Father and the Son ccould be glorified through it, a situation similar to the man born blind. Jesus’s miracles throughout John had been increasing in power: from turning water into wine, to feeding the multitude, to healing the lame, to walking on the water, to giving sight to the man born blind. Now He was about to perform the greatest miracle so far.

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

John 11:5-6

This does not sound like an act of love to us, but Jesus had a greater plan and He loves with a greater love.

Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

John 11:7-11

Jesus referred to death as sleep, which was not an uncommon euphemism, but, again, His words were misunderstood as being merely literal.

Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

John 11:12-15

We do not think of death, much less the death of a loved one, as an occasion for gladness, but Jesus wants His followers to have transcendent faith-fuelled joy, not merely temporary happiness.

Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

John 11:16

This indicates that the nickname, “Doubting Thomas,” may be something of a misnomer.

Meeting up for a Drink with Jesus

May 18, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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John 4:3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria.

John 4:3-4

The “must needs” is an interesting description. Jewish people were highly prejudiced against the Samaritans, whom they considered apostate half-breeds from the resettling of Assyria after the conquest of the 10 northern tribes of Israel. Most commentaries portray Jesus as not wanting to take the shortest route from Judea to Galilee, but feeling compelled to do so in order to keep this “divine appointment” with the woman at the well. This has been challenged by showing that Jewish travelers often went this route despite their abhorrence of the Samaritans, but either application is possible, and both are likely.

Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

John 4:5

This area is mentioned in the Old Testament, and it was probably about a mile from the well, so it was a decent walk, but could be made in one day without too much trouble.

Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

John 4:6

The well itself, dug by Jacob some 2000 years before this incident, is still there today. Imagine a well being serviceable for 4000 years and counting! The “sixth hour” is most likely noon. However, there is some disagreement about whether the Holy Spirit is referencing, through John, a Jewish reckoning of the hours of the day, or the Roman system of timekeeping. There are context clues which lend the most credence to the hottest part of the day – the least likely to encounter other water-bearers – being described, which means the noon hour, rather than dawn.

There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

John 4:7

Why would she come at noon, and why would that fact be highlighted? Because she was either embarrassed, or unwelcome, to come to the well with the other women of Sychar, who would have known about her scandalous marital and sexual exploits.

(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

John 4:8

The Disciples’ trip into to buy food shows that the Jewish people did have SOME dealings with the Samaritans.

Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

John 4:9

“No dealings” here has a general reference, but the specific reference may be to using utensils, such as a water dipper or bucket. There was a time in America’s not-too-distant past when people exemplified a sinful bigotry in refusing to drink from public water fountains used by people of different skin colors.

Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

John 4:10 (emphasis added)

Note how Jesus utilized the opening of an “everyday” conversation to pivot the discussion to spiritual truth. The “gift of God” is both Jesus and His Gospel. It is metaphorical “living” water, but it is symbolized by the double meaning of “living” water: spiritual, eternal, life-giving water, and fresh, running, potable water. The reference to the physical and earthly points to a deeper reality.

The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

John 4:11

Here the woman mistook the literal and physical for the figurative and the spiritual. Nicodemus and others did the same thing with Jesus’s teaching. Also, note the very pointed contrasts between the Samaritan woman and Nicodemus. One was a man and one was a woman. One was considered ceremonially and religiously “unclean,” and one (as a Pharisee) was supposed to have been the prime examply of ceremonial and religious “cleanliness.” One would have had a reputation for morality and thought to be above reproach, and one would was known to be immoral. One was wealthy and influential, and one would have been poor and uneducated. Jesus is the Savior of all types of sinners.

The Double-Layered Meanings of Three Kinds of Reproof

April 29, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

John 16:8

The “He” in that verse is the Holy Spirit.

Of sin, because they believe not on me;

John 16:9

The secondary layer of meaning in this statement is that Jesus’s Crucifixion would prove the sinfulness of mankind, but the primary meaning is that the Holy Spirit will demonstrate objective morality and convict the world of moral relativism.

Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more;

John 16:10

The secondary layer of meaning in this statement is that Jesus’s Resurrection would prove that His life had fulfilled all righteousness. The primary meaning is that the Holy Spirit will convince people that they need Jesus’s alien righteousness.

Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

John 16:11

The secondary meaning is that Jesus’s Ascension would prove His victory over Satan and his worldly kingdom. The primary meaning is that the Holy Spirit will prove that God’s children can defeat Satan and overcome the world.

A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.

John 16:16-20

They say that in competitive sporting events every play makes somebody happy. A bad shot doesn’t make the shooter happy, but it makes his opponent happy. An error at second base grieves the second basemen, but it thrills the batter or the baserunner. The only time a play that goes against your team in a game doesn’t make you unhappy is when you are watching a replay of the game, already knowing the outcome, and knowing that all the bad plays that went against you were ultimately overcome. In that instance, EVERY play makes the winner happy. We are going to suffer in the Christian life. It’s just a fact. The world’s system is rigged against us, and we need set-backs, discouragements, trials, and tests to strengthen us and to conform us to the image of Christ. But, knowing that in Christ we WILL overcome the world allows us to find joy even in the setbacks and failures.

A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

John 6:21

For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father. His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

John 16:27-31

Did Jesus become indignant in Verse 31? “Oh, NOW you believe…” Or was He merely being reflective? “Do you? Do you really now believe? I wonder…” Perhaps He was just being literally inquisitive: “Are you sure you’ve got it now?” I vote for indignant, because of what comes after:

Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

John 16:32

Yet He leaves them with this encouragement before beginning to pray:

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

As Christians, we are not stoics, keeping a stiff upper lip of grim fatatlism. Nor are we hedonists, partying with gusto today, for tomorrow we die, believing that the present pleasures are all that matter. No, we have a real hope – a reasonable, logical basis for enduring suffering or difficulty or persecution for Christ.

Whom to Expect When You’re Expecting

April 17, 2020 at 10:51 am | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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John 15:25 says that Jesus was hated “without a cause,” which is translated from the Greek word dorean, and which is sometimes translated “freely” (Revelation 21:6, 22:17). The idea is that Jesus did absolutely nothing to earn or deserve the hatred, persecution, opposition, and betrayal He experienced at the hands of the people He came to love, serve, and save. This is one of those poignant parallels we sometimes see in Scripture: Jesus was crucified “without a cause,” yet He justifies the people He saves with the same liberality: “without a cause” – without anything in us or done by us that would warrant this tremendous, sacrificial, awe-inspiring act of grace.

Being justified FREELY [DOREAN] by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 3:24 (emphasis and bracketed word added)

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

John 15:26 (emphasis added)

Just as Jesus in His earthly ministry spoke for the Father, the Spirit shall speak for the Son.

And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

John 15:27

He would empower the Apostles (and us, as Christians today) to speak of, on behalf of, and about the Son.

In John Chapter 16 Jesus continued preparing His Disciples for some of the opposition they would face – if they continued to abide in Him – in a hostile world. Suffering is never something we look forward to, but, when it comes to serving Jesus, our suffering will ultimately result in a greater joy than we had known before. Imagine a mother going through several hours of very difficult labor pains, thinking that the pain was overwhelming. I certainly have nothing to compare it to, but they say the suffering is excruciating. However, when the pain finally ends, and a strong healthy baby is delivered, no mother ever says, “All that torture I went through, and all I got was this lousy baby!” No, quite the opposite. Mothers who are blessed with healthy newborn babies suddenly believe that it was all worth it (John 16:21).

These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

John 16:1 (emphasis added)

Here, to be offended means more than to feel outrage or embarrassment. The word translated as “offended” is skandalisthete or skandalizo. The biggest threat to Christianity would not be that persecution would take the lives of all the Christians, but that it would lead to apostasy. Jesus was concerned with disciples who expect kindness from a hostile world, and who stumble over the obstacles of ridicule and opposition, and who cease to abide in Him when things get tough. He wanted to prepare them for what was coming so that they would not be afraid. We must not shield new believers from the hostility they are bound to face when living faithfully for Christ in the world.

They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

John 16:2

Being put out of the synagogue was to be made a pariah, to be completely excluded from social life and anathematized as somebody that must be avoided. Of course, the irony of being put out of religious society for knowing and proclaiming the truth is apparent when the false worshippers label you (a true worshiper) as a heretic. They can take away your privileges, your freedoms, your property, your “rights,” even your life, and claim that they are doing it FOR God rather than in opposition to God. You will note a religious fervor among all secular humans who hunger for power in the world. Some of the worst historic persecution has come from professing Christians torturing and killing true Christians.

And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.

John 16:3-4

Jesus shared these things with His friends so that they would not believe He had deserted them in the tough times to come, but He also knew that they were not fully prepared to really grasp the total impact of what He was explaining.

But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.

John 16:5-6

In addition to the preparation that would hopefully reassure them in the future, He reminded them that they were not really being left without His presence, in a sense.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

John 16:7

Pierced and Buried

April 6, 2020 at 10:09 am | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

John 19:31-34 (emphasis added)

The soldier piered Jesus’s side with a spear to make sure of His death, and the water which came out with the blood may have been pericardial fluid, but it is likely that the Holy Spirit had John refer to it in this way because it was commonly understood by people of that day that blood and water were necessary for life. The blood reminds the reader of John’s Gospel of the blood of Jesus, which not only gave Him life as touching His humanity, but was also the symbol of the spiritual and eternal life given to us through its shedding. The reference to the water was probably intended as a symbol of His soul-cleansing Word.

The Holy Spirit probably also had John stress the humanity of Jesus to combat the Docetism (dokein meant “to seem”) that was prevalent at the time he was writing, as shown in I and II John, a heresy which stated that Jesus was God, but that He wasn’t really “God in the flesh” and was like a phantom, ghost, or image – not really flesh and blood.

And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

John 19:35-36

The Scriptures which were being fulfilled were:

In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

Exodus 12:46

They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.

Numbers 9:12

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

Psalm 34:19-20

This was an event which had been predicted in many Old Testament passages.

And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

John 19:37

The piercing with the spear also fulfilled:

For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

Psalm 22:16-17

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Zechariah 12:10

There was even a foreshadowing:

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Revelation 1:7

More Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled in His burial.

And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.

John 19:38-41

The nature of His grave had been foretold in Isaiah:

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Isaiah 53:9

There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

John 19:42

This may indicate that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had been secretly planning the burial of Jesus.

Expecting Jesus

March 27, 2020 at 9:11 am | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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The final chapter in the Gospel of John teaches us how we, as believers, are to relate to our risen Lord.

First, we must be ready for Him to appear at any moment – both “spiritually” (figuratively) and literally.

After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.

John 21:1

Second, we must obey Him

Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

John 21:5-6

We fish for men, but we must do it according to Jesus’s instructions. He has fish waiting for us to catch, but we don’t catch them with a depth finder, a fancy rod and reel, or a stick of dynamite tossed over the side of a boat. Those methods are exciting, but they are our own contraptions. We simply lower the net of the Gospel message and Jesus arranges it so that we haul in as many as He has prepared to be caught.

Third, we must love Him more and more.

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17

We love Him more by knowing Him more but also by loving and serving (feeding) His people (His lambs and His sheep).

Fourth, we must follow Him.

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

John 21:18-19

This was not merely Jesus’s recruiting pitch. It is an ongoing command for all of us. Our lives are inextricably linked to Him now. Just as He died, our old selves died with Him; and just as He rose, we are raised with Him to a new life. This may very well mean following Him into pain, sorrow, persecution, trials, struggles, and what we think of as premature death.

Seeing, Touching, Hearing, Reading, and Believing

March 17, 2020 at 10:23 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, John | 2 Comments
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Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

John 20:19

Jesus’s Resurrection happened on the first day of the week, which is why Christians meet for assembled worship services on Sunday rather than Saturday. Regardless of what you believe about the New Testament Lord’s Day replacing the Old Testament Sabbath, it is clear that Jesus fulfilled the work of God and instituted a new covenant/pattern/dispensation. God finished the initial work of creation after six days and commemorated it with a special holy day of “rest.” Jesus finished the work of redemption after six hours on the Cross, and commemorated it with a special holy day of new life.

A week later, despite having information strongly indicating that Jesus had risen, the Disciples were still in hiding, but also meeting together on Sunday. The resurrected, glorified body of Jesus had the power to appear suddenly inside a room with locked doors. Of course, as God, Jesus could do what He wanted with time and space and material objects, but this is often taken as a sign that our glorified, resurrected bodies will share this ability to move freely through space and objects.

The greeting of “peace” is important, as we remember Jesus’s promise in John 14. He did not condemn their fear; He comforted them with His presence.

And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

John 20:20-21

This is John’s version of the Great Commission.

And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

John 20:22

Some Bible scholars see this as a temporary filling for ministry until the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Others see it as an object lesson or illustrated sermon, indicating that they should go forth with the God-breathed “inspired” Word and with the Holy Spirit once they were indwelt.

Ten Disciples had seen and touched Jesus personally after the Resurrection. Judas and Thomas had not been present to this point, and obviously Judas was no longer part of the team. Thomas needed definite confirmation before he would be convinced.

The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God.

John 20:25-28

This is seen by many commentators as the climax of the Gospel of John. Thomas’s confession seems obvious to us today, but, remember, John was writing primarily for an audience he was hoping to convince of Jesus’s Deity.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

John 20:29

When we read about those who have not seen Jesus personally with our physical eyes, yet believe the Truth about Him, we can rejoice and say, “That’s us!”

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

John 20:30-31

The somewhat limited scope of John’s Gospel is revealed and clarified. Its purpose is to invoke belief, yes, but not mere academic conviction. It is the kind of belief that is the means of eternal life.

Who Was Really on Trial?

March 3, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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Perhaps you’ve seen the following scenario depicted in some form of popular media: People dressed up in fancy party clothes are standing in a long line behind a velvet rope outside a building. Inside the building a swanky party full of rich and famous people is underway. A burly bouncer guards the entrance to the party, holding a clipboard with a list of names on it.

The people in line are hoping that their names are on the list so that they will be allowed entrance, but, even if they aren’t listed, they are hoping to impress the bouncer in some way to the point where he will let them slip inside, and the ones who are turned away because they aren’t deemed important enough or popular enough are mad. This is not exactly what was happening in John 18:15-16, but the idea is similar. In a case of “it’s not WHAT you know, but WHO you know,” one of Jesus’s Disciples was connected enough to the High Priest that he was able to gain entrance to his courtyard, whereas Peter had to wait outside until his fellow-Disciple could vouch for him. Of course, in this case, the entrance wasn’t guarded by a beefy security guard, but only by a young female doorkeeper, and the occasion wasn’t a festive soiree, but rather a devious and devilish sham of a prosecution conducted against an innocent Man. Peter’s admission into the High Priest’s courtyard turned out to be the occasion of his worst failure and shame.

And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.

John 18:15

There is some debate about who this “another disciple” was, but I believe it was the eponymous John (sometimes called the Disciple that Jesus Loved or the Beloved Disciple, but not specifically named out of a sense of humility, most likely). This is the first indication we get that he was personally acquainted with the High Priest. He could get into his home, and even knew the girl or lady who kept the door.

But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.

John 18:16

She did recognize Peter, though, and, while, her statement probably wasn’t intended as a threat, Peter responded to it as a threat, perhaps out of intimidation and anxiety over being recognized as the one who had chopped off her fellow-servant’s ear.

Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not.

John 18:17

Having denied Jesus once, Peter most likely found it easier to do it again.

And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.

John 18:18

This is beautifully written, so that we get “cutaway scenes” of two simultaneous events with similar themes to highlight Jesus’s commitment to truth and sacrifice contrasted with even his most loyal follower’s cowardice and willingness to lie.

The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.

John 18:19-21

Jesus did not feel the need to have a theological debate, and it was not the case that He literally never said anything in secret. His point was that anybody – anybody honest – who heard Him preach and teach could NOT be mistaken as to His doctrine.

And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?

John 18:22

Just as Peter had been ready to lash out in defense of His Master, here was an officer who took umbrage at Jesus’s unwillingness to grovel before the High Priest.

Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?

John 18:23

This was a point of evidence under Jewish law (and Roman law, for that matter). Defendants in a criminal proceeding were not required to speak in their own defense. The accuser was required to make the charge plain, and witnesses were required to make a prima facie case. Jesus was letting them know that He knew they were bringing trumped up charges, and that this trial (being held at night time, no less) was an illegal proceeding.

Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.

John 18:24

Caiaphas was the “real” High Priest, although Annas, his father-in-law, the former official High Priest, was still looked upon behind the scenes as having authority. Here the scene shifts back to Peter in the courtyard.

And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not.

John 18:25

This was Peter’s second denial of Jesus. The other Gospels tell us that Peter even took oaths, and began to swear and curse.

One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him?

John 18:26

This was the most threatening of the three times Peter was asked about his identification with Jesus.

Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew. Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.

John 18:27-28

Here we see an example of the irony that frequently occurs in the Gospel of John: As Jesus’s accusers and persecutors broke God’s law in the process of murdering His Messiah, they were concerned with ceremonial uncleanness. They didn’t want to miss the observance of the Passover, even as they themselves sinfully prepared to slaughter the True Passover. The “hall of judgment” was probably located inside Pilate’s military encampment at the Fortress of Antonia.

Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man?

John 18:29

Pilate already knew something about this case, but he did not like Jesus’s accusers, and he was reluctant to get involved.

They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.

John 18:30

The animosity between Pilate and the Jewish religious leaders was reciprocal, but they needed him to act if Jesus was to be “legally” put to death via crucifixion.

Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die.

John 18:31-32

Jesus would need to be “lifted up” – crucified – rather than stoned to death. They wanted Him to be seen as “accursed.”

Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

John 18:33

Pilate was trying to cut straight to the point.

Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?

John 18:34

Jesus did not intend to cast pearls before swine. In reality, He was judging Pilate, not the other way around.

Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?

John 18:35 (emphasis added)

Verse 35 gives some insight to the discussion of who has the greater guilt in Jesus’s arrest, conviction, and sentencing.

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

John 18:36

The Kingdom of Christ IS IN the world, but not OF the world.

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

John 18:37

This statement made by Jesus accomplished a proclamation of His true Kingship and a denunciation of Pilate (and by extension Rome) as being opposed to truth.

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.

John 18:38

There are various ways to read Pilate’s tone as he asked, “What is truth?” Was he being flippant, demanding, introspective, or merely resigned to a belief that “truth” was too subjective and relative to ever be accurately defined? Of course, the supreme irony is that he was speaking to THE TRUTH when he said it.

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