Summary of John’s Gospel.

John chapters 18-21.
John chapters 16-17.
John chapters 13-15.
John chapters 10-12.
John chapters 5-9.
John chapters 1-4.

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John Chapters 18-21

JOHN CHAPTER 18.

The question is often asked: “Who killed Jesus?” The Jews? Jesus gave His life voluntarily. John gives an eye-witness account of all that went on. Jesus is seen to be totally in control of events as He masterminds the two trials and His death. There is no doubt that the arrest of Jesus took place at a late hour in the Garden of Gethsemane – almost certainly not earlier than 11.30 p.m. It was dark. The Disciples were tired and after a while fell asleep. Supper finished at 9.30 p m. The Garden would be reached at 10 p m. Jesus was arrested at about 11.30 p m. Jesus offered no resistance to the arrest.
2 Sam ch 15 v 23. King David had gone there before him.

Some things done that night were illegal.
1. It was illegal for the Temple Guard on the orders of the High Priest to make an arrest.
2. It was illegal to try a capital charge at night.
3. It was illegal for the judges to interrogate the accused after the witnesses’ evidence had broken down. If the testimony of the witnesses was false, they should have been stoned to death. It was a dangerous thing to be a witness.

The ground of accusation shifted during the trial. Originally it was that Jesus had threatened to destroy the Temple. That changed to being accused of being the Son of God – blasphemy. Then it became that He had stirred up the people against Caesar – sedition. It was essential to have a political charge to persuade the Romans to execute the death penalty.

Jewish law demanded that the accusation be brought by witnesses. There was no prosecutor. Many false witnesses were brought. The evidence of the witnesses did not agree and was thrown out. That should have been the end of the matter. Testimony fell into 3 categories. a. Vain. b. Standing. c. Adequate. Testimony was only adequate when two or more agreed together. Had the testimony held, the penalty was death on the ground of sorcery or sacrilege. But it did not stand up. The proceedings had just about broken down on a point of law. Some including Nicodemus insisted on a fair hearing on another occasion. Any mistake and the prisoner would have to be released. The people would flock to Him. Whatever happened had to pass the Sanhedrin in the morning. What Jesus had said in effect was that if they killed Him He would rise again in three days.

Jesus was condemned to death not on a statement of his accusers but on His own admission. He had no need to give evidence. It was up to the Court to prove their case. They had failed. He could have stayed silent. The Jewish system of justice was a fair one. The accused was innocent until proved guilty. It was illegal for the Judge to intervene and interrogate the prisoner. The judge was to protect the prisoner. Caiaphas applied to Jesus the most solemn oath – known as the Oath of Testimony. Mat ch 26 v 63. A pious Jew had no alternative but to reply. “Are you the Christ?” “Yes.” It sounds evasive to men but it was discourteous to say a simple yes or no. What was said was clearly an answer in the affirmative. There was a note of triumph in the voice of Caiaphas. He knew the consequences for his family and the Jewish people if there was a Messiah as King of the Jews. He was out of a job. The office of High Priest was a matter of intrigue and bribery. Four of the sons of Annas became High Priest after him. Remember that Jesus had attacked the vested interests of Annas when He cleansed the Temple. Caiaphas was the son in law of Annas. It had exceeded his best hopes, when Jesus admitted that He was the Messiah.

What happened before midnight on the Thursday evening? Why was Judas so important to Caiaphas? After all Jesus was not in hiding. He spoke openly all day and could have been found any evening. The leaders were afraid of the consequences of arresting Jesus, since they did not know how the crowd would react. Crowds are very fickle. The situation was unprecedented and very sensitive. Perhaps they feared the Christ – with good reason. Truth has that effect on man. Jesus clearly possessed certain powers. To some extent the religious leaders were out of their depth. Even at the trial, they left the initiative to Jesus. The initiative remained with Jesus right to the end. So they were apprehensive. Three hours elapsed between Judas leaving the Supper Table and the soldiers arresting Jesus.
Why the delay? Judas knew where he would find Jesus. John ch 13 v 27. There were certain things, which had to be done before the soldiers set off. Judas went straight to Caiaphas. Jesus waited for Judas there in the groves of Gethsemane. The leaders dare not make an unsuccessful arrest. Their prestige would be irreparably damaged. They dared not hold Jesus under arrest during the Feast. Jerusalem was turbulent during the Feast. While they knew of the certainty of arrest, there were doubts as to whether or not they could carry the thing through to execution by sundown the next day. There had to be hurried consultations with the Sanhedrin to know that they would meet and act quickly. Also there must have been consultation with Pilate. It is against the character of Pilate and the Roman occupation to assume that a serious case would be dealt with at once on the Friday morning, without ascertaining his readiness to hear the case. Normally such a case would not have been held on this day of the Feast. Jesus seemed to be facilitating their plans. Would Pilate insist on a full trial or would he formally endorse the finding of their Jewish court? Normally these things take time. There was little time available. It was probably Caiaphas who went to Pilate. Pilate liked to relax in the evening.

Jesus was brought before Pilate. There is an impression that Pilate did not want to touch the matter. Under Roman law the Jews had no right to put any man to death. History records that Pilate handled the Jews with little sympathy or understanding. He had contempt for them. By the time the case came to Pilate it was no longer a case of blasphemy but was a political case. Pilate was far more on trial than Jesus. Pilate tried to avoid a decision but the thought of the loss of his own personal position and standing as Governor was uppermost in his mind. He was trapped and eventually gave in to self-preservation. Continued indecision and rejection of Jesus leads not only to abandonment of justice and truth but of God Himself. Claudia had a role to play. She was probably aware of a visit by Caiaphas to Pilate in the evening to see if he would take the case in the morning. Mat ch 27 v 19. She had a dream about Jesus. God usually uses dreams to warn men. She may even have been an admirer of Jesus.

CHAPTER 19.
Reading the trial puts the readers on trial also. Is He guilty? If not, why was He sentenced to death? Crucifixion was the most horrifying death. It was unthinkable that a Roman citizen should be killed in this way. Crucifixion was for slaves and criminals. Deut ch 21 v 23 and Gal ch 3 v 13. Any man hanged on a tree was under God’s curse. It involved physical and mental anguish. God has experienced all the suffering of mankind. Perhaps the worst suffering was the suffering of the soul. v 24 tells of the seamless robe suggested in Psalm 22. It was the high priestly garment. Jesus had fulfilled the role of the High Priest as He offered Himself as the sacrifice for sin. “Finished” was a shout of triumph, rather than a cry of resignation.

Rejection. The Jewish leaders showed no sign of repentance. They were furious with Pilate putting the words “King of the Jews” on the cross above Jesus. Many of the Jews had weakly followed the leaders’ example. Everyone in the crowd is guilty. Each man is responsible for his own sin.
Indifference. The soldiers were ignorant of the significance of what they were doing. They were just doing their duty. However, they gambled for His clothes and showed their indifference. They gambled as Jesus suffered. Had they no conscience at all?
Loyalty. Others were loyal to Jesus.
Jesus divided mankind in His death, as He had done in His life.

The scourging. Prisoners often died as a result of scourging. At least 40 lashes with a leather whip, with bits of bone or metal in the end of each thong, tore the back open. After that a huge piece of rough wood was thrust upon the back to be carried to the place of execution. The crown of thorns was sometimes an instrument of torture. The wearing of such a crown was a sign of royalty or divinity. It was part of the mocking of Jesus by the soldiers that here was a King! The robe was also part of the mocking. The crown may therefore not have been painful. The mocking must have been especially hard to bear during a time of acute pain, suggesting that it was all for nothing. When Pilate brought Jesus out, he was suggesting that what he had done was enough of a punishment. He was in effect asking the question – “Can you regard such a pathetic figure as a rival king?” Yet he condemned himself by saying that he found no crime in Him, despite the fact that he had inflicted such awful punishment. Perhaps he realised to some extent what he had done and was quite glad to get rid of the evidence of his injustice. How could he know that Jesus would rise again?

v 7 and v 8. The mention of the Son of God seems to have increased Pilate’s fear. He was involved in something, which was dangerous. Was this man a supernatural person? What to the Jews was blasphemy was to the Romans treason.
v 11. Jesus gave Pilate an opportunity to get off the hook by saying that the real sin was on the part of those who had sent Him to Pilate. v 12 starts by saying that: “Upon this Pilate sought to release Him.” Jesus put Pilate on the spot by saying that He fully understood the power Pilate had over Him and asked what he proposed to do. Pilate would have liked someone else to make the decision. Jesus reminded him that the decision was his.

At the end of the scene the Jewish leaders utter the words of blasphemy. “We have no king but Caesar.” The people of Israel knew no King but God. The punishment for blasphemy according to the Law was death. Lev ch 24 v 16. They must have known that full well. Sin blinds man to the truth. How easily a man can be pushed into decisions to go along with the crowd rather than to stand out for the truth. A man needs to think through certain decisions before making up his mind or else he is swept along with the crowd. The notice that Pilate wrote: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” was in 3 languages – for all to see and read. Herod knew that Jesus had been born King of the Jews. Mat ch 2 v 2. Here He is in death – King of the Jews. Declared by God to be so. He is still King of the Jews.

v 24 is an example of how the Holy Spirit led John into the truth of the Scripture and its fulfilment. Psalm 22 v 18.

v 26-27. At the very end of his strength Jesus still had time to meet the needs of a grieving Mother and a reliable friend and put them together. John would have learned much from Mary about Jesus in His early life – the birth and the angel etc. The Church is born, as two unrelated persons are bound together in Christ.

Jesus carried the wood for His execution. Isaac had carried the wood for the fire. Gen ch 22 v 6
Jesus is crucified between two men. Isaiah ch 53 v 12. The lot of the suffering servant is with the transgressors.

v 28. Jesus had either Psalm 69 v 21 or Psalm 42 v 2 in mind as He hung there on the cross – probably the latter. He was also physically thirsty. He wanted to state clearly that His task was finished and His mouth was probably too dry to make a clear sound, so He needed the liquid to moisten His throat and utter the words: “It is finished.” It was a cry of triumph. Then He surrendered His spirit to God. Eccles ch 12 v 7. The spirit returns to God for judgement.

Crucifixion. Death came eventually when the person suffocated. With no strength left to push up, he could not take in air to breathe. If the legs were broken, there was no possibility of pushing up to get air and death followed almost at once. The legs of the other two were broken, but Jesus was already dead. The Muslims claim that Jesus was spirited away by God. The evidence is that He was truly dead. Ex ch 12 v 46. No bone of the sacrificial lamb must be broken. Psalm 34 v 20 and Num ch 9 v 12.

Deut ch 21 v 22-33. He must be buried the same day.

34. Blood and water came out when the side was pierced. John witnessed this. Piercing was prophesied in Zechariah ch 12 v 10. The soldier knew which part of the body to pierce in order to achieve a speedy result. Blood signified that salvation had been procured, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission for sins. The water symbolised the new spiritual life made possible by the death of Jesus. The water of life refers to the woman at the well. In theological terms both justification and sanctification are the direct results of the crucifixion. The blood and water signify in medical terms that Jesus died of a broken heart.

The burial is a meaningful and dignified act of love by two men who may not have known that the other was a disciple. Joseph was a wealthy man. Serving the Lord brings people together in a special way. They would be certain that Jesus was dead. There is power in His death to affect men and draw them out to a point of decision. It was a dangerous step, which they took in associating themselves with the Lord. Psalm 45 v 8. All your garments smell of myrrh and aloes.

CHAPTER 21.
Verse 25 reminds men why the book was written – that man might believe in Jesus. Only a few of the events have been included. It would be tremendous to learn about some of the other events.

Fishing again? If there are no specific instructions for a believer it is best to be busy doing what he has to do. In Peter’s case it was fishing. It may have been a hankering for the old life or an impulsive action. If it was impulsive, it was a failure. They caught nothing. “Without me you can do nothing.” Other names of the Sea of Galilee are Tiberius and Gennesaret.

Jesus seems able to control nature. After all He created nature, so He ought to be able to control it. How did Jesus see them 100 yards away? How was He able to speak to them at a distance of 100 yards? Peter left the others to do all the work of bringing the boat ashore. Either it was selfish of him or else he had his priorities right. Obedience is better than impatience. A man needs to learn to wait, listen and obey Jesus.

Jesus seems to put the seal on the right to eat fish. He served it to them. Why narrate the number of the fish? Did the number have a spiritual significance? There were 153 people healed in the Gospels. Jesus is interested in the physical needs of men as well as their spiritual needs. The fish were counted in order that the catch might be taxed.

Jesus tested Peter to see if he had learned his lesson about being loyal to Him. “Do you love me more than these?” What does “these” refer to? Other Disciples or the fish? Jesus gives Peter an opportunity to wipe out the threefold denial with a threefold affirmation of love and loyalty. A man’s love for Jesus ought to exceed his love for his work, his family or his pleasures. Peter ended up crucified upside down.

v 21. Believers are often more concerned about what others are doing or not doing, rather than getting on with what the Lord has given them to do.

v 22 has been wrongly interpreted. It is so easy to distort the truth of comments. John is concerned for the truth. An untruth can have doctrinal consequences. e.g. the rapture. A man should not force on Scripture what he would not force on ordinary language. Peter was to be the man of action and John the man of thought. Each had an essential part to play, complementary, yet different.

The Believer has been chosen to serve the Lord. Jesus has a different plan for each believer. John’s life’s work was less dramatic than Peter’s. He became a man of reflection and deep thought. He lived to a ripe old age.

John Chapters 16-17.

JOHN CHAPTER 16.

1. The Bible is progressive revelation. There is no new revelation but each person understands more of the revealed truth as he grows. Some truths can only be understood after a man knows more about Jesus and God’s plan of salvation. All are at different stages of learning. A parent does not tell a child about certain things until the child is ready for it e.g. marriage, driving a car, owning a house. Jesus tells the Disciples to expect more. So should believers.
2. God wants to deepen the relationship with Him.
3. Tribulation. There are 3 levels.

(a) Suffering, arising from a man’s fallen nature – own goals – lack of wisdom. Natural catastrophes, colds and flu, car crash on ice. A man has to face up to his responsibilities and not blame God or Satan.
(b) Attacks from Satan. Believers in an unbelieving World have a different approach to life.
(c) Sent or allowed by God, in order to chastise and purify believers.

It is important to get the diagnosis right, just as it is for a doctor to get the physical diagnosis right. Otherwise a man might blame Satan or God for his own failure to exercise his own responsibilities.
4. The Holy Spirit convicts man of sin, righteousness and judgement.
5. The Disciples faced a paradox. On the one hand – the suffering servant. On the other hand – the supernatural Son of God. Believers face the same difficult interpretation.

There is a story – not factual – that when Jesus returned to Heaven, Gabriel asked Jesus what arrangements He had made on Earth for the Church. Jesus replied that He had left it all in the hands of the twelve Disciples. Gabriel was surprised. “What if they should fail?“ Jesus replied that He had made no other arrangements.

Reading the Bible without the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit is as useless as a sundial without the sun. Jesus does not save a man from tribulation but saves him in it. He gives a man strength to have victory in spite of it.

CHAPTER 17.
This is often called the High Priestly prayer. The High Priest went once a year into the Holy of Holies to offer a sacrifice to God for the sins of the people. Jesus was about to lay down His life for the sins of the people. His teaching ministry was at an end but His priestly ministry was yet to be fulfilled.

There seem to be three sections.
1. Personal prayer to His Father. He had an intimate relationship with His Father. This concerned His own mission. He has two requests for Himself. That He might be used of God to show the full love of God, and that His own humiliation may rebound to His own glory

2. Prayer for His Disciples – those closest to Him.

3. Prayer for all His people worldwide. This is the Church worldwide – throughout the ages. It is not everyone in general – but only those who believe in Him. This could be a pattern of prayer for believers.

Jesus had left the realm of glory and was looking forward to being back there. What does “glory” mean? Daniel ch 7 v 9-14. Rev ch 19 v 11- 16. God had chosen those who belonged to Jesus. “Those whom you have given me.” Believers are in the World but do not belong to it.

Unity. That they may all be one. This relates only to believers. v 24. It is like a postcard saying: “Wish you were here.” The teaching and works of Jesus had been prompted by a desire that the people should enjoy a higher life, which is only possible when they are reconciled to God. Eternal life is only possible by His death. Mark ch 10 v 29-30.

Jesus had time to pray for others in the biggest moment of His life on Earth. Do believers think of others in the midst of their problems? Jesus was prepared to lay Himself open in prayer, sharing what was on his heart. He had a deep concern for the things of His Father. He lived His whole life in perfect fellowship with His Father.

A. The personal prayer. The climax of His whole life was upon Him. How would a man feel, if he knew that he had only a short time to live until certain death? Jesus knew what was coming. He masterminded the whole scenario. His death was the crowning glory. Others had taught and preached and even been instrumental in carrying out miracles. No one was asked to die for the sins of the World. His death made eternal life possible for individuals. It is by knowing Jesus that a man has eternal life. The resurrection showed God’s acceptance of the sacrifice.

B. Prayer for the Disciples. They were not just followers but knew something of the character and purposes of God. The Disciples knew that Jesus was not merely a man but came from God and was going back to be with God. Jesus was concerned that none would fall away. In chapter 16 are the principles for ensuring that believers do not fall away. The illustration of the vine and abiding in Christ. They are to be dedicated to doing God’s will in the World. There are two extremes to avoid. Isolation from the World and imitation of the World. The “World” means man organised in community without reference to God. In other words they live as if God did not exist or was not concerned with how they lived. The Christian life involves separation from the World with its sin and identification with the World in its need. Without separation a man has an audience but nothing to say and without identification he has something to say with no audience. “People will not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Even then, they may not want to know. Jesus was leaving behind a new society standing out in marked contrast to the World. It was called the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus knows the pressures on them. The same pressures were on Him. They need the power of the Holy Spirit to survive.

C. Division in the real Church destroys the witness of the Lord. What kind of unity is God looking for? Unity of Spirit. The believers were all of one mind. That is a miracle in itself. In the World there are so many different opinions on every subject. If believers can be united and of one mind, it is the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus and God were of one mind, because Jesus submitted Himself to the will of God and His revealed Word. Those who are in Christ are one organism and not one organisation. But everyone needs to be obedient to work for what the Lord wants and not what the individual wants. Be completely one. Eph ch 4 v 3. The unity of the Holy Spirit needs to be preserved. It is essential to have a unity of truth. Disagreement about essential truths, upon which Jesus clearly assumed that man should be united, leads to lack of unity, e.g. second baptism. There is a danger of debating doctrine but there are also dangers in ignoring doctrinal truths. It is a question of balance and debate in love and not with a view to winning or losing. Paul said that man is to speak the truth in love. Eph ch 4 v 14-16. Maxim. In necessary things – unity. In doubtful things – liberty. In all things – charity.

John Chapters 13-15

JOHN CHAPTER 13.

v 1-17. Humility. The World is concerned with status and position. It matters to the World where a person stands in relation to others. The more important a person is, the more he finds meaning in life. What Jesus was teaching them was that it does not matter who a man is, but what he is. Character is more important than possessions. Jesus chose to do a teaching session – an acted parable. In this way He wanted to impress on the Disciples the point about serving being more important than position. No one had volunteered to wash the feet of the guests. Jesus led the way. Jesus carried out the role of the lowest slave, whose job it was to wash the feet of the guests. Why had none of the Disciples thought to wash the feet of the others? Jesus, who had all power in Heaven and on Earth, subjected Himself to the authority of Pilate. He had come from God and was going to God, yet He was prepared to serve as a slave. In the eyes of the World this was ridiculous. Jesus had come for everyone but offered His life for His followers. It also emphasised the sacrificial action of His death and the cleansing power of His death for sin.

It is not enough to call Jesus Teacher and Lord, if a man is not prepared to follow His example and serve others. Overall washing is symbolic of baptism and the new birth. Washing of feet is symbolic of regular cleansing from sin. A Greek man going out for a meal would bathe before he went, but needed his feet washed after the journey and before he ate. The roads were unmade and often mucky with the droppings of animals. By the time he arrived at the home of the host, his feet might well be stinking with camel droppings. A man needs regular forgiveness for daily sins. Sin breaks the relationship with God. The sinful nature in a man enjoys his “position” in life. Men like praise for their efforts. Therefore, believers should tell others about what they are doing for the Lord or the Lord does not get all the glory and praise. God knows and He will reward. Believers ought to do their work for the Lord, who knows their attitude and their needs, and not for outward recognition. v 17. Believers should think up ways of serving the local community. Lev ch 19 v 18. It was not new. Man is called to do the will of God. Knowledge is not enough. Faith without works is dead. In making his protest, Peter was displaying the pride of unredeemed man, who is confident of his ability to save himself, that he distinctly resists the suggestion that he needs divine cleansing. He wanted to do everything for himself. Peter would rather have washed Jesus’ feet. Why did he not do so before Jesus offered to wash his feet?

Judas must have been a clever hypocrite, since the others did not know right away whom it was Jesus meant as the traitor. It may seem obvious. Jesus knew. Psalm 41 v 9. The word of the Lord came to Him. The Devil cannot be in more than one place at a time. Here Satan personally entered Judas. It was an important job and he chose to do it himself. Jesus still loved Judas. He did not condemn him. There came a time for Judas when his rejection of Jesus laid him open to Satan’s controlling him. There was fertile ground for Satan to set to work in Judas. Such a time comes for all who reject Christ. The badge of Discipleship was selfless, humble, patient, sacrificial love for one another. A morsel was used when two people were making a bargain. Rather like shaking hands. A morsel was dipped in wine. Jesus was in total control and made a bargain with Judas to betray Him. Judas knew what he was doing. The story is a reminder that there are no excuses. Each man is responsible for his actions. When grace and love are persistently spurned, a man settles his own destiny. Jesus knew the timetable of events and knew exactly when to release Judas. He had to go to the High Priest and the High Priest had to go to Pilate. They had to have the hearing before dawn, so that they could ask Pilate to act in the morning. The schedule was tight. Had Jesus delayed Judas, there would not have been time for the formalities. No one killed Jesus. Jesus allowed it and planned it down to the finest detail. The desire was there on the part of man but God in Christ could have prevented it. If Jesus had let the others know of the plan, they might have tried to prevent it. To some extent they did in the Garden, when the servant’s ear was cut off. Jesus proved His divine nature in the special knowledge, which He had and which came to the minds of the Disciples later.

CHAPTER 14.
Jesus was talking to the Disciples. A note of exasperation and censure appears in the words. Jesus was not speaking at a funeral and trying to comfort those who had been bereaved. His own funeral was a little time away. It is as if He was saying: “Can you not see! After three years you seem to have grasped very little of what I have told you.”

Jesus had been with them for three years, teaching them. Obviously not everything in the Gospels accounts for all His time with them. They also had the advantage of body language and an opportunity to question Jesus. He must have told them that He had existed before the World began. He was there when God created the angels and the archangels, the cherubim and the seraphim. He was there when Lucifer, one of the chief angels, said that he was tired of praising God and God threw him out of His presence. A large number of angels followed him and became known as demons or fallen angels. Then came the creation of the Earth and the Universe – in that order. Satan set about trying all he could to spoil God’s plan for the World. Jesus was there when the Flood took place and there was only one man – Noah – in all the Earth who was righteous. Jesus was there when God asked the Jews to do a specific task for Him. He had witnessed the struggle of the Jews to serve God and to obey Him. From time to time Jesus appeared to men as a theophany. Jesus was there when, through the prophet Ezekiel, God had said that He Himself would come to lead His sheep. Perhaps it was at that time His Father asked Jesus to leave the realm of glory to live on Earth as a human being. Jesus had taught the Disciples that it was all grace. By grace God had been sustaining the World. It was sin, which was ruining the World. Jesus knew that sin demands the death penalty and that He had come with the specific task of paying that price by offering Himself on the cross as the perfect human sacrifice. He knew how much His Father loved these weak and spineless human beings. It was His privilege to do what His Father had asked. Jesus also knew that His Father would give those people who accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour the Holy Spirit to strengthen them and enable them to resist temptation and live as God had always intended them to live, stewarding the Earth and praising Him as God and serving and looking after one another. There was to be no more deliberate sinning. They were to get on with putting the World right, until He, Jesus, would come again in judgement.

Jesus had told them all that over and over again. Yet they still had not grasped that He had to die for their sins, and that, having finished His task, He was entitled to return to glory into His Father’s presence. They would never grow as long as He was with them. Children have to leave the home, if they are to fully develop. That is this situation today. If a man does not know now after 2,000 years what this World is all about can he blame God for being angry? For ignoring the sacrifice of His son, for allowing the World to get into such a mess, for toleration of political leaders who commit acts of gross immorality, for spending more on weapons than on food, for poisoning his body and for allowing all sorts of false teaching to be accepted, a man is responsible for his actions and decisions.

Jesus answers questions posed by the Disciples on man’s behalf, which all need to have answered.
1. “Where are you going?” Chapter 13 v 36. Peter. “Where are you going when you die?” Jesus taught a great deal in answer to questions. If people are not seeking answers to questions, then there is little can be done to convey the information. The preacher ought to stimulate the questions in the minds of the listeners, and bring them to consider matters, which they have not thought about previously. Peter was impulsive. Jesus was going to Heaven. Jesus is encouraging the Disciples to turn their thoughts from the immediate future on Earth with all its dangers and disappointments to the thought of their ultimate destiny in Heaven. This helps a man keep present anxieties in perspective. Romans ch 8 v 18. There is no scientific evidence of life after death, except for the resurrection and occultic practices. Peter was not ready to lay down his life for Jesus. That would come later. All will have to make the same journey of faith at some time. 1 Thes ch 15 v 17.

2.”How can we know the way there?” v 5. Thomas.
A man in the East, if asked the way, would say: “I am the way.” He means: “Follow me and I shall lead you to your destination.” Jesus is the only man who can lead the way to a man’s ultimate destination. Jesus is the only bridge between sinful man and a holy God. The way to God lies in the knowledge of truth about Him and in the experience of His life. Jesus has brought that knowledge and life within the reach of man. He is the embodiment of truth about God and His relationship with men. To know Jesus is to know the Father. The Disciples already had knowledge of the way to God.

3. “Show us the Father.” v 8-11. Philip.
It would be easy, if only a man could see God. Or would it? Seeing is believing. But faith is what is required. Trusting in what a man cannot see, yet believing it is there – that is faith. Jesus’ answer is that those who have seen Him, have seen the Father. They are two of a kind. The evidence is found in:
(a) The personality of Jesus. He demonstrated an intimate relationship with His Father. He always did those things, which pleased His Father. John ch 8 v 29.
(b) His words. No one ever spoke like Jesus. John ch 7 v 34. The one whom God has sent speaks His words. John ch 3 v 34.
(c) His works. The miracles and mighty deeds authenticated the claims of Jesus. No one could do these things unless He was God.
Philip obviously misunderstood the person and work of Jesus.

v 12-14. These are some of the most challenging verses in the Bible. The ministry will no longer be confined to Judea and Samaria. The acts of the risen Jesus will continue as is seen in Acts throughout the World. Prayer must be in the name of Jesus. A person may use the name of an influential friend to gain access to normally inaccessible places. There are a number of essentials before that happens. There must be the right motive – a desire to do the works of God. Man must be a holy channel. There must be a desire and determination to keep the moral law of God. What greater things have happened? Evangelism. Peter spoke and 3000 people were converted. Evangelists speak to thousands today. Books written by men are bought by millions of people.

v 15. The Holy Spirit is described as the one who comforts and strengthens. There is assurance when the Holy Spirit lives inside a man. Inner conviction and a deep inner peace are evidence of the Holy Spirit. v 20. “You will know.” 1 Cor ch 2 v 12-13. v 15. It is by keeping the commandments of God that a man experiences the Holy Spirit. The reverse is true. If a man does not keep the commandments of God, he loses the Holy Spirit. If he neglects to read the Bible, he demonstrates a lack of love for God and His commandments. Rev ch 3 v 20. ”I stand at the door and knock.” There must be a response to open the door. If a man cares for the one on the other side of the door he will let him in. It would be rude to ignore the knock. Love is not rude. v 15-24 tell so much about the role of the Holy Spirit.

CHAPTER 15. RELATIONSHIPS.
Jesus knew that His time was short and so He taught about relationships, which were vital for His followers. The true vine. As Jesus left the Upper Room and passed across the Temple area He would have passed the two bunches of grapes on the Temple, which were the symbols of Israel. What He was saying was that these were symbols but He was the reality. In verses 1-10 He speaks about the relationship with Jesus as being INDISPENSIBLE. A man literally needs Him every hour and cannot live without His presence. There is a danger of thinking that a man can live as a believer without Him. He cannot. That leads to religious traditions.

The Gardener breaks off the branches, which do not bear fruit. The vine-dresser hoes the ground to clear the weeds and anything which would draw nourishment from the vine. A man needs to clear away the sins, which clog up his life. The knife cuts off the useless parts. This is a painful process. There are 3 types of branches on a vine. 1. Those which are all leaves but bear no fruit. Many lives are all show and no action. 2. Branches bearing small hard and sour fruit. They must be cut off. 3. Those bearing good fruit. A man can be assured that God wants the best for him. His Word is not there for discussion but for action, so that a man may respond to it.

There are two types of fruit. 1. Fruit, which will bless God. He is pleased when a man is becoming like Jesus. “Look at my servant Job.” Job ch 1 v 8. God was pleased with Job, whose life brought God joy. David was a man after God’s heart. The gardener wants to derive pleasure from His work in the garden. The fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians shows the type of people believers should be becoming. 2. Fruit, which leads to service to mankind for the benefit of mankind. Service gives a cutting edge to the Christian life. Only if a man is abiding in Jesus can he ask for anything and God will give it to him. God wants His glory to be revealed in the disciples of Jesus. They are to live such lives that there can be only one explanation for the life they live – that Jesus is living in them. The miracles prove the presence of God at work within them.

In verses 11-17 Jesus speaks about the relationship with others. It is INEVITABLE. A man cannot choose the members of his family. He may not like them but he must love them. There is no such thing as an isolated believer. There are 27 positive references in the Bible to one another and 9 negative references. It is not an option but a commandment. A believer cannot love Jesus, if he does not love his brothers in Christ. 1 John ch 3 v 16. This is use of the present tense continuing.

In v 18 – ch 16 v 15 Jesus turns to the relationship with the World. It is INESCAPABLE. Believers are to be the salt and light in society. That is how it is. They will face hostility from the World, but help will come in the person of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus has been paving the way for a new community of people. God plans to work through a body and not just individuals. By a simple allegory Jesus teaches about the demands of discipleship and the conditions under which it can become effective. Israel is often pictured as the vine, but she failed to bring forth fruit. Isaiah ch 5 v 1 – 7. Jer ch 2 v 21. Gal ch 5 v 22. Israel was the imperfect foreshadowing of the perfection God wanted. Jesus perfected the ideal. The branches of a vine have no life in themselves. The life comes from the stem. Pride and self-sufficiency or unwillingness to draw strength from Jesus leads to deadness and ineffectiveness. It is best to cut it off. There is no permanent place for that person in the Fellowship. Prayer is only effective, if it is in the name of and with the power of Jesus. Jesus now says that His followers are “friends.” He takes them into His trust. Faith without works is dead. James ch 2 v 26.

To remain in Christ means four things.
1. To be united to Christ. It means to be vitally in touch with Christ by faith. A dead or nominal believer is no use to God and needs to be pruned.
2. To be dependent on Christ. Pruning is designed to make a man more Christ-like. It is dangerous to live on past experiences. This is not active faith in Christ.
3. To be obedient to Christ. Love promotes obedience. If a man respects someone, he will not want to hurt the person but to seek the best for him. Jesus reveals His father’s secrets to those who are His friends. Believers need love, patience and tolerance to love one another.
4. To continue in relationship with Christ. Whoever holds out to the end will be saved. A man is to work out his salvation. To read the Scriptures, pray and have fellowship with other believers is the way God has chosen to enable believers to receive the sap of the vine. There are other illustrations – an orchestra, a building, a family and citizens of the Kingdom.
There are four relationships of love. The Father loves the Son. The Son loves His Disciples.
The Disciples love the Lord Jesus. The Disciples love one another.

Persecution. The Church is the only society, which exists for the benefit of its non-members. Witnesses – light – salt – are all symbols of preventing the society in which a man lives from deteriorating. “The World” means men organised in community without reference to God. Jesus did not think of Satan as an impersonal force but as a personal adversary. To witness is to bring believers into conflict with the World. Their persecution may be a raised eyebrow, a taunt, cold-shouldering or a quite irrational outburst from friends or relatives or even a religious person. Never underestimate the strength of the opposition. A man’s greatest sin is the sin of omission to fail to believe in Jesus as saviour and Lord. While He was alive Jesus bore the brunt of the opposition. Now believers receive it. Psalm 35 v 19 and Psalm 69 v 4. There was no excuse for the rejection of the Jewish people of Jesus. Jesus warned that His followers would be excommunicated from the synagogue in the name of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit will come to expose the naked truth that the root of sin lies in the desire of men to live their lives in self-centred independence, disowning any allegiance to Jesus. He will show that all Jesus did and said was right. He will make it clear that there is such a thing as judgement. Every fresh insight into the truth enables the followers of Jesus to have a more complete vision of the glory of God as seen in the face of Jesus.

John Chapters 10-12.

JOHN’S GOSPEL.

CHAPTER 10. “I am the good shepherd.” Heb ch 13 v 20. 1 Pet ch 5 v 4.
In the culture of Israel sheep follow the shepherd. In many parts of the World the shepherd drives the sheep before him. This statement comes as an allegory. In a parable there is the intention of teaching one truth and all the facts are incidental to the main idea. In an allegory all the details are relevant. Jesus is the shepherd and the door to the sheepfold. The sheep can only enter the sheepfold through Him. Man can only enter the Kingdom of God by Jesus. Those who are not true sheep cannot enter the door of the sheepfold. Only by the death of Christ can a man enter Heaven. There is no other way. In this way Jesus claimed to be exclusive.

CHAPTER 11. How did Jesus know that God was going to raise Lazarus from the dead? Was it just wishful thinking? Or did He hear God speak to Him by the Holy Spirit? Daniel ch 12 v 2 holds the key. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the Earth shall awake.” When Jesus heard the news and prayed, did He hear God promise to raise Lazarus and therefore He went confident that if He spoke Lazarus would rise? In verse 14 Jesus said that Lazarus was dead. How did He know? Jesus believed the Word of God in the same way a man has to believe it today.

The miracles of Jesus are designed to back up the claims, which He made and to bring glory to God. He often referred His critics to the work, which He was doing. Here Jesus claims that He can give men new spiritual life and supports His claim by raising Lazarus from the dead. This is a physical picture to teach the spiritual truth. He gives new life to the spiritually dead. The other stories show the spiritual dimension behind the physical dimension. The result was fresh trust in Him. This sounds like an eye-witness account by John. Jesus said in v 42 that the miracle was so that the people would believe that He was from God. Some did believe in Him. It was also evidence of His supernatural power. Verses 9 and 10. When He is on God’s business, no harm can come to Him. In the same way a man walking in daylight will not stumble, while one walking in the dark will stumble.

The attitude of believers to death marks them out as distinctive. The rest of mankind understand it as the end of life. The believer sees it as a passing on to greater life. They are more alive after physical death than they were before death. It will be the greatest day of their life. C. S. Lewis said that some things depend on whether a man is to live for 70 years or forever. The attitude to death ought to be positive. The purpose of the event was to bring glory to God, who was about to prove that death was not the end. Lazarus was still there and not extinct.

Jesus knew what He was doing, even though the Disciples were baffled. A delayed answer is as much an answer to prayer. Timing is all-important. God has a plan. Martha wanted a quick answer and scolded Jesus for not being there and allowing it to happen. Sometimes a man criticises God instead of praising Him in whatever circumstance he finds himself. Bereavement causes a man to think about life and death in a deeper way. It poses the question: “What will happen when I die?” Jesus wanted there to be absolutely no doubt that He was dead. It was the same with the crucifixion. There were doctors to certify death, to avoid the claim that Jesus had not actually died. God wants a man to be quite certain that when he dies he faces judgement and will be in His presence. As death approaches a man should be becoming increasingly excited about the prospect of meeting Him. Each day takes a man one day nearer a personal meeting with Jesus. Martha’s faith was strengthened as a result. The lesson was the more meaningful because Lazarus had been dead for four days. The principal purpose for which Jesus came was to defeat death – the last enemy of mankind.

Jesus involves others in His work. He asked some to roll the stone away and others to untie Lazarus. Believers ought to minister to one another in a fellowship to untie the bonds, which still cling to them. Jesus Himself did what no man could do. He gave life. Men still cannot create life, no matter how hard they try. In the circumstances of the death of Lazarus, Jesus authenticated His claim that He alone had eternal life and He alone had the authority and the ability to give away what He had to those who had been chosen by His Father for that purpose. Larzarus is never heard of again. He would have stolen the glory from Jesus. v 51. God can inspire non-believers like Caiaphas to speak out His purposes.

Jesus moved towards the tomb in the same way as a warrior moves to meet his foe. It was a decisive act in defiance of the power of the enemy over mankind. There was a mixture of the agony in Gethsemane. Perhaps He had this in mind at the tomb, as well as the fact that He too would soon be in the tomb. There was a mixture of emotion, anger, frustration and sadness – also the solemnity of the moment and the significance of it. An athlete cries out of emotion at the end of the event. v 35. Why did Jesus weep? He knew that He was soon to be in a tomb after an awful death. Emotion? Sympathy? Sadness that His followers had such little faith? Indignation at the taunts? The tension is pent up and comes out in tears. “Let there be light.” “Lazarus, come forth.” are similar commands. It is the use of speech in a positive way, which brings forth results.

It is good to remember why John wrote this book. It was so that people might believe in Jesus Christ as Saviour of the World. Then, as now, people are forced to make up their minds as to where they stand in relation to Jesus. 1. Many were curious and wanted to talk about Him. However, to know Him demands more than discussion. 2. Mary lavished her love on Jesus. Her action was spontaneous and extravagant, but genuine. Love for Jesus should never be cold and calculating. 3. Judas loved money more than Jesus. He even made money out of Jesus. His comment about the money to Mary was deceitful and hypocritical. A man cannot serve God and Mammon. Some loved Mammon. 4. Some were hostile. 5. The crowds were easily led, first to shout for Jesus as King and later to cry “Crucify Him.”

There were plans to kill Lazarus. What harm did he do? He was the living proof of the power of Jesus. In the same way believers are the living proof of Jesus. “You shall be my witnesses.” So believers too should expect hostility, which may border on the surprising and illogical.

The Chief Priests were jealous of the influence of Jesus over the crowds. They were the leaders of the Jews, but Jesus was capturing the support of the people. That meant that they were, at best, redundant and, at worst, false. Hosanna means “save, we pray.” In earlier days Kings and Judges rode on horses in time of war and on colts in errands of peace. Zechariah ch 9 v 9. The New Testament reminds man that there can be no peace and prosperity among men, unless there is first peace with God.

v 13. Baruchaba. Jesus said that man should not see Him again until he says: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Mat ch 23 v 39. Baruchaba. This is sung today in Jerusalem at the Feast of Tabernacles. Psalm 118 v 26. The Jews knew that their Messiah was to be King forever. Ezekiel ch 37 v 25. Psalm 118 v 22-29. Psalm 110 v 4. Isaiah ch 9 v 7.

There will always be the poor amongst mankind. It is dangerous to work to alleviate poverty, even in the name of Jesus, without giving Him time. Sometimes a man may feel guilty spending time in worship without seeking to help the poor. This verse reminds a man that he has to get his priorities right. To concentrate on the materially poor is another Gospel.

The Greeks came to Jerusalem because the Jewish religion was more satisfying than pagan superstition. Jesus was more satisfying still. Philip was a Greek-speaking Jew. Jesus emphasised to them that the way ahead was through His death and their death to their selfish desires. Jesus refers to the Devil as “The ruler of this World.” He has great power. The victory has been won but there is still a great deal of mopping up to be finished. Men may never fully understand the effect of the death of Jesus with his finite mind. Hardening of hearts suggests that God was unfair. Does God blind? Pharaoh. What chance did they have if God had hardened their heart? There comes a moment when persistent rejection of God’s Word leads to hardness of heart – persistent refusal of a salesman hardens a person’s attitude to what the salesman has to sell. Romans ch 1 v 28. A man blinds himself when he withdraws from the truth or allows his prejudices to control his thinking. Jesus did not come to judge, but to save. Yet in saving He brought judgement because, by refusing to be saved, a man judges himself. It is a by-product. How did Jesus know that it was time to die just because the Greeks came to Him? Was it a signal that the World outside Jewry was looking for a Saviour? Did a small voice say: “Now is the hour”? Jesus knew for sure and made His plans accordingly. Perhaps He already knew and chose this time to say so.

v 25 is a paradox. How does a man explain the phrase that he must lose his life in order to find it? Ingratitude is a form of sin. Some did not confess Jesus because they did not want to lose their comfortable place in society. To reject Christ and His teaching is to reject God, since Jesus came from God and spoke for Him. Deut ch 18 v 15. A man will never appreciate good music until he abandons popular music. He must reject the second best before he can appreciate the best.

v 31. Judgement. The presence of Jesus is like a light. It provokes a response. A man either comes forward or hides from it. Jesus claimed to be the light of the World. Many did not believe then as now, despite all the evidence of His words and actions. Some believed in secret but would not declare for Him in public. They did not have the determination to leave a dead Church, perhaps because they liked the respectability of Church or religion and the honour of men. They did not want to lose their friends or their place in society. The atonement was necessary. It was the chief purpose in Jesus coming to Earth. It was a shameful death. No man could save himself.

John chapters 5-9

JOHN CHAPTER 5.
John has already presented Jesus as truly human and now he presents Him as divine – God the Son. In recognising God as His Father, Jesus was speaking of a relationship. Now – a man can enjoy fellowship with God, who was no longer to be a remote deity.

Each man is invited by Jesus to look at the evidence. A man may know it, but if asked to prove that Jesus is divine, can he present the evidence logically? Evidence relies on witnesses, who speak to the truth. Deut ch 19 v 15 requires 2 or 3 witnesses. In v 32 Jesus is saying that God is His witness. John was a second witness. The works, which Jesus did, were a witness. The Scriptures were also a witness to Jesus because they spoke about Him. Moses also spoke about Jesus – Deut ch 18 v 15. (An eye for an eye.) This is not a general principle of revenge but a specific penalty where a witness tells a lie and an innocent person would have suffered. e.g. the death penalty for murder. If the witness was lying he would face the death penalty. It was designed to stamp out the false witness. It just would not pay. The reference to an eye is similar to when Jesus said to cut off the hand or pluck out the eye. It is figurative language to illustrate the seriousness of the sin. “I will raise up a prophet like you from among your brothers.” If the people had been longing for divine life and forgiveness, then they would have been longing for Jesus.

The Jews were right in that Jesus was making Himself equal with God, although not as an independent authority from God. Jesus claimed to have special knowledge of God’s plan, and the power to give eternal life. Instead of keeping God at a distance, the living God was right in their midst and able to see all that they were doing. Like father, like son. The Son only does what He sees the Father doing. They are two of a kind. The Jews did not lack enthusiasm for studying the Torah but lacked insight into its true significance. The actions of God, which are the most complete expressions of His sovereignty, are the raising of men from death to life. Resurrection and judgement are the final things in life and these are the things, which confront a man in Jesus. It was another outrageous claim by Jesus, if He had been unable to fulfil His promises. v 43 is another great claim. These were exclusive claims to uniqueness.

The question of the Sabbath. How important is it? Jesus clashed with the Pharisees over the Sabbath. He disagreed with the petty restrictions imposed by them, which worked against God’s purpose in giving man a weekly day of rest and a time to set aside daily work and enjoy a special fellowship with God. The Sabbath was made for man, partly that he might be restored to physical strength but also that he might have spiritual refreshment and a foretaste of higher life. God’s activity did not stop on the seventh day. He did another kind of work. God was not tired. As the sustainer of the World there is no time off for Jesus.

CHAPTER 6.
The Passover was at hand. It was a time to teach the people that Jesus was the Passover lamb. How did He know that it would happen? 2 Kings ch 4 v 43. “I only do what I see my Father doing.” The Word of God spoke to Jesus and He knew that His Father had said that He would feed the people. Deut ch 18 v 15. Jesus was the prophet who was to come. Jesus walked on the waves to prove that He was Lord of the elements. As with the woman at the well, Jesus led the conversation round from the physical to the spiritual. Physical food provided by God keeps a man alive physically and spiritual food keeps a man alive spiritually. Jesus alone satisfies the spiritual need of man. Isaiah ch 55 v 2. God – not Moses – gave manna from Heaven to sustain the Israelites in the wilderness as a picture of the spiritual truth that He alone can sustain life both physically and spiritually. The manna saved their physical lives. Jesus came proclaiming that He alone had the spiritual food, which is essential to sustain spiritual life. Deut ch 18 v 19. Jesus offers to save the spiritual lives of the people. By the miracle of feeding the 5,000 God was authenticating the role of Jesus to feed spiritual food to the people. Man wanted proof. Now he had it. Bread sustains for a while, until hunger takes over again. Jesus satisfies always, providing man keeps feeding from His words of eternal life. As soon as a person is truly born again hunger for the word of God is part of his being. If there is no hunger for the Word of God, then there is a disease of the spirit.

This is one of the great “I am” sayings. Jesus claimed to be the one who provided the bread i. e. God Himself. “You can only give away what you have yourself.” Isaiah ch 54 v 13. Jesus claimed to be God who was teaching them. The Jews had no books but had learned the Scriptures and knew them far better than men do today. Jer ch 31 v 34. Hebrews ch 8 v 10. What does “Flesh” mean? Is it to be understood as literal or symbolic? The Word became flesh. This is symbolic. To eat the flesh is to accept that the blood of Jesus was given for a man’s sins and that the Word of God is to be consumed. Ezekiel ch 3 v 1. Eat the scroll. It is understood not to be taken literally. Man should not force on Scripture what he would not force on ordinary literature. “I am the door” is not to be taken literally either. A man needs the Word and the Spirit for life.

This passage is absolutely up to date and could have been written yesterday. The dispute still rages as to whether or not Jesus is divine and therefore the one to whom allegiance must be given. Today there are many other false prophets offering attractive alternatives but only Jesus can give eternal life. Others may improve the quality of life in this present age. Jesus alone offers eternal life. He sets out the conditions. Christianity makes exclusive claims – these are only repeating the claims of Jesus to be exclusive. The people were looking for someone to meet their physical needs – an economic utopia – an earthly paradise. Faith in Christ is in the Christ crucified. Repent and believe. One without the other is useless. Some wanted to repent and follow John. Others wanted Jesus as King but without repenting.

To whom else could the Disciples look for spiritual life? To whom can a man look today? Remember that John wrote his book so that people may believe in Jesus. The salvation, which Jesus brought, was the climax of the Jewish religion. v 41. The people had a wrong concept of God. They thought that a man could not be God. They did not know the Scriptures. Jeremiah ch 31 v 34. This was it. They should have been waiting for it and recognised it. It is the same today. The Jews are not as a people searching the Scriptures and prepared to take God at His word. People today have their own ideas of what God would be like. It is generally a concept, which is of their imagination, and one, which does not threaten them or place demands on them.

v 66. Many drew back from going on with Jesus. That also happens today. People count the cost and decide that is as far as they will go. The choice is for each man to make. Literally the words were unacceptable. The hearers had to think about the meaning and its significance. The Jews knew that a covenant had to be sealed with blood. The first covenant was sealed with blood by Moses sprinkling blood on the altar and on the people. The Exodus was a great deliverance. The new Covenant was to be an even greater deliverance. Man finds it easier to worship God in a material form than in a spiritual manner.

CHAPTER 8.
The Pharisees were not interested in the woman. She was a pawn to trap Jesus. Jesus asked them a question in reply and they were caught. Who is without sin? People often ask about the contradictions in the Bible. Ask them: “Which one?” Two statements may seem contradictory but both are true. “I met two people in town. I met three people in town.” Both may be true in that only two are referred to on one occasion and three on another occasion. It is wise to buy time before answering. Take time to think through the answer. A quick reply may not do justice to the question. Do not force the issue and try to prove it. Let it answer itself. Jesus did not let her off the hook. “Do not sin again.” He left her with a challenge. What did Jesus write on the sand? If it was today, Jesus might have written “pornography, girlie magazines, sexually explicit films.” The Jewish people knew the phrase “the finger of God”. Jesus was writing with His finger in the sand proclaiming that He was God.

“I am” the light of the World. The Pharisees got it all right. Jesus claimed to be unique and from Heaven. “I am the Messiah.” He told the Disciples not to tell others. He made the claim Himself. “I always please God.” No one could make that claim. Some leaders believed. Others rejected.

Ch 8 v 12 and ch 9 v 5. Jesus spoke these words while He was in the Temple – in the room where they keep the offering boxes. This was situated in the Court of the Women. It was a place of public assembly. It was a place where they could not arrest Jesus in private. Light shines to light up the path for people. Just as without a physical light a man cannot see physically or indeed thrive, so without spiritual light a man cannot understand spiritual things. A person can only come to and go in the dark, if there is a light. Jesus knew the place where He had come from and where He was going. In the days of Jesus many had a hope that the Messiah would come to light up the World. At dusk the four great golden candelabra were lit on the Temple courtyard. They sent light over all Jerusalem. These lights symbolised the pillar of fire by which God had guided His people through the desert by night. Exodus ch 13 v 21. Jesus was claiming that He would light the way for all who would chose to follow Him. Those who do not keep close to the light on the path will lose their way. It is not enough to look at the light but to follow it. Follow Jesus and walk to Heaven. God’s holiness is expressed in terms of light. 1 Tim ch 6 v 16. Light is always seen as a good thing. Darkness is the opposite. Satan operates in the realm of darkness. This statement is either true or ridiculous.

Lev ch 20 v 10. Adultery was serious. It had to be purged from the land. It strikes at the heart of the family and the nation. Deut ch 22 v 22. “Purge it from the land.” It is the thin end of the wedge. Serial polygamy is committed when a man lives with several wives – one after another. Children feel cheated of what others have – a real family and home. Deut ch 17 v 7. The witness was to throw the first stone. Like a firing squad it could not be proved who actually killed the person.

Rom ch 2 v 1. Man watches films and plays, including adultery, and so is equally guilty. Man should purge it from his life and his land. v 24. There is no other way to God, even for those who have not heard.

How to tell a genuine believer from a religious person. The men believed that they were God’s people because they had been born Jews. People today consider themselves Christian because they have been born in a “Christian” country and go to Church. Their loyalty is to their Church, rather than to the Lord. Jesus is the real test of loyalty to God or else it is lip service. v 42. There are some very clear statements about the character of the Devil. v 52. The fact that they cannot see the spiritual truth of eternal life shows them up for what they are. Jesus drew out of their own mouths what He wanted them to say. “Are you greater than Abraham?” Yes! Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy. They did not like it. Jews were not like Samaritans who were an unholy alliance with the Assyrians. In times past they has distanced themselves from the Jews to save their own lives. Gen ch 18 v 2. Abraham welcomed divine messengers. They did not.

1. A disciple obeys the teaching of Jesus. “Not those who hear but those who do my words.” Someone who holds out to the end and is not speaking of past experiences. It is easy to slip back into bondage. Everyone who sins is a slave of sin. There needs to be a constant dealing with sin – to go on repenting. A man can easily be a slave to fashion or the opinions of men. Everyone does it. Traditions can enslave, since they prevent God from speaking into a situation. The last seven words of a dying Church are: “We have always done it this way.” Truth sets a man free. A man needs to recognise what the truth is in a given situation.

2. Those who love Jesus have a reverence for His name and are concerned when it is taken in vain. Families defend one another when under attack from outsiders. There is a family likeness within the same family. Jesus and God are two of a kind.

3. Seekers of the truth. A love for the Scriptures. An awareness of sin. A love for the brethern.

The words Jesus spoke and the person He is are bound up together. The Word became flesh. His words are life and death. “Truly, truly, this also is the truth even though you find it hard to accept” Jesus knew that what He said was about to be met with unbelief. Jesus claimed to be God. “I am” is the name God gave Himself. Ex ch 3 v 14. The name speaks of timeless, eternal existence. The Jewish penalty for blasphemy was stoning to death. The true believer knows God. The unbeliever may know about God. When believers talk to people about Jesus others will try to change the subject. There is power in the name of Jesus. To cover their own resistance they will resort to all kinds of lies, half-truths and character assassinations. This is designed to take the heat off them. When Jesus came to the Pharisees: “You have been talking about God for a long time. How do you do.” There were only two alternatives. Worship Him or kill Him. Isaiah ch 63 v 16. v 46 Jesus claimed to be without sin. Rev ch 1 v 8. Slaves cannot free themselves. They need help.

CHAPTER 9.
Another “I am” saying. The Light of the World. Light means good as dark means bad. A man needs the light to see, both physically and spiritually. So a man needs Jesus. The Disciples seemed more interested in the theology of the matter as to why the man was blind rather than the desperate need for his healing. A man too can be consumed with theological arguments while people starve. There is a danger in being determined to get doctrine right and yet never putting it into practice. All love and no doctrine tends to leave a man as a shallow person. Doctrine and love are to the spiritual man what bones and flesh are to the physical body. Jesus moved swiftly from theological discussion to active love. There are no easy answers to the problem of suffering. In one sense the Disciples were right. In the beginning there was no suffering and no sin. In the New World it will be the same. Rev ch 21 v 4. The humanists proclaim the idea of man’s essential goodness. All human suffering is the consequence of the Fall. Some suffering is not the direct result of the sin of the individual or his parents. e. g. pollution from Chernobyl. It is not a fatalistic result of the will of God. It can be a part of His permissive will. Suffering can be used to glorify God e.g. the suffering of Jesus. Making clay constituted “work” on the Sabbath.

Jesus turns the physical question into a spiritual one. Blindness opens up a discussion on spiritual blindness. The blind beggar’s physical need is a symbol of the spiritual need of all men. The washing in the pool is symbolic of the washing of sins in the blood of Christ. 2 Kings ch 5 v 10. “Go and wash.” The spiritual blindness even results in the Pharisees having difficulty in accepting the facts, which were staring them in the face. v 18. Today the spiritually blind cannot accept the facts of the Resurrection and twist them round to prove something else. Men are prejudiced against facts when they are not convenient to them. Physical blindness is a tragedy but spiritual blindness is a greater tragedy. The parents did not want to get involved. Today many dodge out of the responsibilities of a discussion and say that they do not know. They did not seem to be interested. They wished that they had not been caught up in the discussion. “Leave me out of it.” Even witnesses to an accident do not wish to be involved. They are avoiding their responsibilities. They were afraid of the leaders and abstained. When a person is converted, his parents may not want to be involved, even though they realise that there has been a great change in the child. The testimony of the man upset the Pharisees. v 28. The believer’s testimony upsets religious people. They would rather not hear. The man touches a raw nerve by revealing their hypocrisy. They labelled Jesus a sinner for doing good deeds. This was something they could not do. They cast him out. Hardness of heart shuts out the truth. “If you honour me I shall honour you.” Jesus did just that for the man, who had stood up for Jesus, without really appreciating what He had done. v 41 seems to imply that those, who understand and yet will not bow the knee, will be harshly judged and bring blindness on themselves. They claimed to know what they were doing and had made up their minds. They were not open to learn. The man knew that he had undergone a unique experience.

The prejudice of the Pharisees caused them to question the theological qualifications of Jesus. They implied that He was morally suspect. They were jealous of His influence on the people. They turned to slander. These men were constantly arguing but never coming to a decision. They were asking questions but never wanting to find an answer. It is very possible to engage in religious discussion with no intention of finding the truth. It is easier to discuss than to follow. The easy way is the way of spiritual blindness. Pride is the basic cause of spiritual blindness. v 34. “We know it all.”

John’s Gospel

JOHN’S GOSPEL.

Sir Frederick Kenyon of the British Museum has said that both the authenticity and the general integrity of the Books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.

Josephus, the Jewish historian, comments on the life of Jesus. “Now at this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to Him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. When Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved Him at first, did not forsake Him, for He appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning Him. The tribe of Christians so named after Him, are not extinct at this day.” John gives us a fuller version of Jesus’ life. Even then it is only a brief commentary.

1. Who wrote it? The Apostle John, one of the 12 Disciples, and the son of Zebedee. He probably used a secretary to do the actual writing. There are some factors to support the view of some scholars that it was not John the Apostle who wrote it. On balance it seems that it was John.

2. When was it written? Probably around 90 – 100 A. D. in Ephesus.

3. Why did he write it? John gives his reason in ch 20 v 30-31 – that the readers might believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. His work is selective for this purpose. He wrote for those outside Judea, since he explains customs of the Jews in Judea. He also set out to combat certain Gnostic heresies, which denied the real humanity of Jesus. John presents Jesus as both human and divine. There were those who claimed that Jesus had no existence before the moment of conception and others who claimed that Jesus was a mere man on whom the Holy Spirit descended for a season. The Docetists claimed that the manhood of Jesus was an illusion and that matter was evil. Hence the stress that Jesus was truly human and divine. Primarily it is written that the reader may believe in Jesus. John records the unique claims made by Jesus as to His divinity. He shows that the salvation, which Jesus came to bring, was the climax of the Jewish religion. He explains the significance of the Jewish Festivals in relation to Jesus. John also records the 7 great “I am” sayings. I am the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Resurrection, the Bread, the Shepherd, the Door and the Vine. John also makes frequent mention of the Holy Spirit. There are no parables in John. John was possibly a cousin of Jesus, John’s mother, Salome being Mary’s sister. John focuses on the Messiah-ship and Son-ship of Jesus. John certainly knew Jesus in a special way. He explains God’s opinion about men and so men should read the Book humbly.

JOHN’S GOSPEL CHAPTER 1 v 1-18.
(a) Revelation. (b) The Word. (c) The Light. (e) The Life.
A man does not get to know another person unless that person makes himself known. God has revealed Himself to mankind in many ways and especially through His Son Jesus. John does not mention the name Jesus until verse 17. (a) The Jews knew the Word as a revelation of God through the Law and the Prophets. The Greeks would have spoken of “an intelligence” behind the Universe. The Word or logos meant that intelligence. John sets the scene before saying that Jesus is the author of the Word and the intelligence behind the Universe. He is a distinct person. (b) God can be seen in nature. Romans ch 1 v 20. All men have an awareness of right and wrong – they have a conscience. Light speaks of right and darkness of wrong. Jesus is total light and right. He is the source of mankind’s intellectual and spiritual perception. The light of truth enables a man to see good and evil and the man is then confronted with a choice. Light is transparent. There is nothing to hide if a man is living a holy life. There is nothing to be ashamed of someone else knowing. Believers are sinners and therefore must keep confessing the sin or else it will lead to a break in the relationship. It is sheer delusion to say that there is no sin in man. So God in Jesus reveals Himself to the World as a human being, without sin. The invisible God had become visible to man. His own people were the Israelites and for the most part they rejected Him. Fallen man failed to recognise the creator and preserver of the World.

1. John refers to “the Jews.” This does not mean that he is not a Jew or that all Jews are hostile to the Gospel. He was writing to Jews. He means the Jewish Authorities. The Gospels are not anti-Jewish. The Church was founded by Jewish men. For the first 15 years it was a Jewish Church – only Jews. John the Baptist lived simply, in marked contrast to the religious leaders of his day. He called regular Churchgoers to forsake their wickedness and be baptised, as a way of preparing for the coming of Jesus. The leaders of the establishment were angry.

2. v 21. Are you Elijah? Who was expected? Mat ch 11 v 14. Jesus refers to John as Elijah. Elijah is depicted as a forerunner heralding the coming of the Lord – twice. Jesus identified John the Baptist as a preliminary fulfilment. Rev ch 11 v 3-6 speaks of the second prophet like Elijah who for three and a half years stopped the rain from the Earth. The tribulation will last for 3½ years – 42 months. 42 is the number in Scripture for Satan. Perhaps there will be no rain on the Earth for the last 3½ years. That would certainly cause tribulation such as the World has never known. The Earth would be scorched as Isaiah ch 24 predicts. Both Elijah and Moses appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration, seen by only the 3 Disciples. John the Baptist believed that God had spoken to him through Isaiah ch 41 v 3. Man should look for another, like Elijah, calling the World to be prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus. In the East, before a King visited a province, a herald went before him to give the people an opportunity to make suitable preparations. John was the herald. This King would not come with force but in love.

3. The Prophet. This refers to Deut ch 18 v 15. (v 15-22) It was one of the signs of Jesus coming.

4. Baptism. “What right have you to baptise?” This was the same question they asked Jesus. “By what authority do you do these things?” The whole of Judaism was bound up with the authority of the Rabbi’s teaching. The prophets often acted out their message. Hosea married Gomer. One ran about naked to get the attention of the people. John washed away sins to show that the people were dirty and needed to be cleaned up. It was a negative message to deal with the past sins but it did nothing for the future. That was the purpose of Jesus who would deal with the future, and give power to tackle sins. No witness to Jesus is adequate who does not draw attention to Jesus as saviour.

5. Jesus fulfilled the Jewish religious festival of Passover. He was to be the lamb to take away the sins of the World. Isaac asked Abraham: “Where is the lamb?” John said: “Behold the lamb!” The whole sacrificial system pointed to one who would come to bring it to a head. In Old Testament days God accepted an animal as a substitute. This was repeated time after time. Jesus death was to be once and for all. Exodus ch 12 v 3 and 6. The Hebrews were instructed to take a lamb on the 10th of the month and keep it until the 14th of the month. The purpose of taking the lamb into the house for 5 days was to carefully examine it for flaws. Jesus entered Jerusalem five days before His crucifixion. The Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees examined Jesus trying to find a flaw in Him. None was found. The rulers finally brought false witnesses against Jesus. Jesus was the flawless Passover Lamb. As Jesus was crucified lambs were being killed all over Jerusalem in preparation for the Feast of Passover. John ch 12 v 1 says that 6 days before the Passover Jesus arrived at Bethany. v 12. The next day Jesus rode into Jerusalem – 5 days before the Passover. The purpose of Passover was to save from destruction. Jesus was what John could never be – the saviour of men.

6. Calling the Disciples. To rename Simon was to exercise authority over him. Adam named Eve and the animals. Parents name their children. Jesus declared His authority over Peter. It was symbolic.

7. Nathaniel was the intellectual one. He was meditating on the Scriptures under the tree. It was the custom to sit under the fig tree and read the Scriptures. Perhaps he was reading Gen ch 28 v 12 and Jesus demonstrated His knowledge as the Son of God in knowing what he had been reading. Jesus knew what was in his thoughts. Only God could do that. So Jesus must be God. Hence the reference to the ladder to Heaven. Jesus Himself was to be the ladder or access to Heaven.
8. v 38. What do you seek? Jesus is always asking penetrating questions. What were they looking for in life to give life meaning to it? It is a relationship with a person. When Jesus said to come and see He was inviting them to discover an insight into the mind of God with whom Jesus lived.
9. v 46. Can anything good come out of Galilee? Galilee had only ever produced hothead fanatics and bogus Christs. He was prejudiced with good reason. Nathaniel was proud to be an Israelite. Ps 32 v 2.
Chapters 1 and 20 are like book ends holding the book together. In between John selects the stories he wants to show the glory of Jesus.

CHAPTER 2
The wedding at Cana is one of John’s hand picked stories to show the glory of Jesus. John says that he saw the glory of Jesus. The glory had overflowed to the disciples. Many people want their needs met. In effect these needs are met as a by-product of being in Jesus. Good things like peace and health overflow from the relationship with Jesus.

(A) The question of wine. In the Bible, wine is symbolic of the Holy Spirit and joy. Ch 1 v 33. The water is a symbol. The reality is Jesus Himself. It is a physical picture to teach spiritual truth. In the same way the tabernacle was a picture to teach the spiritual truth of the reality of Jesus. When physical things are shaken the unseen spiritual things are left. A wedding lasted a few days and the bridegroom paid the bill. The new wine of the Gospel is contrasted with the water of the Old Testament. Cana was the hometown of Nathaniel. It is a few miles north east of Nazareth. Cana was an obscure part of the country. The people were less sceptical than in Jerusalem. The miracle had a deep spiritual significance. Jesus was symbolising the inadequacy of Judaism as a religion of salvation and to intimate the need for His own redeeming death. The water was used for ceremonial washing of hands. The wine as the Psalmist says makes glad the heart of man. It gives a man life and strength. Isaiah ch 63 v 3. Jesus was to tread the winepress alone. The lack of wine at the wedding was symbolic of a lack of strength to save the situation. The water was there for religious purposes. But it served no purpose in the circumstances. Jesus was eager that the people would enter into real happiness – which only He could help them to achieve. Wine lavishly provided and freely offered was a fitting symbol of the full salvation to be won by His sacrifice. The real significance must remain hidden from those whose faith is not centred on Christ and His purpose in coming. The Disciples saw in Jesus someone who could change the situation. This helped them to believe in Him. The term “new wine” does not mean unfermented wine. If anything it means potent wine, from the first juice. Like other things the wine is from God and can be used for good or bad. God warns not to take too much and be drunk. But in moderation it is good. The benefits and curses are clearly stated in the Old Testament. Psalm 104 v 15 shows the good. Isaiah ch 28 v 7 shows the bad. Wine was used to uncover the shame of Noah. John the Baptist was to abstain for a special purpose. Luke ch 1 v 15. Jesus is happy to share it with others. Timothy is exhorted to take a little wine for medicinal purposes, while Church leaders are warned to refrain. The water left in the jars was still water. It was only as it was drawn off that it changed. There are always signs and wonders when God is at work. The signs are not important in themselves but are to draw attention to God and, in this case, Jesus and give Him glory as well as to develop faith in the Disciples.

Jesus’ presence made all the difference to the wedding. It is dangerous to spiritualise the story. It is about the inadequacy of religion and the need for a saviour. Jesus changed the situation. He will do it every time He is invited in. Rev ch 3 v 20. 6. What mattered was that the Disciples believed in Jesus.

Wine. Deut ch 21 v 18-21. Amos ch 6 v 1-7. Isaiah ch 5 v 11-12 and v 22. Prov ch 20 v 1. ch 23 v 20-21. Prov ch 29 v 35. Marriage is very special to God. Gen ch 2 v 24. 11. “My hour has not yet come.” It is all in God’s timing. How did Jesus know to do this? How does a man know when to act? “I only do what I see my Father doing.” Nehemiah ch 8 v 10. Did Jesus quietly ask His Father: “Is there something I could do here to help these people who are sad because there is no wine? Did Jesus hear the word of God in Nehemiah ch 8 v 10? Is that how people are healed? The prayer of faith. Believing that God has spoken and acting accordingly.
v 2. Jesus displayed His concern for the institution of marriage by performing His first miracle at a wedding. It would have been a discourtesy to have insufficient wine.
v 3. Jesus receives glory as an obedient son of His Father – not His mother. Was Jesus rude to His Mother? Jesus seems to rebuke His mother but does the miracle anyway. Why did Jesus speak to His mother in this way? To show her that He must take His commands only from God. Did His Mother’s comments challenge Jesus to ask His Father if He should change the water to wine? No one – not even His Mother – has a greater claim on Jesus. Only the Father has a claim on His Son. Jesus only did what pleased His Father and what the Father told Him to do. The book of Acts is the record of the acts of the risen Jesus through His Disciples. Luke ch 11 v 27. Jesus said that His real brothers are those who do the Father’s will. Jesus did not have authority to bestow places for James and John. That was the Father’s business. The date of Jesus’ return will be decided by the Father. Jesus genuinely did not know. Only a personal response to God makes a man acceptable to Jesus. “Those whom the Father has sent to me.” John ch 17 v 6.

The “Hour” shows that Jesus was aware of His ultimate destiny – to go to the cross. Jesus did not need to be reminded by Mary. He knew the need. Although He rebuked her He still performed the miracle as she asked. Despite the rebuke she told the servants to obey Him, as if assuming that He would do it. She exercised faith that He would do it. The bridegroom was responsible for the wine. He failed to do his job. Only a few people realised what had happened. The wine represents grace. Most taste it but do not recognise it – common grace. Some taste it, recognise it and fall away. Hebrews ch 6 v 1-8. Some see the glory of God in creation but cannot handle it.

There are verses of Scripture, which on the face of them are contrary to one another and can be used on their own to justify any position chosen by man, e.g. John is told in Luke ch 1 v 15 to refrain from wine yet in Tim ch 4 v 23 Timothy is advised to take some wine for his health. A man needs to be led by the Spirit. Luke ch 21 v 34 Jesus warns against being drunk. Ask God and He will give the answer. A man can prove anything from a verse of the Bible.

(B) Anger. Righteous anger and sinful anger. It is acceptable to be angry on account of another or for a concern for the truth. John’s Gospel is not necessarily chronological. v 13 does not follow v 12 in time but relates to a different occasion. John was writing a theological explanation rather than a narrative. The incident illustrates the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the religious leaders and made a head-on clash with them inevitable. A man cannot criticise someone uninvited without a response. The Temple was the closest a person could come to God. Jesus was claiming that He had direct access to God in that God dwelt in him. His coming made a direct approach to God a possibility. The prophecy in Malachi ch 3 v 1-3 was fulfilled in this instance. Instead of the Temple being a house of prayer as Isaiah had said in ch 56 v 7 it was a place where sinners could salve their consciences by performing religious ceremonies. Psalm 69 v 9. “Zeal for Thy House will consume me.” The ancient sacrificial system was unable to secure remission of sins. Jesus met the challenge of His authority with a counter challenge. “Kill me and I will rise again.” The words were twisted and used against Jesus at His trial and on the cross. Without the Holy Spirit a man cannot understand the full significance of the words of Jesus.

The moneylenders changed foreign currency for the official Temple currency. There was nothing wrong in that but they charged exorbitant rates of exchange. It is like selling water to refugees. The motive was not pure. Jesus referred to His Father and in so doing was claiming a special relationship, one more intimate than Judaism allowed. Even the Disciples did not realise the significance of the claim by Jesus as to resurrection until afterwards. No wonder the leaders did not understand it. Jesus did not need advice from others. His own knowledge of what others thought was already perfect. Where there was corruption Jesus did not go to the Chief Priests since they were the cause of the corruption or had at least sanctioned it and turned a blind eye. He attacked the heart of the corruption. If a father is away, his son has authority on his behalf to take whatever measures are necessary in the interests of the father. This is what Jesus did. The Scripture came to the mind of the Disciples as the Holy Spirit spoke to them and they saw the significance of the Scripture in question.

CHAPTER 3.
No one remembers the bridegroom after the wedding. He is like scaffolding, which is necessary for the building but is removed at the appropriate time. Jesus alone can speak of Heavenly things, since He alone has been there. He said “Our Father” and not our mother. God’s spirit is available to all who are called to do His work in all the fullness necessary for its accomplishment. Numbers ch 21 v 5-9. The serpent raised on the pole. It is only those who believe God’s promise and who look to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God who will receive eternal life. To refuse life is to choose death. Spiritual death happens every time a man turns his back on Christ as the Saviour of the World.

CHAPTER 4.
There is a time to withdraw from a situation. It is not defeat but it is a strategic move. The actions of Jesus aroused hostility on the part of the Pharisees but Jesus had a lot to do before he confronted the Pharisees directly and so He withdrew. He was aware of the appointed hour. This was not it. There is a time for everything under Heaven.
v 5. Jesus was truly human. He was tired by the journey. He was not superhuman. This is part of John’s presentation of Jesus.

The Bible is like a tutorial. Little had changed in that part of the World. The very well Jacob gave to Joseph was still there and Jesus sat by it. Jacob’s well was in human terms an everlasting well and a good illustration of what Jesus wanted to teach about everlasting life. It was fed by a spring ensuring a continuous supply. Racial prejudice was just the same as it is now. 700 years of religious and racial prejudice separated the Jews and the Samaritans. Sin separates a man from God and also a man from other men. The parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans formed a sizeable part of the population but the Jews hated them and had nothing to do with them. The Samaritans were a mixed people of Assyrian and Jewish blood. When Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel the people intermarried and the result was a hybrid group of Gentile/Jewish blood. Their worship was contaminated by idolatry. The Jews did not accept them as their neighbours – hence the parable. The fact that Jesus ministered to Samaritans did not endear Him to the Scribes and Pharisees. Acts ch 8 v 1- 8. Philip in Samaria. Gen ch 33 v 19. Jacob bought land at Shechem. Joshua ch 24 v 32. Joseph was buried there. Samaria is the heartland of Biblical Israel and is the “West Bank” today. Shechem and Sychar are one and the same.

Jesus may not have intended to meet the woman. True messengers of God are never slaves to fixed programmes or prearranged plans of campaign. The Spirit blows where He will. Jesus met a woman – a foreigner – and she was immoral. This was not a barrier to faith in God. All people who acknowledge Christ can be saved. She is a typical human being, almost totally concerned with her physical needs. The welfare of her soul was not for her a matter of primary concern.

This is a record of a one to one conversation. A person is more likely to speak out truthfully on a one to one basis than with others present. Jesus led her into conversation and then probed her with deeper questions to find if there was to be a response. He prompted a deeper spiritual conversation turning the everyday matters of water into the spiritual needs of a person – to something, which will sustain not only physical life but spiritual life. She thought that reference to living water was running water. She may have thought that there was some magical water around. Jesus led her to ask some interesting questions. He penetrated her defences with the question about her husband. A believer should learn to ask questions likely to provoke a response e.g. “On such a lovely day as this it is hard not to believe that there is a Creator who brought this beautiful World into being.” “Whom do you thank when things go well?” Jesus displays divine knowledge in knowing that she had 5 husbands. This is serial polygamy. It is only if there is a response, can the conversation be taken further. The rich young ruler called a halt and walked away. The woman responded truthfully. If she had pretended that the man was her husband or taken a defensive attitude it would have been pointless going further. It would have been a waste of time and only hardened her attitude to point out to her that she was wrong. Because she had spoken the truth, the truth set her free. She had come out from behind her mask, admitting her sin. It is never easy to do this.

v 22. Salvation comes from the Jews. The woman tried to turn the conversation into a religious one. The Samaritan Bible included the Pentateuch – the first 5 books of the Bible but not the prophets. Therefore the Jews had a better understanding of God. People will try to talk about the Church to get away from Jesus. The evangelist should turn the matter back to Jesus. Jesus invited her to look behind religion to the truth of true worship. He brings it round to the Messiah – someone still distant in her mind and Jesus traps her by saying that He is the one. False worship led the Samaritans nowhere.

v 24. God is spirit. He is a spiritual being and man is made in His image as a spiritual being – in a body. Man should emphasise the spiritual rather than the physical aspect of his being which is temporary. What matters is not the form of worship but that it is genuine and spiritual.

v 26. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. Today many would not have heard of the Messiah and have no expectation as to the role of the Messiah. Jesus turned the woman from her material needs to realise that her spiritual needs were greater, while not ignoring her physical needs. Her moral needs were even greater than her theological needs.

The first response of a person with good news is to want to share it with others. “I have met the Messiah.” Jesus transforms the physical dimension of literal food into a spiritual lesson. The most important thing is to do the will of God. The Disciples did not seem any more spiritually aware than the woman. They were more concerned for physical food than the apparent miracle of Jesus talking to the woman. Food has to take its place. A testimony was one thing but the people had to listen to Jesus and make their own personal commitment. With Jesus there is not a delay of four months as in agricultural harvesting. Amos ch 9 v 13. The ploughman will overtake the one who sows.

John Chs 1-4

JOHN’S GOSPEL.

Sir Frederick Kenyon of the British Museum has said that both the authenticity and the general integrity of the Books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.

Josephus, the Jewish historian, comments on the life of Jesus. “Now at this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call Him a man, for He was a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to Him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was the Christ. When Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned Him to the cross, those that loved Him at first, did not forsake Him, for He appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning Him. The tribe of Christians so named after Him, are not extinct at this day.” John gives us a fuller version of Jesus’ life. Even then it is only a brief commentary.

1. Who wrote it? The Apostle John, one of the 12 Disciples, and the son of Zebedee. He probably used a secretary to do the actual writing. There are some factors to support the view of some scholars that it was not John the Apostle who wrote it. On balance it seems that it was John.

2. When was it written? Probably around 90 – 100 A. D. in Ephesus.

3. Why did he write it? John gives his reason in ch 20 v 30-31 – that the readers might believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. His work is selective for this purpose. He wrote for those outside Judea, since he explains customs of the Jews in Judea. He also set out to combat certain Gnostic heresies, which denied the real humanity of Jesus. John presents Jesus as both human and divine. There were those who claimed that Jesus had no existence before the moment of conception and others who claimed that Jesus was a mere man on whom the Holy Spirit descended for a season. The Docetists claimed that the manhood of Jesus was an illusion and that matter was evil. Hence the stress that Jesus was truly human and divine. Primarily it is written that the reader may believe in Jesus. John records the unique claims made by Jesus as to His divinity. He shows that the salvation, which Jesus came to bring, was the climax of the Jewish religion. He explains the significance of the Jewish Festivals in relation to Jesus. John also records the 7 great “I am” sayings. I am the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Resurrection, the Bread, the Shepherd, the Door and the Vine. John also makes frequent mention of the Holy Spirit. There are no parables in John. John was possibly a cousin of Jesus, John’s mother, Salome being Mary’s sister. John focuses on the Messiah-ship and Son-ship of Jesus. John certainly knew Jesus in a special way. He explains God’s opinion about men and so men should read the Book humbly.

JOHN’S GOSPEL CHAPTER 1 v 1-18.
(a) Revelation. (b) The Word. (c) The Light. (e) The Life.
A man does not get to know another person unless that person makes himself known. God has revealed Himself to mankind in many ways and especially through His Son Jesus. John does not mention the name Jesus until verse 17. (a) The Jews knew the Word as a revelation of God through the Law and the Prophets. The Greeks would have spoken of “an intelligence” behind the Universe. The Word or logos meant that intelligence. John sets the scene before saying that Jesus is the author of the Word and the intelligence behind the Universe. He is a distinct person. (b) God can be seen in nature. Romans ch 1 v 20. All men have an awareness of right and wrong – they have a conscience. Light speaks of right and darkness of wrong. Jesus is total light and right. He is the source of mankind’s intellectual and spiritual perception. The light of truth enables a man to see good and evil and the man is then confronted with a choice. Light is transparent. There is nothing to hide if a man is living a holy life. There is nothing to be ashamed of someone else knowing. Believers are sinners and therefore must keep confessing the sin or else it will lead to a break in the relationship. It is sheer delusion to say that there is no sin in man. So God in Jesus reveals Himself to the World as a human being, without sin. The invisible God had become visible to man. His own people were the Israelites and for the most part they rejected Him. Fallen man failed to recognise the creator and preserver of the World.

1. John refers to “the Jews.” This does not mean that he is not a Jew or that all Jews are hostile to the Gospel. He was writing to Jews. He means the Jewish Authorities. The Gospels are not anti-Jewish. The Church was founded by Jewish men. For the first 15 years it was a Jewish Church – only Jews. John the Baptist lived simply, in marked contrast to the religious leaders of his day. He called regular Churchgoers to forsake their wickedness and be baptised, as a way of preparing for the coming of Jesus. The leaders of the establishment were angry.

2. v 21. Are you Elijah? Who was expected? Mat ch 11 v 14. Jesus refers to John as Elijah. Elijah is depicted as a forerunner heralding the coming of the Lord – twice. Jesus identified John the Baptist as a preliminary fulfilment. Rev ch 11 v 3-6 speaks of the second prophet like Elijah who for three and a half years stopped the rain from the Earth. The tribulation will last for 3½ years – 42 months. 42 is the number in Scripture for Satan. Perhaps there will be no rain on the Earth for the last 3½ years. That would certainly cause tribulation such as the World has never known. The Earth would be scorched as Isaiah ch 24 predicts. Both Elijah and Moses appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration, seen by only the 3 Disciples. John the Baptist believed that God had spoken to him through Isaiah ch 41 v 3. Man should look for another, like Elijah, calling the World to be prepared for the Second Coming of Jesus. In the East, before a King visited a province, a herald went before him to give the people an opportunity to make suitable preparations. John was the herald. This King would not come with force but in love.

3. The Prophet. This refers to Deut ch 18 v 15. (v 15-22) It was one of the signs of Jesus coming.

4. Baptism. “What right have you to baptise?” This was the same question they asked Jesus. “By what authority do you do these things?” The whole of Judaism was bound up with the authority of the Rabbi’s teaching. The prophets often acted out their message. Hosea married Gomer. One ran about naked to get the attention of the people. John washed away sins to show that the people were dirty and needed to be cleaned up. It was a negative message to deal with the past sins but it did nothing for the future. That was the purpose of Jesus who would deal with the future, and give power to tackle sins. No witness to Jesus is adequate who does not draw attention to Jesus as saviour.

5. Jesus fulfilled the Jewish religious festival of Passover. He was to be the lamb to take away the sins of the World. Isaac asked Abraham: “Where is the lamb?” John said: “Behold the lamb!” The whole sacrificial system pointed to one who would come to bring it to a head. In Old Testament days God accepted an animal as a substitute. This was repeated time after time. Jesus death was to be once and for all. Exodus ch 12 v 3 and 6. The Hebrews were instructed to take a lamb on the 10th of the month and keep it until the 14th of the month. The purpose of taking the lamb into the house for 5 days was to carefully examine it for flaws. Jesus entered Jerusalem five days before His crucifixion. The Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees examined Jesus trying to find a flaw in Him. None was found. The rulers finally brought false witnesses against Jesus. Jesus was the flawless Passover Lamb. As Jesus was crucified lambs were being killed all over Jerusalem in preparation for the Feast of Passover. John ch 12 v 1 says that 6 days before the Passover Jesus arrived at Bethany. v 12. The next day Jesus rode into Jerusalem – 5 days before the Passover. The purpose of Passover was to save from destruction. Jesus was what John could never be – the saviour of men.

6. Calling the Disciples. To rename Simon was to exercise authority over him. Adam named Eve and the animals. Parents name their children. Jesus declared His authority over Peter. It was symbolic.

7. Nathaniel was the intellectual one. He was meditating on the Scriptures under the tree. It was the custom to sit under the fig tree and read the Scriptures. Perhaps he was reading Gen ch 28 v 12 and Jesus demonstrated His knowledge as the Son of God in knowing what he had been reading. Jesus knew what was in his thoughts. Only God could do that. So Jesus must be God. Hence the reference to the ladder to Heaven. Jesus Himself was to be the ladder or access to Heaven.
8. v 38. What do you seek? Jesus is always asking penetrating questions. What were they looking for in life to give life meaning to it? It is a relationship with a person. When Jesus said to come and see He was inviting them to discover an insight into the mind of God with whom Jesus lived.
9. v 46. Can anything good come out of Galilee? Galilee had only ever produced hothead fanatics and bogus Christs. He was prejudiced with good reason. Nathaniel was proud to be an Israelite. Ps 32 v 2.
Chapters 1 and 20 are like book ends holding the book together. In between John selects the stories he wants to show the glory of Jesus.

CHAPTER 2
The wedding at Cana is one of John’s hand picked stories to show the glory of Jesus. John says that he saw the glory of Jesus. The glory had overflowed to the disciples. Many people want their needs met. In effect these needs are met as a by-product of being in Jesus. Good things like peace and health overflow from the relationship with Jesus.

(A) The question of wine. In the Bible, wine is symbolic of the Holy Spirit and joy. Ch 1 v 33. The water is a symbol. The reality is Jesus Himself. It is a physical picture to teach spiritual truth. In the same way the tabernacle was a picture to teach the spiritual truth of the reality of Jesus. When physical things are shaken the unseen spiritual things are left. A wedding lasted a few days and the bridegroom paid the bill. The new wine of the Gospel is contrasted with the water of the Old Testament. Cana was the hometown of Nathaniel. It is a few miles north east of Nazareth. Cana was an obscure part of the country. The people were less sceptical than in Jerusalem. The miracle had a deep spiritual significance. Jesus was symbolising the inadequacy of Judaism as a religion of salvation and to intimate the need for His own redeeming death. The water was used for ceremonial washing of hands. The wine as the Psalmist says makes glad the heart of man. It gives a man life and strength. Isaiah ch 63 v 3. Jesus was to tread the winepress alone. The lack of wine at the wedding was symbolic of a lack of strength to save the situation. The water was there for religious purposes. But it served no purpose in the circumstances. Jesus was eager that the people would enter into real happiness – which only He could help them to achieve. Wine lavishly provided and freely offered was a fitting symbol of the full salvation to be won by His sacrifice. The real significance must remain hidden from those whose faith is not centred on Christ and His purpose in coming. The Disciples saw in Jesus someone who could change the situation. This helped them to believe in Him. The term “new wine” does not mean unfermented wine. If anything it means potent wine, from the first juice. Like other things the wine is from God and can be used for good or bad. God warns not to take too much and be drunk. But in moderation it is good. The benefits and curses are clearly stated in the Old Testament. Psalm 104 v 15 shows the good. Isaiah ch 28 v 7 shows the bad. Wine was used to uncover the shame of Noah. John the Baptist was to abstain for a special purpose. Luke ch 1 v 15. Jesus is happy to share it with others. Timothy is exhorted to take a little wine for medicinal purposes, while Church leaders are warned to refrain. The water left in the jars was still water. It was only as it was drawn off that it changed. There are always signs and wonders when God is at work. The signs are not important in themselves but are to draw attention to God and, in this case, Jesus and give Him glory as well as to develop faith in the Disciples.

Jesus’ presence made all the difference to the wedding. It is dangerous to spiritualise the story. It is about the inadequacy of religion and the need for a saviour. Jesus changed the situation. He will do it every time He is invited in. Rev ch 3 v 20. 6. What mattered was that the Disciples believed in Jesus.

Wine. Deut ch 21 v 18-21. Amos ch 6 v 1-7. Isaiah ch 5 v 11-12 and v 22. Prov ch 20 v 1. ch 23 v 20-21. Prov ch 29 v 35. Marriage is very special to God. Gen ch 2 v 24. 11. “My hour has not yet come.” It is all in God’s timing. How did Jesus know to do this? How does a man know when to act? “I only do what I see my Father doing.” Nehemiah ch 8 v 10. Did Jesus quietly ask His Father: “Is there something I could do here to help these people who are sad because there is no wine? Did Jesus hear the word of God in Nehemiah ch 8 v 10? Is that how people are healed? The prayer of faith. Believing that God has spoken and acting accordingly.
v 2. Jesus displayed His concern for the institution of marriage by performing His first miracle at a wedding. It would have been a discourtesy to have insufficient wine.
v 3. Jesus receives glory as an obedient son of His Father – not His mother. Was Jesus rude to His Mother? Jesus seems to rebuke His mother but does the miracle anyway. Why did Jesus speak to His mother in this way? To show her that He must take His commands only from God. Did His Mother’s comments challenge Jesus to ask His Father if He should change the water to wine? No one – not even His Mother – has a greater claim on Jesus. Only the Father has a claim on His Son. Jesus only did what pleased His Father and what the Father told Him to do. The book of Acts is the record of the acts of the risen Jesus through His Disciples. Luke ch 11 v 27. Jesus said that His real brothers are those who do the Father’s will. Jesus did not have authority to bestow places for James and John. That was the Father’s business. The date of Jesus’ return will be decided by the Father. Jesus genuinely did not know. Only a personal response to God makes a man acceptable to Jesus. “Those whom the Father has sent to me.” John ch 17 v 6.

The “Hour” shows that Jesus was aware of His ultimate destiny – to go to the cross. Jesus did not need to be reminded by Mary. He knew the need. Although He rebuked her He still performed the miracle as she asked. Despite the rebuke she told the servants to obey Him, as if assuming that He would do it. She exercised faith that He would do it. The bridegroom was responsible for the wine. He failed to do his job. Only a few people realised what had happened. The wine represents grace. Most taste it but do not recognise it – common grace. Some taste it, recognise it and fall away. Hebrews ch 6 v 1-8. Some see the glory of God in creation but cannot handle it.

There are verses of Scripture, which on the face of them are contrary to one another and can be used on their own to justify any position chosen by man, e.g. John is told in Luke ch 1 v 15 to refrain from wine yet in Tim ch 4 v 23 Timothy is advised to take some wine for his health. A man needs to be led by the Spirit. Luke ch 21 v 34 Jesus warns against being drunk. Ask God and He will give the answer. A man can prove anything from a verse of the Bible.

(B) Anger. Righteous anger and sinful anger. It is acceptable to be angry on account of another or for a concern for the truth. John’s Gospel is not necessarily chronological. v 13 does not follow v 12 in time but relates to a different occasion. John was writing a theological explanation rather than a narrative. The incident illustrates the dishonesty and hypocrisy of the religious leaders and made a head-on clash with them inevitable. A man cannot criticise someone uninvited without a response. The Temple was the closest a person could come to God. Jesus was claiming that He had direct access to God in that God dwelt in him. His coming made a direct approach to God a possibility. The prophecy in Malachi ch 3 v 1-3 was fulfilled in this instance. Instead of the Temple being a house of prayer as Isaiah had said in ch 56 v 7 it was a place where sinners could salve their consciences by performing religious ceremonies. Psalm 69 v 9. “Zeal for Thy House will consume me.” The ancient sacrificial system was unable to secure remission of sins. Jesus met the challenge of His authority with a counter challenge. “Kill me and I will rise again.” The words were twisted and used against Jesus at His trial and on the cross. Without the Holy Spirit a man cannot understand the full significance of the words of Jesus.

The moneylenders changed foreign currency for the official Temple currency. There was nothing wrong in that but they charged exorbitant rates of exchange. It is like selling water to refugees. The motive was not pure. Jesus referred to His Father and in so doing was claiming a special relationship, one more intimate than Judaism allowed. Even the Disciples did not realise the significance of the claim by Jesus as to resurrection until afterwards. No wonder the leaders did not understand it. Jesus did not need advice from others. His own knowledge of what others thought was already perfect. Where there was corruption Jesus did not go to the Chief Priests since they were the cause of the corruption or had at least sanctioned it and turned a blind eye. He attacked the heart of the corruption. If a father is away, his son has authority on his behalf to take whatever measures are necessary in the interests of the father. This is what Jesus did. The Scripture came to the mind of the Disciples as the Holy Spirit spoke to them and they saw the significance of the Scripture in question.

CHAPTER 3.
No one remembers the bridegroom after the wedding. He is like scaffolding, which is necessary for the building but is removed at the appropriate time. Jesus alone can speak of Heavenly things, since He alone has been there. He said “Our Father” and not our mother. God’s spirit is available to all who are called to do His work in all the fullness necessary for its accomplishment. Numbers ch 21 v 5-9. The serpent raised on the pole. It is only those who believe God’s promise and who look to the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God who will receive eternal life. To refuse life is to choose death. Spiritual death happens every time a man turns his back on Christ as the Saviour of the World.

CHAPTER 4.
There is a time to withdraw from a situation. It is not defeat but it is a strategic move. The actions of Jesus aroused hostility on the part of the Pharisees but Jesus had a lot to do before he confronted the Pharisees directly and so He withdrew. He was aware of the appointed hour. This was not it. There is a time for everything under Heaven.
v 5. Jesus was truly human. He was tired by the journey. He was not superhuman. This is part of John’s presentation of Jesus.

The Bible is like a tutorial. Little had changed in that part of the World. The very well Jacob gave to Joseph was still there and Jesus sat by it. Jacob’s well was in human terms an everlasting well and a good illustration of what Jesus wanted to teach about everlasting life. It was fed by a spring ensuring a continuous supply. Racial prejudice was just the same as it is now. 700 years of religious and racial prejudice separated the Jews and the Samaritans. Sin separates a man from God and also a man from other men. The parable of the Good Samaritan. The Samaritans formed a sizeable part of the population but the Jews hated them and had nothing to do with them. The Samaritans were a mixed people of Assyrian and Jewish blood. When Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel the people intermarried and the result was a hybrid group of Gentile/Jewish blood. Their worship was contaminated by idolatry. The Jews did not accept them as their neighbours – hence the parable. The fact that Jesus ministered to Samaritans did not endear Him to the Scribes and Pharisees. Acts ch 8 v 1- 8. Philip in Samaria. Gen ch 33 v 19. Jacob bought land at Shechem. Joshua ch 24 v 32. Joseph was buried there. Samaria is the heartland of Biblical Israel and is the “West Bank” today. Shechem and Sychar are one and the same.

Jesus may not have intended to meet the woman. True messengers of God are never slaves to fixed programmes or prearranged plans of campaign. The Spirit blows where He will. Jesus met a woman – a foreigner – and she was immoral. This was not a barrier to faith in God. All people who acknowledge Christ can be saved. She is a typical human being, almost totally concerned with her physical needs. The welfare of her soul was not for her a matter of primary concern.

This is a record of a one to one conversation. A person is more likely to speak out truthfully on a one to one basis than with others present. Jesus led her into conversation and then probed her with deeper questions to find if there was to be a response. He prompted a deeper spiritual conversation turning the everyday matters of water into the spiritual needs of a person – to something, which will sustain not only physical life but spiritual life. She thought that reference to living water was running water. She may have thought that there was some magical water around. Jesus led her to ask some interesting questions. He penetrated her defences with the question about her husband. A believer should learn to ask questions likely to provoke a response e.g. “On such a lovely day as this it is hard not to believe that there is a Creator who brought this beautiful World into being.” “Whom do you thank when things go well?” Jesus displays divine knowledge in knowing that she had 5 husbands. This is serial polygamy. It is only if there is a response, can the conversation be taken further. The rich young ruler called a halt and walked away. The woman responded truthfully. If she had pretended that the man was her husband or taken a defensive attitude it would have been pointless going further. It would have been a waste of time and only hardened her attitude to point out to her that she was wrong. Because she had spoken the truth, the truth set her free. She had come out from behind her mask, admitting her sin. It is never easy to do this.

v 22. Salvation comes from the Jews. The woman tried to turn the conversation into a religious one. The Samaritan Bible included the Pentateuch – the first 5 books of the Bible but not the prophets. Therefore the Jews had a better understanding of God. People will try to talk about the Church to get away from Jesus. The evangelist should turn the matter back to Jesus. Jesus invited her to look behind religion to the truth of true worship. He brings it round to the Messiah – someone still distant in her mind and Jesus traps her by saying that He is the one. False worship led the Samaritans nowhere.

v 24. God is spirit. He is a spiritual being and man is made in His image as a spiritual being – in a body. Man should emphasise the spiritual rather than the physical aspect of his being which is temporary. What matters is not the form of worship but that it is genuine and spiritual.

v 26. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. Today many would not have heard of the Messiah and have no expectation as to the role of the Messiah. Jesus turned the woman from her material needs to realise that her spiritual needs were greater, while not ignoring her physical needs. Her moral needs were even greater than her theological needs.

The first response of a person with good news is to want to share it with others. “I have met the Messiah.” Jesus transforms the physical dimension of literal food into a spiritual lesson. The most important thing is to do the will of God. The Disciples did not seem any more spiritually aware than the woman. They were more concerned for physical food than the apparent miracle of Jesus talking to the woman. Food has to take its place. A testimony was one thing but the people had to listen to Jesus and make their own personal commitment. With Jesus there is not a delay of four months as in agricultural harvesting. Amos ch 9 v 13. The ploughman will overtake the one who sows.