Living Water

JOHN | Lesson 7 | Lesson Notes / Talking Points

Read John, chapter 7, especially verses 37-39

I / INTRODUCTION: THE FEAST OF BOOTHS [or ‘TABERNACLES’]

1 / I am calling this lesson “Living Water” because we want to major on Jesus’ announcement, pronouncement, and invitation in verses 37-39.

2 / But since that self-pronouncement was given ‘on the last day of the feast, the great day,’ we need to understand more about what ‘feast’ it was.

3 / So if you begin reading in verses 1-2, you’ll discover that the occasion was ‘Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths [Tabernacles] was at hand.’ This word John uses is a compound word from two words: skeinos which is the common word for ‘tent’ [as in John 1.14] + the word that means ‘to construct by joining together’ [as in Hebrews 8.2 ‘set up’]. So a ‘tabernacle’ or ‘booth’ was a temporary shelter or lean-to which had been constructed by tying, binding, or putting other things together.

4 / This is the only time this particular word is used in the New Testament, although the Feast of Booths / Tabernacles is referred to numerous times in the Old Testament.

5 / The Feast of Booths was one of the three most prominent feasts observed by the Jews along with Passover and Pentecost. It was commanded by God to be observed in Leviticus 23.33-43. The purpose of the booths was to remind them ‘that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I AM the LORD your God.’ The booths would remind them that:

  1. Yahweh had delivered them from bondage and slavery in Egypt
  2. that they belonged to Him
  3. that they were ‘pilgrims and strangers’ in the earth
  4. that their ultimate home and destination was in the eternal, final Kingdom where they would find their eternal resting place
  5. that He had provided for all their needs and wants adequately, fully, sufficiently, and satisfactorily.

6 / This feast was also ‘the happiest season of all.’ “And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.” This feast was the final feast of their festive calendar year. It was celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month [our September-October], and it marked the happiness of the full harvest being brought in and stored up for the coming year: ‘when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you. shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days.’ I have always thought that their Feast of Booths was very much like what our Thanksgiving is to us.

7 / They would observe the Feast of Booths by moving out of their houses for those seven days. They would construct their booths out of the leafy boughs of trees and live in them. They did no work during those seven days – because God was providing for them. And there were numerous offerings and sacrifices to God that accompanied their feasting and joyous celebrations. [This Feast was also five days after The Day of Atonement.]

8 / ALSO, over the centuries, the Jews had added other ceremonies. One prominent celebration was to go to the Pool of Siloam with a golden vessel, fill it with water from the pool, and march back in joyous celebration to the altars where their sacrifices were being offered to Yahweh, and pour it into a basin prepared for it. All the while, they were singing and chanting from Isaiah 12.3 & 25.6-9 & the Hallel Psalms 113-118. As I say, for these seven days, there were joyous, exuberant, happy celebrations all day long for those days!

9 / Let me give you a quote here from Alfred Edersheim, The Temple, pages 277-279:

“While the morning sacrifice was being prepared, a priest, accompanied by a joyous procession with music, went down to the Pool of Siloam, when he drew water into a golden pitcher, capable of holding three logs (rather more than two pints) … At the same time that the procession started for Siloam, another went to a place in the Kidron Valley, close by, called Motza, whence they brought willow branches, which, amidst the blasts of the priests’ trumpets, they stuck on either side of the altar of burnt-offering, bending them over towards it, so as to form a kind of leafy canopy. Then the ordinary sacrifice proceeded, the priest who had gone to Siloam so timing it, that he returned just as his brethren carried up the pieces of the sacrifice to lay them on the altar. As he entered by the ‘Water-Gate,’ which obtained its name from this ceremony, he was received by a threefold blast from the priests’ trumpets. then priest then went up the rise of the altar and turned to the left, where there two silver basins … Into these the wine of the drink-offering was poured, and at the same time the water of Siloam, the people shouting to the priest, ‘Raise thy hand,’ to show that he really poured the water into the basin which led to the base of the altar … As soon as the wine and water were being poured out, the Temple music began, and the ‘Hallel’ was sung…to the accompaniment of flutes … When the choir came to these words, ‘O give thanks to the LORD’ [Psalm 118.1], and again when they sang, ‘O work then now salvation, O Yahweh’ [Ps 118.25], and once more at the close, ‘O give thanks to the LORD’ [Ps 118.29], all the worshippers shook their lulavs [these were clusters of palm. myrtle, and willow branches] towards the altar.”

10 / I hope this gives us just a little idea of how happy, joyous, and celebratory this Feast of Booths was to them.

II / vv 1-9 / “I AM NOT GOING UP TO THIS FEAST [YET]…

1 / Now, leading up the core passage we want to treat, let’s briefly review how the occasion was set up…

2 / In these verses, Jesus’ ‘brothers’ [or kinspeople] were taunting him in their belief to go to Jerusalem and ‘show yourself’ to His disciples and followers that He is in fact their Christ and Messiah. Jesus delayed His going because He knew the raging enmity that the Jewish leadership had for Him. He knew that ‘the Jews were seeking to kill Him’ / v 1.

3 / He would go, but it would be in the Father’s time. He remained in Galilee where He was at that time…

III / vv 10-24 / “HE ALSO WENT UP…ABOUT THE MIDDLE OF THE FEAST”

1 / He did go to Jerusalem after the festivities had already begun – not to stage a grand entrance with fanfare, but when He could enter with His disciples and blend in with the other attendees, pilgrims, and celebrants.

2 / He began teaching in the public courts of the Temple compound. The people heard Him gladly. Even the Jewish leadership who were conspiring and plotting to kill Him were marveling in amazement at His wisdom, learning, and authority – knowing that He had not attended their schools and seminaries of learning.

3 / Jesus boldly proclaimed that His knowledge and wisdom came directly from God, His Father.

When He publicly accosted His enemies among the Jewish leadership and ‘outed’ them for wanting to kill Him, Jesus connected their murderous plots directly back to the healing of the lame man in chapter 5 where they had decided among themselves that He must die / see v 23.

IV / vv 25-36 / “I KNOW HIM, FOR I COME FROM HIM, AND HE SENT ME!”

1 / There was a ‘buzz’ that erupted and spread among the people. They couldn’t deny the wisdom, power, and authority of everything He said … and how He said it.

2 / They began to debate among themselves: “Look at His boldness! Could He be our Christ? Could He be our Prophet? But He can’t be because we know where He comes from, ‘and when the Christ appears, no. one will know where He comes from.’ But, ‘When the Christ appears, will He do more signs than this Man has done?’”

3 / The Pharisees had seen and heard enough. The people were spiraling out of control. Many more were believing in Him. They had to move…and quickly.

4 / So they sent the Temple ‘police’ to arrest Him and bring Him in. / v 32. They had to get Him off the streets. But as we shall see, even when they sent the Temple ‘police’ to arrest Him, the guards returned without Him. “Why have you not arrested Him?” The officers could only respond: “We’ve never heard anyone speak like this Man speaks!” / vv 44-46.

V / 37-39 / “IF ANYONE THIRSTS, LET HIM COME TO ME AND DRINK!”

1 / Now, go back to the lengthy description of this ‘water ceremony’ that accompanied the Feast of Booths festivities. We’re even told that ‘On the last day of the feast, the great day’ that were even more elaborate ceremonies. For instance, some historians say that on this last, great day, the priests would march around the altar of sacrifice seven times instead of just once. Regardless, it was the ‘grand finale’ of the week-long Feast celebrations.

2 / It was on this day, at this time, that Jesus approaches the altar, takes a public position, and with His strong, authoritative voice ‘cried out’: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink! Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

3 / Everyone’s attention was fixated and riveted on Him!

4 / Pastor J. C. Ryle outlines this brief message this way: [1] a case supposed, “If anyone is thirsty…” [2] a remedy proposed, “Let him come to Me and drink…” [3] a promise held out, “Whoever believes in Me, out of his heart will flow rivers of water…” Let’s follow that outline:

5 / A case supposed. Everyone is thirsty. The Feast of Booths already was celebrating how Yahweh had satisfied their hunger and all the needs of their lives with the abundant harvests He had provided. More than that, the Feast of Booths not only pointed backward to Yahweh’s salvation from Egypt, but it also pointed forward all the way to the End when Yahweh would provide for His people a heavenly eternal feast in His Kingdom / see Isaiah 25.6-9. They had just quoted and sung from Isaiah 12.3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation!” This salvation was salvation from all their enemies. It was a promise of the Christ, their Messiah, their Savior who would come to finally and fully deliver them. But look at yourself! You are thirsty, too! We thirst for whatever it is we believe will satisfy our deepest and innermost longings. Whatever it is you are seeking for, working for, grasping for, longing for that you hope will fill you with satisfaction and fulfillment – whatever it is that you think will finally give you peace, security, a sense of well-being – that is what you are thirsty for. What is it for you?

6 / A remedy proposed. So when Jesus announces, “Let him come to Me and drink!” … what He is announcing is “I AM EVERYTHING THIS WATER SYMBOLIZES! I AM THE LIVING WATER THAT YAHWEH PROMISED YOU HE WOULD GIVE YOU! I AM HE! AND I AM HERE!” And so He is. Jesus Christ – in Himself – is the fullness and the lasting satisfaction that you need … you just may not realize that He is what you need and the satisfaction you’ve been thirsting for. Drink of Christ!

7 / A Promise held out. “But,” you ask, “How do I drink of Christ?” Jesus tells you: “Whoever believes in Me, out of his heart will flow rivers of Living Water.” You believe and trust in Jesus Christ as the Savior from your sins that God has provided and given you. When Jesus promises that Living Water will spring and abundantly flow from within you, He is promising the Holy Spirit will quicken you, give you eternal life, and live in you. That Holy Spirit is the very Spirit of Christ Himself / see Romans 8.9-11. This is the ’born again’ experience that Jesus told Nicodemus that he must receive / John 3. This is the eternal life of the Living Water that Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in Sychar that she was actually thirsty for … and that He would gladly and freely give her / John 4.10-14. Do you believe? Will you receive His gift of His own Living Water of eternal life?

8 / But what can John possibly mean by his inspired commentary on what Jesus meant by that statement? Now this He said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. Well, this we know:

  1. The Living Water is the Holy Spirit [as we have just explained].
  2. The Holy Spirit certainly was already present and active in the world and in the Kingdom of God.
  3. There was a future fullness of the giving and work of the Holy Spirit of some kind.
  4. This receiving of the life, power, and fullness of the Spirit would be given in relation to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and His glorification in His ascension.

Surely this last statement gives us the key. Although the Holy Spirit was already present, working, regenerating, and indwelling those who had been saved by their faith in God, His work would surely be increased and intensified as He was given to believers in Christ to fulfill the final age of the Gospel. So what Jesus is promising is that in the Gospel, the Holy Spirit would fulfill a much more public and pronounced ministry as the Gospel of Christ is preached, proclaimed, and believed on in the world.  

DO YOU BELIEVE?

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MEMORIAL TRIBUTE FOR DORIS GORDON

Doris Gordon was [and still is…and will be forever] my sister in Christ, beloved friend, ever-present helper, constant encourager, and for 60 years, she was a faithful fellow member and servant of the church I formerly pastored. She and her late husband, Elliott, were married 44 years before he also went to be with the Lord in 2011. Together, they were not only inseparable from one another, but they were like “those who are planted in the house of the LORD” [Psalm 92.13] – they were always there. Here is the text of the memorial message and personal tribute I delivered at her service on Friday, 27 January 2023. As Paul wrote about what others said about his life’s experiences and testimony: “And they glorified God in me,” [Galatians 1.24], we glorify God’s grace in this testimony to her lifetime of friendship, service, and generosity.

Doris lived here with us for a full 91 years – and then on Monday morning, the Good Shepherd came to call her by name and personally escort her through the valley of the shadow of death … to where she will dwell in the House of the LORD forever.

I visited with her here for the last time on Sunday afternoon. She was already in a deep sleep and her breathing was labored. We’ve been told by medical professionals for years that those who are dying still may be able to hear us, though they cannot respond. Of course, we don’t know.

But what we do know from the testimony of Scripture and from the promise of Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd of His sheep … that as His precious blood-bought sheep enter into the valley of the shadow of death, and as they walk farther and farther away from us and we may not be able to correspond with them any longer – they are walking closer and closer into the very Presence of the Good Shepherd and the light of the Glory of His Face. They are seeing Jesus Christ and talking with Him personally.

And so, I told Pat I wanted to pray with her one last time. I leaned over her ear and said, “Doris, this is Pastor Dave. I don’t know whether you are hearing me, but I want to pray with you.”

And, I prayed:

The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;

He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul;

He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.

…and then I paused briefly…

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil; For You are with me.

Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;

and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

and then I just said: “Doris, I love you … and I’ll see you soon!” – and I will…

This is not only a comforting promise for the end of our lives, but it is also the short story of the whole of our lives as the precious sheep of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

  • The days of our lifetime here are all summed up in the words: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…”
  • Our ‘death from here’ experience is told in the words “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…I will fear no evil – For YOU ARE WITH ME!”
  • and then our final glorious homegoing and homecoming is announced in the final promise: “And I will dwell in the House of the LORD forever!”

And as the apostle Paul exclaims in 1 Thessalonians 4.17: “And so we will always be with the Lord!”

Physical ‘death from here’ for a child of God – for those whose faith and trust is in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior from our sins – is but a transition from this frail, broken, mortal body and life to be with Jesus Christ in His very Presence. Again, the apostle Paul would even look forward to his ‘death from here’ by saying … even with longing “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain! … having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better! We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord!” [Philippians 1.21, 23; 2 Corinthians 5.8].

Doris lived her life here “in the faith” – by her faith in Christ. She professed her faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His Gospel as a young woman. She lived her life in obedience and service to her Lord all her adult life. And then, as the Hebrews writer in chapter 11 chronicled all those who lived their lives in faithful service to God, he also described how they died“These all died in faith…” Doris died from here in the same faith she lived in and lived by – her faith in Christ’s death for her sins and His resurrection again from the dead to secure her justification and give her His own eternal life.

Doris’s life was lived and given in service to Jesus Christ, to her church, to her family, and to her host of faithful friends. But Doris never claimed – would never claim – and certainly does not claim now in the Presence of her Savior – that anything she ever did merited God’s favor and grace. Rather, everything she did was because of God’s free Grace given to her by her faith in Jesus Christ.

Doris lived, served, and gave because God first loved her and gave His Son to save her from her sins … and to redeem her to Himself to be His precious daughter in the faith … and now to be with Him forever.

Doris’s life was a testimony to the Grace of God! And I’d like to share more of that testimony with you …

But before I do, I think it would honor Doris’s testimony and legacy if we sing one of her favorite songs: ‘When We All Get to Heaven.’

Let’s sing it together…

>>>>>>>>>> † <<<<<<<<<<

I want to celebrate Doris’s faith in Christ and her love for Him in the context of a story from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 14.3-9 … where Jesus Himself commended another one of His faithful women followers and even delivered a brief eulogy [good word] in her honor.

The woman’s name was Mary. She was the sister of Lazarus and Martha. They lived in Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, and they had often hosted Jesus in their home when He was in Jerusalem. They loved Jesus, and Jesus loved them. He said so Himself. And, of course, Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead just a few days before this.

This occasion was only two days away from Jesus’ own death, and Mary had picked up on that … when others of His disciples had not. But they were hosting Jesus again for supper. During the meal, as they were reclining at the table, Mary went to get a very expensive flask of burial ointments that she had obviously bought as a pre-arrangement for her own death and burial – according to their custom. She brought it back into the room, broke the fragile flask and began to empty the expensive perfumed oils on Jesus’ head – weeping in pre-bereavement for Him as she did so.

And as Mark tells the story:

“But some were expressing indignation to one another: ‘Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for more than [a worker’s annual wage] and given to the poor.’ And they began to scold her.

         “Jesus replied, ‘Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a noble thing for Me. You always have the poor with you, and you can do what is good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body in advance for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.’”

And see – we have just told it again!

But when I think of Doris’ life of love and service for Christ, I have often thought of her in the context of this story. Everything Doris did during her long life of love, service, and giving … it was done as an act of pouring out her life on the body of Christ Himself.  

Doris’s life can be summed in simple words:

TRUE FRIEND:

Doris was a true and fiercely loyal friend to all … first to her family and relatives, and also to her friends outside her family – especially her friends at our church. She was ‘rich in friends.’

You know the old adage:

“Make new friends and keep the old – one is silver and the other is gold”

[actually, the original version says, ‘those are silver, and these are gold’.]

Doris was rich in both … and kept getting ‘richer in friends’ turning the new ‘silver’ friends into old ‘gold’ ones!

You all are here today because of her life-long friendships she had with you all. Of course, you who are her siblings have shared this friendship with her all her life. You nieces and nephews – Doris would talk about you often and share updates with us how you were, where you were, and what was going on in your lives. She loved you so much and was so proud of you.

You who knew Doris from our church fellowship, for many of you, your friendship with her goes back for more than 60 years.

You all have maintained and treasured the friendship you shared with her over all these years you have known her. You talked often and kept sharing with one another your treasured friendship. And when you did, you were scooping into those friendship ‘treasures’ and enjoying them again! I’ve been talking with more than one of you over the past week, and you have shared with me how you talked with her again ‘just a few days ago,’ and how you would reminisce and laugh together about all the experiences you have shared together over all these years. She loved you, and you loved her.

And I’m still trying to remember which ones of you took her to the hockey games down at Rupp Arena back when the Lexington Thoroughblades were playing there? It never would have entered my mind that Doris would be interested in going to a hockey game! But she would come to church all excited and had to tell me about going with some of you all to the hockey games. I would kid her and say: “Doris, you’re just going hoping you’ll get to see a good brawl break out on the ice! You didn’t storm the ice, did you?” But she loved being with you and enjoyed those fun times together!

And you have been true, fiercely-loyal friends to her as well. We want to especially honor you, her family, for all the ways you loved her and took care of her, especially during these last few years after Elliott went Home to be with our Lord … and Doris was suffering with her own health issues.

She was so grateful, so thankful, so appreciative of all your generous expressions of love, kindness, and care toward her. Doris was a TRUE FRIEND!

FAITHFUL SERVANT:

Doris was a life-long faithful servant of her Lord and our church. Like Jesus commended Mary who anointed Him: “She has done what she could…” Doris did what she could – she did ALL she could! Doris joined our church in 1963 and served faithfully in many, many ways for these past 60 years. She taught our Ladies SS class for over 40 of those years. She became such a fixture in our church that for years, we called that room where their SS class met “Doris’s Room.” Doris was there helping us with EVERY function or activity the church had until she wasn’t physically able:

  • worship services [she and Elliott literally wore out the carpet that was under their feet where they sat]
  • Vacation Bible School
  • missions conferences
  • neighborhood visitation
  • community outreach events
  • when she and Elliott were both healthy, for years they worked together and mowed our grass and kept up the landscaping, and did numerous maintenance and upkeep projects on our building
  • when our long-time custodian went to be with the Lord, Doris stepped in to do that service; and when another sister undertook the responsibility, Doris came to help her

Doris and Elliott always served together. Doris joined our church in 1963, Elliott came and joined a year later, 1964. Now, I have been told  (I can’t personally verify the story because I wasn’t there) but I’ve been told by some who were there that you adult ladies were coming out of your SS class time back into the auditorium. Elliott was standing there, and when Doris saw Elliott, she pointed at him and said to her SS sisters: “He’s mine!” Again, I can’t verify she said that – but he was ‘hers’! She claimed him … and made good on the claim! Even Elliott always said that “Doris chased me until she caught me!” They were married in November 1967. [Also, for some reason, Elliott called her by the pet name ‘Bubba’ – at least that’s what he often called her in my presence.] We used to say around our church that “Doris and Elliott was the squishiest love story that ever came out of Thompson Road church.” In every way, Doris was a FAITHFUL SERVANT.

EXTRAVAGANTLY GENEROUS:

…and by ‘extravagant,’ I don’t mean ‘wasteful.’ I mean ‘liberally generous.’ And she did everything she did, and gave everything she gave quietly … without anyone knowing what she was doing. They forbade me to make any announcements about what they were doing or recognize them in any way. She told me more than one time how seriously she took it when Jesus said, “Don’t even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” The only ways I know about most of it is because it was either given to me personally or I heard it from those she gave it to.

  • Everybody knows how they lived modestly and frugally … they always said “We’ve got more than enough and more then we need,” and so they were always sharing what they had with others…
  • On numerous occasions, they would personally and quietly finance costly repair or maintenance projects we needed at the church.
  • Years ago, along with Elliott, they donated a sizeable investment account they had accumulated they said they didn’t need for the support of our missionary pensioners.
  • Of course, they didn’t have any biological children of their own, but they were always ‘adopting’ other people’s children to do things to help them out. On numerous occasions, when our missionaries would come to the States on furlough, she would sponsor their children’s tuition expenses in private schools so they could keep up.
  • Over the years, she and Elliott personally gave me two vehicles when they were purchasing another one – rather than trade the older one in. We continued to drive them for years after until they wore out – and one of them, we even handed down to our kids, and they drove it still longer.
  • And that’s besides all the countless little gifts and favors they would give us – like every year, while both of them were healthy, on some day during the early spring, they would show up at our house with baskets of freshly-picked strawberries. There was a pick-’em-yourself farm out in Jessamine County behind our neighborhood, and they would always pick some for us and drop them by on their way home.  

Her testimony over the years was always from what Jesus taught: “Freely you have received…freely give.” [Matthew 10.8]. What she would say is: “God gave me His Son to save me. Jesus gave me His life on the cross when He died for my sins. He has given me the gift of the forgiveness of my sins and eternal life. And He has given me a home in Heaven when I die.”

More than anything else she may have given you or done for you during her life here among us, she wants to give you the testimony of the Gospel of the Grace of God in Jesus Christ.

She wants you to know Him, to receive Him, to have Him – and to “be there” with her … together with Him – “dwelling in the House of the LORD forever!”  

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I AM…the Bread of Life!

JOHN | Lesson 6 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read John, chapter 6, especially verses 26-40

I / INTRODUCTION: SOME SIGNIFICANCES OF THIS SIGN

1 / There are actually two miracles that John will record in this narrative. These are the fourth and fifth signs that John will record in this Gospel to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that by believing in Him we may have life through His Name / see ch 20.30-31. For a list of those seven sign-miracles that John records, see Lesson 5.

2 / The two miracles John will record here are: [1] The feeding of the five thousand by multiplying the five barley loaves and two fish … this miracle is an act and work of His creative power as God / vv 1-14; and [2] His walking on the water / vv 15-21. Both of these miracle works required the suspension of what we call ‘the laws of nature,’ but are actually only the Creator of those very laws acting by different laws that superseded them to show His authority as God.

3 / The feeding of the five thousand is only miracle that Jesus worked that is recorded by all four Gospel writers. If you want to flesh out this occasion and fill in many other details, you can do so by comparing these other Gospel accounts: Matthew 14.1-32; Mark 6.14-52; and Luke 9.7-17.

4 / There is no way we can fully and adequately treat this whole chapter of 71 verses in this lesson or in our class time. So all we want to do here is to summarize the miracle-sign that sets up the message Jesus will deliver the next day in the synagogue at Capernaum / vv 22-59. In this message, Jesus will give His own Divine commentary on why He fed them physical bread the previous day, and what He was doing to show them His Glory [Deity], and to press on them their need to believe on Him as The True Bread the Father was giving them from Heaven.

5 / Sadly – they didn’t see Him as such…as we shall see. Do you?

II / vv 1-15 / JESUS FEEDS THE FIVE THOUSAND

1 / This occasion comes some time after the events of chapter 5. The Jewish leadership had initiated their fierce opposition against Jesus and were conspiring to kill Him / ch 5.18

2 / v 1 / Also, Jesus has retreated from Jerusalem and Judea to seek refuge in Galilee after Herod had beheaded John the Baptist. When Herod heard about Jesus’ works, he wondered whether John the Baptist had been raised from the dead / see the references in 3/ above. Herod was also seeking a more personal meeting and audience with Jesus Himself / Luke 9.9.

3 / This is one of the occasions when Jesus sought a time of rest, respite, retirement to have more time to commune with His Father and gain some physical and spiritual refreshment / Mark 6.30-31 ff. This locality that Jesus chose was a small grassy plain at the foot of a mountain outside of Bethsaida where He thought they might find some seclusion. It was not to be…

4 / vv 2-4 / And a large crowd was following Him because they saw the signs that He was doing on the sick…Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. These crowds were not only locals from the surrounding regions, but many were also pilgrims on the roads to Jerusalem to attend the Passover. They had heard about Jesus, and now they find out He is right there in the vicinity! They began to gather in droves to see Him and perhaps witness a miracle for themselves.

5 / Jesus had gone up into the mountain for some ‘alone time’ with His disciples so He could teach and counsel them. These disciples were not only the twelve, but also other disciples who were ‘following’ Jesus. As it would turn out, many of these ‘fringe’ disciples would walk away and desert Jesus when He required that they surrender to and serve His Lordship / see vv 66-71.

6 / v 5a / When Jesus saw the multitudes coming to Him, He had compassion on them – mostly because He knew they were lost and without a shepherd / Mark 6.33-34.

7 / vv 5b-7 / This is NOT ONLY a test – but it IS a TEST! Jesus asked Philip where they could buy enough food to feed the crowd. Philip should know – he was from Bethsaida / see ch 1.44. He said this to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. The test was to see whether Philip and His other disciples would learn to trust Him to be the All-Sufficient Provider for all their needs. Jesus also knew what He would do because He had told them back in chapter 5.20 that the Father was constantly showing Him, the Son, what He, the Father, is doing. The Father is going to do this … and the Son is going to do it also. The Son is always revealing the heart of the Father.

8 / vv 8-10 / Andrew must have inquired and discovered a ‘young lad’ there who had brought a meager lunch with him. There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many? Little is much when God is in it. Jesus took the scant food and instructed the disciples to have the crowd sit down in orderly groups.

9 / vv 11-13 / Jesus took the loaves and fish and gave thanks for them … much like He would later do when He blessed and distributed the Passover meal at the Last Supper before His death / see Matthew 26.26. Here also, the broken and multiplied loaves were emblematic of His own death for our life when He will give Himself for us as our “Bread of Life.”

10 / This was nothing less than an act of creation. The bread and fish were created in abundance in His hands as He broke and gave it to His disciples to be distributed among the hungry multitude. Not only was everyone fed to the full and satisfied, but they also gathered up the leftovers and filled twelve ‘baskets’ or ‘ruck-sacks’ that everyone carried with them. They had much more ‘left over’ than they started with … even after feeding the more than five thousand hungry bellies!

11 / vv 14-15 / The responses from the crowds exposed the superficiality of their hearts. In one word, they exclaimed when they saw this ‘sign’ that This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world! referring to the Prophet like Moses that Yahweh had promised would come to tell them about Him / see Deuteronomy 18.15-19. Then their next response was to make a move to coerce Jesus or take Him by force to make Him king. Their intention was to ‘draft’ Jesus, take Him to Jerusalem, and enthrone Him as their king and deliverer to overthrow the Romans and take their ‘kingdom’ back to themselves.

12 / This is NOT the Glory that Jesus was manifesting by this ‘sign.’ This is NOT the kingdom He had come to establish and reign over. He had NOT come to set up and reign over a political, nationalistic kingdom.  / see ch 18.33-38.

III / vv 16-21 / JESUS WALKS ON THE WATER

1 / vv 16-17 / What had transpired here is that Jesus knew He had to dismiss this crowd. They had seen His Deity in this miracle, but they had completely missed the message of it. Also, He didn’t want His disciples to be caught up in this moment and movement. So, He dispatched His disciples to get into the boat they were using and head for another shore / see Matthew 14.22-23 & Mark 6.45-46. After dismissing the crowd and sending them away, He retreated up into the mountain to be alone and to pray to the Father.

2 / vv 18-19 / This was another intentional follow-up miracle/lesson to what they had just witnessed. Had the disciples themselves learned that they could trust Jesus implicitly … regardless of the seeming ‘impossibility’ of the circumstances they were facing? This was another test to see how they would respond … Jesus knew also this time what He would do. A fierce storm broke out on the Sea of Galilee. This happened frequently. The Sea of Galilee is 600 feet below sea level, and the winds would cascade down the mountain slopes on the Sea and turn it into a raging cauldron. So it did here. When they had exhausted their efforts to row the ship to shore and had given up all hope, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat. Mark 6.48 says, And He saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. Yes, He saw them, knew their distress and panic, and made His way to them, walking on the very sea and through the very storm that was threatening to capsize them, take them under, and drown them! He sees you, too!

3 / vv 20-21 / Jesus called out to them in their fright, It is I; do not be afraid! He is constantly calling out to us the same way! Then they were glad to take Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

4 / This was the same occasion when Peter also walked on the water to go to Jesus at His invitation – until his own faith and trust in Jesus failed him and he began to sink.

5 / Mark 6.51-52 will tell us that, at least in this present moment, they had failed to learn the lesson from the feeding of the five thousand – that they could trust Jesus in every difficulty and confounding circumstance. That’s the lesson they should have learned. But, And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

6 / Our sanctification and faith in Jesus is always an on-going school of learning. We will utterly fail many of the ‘pop quizzes’ Jesus gives us along the way. We should always be asking for the meaning of the trials and afflictions we experience to learn what He wants to teach us about Himself and His Glory!

IV / vv 22-59 / “I AM…THE BREAD OF LIFE”

1 / Here is the message of the miracle. Every miracle had a message it was delivering. Every miracle was a message about Jesus’ Deity, manifesting His Glory. But most often, those who witnessed the miracle saw only the physical act that was performed and failed to ‘see’ or ‘hear’ the message that it communicated. Jesus didn’t perform His miracles just to be spectacular or to show off. They were not merely humanitarian acts of kindness. They were performed to show the Father’s heart and will toward us in sending Jesus, the Son, to save us from our sins … to redeem us back to God.

2 / vv 22-25 / The crowd gathered again the next day where Jesus had miraculously fed them the day before. When they didn’t find Jesus there, and saw that the boat Jesus’ disciples had left in was still missing, they came in droves to Capernaum looking for Him. When they found Him, they scolded Him for skipping out on their scheme to coronate/inaugurate Him as their king – and also for not being there to feed them again.

3 / vv 26-29 / Jesus soundly rebuked them back. He exposed the superficiality and carnality of their desires. Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on Him God the Father has set His seal. Meaning, “I was showing you your real, greatest, deepest need – to see Me as the Savior the Father has sent you to save you from your sins. But all you saw was the physical meal I fed you. That physical bread was a sign to you of the spiritual Bread that I AM, and that the Father has sent to you to feed, fill, and satisfy your true need and longing.”

4 / From here on, I can only record the statements Jesus made about Himself as the true message of the miracle. There will be numerous objections, deflections, and rebuttals they will throw back at Jesus. But He will repeatedly bring them back to the message of the miracle … all culminating in His Deity Declaration “I AM!” When Jesus makes His “I AM!” declarations, He is identifying Himself with the “I AM!” Name that Yahweh revealed Himself by to Moses at the burning bush / see Exodus 3.13-15.

5 / We will put each of these statements in the contexts in which they are given as we read the exchanges Jesus had with these unbelievers. We also cannot spiritually ‘hear,’ receive, or understand these life-giving truths unless the Father draws us by the Holy Spirit and gives us understanding [see vv 37-40, 44-46, 63-65]. We pray He will!

  1. v 32 / Jesus then said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from Heaven, but my Father gives you the True Bread from Heaven.
  2. v 33 / For the Bread of God is He who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world.
  3. v 35 / Jesus said to them, I AM the Bread of Life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in my shall never thirst.
  4. vv 47-51 / Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I AM the Bread of Life49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the Bread that comes down from Heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I AM the Living Bread that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever. And the Bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.
  5. vv 53-58 / So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is True Food, and my blood is True Drink56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the Bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this Bread will live forever.” 

6 / The ONLY WAY we can have eternal life is by believing and trusting in the Person of Christ whom the Father has sent to save us from our sins. He gave us the True, Living Bread of Life by the perfect, sinless life He lived, and then by the death He died for us as our Substitute. When we believe and trust in Him by faith, we receive and ‘feed’ on His own eternal life which He gives to us. He gives us the Living Bread of His own Life.

7 / And not only must we receive and ‘feed’ on Him to begin living His eternal life, but we must continue to ‘feed’ on Him to sustain that life. That is especially the message in the constant references to the manna ‘bread from Heaven’ that Jesus repeatedly references. That ‘bread from Heaven’ was not only how they were saved from starvation to begin with, but it was also supplied to them daily as the ‘food’ by which their lives were sustained daily for forty years! So, too, we must ‘abide’ in Christ by daily ‘eating His flesh’ and ‘drinking His blood’ which is given to us in the Gospel of His death and resurrection and ‘fed’ to us through His Word and the Holy Spirit.

V / vv 60-71 / “DO YOU WANT TO GO AWAY AS WELL?”

1 / Sadly, many of Jesus’ ‘disciples’ were only ‘bandwagon’ followers. Faith requires that we surrender ourselves to Jesus’ Deity and Lordship. When He began explaining the message of the miracle, many of those who claimed to be His disciples complained and objected: This is a hard saying; who can listen to it? Meaning, “No, we want you for what we can get from you and what we can get you to do for us. We’re not willing to surrender our whole lives to you!”

2 / Not only did they verbally reject Jesus, but After this many of His disciples turned back and no longer walked with Him. Did they lose their salvation? NO! They just exposed themselves as hypocritical unbelievers who were only along for the free stuff. They were willing to ‘follow’ Jesus if He would be a free ‘food truck’ to satisfy their human appetites and desires. But if being a disciple means living in total surrender to His Lordship, they are not willing to count that cost and pay that price.

3 / Salvation from our sins and the gift of eternal life is FREE for the receiving by faith – but we must confess that “Jesus Christ is LORD!” when we receive Him.

4 / That’s when Jesus turned to twelve … after they had witnessed the feeding of the five thousand and His walking on the stormy sea later that night and after they had just seen this bitter rejection of many who were not willing to receive the message of the miracle … and He said, Do you want to go away as well? Simon Peter responded as we all must, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that You are the Holy One of God!  

DO YOU BELIEVE?

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Take up your bed and walk!

JOHN | Lesson 5 | Lesson Notes / Talking Points

Read John, chapter 5, especially verses 1-18

I / INTRODUCTION: SOME SIGNIFICANCES OF THIS SIGN

There are some distinctive significances to this particular miracle and why John wants to include it here in His Gospel:

1 / This is now the third of seven distinctive miracle-signs that John chooses to highlight in His Gospel to show that Jesus is the Son of God [ch 20.30-31 – although John specifically numbers only the first and second of them [see ch 2.11 & 4.54]. The seven miracle-signs that John highlights are:

  1. turning water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana / ch 2.11
  2. healing the official’s servant / ch 4.54
  3. healing the man who had been lame for thirty-eight years / ch 5.1-14
  4. feeding the 5000 / ch 6.1-14
  5. walking on the water / ch 6.16-21
  6. giving sight to the man born blind / ch 9.1-7
  7. raising Lazarus from the dead / ch 11.1-44

2 / Another distinctive purpose for this miracle was NOT just to perform an act of humanitarian mercy and compassion. Note that there were “a multitude of invalids – blind, lame, and paralyzed” who were there also, and Jesus did not heal them. But Jesus healed this ‘one man’ who was there specifically to show the Father’s compassion toward those who are lame, impotent, unable to help themselves, and who have no one else to help them. And to deliver the message especially that He, the Father, had sent Jesus Christ and Christ had come to redeem us from the crippling and debilitating effects of our sin and its curse upon us / see v 14.

3 / He was also proclaiming, introducing, and inaugurating the coming New World of the Kingdom when ALL of our infirmities, diseases, and afflictions will be eradicated. The fullness of that Age to come has not yet come, but Christ came to begin what He will perfect in that Day.

  1. Isaiah spoke of that day in Isaiah 35.3-6: Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
  2. Jeremiah said it is coming in Jeremiah 31.7-8: For thus says the LORD: “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations; proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘O LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’ Behold, I will bring them from the north country and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the pregnant woman and she who is in labor, together; a great company, they shall return here.”
  3. See also Jesus’ testimony to John the Baptist’s disciples when John sent them to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah whom they were expecting to come: Matthew 11.1-6.

4 / One other purpose for John’s including this miracle in his Gospel is to begin marking out the bitter enmity and murderous opposition of the Jewish leaders against Christ. They will begin from this miracle on to carry out their intentions to kill Him / see vv 16-18. John will continue to develop this murderous plot throughout the remainder of his Gospel / chs 7.14-31 ff; 8.37-40; 11.45-53; 12.9-11.  

II / vv 1-2 / THE FEAST AT JERUSALEM & THE POOL OF BETHESDA [or BETHSAIDA]

1 / Since this was ‘a feast of the Jews,’ we know that numerous pilgrims were making their way to Jerusalem to keep the feast and worship. There were three prominent feasts [Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles] when all the Jews were required to attend. Jesus came to fulfill all the Law and the prophets, so He obediently went and attended the feast. Jerusalem would have been ‘packed out’ during these days.

2 / This pool, Bethesda, [or some manuscripts identify it as ‘Bethsaida’ was just inside one of the main entrance gates into the city. It was one of several reservoirs the Jews had dug inside the city walls to retain water supplies. In chapter 9.7, Jesus will tell the man to whom he gave sight to go wash in the pool of Siloam – another such reservoir. Bethesda also served as a kind of ‘rest area,’ especially on Feast occasions where the travelers and pilgrims could rest and refresh themselves upon entering the city. John tells his readers, many of whom would be Gentile readers and unfamiliar with Jerusalem, that there were colonnades/columns supporting roofs which would shelter those at the pool from the heat of the sun.

3 / Also, if indeed the name of the pool was ‘Bethesda,’ which means ‘house of compassion/mercy,’ then the very name of the venue will give commentary on this act of compassion and mercy Jesus will perform for this poor lame man.

III / vv 3-6 / “DO YOU WANT TO BE HEALED?”

1 / Not only was this a gathering place for respite for weary pilgrims and travelers coming into Jerusalem, but it was also a place where the infirm would gather for what was assumed was the healing qualities of the pool’s water. In fact, as Jesus approached these sheltered porticoes, “…in these lay a multitude of invalids – blind, lame, and paralyzed.”

2 / One of the primary reasons they gathered there was that it was thought that when the water of the pool was ‘stirred up’ [v 7], that whoever could get into the pool first would be healed of his infirmity. Some old manuscripts of John’s Gospel also contain the words “…waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred the water; whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had.” This would be in verses 3b-4 if they are in your translation. Other old copies of John don’t have those words, and so it is debated whether those words were originally written by John or added by later editors. Whether the words are genuine or not, or whether an angel really did come down to trouble the waters really doesn’t change the message of the text or the message of Jesus’ sign-miracle. The presence and activities of angels are frequent and prominent in the Gospel accounts. And an angel could have done that. Regardless, the people apparently thought that happened, so they wanted to be there when it did occur.

3 / What we do know from historians and archaeologists is that the pool would have been fed from underground streams and springs, so such movement of the water would have occasionally occurred.

4 / But Jesus singled out this one particular man. “One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years” / v 5. Whether his paralysis was from an injury, or he had been lame from birth, we are not told. But he had been this way for thirty-eight years. What we do know is that his lame condition was the result of sin’s curse upon our world from the time of the Fall in the Garden of Eden … as are all of our race’s maladies and infirmities. And this is what Jesus had come to address, rectify, and redeem us from!

4 / This was no ‘random act of kindness.’ Here is a clear demonstration of Jesus’ compassion for sinners, and on our weakness … and also of Jesus’ sovereign choice of the recipients of His mercy. There were multitudes of invalids there, but Jesus went directly to this ‘one man’ to heal Him of his infirmity. Jesus ‘saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time.’ Jesus singled him out to receive His compassion, mercy, and deliverance … and He also knew from His omniscience how long he had been in this condition.

5 / Jesus posed the question to the lame man: “Do you want to healed?” Jesus asked the man this question to draw attention to his own need of healing and his impotence to do anything about it himself. And Jesus also wanted to draw and fix the lame man’s focus and attention on Him, Jesus! There would be no question about where the healing came from, and the man must want to receive it from this stranger who was asking him.

IV / vv 7-9a / “TAKE UP YOUR BED AND WALK!”

1 / The man’s answer sets up the stark contrast between his own impotence and Jesus’ omnipotence – which is the message that Jesus will deliver and demonstrate. This is the express purpose for every miracle-sign that Jesus performed. “Sir, not only have I been here in this lame condition for thirty-eight years, and not only have I been here for many of those same years trying to take advantage of the moving of the waters to get in first, but I can’t get in myself due to my paralysis, and I don’t have anyone who is willing to stay here with me to help me get in!” You can hear the desperation, frustration, helplessness, hopelessness in the tone of his answer.

2 / Jesus exercise His Divine prerogative as the Son of God to command him: “Get up, take up your bed, and walk!” This command would have been a mockery of his weakness – IF Jesus had not issued it with the purpose and will to grant the lame man the very healing, power, and strength to act on it.

3 / Such is the nature of God’s Grace. Jesus commanded the man to do the impossible, and then graciously granted to him the power with which to obey.  

4 / Such also is the nature of true saving faith. When God grants the grace, we obey in the life, power, and strength of the grace He gives! “And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked!”

5 / Without a doubt, Jesus is declaring and demonstrating the Grace by which we are saved! He is declaring His mission for coming into our world and prophesying His redemptive mercy and deliverance from all the cursed effects of sin that He would accomplish on the Cross! “For while we were still weak [without strength], at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” / Romans 5.6. Again, go back to the Isaiah 35.3-6 prophecy we quoted above: “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong! Fear not! Behold, your God…He will come and save you!’ …Then shall the lame man leap like a deer….” This man surely did!

V / vv 9b-13 / “NOW THAT DAY WAS THE SABBATH”

1 / When John adds this dateline/time stamp: “Now that day was the Sabbath…,” he is letting us know that the fact it was the Sabbath day is going to stir up the enmity and animosity that will follow. “So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, ‘It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful. for you to take up your bed.’”

2 / Well, the Law did forbid unnecessary work to be done on the Sabbath. But Jesus is NOT breaking or violating any Law that Yahweh had given them to observe. You can be sure of that. He came to keep the Law and fulfill it in Himself! These prohibitions were constructed by the Jewish rabbis and teachers as time had gone on.

3 / Jesus will make it very clear in verse 17 that He was performing this act of mercy on the Sabbath day because “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” Meaning that God, His Father, was the One who was initiating this work of deliverance, and He, the Son of God, was acting in concert with His Father, God!

4 / What this exchange does also is to set up the conspiracy of hatred and murder that the Jewish leadership set in motion from this very act, occasion, and moment. John will continue to weave this theme-thread of murder conspiracy throughout the rest of His Gospel. We will pick up this theme-thread here in just a moment…

VI / v 14 / “…SIN NO MORE…”

1 / The poor lame man didn’t know who Jesus was when He healed him. He just knew that this Man, whoever he was, had commanded him to be healed of his lameness. He had just restored rejuvenation, restoration, revitalization, and strength to his atrophied, immobile muscles, and commanded him to get up and walk and go home on his own ambulation! And to take his bed-mat roll with him! It hadn’t entered his mind that there would be a problem of any kind!

2 / Jesus sought him out just a short while later. When Jesus encountered him that time, he was in the temple compound. Again, we don’t know whether he had come to the temple to worship, offer thanksgiving offerings, or what. But, “Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, ‘See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.’”

3 / This raises some interesting questions: Was his former lameness the direct result of some sin he had committed? Or was Jesus just charging him with a sense of responsibility to live the rest of his life remembering that he had been healed by an act of God, and that he should live a life of grateful obedience to God going forward? We don’t know. But Jesus gives us all the rule to follow: Don’t forget the gracious mercies of God’s compassion which have saved you and blessed you! How quickly we forget that all of our graces, mercies, deliverances, and blessings come to us by God’s free grace!

VII / vv 15-18 / “…MAKING HIMSELF EQUAL WITH GOD”

1 / For some reason the healed lame man went back to the Jewish leaders who had rebuked him after his healing and told them that he now knew the identity of the Man who had healed him and told him to carry his mat home on the Sabbath day – it was Jesus! In all likelihood, it was done in innocence and without any intention of bringing the wrath of the religious establishment against Jesus – as it did.

2 / And now John begins to weave this theme-thread that he will continue through the rest of this Gospel: “And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I am working.’” Do you see what Jesus is declaring? He is declaring that [1] He is the Son of God; [2] He is working in intimate concert with His Father, God, in what He is doing; [3] He is the One who instituted the Sabbath day to begin with, and this work that He did on the Sabbath day was very much in keeping with God’s purpose for giving it: to give rest to His people!

3 / This very act, and the fact that it was performed on the Sabbath day in ‘violation’ of their man-made laws will be the ‘law’ basis upon which they will charge Jesus with crimes against their ‘religion’ and also ‘blasphemy’ against God … because they understood what Jesus meant by saying that God is His Father – He was saying He is equal with God!

4 / “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.”

5 / You can follow John’s theme-thread that is anchored in this event by these references: ch 5.16-18 > ch 7.14-31 ff, especially 19-23 > ch 8.37-40 > ch 11.45-53 > ch 12.9-10

VIII / vv 19-47 / “THE FATHER HAS COMMITTED ALL JUDGMENT TO THE SON” [v 22]

In the remaining verses of chapter 5, John will record some of what Jesus said to serve as His Divine commentary on what He had just done. Suffice it to say, we can’t elaborate on any of it here. But let me give you just a couple summary statements:

1 / vv 19-29 / The Father has committed to the Son all authority to act in His Name, to give life to whom He will, and to exercise all judgment at the Last Day.

2 / vv 30-47 / Jesus itemizes some of the witnesses who testify to His Deity … in spite of all their objections, opposition, and unbelief: [1] His witness to Himself; [2] John the Baptist; [3] the works the Father had given Him to do; [4] the Father Himself; [5] and the Scriptures – especially Moses.

AND THEY WERE REJECTING AND DENYING THEM ALL!

DO YOU BELIEVE?

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The Savior of the World

JOHN | Lesson 4 | Lesson Notes / Talking Points

Read John, chapters 3 & 4

I / INTRODUCTION: THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD

1 / The title of this lesson comes from chapter 4.41-42:

And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

2 / This lesson is going to cover two of the fullest and richest chapters in the Gospel of John. I fully recognize that there are hundreds of truths and teachings that we are not going to have time to cover in this brief lesson. But what I do want to do is point out what I believe is one of John’s purposes in putting these three stories together the way he does here.

3 / First of all, let’s identify the three stories I’m referring to:

  1. Nicodemus, ch 3.1-21
  2. The Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, ch 4.1-42
  3. The official [probably of Herod’s court and a Gentile], ch 4.43-54.

We’ll say more about each of these characters as we survey their stories.

4 / I am calling these three stories ‘Savior of the World’ because I think that’s the theme John wanted to present to tie them together in this place. The ‘Savior of the World’ is highlighted in all three stories:

  1. in the first story, we find John 3.16; For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
  2. in the second story, the men of Samaria recognized, believed in, and confessed Jesus as ‘the Savior of the world,’ verse 42;
  3. in the third story, the ‘official’ represents the outside, larger, wider ‘world’ beyond the Jews.

5 / But, our purpose for right now is to point out that these three characters represent all the peoples of the world to the Jewish way of thinking. For example, think of Acts 1.8: when Jesus wanted to emphasize that we should be His witnesses to all the peoples of the world, He described them as:

  1. Jerusalem and all Judea
  2. and Samaria
  3. and to the end of the earth (meaning all the Gentile nations).

6 / So, look again at our three characters in John, chapters 3 & 4:

  1. Nicodemus represents Jerusalem and all Judea: ‘ruler of the Jews’
  2. The Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well represents Samaria: ‘For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans’
  3. The official [basilikos] from Capernaum represents the wider outside ‘world’ of the Gentiles [Let’s just make some notes here about this ‘official.’ We know from the word that is used that he is connected with a royal position. The word here is derived from the word for ‘king.’ There are two other accounts of Jesus’ encounter with a Roman centurion in Capernaum whose servant was sick (see Matthew 8.5-13 & Luke 7.1-10). They were certainly Gentiles and military commanders of the occupying Roman army. This basilikos seems to be a different character and story from those, but he is from the same town Capernaum and also seems to be a Gentile who was a believer in Jesus Christ.]

II / WHAT IS ‘THE WORLD’? WHAT DOES THE WORD ‘WORLD’ MEAN?

1 / I just want to point out that ‘the Savior of the world’ is a theme that John is introducing here in the beginning of his Gospel, and this theme will be a prominent thread that John weaves in and out throughout Jesus’ encounters. John will use the word just in this Gospel fifty-seven times.

2 / For example:

  1. John opens up his Gospel by declaring that “The true Light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” / ch 1.9. John had just said before this in verse 7 [about John the Baptist’s witness ‘that all might believe through Him.’
  2. And then, in verses 10-11, ‘the world’ seems to be set in contrast with ‘His own[things/people],’ which would contrast the Gentile peoples of the world with the Jewish peoples.
  3. And then, in chapter 3.16-17, we are assured ‘For God so loved the world…’ and that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, and Jesus came into the world of creation and humanity ‘that the world might be saved through Him.’

What that shows us is that John’s purpose early on in this Gospel is to demonstrate that Jesus Christ came into the ‘world’ ‘that the world might be saved through Him’ – in other words, to be ‘the Savior of the world.’

3 / So, the word ‘world’ means a lot of different things in the Bible.

  1. Sometimes it means ‘the world of creation’ / ch 1.10
  2. Sometimes it means ‘the world of humanity without exception, every person’ / ch 3.19
  3. But sometimes it means ‘all the peoples of the world … not without exception … but without distinction’ / ch 1.29; 3.16-17; 4.42; 12.47.

– Jesus does not save every person in the world without exception because there are multitudes who will remain in condemnation and be condemned forever / ch 3.16-19.

But those ‘in the world’ who do believe in Jesus – put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior from their sins – will be saved … regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, cultural background, or personal history.

THAT is what these stories are meant to present, highlight, and emphasize!

4 / We need to interpret the word ‘world’ the way John meant it and the ways the people who first received this book understood it. John is using ‘world’ in the sense that a Jew of his day would use it and mean it. And, to the Jews, ‘the world’ was everybody else out there besides them. The ‘world’ would mean everybody else besides them, the Jews.

5 / And so this was a radical idea: that Jesus Christ, the Messiah sent by God, would come to be the Savior of anybody else besides them, the Jews. BUT He Himself declared and demonstrated that He had come ‘to save the world,’ ‘that the world might be saved through Him,’ to be ‘THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD’!

6 / So, with that background in mind, let’s watch as John presents these three encounters with Jesus, and how they demonstrate and illustrate that Jesus Christ is ‘THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD’!

III / chapter 3.1-21 / NICODEMUS: ‘A RULER OF THE JEWS’

1 / Before we get into talking about Nicodemus personally, we just need to not some other theme-threads that John is weaving throughout these stories and his Gospel. For example, we know that one of the most common theme-threads that John is emphasizing is the ‘signs/miracles’ that Jesus did. In fact, this is one of the most very prominent theme-threads John weaves throughout this Book / see ch 20.30-31. John has already pointed out the first of these ‘signs/miracles’ that Jesus worked in ch 2.11. All of these signs evidence, witness, and testify that Jesus Christ is ‘the Son of God,’ that is, God Himself.

2 / Nicodemus admits that the highest Jewish council and authorities knew about Jesus’ signs/miracles, and couldn’t deny them or explain them away / vv 1-2. “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with Him.”

3 / Nicodemus is as Jewish as a Jew could be, especially in his day. John wants us to see this. After all, the Gospel is ‘the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek’ / Romans 1.16. And, Jesus said, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” / Matthew 10.6 & 15.24. So we know that His first and priority recipients of the Gospel were His fellow Jews.

4 / Nicodemus was ‘a man of the Pharisees,’ ‘a ruler of the Jews,’ and Jesus called him ‘the teacher of Israel,’ which means Nicodemus was the most authoritative, most influential, top-dog Jew in their community.

5 / However, Nicodemus was not saved by his Jewishness, nor by virtue of his religious experience, background, or service. Nicodemus didn’t qualify himself to ‘see’ or ‘enter’ the Kingdom of Heaven by his history, heritage, or legacy. Nor by his good works. Jesus said to Nicodemus three times: “You must be born again [from above]” / vv 3, 5, 7

Religious people are not saved by their religiousness … nor do they qualify themselves or gain entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven by any or any amount of good works they do.

6 / This new birth is being supernaturally regenerated, or born again by the sovereign act of the Holy Spirit and the gift of eternal life that is given to us by the Holy Spirit when we believe / vv 5-8. It is a radical transformation of our very inner being, our spiritual nature. We are birthed with a spiritual nature we didn’t have before. We are born again with the very life of God, the Spirit of Christ Himself, that is given to us as a free gift when we believe in and trust Jesus Christ to be our Savior from our sins.

7 / So yes! Jesus came to save Nicodemus. He came to save Jews. And we know Nicodemus did become a believer in Christ from his subsequent appearances in the Gospel of John / chs 7.50 & 19.39. But he became a believer just like every other believer became a believer – by placing all his faith and trust in Jesus Christ – whom he had come to see. See Acts 15.11 & Galatians 2.15-16.

IV / chapter 4.1-42 / THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT JACOB’S WELL IN SYCHAR: ‘FOR JEWS HAVE NO DEALINGS WITH SAMARITANS’

1 / Now we come to the second character and encounter that John presents to show that Jesus Christ is ‘the Savior of the world.’ And it is in this story that this particular recognition and profession of faith in Christ is recognized and confessed / v 42.

2 / Jesus left Judea [Jerusalem vicinity] and headed north for Galilee, where He had taken up His residence. “And He had to pass through Samaria” / v 4. He ‘had to’ [edei] because His saving desires and purposes required him to go through Samaria. Fact is, Jews did not normally ‘have to’ go through Samaria. They had other circuitous routes they would follow to get from the Judean south to the Galilee northern regions. They would go miles out of their way to skirt around Samaria because “…the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” / v 9. The Samaritans were not ‘their kind.’ The Samaritans were inferior to them. The Samaritans were not pure Jewish. So they were not worthy of Jewish recognition, association, or even contact. There were invisible, cultural ‘walls’ of bigotry and prejudice between these two peoples.

3 / Jews would not save a Samaritan even if they happened to be in the way they were traveling, and they certainly would not go out of their way to save a Samaritan. That’s what makes the story of ‘The Good Samaritan’ so remarkable; the Good Samaritan went way out of his way to save a Jerusalemite / see Luke 10.25-37. But this Jew, Jesus, intentionally, deliberately went out of His way to save this Samaritan woman and many of her friends and companions in the city … because He came ‘to save the world,’ and He is ‘the Savior of the world.’

4 / [A little side of historical background and context here: the Jews had animosity toward the Samaritans ever since the northern Kingdom Israel went off into captivity into Assyria / 2 Kings 17. When the Assyrians carried off the Israelite inhabitants of Samaria into captivity, they replaced them with many other nationalities and ethnicities of other peoples they had conquered. The result was that the Samaritans became mixed with many other nationalities. They had been Jews originally, but now they were mingled with numerous other peoples. So they became ‘defiled,’ ‘corrupt,’ and unworthy of association with a true, pure, and orthodox Jew.]

5 / Of course, the way Jesus saved this Samaritan woman was:

  1. first of all, go to her / vv 1-6
  2. then reach out to her with kindness / vv 7-9
  3. He piqued her interest in spiritual satisfaction by offering ‘living water’ to her / vv 10-15
  4. He gently exposed her sin by demonstrating His penetrating and thorough knowledge of past and the innermost, most intimate secret of her life and heart / vv 16-18
  5. finally, He revealed Himself to her as the ‘Living Water’ He had offered to her (vv 10-15), the Prophet they were all looking for (vv 19-24), and The Christ/Messiah who would come and tell them all things (vv 25-26).

6 / Although the ‘signs/miracles’ theme-thread that John is using to tie his Gospel together are not named by that word in this section, still every revelation Jesus makes to this Samaritan woman is a sign. He is revealing the heart of God to her. He is demonstrating that He is the Son of God. And most of all, He is witnessing that He had come to save her!

7 / This is what she goes off into the city to tell her friends and companions / vv 28-30. When they come to see, meet, and hear Jesus for themselves, they, too, believe in Him and are saved. That’s when they give this testimony we are using for the theme of this lesson: Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” / vv 39-42.

V / chapter 4.43-54 / THE ‘OFFICIAL’ FROM CAPERNAUM

1 / We say again [as we have said above], the text does not explicitly say that this ‘official’ is a Gentile. But just from his title ‘official,’ we know he is probably an important, high-ranking, influential official to the king.

2 / The word that John uses here for ‘official’ is basilikos. The word for ‘kingdom’ is basileian. The word for ‘king’ is basileus. So you see this official’s connection with royal authority. Whether he is a royal ‘official’ for King Herod or King Caesar, we don’t know.

3 / He also comes from Capernaum. And we know from other stories that there were centurions, Roman military commanders, stationed and living in Capernaum / see Matthew 8.5-13 & Luke 7.1-10. Some commentators believe that this ‘official’ is the same as the ‘centurion’ in the Matthew and Luke accounts. But there are several differences in these stories which lead us to believe these are separate stories and characters; and without a doubt, there were many Gentile royal officials of various kinds living in Capernaum.

4 / By the way, heads-up, John is going to pin this story in his story line this way: “This was now the second sign that Jesus did when He had come from Judea to Galilee” / see v 54. And what is this ‘second sign/miracle’ going to be? It’s going to be the healing of the son of a Gentile courtier! He is going to show Himself as ‘the Savior of the world’!

5 / This basilikos has a son who is deathly ill. He travels the twenty miles from Capernaum to Cana to beseech Jesus to come back home with him and heal his darling son. Jesus tests the sincerity and genuineness of his faith by ‘teasing’ that the official will have to see signs and wonders before he believes in Jesus / v 48. The official begs Him again to ‘please, just come! I do believe you can! I don’t need to see any additional signs that this one I’m asking for!’

6 / So Jesus tells him to go back home to a healed child: “Go; your son will live.” The courtier believes and trusts Jesus. He takes Him at His word.

7 / “And he himself believed, and all his household.” He had believed in the power of Jesus’ physical healing … and now he was believing in Jesus as ‘the Savior of the world.’

8 / And so, with these three salvation encounters with a religious Jew, an immoral Samaritan woman, and a Gentile courtier – Jesus shows Himself to be ‘the Savior of the world.’

DO YOU BELIEVE?

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The Case for Glory

JOHN | Lesson 3 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read John 2.1-25

I / INTRODUCTION: THE CASE FOR GLORY

1 / Our lesson text is from John 2.1-25. I’m calling it ‘The Case for Glory’ because that’s what John declares Jesus Himself was doing by the miracle-signs that He performed. Read ch 2.11: This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His Glory. And his disciples believed in Him. This was Jesus’ miracle of turning the water into wine [more on that later…]. John declares that by performing this miracle, Jesus ‘manifested His Glory.’ To ‘manifest’ means ‘to reveal, make visible.’ So Jesus was making His Glory visible by His miraculous works.

2 / What then is this ‘Glory’ that Jesus is revealing? ‘Glory’ can have several shades of meaning. [1] It can mean ‘praise’ that someone earns and receives. [2] It can mean to ‘boast’ in something. [3] Most of the time it means ‘excellence, superiority, and perfection.’ All of those apply here and to all of Jesus’ miracles. But here, most specifically, ‘Glory’ means Jesus’ very Deity – that He is God. John uses ‘Glory’ in this way in ch 1.14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Here, ‘Glory’ means His Deity – that He is very God incarnated in human flesh. Jesus Himself will talk about His ‘Glory’ as the Deity that He is as God … and the Glory that He enjoyed with the Father before the creation of the world / see John 17.1-5, 20-24.

3 / So, when Jesus turned the water into wine, He was publicly revealing His Deity – He, as God, was working what only God can work.

4 / So what John is really saying is that “Jesus performed this first miracle-sign and made the case for Himself that He is God.”

II / JESUS MIRACLE-SIGNS / WORKS: WITNESSES TO HIS GLORY / DEITY

1 / Jesus will refer, not only to this first miracle, but to all the miracle-signs and works that He performed as just one of the many undeniable witnesses that make the case that He is Deity – God revealed and incarnated in human flesh. Read, for example, what Jesus said in John 5.30-47. What He is saying here is listing at least these witnesses to His Glory, His Deity, that He is God:

  • [1] v 31 / Himself
  • [2] vv 32-35 / John the Baptist
  • [3] v 36 / the works that the Father was working through Him
  • [4] v 37 / the Father Himself
  • [5] vv 38-44 / the Scriptures
  • [6] vv 45-47 / Moses

2 / But for our purposes right now, I want to note especially #3, the works that the Father was working through Him. Jesus says that those works testify and witness to His Deity – that He has come from the Father, and even that the Father Himself was doing the works through Jesus that He [Jesus] was doing / see vv 17-18.

3 / So if all of Jesus’ works were witnesses making the case for His Glory, His Deity, then this one in ch 2.11 was the first that John will write about in his Case for Jesus’ Glory.

4 / And if you connect this ch 2.11 with ch 20.30-31, you will be able to see John’s template and outline he will follow for the rest of his book here. Let’s just put these two verses together:

ch 2.11 / This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His Glory. And His disciples believed in Him.

ch 20.30-31: Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.

III / THE CASE FOR GLORY: ALSO THE THEME OF THE WHOLE GOSPEL

1 / Also, in a very real sense, you could not only give the title ‘The Case for Glory’ to this chapter 2, but it would also serve very well as a theme and title for the whole Gospel of John. That’s what John is presenting here in this Gospel: the case for Jesus’ Glory/Deity.

2 / In chapter 1, John has already introduced Jesus to us in vv 1-18 as The Word who is God … who became flesh and dwelt / ‘tent’ed / tabernacled among us. He was ‘making known to us’ in visible flesh the God we have never seen [ch 1.18].

3 / Then in vv 19-51, John presents a series of personal encounters with Jesus and some of those first believers who saw His Glory and believed in Him for eternal life. These encounters are all themed on the phrase ‘Come and see!’ These first disciples/believers came and saw Jesus’ Glory / Deity – and they believed in Him.

4 / In the rest of this Gospel, John will continue to introduce us to a number of others who ‘came and saw’ Jesus’ Glory / Deity … and believed in Him as the Son of God. John writes this book so that you and I – and all others who read these testimonies – will come and see … and believe.

IV / JOHN, CHAPTER 2: THE CASE FOR GLORY

1 / So, with all that being said, let’s open up chapter 2 … The Case for Glory.

2 / Chapter 2 is actually a collection of two short stories and a brief commentary – all of which have the common theme of The Case for [Jesus’] Glory. We will notice that all three sections have these elements in common:

  • [1] they all contain reference to a ‘sign-miracle’ that Jesus performed;
  • [2] they all reveal and manifest some witness to Jesus’ Glory / Deity – His God-ness;
  • [3] they all make mention that His disciples and followers ‘believed in Him’ as God and Savior when they saw His Glory / Deity in His signs-miracles.

V / vv 1-12 / TURNING WATER INTO WINE

1 / Jesus and His whole family [Matthew 13.55-56] were obviously family friends with these wedding party families. They were all invited and they all attended together. [We will note at the end of the story that some of His disciples were also present and with Him there – and they witnessed this sign-miracle.]

2 / During the course of the festivities [which often went on for days…], they ran out of the wine they were serving. Jesus’ mother, Mary, brings the need to His attention. Although Jesus will perform the miracle, He very respectfully establishes His life’s and ministry’s priorities – to fulfill a specific purpose and work that He simply calls here ‘My hour’ / v 4. This is a phrase that He will reprise at least six times during this Gospel [2.4; 7.30; 8.20; 12.23-27; 13.1; 17.1].

3 / Also what Jesus is doing here is clearly differentiating between having come into the world to do His earthly mother’s will [as here] and doing His Father’s will [see John 17.1-5 & Hebrews 10.5-10].

4 / Then, what Jesus proceeds to do is command the servants to fill some water jars they had with water. They did. Then he told them to begin serving it to the master of the feast and the guests. The master of the feast had no idea where it had come from. He had not witnessed the transaction. But when he tasted it, he knew that it was fine wine. He complimented the bridegroom who was in charge of the activities for his choice of the fine wine.

5 / This act of supernaturally and miraculously changing one element into another was the first and the beginning of these sign-miracles that Jesus would perform over the course of His ministry. By doing so, He clearly, unmistakably, and undeniably demonstrated, evidenced, and revealed His Glory / Deity – that He is God!

6 / And when His disciples witnessed that miraculous work, “they believed in Him.” This does not mean that they weren’t believers before – but what it does mean is that they witnessed this demonstration of His Deity and their faith in Him and commitment to Him as the Son of God and the Christ/Messiah was confirmed beyond all doubt!

7 / So, here you have John’s first witness and testimony to ‘The Case for Jesus’ Glory.’

VI / vv 13-22 / THE ‘CLEANSING’ OF THE TEMPLE

1 / Just so you will see John’s pattern here, after Jesus drives out the money-changers and livestock merchants, the Jews [elders, officials, leadership] will ask Him for a ‘sign’ to validate and credentialize His authority to do what He has just done / v 18. That’s one of the common threads and keywords that will tie together John’s Case for Glory.

2 / We are told that this occasion is the Passover feast. Before we get into this story, this same event is also recorded in Matthew 21.12-17; Mark 11.15-19; Luke 19.45-48. Except that they all place this event during the final week of Jesus’ life after His ‘triumphal entry’ into Jerusalem.

3 / John here seems to place this event at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. So this has posed a number of questions: [1] was it at the first or at the end of Jesus’ ministry; [2] or were there two such events?

4 / There really doesn’t have to be but one event, and it has all the evidences of having occurred in the final week of Jesus’ ministry. John’s purpose is not to give us a chronological sequence of events in Jesus’s life and ministry, but rather group his witnesses to Jesus’ Glory according to the themes he wants to emphasize.

5 / Especially also when we consider how even John here relates it to Jesus’ resurrection which would have occurred only a very few days from that day. Also, while Jesus was hanging on the cross, those around the cross mocked Him for what He had said during this event [see Matthew 26.61 & 27.40].

6 / So what is going on here? Jesus is ‘cleansing’ the Temple from all of this sacrilegious activity that is defacing God’s Glory that should have been worshiped in the Temple. The Shekinah Glory or Presence of God had always been the Glory of His Temple. But they had defaced, defiled, and desecrated that Glory centuries before.

7 / Yahweh had also declared in Isaiah 56.7: “…these [Gentiles] I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” But what the Jewish leadership had done was to exclude the Gentiles from worshiping in the Temple at all and had replaced the Court of the Gentiles with these livestock bazaars. The pilgrims who came to the Temple to make their annual sacrifices couldn’t always bring their sacrificial animals with them. So the Sadducees [primarily along with the chief priest’s family ‘mafia’] had formed a racket selling these animals to the worshipers at exorbitant prices … as well as exchanging their local currencies for the Jerusalem currency, again at exorbitant exchange rates.  

8 / God had decreed that only He should be worshiped and glorified in His Temple … but they had hijacked God’s Temple for their own commercial services and profits.

9 / And so Jesus comes to His Temple [as Malachi 3.1-4 prophesies] to purify it, cleanse it of all these defiling activities – and to restore the Glory of God to His Temple by His Presence. By so doing, Jesus was declaring that He Himself is the True Temple of God – the Presence of God who is to be worshiped!

10 / He calls the Temple ‘my Father’s house,’ thus calling God His Father and making Himself equal with God [see again ch 5.18 & 10.30-33].

11 / In all these expressions, Jesus was making the Case for His Glory … declaring and demonstrating His Glory / Deity. Jesus was also declaring that He Himself was the Temple of God. He proclaimed that truth when He made the statement, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up!” The Jews mocked Him and scoffed at Him for such an incredulous and outlandish claim. Herod had been in a construction project already for forty-six years remodeling and beautifying that Temple – and it would be going on for another thirty-five years or so before it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

12 / But Jesus wasn’t referring to that physical architectural temple at all – He was referring to the Temple of His very body. This would be fulfilled just a few days later when He was crucified and then raised from the dead three days later – just as He promises here!

13 / His disciples will remember this mysterious [at that time] exchange and claim that Jesus made when He was raised. They would also remember that the Psalmist prophesied in Psalm 69.9: “For zeal for Your House has consumed Me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on Me.” Jesus was re-claiming the Glory that belongs only to God – and since He was God, it belonged to Him.

VII / vv 23-25 / MORE SIGNS-MIRACLES … MORE BELIEVERS

1 / v 23 / Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in His Name when they saw the signs that He was doing. Notice how John continues to weave this thread of Jesus’ signs in this brief commentary.

2 / John is simply relating here how Jesus continued to perform His miracles of healing, casting out demons, and all the other gracious works He performed – all of which demonstrated His Glory / Deity.

3 / One of the most notable miracles Jesus performed, especially during these last weeks of His life was the raising of Lazarus in ch 11. The effect of this miracle was that many of those who witnessed this miracle believed in Him [see ch 11.45].

4 / However, Jesus also demonstrates His Glory / Deity by knowing what really goes on in people’s hearts when they claim to believe in Him. Many do – truly and sincerely – and they are saved from their sins. Others claim to be believers, but they do so hypocritically, superficially, or to gain some kind of physical benefit for their own advancement or enrichment. Jesus knows the difference: “But Jesus on His part did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for He Himself knew what was in man.”

5 / Only God can make such a claim as this. And so Jesus makes the case for His own Glory when He is able to discern the difference between those who truly believe in Him and those who only pretend to. The pretenders may be able to deceive and fool their peers who can’t see past their façade, but Jesus knows.

VIII / MORE TO COME…

1 / Now that John has given us some markers and pointers to look for as we continue to read, he will proceed on in the following chapters to relate some more encounters with people who will come and see Jesus’ Glory.

2 / Some will believe and be saved … others will continue to not believe and will be condemned and lost.

3 / Now that you have read this part of John’s Case for Christ’s Glory, you, too, have come and you have seen His Deity. You have witnessed His God-ness. You have had your own encounter here with the Living God in the Person of Jesus Christ.

DO YOU BELIEVE?

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“Come and See – and Believe!”

JOHN | Lesson 2 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read John 1.19-51

INTRODUCTION / MAKING THE CONNECTION

1 / The riddle has often been posed: “What is shallow enough for a child to wade in yet deep enough for an elephant to swim in?” And the answer is: “The Gospel of John!” On the surface, John seems to be so simple and straightforward. The language used in writing John [both in Greek and English] is simpler grammatically and uses a smaller vocabulary in comparison with the other three Synoptic Gospels. Very frequently, first year Greek students will begin their elementary translating work using passages from the Gospel of John [or 1 John].

2 / That’s why we say John is shallow enough for a child to wade in. We often use The Gospel of John to reach out to unbelievers to introduce them to Jesus Christ. And we recommend new believers to read this book. That is a testimony to its simplicity.

3 / But the truths that are contained in The Gospel of John are so deep, so expansive, so eternal, so sublime, so ethereal – so beyond our ability to comprehend and relate to our human experiences – that it will require eternity itself to really begin to grasp and plumb the true meanings of so much that is written in this book. We’ll have to take what Jesus said to Nathanael in chapter 1.50 for ourselves…and wait for later: “…do you believe? You will see greater things than these!”

4 / Every time we come back to this book to read and study it again, we will discover so many more truths that manifest and magnify the greatness of Jesus Christ. And so it is with this current study. That is why we have titled this lesson ‘Come and See – and Believe!’ … because I am so newly impressed as we begin this survey and study of the Gospel of John that this is at least one of John’s primary purposes and plans for what he included in this Gospel and how he has laid it out in the writing of it.

I / ‘COME AND SEE!’

1 / This is the personal invitation that is repeated twice in the end of chapter 1 – in verses 19-51. This is after John has written this introduction to who Jesus Christ is: THE WORD.

  • [1] The invitation was given by Jesus Himself [ch 1.39] to two of John Baptist’s disciples…after he had called out to his disciples to ‘behold … look at … see for yourself’ the Lamb of God! [ch 1.29, 35-36]. This also is just another way to say ‘Come and See – and Believe!’
  • [2]The second invitation to ‘Come and See!’ was given by Philip to his friend Nathanael in ch 1.46 after he [Philip] had already spent some ‘come and see’ time with Jesus for himself.

2 / And yet, this call and invitation to ‘Come and See’ is one of the many prominent key words and theme-threads that runs all throughout the Gospel of John and ties it all together. [PERSONAL NOTE: we are only finishing up chapter 1, and I have already written down more than twenty prominent theme/key word threads that I know John will weave all throughout this book]

3 / In fact, what I’m going to propose here is that we take this theme of ‘Come and See!’ and use it as a kind of guide to lead us through the reading and study of John throughout these lessons. Let’s use ‘Come and See!’ as one of our primary ‘Sherpas’ to lead us and point out many of the lessons we will learn during this study.

4 / There is no ‘only one way’ to read The Gospel of John. What we do know for sure is that John is not just a random streaming of stories, recollections, or memories that John recalled and decided to write down here at the end of the first century – as the last living apostle of Jesus Christ. NO! John clearly had a stated purpose for writing this Gospel account. And he plainly tells us what his purpose was from the beginning to the end of his book – “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.” [ch 20.30-31].

  • John wrote about a series of selected signs [miracles] that Jesus performed;
  • All of these miracle-signs were ‘witnesses’ and ‘testimonies’ (same word in Greek) and pointed to Jesus’ Deity, His God-ness, that He is ‘the Son of God’ – in other words, every one of these miracle-signs that Jesus performed was His call and invitation to ‘Come and See Who I AM!’;
  • Every one of these miracle-signs that Jesus performed was also a call to faith in Him, to ‘Believe in Me!’ (as they did, for example, in ch 2.11 – and will throughout this book)

5 / This theme of ‘Come and See – and Believe!’ will be announced by the keyword theme/thread that John will use all throughout this Gospel to tie together all these personal encounters that Jesus will have with others as He calls them to believe in Him. That keyword is: WITNESS/BEAR WITNESS [both verb and noun] and its twin word TESTIFY/TESTIMONY [both verb and noun]. These twin words are the same in the Greek language…

6 / If you will follow just this one keyword all throughout John’s Gospel, you will begin to see the purpose, theme, and scheme John has in mind as he writes all of these accounts he references in ch 20.30-31.

7 / And then, if you add what John says about himself being a true eyewitness to all these things, his purpose and plan in what he writes here will come into sharper focus…

  • ch 19.35: He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe.
  • ch 21.24: This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

II / THE FATHER SAYS: ‘COME AND SEE – AND BELIEVE!’ WHO I AM … IN MY SON!

1 / Jesus repeatedly says ‘the Father sent Me’ into the world. Or refers to Himself as ‘He whom the Father has sent.’ see for example John 17.1-5

2 / So, why did the Father send the Son into our world? The Father sent His Only Son into the world to make Himself visible and known in Him and through Him. The Father wants us to know who He is, to know Him in eternal life, and be with Him forever.

3 / So, He sent His Only Son from His own Presence and Glory, and then calls us to ‘Come and See – and Believe!’ in Me … in My Son! ch 1.14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled / tented] among us, and we have seen His Glory, Glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

4 / So much so, that Jesus will declare in John 14.7: If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.

III / THE SON SAYS: ‘COME AND SEE – AND BELIEVE!’ IN THE FATHER … IN ME!

1 / Jesus’ expressly stated purpose for coming into our world was to manifest [make visible] the Father. John declares that purpose and the fulfillment of it in ch 1.18: No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.

2 / And again, in John 14.8-11, Jesus emphasizes to Philip that he [Philip] had seen the Father by seeing Jesus Christ: Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.”

IV / JOHN THE BAPTIST [BAPTIZER] SAYS: ‘COME AND SEE – AND BELIEVE!’ IN JESUS … AS OUR LONG-EXPECTED AND ANTICIPATED MESSIAH!

1 / Over and over, John the Baptist bore witness to Jesus Christ and called out for everyone who heard him to ‘Come and See – and Believe!’ in Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior / see ch 1.6-8; 15; 19-28.

2 / In fact, John the Baptist was ‘a man sent from God’ [ch 1.6] for this very purpose: so that God could publicly and visibly reveal Jesus Christ as Deity – the Son of God – and Israel’s Messiah / see ch 1.29-34. His ministry in general and his baptism in particular served to [1] introduce; [2] identify; and [3] inaugurate Jesus Christ into His ministry.

3 / After Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist, every time John sees Jesus or speaks of Him in any way, he is always calling on everyone who heard him to ‘Come and See – and Believe!’ in Jesus Christ / ch 1.29 & 35-36.

4 / Jesus will again later on commend John the Baptist for the witness and testimony John bore to Him / ch 5.32-35

Now we come to the two more specific ‘Come and See’ witnesses in our lesson text…

V / ch 1.35-42 / JESUS CALLS TO TWO OF JOHN THE BAPTIST’S DISCIPLES TO ‘COME AND SEE – AND BELIEVE!’ IN HIM … AS THEIR MESSIAH [CHRIST]!

1 / v 35 / Some of the disciples who had been following John the Baptist from the days when he was announcing that Christ was about to be manifested and seen … they were still following John now even after Jesus had been baptized, revealed, and made to be seen. But John knows that his calling and ministry has now been fulfilled.

2 / vv 36-37 / So he emphatically draws attention to Jesus and calls on His disciples to now ‘Behold … look … see the Lamb of God!’ As if to say, ‘He is the One you must now see, and believe in, and follow!’ So two of his disciples do just that – they begin to follow Jesus.

3 / v 38 / Jesus turns to them with a question: ‘What are you seeking?’ He asks this question in all sincerity. He wants to test the genuineness and integrity of their interest in Him. Are they seeking Him only for the novelty or out of a merely human curiosity? Or are they genuinely interested in seeing more intimately into what John the Baptist has been declaring about Him?

4 / v 38 / So they reply to His question about what they are seeking with “Rabbi [this word means ‘Teacher’ or even more ‘Master’], where are You staying?” What they are saying in this response question is: “Rabbi, we want to spend some time with you. We want to learn more about who you are. We are genuinely interested in seeing into your character and message.”

5 / v 39 / Jesus responds with His gracious invitation: “Come and you will see.” Jesus is more interested in our seeing Him than we could ever be in seeing Him as we think we need to and want to. So that’s what they did. Jesus was staying with someone as their guest. They followed Jesus to where He was staying. At this time, it was around 4pm, so they stayed overnight with Jesus in the guest home. Who knows if they got any sleep at all that night!

6 / vv 40-42 / One of these two of John the Baptist’s disciples was Andrew. Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother. We will later on become more familiar with Peter than with Andrew. But Andrew was the one who went searching for Simon and brought him to Jesus. John doesn’t use these words here in his account, but surely at some time in their conversations, Andrew excitedly gestured and exclaimed to his brother, Simon, ‘Come and See! See for yourself! We have found the One who is prophesied and promised all throughout the Old Testament – our Messiah, our Christ!’ [‘Messiah’ is the Hebrew word that means ‘Anointed’ and ‘Christ’ is the Greek language equivalent for the same word].

7 / v 42 / When Jesus saw Simon coming to see Him, He knew the plans He had for him in the short years to come. So He named Simon ‘Cephas’ [in the Aramaic commonly-spoken language of their day] which means ‘Peter’ [in Greek] … both of these names mean the same thing: Rock.

8 / NOTE: how welcoming Jesus is to our desires to know Him more and better – and how willing He is to show and tell us as much about Himself as we are interested to learn.  NOTE ALSO: that when we truly come to see Jesus and believe on Him, we must be telling others what we have seen and heard / see Acts 4.13-20.    

VI / ch 1.43-51 / PHILIP CALLS TO NATHANAEL TO ‘COME AND SEE – AND BELIEVE!’ … THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD & KING OF ISRAEL!

1 / v 43-44 / Jesus migrates now from the Jordan River area where He had been baptized and where the previous encounters had taken place. He now goes a few miles north to Galilee – maybe to Bethsaida up on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. “He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me!’” … indicating that whereas in the previous encounter, they followed Him out of interest in learning more about Him, in this instance, Jesus takes the initiative to seek out Philip and call him to follow Him. “Philip, come and see Me for who I AM!” Philip does just that – and he becomes a believer in Jesus’ Deity! He is convinced that Jesus of Nazareth is their Promised Messiah!

2 / vv 45-46 / So what does Philip do? He goes to find another friend of his – Nathanael! Philip excitedly tells Nathanael that ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph!’ Or at least, that’s how they knew Jesus in this first introduction. They would come to know Him better in days to come – that He was, in truth, the Son of God! Deity! Conceived by God the Holy Spirit and virgin-born! But for now, they knew Him by His earthly and human origins. But Philip is convinced that Jesus is their Promised Messiah!

3 / Nathanael is not so sure. He is still skeptical. He can be convinced – but he must be sure for himself. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Whatever the then-current and local prejudices were against Nazareth, Nathanael isn’t sure that the Messiah they were long-expecting would come from a lowly village like Nazareth. So Philip again exclaims, “Come and See!” Nathanael sets out to do just that.

4 / vv 47-49 / REMEMBER: Jesus knows all things about all people – we’ll be told this about Jesus just a little later on [ch 2.24-25]. But here He witnesses to His own Deity by demonstrating His omniscience: He had full and intimate knowledge of where Nathanael was when Philip told him about Jesus – and He knew what Nathanael was thinking. Jesus commends Nathanael’s genuine and sincere interest in knowing the truth about what Philip had said about Jesus when He greeted Nathanael’s approach with, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!”

5 / Nathanael was more than just taken aback … he was incredulous! “How do you know me … and my heart … and my thoughts?” Then Jesus astounded him even further: “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you!” [We have an expression nowadays when someone makes a statement that threatens to identify something we think internally and privately – we say, “I feel seen!”] Nathanael recognizes that Jesus knows him intimately! He has come and he has seen! And he believes! “Nathanael answered Him, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” All of these titles, descriptors, and names are ascriptions of Deity! [see ch 5.17-18 & 10.31-33 just for two examples].

6 / vv 50-51 / Nathanael is a believer in Jesus’ Deity just because Jesus has revealed to him that He has all knowledge of us – both physically and spiritually. Jesus promises Nathanael that he will see even greater evidences of Jesus’ Deity than he had just witnessed. As he continued to follow Jesus, he would see greater displays and demonstrations of Jesus’ Deity. What Jesus recalls here in verse 51 is a reference to the dream Jacob had in Genesis 28.10-17. Jacob’s dream was a kind of ‘Come and See – and Believe!’ event for him, too. The dream revealed that Yahweh was there in that place with him! That’s what Nathanael would see also.

7 / Interestingly, the only other time Nathanael is named [by this name] is in John 21.2. He certainly saw clear evidences of Jesus’ Deity that day also.

HERE’S CALLING EACH ONE OF US TO ‘COME AND SEE – AND BELIEVE!’

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The WORD

JOHN | Lesson 1 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read John 1.1-18

INTRODUCTION

1 / As you know, there are four Gospel accounts. Four presentations of Jesus Christ: who He is, how He came into our world, what He did while He was here, what He said during His earthly life and ministry – and most importantly, how we should know, understand, interpret, and respond to Him.

2 / John’s Gospel is different that the other three ‘synoptic’ Gospels. Synoptic means: to see the same way. The other three Synoptic Gospels focus more on the earthly acts of Jesus. They told of His genealogy, His birth, His miracles, His interactions with others, the parables He taught – and then conclude with His death by crucifixion and His resurrection. This is the story of His Gospel.

3 / John is different in that: he doesn’t begin with Jesus’ birth … John begins instead with Jesus as the Word of God who had no beginning – who was already existing from eternity when everything else began. In truth, Jesus Christ as the Word of God is the One who created and began everything else besides Himself. John does not record Jesus’ baptism nor His temptations. He tells us nothing about the Last Supper, Gethsemane, or the ascension. There are no accounts of the healing of people possessed by demons and evil spirits. John records none of Jesus’ parables, but he does include numerous much longer sermons Jesus preached and taught … many of them to interpret the meaning and significance of the miracles He performed as they declare and manifest who He is.

4 / What John does record is a series of Jesus’ miracles or ‘signs’ that He performed, all of which will demonstrate His Glory, meaning His Deity or Godhood [see ch 2.11]. And just as His disciples saw who He truly is and ‘believed in Him,’ so John writes everything he writes here so that we, too, may know who Jesus Christ is, see His Glory and God-ness, and believe and trust in Him for our salvation from sin and eternal life.

5 / John will tell us when he gets to the end of his Gospel account why he wrote everything he wrote: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.” [ch 20.30-31].

6 / This author, John, is the apostle John, the brother of James. He is one of the original twelve disciples of Jesus, and is often mentioned along with Peter and his brother James as one of the three who formed the closest and most trusted inner circle of Jesus’ disciples. Also, although John never identifies himself by name as the author of this Gospel, he is most certainly referring to himself as the one who ‘has borne witness’ to all these things [see ch 19.35 & 21.24]. He himself is also the one he refers to as “One of His disciples, whom Jesus loved…” in ch 13.23. John’s authorship is also testified to by numerous early writers who knew him and this Gospel account.

7 / John was an old man when he wrote this Gospel account. He was probably around 90+ years old. He had migrated by this time from Jerusalem to Ephesus where he pastored in his later years. He wrote this Gospel during the last decade of the first century, 90-100 AD. Matthew, Mark, and Luke had already been written and were in circulation. So John wanted to write this distinctive account of Jesus’ ministry to establish these truths about who Jesus was – and the Heavenly, spiritual significances of His Person, ministry, works, and messages.

8 / So John begins with this opening section which is often called The Prologue to his Gospel account. THIS is who Jesus Christ was…and is – and how and why He came into our world!

9 / DISCLAIMER: There is so much to fill in here in terms of explaining these words, why John chose these particular words, how these words and truths related to the culture in which John first delivered them, and how these spiritual descriptors of Jesus Christ are related to one another, the Gospel, and the purpose of this book. So all I can do here is give you the headings of the truths, and we’ll flesh them out more in our comments during the lesson…

I / vv 1-2 / JESUS CHRIST IS ETERNAL AND DEITY

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

He was in the beginning with God.

1 / Jesus Christ is not named by His Name until v 17. Throughout this opening message, He is called The Word [Logos]. This word ‘Logos’ means ‘word’ as in ‘message.’ The ‘logos’ was the message that was being delivered. It was a common word in the Greek-culture world in which John lived and ministered. To the Greek-culture world, Logos referred to the oracles and messages their ‘gods’ delivered to them. Or it referred to the ‘wisdom’ and the ‘reason’ by which the world existed and was sustained and maintained. In other words, in the Greeks’ way of thinking, the ‘Logos’ was how the world came into being and how everything in the world is ordered. Watch how John now takes ‘Logos’ and preaches the Gospel in Jesus Christ!  

2 / It was also a very prominent truth among the Jews. It goes back to what kind of God Yahweh is: He is a God of infinite and superior intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom; He is a God of language and communication…He is a ‘speaking God’; and His word is always spoken with omnipotent and invincible power. In other words, the ‘Logos’ of God is His Word by which everything in the world has been created [Psalm 33.6-9], and by which everything runs, works, and is sustained and maintained [Hebrews 1.3].

3 / So with this statement, John declares to the whole world that Jesus Christ whom he will name later in this message is ‘The Logos.’ John makes three statements about Jesus Christ: [1] He already existed when everything else began (John is placing Jesus Christ before and at Genesis 1.1); [2] He was ‘with God’ when everything else began (this is not making Him separate from God, but taking His place ‘with’ God); [3] He was God – in nature, character, existence, Being. Whoever God is, Jesus Christ was and is. Verse 2 is just a summary/mirror restatement of verse 1…

II / v 3 / JESUS CHRIST IS THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS

All things were made through Him,

and without Him was not any thing made that was made.

1 / In verses 1-2, when John refers to ‘in the beginning,’ he is referring to the creation of all things. All things were created by God, who is Himself uncreated. Again John uses mirror phrases to restate the same truth: that The Word was the One who created every single other atom, molecule, element, body, and being that is in the created universe … other than Himself.

2 / And that Creator was the Word – and Jesus Christ is that Word. See Colossians 1.15-16.

III / vv 4-5 / JESUS CHRIST IS THE LIFE AND LIGHT OF THE WORLD

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

1 / John will introduce two more words that will become threads that run all throughout this book and serve as the themes he wants to proclaim about Jesus Christ … so we can know Him and believe in Him.

The two word-themes are ‘life’ and ‘light.’ Both life and light will be highlighted, demonstrated, and preached on by Christ throughout this book. But for the purposes of brief introduction here: ‘life’ is the very life of God which He will share with us by the new birth. ‘Light’ is knowing God and having a grace relationship with Him in the Truth of who He is.

2 / Light is contrasted with ‘darkness’ which is another theme-word that John will weave throughout this book. Darkness is to be without God, Christless. Darkness is being separated from God who is Light. Darkness is the domain of sin, death, and Satan. Jesus comes as The Word and victoriously conquers the darkness by His very Presence and by His Word.

IV / vv 6-8 & 15 / JESUS CHRIST WAS ANNOUNCED, INTRODUCED, AND PROCLAIMED BY A HUMAN WITNESS

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

v 15 /  (John bore witness about Him, and cried out, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because He was before me.’”)

1 / This is obviously another ‘John,’ John the Baptist [Baptizer]. John is introduced here because He was chosen by God and sent by God to announce the Christ was coming on the scene. John the Baptist came as a ‘witness,’ another key theme-word just like the apostle John is writing this book as a witness to Christ. And the purpose of the ‘witness’ to The Word, Jesus Christ, is that everybody who hears the message The Word will bring will believe on Him – trust Him and Him only as God’s appointed and sent Savior of the world.

2 / As we go through this book, we will note that every time John the Baptist is mentioned, he is always presented as ‘lesser than’ Jesus Christ. That’s because by the time John wrote this book, there were already sects that had arisen to idolize and promote John the Baptist to the ranks of being the most superior figure in the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ will honor John the Baptist and give him his rightful recognition and appreciation, but never to the eclipsing of the Glory that belongs to Jesus Christ and Him only. See ch 1.8; 1.20; 3.25-30; 4.1; 10.41.

V / vv 9-11 / JESUS CHRIST WAS NOT RECOGNIZED, RESPECTED, OR RECEIVED IN THE WORLD HE HAD CREATED – AND AMONG HIS OWN ETHNIC PEOPLE

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.

1 / After proclaiming The Word, Jesus Christ, as being the Creator of all things [including the first light], and after declaring that Jesus Christ is the True Light of God [by being God Himself & by revealing God in Himself], John then declares Jesus Christ as the Light-Giver to the world. And the ‘world’ into which Christ, The Word, came was the world of lost humanity, the lost nations and peoples of the world. He is the only Light of Truth, Life, and salvation.

2 / But when He came into His world that He Himself had created and sustained, they did not recognize or confess Him as their Creator and Light – they did not acknowledge Him for the God He is. See Romans 1.18-32. He even came to His own nation, the Jews, who had the Old Testament Scriptures announcing His coming, promising His coming – but they did not receive Him.

VI / vv 12-13 / JESUS CHRIST IS THE WAY THROUGH WHOM BELIEVERS BECOME THE CHILDREN OF GOD

But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

1 / But some did receive Him. They did recognize Him. They did acknowledge that He is God. They trusted in Christ and Christ only for their acceptance with God. They knew they were in the darkness of ignorance, sin, estrangement from God the Light, and death. They saw Christ for who He is: The Word of salvation that God had sent in His Son. They believed and trusted Christ to make them good enough for God.

2 / Who gets the credit for their faith? NOT their ethnicity or heritage or tradition or bloodline; NOT the will, choice, or decision of their own reasoning or moral assessment; NOT the will or choice some other person made for them and imposed it upon them or by proxy; BUT OF GOD! In other words, God Himself is the One who is the Giver of their very faith, choice,  and decision to see the Glory of Jesus Christ and receive Him as the Word of God’s salvation from sin. See 1 Thessalonians 2.13 & 2 Thessalonians 2.13-14.

VII / v 14 / JESUS CHRIST, THE ETERNAL GOD-WORD, BECAME FLESH AND WAS INCARNATED TO TABERNACLE [TENT] AMONG US

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his Glory, Glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

1 / NOW we come to the pith, crux, core, climax of John’s declaration of The Word. HERE is a Gospel truth that is contained in NO OTHER false deity mythology: that the very God who commanded and demanded that we be saved from our sins would come Himself to save us.

2 / The Word, Jesus Christ, would not save us from afar. He would not save us merely by sovereign fiat. He couldn’t because He is Holy God. As Holy God, He requires the same holiness and righteousness from us that He is if we are to be in covenant relationship with Him. There is only one way we can be saved from our sins and made to be good enough for God. God Himself must come, become like one of us, and do in our place and stead what He commands us to do…except we cannot. God must become like one of us in order to make us like Him as His children [see v 12].

3 / So this eternal, Deity The Word, Jesus Christ, was born into our world as one of us. See Romans 8.3-4; Galatians 4.4-7. God could not command us to be like Him…because we cannot. God must come and become like one of us…and then raise us up by His Grace to be like Him. But only through the substitution of Jesus Christ and the vicarious merits of His grace and truth being imputed to us can we be saved from our sins.

VIII / vv 16-17 / JESUS CHRIST IS THE FULLNESS OF GOD’S GRACE AND TRUTH – AND GIVES THAT FULLNESS TO HIS PEOPLE

For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

1 / Draw connections between v 14, Jesus’ ‘full of grace and truth,’ and v 16, ‘from His fullness we have all received.’ Also between all the thread of ‘believe’ and ‘receive’ in vv 7, 11, 12, 16. Also between all the references to ‘grace’ in vv 14, 16 17. ALL grace and ALL truth is in Jesus Christ!

2 / And now that Jesus Christ has finally been named, draw connections between ‘Word’ in v 1, ‘God’ in v 1, ‘became flesh’ in v 14, and ‘Jesus Christ’ in verse 17. WORD = GOD = FLESH = JESUS CHRIST. Jesus Christ is The Word who is God who has become flesh. The Word who is God has incarnated [in-fleshed] Himself in a human Person and has ‘pitched tent’ among us. That’s what the word ‘dwelt’ means: tented/tabernacled. It refers to the Tabernacle Yahweh instructed Moses to build in the wilderness so His Glory could dwell among them – so God could be with them where they were.

IX / v 18 / JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY BEING WHO HAS EVER SEEN GOD … AND MADE HIM FULLY KNOWN TO US

No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.

1 / Now that John has declared to the best of his ability who Jesus Christ is in His human Person, how he makes another summary statement about WHY Jesus Christ came in our flesh … why He chose to come and live among us as one of us – but without sin.

2 / It was so that we could know, not only who God is, but also know God personally in a loving grace relationship. Jesus Christ is the ONLY One who has seen God – because He is God. He was ‘with God’ when everything else had its beginning through His creation.

3 / But now He has come to us so He can live among us as God, having been sent from the Father, and make Him known to us! And THAT is what the rest of this book will be about. THAT is the story that will be told in the rest of this book: And THIS is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent! / John 17.4

May we all testify as we study these lessons together: “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world!” / John 4.42

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The Testimony of a Repeat Offender

MICAH | Lesson 3 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Micah 7.18-20

I / INTRODUCTION: RECIDIVISM

1 / RECIDIVISM: the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend / or more fully, it refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime. [It comes from the Latin word ‘recidivus’ meaning ‘to fall back’]

2 / That’s why I’m calling this lesson “The testimony of a repeat offender.” Because that’s precisely what Micah is confessing here – that they [the kingdoms of Israel and Judah both] have repeatedly re-offended by committing the same sins, iniquities, and transgressions … over and over again … for centuries and generation after generation … even from the first and earliest days when Yahweh had delivered them from bondage and slavery in Egypt – right up to this very day when Micah is delivering these messages and penning these prophetic words.

II / ISRAEL’S HISTORY AND RECORD OF RECIDIVISM

1 / We have seen this pattern over and over again as we have surveyed, summarized, and studied these Minor Prophets over the recent weeks. We also saw this recidivism brought to their attention by Yahweh by His prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 7.22-26:

For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. 26 Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. 

2 / And again in Jeremiah 11.6-8:

And the LORD said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them. For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”

3 / Perhaps the most convicting and damning of indictments against the southern kingdom Judah was also delivered by Jeremiah … this one was delivered during the days of Josiah when they were going through a short season of superficial reformations, though Yahweh exposed that their hearts were not in them – they were only done in pretense. But the indictment is brought against them that they should have learned from the judgments that fell upon their brethren in the northern kingdom Israel when the Assyrians came against them and destroyed their capital city and carried them off into captivity … but did Judah do any differently? No! They persisted in their recidivism – and continued to perpetuate their repeat offenses against Yahweh. Listen to this scathing indictment! Jeremiah 3.6-11:

The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. 10 Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD.” 11 And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.”

4 / So, you understand now what recidivism means … and what it means to recidivate – and how the kingdoms of Israel and Judah repeatedly and consistently relapsed into the same practices and patterns of disobedience, transgressions, disobediences, lawlessness, faithlessness, treachery, betrayal, and rebellion against Yahweh … even as He was just as repeatedly and consistently loving them, teaching them, instructing them, warning them, and calling them back – to return to Him with confessions of their sins and repentance from them. But they would not!

5 / Therefore, the judgments Yahweh had warned them would come … did come upon them. Yahweh must be true to His own character of Holiness and righteousness. Sin must be punished.

III / BUT MERCY IS ALWAYS PROMISED, ALWAYS IN VIEW – YET TO COME!

1 / But, at the same time, even while Yahweh was condemning their sins and bringing His Holy and just punishments upon them for their faithlessness … He was also promising them His full, complete, and perfect salvation that would be given them in times to come. He would call these future times to come ‘the latter days,’ or ‘in that day.’ These are the days that would come ‘in the fullness of time’ … and they would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His Gospel!

2 / Just here in the Book of Micah, even as Yahweh issues His indictments, witnesses, evidences, judgments, and sentences against them … He also points ahead to His promised salvation that would come ‘in the latter days’: ch 4.1-8; 5.2-5; 7.11-17 – and especially here in this concluding hymn and prayer in ch 7.18-20.

IV / THE TESTIMONY OF A REPEAT OFFENDER

1 / This is, first of all, a personal confession by Micah. He is taking his own place among his recidivating people. He is confessing that he himself also is a repeat offender. And who among us has not often done the same thing? Every one of us has had to come to God with our confession of sin with words like: “Father, I have sinned again. I knew better. I have sinned like this over and over, and I have again. I confess…I repent. You have forgiven me for this sin over and over … but here I am again. I have done it again” – or similar words to that effect. Micah is joining in with ‘the remnant of His inheritance’ who have been saved and spared from final death and destruction. He is admitting that he himself is one of these whose repetitive sins have been repeatedly pardoned.

2 / It is also a wordplay on his own name as he recognizes and extols the uniqueness of this pardoning God. Micah’s very name is a rhetorical question: “Who is like Yahweh?” When Micah asks this question: ‘Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity…,’ he is acknowledging that there is no other god like Yahweh our God! And what sets Yahweh apart from all the rest of the false/fake gods is that He is a God who forgives sinners! Every one of these descriptors of Yahweh pivots and hinges on His ‘mercy’ or ‘steadfast love’ as the word is variously translated. The word that Micah uses here is ‘hesed’ [or ‘chesed’] and it means a love that will not let the beloved one go. The love that tenaciously holds on. The love that persistently, consistently, faithfully, and repeatedly forgives … but without compromising its own Holiness, character, or integrity.

3 / No other god among all the myriad pantheons of the idolaters could claim such a pardoning God like Yahweh, our God! And the glory and splendor of His pardoning, forgiving, redeeming love is one of the most unrivalled of all His graces!

4 / One of my very favorite songs for over 50 years is Great God of Wonders by Samuel Davies [1723-1761]. I’ve made a blog post about it that you can access here: https://daveparksblog.com/2022/11/26/great-god-of-wonders-who-is-a-pardoning-god-like-thee/   

Here is what I have written:

Another hymn we learned and sang in our church back during the 70s when we committed to learning every hymn in our hymnal. This hymn is never far from my mind and memory. I have preached on this text before and called it “The Testimony of a Repeat Offender.” Here are the words to the verses…

1. Great God of wonders! All Thy ways

Are matchless, Godlike and divine;

But the fair glories of Thy grace

More godlike and unrivaled shine,

More godlike and unrivaled shine.

[Refrain]

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?

Or who has grace so rich and free?

Or who has grace so rich and free?

2. Crimes of such horror to forgive,

Such guilty, daring worms to spare;

This is Thy grand prerogative,

And none shall in the honor share,

And none shall in the honor share. [Refrain]

3. Angels and men, resign your claim

To pity, mercy, love and grace:

These glories crown Jehovah’s name

With an incomparable glaze

With an incomparable glaze. [Refrain]

4. In wonder lost, with trembling joy,

We take the pardon of our God:

Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,

A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood,

A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood. [Refrain]

5. O may this strange, this matchless grace,

This godlike miracle of love,

Fill the whole earth with grateful praise,

And all th’angelic choirs above,

And all th’angelic choirs above. [Refrain]

5 / Micah also wrote this hymn in an ancient literary arrangement called a chiasm. A chiasm is a series of lines or ideas that are lined out one after the other until they reach a climactic summary … and then they are repeated again in reverse order from how they were first expressed. For example: here in Micah 7.18-20, the statements of God’s unrivalled uniqueness are lined out this way:

Who is a God like you that…

A. pardons iniquity

B. passes over transgression

C. does not retain anger

D. delights in steadfast love [hesed] (this is the climax)

C’. shows compassion

B’. treads down iniquities

A’. casts away sins.

So, A – C build up to D, and then repeat/re-state themselves in other words and reverse order in C’ – A’. ALL climaxing in “Who is a God like you … because He delights in steadfast love?” All of this is another reiteration of Yahweh’s glory that He revealed to Moses in Exodus 33.17-23. On that occasion also Yahweh distinguished Himself as the only God – and certainly the only God of His kind – who pardons, forgives, and shows steadfast love in forgiveness.

6 / But still…all of this begs the question: “But wait…if Yahweh is a God of justice, righteousness, and Holiness who demands and requires that every sin must be punished and paid for through the death of the transgressor… then how can He pardon iniquity? How can He pass over transgression? How does He tread all our iniquities under His feet? How can He be Holy and yet just cast all our sins into the depths of the sea?” These are fair questions, but Yahweh provides the answers in ways that only He can!

7 / The promise of hope, redemption, forgiveness, pardon, and salvation can be accomplished ONLY by Yahweh’s bearing of the guilt and the moral, legal payment for that guilt UPON HIMSELF! And that’s exactly what He is promising and what He provided for us in Jesus Christ through His Gospel! One of the rich keys can be found in that word ‘pardoning…’ The same word for ‘pardon’ here is the common word used all throughout the Old Testament for ‘lift up,’ ‘bear/carry away.’ In fact, Micah himself uses the same word throughout his messages to mean these other things [see ch 2.4; 4.3; 6.16; 7.9]. Then he comes here to ch 7.18 to mean ‘pardon.’ The way God ‘pardons’ our iniquities and transgressions and sins is by ‘lifting them up, bearing them and carrying them away upon Himself’! Micah’s contemporary, Isaiah, uses the same word in Isaiah 53.4 & 12: ‘Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…’ and ‘…He bore the sin of many.’ Isaiah is prophesying and promising that Jesus Christ, Yahweh’s Suffering Servant, would come ‘in the latter days’ ‘in the fullness of time’ and lift up, bear, carry away upon Himself the guilt and punishment of our sins! Jesus Christ would be punished by the very wrath of God that our sins deserved – the sins we have repeatedly committed … our personal recidivisms!

8 / This, my friend, is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The recidivisms of us repeat offenders – ALL of it has been laid on Jesus Christ! And He has lifted it all up and borne it all on Himself on His Cross … and by making satisfactory payment for it by His death, He has carried it all away! In truth, our sin that He has paid for by His substitutionary death on His Cross is so gone … so far away gone … so gone for good … that it may be said: “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

9 / THAT is how pardoned you are by believing in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yahweh did all this in faithfulness to the covenant promises of steadfast love that He made to Abraham [see v 20 here]. That promise was that He, Yahweh, would give the blessing of His eternal covenant love to Abraham’s ‘seed’ or offspring [Genesis 12.1-7]. Yahweh must do that! He said He would! He promised! Paul will tell us in Galatians 3.16 that this ‘seed’ or offspring to whom Yahweh made these promises was none other than Jesus Christ Himself! God will keep His promises to His Son! And when we commit all our faith and trust on Him to save us from our sins, then we become pardoned by this very same grace!  

She will bear a son, and you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. / Matthew 1.20

…as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our father Abraham… / Luke 1.70-73

I have also attempted to tell this same story in this poem:

Posted in Bible Studies, Forgiveness, HYMNS, Lesson Notes, MICAH, Sunday School lessons | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Great God of Wonders (Who is a pardoning God like Thee?)

~Samuel Davies | From Micah 7.18

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.”

Micah 7.18-20

Another hymn we learned and sang in our church back during the 70s when we committed to learning every hymn in our hymnal. This hymn is never far from my mind and memory. I have preached on this text before and called it “The Testimony of a Repeat Offender.”

Here are the words to the verses … followed by a representative vocal rendition.

1. Great God of wonders! All Thy ways

Are matchless, Godlike and divine;

But the fair glories of Thy grace

More godlike and unrivaled shine,

More godlike and unrivaled shine.

[Refrain]

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?

Or who has grace so rich and free?

Or who has grace so rich and free?

2. Crimes of such horror to forgive,

Such guilty, daring worms to spare;

This is Thy grand prerogative,

And none shall in the honor share,

And none shall in the honor share.

[Refrain]

3. Angels and men, resign your claim

To pity, mercy, love and grace:

These glories crown Jehovah’s name

With an incomparable glaze

With an incomparable glaze.

[Refrain]

4. In wonder lost, with trembling joy,

We take the pardon of our God:

Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,

A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood,

A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood.

[Refrain]

5. O may this strange, this matchless grace,

This godlike miracle of love,

Fill the whole earth with grateful praise,

And all th’angelic choirs above,

And all th’angelic choirs above.

[Refrain]

Posted in HYMNS, SONGS OLD & NEW | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment