Posts Tagged 'John'

Panic Podcast: The Everything Bible Study, Part 10

I wanted to take a look at John’s Gospel by itself – that is, apart from the first three Gospels – because it’s in a class by itself.  A large chunk of John is devoted the last week of Jesus’ life, whereas the Synoptics present the life of Jesus in more-or-less biographical form, if not completely chronological in order.  At any rate, you’ll  notice there are two audio files today.  That’s because the podcast is split into two parts.  Why, you ask?  For that answer, you’ll have to listen…  We are also covering the first letter John wrote, appropriately called, 1 John.

 

 

Panic Podcast: The Son of God in John’s Gospel, Part 3

Good day, mates!  Let me ask you a question:  Do you know an ungrateful person?  You probably do, and today we will be looking at one.  He was a pathetic man Jesus healed and he remained a pathetic man even after his  healing.  The ultimate victim is our focus on the Panic Podcast today.  God bless you as we study God’s Word today.

 

Jesus Is Alive!

 

kcaco

John 19:28 – 20:31

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

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

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

(a)  The Lamb of God, 19:28-30

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(a)  An empty tomb, verses 1-5

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

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

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

   The stone was rolled away.

   The grave clothes were  now lying in a neat pile;

   The body of Jesus was gone.

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

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

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

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

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

(b)  A holy encounter, verses 19, 20

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

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

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

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

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

(a) Doubting Thomas, verses 24-28

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(b)  Stunning proclamation, verse 29

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

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

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

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

Jesus: The True Vine

 

A vineyard in Israel

A vineyard in Israel

John 15:1-27

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

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

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

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

(a) Products of the Word, verses 1-3

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

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

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

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

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

(b)  Connectivity, verses 4-6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(a)   Intimate prayer, verses 7, 8

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

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

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

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

(b)  Joyful living, verses 9-11

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

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

(c)  The ultimate commandment, verses 12-15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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