Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (John 4)

Last week we learned what Jesus meant when He said that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, and that “whoever believes in Him is not condemned” and in fact would have eternal life (John 3:16-18). This week in John Chapter 4, we see Jesus put those words into practice in a way that you and I can understand and even act on in our own lives.

John 4
1 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John
2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples),
3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee.
4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

David Guzik:
“Although the road through Samaria was the shortest route to Galilee, pious Jews avoided it. They avoided it because there was a deep distrust and dislike between Jews and Samaritans.

When the southern kingdom of Judah was conquered by the Babylonians, they took almost every captive, exiling them to the Babylonian Empire. All they left behind were the lowest classes of society, because they didn’t want “that type” in Babylonia. These that were left behind intermarried with other peoples who slowly came into the region, and the Samaritans emerged as an ethnic and religious group.

Because the Samaritans had a historical connection to the people of Israel, their faith was a combination of law and ritual from the Law of Moses, and various superstitions. Most Jews in Jesus’ time despised the Samaritans, even more than Gentiles.

Why must Jesus go through Samaria? Because there were people there who needed to hear Him.”

What people are there in our world that we find really difficult to love, much less have a normal conversation with? Every time I read this chapter I am convicted by the story. For Jesus to have a simple conversation with this woman was a remarkable thing. Incredibly, we will see that He took things a step further and explained to her the way of eternal life. How is God calling you and I to act today?

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?
12 “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
14 “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The idea of God being the “Living Water” was not new, as a matter of fact it was an old statement made by the Lord God about Himself:

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
~ Jeremiah 2:13

“On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
~ Zechariah 13:1

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
~ Isaiah 12:3

We all need water to live. The human body is 65% water. Your body can only survive so long without drinking water; some say 3 days, others say as long as 10 days. Jesus is making the bold offer of water that gives eternal life.

Jeremiah calls God a fountain of living water. Zechariah says it’s a fountain-like shower that can wash us from our sins. Isaiah tells us it’s like a deep well where we can pull out water that gives us eternal life. Jesus Christ is that living water for each of us.

15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’
18 “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
20 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Here, Jesus knows exactly what this woman needs to hear to cause her to understand that He is God in the flesh. She initially believes that He is simply a prophet, but as they continue their conversation, she realizes He is the Messiah.

There are so many examples throughout God’s word of wise prophets from God revealing truth to the unbeliever – Daniel and Joseph come to mind. But Jesus is different from all the rest in that He makes the claim to be God. He was clearly not simply a prophet as other religions suggest. No other man in the Bible claimed to be the Son of God and performed such miracles to prove His authority.

C.S. Lewis made the point that Jesus was either a complete liar, or He was a crazy lunatic, or He was in fact Lord God in the flesh. Liar, Lunatic, or Lord. He couldn’t be anything else.

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”

Jesus points her to the way of salvation. He says: “Believe me.” He tells her to “worship the Father in spirit and truth”. She firmly believes that the Messiah is coming, and he says “I am He”.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ~ Romans 10:9

27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,
29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”

This woman believed and very quickly went out to tell others. She immediately acts on her new belief. Without knowing it, she is following God’s call to each of us to proclaim the Gospel.

In Mark and Luke, we see that Jesus instructed the man who had been relieved of demons was told to go tell others what Christ had done for him:

And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” ~ Mark 5:19

Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
~ Luke 8:39

This Samaritan woman is simply responding to what God has done in her life. In this short conversation, Jesus showed this woman more love, kindness, and compassion than probably any man had ever shown her. Consistently throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus reached out to those who were difficult to love.

Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
“But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” ~ Matthew 9:10-13

I love this: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Jesus is calling each of us to help “those who are sick”. To show them “mercy and not sacrifice”. That’s exactly what Jesus did with this Samaritan woman in a Samaritan town, and in doing so, He changes the whole city!

30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
35 “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
36 “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
37 “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’
38 “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.
41 And many more believed because of His own word.
42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

The love, kindness, compassion, and mercy Jesus showed to one woman changed this entire town! “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” Each of us is called to “look up” right now, right where we are. If you are in Spokane, Minneapolis, Decatur, Berlin, Tokyo, or Seattle – we are each called to show Christlike mercy to those around us who are among the most difficult to love.

Verses 36-38 show us that sometimes we are called simply to plant the seeds of faith – to “sow” by sharing Christ by reflecting love and mercy, or by telling our own testimony. Other times, folks before us have done the seed-planting and we are there to reap the harvest by praying with someone as they believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation.

43 Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee.
44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.
45 So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they also had gone to the feast.
46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum.
47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and implored Him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.
48 Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe.”
49 The nobleman said to Him, “Sir, come down before my child dies!”
50 Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your son lives.” So the man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way.
51 And as he was now going down, his servants met him and told him, saying, “Your son lives!”
52 Then he inquired of them the hour when he got better. And they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”
53 So the father knew that it was at the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives.” And he himself believed, and his whole household.
54 This again is the second sign Jesus did when He had come out of Judea into Galilee.

This man simply man “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and he went his way”. Jesus made the way to salvation very easy so even the simplest mind can have eternal life. He is the living water, all I need to do is to accept that he died for me so that I can have eternal life with Him in heaven.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~ Romans 6:23

It’s Resurrection Sunday – Hallelujah, He is Risen!

This Sunday is Easter Sunday, the day Jesus was raised from the dead three days after being killed as a criminal, also in fulfillment of the prophecies about Him. I love the account we read from Luke chapter 24.

Last week we talked about Palm Sunday. Jesus came riding into Jerusalem humbly, on a young colt, not as the victorious King the Jews expected. Yet they praised and worshipped Him in fulfillment of the prophecies.

    1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.
    2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
    3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
    4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.
    5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?
    6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,
    7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
    8 And they remembered his words,
    9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.

Jesus knew what was coming for Him, He even told the Apostles about it ahead of time.

    And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” ~ Luke 9:21-22

    “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” ~ Luke 9:44

These angels are here to remind the disciples of Jesus’ words and to testify that it had happened just as Jesus said it would. If you are a believer in Jesus, you also have that testimony!

The New Testament teaches that God sent the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth…. He will glorify me” (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit …. opens our eyes to see the self-authenticating glory of Christ in the narrative of his life and death and resurrection. He enables us to see Jesus as he really was, so that he is irresistibly true and beautiful. The apostle stated the problem of our blindness and the solution like this: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4, 6). ~ Pastor John Piper

Even King David believed and foretold Jesus’ resurrection, and the Apostle Paul saw Jesus after His resurrection, he believed, and then he spoke in his testimony about it:

    22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know—
    23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
    24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
    29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
    30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,
    31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
    32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.
    ~ Acts 2:22-24, 29-32

Others will also testify of His resurrection

    10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles,
    11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
    12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
    13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
    14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
    15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
    16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
    17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad.
    18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
    19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
    20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.
    21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.
    22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning,
    23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.
    24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”
    25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
    26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
    27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
    28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther,
    29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.
    30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.
    31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.

These disciples don’t recognize Jesus at first. Though they’ve been told that He has been raised from the dead, somehow they can’t see the miracle of Him standing right in front of them! Luke tells us “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself”. The whole of the Bible points us to Jesus as the Savior of the world. Here we see that Jesus is able to show them the Old Testament scriptures that point to Him. Yet, even as He is doing so, they are still unable to see the risen Savior. It reminds me of how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of those around us, and yet they can’t recognize Him. He is doing miracles in their lives, for their good and His glory. Yet they don’t seem to see or understand that it is God working.

Suddenly, we see a transformation that happens when “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him”! What a beautiful thing it is when that happens today! It brings joy to my heart when a unbeliever is beautifully transformed as the light of Christ dawns on their dark heart, and they choose to believe on Jesus to be saved. Or a believer that has strayed far from God has suddenly had his or her eyes opened to see and remember of who Christ is. These disciples remind us that God does these miracles, He opens minds and hearts to reveal Himself.

As we read the Bible, learn the Scriptures, and testify of what God has done in our lives, God uses what we’ve learned and our testimony to reveal Himself to others around us.

    32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”
    33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
    34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
    35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
    36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!”
    37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.
    38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?

Sometimes the work of God can be frightening or startling. That’s our human flesh, our doubt, our lack of faith. That is simply human. Jesus responds to their fear with “why?”

God has done miracle after miracle after miracle after miracle in my life. I have no reason to fear. I’m still afraid.

I’m afraid of the future. I’m afraid of the unknown. I’m afraid for my family. I’m afraid of evil. I’m afraid of crime. I’m afraid of my bank account. I’m afraid of what others think. I’m afraid I’m dumb, boring, ignorant, pompous, self-righteous, angry, abrasive, and sinful.

Yet Jesus assures me. He shows me how powerful He is just as He assures the discipes.

    39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
    40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

He shows us in the Bible that He has risen from the dead. We have many eyewitness accounts of His resurrection. Why should I be afraid? I have a Savior God that does miraculous and wonderful things!

Jesus Eats with the Disciples

    41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
    42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,
    43 and he took it and ate before them.
    44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
    45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
    46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
    47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
    48 You are witnesses of these things.
    49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Here we see Jesus remind them with His words that He was to suffer, die, and rise again “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations”. He explains the Scriptures to them and in doing so, “he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”. As we read God’s word, the Bible, God does the same for us. It’s important to read and study both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Both of them point to God’s eternal plan for us and they point to Jesus Christ. If we read only one of the other, we don’t see the whole picture that God has given us. Jesus gives us that example, right here in Luke 24 and also throughout the New Testament, as He uses the Old Testament in His teaching.

    50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.
    51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.
    52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
    53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.
    ~ Luke 24:1-53

The Gospel of Luke begins it’s story in the Temple in Luke 1, and Luke also ends his gospel account in the Temple here in Chapter 24. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Temple. God shows us again and again throughout His Word that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah – and the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan.

    18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”
    19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
    20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”
    21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
    22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
    John 2:18-22

The temple was designed by specifications given from God early in the Old Testament. God uses His entire Word to testify of Himself. We have that testimony as well! We can be witnesses, just as the disciples were, of a risen Savior.

Hallelujah, He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Overview of Paul’s Epistles (letters)

This week we’re going to do an overview of Paul’s letters called the Epistles. In order to do that, we first need to take a look at how the New Testament books all fit together. Here’s a little song that can help you to memorize all the books of the New Testament. If you can memorize this song, you’ll know these books by heart for the rest of your life – and it’s SUPER-EASY!

Books of the Bible New Testament song

Now let’s look at how all the books in the New Testament were put into their order:

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the four “Gospels”. These books are unique to the New Testament in that the names of the books are the names of the authors of each. So they are the ‘Gospel according to Matthew’, the ‘Gospel according to Mark’, etc. Taken together, the four Gospels tell the history of Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, and resurrection.

Next we have the book of Acts, also called the “Acts of the Apostles”. This is a book that not only shows the birth of the early Christian church immediately following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but it also relates for us some of the sermons and doctrine from the Apostles – namely Peter and Paul. This book was written by Dr. Luke, the same man that wrote the Gospel of Luke.

Together, these 5 books are known as the “Historical Books”. They all tell a history. The remaining 22 books in the New Testament are all together known as “Epistles”. There are two groups of them: the “Pauline Epistles” and the “Non-Pauline Epistles”.

The Pauline Epistles were all written by the Apostle Paul either to groups of people in a local church (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians) or to individual people (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). To help you remember them, notice that the letters to the churches come first, and then the letters to the individual people.

The “Non-Pauline Epistles” were written by a variety of authors, but were all letters to others – again either individuals or to churches.

The first of these is Hebrews and it’s authorship is widely debated, but may have been the Apostle Paul so it’s easy to remember that it comes after Paul’s letters.

The others Non-Pauline Epistles were written by James, Peter, John, and Jude. The very last book – Revelation – is like a bookend to the Bible since it teaches us about the final days of earth. (The other bookend is Genesis which is the first book of the Bible and describes the dawn of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth.)

Now let’s look at a very brief and simple summary of the Pauline Epistles (as taken from a piece written by Matt Slick from carm.org called New Testament Books )

Romans –A systematic examination of justification, sanctification, and glorification. Examines God’s plan for the Jews and the Gentiles.

1 Corinthians – This letter deals with factions and corrections due to immorality, lawsuits, and abuse of the Lord’s Supper. Also mentions idols, marriage, and the resurrection.

2 Corinthians – Paul’s defense of his apostolic position.

Galatians – Paul refutes the errors of legalism and examines the proper place of grace in the Christian’s life.

Ephesians – The believer’s position in Christ and information on Spiritual warfare.

Philippians – Paul speaks of his imprisonment and his love for the Philippians. He exhorts them to godliness and warns them of legalism.

Colossians – Paul focuses on the preeminence of Jesus in creation, redemption, and godliness.

1 Thessalonians – Paul’s ministry to the Thessalonians. Teachings on purity and mention of the return of Christ.

2 Thessalonians – Corrections on the Day of the Lord.

1 Timothy – Instructions to Timothy on proper leadership and dealings with false teachers, the role of women, prayer, and requirements of elders and deacons.

2 Timothy – A letter of encouragement to Timothy to be strong.

Titus – Paul left Titus in Crete to care for the churches there. Requirements for elders.

Philemon – a letter to the owner of a runaway slave. Paul appeals to Philemon to forgive Onesimus.

It is incredible and absolutely unique that God created the Bible to all fit together into one Book that compares to no other. There are 66 individual books of the Bible and scholars believe these books were written by at least 39 authors over a period of 1,500 years. The Bible speaks to people of all different nationalities and cultures and the Jesus of the Bible changes lives all over the world.

Breakfast by the Sea (Jesus and the disciples)

Breakfast by the Sea

John 21

    Vs 1-3 “After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We are going with you also.’ They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing.”

When we go through awful, difficult, and stressful times, we have the tendency to pull back into the familiar. Doing what you know, what we’re used to doing. This helps us to get our minds off of the rough patch we are going through.

For me, when dealing with stress in my life, there is nothing I love better than gardening. Digging in the soil, pulling weeds, planting seeds, driving on my tractor, tilling, moving manure – I love all of it. If I could make a living at it, I’d do it in a minute. (I love praying to God while gardening. It’s a wonderful time of communion with the Lord for me.)

Other folks love exercise at the gym, or running, some love sewing or quilting, many love to sit and read a great book. We all deal with stress and difficulty in our lives in different ways.

That’s what the disciples are doing here. They are going fishing. It’s something they all know how to do, it’s familiar to them, and they have no idea what The Lord wants them to do with their lives going forward. They’ve not yet been given the Great Commission and the Holy Spirit in Acts 1 and 2.

    Vs 4 “But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”

Remember in the last chapter Mary didn’t recognize Jesus either (Jesus’ Resurrection and Doubting Thomas). In this case, if the disciples had recognized Jesus immediately, they would have rushed to shore right away and He wouldn’t have been able to perform this miracle. He does something similar in Luke 24 on the road to Emmaus.

    Vs 5-6 “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Children, have you any food?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.”
    Vs 7-8 “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish.”

Peter gets so excited! I love his heart for Christ! In his excitement and enthusiasm to see God, he jumps in the water to swim to shore and leaves the other guys to drag the fish to shore. This reminds me of story about Mary and Martha in Luke Ch. 10:38-42

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’ ”

Peter and Mary both had hearts that longed to be with Jesus, I love that! Lord give me that kind of heart!

    Vs 9-11 “Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.’ Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.”

From David Guzik:
“Why 153 fish? This number has been a field day for speculative interpretations of the Bible since the early church.
-153 is the sum of numbers 1 to 17. Some (like Augustine) say that it is a number representing the number of commandments (10) added to the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit.
-153 is the added numerical value of the Greek words “Peter” and “fish.”
-Some ancient writers (such as Jerome) held that there were 153 different types of fish in the world; this represents a “full harvest” of all of the world.
-Some (like Cyril of Alexandria) say that 100 stands for the Gentiles, 50 for Israel and 3 for the Trinity.
-The truth is that all we know for certain is that 153 stands for the number of fish that they caught! We must always be careful of manufacturing ‘hidden meanings’ in the Word of God.”

Miracles we see here:
Jesus knew the fish were down there, and he knew EXACTLY where they were (Cast the net on the right side of the boat)
Jesus had to strengthen the net such that it didn’t break under the severe weight of 153 large fish.

(As a side note, the Sea of Tiberias is also known as the Sea of Galilee, and the fish caught has long been thought to be the tilapia which in this area can grow to 9 or 10 pounds. So on the large size, this is could be well over 1,000 pounds of fish.)

    Vs 12-13 “Jesus said to them, ‘Come and eat breakfast.’ Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, ‘Who are You?’—knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.”

I love reading about the many occasions Jesus shared a meal with His disciples. Have you noticed that these times are often associated with a miracle Jesus performs? Jesus feeding the 5,000, the Last Supper, and so on. God made us to love food, and to enjoy “communion” or communing with others when we eat! It can be such a blessed time of loving and sharing! Yet how often do we eat in silence, or eat in front of the television?

    Vs 14 “This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.”

The other two occasions that Jesus revealed Himself were both back in Chapter 20 that we studied last week.

    Vs 15-17 “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’

Guzik: “Jesus allowed Peter a three-fold public affirmation of love to replace a three-fold denial, and gave him a three-fold challenge to feed my sheep”.

Feed my lambs – Lambs are the young of the flock. Feed them the Word of God (like teaching Sunday School!) (:-) We’re called to teach those that are new in the faith or young in the faith.

Tend my sheep – This makes me thing of caring for and tending the flock. The disciples were charged with building the church, loving and caring for the believers, and guiding them faithfully. You don’t beat or abuse the sheep, you herd them and care for them.

Feed my sheep- The disciples were also told to feed (teach) the flock, and feed (teach) they did! The entire New Testament was written by God using disciples of Christ. Many of the books of the New Testament are letters written to churches of pastors to teach and guide them.

Vs 18-25 ” ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, ‘But Lord, what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.’ Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?’

This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.”

“You will stretch out your hands” was Jesus’ way of saying Peter would be crucified (which he later was). But after telling Peter he will be crucified, He says “follow me”. No matter the cost Peter. Follow me.

Jesus’ Resurrection and Doubting Thomas

John Chapter 20

    Vs 1-4 “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.’ Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first.”

What is the first day of the week on your calendar? It’s Sunday! It was the same on the Jewish calendar. This is the Sunday after Passover (remember the Last Supper was on Passover Thursday, the day before Jesus’ execution).

At this point there is nothing in Mary’s mind but the thought that someone removed His body. She is not thinking about a resurrected Jesus at all.

The “other disciple whom Jesus loved” is John the Apostle (that wrote this Gospel of John). So John and Peter go racing off to the tomb. I find it really funny that John points out that he “outran Peter and came to the tomb first”. If you’re a guy, you understand.

    Vs 5-7 “And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself.”

In the book of Matthew, we read in 28:15
“Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, and said, ‘You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.’ And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.”

The religious leaders and the chief priests bribed the soldiers to say that they fell asleep! And while they were sleeping, a group of men came and quietly rolled away the giant stone that covered the tomb, then they silently unclothed the body, then they were able to sneak Jesus’ body past the still sleeping guards to hide Him away somewhere. Right! No problem!

If someone were in a rush to remove Jesus’ body, they certainly would not have taken the time to remove the burial cloths, nor would they have taken the time to then fold them neatly there.

Even if they were able to sneak around with the body of a full grown adult man, the stone would have been large enough that it would take several men to move and it would not be quiet. I speak from experience: my wife teases me when I move heavy stuff because I can’t seem to do it without grunting and making lots of man-type noises.

*(If you’re interested, see notes from David Guzik on the Shroud of Turin at the bottom of this page.)

    Vs 8-10 “Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.”

When it says that John “saw and believed” it simply means he now knows that the body is gone. “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.”

The disciples had been laying low, trying to stay out of the spotlight much as they did when Jesus was being tried. So theses guys go back home, but not Mary!

    Vs 11-16 “But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.’ Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, ‘Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher).”

Mary is still mourning His death and is now distraught over the fact that His body is gone. She peeks inside to confirm it’s still true and finds two guys sitting in there all dressed in white. Her mind is so distracted, she responds to the angels,a nd then to Jesus without recognizing Him. Then when He says her name, it clicks in her head.

John 10:1-4 Jesus tells us: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

Once Mary heard Jesus say her voice, she knew exactly who He was! It is amazing thing – after we know Jesus for a period of time and we get to know His word and spend time with Him, we know His voice in our lives and in our hearts.

    Vs 17-18 “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.”

He was asking her not to cling to Him as she was probably clinging to Him. So He wasn’t telling her not to touch Him, but rather He was saying “Mary, I need to get going. I’ve got lots of things I still need to accomplish. You need to let me go.” Then she went and told the guys who were still in hiding from the authorities.

    Vs 19-23 “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’ ”

Picture the disciples all hiding in a locked room, talking about how the Jewish leaders are probably after them, they’re frightened, and now Mary tells them Jesus’ body is gone. It doesn’t seem that they believed her story yet.

Mark 16:9-11 “Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and reported to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.”

So they’re scared and locked in this room out of fear, the body is gone and now they are thinking the Jews are really going to come after them. Then Jesus appears to them and gives them His assurance. What a blessing that must have been to them! Can you imagine! Scared for your life, and then Jesus shows up! It still happens today. Maybe Jesus doesn’t show up in bodily form so we can see Him, but He provides that needed miracle and in a way that is total shock and awe!

    Vs 24-29 “Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, ‘Peace to you!’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ ”

Thomas didn’t believe because he couldn’t see, touch, and feel the risen Lord. I understand that kind of thinking, however I choose to believe. Even though I haven’t seen the risen Christ, I believe. Jesus said that those who believe without seeing are specially blessed! I love hearing that.

    Vs 30-31 “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

John finishes this chapter with the simple message of the Good News: He wrote this all down so that we would believe in Jesus, that he is the Son of God, and accept His free gift of eternal life! All it takes is to believe and it’s ours. That is our special blessing!

*The Shroud of Turin notes from David Guzik:

“Whatever happened to the grave clothes? Is the Shroud of Turin for real?

No one can say for certain. But, ‘The evidence thus far indicates the probable conclusions that the shroud is ancient (perhaps from the first century), that it does not contradict the NT accounts, and that the image is not a fake. It may well be the actual burial garment of Jesus.’ (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)
The image on the shroud is of a crucified male, bearded, 5’11″ in height, weighing about 175 pounds. His physique was muscular and well built, and he is an estimated age of 30-35 years. His long hair is tied into a pigtail and there is no evidence on decomposition on the cloth.

Results of the Shroud of Turin Research Project in October 1978 determined that the Shroud is not a painting or a forgery. They determined that its blood is real blood and the image seems to be some type of scorch, though they cannot account for how it was made.

It may be genuine but there may also be good reason why God did not preserve Jesus’ grave clothes – not wanting to leave behind a relic that inevitably would be worshipped.”

(I put these notes at the bottom because folks are always curious about the Shroud, but I wanted to avoid distracting from the Bible study itself. ~Anthony)

Prophecies on Jesus’ Crucifixion and Execution – John 19

Remember when we finished last week’s lesson, we saw that Jesus was never convicted of any wrongdoing, even after going through multiple trials before several courts. He was an innocent man sentenced to die. Innocent not only before God as we are shown in the Bible, but He was even innocent before the Roman and Jewish courts.

Today we’re going to look at just some of the prophecies that were fulfilled in this one chapter of John 19.

    Vs 1-3 “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.”

Fulfillment as described by Matthew Henry: “That the scripture might be fulfilled, which spoke of his being stricken, smitten, and afflicted, and the chastisement of our peace being upon him (Isaiah 53:5), of his giving his back to the smiters (Isa. 50:6), of the plowers plowing upon his back, Psalm 129:3. He himself likewise had foretold it, see Matt. 20:19; Mark 10:34; Luke 18:33.

Isaiah 53:5 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Isaiah 50:6 “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” He gave His back to those that scourged Him.

Psalm 129:3 “The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows.” This is the stripes of the scourging on His back.

    Vs 4-6 “Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.”

This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9 “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither deceit in his mouth.” He was completely innocent, yet He was sentenced and killed.

Also look at Psalm 69:4 “They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.” He was hated, accused, and killed for no legal reason.

    Vs. 7-9 “The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer.”

This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”. Even though He was accused multiple times, He refused to respond to their accusations.

    Vs 10-18 “Then saith Pilate unto him, ‘Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?’ Jesus answered, ‘Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.’ And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, ‘If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.’ When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, ‘Behold your King!’ But they cried out, ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him.’ Pilate saith unto them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’ Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.”

Verse 18 fulfills the prophecies that Jesus would be counted among the criminals and also that He would be killed specifically by crucifixion!

Check out Psalm 22:16 “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.” (He was surrounded by criminals, and killed by crucifixion where they pierced the hands and feet.)

And also Isaiah 53:12 “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

    Vs 19-24 “And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written.’ Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.”

This is fulfillment of Psalm 22:18 “They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.”

    Vs 25-29 “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, “I thirst”. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth.”

This is a fulfillment of Psalm 69:21 “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” The word “vinegar” describes the sour wine He was given. Psalm 69 provides us an incredible picture of Jesus Christ as He was sent to die for all mankind.

    Vs 30-37 “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and break the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they break not his legs: but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.”

Again Old Testament scripture is fulfilled here and similar to the passage above on the soldiers that divided His clothing, this scripture recites the passages that are proven to be true.

Psalm 34:20 “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.” None of Jesu’ bones were broken in His execution even though that was a very common way of pushing things along.

In Exodus we see an explanation of the Passover Lamb whose purpose was to cover the Jewish household so that they were spared the death and punishment that the Egyptians would suffer. Jesus became our Passover Lamb, and as such, His bones couldn’t be broken. (Click here for more on Jesus as our Passover Lamb)

Exodus 12:46 “In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.”

Zechariah 12:10 describes another prophecy about Jesus’ execution which was fulfilled here in John 19 – the “piercing” of Jesus: “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.”

    Vs 38-42 “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”

He was put into a rich man’s grave in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:9: “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death…”

The life and death of Jesus fulfills many, many prophecies from hundreds and thousands of years before His birth, and in fact Jesus even predicts many of the circumstances around His own death. The fact that He is God cannot be denied.

End notes:

The prophecies surrounding Jesus’ life and His crucifixion are many, and there is no way I could possibly get them all here, nor was I even able to include all of the prophetic verses and fulfillment verses. I encourage you to read the Bible. You will be amazed. Start at the very beginning and read until the end, then start over!

Psalm 22 is the Psalm quoted most often in the New Testament and along with Isaiah 53 is loaded with prophecy about Jesus and His crucifixion. Both are worth reading in their entirety so I’m linking them here.

Also, here is a great short study called “Messianic Prophecies” from bible.org as written by J. Hampton Keathley, III.

Jesus’ Trial before Annas, Caiaphas, and Pilate

I’m teaching Sunday School on the book of John. Here is my study on John Chapter 18.

    Vs 1-2 “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered. And Judas, who betrayed Him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with His disciples.”

Jesus leaves the place where He was praying for His disciples from back in Ch. 17 (Jesus Prays for His Followers) and comes into this beautiful garden. The verse tells us that Jesus spent a lot of time here: “Jesus often met there with His disciples.” Did you know that God loves a beautiful garden? God created gardens, and He made them to be wonderful places of rest and peace.

    Genesis 2:8-9 “The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.”

Also

    Genesis 3:8 “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

It’s amazing that both of these beautiful places of God’s creation, these tranquil sanctuaries of rest and peace, were disturbed by sin and hate.

The first time, in the Garden of Eden, the sin was eating the fruit they were not allowed to touch, and the hate was the hatred of Satan against mankind and God, and the result was God banishing Adam and Eve from the garden.

The second time, the sin was in the Jews and Judas who came to arrest Jesus, the hate of all of them toward Christ, and again Satan is the one behind it in that he entered Judas to make him a traitor (Side note: Satan can’t make you do anything. Judas was willing.) The result was Jesus being led to the cross and being crucified. For that short period He was abandoned by God, similar to Adam being put out of the Garden of Eden.

    Vs 3 “Then Judas, having received a detachment of troops, and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.”

Had Jesus ever done anything violent to anyone? No. But these guys are scared. Who wouldn’t be afraid? This Jesus guy claimed to be the Son of God! If He’s telling the truth, they’re in trouble! If He’s lying, then He is out of His mind crazy. They were right to be afraid.

    Vs 4-9 “Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, ‘I am He,’ they drew back and fell to the ground. Then He asked them again, ‘Whom are you seeking?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He. Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way,’ that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, ‘Of those whom You gave Me I have lost none.’

So Jesus knows “all things that would come upon Him” and He approaches them anyway. He approached this situation the same way He did this entire episode of His crucifixion. He was a willing servant. He was sad, He prayed it didn’t have to happen. But He was consistently willing. Never wavering. He was always firm in His commitment to do God’s will.

    Vs 10-11 “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?'”

If we are persecuted unjustly how many of us would choose not to defend ourselves? As a matter of fact, Jesus even goes so far as to heal this man’s ear! Luke tells us in Luke 22:51 “And he touched his ear and healed him.”

David Wilkerson was a small country preacher reaching out to the violent street gangs in the 1950s in New York City. In a book about his experience, he tells the story of a gang leader that threatens to knife him to death. His response to that gang leader? “You could cut me in a thousand pieces and lay them out in the street and every piece would love you.” (1)

What a beautiful picture of Christ. And that’s what Jesus is doing for us here. His greatest concern is not for His own life. He shows us sacrificial love where He is willing to not just put His life in danger like Preacher Wilkerson did, but to GIVE UP His life for us. He knew He was going to be killed.

    Vs 12-14 “Then the detachment of troops and the captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year. Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.”

This looks back to the earlier passage in John’s gospel where Caiaphas did in fact foretell that Jesus would die for all mankind, though He didn’t know Jesus was doing it as Savior and King.

    John 11:47-53 “Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.’ And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.'” Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.”

Caiaphas was just trying to say that if Jesus were to be killed, then there wouldn’t be an uprising, and the rest of us may not have to suffer under the Roman fist. In fact though, Jesus did die to save the nation of Israel and the rest of the world from our sin.

    Vs 15-17 “And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.'”

We will see here Peter denying Jesus three times as was predicted by Christ in Luke 22:34. There have been many times in my life when I have denied Jesus. Usually for me, it is simply avoiding the subject. Maybe it’s when I see someone hurting and I know they need Jesus, or prayer, and I do nothing. But there have been other times when I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit on my heart, and I stepped out in faith and I was so blessed by what God did! Peter regretted His denial of Jesus, Matthew tells us He “wept bitterly” after denying knowing the Lord. I am so thankful there is grace and mercy, God loves me in spite of my failures and my denial of Him.

    Vs 18-27 “Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself. The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine. Jesus answered him, ‘I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said.’ And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, ‘Do You answer the high priest like that?’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?’ Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, ‘You are not also one of His disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not!’ One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with Him?’ Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.”

Note from David Guzik: “Notice that it is not Peter’s faith that fails, but his courage. After his failure he weeps bitterly, because he really does love his Lord.” I love that! It wasn’t Peter’s lack of faith! His faith was strong, but his courage was weak.

    Vs 28-38 “Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium, and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. Pilate then went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this Man?’ They answered and said to him, ‘If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.’ Then Pilate said to them, ‘You take Him and judge Him according to your law.’ Therefore the Jews said to him, ‘It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death’, that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.

    Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?’ Pilate answered, ‘Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?’ Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.’ Pilate therefore said to Him, ‘Are You a king then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.’ Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?’ And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, ‘I find no fault in Him at all.
    But you have a custom that I should release someone to you at the Passover. Do you therefore want me to release to you the King of the Jews?’ Then they all cried again, saying, ‘Not this Man, but Barabbas!’ Now Barabbas was a robber.

Notice that Jesus was not found guilty by Pilate. In fact, He was found to be innocent. But they allowed the innocent man to be killed and the guilty man to be released and go free instead. this is what Jesus dod for all of us! The innocent man was killed, and the guilty can go free because HE DIED in our place. We simply need to accept the gift:

    Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

1 (From the book “The Cross and the Switchblade” by David Wilkerson)

Jesus Prays for His Followers

I’m teaching through the book of John in Sunday School, here is my study on Ch. 17

John 17

    Vs 1-3 “Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

I love that Jesus “lifted up His eyes to heaven”! I once told someone years ago that I couldn’t pray without closing my eyes. What I meant at the time was simply that I tend to lack focus, I have a hard time concentrating at times and closing my eyes when I pray can help me stay focused on the Lord. But certainly we can pray anytime/anywhere and God hears us! I pray while I’m driving, while I’m working at the office or in the yard, when I’m walking downtown or watching tv. I’ve even woken up in the morning and realized I had been praying for someone in a dream! God hears us no matter what we’re doing.

Check out Psalm 123:1 “I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven”. I have often looked up at the sky and talked to the Lord. He loves to hear from us. (:-)

Central to Jesus’ prayer are four ideas: summed up in these first three verses: glorifying God the Father; the Father glorifying the Son; the gift of eternal life to mankind; and that eternal life happens when we know the Father and the Son.

    Vs 4-5 “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

Jesus lived in a glorious place with God the Father before He came to earth as a baby. Can you imagine living in that absolutely wonderful palacios place with God – the place we dream of GOING TO – and coming down to earth to live among the animal dung and the dusty straw that was in the little barn He was born in.

    Vs 6-9 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.”

Jesus came here to bring us back with Him to live in that glorious place! He came to teach us, to show us the way, to give us His Word, and to sacrifice His life for us.

Look at an earlier verse in John 6:37-39:
“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.”

Another great prayer in the Bible is Abraham’s prayer way back at the beginning of time in Genesis 18. God was looking toward Sodom and Gomorrah where they were incredibly wicked and sinful (a good picture of all of mankind isn’t it?) and God was planning to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham felt compassion for the believers there, and he stood before God and implored Him to not destroy the righteous with the wicked. Before the destruction, God made sure to save Lot and his daughters from death. Jesus has done something similar for us. He felt compassion for sinful man, and offered His own life so that those that choose Christ would not be destroyed.

In addition to that, verse 9 in John 17 says: “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” The Son of God prays for us just like Abraham prayed for the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah. What an incredible thing!

    Vs 10-12 “And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

Jesus prays to God the Father on our behalf. There is no one better to be the advocate for us! Have you ever had one of your parents, or maybe a boss get angry and you could see it on their face. Then someone else advocates on your behalf, maybe they tell your side of the story or ask for compassion, or a free pass. That’s what Jesus has done and does for believers. Through His death on the cross He has offered to take our punishment and prays to God on our behalf.

Jesus mentions that none of them have been lost “except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” This is talking about the fact that Judas – the betrayer of Jesus – was the fulfillment of prophecy. Take a look at Psalm 41:9 “Even my close friend, someone I trusted, one who shared my bread, has turned against me”.

    Vs 13-16 “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

We are warned all through the Bible, and particularly in the New Testament, that the world will hate Christians. Indeed, Christians have been hated and persecuted since the time of the early church immediately following Christ’s death and resurrection. The persecution of the believers found in the Book of Acts was initially conducted by the Roman man Saul who would later become the Apostle Paul. (God saves murderers who choose His free gift of salvation in Jesus!) Christian believers continued to be persecuted through the centuries and are still tormented and killed by governments and people groups today.

    Vs 17-19 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”

John 14:6 says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” We are sanctified (meaning purified, cleansed, and set apart) through God’s Truth, which is Jesus Christ!

    Vs 20-22 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one”

Christians have a tendency to bicker and fight among themselves. Churches have been divided and dissolved over bitter disputes on issues that don’t matter for eternity. If our focus is on Jesus and on glorifying Him, we will instead concentrate on pointing the world to Jesus, His righteousness, God’s Word, and the salvation Christ offers.

Satan is called the “Deceiver” in the Bible. A key tactic the Deceiver uses to attack the church is to get them to attack themselves. When we bicker and fight and get angry and gossip and fight among ourselves, we’re doing the devil’s work for him! We are NOT furthering God’s kingdom or glorifying Christ, we are instead more concerned about our selfish agendas.

    Vs 23-26 “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
    Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

Our role in God’s plan is to simply follow Christ, read God’s Word, and point the world to Jesus. Are we doing that?

Jesus Comforts His Disciples and Us!

John 16

I’m teaching Sunday School tomorrow, here is my study.

To read the entire chapter of John 16 click here.

    Vs 1-4 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.”

Here in vs 1-4 Jesus prophetically warns His disciples that they will be persecuted by people who think they are doing God a favor or that they are doing God’s work. It is believed that most of the apostles died as martyrs with the exception of John. Jesus even says to them “whoever kills you” not “someone might come kill you”. He tells them ahead of time that they will be executed!

He warns them here so that when the persecution comes, they will remember that Jesus told them ahead of time. In this way, they could know in their hearts that this was something God knew was coming and had to happen. When we go through difficult situations in our lives, it is such a comfort to know that, while we don’t know the reasons for the difficulty, God is still in control and sitting on the throne as King. Let’s say your teacher, mom, dad, or boss came to you ahead of time and said “There is something coming up that I want to warn you about, it’s going to be tough for you, but I want you to know its coming and that I knew it was coming.” That warning makes all the difference in preparing you for what is coming.

    Vs 5-7 “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.
    Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”

Jesus tells them He is going away. Where is He going? Vs 10 tells us “because I go to My Father”. Jesus is going to heaven to be with God. Who is the Helper He sent to all of us to help us? It is God’s Holy Spirit, one part of the Trinity, that remains here with us.

He also tells them “It is to your advantage that I go away”. How does Jesus leaving them become an advantage for them? It would seem a ridiculous thing to say!
From David Guzik’s commentary:

“After all, if the disciples really understood what was about to happen, it would be even harder for them to believe.
To your advantage that Jesus is arrested?
To your advantage that Jesus’ ministry of teaching and miracles is stopped?
To your advantage that Jesus is beaten?
To your advantage that Jesus is mocked?
To your advantage that Jesus is sentenced for execution?
To your advantage that Jesus is nailed to a cross?
To your advantage that Jesus dies in the company of notorious criminals?
To your advantage that His lifeless body is laid in a cold grave?”

Where is the “advantage” in all of that? In His persecution, criminal trial, and His execution, Jesus teaches us as believers an enormous amount about humility, servanthood, sacrifice, love, compassion, mercy, and grace, but also that He is God. That’s an advantage right there! But then He also tells us He will be sending us a helper, an assistant.

Of the Holy Spirit, (Helper) Jesus says: ”

    Vs 8-14 “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”

There is so much we can discuss here in this short 7 verses!

On the verse “He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment” more from Guzik: “Sin is the truth about man, righteousness is the truth about God, judgment is the inevitable combination of these two truths….Men cannot come to an understanding of sin, righteousness and judgment apart from the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth”. He does that for us today through God’s Word – as we read and study it His Holy Spirit teaches us, and as we hear it preached He opens our hearts and minds to what He wants us to know.

He says “He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come”. Jesus is also letting them know that the Holy Spirit will be speaking to each of them directly and will even tell them “things to come”, or events coming in the future. The New Testament was written by these very men as they were guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit, and that includes some prophecy in the Bible about the future of the world. It’s worth knowing what’s coming!

    Vs 15-18 “All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.” Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”

We have the benefit of the whole, complete Word of God at our fingertips. Genesis to Revelation is one book made up of 66 smaller books written by many, many men – yet it all fits together into one masterful piece. We can read a passage in the New Testament that is a direct quote from the Old Testament, and quickly and easily turn to that same verse in the Old Testament and find its context. We have study notes, commentaries, sermons and books – all written to explain to us what the Bible means. Yet for all of those resources, my lame human mind many times still has a hard time understanding the Word of God. There are times when I have to dig deep to understand what God is saying or what He means.

The disciples of Jesus had none of those resources. They had Jewish tradition that they were raised in, and certainly each of them were taught the Old Testament as they grew up going to the temple and the synagogue. But they didn’t have the written Word of God accessible to them. There may have been one Old Testament scroll in the local synagogue, certainly there was one in the temple. But they probably never came near it.

So it’s no wonder they got confused so often when Jesus spoke in “figurative language” as Jesus tells us in vs 25 below. Here He is, predicting His death and resurrection and they don’t have a clue yet what He is saying.

    Vs 19-22 Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.”

Childbirth can be difficult and painful. But the outcome (a new baby!) is a beautiful and wonderful thing. Again, he is speaking figuratively, but He paints a great picture. “You guys are going to have a rough time, it’s going to be painful. But in the end, it will be a beautiful and wonderful thing! We’ll be together in heaven forever!

    Vs 23-27 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.”

We talked last week about how we ask God for what we desire. If we are believers living in Christ, and we are living out His Word in us and we read and study His Word and desire His Will, when we ask for what we desire, it will be that which God has put on our hearts. (see last week’s study “Jesus, the Vine, and the nation of Israel”)

    Vs 28-33 “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father.” His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.” Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Jesus predicts that they will all scatter and leave Him alone at His trial. They certainly did do that, every single one of them left Him to be tried alone. He is telling them this ahead of time, again so that they would know that He knows and holds the future. He follows up with a reassurance: “you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

He says He has overcome the world. He also says that if we are believers, we can have peace. “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Romans 5:1)

If you are a believer, don’t worry – He’s got this! He has overcome the world, and He gives us peace!

North Korea? Got it.
That big city bombing? Got it.
Middle East trouble? Got it.
Economy? Got it.
Job loss? Got it.
Foreclosure? Got it.
Sickness? Got it.
Medical bills? Got it.
Death? Totally got it.

Get it?

Jesus, the Vine, and the Nation of Israel – John 15

Here is my Sunday school lesson on John Ch. 15

To read the entire chapter of John 15, click here

Vs 1-2

    “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

The grape vine in the Bible is often used as a word picture for the nation of Israel.

For example, check out

    Psalm 80:8-9 “You have brought a vine out of Egypt; You have cast out the nations, and planted it. You prepared room for it, And caused it to take deep root, And it filled the land.”

Who did God bring “out of Egypt”? The nation of Israel! After bringing them out of Egypt, He “cast out the nations”, in other words God pushed the other nations out of the Promised Land, the land of Canaan. Then He “planted it”, He established the nation of Israel right where it sits today. He put it there, caused them to become strong and blessed them there so that they “filled the land”.

But then Israel didn’t always follow after God.

    Isaiah 5:1-2, 7 “Now let me sing to my Well-beloved A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard: My Well-beloved has a vineyard On a very fruitful hill. He dug it up and cleared out its stones, And planted it with the choicest vine. He built a tower in its midst, And also made a winepress in it; So He expected it to bring forth good grapes, But it brought forth wild grapes…. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, And the men of Judah are His pleasant plant. He looked for justice, but behold, oppression; For righteousness, but behold, a cry for help.”

And then also we see

    Jeremiah 2:21 “Yet I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality. How then have you turned before Me Into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?”

So in the Old Testament, before Jesus came to this earth to be our Savior, the “Vine” was the nation of Israel and the “Vinedresser” was God. God was the One that planted, established, pruned, watered, and blessed the Vine.

Now in the New Testament Jesus has come to earth:

    John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

He is now saying “I am the Vine.” So under the Old Testament the “way to God” was through the Tabernacle, and through the Jewish law that God had established in the Old Testament books of the Law, and through the priesthood. Once Christ came to us, then the “way to God” is through Jesus alone:

    “Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

So Jesus is now the Vine. Who is the Vinedresser? It’s still God, that doesn’t change.

Who are the branches? The believers – those of us that have accepted the free gift of eternal life that Jesus offers.

We know that believers are the branches, but what if they do not perform (bear fruit), does He then “take them away” and cut them off from the church?

To answer that, we look to the Greek language. The Greek verb used here is airo which can be translated “takes away” but can also be translated: “to raise up, elevate, lift up” and “to raise upwards, elevate, lift up (as in by the hand)” and also “to raise from the ground, take up (as in stones)”. This paints a pretty cool picture in my mind of God lifting up someone who “does not bear fruit”, a person who is struggling and not following God but is a believer. He takes them by the hand and pulls them up to Him, helping them up off the ground, lovingly bringing them back to Him. I love it!

If a branch is bearing fruit, following God, serving Him, He will be lovingly pruning that one. How does He prune us? That’s the next verse!

    Vs 3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

The Word of God prunes and cleans us by convicting, instructing, and guiding. The Word gives us hope, shows us God’s grace and mercy, gives us direction and lights our path:

    Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.”
    Vs 4-5 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Without the Vine (Jesus) we can do nothing. We would not exist without God, and we could do absolutely nothing if it were not for God. We are nothing but dust without Him. But with Christ and in Christ, we are fruitful, we can bless others and be blessed. We can show others His love, we can read and study His Word, we can be fruitful with Him and in Him!

    Vs 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

We are not human bodies with an eternal soul, we are eternal souls with a human body.
When we die, we will be going to one place or the other to spend eternity. Heaven or hell. We have a choice. I’ve picked heaven, and frankly the alternative is frightening. I know a Christian (who is not walking with God) who is so angry at another Christian that he said “If he’s going to heaven, I don’t want to be there”.

The fact that this other guy is forgiven and will receive God’s mercy and spend eternity in heaven makes my friend so angry he doesn’t want to be there.

The Bible says we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). We are ALL born in the same sinking ship that is going down to hell, and God has thrown us each a life raft. You can get in the life raft or not, it’s your choice. All you have to do is believe in Him. Jesus died for your sin and for my sin, and when we believe that He rose again so we can live eternally with Him, He makes eternal life a reality for us. All it takes is a simple prayer. Sounds too easy? That’s because He loves us so much, He wanted it to be easy! Tell Him that you accept His free offer of forgiveness and life. (“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” – Acts 16:31)

    Vs 7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”

If we are abiding in Christ, and we are living out His Word in us and we read and study His Word and desire His Will, when we ask for what we desire, it will be that which God has put on our hearts. This verse does NOT mean God is like a big vending machine where we make the request for what we want and God performs. James 5:16 tells us “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” God will place on our hearts what to ask for, and even though OUR desire may be for one thing, if we are praying in Christ it is our desire that HIS will be done.

    Vs 8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”

God is glorified when we are bearing fruit. Glorify means “to exalt, to honor, to hold in high esteem, to elevate”. So we honor God when we are bearing fruit, doing His will, being used by Him in the lives of others.

    Vs 9-11 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

If we are abiding “in His love” we have accepted Jesus as our Savior. But He also tells us to keep His commandments along with abiding in His love. Doing both, abiding and obeying, will give us His full joy! Hallelujah!