John 1

Matthew presents Jesus as the King of the Jews, written with the Jews in mind. Mark presents Jesus as the Servant, written with the Romans in mind. Luke present Jesus as the Perfect Man, written with the Greeks in mind. And John presents Jesus as God, written with the world in mind. The Gospel of John emphasizes the deity of Christ. As a matter of fact, the very first verse is a proof-text that Jesus is God. “In the beginning,” reminds us of the first verse of the book of Genesis, that time before time, and there’s the Word (Logos). The Word is with God, but the Word is also God. So, either there are two Gods (but we know that’s not true, that would be polytheism) or there are multiple “Persons” within the Godhead, which is exactly what the Bible teaches, “One God in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

You’ll notice that the Gospel of John is unlike any other of the Gospels. The other three are called the Synoptic Gospels because they describe events from a similar point of view. John’s material is different and contains 90% unique material, it completes the picture the Holy Spirit wanted to give us of Jesus.

Sometimes people claim that Jesus was made by the Father, but if He were made He would not be God, and verse 3 tells us that “All things were made through Him (Jesus) and without Him nothingwas made that was made.”

Verse 10 tells us that the world was made through Him, but it didn’t know Him. Due to the fall of man, sin separated us from God. The only way to be able to “know” God is to be born again (John 1:12; John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:23). If we’re born again we are given the right to become children of God.

We read in v. 1 about the Word who is God and face-to-face with God the Father, and here we read in v. 14 that the Word became flesh and we beheld His glory, the glory of God Himself – full of grace and truth. This is the Christmas story, when God took on human flesh. He would be born, to speak the greatest words ever spoken, do the greatest works ever done, live the greatest life ever lived, and die on our behalf.

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ, the voice in the wilderness, as prophesied in Isaiah 40:3 – his ministry was to prepare the people for the coming of the Christ.

One day John is baptizing in the Jordan River and he sees Jesus, and he sees a dove descending upon Him (symbolic of the Holy Spirit) and John knew this was the One – and John points to Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (there’s that word “world” found 59 times in the Gospel of John) for God so loves the whole wide world.

Jesus begins to gather some men through whom He would reach the world and He doesn’t go to the Temple to find some Pharisees, or well-trained Rabbi’s, no, He begins to gather fishermen, for the new wine must have new wineskins, simple men who would be open and teachable, men like Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathanael. This teaches us that there’s hope that He might use our lives.

John 2

I’ve always loved the fact that the first miracle of Jesus (or “sign” as John calls them) was done at a wedding. Many, many marriages are struggling, and we need Jesus to come and do His wonderful work in our hearts…and we’ll see, He is able.

His mother Mary, Jesus, and His disciples were attending the wedding and in the midst of the celebration, they ran out of wine. This would not only have been embarrassing, according to the commentator William Barclay (he specialized in cultural background) in those days, the attendees could have brought a lawsuit against the couple. This wouldn’t have been a good way to start off their new life together as a couple, so Mary comes to Jesus and lets Him know about the dilemma.

Many mysteries cloud the picture here. I don’t think Jesus had done other miracles up to this point in His life, but I do believe that Mary knew Jesus could, if He wanted to, and she probably knew that His hour was drawing near. She may have figured, what better way than to meet this marriage need in front of all these people? The Catholic church points to this passage and says, “See, how Jesus does what His mom tells Him to do?” That’s why they pray to her. I remember reading one bumper-sticker that said, “If you can’t find God, look for His mom.”Blasphemy! Mary is the mother of Jesus in His humanity, but she is not the mother of God in His deity.

In the end, she leaves it in the hands of her Son, it’s up to Him, she tells the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Jesus does not go public, as Mary would have liked, but He privately meets the need, shows us His glory, and teaches us in the process. I often go to the “Water Place” and bring back 15 gallons of water. These guys had to go to the “Water Place” and bring back 120 to 180 gallons of water, a difficult task, but they did it…obediently, by faith. God honored their labor, for in the end, when Jesus simply “willed” the water to be wine, it was transformed to be the best wine ever, and they were the only ones who knew the miracle at that wedding. When we serve the Lord obediently and sacrificially we get to see miracles that others may never truly see.

Jesus’ public ministry begins with Him cleansing the Temple. The Temple was intended to be a House of Prayer for all nations, but they had made it a den of thieves, and the religious leaders were making money, hand over fist. Can you picture sweet, humble, gentle Jesus making a whip of cords and driving out the people who were just doing business. Make no mistake about it, Jesus is the Lamb who lays down His life, but He’s also the Lion…of the tribe of Judah.

Of course, the religious leaders were upended and offended that this “nobody” challenged their authority – they asked for a sign from Jesus. Jesus told them that He would destroy this “Temple” and in 3 days He would raise it up. They thought He was speaking of the literal Temple, but Jesus was referring to His body – the resurrection would be the sign of all signs! Who else has defeated death? No one but Him.

During that Passover in Jerusalem, many said they believed in Him, but they really didn’t, it was just lip-service, it didn’t reach the heart. Jesus knew they didn’t really believe, so He did didn’t commit Himself to them. O Lord let us be real.

John 3

Nicodemus was a very prominent person in the nation of Israel. Not only was he a Pharisee but he was also a ruler and is called “THE teacher of Israel…” by Jesus in v. 10. Apparently, he had seen the signs Jesus did and he knew that Jesus had been sent by God. But the Jewish leaders had already rejected Christ, generally speaking, so Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night, discreetly. We might criticize him for his fear, but I’m just blessed that he came to Jesus at all.

Jesus doesn’t waste any time with Nicodemus – Jesus tells him straight-out, unless one is born-again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus doesn’t understand the concept of the second birth, how can one be born again? You’ll notice in the Gospel of John that often times the people took things literally, or physically, when they should have been thinking spiritually. In chapter 2 Jesus was speaking about the temple of His body, but they thought he was speaking about the literal actual temple in Jerusalem. In chapter 4 the woman at the well was wondering how Jesus could give literal actual water, when Jesus was speaking of spiritual living water. God help us to lift our eyes, to open our hearts, and to listen more deeply to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Nicodemus shows us that we can be a so-called spiritual leader in the land, and yet not be born-again. Sad to say, but there are many “pastors” and leaders in the church who are not saved, to them it’s simply a career or vocation. There are many people who serve and sit in the church who are not truly saved (Matthew 7:22-23; 13:24-30).

Jesus teaches us that we must be born of water and the Spirit. There is differing opinions as to what the water signifies. The immediate context seems to fit the idea that the water refers to the physical birth below, and the Spirit refers to the spiritual birth from above. We knew that it was time for both of our children to be born because the “water” broke in my wife’s womb. Another view of the water that I believe is a strong possibility is that the water is in reference to the Word. In Ephesians 5:26 the water is the Word. And Peter gives us a solid cross reference in 1 Peter 1:23,“having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever.” I’ve always told people that the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible and what we find is that the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and conceives a child of God.

“What man needs is not a boost from below but a birth from above.” – Warren Wiersbe

One of the things you’ll notice is that the Gospel of John clearly teaches us that Jesus has been sent by the Father, with what I call, “Truth from the Top.” Jesus came down from heaven and if a person can receive that reality, then they should be open to wholeheartedly listen to the message of the Messiah.

Jesus then seamlessly transitions into exactly how we’re born-again – by simply believing in Him. Jesus points back to Numbers 21 when the children of Israel had been bitten by serpents; they were dying in droves. God commanded Moses to do something rather bizarre. He told him to fasten a serpent to a brass pole, lift it up, and anyone who was bitten would only have to look at this strange sacrifice and they would be saved. We look back now and realize that this trouble in the past, provided a picture for the future, of how Jesus would one day be nailed to a cross and lifted up, and all we would have to do is look to Him with eyes of faith to be saved! I love that passage in Isaiah 45:22,“Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”

John 3:16 has been called the Gospel in a nutshell. What love the Father has for us, that He would give His only Son (I still can’t fathom the thought) that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

We read the blessings of belief, but we also read the warnings of unbelief – condemnation and the wrath of God. We see the real root reason people reject Jesus, because they love their sin (v. 19).

John the Baptist was the forerunner to Christ, he was the point-man, sent to point others to Jesus. John’s friends were struggling when their ministry was coming to an end, but they shouldn’t have. John and his guys had finished that part of their work; the friend of the bridegroom should rejoice when the marriage takes place.

John brought something up that all ministers need to keep in mind. “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.”(v. 27) God is the one who determines, when, where, how many, and all the rest. It’s not about us…as a matter of fact, the heart we need to have is, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (v. 30). It’s all and always about Jesus, and never about us. This can be difficult for us because of our pride. Sandy Adams said, “Glorifying Christ is easy when you are making a name for yourself at the same time. Are you willing to bow out for others to behold Him?”

John 4

It was time for Jesus to move on. For one, the Pharisees heard that He (it was actually Jesus’ disciples) baptized more people than John the Baptist. Secondly, and more importantly, Jesus wanted to reach out to a Samaritan woman, so He “…needed to go through Samaria.”This was a bold move on Jesus’ part because we read in v. 9 that Jews have no dealings with Samaritans, and we read in v. 27 of the shock of Jesus’ disciples that He even spoke with a woman, for Rabbi’s wouldn’t engage in conversation with ladies…because they looked down on them.

Usually the Jews would take a different road to avoid Samaria altogether, even though it would mean an extra week of travel time. “One [main road] led…from Jerusalem past Bethany to Jericho, then north up the Jordan Valley and the west side of the Sea of Galilee toward Capernaum. To avoid Samaria, whose inhabitants the Jews despised, Jews often traveled this road in going between Galilee and Judea.”– A Survey of the New Testament. But Jesus wanted to reach her.

After the journey, Jesus was weary and thirsty. Women normally drew water in the evening (Genesis 24:11), but this woman came at noon, when there would be less people (if anyone) – she undoubtedly was looked down upon. Why? Because she had been married and divorced 5 times and was now shacking up with the 6thguy. She was looking for love and fulfillment in a human relationship, and as time wore on, her heart had been broken so many times she may have thought she was beyond the love of anyone. She had sort of given up…but then God shows up.

Jesus didn’t judge her. He broke every social boundary to reach her and prove Himself to her. He offered her living water so that she’d never “thirst” again. As we’ve seen frequently in the Gospel of John, she’s thinking physically, but Jesus is speaking spiritually, and the reality is, everyone and everything else in life, will leave us dissatisfied, it will never be enough. The only One who can quench our thirst is Jesus.

The woman begins to talk religion, Jacob, history, and geography, but the Lord steers her in a different direction. Jesus tells her (and us) that the Father is seeking those who worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Her view of Jesus grew from a Jew, to sir, to a prophet, to the Christ. Jesus reached her and saved her and she in turn spread the news to the rest of the people in her village, and they also believed in Jesus.

How important it is that we stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit. “Lord, where do I “need” to go today? Who can I reach out to? For truly the harvest is ripe and ready, there are people out there who are hurting, who just need someone to go to them. O Lord, may I come to a place in my life where this is more important than food for my body, where my sustenance and satisfaction is just to do Your will.”

When I consider the healing of the Nobleman’s Son, it’s amazing how Jesus didn’t have to be there physically to heal him – what power – another sign of Who He is. But to be honest, what struck me most this time around was that the first Sign Jesus gave was at a wedding, and the second Sign is for a child… “And his whole household believed.” Being the family-man that I am, this finds a home in my heart. Thank You Jesus!

John 5

Can you picture a ton of people there by the pool? Not swimmers, not sun bathing, but the sick, the blind, the lame, people who were paralyzed. I’m not sure if it was a legend or not, but the people were saying that whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.

Of all the people, I don’t know why Jesus went to one particular man, but he was definitely helpless – how could he step into the water if he had no one to help him? My heart goes out to him and so many others who have been in sickly conditions for so long – for this man it had been 38 years! “Do you want to be made well?” Jesus asked him, just to get the conversation started.

The man assessed his situation as hopeless, but little did he know that he was talking to the God of all hope – and right there and then, Jesus commanded him to take up his bed and walk. He may have felt strength flowing through his body, or he may have first tried to move, but somewhere in there he took that step of faith, and God met him there and made him whole. As Pastor Chuck Smith said, “The man could have argued with Jesus, explaining why it was impossible for him to get up and walk. But instead he somehow found the faith to obey the impossible command from a perfect stranger. If He commands us to do something, He will enable us to do it.”

Unlike most of the others that Jesus healed, this many didn’t stop to take time to give thanks to the Lord. When the religious leaders questioned the man about carrying his mat on the Sabbath, he told them he didn’t know the name of the one who had healed him and given him that command.

When Jesus found the man in the temple, he issued a heavy warning to the man, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more lest a worse thing come upon you.” This tells us that this man’s infirmity may have been because of his sin. Not all sickness, suffering, and calamity are the result of sin, but sometimes this is the root reason. When I realize that I have a loving Father who is a perfect disciplinarian, it cultivates a healthy fear…O Lord, please help me to, “…sin no more…” like that (John 5:14; 8:11).

This man is an interesting guy; when he finds out it was Jesus who healed him and commanded him to carry his mat, he “turns him in” to the authorities. So the Jewish leaders sought to kill Jesus. Jesus violated their man-made Sabbath rules and Jesus spoke the truth, revealing to them in a round-about way, that He was equal with God.

As we read through the Gospel of John there’s no doubt about Jesus deity – that all should honor the Son JUST as they honor the Father (v. 23). But you also see the Son’s submission to the Father, Jesus didn’t say anything or do anything without His Father’s guidance. Jesus wanted these Jews to have life; He warned them that one day they would stand before Him as Judge; He clearly told them about the four-fold witness of 1. John the Baptist. 2. The Works/Signs/Miracles HE did. 3. The Father Himself. 4. The Scriptures. The Law required only 1 or 2 witnesses, but Jesus had a world of witnesses, but they were more interested in the honor of men, than the honor of God.

John 6

The feeding of the 5,000 men, plus women and children is something God definitely wants us to be well aware of – for us it’s found in all four Gospels. Jesus shows us who He is by feeding what may well have been 15,000 people with only five barley loaves and two small fish. Can you imagine how awesome those fish “tacos” must have tasted?

The people did indeed see it as a sign and identified Jesus as the Prophet who was to come into the world, based on Deuteronomy 18:15-19. They even wanted to make Him king. At first glance it sounds “like a plan,” but the problem was that the people were more interested in food and their physical needs, than they were in God and their spiritual needs; they weren’t at all ready for the Messiah, so Jesus sends the Apostles away into a storm where it would be safer than that political atmosphere, and then He draws away to spend time alone with the Father and pray (Matthew 14:23).

O Lord, how many times have I made my belly my god? Forgive me for the way I so often seek You as a means to an end, to meet some other “fleshly want” I have, as opposed to just wanting and having You, truly You are all I need.

Jesus sees His guys straining at rowing (Mark 6:48) and goes to them walking on water (just as He does to us) He settles the storm and gets them to their destination.

The next day Jesus communicates to the crowd that He sees their hearts – if only they would have changed their hearts, but they justified their ways by saying that Moses gave the children of Israel bread from heaven…and they wanted Jesus to do the same. Jesus takes them to a higher heaven and reveals the fact that thatManna wasn’t heavenly bread, for the people died after eating it. Jesus is the true Bread from heaven, the Bread of Life, and not just for the Jews, but for the whole wide world (v. 33). Wiersbe comments, “The manna (Exod. 16) came only to the Jews and sustained physical life, but Jesus came for the whole world and gives eternal life. Just as you take food into your body, so you take Christ into your life; and He becomes one with you.”

As the people began to reject Christ for multiple reasons (they wanted physical food, they knew His parents – how could He have come from heaven) Jesus reveals another reason. Salvation must come from God and in God’s timing. If anyone is ever to get saved and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ that person must be drawn by the Father. Salvation is an act of God’s sovereignty combined with man’s “response-ibility” (play on words).

I believe Jesus made it difficult for them purposely when He began to speak of the people eating His flesh and drinking His blood. We know as Christians that Jesus is speaking symbolically, spiritually, and not fleshly (v. 63) but I think in one sense, Jesus speaks sparks in order to weed out wolves and pretenders. Isn’t it interesting how John 6:66 speaks of many disciples going back and walking with Him no more?

Peter spoke for the rest of the disciples and for me too, “Do you also want to go away?” O Lord, in all the world and in all of life there is nowhere else to go. You alone are the one I cling to, You’re the only Messiah, God’s Messenger.

John 7

One of the things that stands out to me as I read the Gospel of John is just the way Jesus never did anything OR said anything contrary to His Father’s will. At this point in His life, (it’s about 6 months before He is crucified) Jesus is in the area of Galilee. The Jewish leaders had Him on their hit-list, so Jesus was laying low…His time had not yet come.

I wonder if His brothers wanted Him dead because they were trying to push Jesus to go to Judea. At this point they didn’t believe in Him; after His death and resurrection we know that James and Jude will come to faith, and be used in a mighty way, but now they were the epitome of Mark 6:4.

When Jesus came, He told truth, and so the world hated Him for it. Make no mistake about it, even though we’re only motivated by love and long for people to be saved and blessed, they hated Him, so they’ll hate us too, if we speak truth (John 15:18).

Eventually Jesus goes up to Jerusalem, and about the middle of the feast He goes up into the temple and openly teaches the people. There was a lot of debate and heated discussion over Him (just as there is today), and they marveled at His knowledge, considering the fact that He had never attended their universities. Jesus explained to them that He had been given His truth from the Top – that His Father gave Him His words and doctrine. Jesus also explained to them that if they were open to doing the will of God, they would know that Jesus spoke authoritative truth. And that’s the key isn’t it? If we come to God without an agenda, without preconceived ideas, if we come to God completely open to Him, we will know, His Word is truth, Jesus is indeed the Christ, and this is how I am to live my life. Not according to my own inclinations or according to the influences of the world…but according to His Word.

There was a lot of talk amongst the people, but even with that we need to be careful. Ultimately, I think that the crowd was swayed away by the selfish and envious leaders, they should have listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit and taken the evidence and signs to heart – the miracles Jesus did, the words He spoke, the love He had. If only they had investigated just a little, they would have discovered that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, just as the Scriptures had prophesied. We all have that personal choice to make, let’s not be swayed in the wrong direction by the tidal waves of the world.

When I read v. 34 of how these leaders would not be allowed to go where Jesus was going, I’m saddened, these religious leaders would not go to heaven – heavy warning.

It was the Feast of Tabernacles, the time when the Jews celebrated the way God sustained them in the wilderness. On the last day of the feast when they poured out the water, symbolizing the way God had given them water in the wilderness (Exodus 17:1-6) Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink…he who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Only Jesus can satisfy our thirst, not religion, or riches, or other relationships, just Jesus. When we finally get this truth, by faith, we’ll find that by the power of the Holy Spirit, life will just “flow.”

John 8

I thought it was interesting how in the last verse of John 7, we read that “…everyone went to his own house.” In the first verse of John 8 there’s a clear contrast, “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.” I can’t be dogmatic, but I wonder if He went there to pray, as He was accustomed to (Luke 22:39), and I wonder if He spent the night there, for He had no home of his own, nowhere to lay His head (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58).

As Jesus sits to teach in the Temple, the Scribes and Pharisees do something so awful, it’s hard to even consider, it’s almost unimaginable how far they would go to get rid of Christ. They had set a woman up to commit adultery, and brought the woman to Jesus, they were trying to trap Him in His words. “Moses in the Law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” If Jesus simply said, “Let her go,” they would accuse Him of being anti-biblical, but if Jesus commanded them to stone her, the Roman authorities could arrest Him, for the Jews had been stripped of their right to capital punishment. Hence, the brilliance of Jesus, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Wow!

And one by one they left, until she was left alone with Jesus. He was the only one without sin; He was the only one with the right to condemn her, but He didn’t (see John 3:17). And Jesus said to her (and to us), “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

This led into Jesus’ declaration that He was the “Light of the World.” Without Him, His truth and the salvation He brings, we’re all in absolute darkness. The Jews however, resisted the Lord, refusing to receive His own testimony. Jesus shared with them that the Father was also speaking and testifying of His Son, but they knew neither the Father or the Son.

Verse 21 is actually a loving warning – if they continued to resist Christ they wouldn’t go to heaven, and v. 24 is a heavy warning that if they denied the deity of Christ, they would die in their sins. If they didn’t believe that Jesus was the great “I Am.” “I Am” is a claim to deity (Exodus 3:14). Jesus would say it again in v. 58 – they knew He was claiming to be God and therefore they tried to stone Him (v. 59).

Before anyone will ever be saved they first need to be convinced that they need a Savior and cannot save themselves. This is why the religious leaders resisted and the common sinners were more open. Jesus was doing His best to reach them, if only they would be open to the fact that they were slaves of sin. What sin? Tons of sins, but it’s fascinating as you read through these chapters and see how they wanted to kill Jesus from early on, and everyone knew it, but they wouldn’t admit it (John 5:16, 18; 7:1, 19, 25). They were slaves to sin, they were slaves to Satan their father; they had a heart to do what Satan did – murder – and lie about it.

They were not honest with their ancestry, they claimed to be descendants of Abraham, but if they truly were, they would have believed in Jesus, for Abraham rejoiced to see His day (probably a reference to Genesis 14:17-20).

John 9

I try to put myself into the shoes of this man who was born blind. He’d never seen the blue sky, the white clouds, the green trees, the beautiful flowers; he’d never seen the faces of his family…all his life it was a world of darkness.

To make matters worse, the popular teaching circulating in that society was that the reason he was born blind, was that he had sinned within his mother’s womb, or his parents had sinned – and that’s why he was born blind.

All this combined for a tough place to live.

Then the day comes when Jesus walks onto the scene. We don’t know how old the blind man was, we do know he was “of age” (v. 21). Jesus first corrects the disciple’s errant theology, this wasn’t a result of the parents’ sin or any wickedness within the womb, and then Jesus heals the blind man with some pretty simple stuff, saliva plus dirt, followed by washing in the Pool of Siloam (to draw out his faith?) and then for the first time in his life, he could see. Wow! Absolutely overwhelming! Imagine seeing the world for the first time after only hearing and wondering what it looked like all your life!

Of course people begin to question him; he doesn’t know a lot about the one who healed him other than that it was Jesus, so they take him to the religious authorities, and the man just tells his story, that Jesus was the one who healed him. The religious leaders verify everything with his parents, he was indeed born blind, now he sees; they’re afraid to say anything about Jesus because the Jews in charge of the temple had already threatened to excommunicate anyone who “believed” in Jesus.

It’s at this point when we begin to see who’s really blind. Although I would never wish it upon anyone, I’ll bet almost anything that the blind man spent a lot of time thinking. Without the sense of sight you have less distractions and he had developed a very logical and reasonable perspective of God. The Jews called Jesus a sinner, but the formerly blind man disagreed with them (how dare he disagree!).

All I can do is tell you my story, that once I was blind, but now I see, and it was Jesus who prayed for me. Think about it, the miraculous healing of a blind man is unheard of, and God doesn’t hear the prayers of sinners – He must be good, He must be at least a man of God, a man from God, a prophet. He was right, right on track.

Tragically, the religious leaders had developed a spiritual blindness. They could not see the signs of the Savior right in front of their eyes. They excommunicated the formerly blind man, but it wasn’t a problem. Jesus ushered him into His church. He found the man and revealed Himself as the Son of God…the man responded with a perfectly reasonable act of worship.

I’ll never forget the day Jesus healed me of my blindness – it was August 20, 1989. One thing I know – I was blind, but now I see…and it was Jesus who did this for me. What else can I do with my life, but worship Him?

John 10

The Lord uses illustrations of shepherds and sheep, and thieves, robbers, strangers and hirelings in order to teach us the realities of the Kingdom of God.

After the healed blind man had been excommunicated from the Temple, we get this teaching about true leaders, shepherds, and sheep. Jesus uses two different illustrations.

In the city areas there were sheepfolds where sheep of differing flocks would be kept. The only way in and out was through the front door/gate. So, if a man climbed over the wall to steal sheep – it was obvious, he’s not a genuine shepherd, he’s a theif. But if a man comes through the front door (legitimately) he calls his sheep, they know his voice, they follow him, and he leads them out. Jesus is essentially saying that these leaders in Israel were not legit, they were thieves.

Jesus offered another illustration. If a shepherd led his sheep out beyond a day’s journey, they would have to spend the night in a cave, or a similar structure, at which point the shepherd would lie down in the entrance to be the gatekeeper, the protector and essentially the “door” for the sheep.

What Jesus was saying to them and to us, is that He is the Good Shepherd who owns the sheep and lays down His life for the sheep; He is the Door of the sheep and He protects them, He even says that no one will snatch them out of His hand (or His Father’s hand – v. 28-29).

The Jewish leaders were thieves, robbers, strangers, and hirelings who were only in it for the money. They didn’t truly love or care about the people. As a matter of fact, they weren’t even true “sheep.” They weren’t part of God’s flock. (Psalm 100:3; Acts 20:28)

Jesus spends a lot of time elaborating on the fact that if they were truly a part of the flock of God, they would know His voice and follow Him.

I’m just blessed that I have a Good Shepherd who not only gives me life, but life abundantly, who speaks to me, calls me by name, makes me to lie down in green pastures (Psalm 23:2), who protects me, cares for and even loves me to the point of laying down His life for me.

This is the lovely mission of the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Jewish leaders resisted Jesus and the voice of the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51) they hated that He identified Himself not only as the Christ but as God’s Son, so they took up stones to stone Him.

How tragically sad to see these so-called religious leaders of the Lord, reject Him when He came, all because He didn’t fit their man-made mold. All because they were more interested in their own little religious kingdom, which at its core was all about earthly riches and human power. O Lord, help us to forsake all those things, help us to believe and to be…always be…a part of Your flock.

John 11

Lazarus, Martha, and Mary were a family that Jesus was close to. He would sometimes stay with them when He was in Bethany, so we would figure the moment He was informed that Lazarus was sick, He would have healed him, but that’s not the way it is in God’s kingdom. Warren Wiersbe put it this way, “We think that love must act immediately, but sometimes delay brings a greater blessing: ‘God’s delays are not God’s denials.’”

When the time was right, Jesus went up to Bethany which is near Jerusalem, even though it was dangerous for Him and would be instrumental in His impending death. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already been dead 4 days, it seems as if He’s too late. Martha came to meet Him and expresses her faith in Him. “Lord, if You had been here my brother would not have died, but even now…” (v. 22)

As I read the text, it seems to me that Jesus experienced all the different emotions along the way, even though He knew what He was ultimately going to do. Martha mentions the Resurrection at the Last Day, and Jesus reveals to her (and us) that the Resurrection is not just a Day, it’s a Person, Jesus Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. If we believe in Him, we may die physically, but will won’t die spiritually.

I love the way Martha affirmed her faith in Jesus, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Have you affirmed your faith lately?

Next on the scene is Mary, whom Jesus calls for. She came with the same words as her sister, that if Jesus had been there, her brother would not have died, but she doesn’t seem to have the same faith that Martha had who seemed to say that Jesus could still heal him. Jesus saw Mary’s grief, heartache, and tears, as well as those who had accompanied her…and then the flood of emotion swept over Him, and we read those poignant words in John 11:35, the shortest and yet deepest words in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” He knows how it feels when a loved one passes; He’s entered into our sorrows.

Jesus went on to gut the grave, conquer the coffin, and defeat death; He raised Lazarus, even after four days, proving to all people His power. It makes sense that after this many more believed in Him. In the near future He Himself would rise from the dead, giving to us the most significant sign! This is the one I want to follow, the Resurrection and the Life. The life our Lord gives is not just physical life, but spiritual life; Jesus still does this daily, as souls get saved.

When Lazarus came forth, he was bound in grave clothes, so Jesus told the people to loose him, to unwrap him. Sandy Adams said this, “New believers are raised from spiritual death in much the same manner. They come to life still bound in the trappings of the past. Habits must be undressed, just as the layers of the shroud were unwrapped from Lazarus’ body. Jesus gives life, but it is the job of the Church to help remove the grave clothes.”

It’s hard to believe that many still did not believe and they even plotted to kill Him.

John 12

It seems as if she was the only one who knew. Jesus had predicted His death numerous times, but because of their preconceived ideas, hard-hearts, and carnality it didn’t register in the hearts of His disciples…but Mary knew. So, she took the spikenard, worth the wages that would be earned in a year ($50,000), it was probably her dowry, her hope to be married, and she broke the flask and anointed Jesus, in an unparalleled act of worship, wiping even His feet with her hair. The fragrance filled the house, just as all true, heartfelt and sacrificial worship does.

Of course, she was criticized as an extremist and impractical, but to me it’s one of the most beautiful things I read in the Bible. O Lord, please help me to listen like Mary, to be willing to sacrifice everything for You – to worship as I should. Let me not be side-tracked by crooked Christians influenced by the tares among the wheat – I know this may sound like a strange prayer, but in light of this passage and person, please help me to “Mary” You – the beauty of Mary of Bethany.

And then there’s the Day Jesus came into Jerusalem, not in a chariot, not on a stallion – no, the Scriptures said He would ride-in on a donkey, the King coming in peace (Zechariah 9:9) after 69 7-year periods, 173,880 days after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem and that’s what He did, presenting Himself as Messiah. Much like today the crowd praised Him when it was going well, but their allegiance was fickle and it was just a matter of days till they would turn on Him. Wiersbe said, “The crowd did not stay with Him. It is easier to shout in a parade than stand at a cross.”

All this was a fulfillment of prophecy – Psalm 118:25-26; Zechariah 9:9; Daniel 9:224-26 and later John would quote Isaiah 6:1; 53:1. Jesus Christ actually fulfilled more than 300 prophecies during His first coming – truly He is the promised Messiah.

Jesus tells the guys that it was time for Him to die. He compared it to a seed that goes into the ground and dies – that’s the only way it can ever bear fruit. He wants me/us to follow Him in this, to die to self, to prove our love with that willingness to cling to our cross…this is true ministry (25-26).

In this “hour” of trouble Jesus prayed. His Father answered Him and everyone heard…it was time for Jesus to be “lifted-up” – “glorified” these were references to His bloody cross, His horrible death, the murder of God. But this painful act of love would be the very act that would draw us to Him. Thank You Lord.

Isaiah saw Jesus in the glorious vision of Isaiah 6 (check it out when you can).

In verses 37 through 39 I circled 4 words in my Bible – “did not” and “could not.” Jesus had proven Himself to them by His words and works, the Scriptures and the signs and they still, “did not” believe. The day would therefore come when they “could not” believe. It’s sad and insane to love the praises of men more than the praise of God.

Wiersbe closed with a warning, “Be careful what you do with His words because you will hear them again when you see the Savior (v. 48).”

John 13

What a perfect picture of love! For Jesus it wasn’t just a job to do (it could have been) no, it was infinitely more, it was a mission of love. How would He finish His mission on earth? He was about to die a horrible and humiliating death, the death of the cross, but before that, He stops and drops low to wash the disciple’s feet, even Judas’ feet, the one who He knew would betray Him. He loved them to the end…

In those days they wore sandals and the streets were extremely unsanitary – there would be dust, dirt, maybe even dung, toe jam, you name it; it was the job of the lowest slave in the house to wash a person’s feet upon entrance, but at this dinner…no one offered to do the job, so Jesus did. In the process, Jesus teaches all us “leaders” that God’s leaders are to be servant-leaders, not shoving leaders, but loving leaders. We’re not raised up to BE served, we are bought low TO serve. Sandy Adams said, “If washing feet is not our primary business, we are not following in HIs footsteps.”

It’s not enough to know these things, Jesus said the blessing comes IF I do these things (John 13:17)

In washing feet, Jesus was also communicating a message of practical forgiveness. When Jesus came to Peter he told the Lord “No, You will never wash my feet!” Jesus informed Peter that He needed to do this, for there was a valuable visual also taking place. When we become Christians, we are clean positionally (Jesus told the guys that they were all clean except Judas). But as we walk through this world our feet get dirty (so to speak), so we need Jesus to cleanse us in a practical sense. As we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:9).

During this dinner I see Jesus reaching out to Judas, but Judas won’t budge. Jesus lets the disciples know that one of them will betray Him – this should have triggered a certain fear of God in the heart of Judas – He knows my sin. Have you ever sat in a study and it seems like the pastor is talking to you, he knows your secrets? That’s God talking to us and it’s up to us to listen to change course. What a tragedy, what hypocrisy to see Judas just eat the bread that Jesus gave him – Judas said no to Jesus’ love, and it was that point that Satan entered him – Judas went out – and it was night.

Jesus also wanted His disciples to know that He knew this was going to happen, that God would use it for good within His plan, so that when it happened, it wouldn’t shake them to the core.

Since Jesus was physically leaving, His closing words would be critical, and He issues a new commandment, not just that they love one another, but that they love one another AS HE HAS LOVED THEM. By this all we will know that we’re Christians, by our church attendance, bumper stickers, t-shirts, Bibles, morals…no – by our love. Do I truly love others the way Jesus has loved me? Sandy Adams said, “Sometimes it is easier to love a sinner than it is a saint. We expect more from those within the family…the world will know who my Father is, by the way I treat my brother.” (or sister) The bottom line is if we don’t love (agape style), we’re not saved…really makes me check my heart.

John 14

Jesus had taken care of these guys for the last 3 ½ years; He was their hope incarnate, they had come to believe that He was the Messiah, the Prophet, the One – and now He’s telling them that it’s time for Him to leave?

This would be very, very tough and trying time for them – but the truth would bring them comfort (it always does – we just need to listen and look for it). Jesus was indeed going away, but one of the things He would be doing is “preparing” a place for them. Some believe it’s in reference to our new bodies, others see it as our custom-built home in heaven, the main thing is that where He is, there we will be.

They should have known about this place called heaven and the Person who would take them there, but they still didn’t know, so Thomas speaks up, with the question of the ages, “Lord, we don’t know where it is so how can we possibly know the way?” Jesus, responds with 18 of the most important words we’ll ever hear, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Some people despise the fact that Christian’s say the way to heaven is so narrow; they’re offended because they believe that there are many roads to heaven’s entrance. But I’m just glad that God made a way, and it’s so simple and beautiful, all I need to do is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus answers another question, this time from Philip, who wanted Him to show them the Father – this would be all they needed to see, but Jesus reveals the fact that if they’ve seen Him, they’d seen the Father. Not that Jesus is the Father, but their nature and nurture, their love, their lives, were the same – like Father, like Son.

Jesus goes on to teach them and us some of the most important things they would need to know, since He was leaving them physically – beginning with prayer. This would be new for them, that when they prayed, they were to ask in His name. A powerful prayer life is essential in order to see God truly move mightily. When we ask in Jesus’ name it has to do with His heart, would it be something He would approve and is it for His glory? I like to use the words, “In Jesus’ name,” as a reminder to myself and others of this wonderful promise – “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

Do I love God? If I do, I will keep His commandments (we see this repeatedly in John’s writings). O Lord, please help me to love You.

One of the most important truths that would comfort their hearts is the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Jesus would not leave them orphans, He would come to them in the sense that the Holy Spirit, who is the third member of the Godhead, was just like Him, and somehow in a divinely mysterious way, all three members of the Godhead would be with them, and us, as Christians, God would live in us (14:17, 23).

The Holy Spirit would help us and teach us; He would be the One to bring to remembrance that things Jesus said so the Apostles could write the Bible and lead them into all truth (John 16:13). All this, should bring peace to our lives, “O Lord, please help us to not let our hearts be troubled.”

John 15

I can visualize Jesus as the Vine, the Father as the Vinedresser and myself as a branch attached to the Vine (Jesus). When I fall to the ground the Father lifts me up, to bear fruit. Wiersbe comments, “A branch is good for only one thing—bearing fruit. It may be weak in itself, but it has a living relationship with the vine and can be productive.”Bearing fruit is the root reason Jesus chose and appointed us (v. 16).

As I begin to bear fruit, the Father prunes me so that I may bear more fruit. I would imagine those are the painful times in my life when certain things and sometimes even people, are stripped away. Wiersbe said, “We know that we are abiding when the Father prunes us, cutting away the good so that we can produce the best.”

My responsibility as a Christian is to abide in Christ, to rest and remain in Him. The Greek Scholar, Kenneth Wuest put Jesus’ words in v. 4 this way, “Maintain a living communion with Me, and I with you.”

Some people will read v. 7 and either doubt and disregard it or go to the other extreme of name it and claim it, but we need to maintain a Biblical balance. “Jesus never promises to gratify every chance whim believers may have. But as long as they are seeking the Lord’s will for their lives, Jesus promises to grant every request that will help accomplish this end.”– Expositor’s

So many times I’m asking, I’m praying, I’m hoping for God to be glorified, and yet it’s interesting to note the truth of v. 8, that the Father is glorified when I bear muchfruit. I believe the context speaks of ministry fruit, but I can’t exclude the “moral” fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23. Maybe I should add to my prayers, “Lord help me to bear much fruit – for I want You to be glorified.”

Love is one of the greatest fruits of all, some say it’s fruit of fruits. As the Father has loved His Son, so the Son has loved us, and so we are to love one another (John 13:34). When I abide and draw from Christ who is the vine I’m “attached” to the source of love, and this life brings joy, even when that life includes a cross – because we have the eternal perspective. The greatest love of all is when we lay down our lives for others. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I will be martyred for my faith (although we’re open to that). God will show us how to lay down our lives for our friends.

It’s interesting how Jesus mentions this great love from God – side by side with this awful hatred of the world.

It’s hard to imagine or understand, but the world hated Jesus because of who He was and what He taught. If I’m representing Him accurately the same hatred will be directed towards me, because of who I am and what I stand for. This means that there will be various forms of persecution coming my way. It’s important that I don’t back down, or water down the truth in order to avoid this type of hatred or persecution. I believe this is why Jesus is teaching on this, to prepare us, we should expect it, embrace it, see it as a good sign of doing something right, and never ever back down.

John 16

Jesus warned His disciples about the coming persecution, how the Government and religious leaders would put them to death thinking they were doing God a service. It does help to know in advance that our lives as Christians will be vigorously opposed by the world, the flesh, the devil and his demons. Whenever I experience oppression or opposition it shouldn’t take me by surprise, our Lord warned us all about this.

Jesus’ men were not just bummed, they were devastated that He was leaving them, but the Lord did His best to encourage the guys and us with the truth about the Holy Spirit. Jesus said it is to our advantage that He went away, because that opened the doors for the coming of the Holy Spirit to live within the hearts of every single believer all around the world! Pastor Chuck Smith put it this way, “As long as Jesus was with them, He was limited by space and time in His material body. But when the Holy Spirit came, He could be inside us (Christians) all the time.” (see also 2 Corinthians 6:16)

The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, that He might convince us of our need for the Savior. The Holy Spirit is the one who imputes to us the righteousness of Christ, and then, the more we yield to Him, He imparts that same righteousness to make us more like Jesus in a practical way. The Holy Spirit speaks to the heart of mankind warning the world of the judgment to come. What an awesome work of the Holy Spirit who is gathering a bride for Christ as He reaches out and speaks to the whole wide world.

Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth and even tell them things to come. This is the promise of the complete cannon of Scripture, the writing and inspiration of the New Testament. Up to that point they only had the 39 books of the Old Testament, but the Holy Spirit would guide them into “all truth” and even reveal the prophetic aspects of Scripture. The church realized early on that these 27 books (letters) were authoritative and they just naturally rose to that place in the church. Peter even compares Paul’s writings to the rest of Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-16).

As I was reading this chapter this time around, it hit my heart, how comforting of a passage it is to those of us whose loved ones have passed on in Christ. Jesus said you’re not going to see me for a while, I’m going to My Father, but then in a little while you will see Me again. He said your weeping will turn to a joy that no one will ever take away. It will be the fullness of joy.

What a wonderful life we have as Christians revealed to us so clearly in this chapter which is filled with the beauty and love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t mean we won’t experience those tough times of tribulation, it just means that even in those types of trials we are triumphant, we are more than conquerors “in all these things” (Romans 8:37). Jesus never hid the coming hard times from us, He just promised to be there with us through it all and grant us victory in every valley.

I like the way Warren Wiersbe put it, “In the next few hours, the disciples would watch their world fall apart; and yet Jesus assured them that He was the winner. ‘I have overcome the world’ is a fact, not a promise, and it applies to us today. We are overcomers through Him (1 John 5:1–5).”

John 17

John 17 is what I would refer to as the “Lord’s Prayer.” What traditionally has been called the “Our Father” found in Luke 11:2-4, I would describe as the “Model Prayer.” John 17 is Jesus pouring out His heart to His Father, and what a blessing it is for us to have a glimpse into this glorious and intimate prayer of Jesus.

I’ve always thought it was interesting that Jesus prayed first of all for Himself. Now, that doesn’t mean He put Himself before others, because His whole life of love and death says otherwise, but He shows us it’s okay to pray for ourselves. Sometimes people feel guilty when they pray for themselves at all, much less first, but know our own struggles and turmoil and we are to take it to our Father.

If Jesus were not God, He could never pray for the Father to glorify Him, but He does numerous times. With this glory and fame, as the Father lifts up the Name of Jesus many would be given eternal life, which according to v. 3, is not about space or time, but about a personal relationship with God the Father, His Son, and the Spirit.

Warren Wiersbe summarizes the prayer well, “The prayer reveals our Lord’s spiritual priorities: glorifying the Father (v. 1), the unity of the church (vv. 21–23), the sanctity of the church (v. 17), and the winning of a lost world (vv. 18–19). Are these priorities in your life?”

After praying for Himself, Jesus prays for His Disciples; they had been given to Jesus, they had kept God’s Word, they knew that Jesus had been sent by the Father, so He asks His Father to “keep” them. The Greek word translated “keep” means to, “attend to carefully.” It was a prayer for protection. Jesus also prays for His disciples to be held together in unity, that they may be one, even as the Father and the Son were one. While Jesus was in the world He had kept them and the only one lost was Judas. This brings up an interesting point, that although God guides and guards us, He’s not a Father who forces us, we are free…we are not robots.

We learn so much from the prayer of our Lord, His prayer for the disciples undoubtedly expresses His heart for all His people, for joy (13) His prayer for us to be IN the world, but not OF the world. His prayer that we’d be delivered from the devil (15). His prayer that we’d be sanctified, something that happens though the power of His Word (17). It’s fascinating to see that they had been sent, and we have been sent, just as Jesus was sent.

The Lord went on to pray similar things for all future believers (20-26). He seems to emphasize His heart for unity. When we refuse all drops of division and choose to stay united in spite of our flaws and petty differences, in one sense it’s our opportunity to answer Jesus’ prayer request. Jesus also prayed for the day to come when we’d all be with Him…be together in that everlasting land of love (26).

The Scottish Reformer John Knox had this prayer read to him daily in His final days. We would be blessed to ponder it often. I’ve noticed over the years that usually the best way to get to know a person, is to listen to their prayers.

John 18

The Synoptic Gospels give us the other side of Jesus’ prayer, how He prayed three times for the cup to pass – if possible. There in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed so hard He sweat drops of blood. While Jesus was praying, His disciples were sleeping. Three times He warned them to watch and pray, for the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak, but they just couldn’t wake up.

So into that glorious garden enters His betrayer, Judas, followed by his detachment of armed troops. They thought they would come in and overpower Jesus, but all it took was his identity uttered from His lips, “I Am,” and they all fell to the ground! Jesus made it very clear, they weren’t taking His life, He was laying it down (John 10:17-18).

Warren Wiersbe said this, “Judas depended on the strength of numbers, Peter on the strength of his arm, Annas and Caiaphas on the strength of their position, but Jesus on the strength of love and devotion to the Father.” “Jesus had a cup in His hand, not a sword, but that cup was His scepter. He was in complete control.”

It would be a long mockery of a trial. Jesus would be dragged back and forth between the houses of the High Priests, in the morning He would stand before the Sanhedrin in an illegal assembly. After that He would be taken to Pilate and then to Herod and back to Pilate again. All who were honest knew He was innocent but in order to keep the peace Pilate would eventually make the fatal decision to have Jesus Crucified.

While Jesus was standing, Peter was falling, denying he even knew the Lord. It’s crazy the things we end up doing when we refuse to heed the warnings of God. Peter had become self-confident, which led to a lazy prayer life, which led to following at a distance, which led to warming himself at the enemies’ fire, which finally led to him denying the Lord. You can bet your bottom buck that Satan would meet Peter there with a world of condemnation. Thank God, that unlike Judas, Peter turned back to the Lord, and rather than perishing in condemnation, he prevailed in conviction.

As Jesus conversed with Pilate He acknowledged the fact that He was indeed a King, but His Kingdom was not of this world. At this point nothing was political, it was all spiritual, it wouldn’t be about a single nation, it was about the world, every single person was the object of God’s love and He wanted them all to be saved, He wanted them all to come into His Kingdom and let Him rule in their hearts. When we’re born again we immediately see and enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5).

Pilate thought he was among the elite, the educated in questioning the very existence of truth – what a foolish lie! Here was Truth incarnate right in front of him (John 14:6), Love incarnate, Life incarnate, the King of kings, the Lord of lords and Pilate knew Jesus was not of this world. Later, Pilate was afraid, and He asked the Lord, “Where are You from?” (John 19:9).

So, in the end the people chose to free a robber and murderer by the name of Barabbas, instead of Jesus, after all He had done, after all the love He had shown and showered upon them. Barabbas is symbolic of me, we traded places. Thank You Jesus.

John 19

As I read though this chapter everything flies by so fast, but so much is here. “Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him…”and then we’re supposed to simply keep reading? Many men died from scourging; the Roman soldiers used the cat of 9 tails, leather strips with bones, sharp rocks, and glass embedded into the strands, that would tear away the flesh and expose vital organs. I can’t imagine the pain.

“And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head…”They beat it into Him, mocked Him as the King of the Jews. They had no inkling He was the King of kings, the Lord of lords, He was God in the flesh. Thorns came into the world as a result of our sin, it caused the curse (Gen. 3:17-18) and here He is wearing our curse upon His sacred head. Jesus became the curse for us in crowning fashion and not only with a crown of thorns, but ultimately with a Roman cross (Gen. 3:17-18; Gal.  3:13)

Pilate presented Jesus to the people as a bloody mess. I have a hunch that he wanted to invoke some sympathy from them, hadn’t He suffered enough? Tragically this only fueled the fire of their hatred, they were thirsty for blood – ironically this blood would be bled and shed to wash away their sins.

Pilate struggled with the decision, here he was so close to Christ, he knew He was innocent, he knew the religious leaders were envious (Mark 15:10), his wife had had dreams to warn him (Matthew 27:19), and as the people say Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, Pilate is afraid (v. 8) and I think maybe even deep deep down inside, he was starting to believe. He straight-out asked Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Pilate suppressed the truth, he eventually gave in, thinking he could do so innocently, but he couldn’t. His name is forever attached to this event going down in history in the Apostle’s Creed. He’s a lesson for us and all mankind, we can’t escape the personal decision we all must make about Jesus – who is He? Do you confess Him as Lord, or deny Him as Lord, there is no middle ground (Matthew 10:32-33).

He bore His cross, and there on Golgatha, which in Aramaic means “skull” (the Latin translation gives us our word Calvary) they crucified Him. It was the most horrible of deaths, invented by the Phoenicians for maximum pain over an extended period of time, and there God hung virtually naked, executed, humiliated as only the worst criminals were.

As John writes, He lists some of the prophecies Jesus fulfilled along the way. There’s no doubt about the fact that this is the Passover, the Lamb of God, the Rock that was struck, the Serpent lifted up on that brass pole, the one who was forsaken (Psalm 22), the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53) the Messiah cut off (killed) but not for Himself (Daniel 9:26). Jesus finished the work! Our part is not working but believing, that’s why John wrote this book, “…so that you may believe.”(v. 35b)

The water and blood not only testified of the fact that Jesus died, but it tells ushowHe died – of a broken heart. His heart had ruptured, and the sac surrounding his heart was filled with fluid. O Lord, I’m so sorry that I not only killed and crucified You, but I broke Your heart. Please help me not to break Your heart with my sin, any more.

John 20

The synoptic Gospels mention the other ladies who came to anoint the body of Jesus, while John hones-in on Mary Magdalene. Have you ever noticed how some writers simply tell, or summarize the story, while other writers go deeper into the lives of the individuals within the story? John gives us insight into the lives of individuals, such as Nicodemus, the Woman at the well; we have a little more about Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and this account of Mary Magdalene is truly touching.

Mark 16:9 reveals that Mary was the first one the risen Lord appeared to, it also tells us that Jesus had cast 7 demons out of her (see also Luke 8:2). Mary never forgot what Jesus did for her, she loved the Lord so much that she was having a hard time leaving the tomb – for not only had Jesus died, but now His body was missing. She was weeping and weeping unable to be comforted, but her tears turned to joy, and the mourner became a missionary when she saw the risen Lord. O Lord, may I never forget where I came from, what You’ve done for me; how You’ve delivered me from “7” demons. May I keep in mind where I’d be without You, always be grateful and love…even as Mary did.

The faith of Peter, John (the one who appropriated Jesus’ love), and the other disciples was being tested, it would be revealed, but also refined.

Some people struggle with the fact that Jesus calls the Father His God (v. 17), but in His humanity where Jesus emptied Himself of His Divine privileges, that’s exactly who the Father was to Him. This was epitomized on the cross where Jesus said, “My God, My God…why have You forsaken Me?” This doesn’t mean Jesus isn’t God, for John started the book with that emphasis (1:1) he showed it throughout his gospel and Thomas proclaims it unashamedly in John 20:28 as He acknowledges Jesus with those wonderful words, “My Lord and My God…”

Prior to that Jesus had appeared to the disciples when Thomas wasn’t there. Jesus breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit. This is when the Spirit came to dwell inthem. Later, in Acts 2, the Spirit would come uponthem to empower them to be witnesses (see John 14:17; Luke 24:48; Acts 1:8).

I’ve always been mesmerized by the words Jesus shares with the guys, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” Lord, help us to know that You’ve sent us into the world for Your glory, for Your honor, for Your purposes – not ours…even as the Father sent You (that’s such a monumental mission).

In v. 23 Jesus is not speaking of us having the power to absolve sins based on someone confessing his or her sins to-or-through us, this is simply in reference to the fact that the church has the power to declare the conditions on which forgiveness is granted.

Verse 31 is a great passage to memorize. John wrote this Gospel, so we would believe that Jesus is the Christ, and even though we’ve never seen Him with the eyes of our head, we see Him with the eyes of our heart…we therefore have life in His name!

John 21

We can’t see it as clearly in the English, but in the Greek language Peter appears to be going back to fishing for fish, rather than being that fisher of men God had called him to be (Luke 5:10). To make matters worse, Peter was taking six of the disciples with him.

What grace, that Jesus went to them. What grace that they caught nothing that night. That morning they caught 153 fish, but only at the direction of Jesus. Hmmm. O Lord, please help me to remember this diametric difference between doing things my way, versus doing things Your way.

John was the first to recognize it was the Lord, but Peter was the most enthusiastic as he plunges into the sea, to see Jesus. I’ve always found it fascinating the way John gives us the number of fish which were caught – 153 (v. 11). There are many explanations as to why they counted, and it was recorded in the Gospel of John, for John is saturated with symbolism. William Barclay said something that resonates, “The simplest of the explanations is that given by Jerome. He said that in the sea there are 153 different kinds of fishes; and that the catch is one which includes every kind of fish; and that therefore the number symbolizes the fact that someday men of all nations will be gathered together to Jesus Christ.”

After breakfast, Jesus gets personal with Peter. In His dealings with the denying disciple, even the deserting disciple, I’m reminded over and over again, of God’s grace in my life. I’m also challenged as someone who longs to serve the Lord obediently. Jesus simply asks Peter if he loves (agapes) him more than these. True ministry should flow from a love for the Lord. But Peter is honest (different Greek words are translated love), and he admits to the Lord that his love is not yet agape, it is phileo (the Greek word speaks of a brotherly love or a fond affection, and not that Divine and unconditional love). There has been much speculation as to the “more than these.” It’s probably best that it’s not specified because ultimately, we must love Jesus supremely, more than any world ambitions, possessions, or relations.

Jesus then reinstates Peter to ministry commanding Him to feed His lambs. The second time Jesus commands Peter to tend His sheep and then the third time He commands Peter to feed His sheep. That was Peter’s calling, what would you say is your calling? It all flows from loving the Lord and knowing that the people we’re called to serve belong to Him and need His love, His guidance, and His Word.

The third time Jesus questions Peter (He did it three times due to the three denials) Jesus comes down to Peter’s level, do you phileo Me? Peter is grieved by this – perhaps it’s because of the repetition, it may also be due to the fact that Jesus came down to his level of “love” only to a certain extent. Peter is right when he says, “Lord, You know all things…” He knows how much we really love Him.

In the end, Peter does what many of us do; he gets his eyes on others, “Lord, what about John?” Jesus said, don’t worry about him, you follow Me. He had always said that all He asks all of us to do is to follow Him. Let’s do that…all the way home.

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…

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