The Word was God

John Chapter 12

John 12:1-50 NLTse Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus–the man he had raised from the dead. (2) A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. (3) Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (4) But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, (5) “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” (6) Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. (7) Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. (8) You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (9) When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. (10) Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, (11) for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus. (12) The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors (13) took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!” (14) Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: (15) “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” (16) His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him. (17) Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. (18) That was the reason so many went out to meet him–because they had heard about this miraculous sign. (19) Then the Pharisees said to each other, who had come”There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!” (20) Some Greeks to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration (21) paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” (22) Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. (23) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. (24) I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. (25) Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. (26) Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. (27) “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! (28) Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” (29) When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. (30) Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. (31) The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (32) And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (33) He said this to indicate how he was going to die. (34) The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?” (35) Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. (36) Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them. (37) But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. (38) This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” (39) But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, (40) “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts– so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” (41) Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory. (42) Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. (43) For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. (45) For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. (46) I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (47) I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. (48) But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. (49) I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. (50) And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”

After writing three studies on this story about Mary anointing Jesus, I can finally see how God changed the order in this sequence. We can see Lazarus mentioned a number of times, which brings attention to his death. We see Mary anointed Jesus before His death. But look at the story that follows, the shorted account of Jesus’ ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. When we carefully pray before studying scripture, we can see another story out of place. But is it?

If we compare Solomon’s ordination to this story, we see Solomon rode David’s mule out of Jerusalem to Gihon Spring. The word Gihon means to shoot forth water. Jesus rode a young donkey colt from Bethany into Jerusalem. Solomon was anointed after his ride, Jesus was anointed before. We have two examples of a reversed order in one chapter.

This calls attention to many spiritual lessons in the gospels. Some we’ve seen, and others we are about to study. One of the reasons God gave us those examples of a reverse order is to remind us, understanding His Word may not be as easy as some people claim it is. If there is one thing people who really study God’s Word can tell you is, you have to go over it again and again to understand. God has a way or revealing only portions at a time.

Jesus on a DonkeyJesus had a choice. He could have ridden the donkey, the colt’s mother, or the little colt. Jesus chose the little colt. The disciples were so embarrassed, the their their coats over the beast to cover it up. They didn’t want people to think that was the best they could do for their Teacher. We have to approach God’s Word in much the same way. Whatever we bring to a Bible Study is small and embarrassing compared to what God can provide, or what He has to reveal.

As we pray and look deeper into this series of stories, we see another order revered. People expected Jesus to crown Himself King. But that’s not the order in God’s plan. Jesus was first to serve as High Priest before receiving His crown. Jesus’ first ministry in Heaven is to conduct the judgment. Look at the previous chapters to see how often Jesus tried to teach that point. Now you can see the need for those examples of a reverse order. We didn’t understand the messages when they were presented, but when new details are added and we look back, we can clearly see why Jesus used that specific order.

And I saw another angel flying through the sky, carrying the eternal Good News to proclaim to the people who belong to this world–to every nation, tribe, language, and people. “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7 NLTse).

There is a specific order given to announce Jesus’ return. The first is to announce the beginning of His duties as High Priest in Heaven which involves His role as judge. But how many people understand this order? How many people are able to explain? Not many people choose to go to God’s mountain to learn God’s order. When we look at the messages of the remaining two angels we clearly see how that order has been reversed.

Then another angel followed him through the sky, shouting, “Babylon is fallen–that great city is fallen–because she made all the nations of the world drink the wine of her passionate immorality.” Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:8-10 NLTse).

For the most part, Christians today are all too happy to run around preaching either the second or third message, but have no understanding of the first message. For one thing, people place the judgment Jesus talked about in all kinds of different time frames. How do we know which one is true and which of the many are false? We have to study and let God’s Spirit lead us to the truth. When we allow human understanding to take over for God’s Spirit, the sequence is already tainted, stained, and ruined.

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Look at the second message. There must be more interpretations for Babylon’s fall than there are Christian denominations in this world today. Some churches were created by splitting off based on a new interpretation of Babylon or the sequence it will happen. Years and generations have passed, and people still cling onto those traditions and beliefs. Little do the see, they cannot understand the second message until the understand the first.

The same is true for the third message. I hear people quoting little pieces of the second message claiming it is actually the third. Some people claim this is the last message to the world, but can’t really explain what it means. Most religions claim to have identified the beast in Revelation 14, but I haven’t see any who can prove it using only the Bible. They have not learned the art of looking back in scripture for the answer.

That mark is another major doctrine taught in this world now and for generations. There must have been hundreds of guesses attempting to identify that mark. Many of those guesses have been left on the side of the road, replaced by more modern versions. Once again, which are true and which are false?

In those few verses we have uncovered one major difference between Heaven and earth. There is only one true judgment in Heaven, but many Babylons, beasts, and marks on earth. Satan would never plan or rely on a single deception. Not when he has more demons than we can count to carry out his orders. He is as unstable as a raging sea, moving and causing destruction in all directions.

I often wonder why so many people dedicate themselves to the study of Babylon, the beast, and his mark. I’ve noticed those people know so little about Jesus. Is their obsession a deception? But how many people can explain what Jesus is doing in Heaven this minute? What a mixed up world and religion we find ourselves in. How many of those people can tell you when Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary to begin judgment?

There were two things Israel was told to listen for. The sound of the bells on the high priests robe when he walked into the Most Holy, and the sound those bells made when He left the Most Holy. Aaron will wear this robe whenever he ministers before the LORD, and the bells will tinkle as he goes in and out of the LORD’s presence in the Holy Place. If he wears it, he will not die. (Exodus 28:35 NLTse). If they didn’t hear the sound of those bells when Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary, how will they ever recognize the sound when He leaves? What a sad and dangerous example showing how man has chosen once again to ignore God’s order and sequence.

I’m sitting here writing this and wondering how we are going to hear those bells. We can be certain we will hear them in God’s Word when the time is right. Will God confirm their sound with prophets? Then you will know that I am among my people Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. Never again will my people be disgraced. “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants–men and women alike. And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth– blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the LORD arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved, for some on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will escape, just as the LORD has said. These will be among the survivors whom the LORD has called. (Joel 2:27-32 NLTse).

When we look at what the prophet Joel recorded, there will be much more. How much of it will be physical and how much spiritual? As I sit and write this, I am looking out on a snow covered year looking like a lifeless wasteland covered in white. I can’t help but see the contrast. I know life remains underground ready to shoot up as soon as the sun warms the land. Every spring is like a resurrection in Wisconsin. But now, a major portion of the United States is covered in snow. Other sections of the country that have not seen rain in years has been experiencing major flooding over the past few weeks. The cold weather is so bad here this February, it has set records in many parts of the country. Some placed that rarely see snow are blanketed today. Most of the time snow will melt later in the day, or the next day. But this winter it lingers as if it is whispering a message. As if God wants us to hear a message. What are the signs of the end – when Jesus’ finishes judging?

If you want to see those signs, look out the window and listen to God. Over the past few years this world has experienced record cold and hot temperatures. Some times at the same time on opposite sides of this planet. God’s creation is crying out while it is being shaken and wrenched apart. Like every creature in God’s new world had to suffer the effects of sin, they suffer under unbearable conditions while this world repeats the first sin – they refuse to listen to God.

Record long droughts are followed by record rain falls and floods. The worst storm every recorded in history hit the Philippians a little more than a year ago. Every part of this world is suffering under stains beyond its control. Governments promise relief, but are really helpless. They point to science as the only answer to this world’s problems, induce additional burdens in the form of taxes to battle the fury this world has unleashed upon us, but can’t see they have fulfilled prophesy.

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Because of this, I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. The wisdom of the wise will pass away, and the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear.” What sorrow awaits those who try to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their evil deeds in the dark! “The LORD can’t see us,” they say. “He doesn’t know what’s going on!” How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”? (Isaiah 29:14-16 NLTse).

What does that clay represent? Who questions God? Who tries to silence His voice? Who claims to be greater than God? There is only one answer, science, the people who claim they can save this world. All it will take is more money, more taxes. Don’t they know Jesus was born in Bethlehem because of a decree to raise taxes? What about that clay? Look at Daniel, who tells us when it will appear in history. The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay, showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron. (Daniel 2:41 NLTse). According to Daniel, that clay will appear near the end of time. That is when that clay will question the creator. The clay will not all the iron to cling together. Science will work to divide the world’s kingdoms. Those taxes are not used only the fight the unpredictable nature of God’s creation, the majority of taxes are going to the greatest military build up in earth’s history. Some alliances are being formed while others are being fractured. To a large degree, countries are dividing and uniting along religious lines. Something we wouldn’t have imagined fifty years ago.

We have to be very careful with symbols. There are a few rules of contest to follow when we study symbols.

Authors repeat key words to draw attention to their use as symbols.

Symbols always point to something far greater.

Symbols can only be interpreted by God’s Word.

Key words help to point to scripture explaining the meaning of a symbol.

The meaning of a symbol is often explained within the chapter it is recorded.

Symbols must always be interpreted within context.

We cannot take one interpretation of a symbol found in one chapter and apply it to all chapters. We have to consider context, which includes the main theme of the chapter found in the introduction and summation in every chapter, as well as key words used in the chapter.

Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.

It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.

God does not intend in smashing all the clay, nor does all science oppose God and His will. Like everything else, there is good and bad. And God will not stop reaching out. So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it. For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.” So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen. Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?” No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who were made for destruction. (Romans 9:16-22 NLTse).

Like Pharaoh constantly opposed God, we see some branches of science opposing and trying to disgrace God. But that does not mean God cannot perform another miracle by reaching them. The jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the LORD gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. (Jeremiah 18:4-6 NLTse).

This reminds us, only God can change likes. Working the clay with His hands shows the close personal contact God has with good and bad people, and everyone between. For since the world began, no ear has heard, and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for him! You welcome those who gladly do good, who follow godly ways. But you have been very angry with us, for we are not godly. We are constant sinners; how can people like us be saved? We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. Yet no one calls on your name or pleads with you for mercy. Therefore, you have turned away from us and turned us over to our sins. And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Don’t be so angry with us, LORD. Please don’t remember our sins forever. Look at us, we pray, and see that we are all your people. (Isaiah 64:4-9 NLTse).

The most important part of this lesson shows how, we have to leave every bit of judgment in God’s hands. God gave Jesus the authority to judge. Jesus is the only one to earn such an important role. When we try to take that role away from Jesus, are we any better than science who openly defiles God? But there is hope. If you have a cold heart that knows only how to judge, Christ can reform you in His hands. If all you love about the Bible is the study of the beast and his mark, God can get you to listen, if you are willing. As for the rest of the world. They are in God’s hands. But He can’t use you until He is done reforming you. Are you ready? Can you hear God’s voice and recognize His work?

Mary Anointed Jesus for Burial

John 12:1-8 NLTse Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus–the man he had raised from the dead. (2) A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. (3) Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. (4) But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, (5) “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” (6) Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. (7) Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. (8) You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

In chapter 12, John breaks from the pattern established over previous chapters consisting of a great deal of detail, back to a series of stories. Any dedicated student of the Bible will tell you, a break in a pattern is just as important as an established pattern in scripture.

Once a pattern is established, and we see a break in it, this is an indication to pay attention. It often indicates a movement into a new event. Often a break in an established pattern leads into a sever warning or a wonderful promise of fulfillment.

Moving into a new event is the understatement of the universe once we see where John’s book is headed. We can see Jesus is building up to His trial in Jerusalem, death, and resurrection. One thing to pay attention to in this series of stories is the details Jesus shared and how people perceived them.

John makes sure to tell us this first event happened six days before the Passover. The date helps us to piece together Jesus’ last days of His ministry on this world in human from. Jesus began in Bethany. We see Lazarus repeated a number of time. John pointed out, Lazarus was the man Jesus raised from the dead.

The first event was a dinner where Mary anointed Jesus for His burial. Jesus pointed this out. Judas didn’t appreciate the act. He must have harbored a hidden dislike or mistrust of Mary. John pointed out, this was the same Mary who was Lazarus’ sister. This established another link to the previous story where Jesus rose Lazarus from his grave. We see how each story is arranged to build one detail and lesson upon another.

John did not record a lot of details about that dinner, which draws more attention to what he did write. Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor–he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples‘ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

We see, Judas was a thief. How does that fit into the spiritual lessons taught here? How do people steal away those lessons while they are still Jesus’ disciple? We have a contrast here between Mary and Judas.

Mary gave a very expensive gift to Jesus. Once the oil was poured over Jesus, it couldn’t be recovered. It was an extravagant gift from the heart. Perfume is normally used in small amounts. Mary anointed Jesus using the entire bottle. She didn’t hold anything back. It was a symbol of her love for Jesus.

Mary didn’t expect anything in return. She also didn’t expect to be criticized for her act. If we look at other gospels, we see how the disciples were arguing who is the greatest. Judas wasn’t listed in those conversations, but this story showed where his heart was. The question still remains, how do Jesus’ disciples steal from Him today?

Twelve ounces is the size of a soda can, or bottle of soda. Some people call it pop or a soft drink. Pouring an entire bottle that size on a person is sure to be noticeable. John made sure to tell us the fragrance filled the room. It had to be more than pure olive oil, which was normally used to anoint a king or priest. This was perfumed oil so everyone would notice.

The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about anointing dead bodies for burial. That was a tradition copied from other cultures. God used this as a lesson to show how He uses traditions to meet people where they are. He didn’t condemn the act, He used it to bring glory to His Son. The Christian world can learn a ton lessons from that.

Mary didn’t just pour the oil over Jesus, she wiped it with her hair and kissed Jesus’ feet. She touched Jesus in an intimate manner and in a way beyond normal respect and concern. Do you touch Jesus in the same manner when you offer something to Him?

John 12:9-11 NLTse When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. (10) Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, (11) for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.

Opposition grows like a cancer. When people reply on themselves and shut out God’s Spirit, they are left to the devil’s desires and work. Judas had a demon, we will cover more details later. We will also see how the devil controlled those people who thought they had all the answers. Satan guided them along every step so we could see the extent of his control and his real motives. The entire universe witnessed those scenes as they unfolded. The universe wonders why this is the only planet in the universe that doesn’t understand.

Jesus Entered Jerusalem

John 12:12-16 NLTse The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors (13) took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Hail to the King of Israel!” (14) Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: (15) “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” (16) His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.

John tells us this next event happened five days before the Passover. Jesus rode a little colt into Jerusalem and people hoped He was about to take David’s throne. To them at that moment, their King had come to Jerusalem. They didn’t realize, that was only one aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Other details and prophecies had to be fulfilled before Jesus received His crown. As Jesus explained to Pilate, His Kingdom was not of this world. Jesus wasn’t going to receive glory from this world, or any crown. This story was much larger than any of them could image.

John pointed out how the disciples didn’t understand what was happening. That number included John himself. Admitting we don’t have the answer is the beginning of understanding. When people think they know what those symbols pointed to, chances are, they are wrong. At the very best, all men can do is figure out a small portion of those symbols on their own. When they don’t go to God and stick to His word to find their true and full meaning, they rob God. We want to look at the prophecy Jesus pointed us to so we don’t rob Him.

Another important Bible Study rule is, when you see scripture quoted by an author, always look up the original texts. An inspired writer will only quote a small portion of scripture. Just enough to point you back to the original texts. It’s your job to open up and read the original texts. And remember to check to introduction and summation for the chapter the original scripture is located. This a a major way God uses to communicate with us. An easy way to locate the original texts is to use a chain reference in a Study Bible. Or you can use the TSK (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) you can download and use with E-Sword, and other Bible computer programs.

Go out through the gates! Prepare the highway for my people to return! Smooth out the road; pull out the boulders; raise a flag for all the nations to see. The LORD has sent this message to every land: “Tell the people of Israel, ‘Look, your Savior is coming. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes.'” They will be called “The Holy People” and “The People Redeemed by the LORD.” And Jerusalem will be known as “The Desirable Place” and “The City No Longer Forsaken.” (Isaiah 62:10-12 NLTse).

The prophecy John pointed out shows us much more than what he wrote. John is showing us another important rule of context we have to follow if we plan on understanding scripture. Notice how detailed John had been in the previous stories. Then John goes onto a story about Jesus being anointed, followed with a short story about Jesus riding the colt into Jerusalem. John chose to record only brief accounts of what happened? That doesn’t make any sense – to us. Compare the importance of those previous stories to these. Why would John change his pattern now?

The answer is easy to see when we look at Old Testament scripture quoted. Look at the detail it added. John never recorded any of the details about Jesus going into the temple courtyard, he didn’t have to. We find those details in the Old Testament prophecy. Jesus went into the gates to prepare a highway for His people. That is when He told them a series of parables teaching them details about His ministry as well as their role in it. We see more details in the summation of the chapter we’re pointed to.

Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the LORD’s own mouth. The LORD will hold you in his hand for all to see– a splendid crown in the hand of God. (Isaiah 62:1-3 NLTse).

The summation gives us a behind the scene look at what Jesus did as well as how He felt during His last moments in Jerusalem. Jesus stayed still when He refused to answer the high priest and Pilate. Because He loved Jerusalem, He forgave them while on the cross. Looking at the Old Testament texts tells us much more than anyone could imagine. Look at those details. They are telling us details that occurred after Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Look at God’s time line and see how God has many lines that cross that spiritual moment in time. Each line recorded in scripture explains details on both sides of that point, past and future. The Bible shows how it explains the past and reveals the future. The sad part of it is, few people take time to look at God’s collection of books they way they were meant to be read.

The People Met Jesus

John 12:17-19 NLTse Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. (18) That was the reason so many went out to meet him–because they had heard about this miraculous sign. (19) Then the Pharisees said to each other, who had come”There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!”

John showed how people were split in Jerusalem. Some people believed those miracles Jesus performed, others ran off to consult with the religious leaders as we’ve seen in the previous chapter. Once the Pharisees saw the number of people following Jesus, they did more than worry.

Jerusalem was crowded with thousands of people to observe the Passover. There’s not a lot to do walking along the road. Sharing news helps to pass the time. Never was there news like they heard on that trip to Jerusalem. News about Lazarus spread quickly. Jesus had been traveling all over the region healing and teaching people. Many of them were thankful for being healed or seeing friends and relatives healed. Some heard more than Jesus talk, they listened to God’s Spirit. Some people searched scripture. It would be nice to know what they found and how much God explained at the time.

John pointed out how much the story about Lazarus influenced Jesus’ last minute ministry. Another example showing how God’s timing is important. Some people want to serve Jesus, but don’t understand God’s timing. They don’t see how much harm they can cause if they don’t know how to follow orders when they are given. Jesus showed how He had to wait a few days before going to Jerusalem during the Festival of Tabernacles. If waiting was part of Jesus’ ministry, maybe it should be an important part of ours.

Walk in the Light

John 12:20-41 NLTse Some Greeks to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration (21) paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” (22) Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus. (23) Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. (24) I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives. (25) Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. (26) Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me. (27) “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! (28) Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.” (29) When the crowd heard the voice, some thought it was thunder, while others declared an angel had spoken to him. (30) Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. (31) The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. (32) And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (33) He said this to indicate how he was going to die. (34) The crowd responded, “We understood from Scripture that the Messiah live forever. How can you say the Son of Man will die? Just who is this Son of Man, anyway?” (35) Jesus replied, “My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. Those who walk in the darkness cannot see where they are going. (36) Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” After saying these things, Jesus went away and was hidden from them. (37) But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him. (38) This is exactly what Isaiah the prophet had predicted: “LORD, who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm?” (39) But the people couldn’t believe, for as Isaiah also said, (40) “The Lord has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts– so that their eyes cannot see, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and have me heal them.” (41) Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory.

John returned to his style of adding detail. Something prompted John to added those details. John told a story about some Greeks who came to Jerusalem looking for Jesus. They first met Philip who told Andrew, who took the Greeks to Jesus. This showed how people work together to bring people to Jesus.

Once we learn to see the patterns John and other authors used, we begin to see scripture open up with details a casual reading would not catch. Now we can understand Jesus’ answer. Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. To see the spiritual message, we have to look at this a few lines at a time and see how they relate to previous verses.

When did God choose the right time for Jesus to enter into His glory? The simple answer is that Passover that happened to be during the Sabbath. Looking back a few verses we see God’s Spirit at work arranging a few details. John showed us how Greeks came to look for Jesus. It would have been unusual for Greeks to be in Jerusalem during the Passover, but not out of the question. Greeks most likely would have been shunned by Hebrews. They looked and talked differently then the Hebrews in Jerusalem. Most of the Jews would have shunned them, except for the vendors who welcomed everyone’s money.

Those Greeks also remind us about the hundreds of thousands of Greek Old Testaments spread over the world. I wish we knew if the had access to scripture. It would also be nice to see how scripture influenced their view of Jesus before they met Him. We can see a few details based on what John recorded about the conversation.

Those Greeks would have entered Jerusalem expecting to see an entire city celebrating the coming of the Messiah. They couldn’t imagine the joy and excitement Israel must have felt to see their Savior return. The excitement in those Greeks must have built as they saw long lines of people meeting on the road to Jerusalem. They must have felt it was strange to listen to different accounts and opinions about Jesus from the people they met on the road.

It’s funny how we can talk to people today and still hear different opinions. Not as drastic as what those Greeks would have heard, but strange just the same. And we still have associate with people to different degrees. Some people we love and can’t live without. We have friends we occasionally see. People we know but rarely see. Some people have friends they only call when they need something from them. And there are people we try to avoid. So what’s the difference between what we hear about relationships with Christ today and what those Greeks heard on that road? No matter how hard Jesus tried, people set their own standards when it came to their relationship with the ultimate source of infinite love.

All they could do was hope Jesus would meet them. And of course, Jesus was happy to meet them. Reaching out to Greeks represented how Jesus reached out to the world. The process they followed to meet Jesus showed how Jesus’ disciples have to work together. It is a physical description of one person plowing, another sowing, and another harvesting. It also showed the disciples how working together wiped out the desire to be greatest. Not one person nor step in the process is more important than the other.

Jesus used the illustration of a seed to describe what He was about to do. But now that we understand what was taught in the previous verse, we can see how that parable about the seed also showed the disciples what is meant to die to this world. They had to bury their pride.

Jesus told them the seed that was about to be planted will die and its death will produce more seeds. Jesus wasn’t just teaching about His death, He was telling them about the ministries they would soon be conducting. Think of what the disciples gave up to conduct a full time ministry. They gave up everything to serve Jesus and tell people about the prophecies they witnessed as Jesus fulfilled each one.

Jesus also told them, they had to give up this world. People usually have an easy time understanding that. But what did Jesus mean by being where He is? Where did Jesus go after His resurrection? To Heaven. Jesus showed the only way to Heaven is through Him, now and after death. Jesus didn’t tell people to follow Him after they died. Jesus rose Lazarus to bring glory to God. God gave that glory to His Son. Lazarus served Jesus’ ministry while he lived, not when he was in the grave.

Something strange happened in Jerusalem. People heard God’s voice. Some heard it and others thought it was thunder. This has been repeated throughout history. Some people hear God’s message while some people think it is nothing to worry about. Jesus explained why God spoke at that moment. It was for the benefit of Jesus’ followers as well as Jesus. God knew they all needed encouragement for what was about to happen. This also shows how close God is and how He is always watching.

Jesus didn’t go into much detail about what was about to happen, but He did give them clues. The people thought they understood scripture, but they didn’t understand God’s timing or the process Jesus had to follow in the plan of salvation.

Jesus pointed out the purpose of His sacrifice, to defeat the ruler of this world one last time. Jesus revealed who was behind the coming events. Jesus told them who was responsible for all the pain and suffering, not only His, but the world. Jesus showed the world how far Satan would go. If he would snuff out the life of God’s Son, he wouldn’t hesitate to kill any of us, once he’s done using us. That is if we allow him.

Jesus also told them what He told Nicodemus three years ago. He told them how He was going to be lifted up above the earth to draw people to Himself. That was where the people got confused. They couldn’t see how the Messiah could die. Based on the pattern we’ve seen in previous chapters, we can see a number of people walked away from Jesus. Tradition was once again stronger than truth. How many people say they believe in Jesus, say they are following Him, but are actually following traditions they’ve been taught? Traditions that actually make them turn and walk away from Jesus.

Jesus was instructed by God’s Spirit to repeat the lesson using light as a symbol. We see a pattern when Jesus repeated Himself, but this time it is a new crowd. Once again, that symbol of light was followed by the key word believe. When light comes it takes more than common sense to follow it. It takes something some people don’t have, belief or faith.

Why did Jesus talk about the light as if it would be available for a limited time? We know Jesus’ resurrection shed new light on the plan of salvation. We know even the disciples understood very little before the resurrection, and were taught by Jesus for forty days. After that Jesus sent His Spirit on Pentecost. Why would Jesus say His light would shine for just a little longer? Did Jesus know there were a few listening who needed to see Him in His physical body to believe? Some people find it hard to find enough faith to follow anything else but their eyes. But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him.

This time John quoted two scriptures from Isaiah. Of course we already know how important it is to look at texts he pointed us to. This is an unusual occurrence in the Bible. When we pay attention, we can see, Jesus didn’t quote this scripture, John added it. Of course we know John was an inspired author. God told him to add that scripture. This teaches us a lesson we have to be aware of. Sometimes Jesus will refer to scripture without directly quoting it. This is something to watch out for, but not be obsessed with. Don’t worry, God’s Spirit will let you know when He wants to show you something important. Just pray you are paying attention.

Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected– a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! (Isaiah 53:1-4 NLTse).

John introduced Isaiah 53 near the end of Jesus’ ministry while He was preaching in Jerusalem. We see how John quoted the very beginning of Isaiah 53 to lead everyone who read his book back to Isaiah. Can you imagine the emotions John felt as he wrote this story in his book? Put yourself in John’s place as he wrote this book at a slow, steady pace by hand. He paused before he added this little part pointing us to Isaiah. John was very careful not to add any of his personal views but follow the direction of God’s Spirit. As John opened Isaiah’s book and turned to the portion he wanted to quote from, he read the entire prophecy about Jesus. John wept as he followed through the words Isaiah recorded so long ago. John wanted to reach people with his book. That was his intention when he sat down to write it. That had been his prayer for months before he started his book and prayer everyday as he wrote out his account of Jesus’ ministry. Once John finished reading the prophecy, he knew it was what God wanted. But John\’s emotional state would only allow him to copy the first few lines. I only included the introduction and summation to Isaiah 53. I hope you take the time to read the entire chapter on your own and feel the emotions John felt when he read it.

Look at the first few words. What did Isaiah feel when he penned those words? Who has believed our message? I know I ask that question almost everyday. Some people just don’t want to listen. Or they’ll listen but feel little need to move forward in their walk to catch up to Jesus and walk hand in hand with Him. I wonder why people choose this world over what they could have with Jesus today.

He has a way of comforting us like nothing else in this world. With a little faith, worries of this world will disappear. Everything the world can throw at you seem like a futile attempt from the enemy to draw you back into his camp. When you walk with Jesus, the enemie’s attempts to draw you back are like a mosquito trying to push and elephant.

Look back a chapter to see how Isaiah led into this prophecy and see how Isaiah 53 makes chapter 52 perfectly understandable. The watchmen shout and sing with joy, for before their very eyes they see the LORD returning to Jerusalem. Let the ruins of Jerusalem break into joyful song, for the LORD has comforted his people. He has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has demonstrated his holy power before the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the victory of our God. (Isaiah 52:8-10 NLTse).

You can see how watchmen are defined when we read Isaiah 52, 53, and John’s Gospel together. The watchmen were the people watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem. But those watchmen didn’t have the proper vision of Jesus. At that point they misunderstood His ministry.

When we progress to the next line we can see, Isaiah was not referring to the moment in time Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, but when He returned after His resurrection, when His victory over the enemy was sure. When His resurrected body proved the religious leaders wrong and exposed the bondage they put those people under. It was time to shout for joy because Jesus freed them. It wasn’t only His death and resurrection that freed them. It was His words, the miracles He performed, and the prophecies He fulfilled before their eyes. Isaiah 53 in only a small part of them.

Get out! Get out and leave your captivity, where everything you touch is unclean. Get out of there and purify yourselves, you who carry home the sacred objects of the LORD. You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the LORD will go ahead of you; yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. (Isaiah 52:11-12 NLTse). Isaiah told them about their departure from Jerusalem when the religious leaders hunted them, trying to silence them. God knew when truth reveals itself persecution is sure to follow. If they didn’t hesitate to kill His Son. Those religious leader would think little about the lives of Jesus’ disciples. The great light Jesus shed upon the earth was in conflict with the darkness trying to cover this world. Isaiah revealed what Jesus was telling them about the light being available for a short time. He told them that in Jerusalem. The disciples only enjoyed freedom to preach the word for a short time before the powers of darkness regrouped to launch a new attack.

That sequence of events showed how little the devil knows about scripture. He doesn’t have the ability to interpret scripture. He can’t interpret scripture without God’s Spirit. That would be impossible. Even if he can figure out the patterns, there is a portion locked away from his view and understanding. Satan is not guided in scripture. He has no way of seeing how prophecies are going to be fulfilled until after the events pass. That doesn’t stop him from reacting as quickly as he can and in most cases, he follows the same course he did with Jesus.

See, my servant will prosper; he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.(Isaiah 52:13-15 NLTse). Jesus was intentionally disfigured by the priests. Satan filled their heads with the possibility He may be the Messiah, but not the Messiah they wanted. To make sure they got the right Messiah, they disfigured Jesus thinking God could never accept a less than perfect physical sacrifice. They showed once again how they and their leader, the devil misinterpreted scripture.

After it was over Pilate and Herod saw what they did or didn’t’ do. They had to live with the thought, they killed God’s Son. Do you think Satan’s demons left those two alone after they killed Jesus? No! Demons tormented them with guilt. Their consciences would not give them a moment of rest. Both those kings received more reports about Jesus than anyone beside Jesus’ disciples. They had their witnesses, but ignored them.

Looking back, and looking back again reveals so much. There are times you almost have to read the Bible in reverse. How do you know when? That’s a job for God’s Spirit. He will show you when to refer to other books in the Bible, when to look up specific words, when to look at the previous chapter, God’s Spirit is your guide in God’s Word. Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. (Psalms 43:3, John 16:13 NLTse). You have one advantage over the enemy. Use it.

He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave. But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. (Isaiah 53:9-12 NLTse).

Isaiah filled everyone in on Jesus’ perfect life, and so much more. God knew about the plan to crush Jesus long before it entered Satan’s mind as a thought. Then again, God saw how those thoughts were beginning to formulate in Lucifer’s mind while he still held a high position in Heaven. It wasn’t hard to figure out where Lucifer’s rebellion was leading. But God had to sit and watch while Satan worked his plans to their fulfillment. The difficult part was getting Satan to do everything on time. When you see how God was able to get Satan to put his plan into action at the exact moment God said the prophecies would be fulfilled is not only amazing, but adds additional proof Satan doesn’t understand scripture.

Too bad people focus on one little part of this prophecy and forget to look at the rest. People look at and preach, “he will bear all their sins,” while passing over the major portion of this prophecy. If they don’t see the part of God knowing all the plans, do you think they can understand all of Jesus’ many descendants? Can they see all of Jesus’ brothers and sisters in all the churches, countries, areas of this world no one can reach, and those areas no one cares about?

We’ve seen how people Jesus talked to face to face didn’t understand what He was talking about. How much less do people understand when they only read His Word? Do they see the patterns in Jesus’ ministry, in His miracles, or in His sacrifice?

Do people see and understand the glory God gave Him? Can anyone describe that unimaginable glory beyond anything in this world, beyond the stars, and human understanding? What do people do when they try to explain the glory Jesus received from His Father in a way to make it appear they have all the answers? They rob people of meeting Jesus to find out about that glory from His Spirit.

Isaiah told us about one of those honors, a victorious soldier. Actually this translation seems to take a little artistic freedom. But we may have missed the point if we used the KJV. 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. (Isaiah 53:12 KJV). Translators for the KJV used the word great. The actual Greek work covered a broad range of positions including captain, elder, officer, and prince. The main focus of the Greek word focused on abundance.

Why was the NLT translated as soldier? The translators for the NLT used the rules of context to translate words that had a number of meanings. When they found a situation like this, they looked back at the introduction for a clue for which way to go. When we look at the introduction, we see a strong arm mentioned. That led translators to use the word soldier in the summation.

They Loved Human Praises

John 12:20-41 NLTse Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. (43) For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (44) Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. (45) For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. (46) I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. (47) I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. (48) But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. (49) I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. (50) And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.”

John began his summation to this series of stories, or this chapter by pointing out many people didn’t understand. Of course John pointed out many people did believe, including some of the Jewish leaders. We see the results later in Acts. God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.

(Acts 6:7 NLTse). This is an important point to concentrate on, otherwise we’ll miss the major point in the verses that follow.

John wasn’t pointing out people who failed to understand. John pointed out how hard Jesus, God, and His Spirit worked to reach those people. Jesus didn’t care some of those people were planning to kill Him, He wanted to reach them all. But Jesus didn’t want them to look at Him, or honor Him. Jesus wanted to introduce them to His Father. Jesus explained His relationship with God and the process He followed. God sends Jesus orders and He followed them.

Jesus also brought up that subject of judgment. This time He made it clear, He didn’t want to judge anyone. He showed how far He was willing to go. They could have read about the details in Isaiah. But they saw it in real life. They saw the trial in front of Pilate. They heard about the other trials in front of Herod and the priests. They saw what those leaders did to Jesus. They saw Him on the cross. Then they heard about His resurrection. Not many saw Jesus after He rose from that tomb, but they could go back and read about it in scripture. We weren’t able to see what those people saw, but we can still go back to scripture and read about it.

The Word was God

John Chapter 14

John 14:1-31 NLTse “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. (2) There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (3) When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (4) And you know the way to where I am going.” (5) “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (6) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (7) If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (8) Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (9) Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? (10) Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. (11) Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. (12) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. (13) You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. (14) Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! (15) “If you love me, obey my commandments. (16) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. (17) He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. (18) No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. (19) Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. (20) When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (21) Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (22) Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” (23) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. (24) Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. (25) I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. (26) But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. (27) “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. (28) Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. (29) I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. (30) “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, (31) but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.

This is the beginning of three of my favorite chapters in the Bible. Jesus told His disciples about God, His Kingdom, the disciples role, and how God’s Spirit will help them. Those chapters also tell about Jesus’ love for this world in greater detail than any other story in the Bible.

We’ve seen how John can get into details. He surpassed himself in those three chapters. I have no idea why other authors didn’t record any of those details, but they seem to be the focus of John’s book.

Jesus got right to the point. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?” Jesus doesn’t want us to worry. If we can’t physically see Him, we can be sure we are on His mind. The symbol of building a home shows how much He cares. It used to be a tradition for a man to build a new home for His wife to be. It was a pledge to his future wife as well as a form of security to her parents. This was Jesus’ way of introducing the concept of an engagement and with it comes a commitment. We all know how Jesus feels about divorce. Because an engagement involved such a commitment, it was viewed much like a marriage. Look back at Jesus’ conception. Mary wasn’t married when she became pregnant, but since the engagement was set, Joseph would have to go through the same process as a divorce to put her away.

We don’t have to worry about any divorce. As long as we remain committed to Jesus, He remains committed to us. Those who wonder away aren’t necessarily put out of His mind, memory, or concern. He will do anything to get them back. Hence the parable of the lost sheep, and other parables.

Did you ever talk to Jesus about the house He is building for you? Did you every talk about the layout, features, and colors? I’m not sure of the layout, but I asked for jasper with the ability to change colors. Can you imagine crystal walls with all kinds of different colors? Why is Jesus building a home for you?

When everything is ready, Jesus promises to come and take us all home. Just think, no more mortgage or rent to pay. No more taxes, electric bills, phone bills, freezing cold and unbearable heat will be a thing of the past. No more food bills. We can walk out the door to a feast of fresh fruits, nuts, and can you imagine your garden? God planted one for Adam and Eve. We’ll all have one. Can you imagine the taste with no fertilizers or pesticides. I don’t know about you, but I want to go home soon.

The best part is, we can talk with Jesus and other people we’ve read about in the Bible. I don’t know about you, but I have about a million questions. I hope I remember all of them. I’m not worried, I’ll have an eternity to think about those questions.

The Word was God
The Word Was God: Gospel of John Chapter 11-21

Jesus said we should know where He is going. What does He mean by that? Jesus doesn’t just mean the destination, He means the details He wants to tell you about now. He doesn’t want us to wait to hear the details. He is as excited about sharing those details as I am excited about being there. I hope you are to.

“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” It seems strange to see Thomas didn’t know what Jesus was talking about, where He was going, or how to get there. Jesus had to remind them. “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

I guess that answered the question. Do you understand now? If your a little foggy on the subject, your not the only one. Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Those two disciples showed the misunderstanding many in this world will have in every generation. It’s rare to read or hear about visions of Heaven. What are those preachers doing if they don’t have enough time to spend a few minutes with Jesus to talk about Heaven? I’m not sure what their priorities are, but I hope they get them straightened out.

Jesus couldn’t figure out why His disciples couldn’t understand. Weren’t they listening? Didn’t they care? Were they happier on this world? What was the problem? Jesus had to resort to the same method He used with the Pharisees. Jesus began repeating Himself. “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”

I don’t comprehend why the disciples didn’t understand. It doesn’t make sense. When I look at the gospels, I see time frames in between the stories. What did Jesus talk to them about during those periods? There must have been times Jesus reminisced about home. Didn’t they see a vision of Heaven in the day to day events and blessing while they were with Jesus? They always had food. God provided everything they needed. They saw a bit of Heaven when Jesus fed thousands. They experienced the joy of Heaven when they saw Jesus heal people. How many times did they witness the love from Heaven? After seeing all of that, His disciples said they didn’t know. What about all the things Jesus told them?

The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.” Jesus had to remind them. He paused for a long time giving them time to think. Jesus knew He didn’t have to explain everything. Then it was time to get to work.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!” Sounds simple enough. If we need anything to do work for God, all we need to to is ask. I can tell you for a fact, I am trying that right now. I’d like nothing more than to retire, write all day, and do a full time ministry teaching people how to get closer to God. But I guess Jesus is already Taking care of that.

“If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” That shouldn’t be to difficult. But why aren’t any of us able to keep all the commandments? We can try, but we always seem to fail. Maybe that’s why we don’t get everything we ask for.

This is one of my favorite parts. The promise about God’s Spirit. Imagine a full time guide, friend, and protector. That is when we listen. Listening can be as difficult as keeping all the commandments. Has anyone been able to get a perfect score on both for an entire day? I doubt it.

Before we get too far into this chapter, let’s look at how John led into this chapter. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me. (John 13:34-38 NLTse).

John ended the previous chapter with the same theme in this chapter. Love each other. Then Jesus told about how Peter would deny Him. We see that theme continued here when Jesus’ disciples didn’t know where Jesus was going, or how to get there. Imagine, Jesus was going be in this world as a mortal man for a few more hours and His disciples still don’t understand.

Did the disciples know more about God’s Spirit than they knew about where He was going? What is God’s Spirit? Is it a manifestation or extension of God? It is God’s way of communicating with us? Is the Holy Spirit brought to us by God’s angels, those Nathaniel was told he would see going up and down from Heaven? Or is God’s Spirit a combination of all of them? If it’s one thing I’ve learned is not to guess at details we cannot be sure of. And never to claim to know everything about an Infinite God.

Jesus told us, the first role of God’s Spirit is to guide. He leads us into all truth. A guide is not a teacher. I’ve seen too many people confuse the definition and purpose of the two. Jesus claimed and fulfilled the role of teacher. Even though Jesus received His instructions from God, Jesus has been and will continue to be our Teacher. Principals and school board leaders don’t teach. They may be administrators. They may determine what classes are offered and to a great degree determine how subjects are taught, but teachers have direct contact with students and are responsible for results and failures. Jesus is the only one who came here, experienced and suffered through life in this world, and the only one equipped to teach us. Jesus has a special bond with us and is a conduit between us and God.

What does it mean to guide? If you study the Bible on your own, you should know that answer because you’ve heard the whisper in your ear to look back a few verses, compare another verse, look up the definition of a word, and the many other instructions God’s Spirit uses to guide. But it is still Jesus and His experience that teaches. Why do you think He gave His disciples the instructions, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. (Luke 24:44-48 NLTse). Jesus pointed them back to the experiences recorded about Him. Jesus had more to teach about God’s Spirit.

The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. God’s Spirit covers the world like water covered the world before creation. His Spirit is everywhere, but can’t reach everyone. Not everyone will accept God’s Spirit who only guides, but will not force people to follow. Jesus’ sheep follow Him because the hear His voice, but Jesus doesn’t force them to follow.

How do we … I’m not sure of the proper words except to say, work with those conditions? I know the answer is not, tell people your doctrine and tell them they’re lost if they don’t believe. Belief has nothing to do with man made doctrines, no matter how many proof texts they collect. Jesus never provided a list of doctrines or told anyone to believe in anything more than God, Himself, God’s Spirit, God’s Kingdom, and eternal life. There may be a few others, but that covers the majority of the list. Jesus also told His disciples and all of us to follow God’s commandments. But Jesus didn’t make a doctrine out of it because that is part of His teaching job. Not our job. That is another role people are confused about. They confuse the gift of teaching with the authority to teach. We can or should only teach what God’s Spirit has guided us to, Jesus and His Word has taught us, and God has verified. Here again, one out of three in the process is not good enough.

Jesus made a promise not to abandon anyone. He also told them this world won’t see Him much longer. That’s why He promised to send God’s Spirit. He wants us to know He is with God. Then Jesus said something hard to understand, “and you are in me, and I am in you.” Jesus is in us now, not some time in the future. Some people want to wait. I’m wondering what they’re waiting for. Most people know Jesus is within us. A lot of people say Jesus is in their hearts, but really don’t know what that means. All they do is repeat what they’ve been told, but don’t know the love it takes to hold Jesus in their heart, or share that love.

The other part of that statement is the difficult part to understand. We are in Jesus. Not many people preach this, or know what it means. I can’t really be sure, except to point to Hebrews 10 where it shows how Jesus died to open a direct path to God’s throne. Spiritually we are meant to be with Jesus. All I can say is, that is a personal experience. I can include a short list of steps I take to approach God’s throne.

Pray to Jesus in the evening and the morning and throughout the day.

Pray out loud whenever you can.

Night time is time to rest and get away from this world.

Take this time to reconnect with God.

God can reach you through His Word.

Read scripture in the evening and in the morning.

Keep in contact with God like a friend.

God communicates through a series of events.

Look for patterns in His Word, your life, and world events.

Pay attention to conversations with people. God also communicates through people.

Approach God’s throne by praying to Jesus to cleanse you with His blood.

Lay your sins in front of Jesus.

Listen to what He has to say.

Ask Jesus to purify you and place you at the foot of God’s throne.

Ask about a few subjects one at a time and wait for an answer.

Ask God about scripture you are studying.

Listen to scripture that comes to mind.

Pay attention to parallel themes.

Pay attention to parallel events in your life and the world related to the subject your studying.

Learn to identify and suppress distractions while in prayer.

Don’t let your mind wonder.

Repeat the details you learned.

Write to keep a record.

Other details will come out while writing.

Learn to share.

When Jesus talked about love, He included the commandments and obeying.

Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me.

All who love me will do what I say.

Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me.

Jesus also explained the direct connection between loving Him and His Father. They come as a package deal. If we love Jesus, He will love us and so will His Father. This shows the love Jesus and His Father share. A love we have to go to Him to learn about. We have to give up a lot to learn about and experience that love. It is the most expensive purchase you will ever make. You have to give greed, envy, contempt, hatred, and of course fear. Don’t take that list as a complete list. I’m sure once you talk to Jesus, He will have more details to add. Listening to Jesus is the most important aspect of a relationship with him.

I wonder why one of the disciples asked the question he did. Jesus just explained the love relationship between Himself and His Father. Jesus also explained their love for us. Then one of His disciples asked, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” What would you have asked Jesus if you were there?

If Jesus was talking about love, I would have asked Him to tell more about that love. What it really is. How we receive it. How we share it. How do we experience the fullness if that love? How do we make sure we never loose it? There are so many questions. I doubt if I would of asked why much of the world can’t see that love.

I think Jesus viewed that question much the same way. Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.” We see Jesus repeating Himself again. That tells us how important this subject is. There is no subject more important than love. When we consider the love from Jesus and God, we have to see, it is what made the air we breath, water we drink, the sun that warms us, food we eat, everything in this world. Love is what makes the world rotate. Love is what keeps God from destroying sinners who cause many of us so much pain and sorrow. Love is what gives thieves, adulterers, and those who force people into slavery and prostitution one more day to live. Love is what brings a man and wife together in an emotional and spiritual state we are meant to live. Love is what sent Jesus to the cross.

I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Here we see God’s Spirit in the role of teacher. We have to look at what He is teaching. In this example the Spirit is reminding them about what Jesus told them. It is more of a role of a substitute teacher reviewing what has already been taught. Of course there is more to His guiding and teaching role. There is a lot of individual guidance required in your life. Questions to be answered, problems and defects to straighten out, people to guide you to, and messages to deliver. All of those things are details of a personal nature between you and Jesus.

Jesus wanted His disciples to be happy He was going back to His Father. At that time they didn’t know where Jesus was going. But we do now. And we should rejoice in it by learning more about what Jesus is doing in Heaven right now. How else can we share in His joy and what He is experiencing? But when Jesus was telling them this, He still had a major trial to face, and He knew what the enemy was planning. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.”This was only the beginning of Jesus’ lesson and His introduction to God and His Spirit.

I think this is a good chapter to introduce another rule of context known as the Five W’s, Who, What, Where, When, and Why.

This is one Bible Study method many people are familiar with. It is refereed to as the 5 – W’s of Bible Study. Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Each question is listed and answered. Make sure you stick to information in the Bible and do not add in outside reference material. Think of using this method to place God’s Word on trial. Think of yourself as cross examining God’s Word. Anything outside the Bible is circumstantial evidence and not allowed. This can take some digging, but as a general rule, answers are found by looking back a chapter or two. References can also be used from other books in the Bible.

If you ever searched the Internet looking for information on Inductive Bible study, you have seen rules of the five “W’s” Who, What, When, Where and Why. Has anyone explained how to draw information from Scripture in a manner you can understand and apply? We will dwell on each of these points in an effort to provide an example you can understand.

WHO

I prefer to use the term personality. In this example the major who is easily answered Jesus. There are three of His disciples we should also examine. But where do the names get you? There is another important rule to follow. The rule of context. To understand the texts you have to answer each question, who, what, when, where and why in context. What does that mean? When answering the question who, we have to determine at least a few very important details. Where is the person on their spiritual walk? What events led to the circumstance or event being studied? What lesson did the person in the story learn? How did the lesson make them stronger? How does the lesson apply to their spiritual walk and yours?

In this case, where is Jesus as the spiritual leader and the disciples are His pupils as the name implies?

WHAT

This may be the most difficult to explain. Look at what is happening. Jesus is teaching His disciples.

WHEN

The question of when is closely related to who. Many studies concentrate on the date. The date is what? A value set by the world. A date is fine if you are studying a president, king, or general, but Bible study should center on the spiritual lesson. In this example when is answered in in the previous chapter.

Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. (John 13:1 NLTse).

WHERE

The physical location is easy to find. It’s found in the previous chapter in verse 2. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. (John 13:2 NLTse). In this case, John blended a strange fact with the location. John wanted us to understand what the disciples were up against and how Jesus was threatened. Remember, a Bible study will always look for the spiritual lesson being taught. There is a reason God went to great lengths to record specific locations. More of the spiritual lesson is understood when the story is studied as a whole.

WHY

This question can only be answered by reviewing previous texts, which brings up another important detail of Bible study. The context of the chapter is found in the first and last few verses of the chapter. Because we had to look back at the previous chapter to gather details, we can see Jesus having an intimate dinner with His disciples while Satan was present.

WHO

We can begin by reviewing a few details about Jesus. Because the time and location drew us back to chapter 13, we have to consider details introduced during that dinner. One was Judas possessed by the devil. Jesus introduced the symbol of wine, blood, bread, and His body. Those were reminders of what Jesus taught them. Jesus also washed their feet, a new tradition Jesus introduced to remind how He served them and how they are to serve each other.

Jesus also reminded them, God gave Jesus His authority and He wouldn’t be with them much longer. Jesus also told them, the world will know them by their love for each other.

Judas is one of the disciples introduced. He was the one with the devil in him. Judas is the one who turned Jesus over to the religious leaders. He did it for money. Jesus used the sign of eating together to identify the traitor, showing how someone close to Jesus doesn’t necessarily mean they know Him. When Judas left, the other disciples assumed he went out to give money to the poor. In fact, Judas was taking away the greatest treasure those poor people would ever see with their own eyes. Through God’s grace and plan, they would receive the greatest reward anyone could receive.

Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. He thought it would be to embarrassing. After Jesus explained, Peter wanted Jesus to wash his hands and head. He wanted more than the other disciples were getting. Later, after Jesus told them He was leaving and they couldn’t follow, Peter insisted he would follow Him even onto death. That’s when Jesus told Peter he was going to deny Him three times.

It may seem strange why chapter13 ended with Jesus telling Peter he will deny Him three times, but when we get to the what and why, we can look at the reason behind why this story is arranged like this. At this point you should be noticing why it is important to look at those chapters as one story. After all, John wrote a book, and books have chapters that all relate to the same story line. Many books finish chapters with one sort of climax or another, leading to the next event in the story.

After Peter, Thomas told Jesus, he wanted to know where Jesus was going. Thomas also asked the way. Jesus’ explanation was simple. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

The next disciple we see in this story is Philip. He wanted Jesus to show Him the Father. Remember, Jesus told Philip’s brother, he would see a stairway between Heaven and earth with angels going up and down.

We also have to take a look at Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name). He wanted to know why Jesus was only going to reveal Himself to them and not the whole world.

WHAT

Much of the what has already been explained when I listed the names. I’m sorry for getting ahead of myself in this lesson, but now you can see how exciting it is to get into the details. If your not ready to jump in with both feet, your not connected with God’s Spirit.

What was Jesus doing? What He does best, teaching. What was He teaching? All kinds of spiritual details and lessons. Remember Jesus was teaching a group of people. Some caught onto some parts of the lessons, other people understood other details. Jesus taught about humility, helping each other, and that He was soon going away. Jesus also taught about His love and connection with God and how they both shared the same love with this world.

WHEN

It was during a dinner the day before the Passover. I can’t be sure if it was the Passover dinner, or a preparation for it. Some people say it was the Passover, but Jesus actually died the next day on the Passover. Some say Jewish custom celebrated the Passover a day early when it fell on the Sabbath so there wouldn’t be a conflict between the celebration and Sabbath. That’s not an important detail. What is important is, this is what Jesus was teaching a few hour before He was arrested. Jesus was putting a summation on His ministry with His disciples.

WHERE

This scene took place around a dinner table. This draws us all the way back to the Tabernacle with the table set as an invitation. That table in the Tabernacle was a symbol of not only that dinner, but Jesus’ invitation to share meals with us.

WHY

I could add another nine pages to why. But like we’ve seen, Jesus taught a series of topics to reach each person in a different way at different times. As we can see when we read the story, the disciples didn’t understand.

We can see Judas didn’t understand a whole lot. He ignored what Jesus taught because he already had his mind made up. That’ why the devil inside Judas was introduced at the beginning of the story. The devil could have influenced any of those disciples. He would have had his way with Jesus if there was an opening. We can see different degrees of influence the devil had on some of those disciples. It’s easy to see how Judas didn’t listen. If we look at little closer we can see how other disciples had a difficult time listening.

Peter was mentioned in a few parts of the story. He didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet because he didn’t understand the lesson. Jesus had to remind him, feet are something that can get dirty very fast. Jesus washing their feet was a spiritual lesson. A spiritual cleansing.

Peter was also told he would deny Jesus. Looking back a few verses we see why. Jesus just told them, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35 NLTse). Jesus tells them to love each other. He not only tells them, He commanded them. Suddenly Peter jumped in and asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” (John 13:36 NLTse). Jesus gave a new commandment about love, and Peter asked a question about what Jesus was talking about a few sentences ago. This showed how Peter’s mind was working a little slow. It also showed how all the disciples and we think on different levels and at different speeds.

Why may be the most difficult answer to look into. It does require to most amount of prayer. It takes Jesus to open up a vision to His life and ministry. It takes a prayerful and open heart to see why Jesus was at that dinner.

Why would Jesus leave His throne in Heaven to be at that dinner? Why would God’s Son listen to people doubt Him? Why would He stand there while people argued with Him? When we look back, we see those religious leaders and all kinds pf people arguing with Jesus, doubting Him, and leaving Him.

We have to look back to see Jesus sitting on His throne in Heaven. His Father and Him created a vast universe. Together they ruled and stayed in constant contact with all their creation through their Spirit. Jesus knew everything that was going on. Jesus had a relationship with all those created beings in the universe they created. Then God decided to create one more world. God simply spoke everything into existence and it appeared just the way He wanted it. Everything was perfect. In this new world, God knelt down to form a new creature from the dust. He fashioned every detail by hand. When it was completed He called this new creature man and named Him Adam.

God showed all of His new creation to Adam. Although Adam only knew God for a few hours, God gave everything in this new world to Adam. After a while, Adam noticed there wasn’t any creature like himself. Something wasn’t complete. He didn’t have a mate. God took a rib from Adam and used it to form him a new wife named Eve. Adam gave everything he received from God to Eve and she returned all of it to him. All she wanted was to be by his side, where she came from. To be there and complete Adam as a creation of God.

It didn’t take long for Eve to stray, make one mistake, then another. This world was far different than the others when sin set in. Blame was the first negative effect. The universe watched in horror as God sacrificed the first animals to make coats for Adam and Eve. Why didn’t God just create coats like He did everything else? What did they need thick heavy coats for? No one else in the universe needed them. Sin changed this entire world. Everything from man to the elements suffered.

Jesus could have ended it all right there. One word, one thought could have cast this planet into the cold darkness of space or towards the sun. This world would have melted quicker than a single snow flake drifting into a raging fire. Why was this planet allowed to exist after that first sin?

Jesus tried to explain why. Every time He explained a portion of the subject, one disciple or another would change the subject, or ask a question about something Jesus previously explained. Just like those religious leaders and other people who walked away from Jesus, His own disciples questioned Him. They just weren’t questioning Jesus, they were questioning His love for them.

John 13:34-38 NLTse (34) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. (35) Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (36) Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” (37) “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” (38) Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

John 14:1-31 NLTse “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. (2) There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (3) When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (4) And you know the way to where I am going.” (5) “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (6) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (7) If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” (8) Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” (9) Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? (10) Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.

John 14:20-24 NLTse (20) When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (21) Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” (22) Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” (23) Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. (24) Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.

To understand why, we have to look at the pattern. We have to understand who asked the questions, what those questions were, when they asked the questions, what was the the response, and why. Peter of course had a habit of trying to be the first to ask a question or offer an answer. We have to look at what Peter said and when.

Jesus gave them a new commandment: Love each other. Jesus used His love for them as an example. That love was proof they were Jesus’ examples. What would you have asked Jesus? Wouldn’t you ask Him to explain every detail of that love? Wouldn’t you do everything to learn more about a love that created and looked over a universe? Wouldn’t you want to learn about a love that brought Jesus to this world instead of destroying it and starting over again? But what was Peter’s response to the love Jesus wanted to teach them? Peter asked where Jesus was going? Wasn’t that reaction a little selfish? Wasn’t it a little out of context?

Peter didn’t have the love Jesus talked about. He tried to prove his love in a different way, his own way. Peter told Jesus he would die for him. Of course Jesus knew better. Now we can see when Jesus met with Peter after His resurrection, He asked Peter if he loved Him, not once, but three times. Jesus had to teach Peter not only how to think about love, but how to pray about it.

Immediately after Jesus told Peter how he was going to deny he knew Him, Jesus told them not to worry. Jesus told them about a place He is going to personally prepare for them. “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” At that point Thomas had to tell Jesus, he had no idea where Jesus was going nor did they know the way. Once again, how would you have reacted? If they really believed Jesus is God’s Son, wouldn’t a more appropriate response be centered on details about that new home? Imagine the God who created the universe building a new home for you. That sparks a thousand question in me. Is Jesus going to speak it into existence or build it by hand? How will it look? Where will it be? What about the rooms, the view, the yard? Who is gong to be my neighbor? Think of a thousand other question about the plants and animals around the house. But Thomas asked which way Jesus was going. His response seems as out of place as Peter’s question.

Jesus wondered why they didn’t understand. Why they could see how He was, “the way.” Did they miss something in the parable about those sheep following the good shepherd? Sheep don’t ask questions, they just follow.

Jesus didn’t let the interruption slow Him down or knock Him off course. Jesus only had a few more hours to explain those details. He told them about knowing His Father. “If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.” This confused Philip. His response was also out of place. “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

What had Jesus been showing them over the past few years? Why did He leave Heaven to talk to those people, perform all those miracles, freeze in the cold, sweat in the summer, face threats, and live like one of the poor people on this planet? Jesus did all of that and more. But they still couldn’t understand. “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?”

Jesus only told them a few details about what was going to happen in a few hours. Then He got right to the point. “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” It was pretty simple. We show Jesus we love Him by keeping His commandments. Jesus already pointed them to God’s commandments, and there was no need or time to repeat Himself on the subject. That’s when Judas (not Judas Iscariot, but the other disciple with that name) said to him, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?”

Was this question also out of place? Did Jesus leave Heaven to come here and teach only a few people? Did Jesus intend on showing only a few people God and His love? Why was Judas out of place? Why were those disciples out of place? Did they have trouble hearing or understanding?

Let’s look at this short sequence of events from Jesus’ perspective. He taught them about the love between Him and His Father, and the love the two have for those disciples, and all of us of course. Then Jesus talked about knowing His Father. If they knew Jesus, they knew God. Knowing someone has a lot to do with loving them. How can you love someone if you don’t know them?

Jesus wanted to show how much He loved them. He told them He was going away to build a new home for them. This should have drawn them back to creation when God formed Adam by hand. Jesus continued to teach them about seeing God’s personality and know all about His personality from what they’ve learned and the type of life He led. Also the way He washed their feet a few hours ago.

Finally Jesus told them the connection between God and His law and the connection between His love and His law. Jesus began with love and finished with love. In between Jesus explained how we can see God’s love and what He will do for each of them and us.

I would suggest you do what Jesus wanted them to do. If you can’t see God through what has been recorded about Jesus’ life and ministry, you should be praying, talking to Him, and listening to what He has to say. All I can tell you is, Jesus is waiting to share details about His love you can’t imagine. I’ve seen more. A few I’ve been able to explain. There is so much more words cannot properly explain. And a special type of love the world is not ready to accept. This world is not ready to understand. I have no idea what you’re ready for. But I know Jesus knows exactly what you are ready to listen to and except. So far this story has shown us how Jesus’ disciples weren’t ready to accept that love. I can tell you, John didn’t include all the details. There is much more. And we’re not done this this story yet. There are a few chapters that follow.

John Chapter 6

There is nothing like studying Jesus’ ministry. John’s Gospel takes a rare look at how the Spirit worked in the background throughout Jesus’ ministry, These stories and this book are designed to bring out those details. I hope you enjoy reading this chapter and learn more about the Spirit than I was able to capture in this short story.

John 6:1-71 NLTse After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. (2) A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. (3) Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (4) (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) (5) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” (6) He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. (7) Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” (8) Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. (9) “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” (10) “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered 5,000.) (11) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. (12) After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” (13) So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. (14) When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” (15) When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself. (16) That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. (17) But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. (18) Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. (19) They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, (20) but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” (21) Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination! (22) The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. (23) Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. (24) So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. (25) They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” (26) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. (27) But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” (28) They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” (29) Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (30) They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? (31) After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” (32) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. (33) The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (34) “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” (35) Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (36) But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. (37) However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. (38) For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. (39) And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. (40) For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” (41) Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” (42) They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” (43) But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. (44) For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. (45) As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (46) (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.) (47) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. (48) Yes, I am the bread of life! (49) Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. (50) Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. (51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” (52) Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked. (53) So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. (54) But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. (55) For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. (56) Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. (57) I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. (58) I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” (59) He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (60) Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” (61) Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? (62) Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? (63) The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (64) But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) (65) Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” (66) At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. (67) Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” (68) Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. (69) We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (70) Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” (71) He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.

We can see three major stories in this chapter. Jesus feeds a large group of people. The disciples found themselves in a storm in the middle of the lake. At the end, Jesus added details to what He explained to the Jewish leaders in the previous chapter. Since feeding people and the disciples in a boat are between the same basic lesson, we can see they must be related to the lesson Jesus was not only teaching, but repeating. So, they must help explain the lesson. Why else would these stories and lessons be arrange in the order John recorded them? We have to look at those stories in detail to see how they relate to what Jesus was trying to teach those religious leaders.

Jesus Fed 5000

John 6:1-15 NLTse After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. (2) A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. (3) Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (4) (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) (5) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” (6) He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. (7) Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” (8) Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. (9) “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” (10) “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered 5,000.) (11) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. (12) After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” (13) So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. (14) When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” (15) When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.

I have to jump into a story about this scene on this one, but first, I want to point out one text. “He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.” Why was Jesus testing Philip? The last time we saw Philip was in chapter 1. John didn’t say much about Philip, except for the fact he went to find his brother Nathanael, told him about Jesus and brought his brother to meet Jesus.

A vast crowd followed Jesus and His disciples up the mountain. Jesus stopped at a level and grassy area. Jesus climbed a small bluff to look over the crowd. Philip climbed up after Jesus and stood next to Him. A soft wind blew their hair and coats back. Jesus and Philip had to squint looking into the wind. Philip looked over to see Jesus’ eyes watering up. Was it the wind or His concern for the crowd? Jesus turned face to face with Philip and asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” Philip looked at a single tear fall from Jesus’ eye as he thought about an answer.

Here we see this chapter beginning with John telling us about Jesus crossing a lake. This lake is significant in the fact it has Jews on one side and Gentiles on the other. It not only has a spiritual significance, Jesus used it as a tool to teach. Other authors placed Jesus on the Gentile side of the lake when He fed the 4000 and 5000 men, plus women and children.

It wouldn’t seem strange for Jesus to feed over 5000 people on the Gentile side of the lake during the Passover. What does seem strange is, why Jesus was not in Jerusalem during the Passover. We could look back and see, the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus and that may account for His absence. But is there a more important spiritual lesson Jesus was teaching?

The Passover was celebrated to remember how an angel of death passed over homes in Egypt that had blood on the door post. If blood wasn’t covering the doorposts, the angel went in to take the life of the first born son in the household. After the promised land was settled, they were to write the Ten Commandments in the sides of their doors. This was a way of showing how the blood of the lamb covered the law. But what does that have to do with the meal Jesus served that day?

The Passover also reminded people of the bondage God freed them from. We can’t forget, thousands of people left Egypt with the Hebrews. Jesus was ministering to those other people during that Passover. We have to remember, there were only three Passover celebrations during Jesus’ ministry. John recorded the first one when Jesus fashioned that whip and disrupted business inside the temple courtyard. This is the second. And of course the third was when Jesus taught a series of parables days before His arrest and series of trials leading to His execution. At this point all we can see in Jesus’ Passover celebration with the Gentiles is the fact He fed them. On the spiritual side we see, Jesus’ ministry offered freedom from bondage to sin.

What do we learn about this story when we look back to see how John led into it?

For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” (John 5:43-47 NLTse).

Now we can see why Jesus tested Philip. He wanted to see if Philip believed Jesus came from God. John also pointed us back to Moses, who recorded all the details about the first Passover. This shows how it’s always good to go back and review the original design, function, and intent. I’ve heard so many people do silly things, then insist, “it’s tradition.” Well in most cases, if they would have gone back a few years, maybe even generations, they’d find, they used to do things totally different. I think the new urban definition of tradition is, “this is how we do it now and we ain’t gonna change it as long as I’m around.” Let’s go back another step to a reliable source, the Bible. What would those people find if they checked their traditions against the Bible. They wouldn’t find most of them in the Bible. Fact of the matter is, the Passover saw a series of changes between Moses and Jesus’ time. Passover was still a tradition, but underwent a series of changes by the Jewish leaders.

Jesus was breaking from that tradition for a while. There were no homes on that hillside where He fed all those people. So there was no need to sacrifice a bunch of lambs and smear doorposts with blood. That’s why Jesus provided a simple meal of bread and fish.

Philip needed to learn a lesson. Jesus saw a lot of potential in Philip, the question was, how to being it out. Jesus looked over the crowd for a few minutes. A few more tears came from His eyes. Philip had a lot in common with Andrew. They were both very good looking men. About the same size, shape, and age. Both had older brothers in the ministry. Jesus could see how their older brothers held them back from reaching their full potential.

Andrew found a young boy with a lunch bag full of bread and fish. When the disciples went out among the crowd to look for food, the boy jumped up to offer the lunch his mother packed for him. He ran up to Andrew, flung open his bag and said, “I have enough for everyone!” That little boy had eyes that could melt any heart. The hair hanging down over his face couldn’t hide the excitement inside of them. Andrew took the boy and his treasure to see Jesus.

Philip watched as the boy showed Jesus his lunch with a huge smile on his face. Andrew and Philip watched as Jesus knelt on one knee to inspect the feast inside the small bag. With one hand on the child’s face, the other helping to hold the bag, Jesus affirmed, “yes, this is more than enough.” Jesus took the bag from the boy, making a sound like the weight was almost too much for Jesus to handle on His own. Jesus asked for a basket. Andrew quickly brought one. Jesus asked the boy to help dump all that food into the basket. He popped up with a look in his eyes no one would ever forget. Once the five barley loaves and two fish were in the basket, the little boy helped Jesus lift it up. The boy stood there with his arms in the air like some unseen force helped Jesus hold that basket over His head as He blessed it.

The boy played an integral part in this event. He showed the disciples, Andrew and Philip in particular, how much Jesus cared for people, including little boys, and how they possess the ability to put incredible accomplishments into action. Jesus wanted to show them, the size of the offering doesn’t matter, once Jesus, God, and His Spirit begin working together, more will be accomplished than anyone could ever imagine.

The Word was God
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When Jesus brought the basket down, He did need help to set it on the ground. He smiled as the little boy was more than happy to hold up his end. Everyone around Jesus bend over and looked at the basket, now filled with bread and fish. Jesus told them to bring more baskets. The disciples went into the crowd asking for empty baskets. One after another they brought back empty baskets, filled them with beard and fish, took them out to the crowd and returned with another empty basket. Philip stood and watched for a while. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

Jesus sat down with the boy on His lap watching as excitement moved through the crowd like a title wave as news spread faster than the food. Philip walked over to the basket the other disciples had been taking basket after basket full of food from, took two loaves and two fish, walked over and gave them to Jesus and the little boy on His lap. The little boy looked up at Philip and said, “my mom made those over there.” He looked up at Jesus and added, “your Father made these.”

After eating, it didn’t take long for people to begin falling to sleep. The little boy rested gently in Jesus’ lap. That’s when Jesus sent His disciples out to gather up the leftovers. It was a surprise Jesus wanted the little boy to see when he woke up.

Who knows what those people were dreaming or what they talked about while they ate. When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” They wanted to make Jesus their king.

This may make a lot of people think Jesus fed a crowd of Jews. Since it was the Passover, that is doubtful. We’ve seen how the woman in Samaria had her own view of God. We’ve also seen how the promise of a prophet brought the entire city to Jesus. Does it really matter who that group consisted of? The lesson was for everyone to learn. Jesus looks at the effort and what’s in the heart, not the size of the offering or the ability of the person offering the gift.

The Disciples Crossed the Lake Alone

John 6:16-21 NLTse That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. (17) But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. (18) Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. (19) They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, (20) but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” (21) Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!

John recorded a rather short account about that crossing after Jesus fed 5000 men plus who knows how many woman and children. This short account begs us to go back to review the previous story to see if there was anything missed. One subject to look into is why John recorded only the men in his number and not women and children. Most people point out, that was Jewish tradition to only mention and count men. Where did that come from?

David decided to number Israel when he was king. His general, Joab warned him about numbering Israel, even though he was only numbering men old enough to serve in the military. Satan rose up against Israel and caused David to take a census of the people of Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1 NLTse). You can read the rest of the story in 1 Chronicles 21 to understand the full story.

My question is, if scripture clearly pointed out Satan caused David to number the people, and David ordered Joab to count the number of available warriors in Israel, why did this become a tradition? Let’s examine the details. Satan influenced David to go against God’s wishes. Satan wanted the people numbered. David interpreted it as a temptation but made a few minor changes to turn it into something that would be to his advantage. David didn’t feel he had to know how many people he ruled over, just how many warriors were available. The change made sense to David, so he sent out Joab to complete the task against his will. Altering Satan’s temptation wasn’t okay with God, so David was given a choice. He had to choose which punishment Israel would face for his poor choice. Since that time, it has been a tradition to count only men in Israel.

Here is an example showing how people create traditions. Most of the time they have no idea where the tradition came from or if it is good or bad. In this case, it’s easy to see, this is not a good tradition to follow. Then why did John and other Bible writers follow that tradition? They weren’t perfect.

People may argue this was a tradition that goes as far back as Exodus when God delivered Israel from Egypt. But does it? Where did Moses or anyone count only the men? Some chapters begin with, the whole congregation, or whole community, depending on the translation. Based on the original Hebrew word Moses recorded, congregation may also be translated as a witness. We know, more people than Israel witnessed those miracles as well as the Exodus.

 

The point is, John pointed us back to examine a tradition in a story about Jesus breaking tradition. When we look ahead, didn’t Jesus change how Passover was observed after He rose from that tomb? Was Jesus pointing forward to that change?

John had his own style of recording this story. He pointed out the disciples went down to the boat, waited for a while, then left without Him. Is that any way to treat someone who just fed 0ver 5000 people with a few loaves of bread and fish? If you saw a miracle like that, how anxious would you be to leave Him behind? Let me ask you a question. Now that you’ve seen God’s Word open up, are you going to leave it behind?

That seems to be John’s main point in his short version of this story. We could compare John’s version to other accounts, but then we wouldn’t be doing anything more than what other people have done, copied, and turned into a tradition.

John added one line Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid. I am here!” That sounds like a personal message. Imagine John writing this book. He gets to the this story and really wants to express himself, but the Spirit stops him. The Spirit lets John record only a few simple details about that event. Look at the details in this story and compare it to the other stories John recorded. In one story John told us everything but what the woman was wearing. All of a sudden John begins omitting details.

Once a pattern is established, and we see a break in it, this is an indication to pay attention. It often indicates a movement into a new event. Often a break in an established pattern leads into a sever warning or a wonderful promise of fulfillment.

The Crowd Followed Jesus

John 6:22-28 NLTse The next day the crowd that had stayed on the far shore saw that the disciples had taken the only boat, and they realized Jesus had not gone with them. (23) Several boats from Tiberias landed near the place where the Lord had blessed the bread and the people had eaten. (24) So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they got into the boats and went across to Capernaum to look for him. (25) They found him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” (26) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. (27) But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.” (28) They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

This is a tough sequence to follow. We have two groups looking for Jesus. One is the crowd on the shore near where Jesus fed them. Another group in boats came from Tiberias to where they heard Jesus was. Since Jesus and the disciples left, they all got in the boats and sailed to Capernaum.

Did you see what happened? Jesus criss-crossed that lake back and forth to teach a lesson. He wanted people to see how He came to this world to minister to everyone. Since this story occurred over the second Passover, it was in the second year of Jesus’ ministry. This short story John included to show some people were listening to Jesus.

Jesus fed those people on the Gentile side of the lake. Tiberias is on the Jewish side of the lake. John gave us a scene with Hebrews sailing boats to the Gentile side of the lake. The Hebrews met a group of Gentiles who told them about Jesus feeding thousands of people. They all praised the Lord, got in those boats together and went to Capernaum, another Jewish city on the northern end of the lake.

The moral of the story. People are not going to see this lesson until: 1) They understand Jesus’ ministry. 2) They want to accept Jesus’ ministry. Another miraculous miracle occurred most people miss. A little boy played a major role in not only feeding all those people but bringing a large group of Jews and Gentiles together. This shows how God’s miracles have an expanding effect on people and events in the world.

Another thing happened. We’ve seen John record hints about traditions and their effects. What about the tradition the Jews in the boats overcame to offer a ride to the Gentiles? The Gentiles had to overcome the same traditions. We saw a bit of those traditions explained when Jesus met that woman in Samaria.

Now look at that little boy. Do you think it mattered to him who that food fed? Did he question if they were Jews or Gentiles? Now do you see why John recorded only a few details? John recorded details from a series of stories related on a spiritual basis. Unless we look back at other details John saw important enough to list, we don’t stand a chance of seeing how their related. If we follow the tradition of taking out one little story and explaining it ourselves, we rob ourselves of John’s experience with Jesus. As well as missing the spiritual message installed by God’s Spirit.

You would think Jesus would be happy to see Jews and Gentiles traveling together. That’s what He was working towards for over two years. But there was something else on Jesus’ mind. If the Gentiles wanted to make Him king, imagine what the Jews thought?

Jesus wanted them to see the spiritual food, not the physical food. Jesus didn’t come here to take a physical throne, but to lead them to a spiritual Kingdom. He got their attention. They wanted to do God’s work. Imagine what can be accomplished when Jews and Gentiles work together, under God’s command of course. But that’s the hard part. Getting people to give up control and trusting in a power they can’t see. At least Jesus or God’s Spirit got them together.

The Only Work God Wants You To Do

John 6:29-36 NLTse Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (30) They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? (31) After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” (32) Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. (33) The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (34) “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” (35) Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (36) But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.

You have to be extremely careful when reading this portion of this story. Now we can see why we had to carefully read the last story to see how Jews came together with Gentiles. John was preparing us for another lesson here.

We need to look at who said what. Jesus began by telling them, “the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” The people, or some of the people representing the entire mixed group answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”

Put this into perspective. People are looking for Jesus. Some of them saw one of His greatest miracles. They told other people about it. Jews and Gentiles overcame generations of prejudice to get together in boats and look for Jesus. Wasn’t that enough of a sign?

Jesus just told them the work their supposed to do, “believe in the One He has sent.” We can see how Jesus is reaching out to new believers. He is reaching out to them like little children. Their work begins at the vary basics of belief.

Looking at this from the aspect of the crowd, Jesus just told them what their work was. Instead of asking for more details about that work, they changed the subject to, “show us another miraculous sign if you want us to believe.” They were looking for Jesus and once they found Him and He gave them a job to do, they put a condition on it.

They brought up the subject of Moses giving Israel bread in the wilderness. Jesus pointed out, it wasn’t Moses but God who provided that bread or manna for all those years. All they had to do is believe God sent Jesus. Once He explained He was the living bread from Heaven, they asked for that bread everyday. Did they know what they were asking for?

Jesus had to repeat and expand on the lesson. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.” They not only saw Jesus, they decided to look for Him and follow Him. But why? For what? Was it only because of that physical bread and the hope of a new nation where they could find peace in this world?

Jesus introduced a new key word and symbol, bread. He tied it in with eternal life and belief. All those words are related to one another. All of them together focus on the same spiritual lesson. This is another reason John wrote in that particular manner making us pay close attention and not take any word for granted. That’s why John included a series of lessons most people miss before Jesus introduced this lesson on spiritual bread, life, and belief. They all point to spiritual understanding. The main focus thus far is, all of those details point to Jesus. Spiritual understanding begins with Jesus.

Those The Father Has Given Me

John 6:37-46 NLTse However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. (38) For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. (39) And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. (40) For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” (41) Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” (42) They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” (43) But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. (44) For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. (45) As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (46) (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.)

It’s important to remember, Jesus is addressing a mixed multitude of Jews and all kinds of beliefs. This information He is giving them may seem basic to many of us, but put yourself into the scene and think of how each person would have received this news. To the world, this was all totally new. Jesus told them concepts recorded in scripture generations before any of those people were born. Long before there were Jews, Greeks. Romans, Samaritans, or any of the other so called ethnic groups who Jesus ministered to.

When Jesus refereed to those the Father has given me, He was referring not only to those people standing in front of Him, but all those people back to Adam. This was much bigger than a simple speech given to a small group standing on the northern shore of that lake. This message spanned all people over all generations.

Jesus told them something they never would have expected to hear. “I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” Jesus had to announce this in a safe location to a group that wouldn’t turn on Him. When Jesus announced the beginning of His ministry in the synagogue in His hometown, the people who saw Him grow up tried throwing Him off a cliff.

This was something radically new. Jesus just told them, God send Him. What do you think the reaction would be in your church if someone you hardly knew stood up and made that claim? I’ve met a number of people who talk to God and listen. We have to be careful who we talk to and how we talk to them. We have to be careful what we say and who we say it to because, people without a relationship with God have no idea how He communicates with us, and doubt God will ever talk to anyone. Many of those people hold predominant church positions and wouldn’t hesitate to try to politically and personally assassinate anyone who claims to hear God’s voice in any way, shape, or from. This includes hearing God’s voice and seeing His personality in scripture.

Jesus introduced another rarely known and talked about subject. “ And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day.Even by today’s standards, this is not a subject all Christians agree on. The majority of Christians believe the soul immediately goes to Heaven and there is no need for a resurrection on the last day. We see Sadducees who didn’t believe in the resurrection trying to use that subject to trap Jesus. We also see the subject in many of the Gospels and other books in the new Testament including Acts, when Paul used different beliefs about the resurrection to divide the different factions of religious leaders at one of his trials. When Paul brought up one concept, arguing about the resurrection became more important than condemning Paul. Why and how has Satan been able to use the resurrection to divide so many people? Jesus pointed them to one belief. He wanted to heal the divisions they created. What was their reaction?

Then the people began to murmur in disagreement because he had said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” Jesus was talking about the resurrection on the last day. They went back to the subject about bread. Something tripped their trigger. Suddenly the crowd began to turn on Jesus like they did in His Hometown. They said, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph? We know his father and mother. How can he say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” Now Jesus was in a bind. How was He going to get out of this mess and get the crowd to remember why they came together?

Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up. As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. (Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.) The first thing Jesus reminded them of was a greater force then themselves. Someone greater than the traditions that divided them, brought them to Him.

John repeated the phrase, “Not that anyone has ever seen the Father; only I, who was sent from God, have seen him.” John wanted to remind us, there is only one source to go to for the right information. That is Jesus. Is that so difficult to figure out?

God sends people to Jesus. This shows us the simple process God defined and uses. Jesus made it plain. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me.” God’s Spirit draws people to Jesus. Just so you don’t miss the point. Jesus DIDN’T include the name of a special church, a set of Bible Studies someone prepared, a set of rules, regulations, doctrines, traditions, a building layout, colors used in the building, or the name of any man, title, occupation, and this list could go on and on about what Jesus DIDN’T mention. Jesus mentioned God His Father as the ONLY source. I shouldn’t have to explain this, but as experience has shown me, some people just don’t get this. The Christian world is filled with people who have a better way, a better method, a better — What? What can be better than God?

We also see Jesus quoting a small portion of scripture. “ As it is written in the Scriptures, ‘They will all be taught by God.’” Jesus could have refereed to a number of Old Testament texts. Two in particular. We’ll look at one here, the other you can locate in Isaiah and study on your own.

I will let you in on a little secret here. God recorded the fulfillment of every prophecy in the Bible. God used a simple pattern combining the basic rules of context with common sense. The prophecy and its fulfillment share the same theme. They have to. Since they share the same theme, the introduction and summation in the chapter the prophecy is found in must agree with the introduction and summation the fulfillment is recorded. This is perfectly consistent with all the prophecies that have been fulfilled. God’s Bible is living proof of that fact. Old Testament scripture Jesus and others quoted in the New Testament follow that same rule. Let’s see how it works.

Another important Bible Study rule is, when you see scripture quoted by an author, always look up the original texts. An inspired writer will only quote a small portion of scripture. Just enough to point you back to the original texts. It’s your job to open up and read the original texts. And remember to check to introduction and summation for the chapter the original scripture is located. This a a major way God uses to communicate with us. An easy way to locate the original texts is to use a chain reference in a Study Bible. Or you can use the TSK (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) you can download and use with E-Sword, and other Bible computer programs.

In the last days, the mountain of the LORD’s house will be the highest of all– the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the LORD’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. The LORD will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between strong nations far away. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. (Micah 4:1-3 NLTse).

Here we only see Jesus pointed to only a small portion of scripture. In this case it is part of the introduction to Micah 4. Look at the detail a few extra verses added. A mountain represents the LORD’s house. It will be the highest of all. The highest what? Is God’s house on the highest mountain elevation on earth? No! This is pointing to a spiritual house. Get the picture? Since the theme is learning, it is pointing to the highest level of education anyone can receive. Now do you get it?

People from all over the world will stream there to worship. Does that only included qualified and properly educated theologians? Of course not! Scripture just showed us they don’t have the proper education until they’ve been on God’s mountain.

Micah also tells us the people will say, “”Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” They will call others to join in on the education process – on God’s mountain.

You can look at all the details in the chapter. The main point is, and needs to be compared to what Jesus was teaching in that story, until we go directly to God, there is no way we are qualified to teach others. After we’re educated, all we can do is tell people about God’s classroom on His mountain. Jesus came to teach that.

Following the simple rules of context, we also have to compare summations to see if they agree. Keep in mind, Micah began with a spiritual mountain. So we have to look at the end of Micah for a spiritual connection the summation in John 6.

Now many nations have gathered against you. “Let her be desecrated,” they say. “Let us see the destruction of Jerusalem.” But they do not know the LORD’s thoughts or understand his plan. These nations don’t know that he is gathering them together to be beaten and trampled like sheaves of grain on a threshing floor. “Rise up and crush the nations, O Jerusalem!” says the LORD. “For I will give you iron horns and bronze hooves, so you can trample many nations to pieces. You will present their stolen riches to the LORD, their wealth to the LORD of all the earth.” (Micah 4:11-13 NLTse).

Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him. (John 6:65-71 NLTse).

Micah talks about, “many nations have gathered against you.” He also wrote about the destruction they want to cause and how those people misunderstand. Micah closed with symbols of their destruction.

John told us about many people who turned away from Jesus because they couldn’t understand His connection with God and how God brings people to Jesus. If people refuse to follow Jesus, are they for or against Him? We all know, when people don’t agree with someone, they spend a lot of time trying to convince people why. They look for people to agree with them so they feel better about their decision. The same is true for people who turn their backs on Jesus. They’re not only turning their backs but work behind the scene to turn other people away from Jesus. John also happened to mention one disciple who he referred to as the devil. We see the same battle in both chapters.

This Bread is My Flesh

John 6:47-54 NLTse “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. (48) Yes, I am the bread of life! (49) Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. (50) Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. (51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” (52) Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked. (53) So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. (54) But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.

Jesus first crossed the lake where He healed people, then fed thousands. Jesus used those events to lead into lessons He was about to teach. One of those lessons involved a small boy and his little lunch to show, the size of the person doesn’t matter and neither does the size of the offering matter. Jesus blessed the food to show when Jesus unites with God and His Spirit, more will be accomplished than ever imagined.

Jesus had to leave because the crowd wanted to use Jesus and His miracles to serve their needs and desires. The disciples got into a boat and left Jesus behind. Jesus had to save them from a sudden storm. Finally a mixed multitude found Jesus and He began another series of lessons.

Jesus knew people only went out to find Him because of the things they wanted Him to do for them. Jesus had to convince them not to worry about the physical things in this world. Jesus had to teach them how to look at spiritual things. At first the people wanted to learn. They also wanted to perform miracles themselves. Jesus knew they weren’t ready for that.

Someone in the crowd brought up the subject of Moses and the manna or bread from Heaven. This was a good point for Jesus to begin teaching. Jesus introduced a new concept to them. “”I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me.”

We have to realize, only some of the people heard the lesson about living water Jesus taught the Samaritan woman. This was also the first time any of them heard Jesus use bread as a symbol. They wanted that bread. Before they could receive that bread, they had to learn a few things. “ I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” This also applied to them. The people in the crowd wanted to do miracles to serve their own desires.

The crowd didn’t cooperate long. Some of the people who knew Jesus when He grew up questioned Him and His authority. Jesus told them, “”Stop complaining about what I said. For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.” Jesus kept repeating the last day to get their minds off their immediate needs onto the big picture. After all, what is this life compared to eternity? How is Jesus going to get their minds off their own problems and look at what God is trying to accomplish and how?

Jesus pointed out, “Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died.” What were those people looking for? Something to supply their immediate needs, or a God who is able to provide all their needs for an eternity? They had to make a decision. But first they needed the facts to make an educated decision. Like Jesus told them, look at Micah to see what needed to be done. But even today, how many people ignore what Jesus and God’s Spirit is trying to point them to?

Jesus told them the difference between physical and spiritual bread. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” Jesus actually repeated this a few times. It’s something those people should have paid attention to and something we need to examine. As we’ve seen in Malachi, that trip to God’s mountain is a personal journey. Why are people afraid to talk with God and learn from Jesus?

Some people continued to argue with Jesus. All He’s trying to do is teach a simple lesson. Jesus continued to repeat Himself and add more details. He told them, “anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day.” Once again we see the last day repeated. Did you ever argue with someone and have to repeat yourself? Did it ever dawn on you, they’ll never listen to what you say? On a one on one conversation, your not going to accomplish anything no matter how much time you waste or how many times you repeat yourself. But Jesus was speaking to a group. Part of that group wanted power to perform miracles on their own. Another part doubted Jesus because they grew up with Him.

My Flesh is Food

John 6:55-59 NLTse For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. (56) Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. (57) I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. (58) I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.” (59) He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

John added an unexpected twist in this story that began on the northern shore of the lake and ended in a synagogue in Capernaum. When did the scene change? Since Jesus repeated Himself so many times, Jesus may have repeated the entire lesson inside that synagogue. We can’t be sure. We do see, everything in these few verses is in previous verses. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. (48) Yes, I am the bread of life! (49) Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. (50) Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. (51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” Is Jesus repeating Himself in front of the original group on the lake shore, or is that something Jesus repeated in the synagogue? Once again, we see another example in John’s book we need to pay close attention to the details.

John 6:60-71 NLTse Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” (61) Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? (62) Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? (63) The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (64) But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) (65) Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” (66) At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. (67) Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” (68) Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. (69) We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (70) Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” (71) He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.

Jesus turned His attention to His disciples in the summation of this chapter. Not only the twelve, but other disciples. Some of them admitted they didn’t understand what He was trying to teach. Jesus didn’t try to reexplain all the details. He added another important detail, “what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again?”

This should seem like basic information to most Christians. Some of those people Jesus was talking to did eventually see Him ascend to Heaven. But why did Jesus ask those people if the information He gave them offended them? How would it offend them? Does it offend people today? John compared their misunderstanding to complaining. Another lesson showing how closely we need to read John’s book. Why would they go to listen to Jesus, then complain? Are people still complaining today?

Then Jesus repeated the most important part of the lesson. “The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Did this make them listen? Does it make people listen today? Do people know the difference between human efforts and the work of God’s Spirit?

I see arguments on the Internet all the time. One church member condemns another church. Why? They don’t know anything about that other church. They never visited that other church. They may have read something someone posted about the church they choose to condemn. Chances are, the person who posted the information never visited the church they are condemning. That wheel of misinformed hatred rolls on and on.

That is one example of those who’ve walked away from Jesus. They don’t understand what He’s trying to teach. They have no idea how to approach God’s mountain and possess no desire to learn. They have become a god onto themselves and are the most difficult people to reach. They are not many steps away from becoming like terrorists cells we hear about on the news. The only difference is, some people choose to assassinate with words. Both factions share the same tactics. They like to hide, come out to perform their evil deed, them slip away. There is no way neither will ever think of trying to find out anything about the groups they’ve been taught to hate. Both factions convince themselves they know everything. Both factions convince themselves they are fighting and killing for God. Neither group knows God, nor are they able to explain any basic information about God. Like the group in this story, they walked away from Jesus to follow someone who only knows hatred and domination – how to use people. Like Judas, they’ve betrayed Jesus, abandoned Him for a way they thought was better than God’s plan.

People can’t see Jesus’ words or promise of eternal life. They don’t understand it. This is part of the message we’re given to share with the world. When people find it difficult to understand, they give up. Their pride keeps them from approaching God’s classroom on His mountain. Someone convinced them, they aren’t good enough. They aren’t pure enough. They have too many sins to be ashamed of. They aren’t smart enough or not prepared. So those people – feeling inadequate to approach God’s throne, concentrate on a single message. They feel if they can get one message right, it might make them good enough to stand before God. They meet someone who seems to be an expert in one field. They listen intently and learn from a mere human. They don’t understand, “Human effort accomplishes nothing.” All they want to do is learn a single message to save one person. Maybe that will get God’s attention.

Judas felt that way. Judas condemned people he didn’t know. Judas thought he had a better plan. Judas was one of those who wanted power to do miracles on his own. He convinced himself he was wise enough to control the power and use it to make the world a better place. Since Jesus wasn’t going to use that power the way it should be used, maybe there is a way of making Jesus use that power and share it. Finally, Judas found predominant leaders who agreed with him.

Why did Jesus keep repeating the lesson on the bread of life? When we look close at this chapter, He really didn’t explain what that bread represented. Except to go to Jesus and listen to Him. So I guess we can say bread points to Jesus and His Word. But that is pretty vague. That leaves the door wide open to interpretation. Why would Jesus spend so much time trying to explain, He is the bread of life, and eternal life only comes through Him, but not explain they entire process? Well if you think that’s all Jesus explained in this chapter, you missed the entire point and I can tell, you never studied it on your own. You let someone study and give you their personal view.

Did you overlook how many times Jesus pointed to God’s Spirit? They are a team. God sends people to Jesus, who sends them to God’s Spirit. They all work together. They rely on one another. I can see three major groups in this story. One wanted to learn how to perform miracles. One of the groups were Jewish, the other Gentile.

The group that wanted to perform miracles couldn’t do a thing without God’s Spirit and wouldn’t know how to use them unless He first taught them. The Hebrews knew God’s law. Without Jesus, they wouldn’t know how or what to teach in God’s law. The Gentiles served a special purpose. They know the local customs and knew how to establish relationships with many different types of people. They still needed Jesus and God’s Spirit to know what and how to lead other Gentiles to Christ. Imagine what they could have accomplished if they learned how to work together. Jesus showed them what can be accomplished when He worked together with God and His Spirit when they fed over 5000 people.

I can tell some of you are still questioning what side of the lake Jesus was on and who He fed. We’ll have to consult another book to find that answer. According to Matthew 14, after Jesus fed the 5000, they crossed the lake. You can read the entire story. Here is where they landed. After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. (Matthew 14:34 NLTse). Gennesaret is on the Hebrew side of the lake near Galilee.

Does it matter where Jesus fed those people? John’s book is very passionate about Christ, his teacher. He loved Jesus. We’ve also seen how carefully we have to read John’s book to see exactly what’s happening. In this case we have to look at what John didn’t record. Something he didn’t think he had to explain. How do you think Jesus felt when He saw all those people turn and walk away?

John showed us how Jesus kept repeating the same messages over and over. Finally some of the people said, “it was too hard to understand.” Others walked away because they saw Jesus grow up but couldn’t see how He could be the Messiah. What is that? They saw Jesus grow up, lead a perfect life, and couldn’t see He is the Messiah. What were they looking for? Didn’t they see anything special in Jesus?

What did Jesus feel when He saw friends He’d known for years walk away from Him? Not to mention a number of people He just fed. What went through Jesus’ mind. How far did His heart sink as He stood there wondering what He could of done, or what He needed to do next? Can you imagine the conversation Jesus must have had with His DAD that night? Can you imagine how God tried to comfort Jesus? Don’t you think Jesus prayed long and hard for that day? Don’t you think Jesus spent years praying for those people He grew up with?

Kind of makes you want to stop complaining about your prayers that aren’t answered. When Jesus said He came here to suffer just like we do, He wasn’t fooling. He didn’t leave out any details.

John Chapter 7

The story covers Jesus’ first visit to Jerusalem. The question is often asked why John was the only Apostle to record this event. John was the only Apostle to record what Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit. Not many people question those chapters. After reading this study, you should understand why John was the only Apostle to record Jesus’ first visit to Jerusalem. That first visit to Jerusalem was during the Festival of Shelters. Why did Jesus choose that time to go to Jerusalem? There is a spiritual reason behind it.

John 7:1-53 NLTse After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. (2) But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, (3) and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! (4) You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” (5) For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. (6) Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. (7) The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. (8) You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” (9) After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee. (10) But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. (11) The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. (12) There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” (13) But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders. (14) Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. (15) The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked. (16) So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. (17) Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. (18) Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. (19) Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.” (20) The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?” (21) Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. (22) But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) (23) For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? (24) Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (25) Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? (26) But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? (27) But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” (28) While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. (29) But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” (30) Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. (31) Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?” (32) When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. (33) But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. (34) You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.” (35) The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! (36) What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?” (37) On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! (38) Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (39) (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) (40) When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” (41) Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? (42) For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” (43) So the crowd was divided about him. (44) Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him. (45) When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” (46) “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded. (47) “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. (48) “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? (49) This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!” (50) Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. (51) “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked. (52) They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!” (53) Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home.

The Word was God
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Indecision. That word sums up this chapter as well as the last chapter. Why? Why couldn’t people accept what Jesus was saying? Is it really that much different today? People read the Bible. And people seem to disagree on just about every subject, including the meaning of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus has been slowly introducing the subject of resurrection one little detail at a time.

Search the scriptures is not repeated in this chapter for nothing. Jesus sent people to scriptures. Did they refer to them? Did they see details we’ve seen? Was this another lesson showing how some people read God’s Word one way while other people say it means something totally different, or the opposite? How do we know which it true? The one thing we never want to do is separate a few verses out of a chapter and try to explain what it means. That is like leaving God’s hand, or leaving His Spirit behind like those people in the previous chapter left Jesus behind.

Jesus’ Brothers Offered Advise

John 7:1-9 NLTse After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. (2) But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, (3) and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! (4) You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” (5) For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. (6) Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. (7) The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. (8) You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” (9) After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.

Jesus went back to his hometown. The town He grew up. Jesus needed to stay away from those religious leaders. Out of their cross hairs. They were hunting Jesus because they wanted to kill Him. Another Jewish festival came up. It was the Festival of Shelters. It used to be a simple ceremony when Hebrews lived in temporary shelters for a time. This was to remind them, this world is temporary and one day God would come to take them to the real promised land. The promised land we refer to as the spiritual promised land.

“Remember that this seven-day festival to the LORD–the Festival of Shelters–begins on the fifteenth day of the appointed month, after you have harvested all the produce of the land. The first day and the eighth day of the festival will be days of complete rest. On the first day gather branches from magnificent trees–palm fronds, boughs from leafy trees, and willows that grow by the streams. Then celebrate with joy before the LORD your God for seven days. You must observe this festival to the LORD for seven days every year. This is a permanent law for you, and it must be observed in the appointed month from generation to generation. For seven days you must live outside in little shelters. All native-born Israelites must live in shelters. This will remind each new generation of Israelites that I made their ancestors live in shelters when I rescued them from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” So Moses gave the Israelites these instructions regarding the annual festivals of the LORD. (Leviticus 23:39-44 NLTse).


 

All that changed when Solomon decided to dedicate his temple during that festival. It seems like an oxymoron, putting God into a stone temple during a festival when Israel, including the king was supposed to move into a temporary shelter made of sticks and leaves.

A new tradition was born and people loved it. No more camping out every year. People replaced God’s festival with one of their own. An easier one to keep. But the vision of Heaven was lost. How could that happen? If you check back a few chapters before Solomon dedicated his temple, you’ll find Solomon appointed the priests and other religious leaders. The king controlled the church. You’ll also find, David did the same thing. We can’t tell how much of an effect that had on religious services, but we can see how later kings appointed pagan priests, religions, and introduced idols. For generations that temple bounced around from a pagan temple, back to Hebrew, and back and forth. Every change resulted in a blend of pagan traditions and what was left from the instructions Moses recorded. Jesus had His work cut out for Himself. This is why His work was so difficult. The religion those Jews followed was hardly a shadow of what Moses and Aaron followed and taught in the wilderness.

The symbols used in the Tabernacle were also lost. Little if anything in the stone temple pointed to Jesus. Herod’s temple was based on a grand and glorious design aimed at showing the world God’s greatness. The meekness and simplicity of Christ was gone. Even the sacrificial system had been so distorted, no one had any idea there was a connection between the lamb and Christ. The system was so broken, God’s plan was to start from scratch by introducing new symbols. But was the world ready for the change?

Jesus’ brothers summed up what the world wanted to see and understand about Jesus. All they cared about was His miracles. It’s pretty much the same today. Go to a church with a prayer and praise portion in their service. What do you hear? People asking prayer for this, that or the other thing. Does anyone praise God? Does anyone stand up to tell what God taught them that week? Not too often. For the most part, the few minutes is filled with people asking for things – asking God to prove Himself with another miracle.

Business was good in Galilee. People were making money selling lodging, food, water, and care for travelers animals. Believe it or not, Jesus’ ministry became a windfall for every business in Galilee. His brothers didn’t want Jesus sitting around. They wanted Him to go out and do some advertising to bring in more business. What better place to advertise than Jerusalem during a major festival.

All Jesus could tell them is, it wasn’t His time. Time for what? Most people look at the surface and think it wasn’t His time to go to Jerusalem to die. Although that may be true, it is far from the whole story. Jesus had to give God’s Spirit a little more time to set up details so some people would actually listen and understand. The best Jesus could hope for was a few people to listen and understand. Jesus knew the message He had to deliver would aggravate a lot of people. The message would aggravate a lot more if He moved too quickly.

We see how Jesus repeated the phrase about not being the right time. Jesus called it His time. When the time was right, it would be Jesus’ time to teach and continue His ministry. Everything had to be done on time, according to God’s plan, and according to every prophecy recorded about Himself. This was a vital key to Jesus’ success. One of the major conditions of Jesus’ ministry was to point people to the prophecies He was fulfilling, when He was fulfilling them. This is also a vital part of Christianity today, but a sadly neglected major portion of the ministry and message Jesus gave to take to the world.

Jesus Goes to Jerusalem

John 7:10-13 NLTse But after his brothers left for the festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public view. (11) The Jewish leaders tried to find him at the festival and kept asking if anyone had seen him. (12) There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, “He’s a good man,” but others said, “He’s nothing but a fraud who deceives the people.” (13) But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.

First Jesus told His brothers it wasn’t His time. About three days later, Jesus went to Jerusalem. Why did His brothers leave halfway through the festival? That shows how seriously they treated the festival and how much it had been changed. Why did Jesus wait for His brothers to leave before going to the festival? The obvious answer would be, He didn’t need their advise or influence. Jesus also didn’t need them asking for more miracles in front of the crowds, or using Jesus’ influence to get more people to visit Galilee. The influence in Galilee didn’t paint a proper picture of Jesus.

Jewish leaders were looking all over for Jesus. They expected Him to visit Jerusalem during the festival. It wouldn’t be a big deal for them to arrest Jesus during the Festival of Shelters. Jesus didn’t have the large following He did at the end of His ministry. John told us how people were leaving Jesus. We can assume reports to the priests were greatly exaggerated. Walking among the crowds showed those Jewish leaders how split Jews were when the talked about Jesus. As we know, little attention is paid to anyone supporting someone you despise, while the emphasis is placed on people agreeing with your view. It didn’t matter what the actual numbers were, the priests looked at any indicator in their favor as a victory.

Numbers didn’t matter to God either. Of course He wanted everyone to turn to His Son and be saved, but human numbers would not be of any consequence to any part of God’s plan. It never was and it never will be.

Jesus Taught in the Temple

John 7:14-24 NLTse Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. (15) The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked. (16) So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. (17) Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. (18) Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies. (19) Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.” (20) The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?” (21) Jesus replied, “I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed. (22) But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses’ law of circumcision. (Actually, this tradition of circumcision began with the patriarchs, long before the law of Moses.) (23) For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? (24) Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.”

 

God’s Spirit told Jesus when the time was right to go to Jerusalem. God had to make sure everything was prepared. Just before Jesus entered Jerusalem, He saw a few temporary shelters constructed outside the city gates. He stood and watched people pass those shelters and listened to them. People didn’t recognize Jesus. He was hidden from them like the message those shelters carried. People passed those shelters without giving them a though. A few people hurled insults and some threw a few stones.

Some of those shelters housed only individuals while others housed an entire family for a week, So many people passed them thinking it was some sort of long lost religious cult. Others thought it was some kind of misled movement. A few people stopped to ask why they chose to honor God’s festival this way. Those inside were more than happy to explain, and point them back to scripture. That was the only way people could see the message in the pattern. Passover, to harvest, to trumpets and atonement, then finally the shelters.

Jesus watched those people for some time. Then He went from shelter to shelter to listen to them and share a few words. Once inside the city gates, Jesus only saw a few more shelters. He stopped and talked to them on His way to the temple. A few people followed Him to the temple, but not many. Mostly they were people curious about those shelters. Something inside told them there was much more to learn about those shelters and Jesus seemed to know more than anyone they’ve ever met.

Once inside the temple court, Jesus and the few people following Him could see how the Jews celebrated the Festival of Shelters. What a contrast to those few people outside the city gates. People were busy exchanging money, buying lambs, goats, and birds, then standing in another line to have them sacrificed. It was clear all those animals were being sacrificed to honor the temple. The sudden impact of reality made people think and wonder how things could have changed. Jesus knew how.

The Festival of Shelters does more than serve as a reminder this life is temporary. It is also one illustration showing how people pick and choose which parts of the Bible to accept and which to reject. The festival also showed how easy it is for religious leaders to hide scripture from people to get their way. Jews concentrated on one part of scripture while hiding another.

“Five days later, on the fifteenth day of the same month, you must call another holy assembly of all the people, and you may do no ordinary work on that day. It is the beginning of the Festival of Shelters, a seven-day festival to the LORD. On the first day of the festival, you must present a burnt offering as a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the LORD. It will consist of thirteen young bulls, two rams, and fourteen one-year-old male lambs, all with no defects. Each of these offerings must be accompanied by a grain offering of choice flour moistened with olive oil–six quarts for each of the thirteen bulls, four quarts for each of the two rams, and two quarts for each of the fourteen lambs. You must also sacrifice a male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its accompanying grain offering and liquid offering. “On the second day of this seven-day festival, sacrifice twelve young bulls, two rams, and fourteen one-year-old male lambs, all with no defects. Each of these offerings of bulls, rams, and lambs must be accompanied by its prescribed grain offering and liquid offering. You must also sacrifice a male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its accompanying grain offering and liquid offering. (Numbers 29:12-19 NLTse).

The Jewish leaders emphasized one description of the festival while hiding the other. Tradition turned the festival into an endless stream of sacrifices to honor the temple. They had no evidence to prove God existed inside the temple. That was all the more reason to combine the long list of sacrifices on the Festival of Shelters with Solomon’s dedication of his temple when he sacrificed so many animals, blood ran into the streets like a river. The more sacrifices, the more money the priests made. Another well hidden scripture is found in Isaiah.

Listen to the LORD, you leaders of “Sodom.” Listen to the law of our God, people of “Gomorrah.” “What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to worship me, who asked you to parade through my courts with all your ceremony? Stop bringing me your meaningless gifts; the incense of your offerings disgusts me! As for your celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath and your special days for fasting– they are all sinful and false. I want no more of your pious meetings. I hate your new moon celebrations and your annual festivals. They are a burden to me. I cannot stand them! When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will not look. Though you offer many prayers, I will not listen, for your hands are covered with the blood of innocent victims. Wash yourselves and be clean! Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways. Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. “Come now, let’s settle this,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. If you will only obey me, you will have plenty to eat. (Isaiah 1:10-19 NLTse).

The Festival of Shelters showed how religious leaders separate and segregate certain parts of scripture to benefit themselves and their beliefs. In the example of the Shelters, one section pointed to God’s prophets. The other was used to only point to profits. How was Jesus going to get them to look at all of God’s Scripture so they could see the truth for themselves?

At first the people were surprised at what Jesus taught. They heard much of what He had to say for the first time and were amazed at how simple it was, and how much they missed. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked. Everything was going great until Jesus mentioned the law.

“My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.” The message Jesus refereed to was not something new, but scripture recorded generations before He came to this world. Jesus pointed them back to scripture. He didn’t need to prove Himself. Everything He taught came from scripture, a full view of scripture.

Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies.” People speak for themselves by taking little bits and pieces of scripture then telling people what they think it means. They don’t back it up with scripture, nor do they allow scripture to explain itself. They rely on themselves to glorify themselves.

Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me.” Jesus pointed them back to scripture. In particular, everything Moses wrote about the festival they were celebrating. It was time to put away man made traditions and look at what God gave them. It was time to put aside man made interpretations for the symbols and learn how scripture revealed the spiritual meaning for every symbol.

People didn’t like Jesus bringing up the subject of the law that had been twisted and remolded by men to become a burden people would just as soon avoid. Their reaction showed their distorted concept of the law. The crowd replied, “You’re demon possessed! Who’s trying to kill you?” More often than not, people will attack someone they don’t agree with by changing the subject. After listening to Jesus for a while, they all knew, they wouldn’t stand a chance debating the law with Jesus. They could see He understood a lot more than they did. So they accused Jesus of being possessed by a demon. Did that every happen to you?

It happens to me all the time. If you engage in online discussions about the Bible, it doesn’t matter what subject is being discussed. Chances are the group consists of one or two people who want to appear like they know everything. They feel threatened by anyone who introduces material they don’t know about. If they feel out matched in scripture, they change the subject by accusing you of being possessed, or a false prophet, a member of a church they consider an enemy, or something along those lines. This is what happened to Jesus.

It’s not hard to see who changed the subject. Jesus went right into an example showing how they chose one part of the law over another, and in His own way, asked them how to explain it. With the same question, Jesus asked them to explain why it was okay for them to circumcise a baby, but it was wrong for Jesus to heal an old man or woman on the Sabbath. When Jesus told them to, “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” He pointed them back to scripture. Not to read it by themselves, but with God’s Spirit who could explain everything below the surface.

Could Our Leaders Believe

John 7:25-29 NLTse Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? (26) But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? (27) But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” (28) While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. (29) But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.”

We can see God’s Spirit was hard at work and another reason why Jesus had to wait for the right time. Some of the people began questioning their religious leaders. “Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah?” God’s Spirit opened up a door. But that door wasn’t open long. The enemy quickly went in and slammed that door shut for some of those people. They only wanted to believe what they saw with their eyes and interpreted with their own minds which was controlled by what they’ve been taught. “But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.”

This showed how people can be misled when they decide to take the easy way out and let someone read and interpret scripture for them. This brings us to the worldly concept based on reliance upon gifted worldly leaders. We can see this was a problem in Jesus’ day. They were taught the wrong concept on the Festival of Shelters. God used this to introduce a lesson which expanded in verses 26 and 27 to include views on the Messiah. Once again we see how the subject is changed to avoid the subject at hand. Now we can see why Jesus had to keep repeating Himself in the previous chapter. The same pattern kept occurring here. Jesus was trying to teach one subject, but people who felt threatened kept changing the subject. Jesus had to repeat Himself to get them back on the lesson at hand. The enemy uses the same pattern today.

Religious leaders shared only what they wanted people to hear. Those religious leaders knew how Herod’s priests told him the Messiah was born in Bethlehem. But after Herod verified the Messiah’s birth by killing every child in Bethlehem, they needed to hide other scripture, another detail about the Messiah. Call it a political cover up or a conspiracy. Those priests were working with Herod to cover up a massacre. Something that never should have happened. But God wouldn’t allow it to be covered up. People still talk about it today. Most just can’t see all the spiritual implications. Talk about secrets being shouted from roof tops.

Jesus didn’t enter into another debate on scripture. He told them where they needed to go by telling them where He came from. “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” But did those people really know Jesus? He wasn’t about to argue with Him. Jesus knew they could only go so far to criticize Him. They were restricted by their reliance on the money flowing into Galilee from people visiting Jesus’ hometown. We see a parallel between those religious leaders and the people who grew up with Jesus. Both were profiting from the Messiah but couldn’t see the real Messiah in front of them.

I Will Be With You Only a Little Longer

John 7:30-36 NLTse Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. (31) Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?” (32) When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. (33) But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. (34) You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.” (35) The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! (36) What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”

As soon as the priest’s saw Jesus gaining an advantage, they tried to arrest Him. When it looked like people were leaving Jesus, the priests didn’t think they had much to worry about. But once they looked a little deeper, they saw the number of Jesus’ followers beginning to increase in front of their eyes. The priests wavered to say the least. But once they made their move, they reached a point of no return. People believed in Jesus’ miracles and those priests couldn’t deny them. They tried to deny the miracles but that and it didn’t work.

Jesus was trying to teach the people what the priests couldn’t see. Jesus was trying to teach how to understand how God’s Spirit worked and how to properly understand scripture. Jesus wanted more than a bunch of people following Him around to see miracles. Jesus wanted more than people looking for physical healing. Jesus wanted to spiritually heal them.

Jesus introduced a new subject in the from of a parable. That parable was also a prophecy because it hadn’t taken place yet. Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.” We know Jesus was talking about His resurrection, but the Jews had no way of knowing what He was talking about. They didn’t know because they didn’t study scripture. They wouldn’t allow God’s Spirit to lead.

John introduced another important subject. John showed how the religious leaders were confused at that point during the event taking place. The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”

People today are still confused. Jesus wasn’t referring to people physically looking for Him. Jesus referred to searching scripture. Jesus wasn’t using miracles to prove who He was. What was written in scripture should have been proof enough. It should be proof enough today. But how many people have the ability to open scripture and prove Jesus is the Messiah from the prophecies?

Those priests had the opportunity to either prove or disprove Jesus’ claims with scripture. They had years to search scripture for an answer. But their pride kept them from opening God’s Word. Ambition kept those priests from accepting guidance from God’s Spirit. What’s your excuse?

Rivers of Flowing Water

John 7:37-40 NLTse On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! (38) Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (39) (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) (40) When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.”

Jesus didn’t introduce a new subject to the previous conversion but introduced this subject on another day. Jesus left those religious leaders wondering where He was going and why they couldn’t follow Him. Jesus told them to search scripture. Which brings us to our next subject.

Jesus quoted scripture, but I can’t find where He quoted this from. ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” There are a few possibilities, but I can’t find an exact quote or anything that stays within the complete context of this chapter. Maybe that was done by design. What could be better than sending people back to scripture with a verse that requires them to examine a dozen or more texts to find a match. I wonder how many people looked for what scripture Jesus quoted and found lessons they hadn’t expected. Even though the particular texts Jesus referred to can’t be located, something Jesus told them impressed the crowd. When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” Did the crowd that day finally make the connection Jesus was using living water to symbolize? Many people think living water refers to Jesus. Is there scripture proving that? John tells us living water points to the Spirit just as Isaiah wrote. “For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.” (Isaiah 44:3 NLTse).

He is the Messiah

John 7:41-44 NLTse Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? (42) For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” (43) So the crowd was divided about him. (44) Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.

John didn’t record a mistake, nor a contradiction. We have to look at who said what. In this meeting, people said, “the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” Earlier in this chapter someone else said, “When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” Look at the context of this conversion. Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee?” John is showing us the confusion Jesus had to face.

We have to remember, much of John’s book centers on showing us methods Jesus used to reach out to people. John has been adding another important lesson, the confusion Jesus faced. Don’t we all face a bit of confusion when we spread the word, share what we know about Jesus, and try to lead people to Christ? We have an advantage. Most of the world has already heard about Jesus. They know something about Him. Most people we encounter consider themselves one type of Christian or another. Why is it we see the same problems Jesus experienced?

So the crowd was divided about him.” This about sums up what Jesus experienced as well as what many of us, soldiers of Christ experience when we enter that spiritual warfare. Life is not easy. We know finding someone who wants to learn, who wants to dedicate themselves to understanding is rare. I wish there was an easy answer. If there was one, I’m sure John would have recorded it. But look at John’s life. He spent his last days exiled on an island. Not just any island but one the Romans dumped the worst criminals. A barren wasteland where life was difficult to say the least. No one cared if those prisoners on that island killed each other off. Talk about needing protection. John needed God’s protection everyday. That’s where God gave John a vision of a better life. He needed it more than anyone.

Have You Been Led Astray

John 7:45-52 NLTse When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” (46) “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded. (47) “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. (48) “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? (49) This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!” (50) Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. (51) “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked. (52) They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!” (53) Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home.

It didn’t look good for the temple guards sent to arrest Jesus when the returned empty handed. Those guards are some of the few people who listened to Jesus. We can see God’s hand in protecting Jesus. The Pharisees were not happy at all. They made fun of the guards, asking how they could have been deceived by a man all the religious leaders could see through.

Those guards returned as witnesses. Nicodemus brought up a good point, “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” It was Nicodemus’ simple way of telling them to go back to scripture and checking some of those prophecies. The Pharisee’s reply was as simple as their thinking. “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”

That was the third time Jesus’ birthplace was brought up. Or shall we say, where He came from. Jesus never claimed to be born in Galilee. At least we can see the Pharisees knew where the Messiah was born according to prophecy. John wanted to leave the hint, they knew prophecy told the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. But notice how the Pharisees refused to speak the name of the city. It is their way of showing they don’t agree with, or want to avoid a subject. They’re displaying their human nature – which is a hard thing to figure out.

If there was an easy way to reach people, John would have recorded it. Instead, John gave us a list of conflicting personalities. Notice how John concentrated on personalities that opposed Jesus. Look at the variations. Do we learn anything from them other than the fact, there are a lot of reasons and excuses people don’t want to listen to Christ, much less follow Him.

Then we have to consider the fact, Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand much about the plan of salvation until a major portion of it was fulfilled. Maybe that’s recorded to show all of us have problems listening. We all make mistakes. We all have a lot to learn. The disciples experienced a time when they thought they knew enough. They had their moments when they thought they didn’t have to listen, or didn’t want to listen. At least they were man enough to record their mistakes instead of covering them up. They recorded their mistakes for us to learn from. Are we?

The Word was God

John Chapter 5

This story looks at why Jesus healed a paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda. Of course there was a lesson to learn. Jesus used healing as a teaching tool. Talk about a great teacher. If you saw someone heal a paralyzed person, wouldn’t you pay attention to what he had to say? Wouldn’t he command all your attention? Let’s take a look at a day in Jesus’ life and what He wanted to accomplish that day. Of course you are going to see all new details in this study you never saw in John chapter 5 you never saw before.

John 5:1-47 NLTse Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. (2) Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. (3) Crowds of sick people--blind, lame, or paralyzed–lay on the porches. (5) One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” (7) “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” (8) Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (9) Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, (10) so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!” (11) But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'” (12) “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded. (13) The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. (14) But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” (15) Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. (16) So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. (17) But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (18) So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God. (19) So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. (21) For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. (22) In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, (23) so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. (24) “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. (25) “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice–the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. (26) The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same lifegiving power to his Son. (27) And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. (28) Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, (29) and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. (30) I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will. (31) “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. (32) But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. (33) In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. (34) Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. (35) John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. (36) But I have a greater witness than John–my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. (37) And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, (38) and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me–the one he sent to you. (39) “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! (40) Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. (41) “Your approval means nothing to me, (42) because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. (43) For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. (44) No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. (45) “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. (46) If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. (47) But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

After highlighting those key words, I couldn’t wait to get started on this study. But when I tried to break it into sections. I saw how John recorded it into one long story. But I think it’s best if we break it down into sections and look at how each section of this story is related to the others.

Pool of Bethesda

John 5:1-18 NLTse Afterward Jesus returned to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish holy days. (2) Inside the city, near the Sheep Gate, was the pool of Bethesda, with five covered porches. (3) Crowds of sick people--blind, lame, or paralyzed–lay on the porches. (5) One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. (6) When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” (7) “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said, “for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me.” (8) Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” (9) Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, (10) so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!” (11) But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'” (12) “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded. (13) The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd. (14) But afterward Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” (15) Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him. (16) So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. (17) But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (18) So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.

The Word was God
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The first detail I got excited about is how the words lay, laying, and sleeping relate to the previous chapter where that woman went out and brought the entire city of Samaria to Jesus. We all seem to remember how the disciples rejected Samaria and the story about the good Samaritan. But when we read this story about a man restricted to a sleeping mat for thirty-eight years, what does that make you think about? How is that simple time frame dancing around in your mind and how is God’s Spirit speaking to you about it?

Jesus told the paralyzed man to, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” How are we serving God if we’re not moving forward? What good are we doing? Let’s take a look at this from to totally different aspect. I’m thinking about writing a book that will compare the Tabernacle built by Moses to the stone temple built by Solomon. Those will be compared to the Heavenly Sanctuary and Jesus’ ministry in this world and in Heaven. Now I want to look at a single detail, that bronze pool sitting on the backs of twelve oxen. One chapter placed it in the courtyard of Solomon’s wife, Pharaoh’s daughter. Obviously Egypt used oxen as a major symbol. Their major god, Apis served as an intermediary between humans and an all-powerful god. Sounds a bit like the Messiah in Egyptian mythology. I’ve read Christian books trying to convince people those twelve oxen pointed in different directions to represent God’s Spirit going out to all the world. Okay! Wait a minute. Where does it say that in the Bible? None of those books can offer a word of evidence. Based on another chapter in the Bible telling us, Solomon placed this bronze deity in his temple courtyard was enough for them to think it was some sort of symbol God used. So they made up their own interpretations. But how can it represent a moving out to the world? Look at how the statue is constructed. A huge pool of water is sitting on the backs of twelve oxen. Three point north, south, east, and west. Let’s see how this theory works. Three move out to the north. Its all okay. The other three move to the south. The pool is still supported. Now three move east. What happens to that pool of water? It falls to the ground just like those interpretations.

We have to find and accept the correct message to move forward. If that pool held the living water Jesus taught about in the previous chapter, it would all be lost because people tried to take a symbol and turn it into something it was never intended to be. We see those Jewish leaders trying to do the same thing in this story. They are trying to make the Sabbath something it was never intended to be.

We can see one similarity to those oxen and what the Jews were doing to the Sabbath. Those oxen were a false Messiah to Egyptians. The Jews tried turning the Sabbath into a way to earn or work their way into God’s Kingdom and grace.

Let’s see how this story compares with the previous story. Jesus was in Galilee where He healed a government official’s son near death. Before that, Jesus talked to that woman at the well. She brought the entire city of Samaria to Jesus. Let’s look at the progressions.

Jesus moved from Samaria, to Galilee, His hometown, to Jerusalem. In other words, Jesus moved from a Samaritan woman, to the whole city, to Galileans He grew up with, to a government official, to a sick man in Jerusalem, to the Jewish leaders. On a spiritual view, Jesus moved from the beliefs of a Samaritan, to what people in His hometown thought about Him, to a sick man ready to give up hope, to the Jewish Leaders. A different view showed us, Jesus moved from healing a boy close to death to a man who was paralyzed for thirty-eight years, to the Jewish leaders. Jesus is moving toward healing.

Many people believe those key words sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed describe the spiritual state of the Jewish leaders. They do to a degree. But how does that description fit modern Christian churches today? That’s a question you’ll have to take up with God.

Was that pool able to heal the man or anyone for that matter? The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about anyone being healed there. But Jesus healed a man there. Why didn’t Jesus heal all of them? Maybe to emphasize the point, no one helped that man.

Notice how the man was healed. Jesus told him to get up off his sleeping mat and walk. What does that tell you about the condition of churches today? Are they sleeping or what? A lot of them admit their asleep. What are they doing about it? They seem to preach the same sermons over and over again telling people they’re asleep. They put people to sleep with their preaching. Why don’t they take the lesson from the previous chapter and turn people over to God’s Spirit, become healed, and move froward? Does the process seem to simple to work? I’ve shown people that, and they tell me I am complicating things. How? I don’t know. I see God had to repeat the same message over and over again in a lot of different ways, but people just don’t want to catch on. They seem happy where they are and don’t want to move. Maybe that’s why Jesus only healed one person there. He was the only one ready and willing to move.

You can see the contracts between sleeping, healed, and walking. There is also a close connection between healing and walking. The connection is Jesus. He explained this is great detail later in this story.

First we have to look at another issue raised in this story, the Sabbath. This miracle happened on the Sabbath, so the Jewish leaders objected. Why did they object? They claimed carrying a mat on the Sabbath was working. Where does it say that in the Old Testament? Obviously those Jewish leaders made a carrier out of making up new rules and regulations. Jesus had to be the first person they ever saw healing. As soon as Jesus healed the paralyzed man on the Sabbath, those Jewish leaders made a new rule. Has that ever happened to you in church? The leaders see you moving forward in your faith and they start creating new rules to put you back on your mat.


 

The man didn’t know Jesus. That was okay, the Jewish leaders didn’t know Jesus either. At least the man had an excuse, he was walking for the first time in thirty-eight years. Later Jesus found the man and introduced Himself. Jesus gave that man a simple message. “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.” That message was far different than the message Jesus gave to the Samaritan woman. If you think about it, the message Jesus gave to the man in Jerusalem wouldn’t have worked in Samaria. Another lesson to pay attention to.

So the man went to the Jewish leaders to tell them who healed him. Did the man deliver the message Jesus gave him? John didn’t record that detail. Would those Jewish leaders pay attention to that message? We’ll never know. Would they accept any message from Jesus delivered by any means? Not until He started following their rules. The Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. They had their sequence to reach people and God had His.

Jesus had an answer for the Jewish leaders they didn’t expect. Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” Talk about opening a can of worms. The Jewish leaders weren’t happy about that statement. Jesus approached those Jewish leaders far differently than He approached that Samaritan woman. We can’t possibly take one process and think it will work with everyone. Look how it turned out for Jesus. The Jewish leaders tried even harder to find a way to kill him. Talk about jumping from the frying pan into the fire. To those Jewish Leaders, Jesus not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God. See how people jump to their own conclusions and while twisting people’s words? If nothing else, this story is a contrast to the woman at the well to show us, we don’t stand a chance of reaching people without God’s help.

I Tell You the Truth

John 5:19-21 NLTse So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. (21) For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.

I took out this small section because it introduced and dwelt with an unusual key word. Look at how Jesus repeated do, doing, and does. All action words related to the man getting up and walking. Jesus made it clear where His marching orders and power came from. Not from Himself but His Farther. Those priests accused Jesus of trying to be equal with God. Which wasn’t true at all. They introduced the subject, so Jesus went on to explain the truth. Jesus got into some serious subjects here like raising the dead, doing greater miracles, and other details the Jewish leaders weren’t ready for. Why did Jesus move ahead of where the Jewish leaders were at the time?

Listen to My Message

John 5:22-25 NLTse In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, (23) so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him. (24) “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. (25) “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice–the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.

Jesus quickly moved to a new series of key words about listening and hearing. Jesus also introduced the subject of judgment as well as honoring the Father. All of those words and subjects are subjects those religious leaders had to learn. Their minds were so engrossed in the law, they spent their entire lives looking for something people did wrong, an excuse to jump all over people. Why did they do that. Jesus showed us why. When He healed on the Sabbath, they quickly made a new rule. They used the law to draw attention and glory to themselves. They made themselves judges and left God out of the process. Jesus was about to tell them the truth of the matter and it was a matter of life and death.

Authority to Judge

John 5:26-30 NLTse The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same lifegiving power to his Son. (27) And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. (28) Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, (29) and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment. (30) I can do nothing on my own. I judge as God tells me. Therefore, my judgment is just, because I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will.

Jesus already pointed out how His Father will give Him full authority to judge. He made that point to get them to listen. Do you think that message worked? To emphasize His point, Jesus added more details about eternal life. Not only did Jesus receive authority to judge, He also received power to grant life. Jesus didn’t explain the plan of salvation, but included an important detail by referring to Himself as the Son of Man. Jesus pointed out He is the Son of God and the Son of Man. This is a concept those Jewish leaders couldn’t accept. They still won’t accept it. And many Christians are confused on the subject. To understand Jesus’ two titles, you have to know something about God’s plan of salvation. You can review the book of Hebrews for one detailed explanation. After all, that book was written to show Hebrews what they missed.

Jesus also repeated the lesson, He is subject to His Father’s will. How could that be difficult to understand? Shouldn’t every son be subject to their father? Especially when their Father has infinite wisdom. The Jews should have known that. At this point they should have at least been interested in finding out more about Jesus’ connection with God by asking a few questions. But pride held them back.

Jesus’ Testimony

John 5:31-38 NLTse “If I were to testify on my own behalf, my testimony would not be valid. (32) But someone else is also testifying about me, and I assure you that everything he says about me is true. (33) In fact, you sent investigators to listen to John the Baptist, and his testimony about me was true. (34) Of course, I have no need of human witnesses, but I say these things so you might be saved. (35) John was like a burning and shining lamp, and you were excited for a while about his message. (36) But I have a greater witness than John–my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me. (37) And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, (38) and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me–the one he sent to you.

Jesus moved from truth, to His message, to judgment, onto His testimony. Sounds like a courtroom scene. But not in the right order. Jesus was trying to keep them out of the courtroom. Jesus already told them, “the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.

Jesus wasn’t fooling around. He wasn’t only addressing those Hebrew leaders, He was teaching His disciples, as well as telling a story that John would record and people like us would be reading today, and tomorrow. Don’t we want to avoid that courtroom? Over half the Christian religions today don’t know, or won’t accept the fact, Jesus is judging the world right now.

Jesus’ role as judge and the process explained in Hebrews doesn’t fit in with a lot of theologies. So to discount the entire book, including, “by his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.” (Hebrews 10:20 NLTse). It’s a sad fact to think modern religious leaders refuse to teach people they have a direct path to God’s throne because Jesus’ role as in the Judgment and the process doesn’t fit into their theology. This doesn’t mirror the Jewish religious leader’s view on the Sabbath by accident. How many rules have modern religious leaders made up along the way to cover their tracks?

Jesus identified one person who testified on His behalf. That was John the Baptist. Was that pointing to others who severed God with the same power, determination, education, and dedication as John? Jesus also said He didn’t need any human witness. I wonder what Jesus meant by that. Jesus placed a link between that information and being saved. Jesus reminded the Jewish leaders, John only pointed to Him.

God gave Jesus a far greater testimony. What He taught and His miracles. Were they paying attention? Do we? God also testified about Jesus, but people can’t hear His voice because they really don’t believe in Jesus. Like those Jewish leaders, they know about Jesus. They heard stories about Jesus. They even saw Jesus heal. That’s where this story began. But they didn’t believe in Jesus. Many Christians have less of a relationship with Jesus than those Jewish leaders did. What are the preachers and teachers doing today? Or what aren’t they doing?

You Search the Scriptures

John 5:39-47 NLTse “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! (40) Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. (41) “Your approval means nothing to me, (42) because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. (43) For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. (44) No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. (45) “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. (46) If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. (47) But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?”

To say Jesus hit the nail on the head would be the understatement of the century. People have the tendency to search the scriptures looking for answers they want to hear. Look at the context of this lesson. Can anyone argue with the fact, Jesus told them what they needed to hear? Did they listen? Look back at what sparked this conversation. Those Jewish leaders were showing off their knowledge of the law. They spent their lives searching scripture to prove what they wanted to prove. If it wasn’t in scripture, they found an excuse in scripture to write their own laws.

The same thing happens today. Churches into the law misinterpret God’s law as bad as the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day. If their into their own form of salvation, they pull out a few bits and pieces of scripture to support the easy way they want to teach. If their into prophecy…. watch out! Modern interpretations on prophecy are all over the map. So much is taken out of context it makes me laugh. In three previous books I’ve written, I looked at over 160 prophecies Jesus fulfilled. Each and everyone had a recorded fulfillment in plain simple language so there couldn’t be any misunderstanding. The main theme and context of the chapter with the prophecy match the context of the chapter containing its recorded fulfillment. God used that simple pattern so there would never be any reason for Christians to disagree.

I’ve discussed and shown this to a number of people who live on prophecies. They rejected the process God used in His Bible. They wanted to stick with their system. Come up with an idea or see an event in the world, and search scripture to match what you think is happening. I’d like to see someone prove that method of study from the Bible. I haven’t seen it.

Scripture has to first point to Jesus. If your studying God’s law, Jesus came here from Heaven to explain God’s law. If your studying salvation, go to Jesus who wrote the plan. If you want to learn the truth about prophecy, talk to the One who told His prophets what to record. It’s as simple as that. The only place to go is to Jesus. There is no other way.

You have to have a real relationship with Jesus. Who is Jesus going to reveal prophecies to? People He personally knows and communicates with on a daily basis, or a stranger? The answer is obvious. Jesus illustrated that point in this story. Those religious leaders didn’t believe Jesus could heal. They didn’t understand God’s law. And they certainly couldn’t see how scripture was being fulfilled in front of their eyes. The same will be true when Jesus returns. “No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.”

Jesus made it clear, if you don’t believe what John wrote about Jesus, it is going to be really difficult to believe in Jesus. It will also be difficult to believe the gospels if you don’t know what Moses wrote about Jesus. “But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” Jesus went past what He wanted the Jewish leaders to understand. They had an advantage we don’t. They witnessed the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. But Jesus knew how it was going to turn out. That’s why He told them, He didn’t need their testimony. We don’t have much of an excuse not to understand because we have the Old Testament, the New Testament, and God gave us time and the ability to study. We have books, computers, and phones we can study on. It seems this world is running out of excuses.

Patterns in the Bible John Chapter 11

In this series of Bible Studies we will concentrate on patterns in the Bible. Many people miss those patterns because they do not read the previous stories, they are looking for a specific answer to prove a specific point. They do not read enough of the Bible, or they refuse to spend the time required to understand the level the Bible was written. There could be a hundred reasons why people do NOT understand patterns in the Bible. It would be a waste of our time to try to think of all the reasons people do NOT search the Bible the way it was designed to be investigated. The fact of the matter is, the Bible can and will reveal certain patterns and consistencies beyond any and all human forms of literature. Among other things, Patterns in the Bible are living proof this world has a God who created this world, the universe, and has a rather large and soft spot in His heart for this planet that has gone astray.

We live in a world like no other in this Universe. We are the only planet that has fallen to sin and decided we can run this world better than God can run the Universe. Of course this world has made mistakes. No one can argue that point. Millions of people have given their lives to prove this world is not perfect. And there is nothing man can do to restore this world to its perfect state. We’ve lost sight of true paradise, and the God who created that paradise. What can we do to recapture that image of God this world has lost? The first step is to realize and admit, there is no way you can ever explain the image and personality of God you have found. There is no record of Enoch explaining the God he talked to, and transported him to Heaven. Elijah also went to Heaven. But Elijah’s view of God was distorted at best. God was great whenever He performed a miracle and showed how powerful He was. But a little while later Elijah forgot all about the God looking over him.

Elijah may be a rather poor source to study patterns in the Bible. We don’t have enough information about Enoch to study the patterns and consistency he saw in God. But we do have 66 books to look through.

Often times patterns are found in a series of stories. In the New Testament patterns are found in the events recorded about Jesus’ life on this planet. Jesus was a very consist teacher. Most people prefer to think Jesus jumped around from one subject to another. Or people Jesus met knocked Him off His course for a short time. But that was never true. As a human, Jesus could not look into the future any better than you or I can. But through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit coupled with total cooperation with God, Jesus had a very good idea concerning the missions He was on that day. Many of those missions included fulfilling hundreds of prophecies recorded about His life. Each and every one of those prophecies had to be fulfilled in the proper order, in the proper way, and on time. That was an awesome responsibility. There was a pattern that had to be followed. We have the ability to see and follow that pattern. The plan of Salvation is in sense a pattern. We can see that pattern only after reading about the plan of salvation from all the different view points recorded from Genesis through Revelation.

I can show you little bits and pieces of that pattern to help prepare you on what to look for. But I cannot show you all the patterns in the Bible. The Holy Spirit can and will show you more patterns in the Bible if you chose to spend some time studying scripture at the Spirit’s side. That is our choice.

John 11:1-57 NLTse A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. (2) This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. (3) So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” (4) But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” (5) So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, (6) he stayed where he was for the next two days. (7) Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” (8) But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” (9) Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. (10) But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” (11) Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.” (12) The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” (13) They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. (14) So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. (15) And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” (16) Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too–and die with Jesus.” (17) When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. (18) Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, (19) and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. (20) When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. (21) Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. (22) But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” (23) Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” (24) “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” (25) Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. (26) Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (27) “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” (28) Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” (29) So Mary immediately went to him. (30) Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. (31) When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. (32) When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (33) When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. (34) “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” (35) Then Jesus wept. (36) The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” (37) But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” (38) Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. (39) “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” (40) Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” (41) So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. (42) You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” (43) Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” (44) And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (45) Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. (46) But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. (47) Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. (48) If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” (49) Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! (50) You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” (51) He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. (52) And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world. (53) So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesusdeath. (54) As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples. (55) It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began. (56) They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?” (57) Meanwhile, the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him.

The Word was God
The Word Was God: Gospel of John Chapter 11-21 Buy the eBook direct from the author

Here is one chapter in John consisting of one major story. Based on what we’ve seen in other chapters, we have to look at the story as a whole and compare details to the story as a whole. Here we see Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave. At first Lazarus was sick and finally died. Jesus waited a few days to go see Mary and Martha. Why did Jesus wait? Many people seem to think Jesus waited so there wouldn’t be any question Lazarus’ death. That wasn’t the only reason.

  • Compare introductions from a series of chapters in numeric sequence, such as chapter 9 and 10. If chapters share the same or similar introductions, it is a repeat of the same lesson. The inspired author is drawing attention to the same subject because additional information is being provided. The series of stories in each connecting chapter are arranged to add details and emphasis to the same lesson.

Jesus wanted to emphasize the waiting period which encompassed a vital part of Jesus’ ministry as well as our personal ministries and life in general. Waiting is what Jesus had to do. As we’ve seen in previous chapters, Jesus had to wait for the right time to go to Jerusalem during the Festival of Tabernacles. He had to wait for God’s Spirit to establish the proper sequence of events to reach the right people as well as teach lessons the way they needed to be presented and taught.


 

Jesus’ longest and most difficult wait was for His sacrifice and death. Imagine knowing how and when your going to die. Few people can put themselves in that position to feel what Jesus felt. Condemned prisoners and some people with certain diseases are among the few. Imagine sitting there, helpless to a large degree, hoping, praying something would happen to save you. What goes through your mind as days, hours, and minutes tick away and there is nothing you can do to stop time?

I’m in the Real Estate business and I often run across this scenario of waiting and hoping. When people have equity in their homes and miss a few payments, banks have procedures to follow. Some of them are not that pleasant. The bank demands payment while adding fines and penalties. They may offer a restructured loan but often times when the bank is in a position to take back a home where the loan amount is far below fair market value, it is in the bank’s best interest to foreclose and resell at a profit. So the bank uses laws to protect itself while making it impossible for the homeowner to dig their way out of that financial pit. After three months the bank offers a restructured loan with terms the homeowner cannot afford to pay. The bank demands payments of 150% of the original loan payment for a period of six months to bring the account back in order. After six months the same offer is made to pay back 150% of the original loan amount for a year. If the homeowner cannot afford to pay, the back refers the loan to an attorney. New fees and penalties are added to the loan amount and the foreclose goes through the court system. After that, the homeowner has one hope, to pay the entire loan amount plus thousands of dollars in fines, penalties, and extra charges in one lump sum. The only hope is to sell the property to make the payment.

Months, weeks, days, and hours tick by as the homeowner waits for an offer. Buyers in the real estate market are looking to make a killing. Any buyer who finds out the home is in foreclosure wants to put pressure on the homeowner to sell at the break even point. After years of making payments and building equity in a home, the world wants to steal it all and justifies their actions based on the simple battle cry from the enemy, “everyone does it.” Hours tick away as prayers go out to send one buyer with a sense of justice while the world tries to squeeze the homeowner into submission.

Many people don’t realize what it takes to sell a house. Most often a sale relies an the sales of the buyer’s existing home. Now here is how the world likes it to work. The buyer thinks he should get thousands over market value for their house while they want the seller to sell for thousands under fair market value. It is a difficult profession to work in when you have to constantly explain what fair market value is, and it is not right to expect others to perform a major sacrifice for another person to make a major profit. In other words, it is not right to expect others to sacrifice for your benefit. But isn’t that what Jesus did?

When I look at this world and how one portion of the plan of salvation works, I am shocked at what I see. I have no idea how the world approaches God with ideas to restructure His offer. Look at how it is supposed to work. God will bring down a city He called New Jerusalem. It is roughly half the size of the United States and a few hundred feet tall. The size of the city is beyond imagination. How do people react to that? All God wants people to do is give up their puny homes in exchange for a free place to live. Of course we need to give up everything else but look what we get in return. Free food, clothes, and everything we need. Compare the quality and nutritional of the food God will provide to what we find in stores. There won’t be any comparison at all. In Heaven our clothes won’t wear out. That doesn’t compare to the clothes we get here. We don’t know the cloths we’ll get from God, but we know we’ll also be giving up expensive prices and defects, as well as obsessions to keep up with the latest styles. Not to mention slave labor often used in the manufacture of fashion clothing. People who are saved have a million reasons to leave this world without looking back. If they can see the world for what it is.

Most Christians say they’re waiting for Jesus’ return. But are they waiting for His return with that same feeling of watching the minutes and days go by with any type of anticipation? Many Christians look at Jesus’ return with the same type of emotions as the homeowner waiting for the bank to foreclose. Most of them won’t admit it, but they look at Jesus’ return as a time they have to give up everything. Not as a day they gain everything. Look at those previous chapters. How could Jesus offer all those groups eternal life, understanding, and more, while their first and only reaction was to turn it down? There was more at play than traditions and doctrines. There was a whole lot of selfishness at stake. There is a lot of this world they don’t want to give up.

People try to explain the delay in Jesus’ return, but how many people try to understand it? How many people ask Jesus why it is taking much longer than most people expected. People try to convince themselves this delay is another example of God’s love. They may be right on one aspect. But why limit the delay on the first thought that comes to mind? What about examining Jesus’ delay from other aspects.

The best place to begin is in the mirror. Are you ready? In return for giving us everything, all God asked in return is to have everyone follow His laws. That shouldn’t be difficult. There are only ten of them. It should be easy enough for a child to memorize. But some people want to wheel and deal with God. They want to rewrite those terms. I got news for them. It doesn’t get any better than free. As far as following the law, what kind of Heaven do you want? A lawless society with absolutely no laws. Imagine a world like that. Sounds like a science fiction story. Every man for himself. Soon people would create a society worse than Sodom. It wouldn’t take long to become a lawless society where the strongest ruled. How long would it take for them to make their own laws? And people teach something like that would last an eternity. The question is, are you ready to accept God’s law? His Kingdom’s happiness depends on everyone keeping all His laws.

What does all that have to do with Jesus raising Lazarus from his tomb? This story goes beyond physically raising a dead man. It gives us a glimpse of looking at many situations where people had had to wait, including ourselves.

Once again, I’d like to take a look at how John led us into this story about Lazarus. Remember, John didn’t write this book with chapters. He wrote his book to tell us steps Jesus took in His ministry and how Jesus received instructions from God through the Spirit. Here we have a great source to learn from.

  • Here is one of the most important Bible Study steps you want to learn and use:

  • Always look back to see how the author led into the event at hand. Most of us know in original scripture, neither the Old or New Testaments were divided into chapters and verses. That came much later. That has little to do with this rule, but to understand scripture, we have to look for patterns. One of those is how the author lead from one event to the next.

Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work. But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” Once again they tried to arrest him, but he got away and left them. He went beyond the Jordan River near the place where John was first baptizing and stayed there awhile. And many followed him. “John didn’t perform miraculous signs,” they remarked to one another, “but everything he said about this man has come true.” And many who were there believed in Jesus. (John 10:37-42 NLTse).

What a way to lead into this story. Jesus just told them to watch the work He does for His Father. Actions always speak louder than words. Jesus didn’t tell them what was about to happen, but He did tell them to watch and learn. Could anyone else raise a dead man other than God? If we look closely, we can begin to understand the underlying lesson of timing. We also see another factor of timing. Jesus had a lot of people following Him at that time. That detail was a factor. Did God want to perform such a fantastic miracle without witnesses?

John began this story with a detail we see in other books and chapters. Most people miss this detail because it’s not the answer they’re looking for. John gave us some background on the main story in this character. John told us about Lazarus’ family. On the spiritual side, this puts the lesson into context. John told us this is a close, personal family matter. John took that concept a step further by telling us a little about the relationship Mary had with Jesus. Which of course is an extension of the family relationship introduced in the previous sentence. Not only does one chapter and story blend together, so do sentences within those stories.

Martha and Mary sent a message to Jesus reminding Him Lazarus was His friend and was in need of His help. What does that tell us about people Jesus met? It should mean a lot when they considered God’s Son their friend. After all, wasn’t that part of Jesus’ ministry? John made certain to point out all three members of the family were involved.

Jesus immediately pointed out, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” Jesus gave the glory to God from the very beginning. Jesus also pointed out something had to change with the way many people perceived Him. One of the things Jesus was trying to teach is how He and God worked together. People have to first understand that concept before they can move to the next level, working with God themselves.

John told us, Jesus stayed where He was for two days. Later we see Lazarus was dead for four days. Jesus must have been at least one day journey from Bethany. If it took the message a day to reach Jesus and another day for Jesus to travel to Bethany, Lazarus must have died a short time after Martha and Mary sent for Jesus.

When Jesus told His disciples it was time to go to Judea, his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?” We can see the time frame of this story did not take long and closely followed the previous story. The time frame plays an important part in this story and also the spiritual implications it covers. This is such an important lesson showing how Jesus used time as a symbol. Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”

Jesus wanted to point out a mistake the disciples made because they weren’t paying attention. He already told them how Lazarus’ sickness was meant to bring glory to God and Himself. Now you have to ask yourself why the disciples would want to keep Jesus away from the glory He just told them about. You can see, the disciples remembered what happened a few days ago, but forgot what Jesus told them a few minutes ago. They obviously didn’t get the message the first time. Jesus remembered the past few days in Jerusalem and how He had to keep repeating Himself. Now He finds Himself with His disciples getting the same response. What was He going to do? Jesus walked around the group with His head hung low facing the ground. The disciples could see the disappointment in Jesus’ body language. Jesus gave them time they needed to think and review what He already told them. Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”

  • When something is unusual, it is time to pay attention.

  • When God repeats Himself, it is time to pay attention.

Jesus introduced a new symbol. One the disciples should have known and recognized. Jesus was a little surprised at their answer. The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. Jesus kept looking at the ground as He shook His head. Jesus knew the disciples answered quickly because they really weren’t thinking. He wondered where they got that habit from and how He was going to cure them of it. So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”

This is kind of a strange story when we look at the details. Jesus was about to rise Lazarus from the grave. God could give Jesus the power to bring a man back from the dead, but he couldn’t get His disciples to slow down and listen. It’s not like they weren’t dedicated. Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too–and die with Jesus.” They wanted to do a good job supporting Jesus any way they could. They wanted to serve Him and follow Him, but it seems they always fell short. They had too much of the world in them.

John didn’t record what they talked about on the road, what Jesus taught them, or how He prepared them for what they were about to see. Jesus knew what He was going to do. He already gave the disciples a hint.

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. John has a way of recording certain details. To catch the spiritual meaning, we have to pay attention. When we see lesson after lesson repeated, we have to pay attention. God has a sense of humor and His own way of pointing us back. He wants us to remember how He likes to use contrasts. In this case God is using a contrast to teach. God wants to show how we can review details, look back, and learn. Then consider the way all those people, including His disciples applied what Jesus told them.

John wanted us to know they were close to Jerusalem. He didn’t abandon them, but kept His distance. We have to remember, God is about to perform a miracle and news will quickly spread. Jesus just showed us how we have to back away and let God’s Spirit work with the little work we’ve done for Him. This is an illustration showing how all things work together for the good of God.

John also showed people came from Jerusalem to comfort Martha and Mary. This should remind us about the summation in the previous chapter we reviewed. So we can see how John’s account of the story is reminding us of what we need to do to see the whole story, or confirm whar we have read. To accomplish that task, we need to follow the correct steps.

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Something strange happened when Jesus arrived. When we look back at another story, Martha was so busy preparing a meal for Jesus and His disciples, she didn’t have enough time to sit down to listen to Jesus. This seems like a piece of the puzzle that doesn’t seem to fit into this lesson. When we look at what Martha said to Jesus, it appeared Martha listened.

When Martha got word Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

Martha must have learned about the resurrection from some where? Was it from her sister Mary who listened to Jesus? Or did they have their own copy of scripture to study? Another detail we have to remember is the Old Testament was translated to Greek and freely distributed more than two hundred years before Jesus’ birth. John didn’t fill us in on the details, but he did point us to another important detail.

Even Martha misinterpreted Jesus when He tried to comfort her. But in an understandable way. Not many people would have expected Jesus to raise Lazarus from the grave. We see how Jesus tried to comfort Martha when He repeated the word believe. It was good for Jesus to hear someone tell how much they believed in Him. That comforted both of them.

Martha is the symbol of someone who really believes and follows Jesus. In her grief she reached out to comfort Jesus. She would have done it for anyone. It is a quality all of Jesus’ followers posses. The ability to always look to God and find a way to use grief and a trial to help others. We see this confirmed when Martha left Jesus, found her sister, and told her where Jesus was. We can see Martha’s personality when she stayed in the house with the guests who came to comfort them.

We can see another contrast when we see Mary’s meeting with Jesus. It was quite different from Martha’s. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She almost blamed Jesus for her brothers death. Now when we look at that other story about Martha and Mary, things really seem odd. Mary was the one who sat a Jesus’ feet and listened to Him. Now we have a strange scenario to consider. How can the sister who appeared to be listening to Jesus not really know Him, but the one who appeared to miss what He was teaching knew so much?

This brings us back to those copies of the Old Testament distributed all over the known world. There were also Hebrew copies of the Old Testament sold for a much higher price. Based on Mary’s reaction, it doesn’t appear Martha learned what she said from Mary. We also have another possibility. Martha developed a close relationship with God’s Spirit. A combination of God’s Word and His Spirit is the most obvious answer and the best we can hope for.

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept.

I remember having an on line discussion about Bible Study. I was introducing a few simple study methods to help people get more out of the Bible and draw into a closer relationship with God’s Spirit. One man opposed everything. He complained it was too confusing to learn. He accused me of making up the rules of context. He insisted the Bible is literal with no hidden meanings or spiritual messages. In other words, each verse explains itself.

He used this verse as an example, Jesus wept. Since it is the shortest verse in the Bible, he thought his comment was safe. But why did Jesus weep? We can’t tell from two words. A single sentence can express the emotion and anguish, but when we don’t learn from trials, we’re doomed to repeat them. With that in mind, we have to pay close attention to trials Jesus faced.

  • Looking back for information works the same way and teaches the same lesson the disciples had to learn when it came to healing and helping people. Looking back relies on God’s Word and His Spirit.

One of the rules of context tells us to look back for answers. This takes attention off preconceived ideas and things we’ve been taught. Some times we have to consider the source. When we look back at what made Jesus weep, we don’t have much of a problem seeing how people didn’t want to listen. People wanted to arrest Him, stone Him, and tried as hard as they could to discredit Him. They didn’t want to believe or accept the miracles He performed. We also saw how Jesus knew what He was going to do before He traveled to Bethany. What reasons did Jesus have to weep? He was looking into the future and saw how many people wouldn’t accept the miracle He was about to perform. Jesus looked forward to His return where millions would be raised from the grave. Jesus saw how many people would be missing. Why can’t we see the future like Jesus saw it?

Why did Jesus stay at the tombs instead of traveling all the way to Martha and Mary’s house to see them? There must have been a good reason. What was at those tombs? Jesus taught us, we have to face our demon’s alone. After Jesus was baptized, God’s Spirit led Him into the wilderness to face Satan alone. But He was never alone. God was always with Him. That was one lesson we all have to learn from every trial, with every demon we face. Why alone?

If we face those demons around people many things can go wrong. We could accept poor advice. Demon’s can use people we think we can trust and draw as further under their control. Demons will find new ways to block out communication with God. Our only safe way of defeating them is to trust totally in God and totally unite with Him. Other people may support and encourage us, but only God should give us direction and orders.

The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” John showed us how some people trust in Jesus and some people doubt Him. How can we know for certain which Christians are for real and which are not?

Miracles are another matter. Miracles need witnesses who believe. Notice how John pointed out believers were present before Jesus raised Lazarus. Some people have come up with some strange interpretations about this story to explain how Jesus raised only one person in a graveyard. They question God’s power and this miracle He performed. By questioning, they miss a majority of the spiritual lessons associated with this miracle.

We see how often the key words dead and tomb are repeated. John made certain they couldn’t be missed. Anyone reading this story will see that point. One word we don’t see repeated is angry. Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

John used an unusual Greek word to express Jesus’ anger at the time. It is a physical but subtle display of anger. Not a verbal display, but translated as a snort or sigh. Jesus told some men to roll that stone away. Another reason Jesus needed people present. This showed how we play a part in miracles. A small but important part. Notice how Jesus had the disciples distribute food when He fed thousands. Don’t you think God could have easily taken care of that detail if He wanted to?

Martha told Jesus about those four days to display her doubts. This is one of the things we face before God is about to perform a miracle. Don’t we all have a shadow of doubt when things look darkest and it appears there is nothing to do but give up? That is how it is going to be just before Jesus returns, but much worse than we could image. God will send signs. Most of them will be ignored. Or the enemy will find ways of explaining them, covering them up. Like people at that tomb, there will be a lot of people who follow Jesus but will express doubts. There isn’t enough doubt in this world to stop God.

Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Jesus gave out one last call and demand. Once again Jesus had to repeat Himself. Jesus reminded us how He repeats Himself when something is important. Jesus pointed out another key word, believe.

Jesus remained by the tombs. He went away by Himself to pray for a while before Martha, then Mary and the others would come to see Him. When they arrived, they found Jesus among the tombs. There were many of tombs in that graveyard. Some with stones covering the entrance. Others were open, waiting for someone to fill them. Many of them were in different states of preparation. Piles of stones lay near their entrances showing how one thin layer of stone was cut from the tomb like layers of stone covering the heart of a nonbeliever ready to be released.

It was early spring. The cold bitter winter had passed. New life was sprouting up from the ground everywhere. Even in a graveyard there are reminders of new life. Jesus’ familiar image was easy to distinguish among the rocks and tombs. People flocked to Him. Some with anticipation, others with doubts.

As soon as they were gathered and settled down, Jesus said a silent prayer to His Father. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”

Jesus allowed people to express their doubts before He proceeded with that miracle of a life time. Some accepted their doubts as a trial and learned from it. With all the proof Lazarus was dead for four days, no one could argue or deny God’s power. The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

This story shows how some people will not believe no matter what God does. They doubted all of the other miracles they heard about and witnessed. They doubted their eyes. They were spiritually blind, their hearts harder than the rock that entombed Lazarus. Where did those people go? Right back to their religious leaders.

We see the same scenario today. People see a miracle, they learn something new. Instead of investigating the matter themselves, and with God’s Spirit, they run off to their religious leaders for advise. They have demons, but refuse to face them alone on God’s ground. They can’t accept what they’ve see with their eyes, yet they prefer the advise of men over God’s miracles. What a twisted faith they follow.

Jesus repeated another lesson to show the role we have in miracles. We not only have a small role in the preparation of a miracle, our work extends past the act of a miracle. Moses told the people to remember what they saw in Egypt and tell it to their children so they can tell it to their children.

Now Jesus had the leading priests and Pharisees on the ropes. How could they explain Lazarus’ resurrection? “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” They immediately jumped to conclusions expecting the worse. They failed to pray and ask God what it all meant and where it would lead.

Next John recorded a very unusual lesson. But one we see repeated throughout the Bible. No matter how vialed a person is, no matter how far away from God they’ve run, God’s Spirit can still reach them. Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time, said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” He did not say this on his own. As high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.

God has a way of using some of the strangest people as prophets. People love to place a personal interpretation on a prophet. But God has His own spiritual interpretation of a prophet. The two definitions don’t necessarily agree. You can look back in the Bible on your own to see some of the people God used to deliver messages or put events into motion to perform miracles and bring glory to God.

So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesusdeath. As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples. John pointed out how doubt casts a shadow on Jesus, the miracles He performed, and slows down Him ministry. Doubt, fueled by jealousy and hatred can stop the message from reaching places. In this case Jerusalem was used as a symbol. At that time Jerusalem was the religious capital of the Jewish faith much more than it is today. Like that day Jesus rose Lazarus, that same jealousy, hatred, and greed still blocks Jesus from a major portion of Jerusalem.

It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began. They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?” Meanwhile, the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him.

John gave us a clue how far religious leaders will go to silence the competition. Arresting people for their beliefs? Does that make sense? Now look at the timing of this event. God’s timing may be one of the most difficult subjects to understand, but once you see how it works, it will open up the Bible like you never imagined.

  • God’s timing is best explained using what we view as a linear, or strait, one dimensional timeline. God of course has a different view of time. He knows nothing but eternity and has the power to see future events, as well as having a perfect memory of the past. Since we do not possess those qualities to the same degree as God, He arranged the Bible in a manner we should find easy to understand. The fulfillment of a prophecy represents one point on that linear timeline. As we study, using the basic rules of context, we find events and lessons intersecting that point. In this example, John’s conception and birth are intersected by the prophecy in Malachi chapter 4. Some fulfillments have a number of lines intersecting their point in time. Each intersecting line teaches a lesson. Each line travels on an angle in its own associated time period. In this case, the symbol, Sun of Righteousness, covers the same time period in one aspect of time, and much more.

In this example we have a number of events happening on the same day in the same sequence of time. Lazarus rose from the grave just before Passover. What does this bring to mind? It is a prelude to Jesus’ resurrection. We have a time line with one point, Lazarus’ resurrection. To see the extent of the full lesson we have to consider Jesus’ resurrection, which is one intersecting line. John pointed out another, Mary anointing Jesus. When we see how that story intersects this point in time and compare the stories, we learn a new series of lessons. Most of which we never saw before. Thomas also made an unusual statement. “Let’s go, too–and die with Jesus.” This draws attention to Peter at another moment in Jesus’ ministry, adding another intersecting timeline and its associated lessons.

When you visualize a timeline like this, you have to see how Lazarus’ resurrection intersects Jesus’ time line when He died and rose from the grave. There are other associated events on those time lines that are related. When we compare them, we begin to see deep spiritual lessons and how one story helps to explain details about the other.

One of the subjects we see explained is how people doubted. This coincided with how people doubted when Jesus rose from that tomb. Another detail is the scenes and how they are described. Of course we have to compare the people who believed. Mary is one person linking the people at Lazarus’ tomb with those at Jesus’ tomb. That comparison showed a transformation. The point is, scripture is filled with details most people skip over when they’re reading God’s Word and not allowing His Spirit to guide Him. They don’t hear His voice, so they missed a lot of those details designed to open new understanding and a closer relationship with Jesus. We see those lessons in this story and the series of stories that led to this event. John repeated the fact many people didn’t listen for a reason.

Now that you’ve learned a few simple methods to study your Bible, pray and open it up. Take a look. What does God have to tell you? What are you willing to learn? It’s up to you. What you learn is only limited by time and how willing you are to listen. I know one thing for sure. Once you start, it’s hard to put down God’s Word. It may take only a few minutes a day, or an hour or so. Try writing. That will slow you down enough to hear God’s voice. You can study with a hard copy Bible or use a computer Bible program like I do.

  • Here is a Bible Study step you want to learn:

  • I use a free Bible Study program called E-Sword. With this free program, you can add a number of free Bibles. One you have to download is called the KJV+. This is the version containing Strong’s numbers and works with the Strong Concordance, a very important Bible Study tool containing Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. One of the Bibles you may want to buy is the NLTse (New Living Translation, second edition).

Using a Bible program allows you to highlight and underline texts, copy and paste, set bookmarks, provided a set of cross reference texts, and much more. You can quickly switch from one Bible version to another as well as look at definitions in the Greek and Hebrew dictionaries in the Strong’s Concordance. Bible Study programs can speed up studies as well as make it easy to organize your studies. You’ll also want to use a good word processor. I prefer the free version offered by Open Office. Linus offers a similar program called Libre. We have so many tools and when we look for new lessons, so much time. And if you don’t have enough time, remember, God can always make more.

I am trying something a little different here. I am working on a new book that will focus on Bible Study and how to study the Bible using a few different methods. Here is an example of one of the chapters in that book. I’d appreciate any feed back, comments, and suggestions. This is your chance to add a little input to a book that just may make a difference in the lives of people who sit down to read it.

Chapter 12 Introductions and Summaries John Chapter 2

A book on Bible Study and lessons on introductions and summations would not be complete without a look at one of the unique chapters in John’s Gospel. John recorded a rather unique series of events not found in any other book in the Bible. There was a good reason John recorded a series of events other authors omitted. Every series of events in the Bible is unique in its own way. It may be difficult to explain to a new believer, but those stories and the order they are recorded are designed to make a direct connection with us on an individual level. Of course the Spirit has to be involved before you can hope to see the spiritual side of any story.

I often see people struggling with events and timing in the Bible. They think they have to get the timing down in scripture before they can understand anything in the Bible. That is backwards thinking. God’s timing is not the same timing we are used to here on earth. We could almost say, God has no timing. God is eternal, and time means little to God. But God understands the limited view this world has on time, and how this world uses time to apply a type of spiritual chains on our understanding. John’s Gospel shows us one example.

Many theologians have tried to combine the four Gospels into a single time line. Of course they run into issues like we will look at in John Chapter 2. So what do those theologians do? They either eliminate that story, or apply it to a different time in Jesus’ ministry. In other words, they think the original author made a mistake and they are coming to the rescue by clearing up a misconception. In essence they are robbing people of the spiritual lesson God placed in that particular series of events.

One of the most effective forms of communication God uses is a series of events in our personal lives. Jesus’ disciples were not robots. Each had a distinct set of feelings. Each disciple had a different back ground, childhood, education, family life, and view of Jesus. When we read the Bible we are reading a part of the author’s personal perceptions combined with lessons God wants us to see and understand. A single event may teach us a little about what we need to learn about that issue. But a series of events will teach us ten times more about our own reactions, the reactions and influences of people around us, and how timing establishes its own set of lessons. Some people may have to fail a dozen times before they understand how God tried to warn them. We will never see or understand the warnings God sends us until we look back to see how we missed those warnings. Then we have to learn how to hone our listening skills. Or we can continue to receive an education from earthly sources who have absolutely no chance of ever warning us of any coming event.

John 2:1-25 NLTse The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesusmother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (3) The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (4) “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (5) But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (6) Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. (7) Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, (8) he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. (9) When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (10) “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (11) This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him. (12) After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. (13) It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. (14) In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. (15) Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. (16) Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (17) Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (18) But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

If nothing else, John’s style of writing as well as his book is unique. John included stories such as these found in chapter 2, as well as others not found in other gospels. Why, I don’t know why, but Bible writers have a way of introducing a subject then adding details later. Is this what John is doing on a spiritual level when we look at the gospels as a whole? The only way to know is to compare what John gives us and follow the law of context that tells us to look back to see how the author led into the subject.

Here is one of the most important Bible Study steps you want to learn and use:

  • Always look back to see how the author led into the event at hand. Most of us know in original scripture, neither the Old or New Testaments were divided into chapters and verses. That came much later. That has little to do with this rule, but to understand scripture, we have to look for patterns. One of those is how the author lead from one event to the next.

John 2:1-11 NLTse The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesusmother was there, (2) and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. (3) The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.” (4) “Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” (5) But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (6) Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. (7) Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled, (8) he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. (9) When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. (10) “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” (11) This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Because John didn’t record anything about Jesus leaving for forty days to face Satan’s temptations, it’s difficult to determine timing between those stories in John’s book. John began this story by pointing out, it was the next day. The original Greek tells us it was the third day. We can assume this may be the third day after His baptism. But we’re not here to examine the exact timing of every event in John’s book but to look at his story as a whole. The first step is to look back at the link between the end of chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2.

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.” Philip was from Bethsaida, Andrew and Peter’s hometown. Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.” “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” “Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied. As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.” Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God–the King of Israel!” Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.” (John 1:43-51 NLTse).

I think the last verse is the one to concentrate on here. Jesus promised Nathanael he would see Heaven open up and angles going between Heaven and earth. John followed that story with Jesus at a wedding with His mother and some of the disciples. This is where Jesus performed His first miracle. Is that the spiritual view of the stairway Jesus promised Nathanael would see? Jesus called Nathanael, “a genuine son of Israel–a man of complete integrity.” Was Jesus referring to Nathanael’s ability to see the spiritual side of issues and events?

We also have to compare this introduction to the summary in the chapter. This will help us to understand the theme as well as the style John used to write this chapter.

  • Examine chapters by first comparing the introduction to the summation. This will give you clues by telling you want to look for within that chapter. If they are contrasts, the chapter will have contrasting stories and characters teaching the same lesson. If the introduction contains contrasts, the summation will most likely contain a contract. When you see this, stories within the chapter will also contain contrasts. The literal form of the introduction and summation will show what types of details to pay special attention to.

But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

We see a number of details in this summation. Jesus talked about destroying the temple. John explained, Jesus was referring to His body, which of course points to His death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection. We see Jesus’ first miracle performed in the introduction and an explanation of His greatest miracle.

John pointed out how those miracles made a difference after Jesus rose from that tomb. This makes us ask what impression they made on the disciples while they saw Jesus performing those miracles. What went through their minds when they saw Jesus turn clay pots filled with water to wine? Does that water point to a spiritual lesson? The water was used for ceremonial cleaning. Water was also used for baptism, a sort of New Testament ceremonial cleaning, in addition to the symbol of a new individual beginning.

We also see the word servant repeated in this story. Servents prepared the water for Jesus and carried the wine to the person in charge of the wedding. This showed how Jesus needed people to assist Him throughout His ministry. This is another detail to watch for as we progress through John’s book.

John 2:12-25 NLTse After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples. (13) It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. (14) In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. (15) Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. (16) Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (17) Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” (18) But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” (19) “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (20) “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” (21) But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. (22) After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said. (23) Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. (24) But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature. (25) No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like.

This is a rather short chapter containing only two stories. The question is, what is the connecting factor? One point stands out above all. At the wedding John tells us, “But you have kept the best until now!” The story about the temple closed with Jesus telling about His death, three days in the tomb, and resurrection.

John is the only author who tells us about the first time Jesus cleared out the temple court. John’s story reflects the same effects and reasoning as the other author’s accounts. Those other stories are clearly dated at the time frame when Jesus cleared the temple court so He could return to the temple court the next day to teach a number of parables and answer a number of questions asked by different groups of religious leaders. John also added a detail telling us what Jesus did before He went into the courtyard. “Jesus made a whip from some ropes.”

This is another time you want to sit and think about this scene, putting yourself into it. Imagine Jesus sitting outside the courtyard gate weaving a whip out of ropes. I’ve heard dozens of sermons claiming this story proves Jesus got angry. Some sermons try to call it a sort of controlled anger. But look at the details and ask yourself, how long did it take Jesus to weave a whip out of ropes, and what was He thinking about while He was weaving a series of ropes?

Jesus wasn’t displaying any type of pent up anger. Jesus thought about what He was about to do and prayed while He sat outside that gate. He knew what He was doing and the lesson He was about to teach. Nothing was a spur of the moment outburst in any part of Jesus’ ministry. What was the lesson Jesus taught here?

We get our first clue by looking at the key words. Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to details. Words like merchants and dealers combined with exchanging foreign money, and marketplace tell us why Jesus formed that whip. How many people lost their money during the time Jesus formed that whip, and how many people wasted their money thinking it was buying them forgiveness for their sins? Jesus had to show them it was time for a change.

  • Key words are words the author repeated to draw attention to his main thought, point, or lesson. Key words are words that are the SAME, SIMILAR, or RELATED.

It may take a bit of practice to develop a pattern highlighting key words. I look at it as a fundamental and necessary way for God’s Spirit to slow you down and get you to listen. It’s difficult to thoroughly highlight all the key words in one pass. You have no choice but to go back and forth over scripture to do a complete job. Many people have heard of other texts in the Bible that show us how to study, such as line upon line, and using a churning method of going back and forth over scripture. Now you know what that means.

Cattle, sheep, and doves are also repeated. Neither one of those do a thing to forgive sins. In the Old Testament they were referred to as an atonement, which is a reminder. The book of Hebrews goes into detail to explain that change.

Once again we see Jesus quoting scripture. Let’s look at the entire verse. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. (Psalms 69:9 NLTse). This is usually all most people will look at. But if we examine a few verses around that verse, we see one of the messages Jesus pointed to.

Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me; they treat me like a stranger. Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me. When I weep and fast, they scoff at me. When I dress in burlap to show sorrow, they make fun of me. I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunks sing about me. But I keep praying to you, LORD, hoping this time you will show me favor. In your unfailing love, O God, answer my prayer with your sure salvation. (Psalms 69:8-13 NLTse).

Once we look at a few other verses, we see why Jesus quoted this scripture. He pointed them to a prophecy about Himself. We see how much Jesus cared about those priests when we see the prophecy refereed to them as Jesus’ brothers. We also see they thought of Jesus as a stranger, or a little strange. What would they think of Jesus when He walked into their courtyard and put them out of business during the busiest time of the year, Passover? Would that scripture have been enough for them to overcome their financial losses and attitude toward Christ? Look at the detail we see in the introduction to Psalms 69.

Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Those who hate me without cause outnumber the hairs on my head. Many enemies try to destroy me with lies, demanding that I give back what I didn’t steal. (Psalms 69:1-4 NLTse).

This is another prophecy about Jesus. This shows how Jesus felt and what He thought about while He was outside forming that whip. One look at that courtyard and Jesus felt like He was drowning. Jesus was just beginning His ministry and He was tired of crying. He was crying His whole life. It was time to get up and do something, to put God’s plan of salvation into action on time and on course. Jesus was definitely outnumbered. He was facing off against the priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, temple guards, Roman guards, Herod’s people, and a bunch of people who couldn’t understand His message. That didn’t slow Jesus down. You think David had to have a lot of faith to face his giant, think of what Jesus went up against.

If you still don’t believe Jesus pointed people back to scripture to see at least ten times more than the small message He gave them, look at the summation in Psalms 69.

Then I will praise God’s name with singing, and I will honor him with thanksgiving. For this will please the LORD more than sacrificing cattle, more than presenting a bull with its horns and hooves. The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the LORD hears the cries of the needy; he does not despise his imprisoned people. Praise him, O heaven and earth, the seas and all that move in them. For God will save Jerusalem and rebuild the towns of Judah. His people will live there and settle in their own land. The descendants of those who obey him will inherit the land, and those who love him will live there in safety. (Psalms 69:30-36 NLTse).

I don’t think I need to explain what’s been recorded in Psalms 69 and how it relates to John chapter 2. Can you see Jesus thinking about this Psalm as He’s sitting outside working on that whip? If those pastors trying to make an excuse to release their personal anger, or trying to explain their personal interpretation on that story had spent a little time, turned and few pages and looked where Jesus pointed them, where God’s Spirit was trying to lead them, they couldn’t have missed this message. The sad fact is, if those religious leaders in the temple had looked at that scripture, they would have never put Jesus on that cross.

To think, when I try to teach this simple study method, some people argue, saying there’s no need to waste time looking up scripture Jesus quoted. How can you hope to understand half of what’s in the gospels or New testament if you don’t look at Old Testament scripture Jesus and other people quoted? Those people who argue with me think it’s a simple matter of looking at a few random texts and going with whatever pops into your head. Isn’t that a form of eastern religion – relying on your inner being? Isn’t that in conflict with relying on God’s Word and relying on His Spirit? Not only are those people hurting themselves, but they are holding other people back from the simple things God is holding out to them. What could be easier than following clear and simple instructions in the Bible?

We see the words miraculous sign repeated. Those religious leaders asked what authority Jesus had in addition to asking for a sign. If they were listening, they would had seen, Jesus gave them everything they needed. That whip showed how all the words in scripture are woven together. They didn’t listen to Jesus. They didn’t go back to scripture. They didn’t know how to rely on God’s Spirit. No wonder Jesus didn’t trust them.

The Word was God

Jesus’ Last Dinner

John 13:1-38 NLTse Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. (2) It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. (3) Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. (4) So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, (5) and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. (6) When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” (7) Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” (8) “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” (9) Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” (10) Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” (11) For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” (12) After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? (13) You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. (14) And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. (15) I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. (16) I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. (17) Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. (18) “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ (19) I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I AM the Messiah. (20) I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.” (21) Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” (22) The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. (23) The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. (24) Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” (25) So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?” (26) Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. (27) When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” (28) None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. (29) Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. (30) So Judas left at once, going out into the night. (31) As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. (32) And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will soon give glory to the Son. (33) Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. (34) So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. (35) Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (36) Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.” (37) “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” (38) Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

Most Christians have heard a sermon or two preached about that dinner and how Jesus washed His disciples feet. Most likely they heard the same sermon preached over and over again. Nothing new has been added. No one saw anything new in those words John recorded over two thousand years ago. It always seems to be the same lesson, Jesus wanted to show His disciples how to be humble. Some preachers may go back a little to show how the disciples argued about who was greatest. But how many preachers looked at those words, prayed, and waited for an answer? How many of them allowed God to take them to that dinner in a vision, or along the entire path of Jesus’ ministry to see how each disciple reacted to what Jesus taught?

Most preachers will tell you John was the largest of the disciples in physical stature. He used that to his advantage. But why? John thought size could intimidate the other disciples. John thought his size gave him the right to claim the most important position next to Jesus. What about Peter?

Peter grew up with John always competing with him. Peter was smaller but a scrappy fighter who never backed down from a challenge and seldom hesitated to jump into one. He was quick to comment whenever Jesus spoke. He thought his courage was enough to sit on Jesus’ right hand. But what about the other more silent disciples?

Judas was convinced money and power were the qualities that mattered most to Jesus. He thought for sure he would secure that position, so why worry about it, or even discuss it? There were nine more disciples. What did they think? Were they interested in the highest position next to Jesus?

Andrew listened to John the Baptist and followed instructions. Once he found Jesus, he not only followed Jesus, but brought his brother Peter. Jesus found Philip who immediately followed Jesus as soon as he heard the invitation. Philip also went to find his brother Nathaniel and brought him to Jesus. Nathaniel had doubts. So Jesus told Nathaniel how He saw him before he decided to come and investigated for himself. Nathaniel was always busy looking for that ladder and angels. The other disciples we know little about. What qualities did they have?

There is an unusual collection of phrases in this chapter. Jesus repeated the phrases, “I tell you the truth,” three times, and a similar phrase, “I tell you beforehand.” This is another key to understanding scripture. When you see something unusual like this, make a list and look at it.

I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master.

I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I AM the Messiah.

I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me

I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!”

I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.

Look at the sequence it was recorded in. Slaves compared to their master. Notice slaves is plural and master is singular. Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah then talked about welcoming a message. Jesus also identified Himself as the message. But someone would betray Him, and Peter would deny Him, not once, but three times in the same day or hour.

We can see for the most part, those details fall into the common theme most often preached about this subject. But the sequence brings out details about the personality of the texts and characters many people miss. Compare a slave to betraying Jesus. Did Judas think of himself as a slave when he took the money to turn Jesus over to the priests? Did Peter look at himself as a slave while he was trying to hide in the shadows in the high priest’s courtyard? Did either one really understand what it meant to look at Jesus as their master? Would a common slave in Rome betray their master like Judas, or deny him like Peter? What about that message and the way it was received? Didn’t both of them miss the message Jesus was teaching? What about the preacher taking the easy way out by recycling sermons? You have to admit. Most of the sermons preached today are copies from some ones previous work.

Most of those sermons look at the negative aspects of the characters involved in the story. We don’t need to review them. But what about the positive aspects? What about searching for the answer of who was the greatest? Wouldn’t that serve Jesus’ cause more than preaching the negative side of the lesson that’s been copied for generations? Is it so hard for people to look at the positive side of the lesson? Is it so hard to ask Jesus about what was going through His mind during that dinner? Where do we begin?

As we’ve learned in this book, the best way to begin is to go back to see how the author led into this lesson. Or in this case let’s tell it like it is. We need to look at how God’s Spirit led into this lesson by looking back at how the previous chapter ended.

Jesus shouted to the crowds, “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me. For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark. I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken. I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. And I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” (John 12:44-50 NLTse).

We see Jesus giving all the glory to God. We see Jesus teaching how He took orders and carried them out. We see how all of Jesus’ authority is given to Him by God. Everything Jesus said was given to Him by God. Jesus is a good little soldier. Now we can see why that one line in Isaiah was translated as soldier.

What are the qualities of a good soldier? He or she follows orders without question. They find it easy to follow orders because they know their commander and chief. They know His ability and trust in it. Picture a battle scene if you will. Picture it like God has the ability to see it. The soldier on the ground can only see what’s in front of him. But God sees it all like from a bird’s eye view. God knows when to tell a soldier to advance, how far, and in which direction. He knows when to tell them to retreat, lay low, hide, and wait to ambush the enemy. God can safely guide his army around every trap the enemy set. All a real soldier needs to do to survive is follow orders. It is a simple mixture of knowing the Commander, believing in His abilities, and following orders. It also requires a degree of courage which is gained only through experience.

I can’t help but see this scenario illustrated this very week in a sequence of events unfolding across the world. In a series of news stores we’ve been told about US plans to invade and take back a major city captured by Isis, the radical militant group in the Middle East. The US president told about the invasion. A top ranking general confirmed the plan to tell Isis about the invasion in advance was done to give them the opportunity to surrender. After I prayed about it, I wondered why the plan was incomplete. Why didn’t the US show the world they the capability to watch every movement on the ground? Why didn’t the US show live video on world wide television to confirm that awesome power? Why doesn’t the president use this power to turn people to God? If he wants to save lives, why isn’t he using resources at his command to turn people to God? If the US can see every move people make on the ground, why can’t the president remind them God is watching with far greater detail and accuracy?

There has also been a series of news stories about one official questioning the president’s love for his country and the president defending that love. But his love falls short. The president defended his love for the US by explaining how he was sending in foreign fighters to capture that city in the Middle East, pointing out, no American lives will be at risk. What about those foreign lives? We know the US has the capability to send in missiles equipped with cameras and guided by people sitting out of harms way. They can also be guided by overhead drones and satellites out of the range of enemy fire. If the president’s intent was to convince Isis to surrender, why doesn’t he provide a live demonstration of that power for all the world to witness? Sacrificing soldiers to make a point is a strange way to show love.

If the president really wanted to save lives, why doesn’t he remind the world of God’s power? How God sent one angel to wipe out 185,000 soldiers in one night. How God took Babylon’s army on a march for thousands of miles then sent them home. How an angel saved Daniel in a lion’s den, and other stories in the Bible. If the president really wanted to save lives, why can’t he do it by showing his love for God first?

Another story shocked me. It showed pictures of sixteen year old American girls at an airport flying to the Middle East. They suspect those girls are joining Isis to fight against America. Why are so many Americans joining Isis to fight against the country they were born in? Once again, men look at the negative view instead of looking for an answer to the real problem. Why are Americans turning against the country they were born in?

The youth of America are seeing families loosing their homes to banks. They see parents loosing their retirement to rich companies and their board of directors. The only hope for a future is to become slaves to student loans, then the health care system, high taxes, and most likely the company they will eventually work for. Poor families see America building an unbelievable military while all they hear is excuses why there isn’t money to fix pot holes in the street they live on. People watch all of this on the news, listen to the president say he loves America before they sit down to a dinner of rice and beans if their lucky.

We have to ask why young people are leaving America and other countries to join one of the most radical movements we’ve witnessed in our life times. It’s obvious radical factions target the poor and depressed. Those problems are easy to understand. What is being done about it? Very little. Numbers of poor are growing at an alarming rate around the world everyday. Much of the military budget is spent to protect elected officials on home soil. More money is spent than any of us can imagine.

The second class of young people those radical factions target are rich and middle class. We have to look a little deeper to see why. We have to examine the way society has changed for that generation and find out what was added to their culture to make such a difference. What we need to look at is battle plans the enemy committed to. How he swayed their minds. In the Bible that was referred to as demon possessed.

We can clearly identify a few items rich and well to do kids have these days that wasn’t around fifty years ago. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, and computers. What are they using those for. What do they have on those items that demons designed? The most popular games center on witchcraft and murder. It’s always a dangerous combination when religion is blended with bloodshed. Think of it, the future generation is fueled on human sacrifice. Looking back on history in the Bible, that was one of the last straws before God saw Samaria then Jerusalem fall. Manasseh also sacrificed his own son in the fire. He practiced sorcery and divination, and he consulted with mediums and psychics. He did much that was evil in the LORD’s sight, arousing his anger. (2 Kings 21:6 NLTse). Today we have laws protecting companies that produce and distribute demonic material. Where are the churches? Not even churches offer any type of opposition to demons taking the lives of our children.

Moses was clear about witchcraft. “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there. For example, never sacrifice your son or daughter as a burnt offering. And do not let your people practice fortune-telling, or use sorcery, or interpret omens, or engage in witchcraft, or cast spells, or function as mediums or psychics, or call forth the spirits of the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD. It is because the other nations have done these detestable things that the LORD your God will drive them out ahead of you. (Deuteronomy 18:9-12 NLTse). To think, the very countries Moses warned us about are reaching half way around the world using the very deceptions Moses warned about. Everyday companies are making millions of dollars from witchcraft and sorcery and no one is saying a thing about it.

Not only poor are turning to prostitution today. It is as popular as witchcraft and murder these days. It is all over the streets, television, and the Internet. It has become an acceptable social event. Once again, we see laws created to protect Internet pimps, people making money by misleading our youth. And once again, no one is saying a thing.

Can anyone wonder why it’s so easy for radical factions to attract young people? Now ask yourself why those people, especially the young people who have everything they could possibly desire, want to give it all up to live out in the middle of a desert and kill people? What would prompt someone to do such a thing? And we’ve heard of the horrific things those kids have done. They post videos of executions like badges of honor. Looking at what society has become, it shouldn’t shock you. Kids do it because they believe no one cares about them. And it’s true. No one is doing a thing to protect them. Not their parents, churches, or government. They watch their families torn apart by the aftermath of society. Lies and adultery are common place. Murders are on the news, almost every show on television, and in many instances, down the street. If their not watching shows about murder, their watching shows about sex. The worst are a new series of shows combining forms of witchcraft, sex, and murder. The details are graphic and those imagines are lasting. Children have been abused so much these days, they can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Then there is the division in classes we see.

How can someone say they love America then create laws that favor the rich? Everyone knows the stock market crash in 1929 was caused by companies inflating values on their books. Instead of fixing the problems to protect common investors, the government made new laws to protect companies and open new doors for them to take more money. Those laws didn’t help the little people, but they did change a lot of millionaires into billionaires at the same time millions of little people lost everything in their retirement accounts, jobs, homes, dignity, everything they built over the years. The government’s solution – lower tax rates on the billions of dollars those few people made while raising taxes on the poor and middle class.

Neither the government nor those billionaires can understand the lesson Jesus taught at that dinner. They don’t understand, when Jesus told the disciples to wash each other’s feet, He was telling them, they had to learn to support and encourage each other. How is the president who claims to love America helping Americans? What can we learn from John chapter 13 that will help point all of us in the right direction?

John made sure we knew which day this took place as he continued his countdown to Jesus’ sacrifice. John called it the time for Jesus hour. We see that term repeated later in this chapter. Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him.” We have two small details about that glory. But that doesn’t begin to tell the full story. There is so much more to learn. But it gives us another example showing what we can learn by listing and comparing similar terms.

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The Word Was God: Gospel of John Chapter 11-21 Link here to download the eBook

We also see the word love repeated. Jesus loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. For most people this would be enough, but the story goes much deeper. “I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” We’re given another example showing how the summation added information to the introduction. Put the two together and we’re shown where love originates. It begins with Jesus’ love for us which is another part of Jesus’ glory.

John quickly transformed from the subject of love to Judas who was possessed by the devil. John didn’t mention a devil, but the devil. Satan wasn’t fooling around. He wasn’t leaving anything to chance. He wanted the job done right. He thought he finally had Jesus where he wanted him, in Jerusalem surrounded by a vast number of priests and other religious leaders still loyal to him. People Jesus couldn’t reach.

We’ve seen how the Pharisees viewed Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. They saw the numbers and couldn’t figure out what to do. Satan used that fear to his advantage. Satan also counted the numbers of religious leaders in Jerusalem at the time and thought he could use numbers to his advantage. Satan was also growing fearful of the number of people following Jesus and thought he had to act quickly. Satan acted out of fear and led those religious leaders with that same fear.

Satan made a potion out of a combination of fear and greed to put his plan into action. He used greed to guide those religious leaders as well as Judas. The plan took only a few hours to take shape. While all those plans were taking place behind the scenes, Jesus found strength and confidence knowing God gave Him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. This was more than enough for Jesus to continue working on God’s part of the plan.

So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. Wasn’t Jesus’ simple dress enough? Were the disciple’s feet so dirty Jesus needed a towel so He wouldn’t get His cloths dirty? Why did John repeat that detail about the towel? It was part of Jesus taking the role of a servant. Jesus had to dress the part to complete the message. It also showed how Jesus worked with traditions to make people feel comfortable, then meet them where they were. It was showing how to use things people were used to seeing as spiritual symbols. We see how Peter and Paul used that method in their ministries. Too bad more preachers and churches didn’t catch onto that process.

In this case, the towel didn’t make the disciples feel comfortable. Neither did the foot washing. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.”


 

First Peter turned Jesus down. Then he goes over board. He wanted more from Jesus than what the others were getting. Peter didn’t understand the lesson. He used Jesus’ act of washing feet to outdo the other disciples. Peter’s mind was still stuck on trying to find a way to secure the position in Jesus’ Kingdom he wanted. Peter missed the lesson. Whoever gets that position has to serve and serve much better than anyone.

Jesus said something rather difficult to explain. “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” His statement contained a contrast. First when a man has completely bathed his entire body, only his feet needed cleaning. Jesus was teaching the disciples a lesson where they were. Most never owned a home with indoor plumbing. They washed outside. Those fishermen would have washed in the lake. What happened on the way home? Their wet feet got dirty along the way. So when they got home, only their feet had to be washed. What did that have to do with an unclean disciple? Most people will know the answer, and know we will see the answer in the next few sentences.

For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” Are all of us clean now? Judas was a symbol. As we know, symbols point to something much greater than the symbol itself. In this case, we have to examine the action. Judas received money to turn Jesus over to people who wanted to kill Him. What about those people making a ton of money from witchcraft, murder, and sex? Are those business ventures much greater than Judas’ motives?

As Jesus washed layers of dirt from each disciple’s feet, emotions soared. They all felt ashamed and to a degree, depressed. Each disciple examined his own emotions as they reviewed their own lives, Jesus’ ministry, and their interactions with Him over the years.

We’re told to remember this by repeating this last dinner ourselves. I’m not sure if all churches enact the last supper or foot washing. I’ve seen some churches conduct the service four times a year, twice, and some once a year. The thing that gets me is, many of the services use a prepared type of ritual. They’ve turned one of the most emotional events in the Bible into an emotionless tradition.

Jesus asked His disciples if they understood what He did. I think people ask themselves the same question while observing a traditional service. What does it all mean? Is it like punching a ticket to Heaven? Why do we follow instructions to repeat a service designed to help us remember, but forget what we’re supposed to remember.

I can remember doing this service with my wife a few times. To me, it was a symbol of serving one another. How service to each other should never be embarrassing or taken for granted. After I found out the marriage was always a temporary arrangement, I can see the foot washing meant nothing to her. I wonder if a lot of people have the same feelings about that service.

We can see the service Jesus performed didn’t mean a lot to Judas. Jesus told them it was a service to remind them to serve each other. Judas left to serve himself. To help himself to some money. How long would that money last?

Jesus put them in their place. He reminded them, not of them was greater than Himself and what He did. They should have been willing to humble themselves. That was the main theme of the foot washing, to prove they were humble like Jesus. Of course Jesus had His entire life and ministry to prove He was humble, but they needed a sign, a symbol to remember. Jesus put them in their place at a significant moment in the scene, just before He quoted scripture. Of course, we have to humble ourselves by looking at that scripture.

Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me. LORD, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back! I know you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemies triumph over me. You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever. Praise the LORD, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen! (Psalms 41:9-13 NLTse).

Needless to say, Jesus led us to an unusual scripture. One we would not know is a prophecy about Jesus if He hadn’t led us to it. The context is what we want to concentrate on. The summation shows there is a price to pay. Judas didn’t consider that. All he saw was a temporary profit. This also pointed the disciples to a last minute prophecy about Jesus’ resurrection.

Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The LORD rescues them when they are in trouble. The LORD protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. The LORD nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health. “O LORD,” I prayed, “have mercy on me. Heal me, for I have sinned against you.” But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. “How soon will he die and be forgotten?” they ask. (Psalms 41:1-5 NLTse).

The introduction is strange to saw the least. If this would have come to Judas’ mind, he would have been reminded how God will always looked after him. Then there is the part about dying and being forgotten. Judas wasn’t forgotten. For him it would have been better if he was forgotten. But his name has been remembered for generations. Not for the life he led. All those details are long forgotten. But people have been associating his name with betrayal for generations.

Jesus said much more than what is in this story when He indicated, He told them that beforehand. The prophecy recorded by David told the story long before Jesus’ ministry. Many other prophecies told them Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus also told about a messenger. After looking up the prophecy in Psalms 41, we see that messenger is God’s Word. That is a more important point than many people realize. It is the essence of the message. It is the fragrance from the oil that anointed Him. What else could be more valuable? What else is more important in life? Jesus’ story and His message is spread throughout the Bible like it is supposed to be spread out in this world. Those stories included people from all walks of life, from every class, and nation.

John told us, Jesus was deeply troubled. John only pointed out one will betray Jesus. But when we look at the emotions and how Jesus pointed them back to scripture, we can see His concern was for much more than Himself. Jesus could see the future. He didn’t have to possess special powers to see what was going to happen. He saw how people ignored scripture. He sent hundreds of people to dozens of scripture, and saw the result. Jesus knew nothing much was going to change in the future. No wonder He was upset.

The fact His disciples couldn’t figure it out was further proof His words and those prophecies would be ignored. I’ve asked dozens of people to explain a prophecy about Jesus. So far they can only remember two. They are either the prophecy about crushing the serpents head found in Genesis, or Isaiah 53. What are preachers teaching these days? Ask a preacher to explain the prophecies Jesus died to fulfill and you’ll most likely receive the same answers. At that point in time, Jesus’ disciples were no better. But when Jesus’ sacrifice became real to them, they learned.

Jesus used a personal act to identify the traitor. He ate with Jesus. How does this point to the table of bread in the Tabernacle set as an invitation to dine with Jesus? How personal can we get with Jesus and still betray Him? Is it a collection of things we neglect, one over sight, how we treat others, or things we forget to do, like that foot washing? Or is it how we change details so we feel more comfortable?

When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. It’s frightening to think Satan was at that supper. Satan was in the same room when Jesus shared dinner with them. Satan stood there and watched Jesus wash their feet. That showed how close the enemy is and how he can react in a second. Judas hadn’t done anything wrong yet, except for thinking about what he wanted to do. That offered an invitation to Satan he didn’t hesitate to take advantage of. To think this all happened to Judas when Jesus was only a few feet away. In the middle of a lesson Jesus was teaching. I guess we answered that previous question. Or saw how quickly things can change from learning about Jesus to betraying Him.

Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. So Judas left at once, going out into the night. Judas left the room. The other disciples thought he went to fulfill a Jewish tradition of giving money to poor people so they could celebrate the Passover. Kind of a strange tradition when you compare it to the one Jesus introduced. Jesus taught how to share and serve. The Jews taught how to give. But wouldn’t an extension of Jesus’ new tradition include inviting poor people into your home to serve them? Just a thought to consider.

After Judas left, Jesus repeated the key word glory a number of times. Judas missed that. He wasn’t there. He didn’t witness any of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection. That showed how people who deny or neglect Jesus miss the most important points. Those details may be written. People may read them, but they still miss them. I’m sure I’ve missed plenty of details in this story. I hope you take the time to go over the entire story and see a few of those details.

Now Jesus is getting serious. He tells His disciples He is telling them the same thing He told the Jewish Leaders. Jesus used the word search for a reason. He wanted His disciples to search for Him in their thoughts, memories, scripture He pointed them to, and with God’s Spirit like He taught them.

To sum up the experience, Jesus gave them another sign or symbol, a new commandment, to love each other. That one commandment has proved to be more difficult to keep then the other ten. It has also been distorted more than the other ten. Some say it is the only commandment, but most of those people really can’t explain what it means. To them it is nothing more than an excuse to ignore the other ten commandments. But how can you love anyone by breaking any one of the commandments?

Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. This pointed back to the lesson about serving each other like Jesus taught them a few minutes ago. Did the disciples link the two together? What about details in between service and love, the scripture Jesus pointed them to? Can we be effective disciples be ignoring either one?

That’s when the second betrayal took place. Not at that moment, but Jesus knew it was coming. “I tell you the truth, Peter–before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Jesus gave Peter some time to think about it. Which was Peter missing? Service, love, or knowledge about the scriptures?

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Jesus Fed 5000

John 6:1-15 NLTse After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. (2) A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. (3) Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (4) (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) (5) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” (6) He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. (7) Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” (8) Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. (9) “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” (10) “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered 5,000.) (11) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. (12) After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” (13) So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. (14) When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” (15) When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.

I have to jump into a story about this scene on this one, but first, I want to point out one text. “He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.” Why was Jesus testing Philip? The last time we saw Philip was in chapter 1. John didn’t say much about Philip, except for the fact he went to find his brother Nathanael, told him about Jesus and brought his brother to meet Jesus.

A vast crowd followed Jesus and His disciples up the mountain. Jesus stopped at a level and grassy area. Jesus climbed a small bluff to look over the crowd. Philip climbed up after Jesus and stood next to Him. A soft wind blew their hair and coats back. Jesus and Philip had to squint looking into the wind. Philip looked over to see Jesus’ eyes watering up. Was it the wind or His concern for the crowd? Jesus turned face to face with Philip and asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” Philip looked at a single tear fall from Jesus’ eye as he thought about an answer.

Here we see this chapter beginning with John telling us about Jesus crossing a lake. This lake is significant in the fact it has Jews on one side and Gentiles on the other. It not only has a spiritual significance, Jesus used it as a tool to teach. Other authors placed Jesus on the Gentile side of the lake when He fed the 4000 and 5000 men, plus women and children.

It wouldn’t seem strange for Jesus to feed over 5000 people on the Gentile side of the lake during the Passover. What does seem strange is, why Jesus was not in Jerusalem during the Passover. We could look back and see, the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus and that may account for His absence. But is there a more important spiritual lesson Jesus was teaching?

The Passover was celebrated to remember how an angel of death passed over homes in Egypt that had blood on the door post. If blood wasn’t covering the doorposts, the angel went in to take the life of the first born son in the household. After the promised land was settled, they were to write the Ten Commandments in the sides of their doors. This was a way of showing how the blood of the lamb covered the law. But what does that have to do with the meal Jesus served that day?

The Passover also reminded people of the bondage God freed them from. We can’t forget, thousands of people left Egypt with the Hebrews. Jesus was ministering to those other people during that Passover. We have to remember, there were only three Passover celebrations during Jesus’ ministry. John recorded the first one when Jesus fashioned that whip and disrupted business inside the temple courtyard. This is the second. And of course the third was when Jesus taught a series of parables days before His arrest and series of trials leading to His execution. At this point all we can see in Jesus’ Passover celebration with the Gentiles is the fact He fed them. On the spiritual side we see, Jesus’ ministry offered freedom from bondage to sin.

What do we learn about this story when we look back to see how John led into it?

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For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” (John 5:43-47 NLTse).

Now we can see why Jesus tested Philip. He wanted to see if Philip believed Jesus came from God. John also pointed us back to Moses, who recorded all the details about the first Passover. This shows how it’s always good to go back and review the original design, function, and intent. I’ve heard so many people do silly things, then insist, “it’s tradition.” Well in most cases, if they would have gone back a few years, maybe even generations, they’d find, they used to do things totally different. I think the new urban definition of tradition is, “this is how we do it now and we ain’t gonna change it as long as I’m around.” Let’s go back another step to a reliable source, the Bible. What would those people find if they checked their traditions against the Bible. They wouldn’t find most of them in the Bible. Fact of the matter is, the Passover saw a series of changes between Moses and Jesus’ time. Passover was still a tradition, but underwent a series of changes by the Jewish leaders.

Jesus was breaking from that tradition for a while. There were no homes on that hillside where He fed all those people. So there was no need to sacrifice a bunch of lambs and smear doorposts with blood. That’s why Jesus provided a simple meal of bread and fish.

Philip needed to learn a lesson. Jesus saw a lot of potential in Philip, the question was, how to being it out. Jesus looked over the crowd for a few minutes. A few more tears came from His eyes. Philip had a lot in common with Andrew. They were both very good looking men. About the same size, shape, and age. Both had older brothers in the ministry. Jesus could see how their older brothers held them back from reaching their full potential.

Andrew found a young boy with a lunch bag full of bread and fish. When the disciples went out among the crowd to look for food, the boy jumped up to offer the lunch his mother packed for him. He ran up to Andrew, flung open his bag and said, “I have enough for everyone!” That little boy had eyes that could melt any heart. The hair hanging down over his face couldn’t hide the excitement inside of them. Andrew took the boy and his treasure to see Jesus.


 

Philip watched as the boy showed Jesus his lunch with a huge smile on his face. Andrew and Philip watched as Jesus knelt on one knee to inspect the feast inside the small bag. With one hand on the child’s face, the other helping to hold the bag, Jesus affirmed, “yes, this is more than enough.” Jesus took the bag from the boy, making a sound like the weight was almost too much for Jesus to handle on His own. Jesus asked for a basket. Andrew quickly brought one. Jesus asked the boy to help dump all that food into the basket. He popped up with a look in his eyes no one would ever forget. Once the five barley loaves and two fish were in the basket, the little boy helped Jesus lift it up. The boy stood there with his arms in the air like some unseen force helped Jesus hold that basket over His head as He blessed it.

The boy played an integral part in this event. He showed the disciples, Andrew and Philip in particular, how much Jesus cared for people, including little boys, and how they possess the ability to put incredible accomplishments into action. Jesus wanted to show them, the size of the offering doesn’t matter, once Jesus, God, and His Spirit begin working together, more will be accomplished than anyone could ever imagine.

When Jesus brought the basket down, He did need help to set it on the ground. He smiled as the little boy was more than happy to hold up his end. Everyone around Jesus bend over and looked at the basket, now filled with bread and fish. Jesus told them to bring more baskets. The disciples went into the crowd asking for empty baskets. One after another they brought back empty baskets, filled them with beard and fish, took them out to the crowd and returned with another empty basket. Philip stood and watched for a while. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

Jesus sat down with the boy on His lap watching as excitement moved through the crowd like a title wave as news spread faster than the food. Philip walked over to the basket the other disciples had been taking basket after basket full of food from, took two loaves and two fish, walked over and gave them to Jesus and the little boy on His lap. The little boy looked up at Philip and said, “my mom made those over there.” He looked up at Jesus and added, “your Father made these.”

After eating, it didn’t take long for people to begin falling to sleep. The little boy rested gently in Jesus’ lap. That’s when Jesus sent His disciples out to gather up the leftovers. It was a surprise Jesus wanted the little boy to see when he woke up.

Who knows what those people were dreaming or what they talked about while they ate. When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” They wanted to make Jesus their king.

This may make a lot of people think Jesus fed a crowd of Jews. Since it was the Passover, that is doubtful. We’ve seen how the woman in Samaria had her own view of God. We’ve also seen how the promise of a prophet brought the entire city to Jesus. Does it really matter who that group consisted of? The lesson was for everyone to learn. Jesus looks at the effort and what’s in the heart, not the size of the offering or the ability of the person offering the gift.

The Word was God

Hated Without a Cause

John 15:22-27 MKJV If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have had sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. (23) He who hates Me hates My Father also. (24) If I had not done among them the works which no other did, they would not have had sin. But now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father. (25) But that the Word might be fulfilled that is written in their Law, “They hated Me without a cause.” (26) And when the Comforter has come, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me. (27) And you also shall bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.

When we look back at previous chapters, we see how Jesus’ family tried to direct His ministry. We see how people ate bread He blessed, doubted Him, then turned away. People He grew up with doubted Him. And many factions of the religious leaders tried to arrest and kill Him. His ministry wasn’t easy. Jesus was attacked on may sides. The enemy was always plotting ways to trip Him up, delay, and eliminate Jesus.

 

The enemy has the same plans for us. We’ll always have people turning away, questioning what we’ve learned, opposing what we teach, and trying to redirect us. In business the enemy will always try to remain at least one step ahead of us, using any means at his command to waste time, starve us, steal business, and generally make life impossible. Jesus knew all those details before we saw them coming. That’s why He encouraged His disciples and us. That’s why He reminds us of what He had to go through.

The world at large is an evil place. The enemy knows how to manipulate people in our paths, in business, our social life, family, and spiritually. I lost count of the opportunities I’ve seen fall apart in business. I have no idea how many spiritual situations have been altered by the enemy. I do know, not many people know how to connect with God on a spiritual level. When people learn how to connect with God, the world looks at them as if they are strange. That’s when God sends in the reinforcements. You’ll meet new friends who’ve had similar experiences with God. You suddenly see a new world open up and your vision of Heaven is clear. You know when God gives you a message and have no problem knowing who the right person is.

At first your a messenger, which is sort of a prophet. You take a message, deliver it, and move on. The role is simple. If you prove yourself worthy and reliable, you move onto higher levels. Next is a teacher. You learn the process so well as being able to explain it to others. God puts people in your life who know communication with God is possible, it is supposed to be an everyday way of life. They may have heard God’s voice or seen visions. They may have felt His warmth, or been close enough to hear His heart beat, but they aren’t sure how to get back there. They are like the disciples who told Jesus they don’t know the way. A teacher can tell them the way to God’s throne.

Everyone has their own way of meeting with Jesus. Some pray all day. Some pray in the morning, others in the evening. When it’s really time to listen to God’s voice, they get away from the world. When they are alone, they concentrate on a single subject and let God speak.

People have their own way or path to approach God’s throne. God’s mountain has many paths. You want to pray, confess your sins, ask forgiveness, ask to be cleansed by Jesus’ blood, and ask to sit at God’s throne to listen and learn from the Infinite source of wisdom. Suddenly the Heavens open up., Scripture links itself to scripture like you’ve never seen before. You see Jesus’ life in ministry in a new light and wonder why no one ever saw those simple details before. After a while you begin to see how your life fits into God’s plan of salvation. You hear assignments. Then, when something is important, you see the condition of the world and a list of scripture describing its course and place in prophetic history.

The branch of prophecy is trimmed from the vine. You no longer care about prophecy or follow the course the world is traveling. Prophecy is now something you trust to God. You know Him well enough to see, if something important is going to happen, God will let you know, and will verify it.

God uses the same sources to verify messages and events. At first you don’t trust God’s messages. Don’t worry, God is patient and He’s seen it a million times. He already has His plan in place to verify the message. If we paid attention to the story or Jesus going to Jerusalem, we would have noticed the process. Jesus’ brothers told Jesus to go to Jerusalem, and Jesus told them it wasn’t time. Later that week, Jesus received marching orders from God and went to Jerusalem. Notice how the message came from God. Jesus didn’t need His message verified. His communication channel to God was wide open and functioning properly. With us it’s a little different. But we should keep in mind, God always comes to us before He sends verification.

The Word was God
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We have a tendency to question or doubt God. That’s when He puts His plan into action. God will verify the message He gives you through people who serve Him. Also through His Word. Some times it may be verified through a vision or dream. And it may be verified by events in or related to your life. Did that ever happen to you? Something happened and you had that feeling, you knew it was going to happen?

Some people think they are teachers but they don’t know the process. I’ve talked to a number of people over the past weeks who feel they have a message and as they say, are not afraid to share it. They usually pick a topic they feel strong about. They’re sure they’re right. The message they claim usually involves a sin. Be very careful. God will not send you with any message to convict anyone of any sin until you are ready and totally reliable.

People will cling onto one particular sin they don’t like. They may be right, it is a sin. People should know it’s a sin, but Jesus is the only One authorized to deal with sins. We’re not. Only Jesus knows how to reach that person. All we know how to do is stab in the dark. Those people cling onto their own message. They do not know God’s voice and will not follow His process. They are neither messengers, prophets, or teachers.

Teachers are given the ability to see, learn details in a process, and teach them to others. A teacher has to know and respect the fact, people are at their own level. They must begin at their level and learn at their own speed. A teacher knows how to ask questions and pause. Then wait for an answer from God and instructions on how to proceed. Teachers will always respect a person’s ability to develop their own pattern and technique to communicate with God. Everyone is a little different. Teachers can show people the process of connecting with God, so the individual and God can work out a comfortable format between themselves.

An evangelist is a little different than a teacher, because a teacher is normally a one on one experience, or small group basically on the same level. But an evangelist has to have his act together and lines of communication open to God. It is not an easy task to reach a group. Evangelists deal with group problems. Jesus was both a teacher and evangelist. Look at the problems Jesus had. If your an evangelist, you’ll see the same problems.

I’ve been able to learn a few things about evangelist. One pastor told me, “if your an evangelist when you walk into a room full of people, or a church, and you can’t see their needs in ten minutes, your in the wrong business. I can’t argue with that.

Another pastor shared how he prepares for an meeting, or some people call it a sermon. God provides the topic, then expands on it, and expands, and expands. Having been a teacher, I know how important it is to prepare to answer any and every question on a subject. Students can come up with the strangest questions. Now place that in the spiritual arena where the enemy is working behind the scene using people to trip you up. God spends a great detail of time preparing and drilling an evangelist. Then the evangelist has to take all that material and narrow it down to a twenty minute presentation. Which spells more prayer. An evangelist is able to see bits and pieces of the personalities they will be dealing with, to a certain degree. Then they go through the process of preparing their presentation in prayer. As an evangelist prepares, he can see the reactions, knows when to pause, and knows there may be times he has to add or subtract a little during the presentation. He prays during the presentation as angels watch over him and the people he is speaking to.

I’ve recently been put in the position of an evangelist with a small group of eleven other men. It didn’t take long to see their need. They brought up the subject and basically said, “this is what we need to learn.” They know they can talk with God. They know He answers. They know it is important to listen, but their not sure how. It sounds like an easy task to accomplish. Just tell those men the details I’ve already written here. But it is different in a meeting made up of people from different walks of life. Even though they are basically all at the same spiritual level, the conversation and topic seems to break down when you bring up a subject people are not sure about. Human nature wants to interject, ask questions, and unknowingly, alter the subject. We saw that happen to Jesus, and we know the world is not going to treat us any different.

I’m not sure about being an evangelist. So far, I feel I’m up to the challenge, I had a week to pray before the first meeting and now a full week to pray before the second. I think I prefer teaching. One on one is a lot easier. But God is with me. At least I am learning.

That series of meetings with those men turned out rather well. It seems all they needed was some proof the Spirit does exist, and exactly how the Spirit communicates with us. Or at least one example for that group of men to see how the Spirit can and will lead their Bible Study group. After a few weeks a trend began to develop. It seems the those men studied on their own during the week, and they were studying the same unannounced subject from different angels. One week the Holy Spirit came up as a subject. Some of those men admitted, they didn’t hear the Spirit, and didn’t know how to listen. I asked them to present one scripture that explained an important detail about how God communicates with us. As we went around the table, each man looked up and read a text that meant something to them. I wrote down each one. These were all texts they studied that week. I wrote down each one. After going through all 12, I looked at the list and guess what. The scripture went through the Bible in perfect order from the beginning to the end of the Bible. Not the whole Bible, or all of its books, but in order they are found in scripture. What were the chances that would ever happen again. I looked at that list, took a moment, shared that information with them, and told them, “that is the Holy Spirit working in each of you. The chances of 12 men choosing 12 different text in order they are found in the Bible is about the same odds of winning the lottery.” At that moment we could feel the presence of the Spirit in the room. The Spirit communicates in simple ways we often miss.

That’s the way it seems to be with God. A few branches are cut off and others take their place. When you look back, you can see how over grown some of those branches were and how harmful they actually have been in your life. Those new branches are what brings new growth and fruit. It’s a pretty simple process. The most important step is to listen to Jesus, the best teacher ever.