The Word was God

John Chapter 16

John 16:1-33 NLTse “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. (2) For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. (3) This is because they have never known the Father or me. (4) Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer. (5) “But now I am going away to the One who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. (6) Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. (7) But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. (8) And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. (9) The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. (10) Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. (11) Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. (12) “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. (13) 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. (14) He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. (15) All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ (16) “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” (17) Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? (18) And what does he mean by ‘a little while‘? We don’t understand.” (19) Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. (20) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. (21) It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. (22) So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. (23) At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. (24) You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. (25) “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. (26) Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, (27) for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. (28) Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (29) Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? (32) But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

How many chapters in the Bible begin like this one? “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” What does that say to you? Shouldn’t we go back and and review what Jesus told them? Let me ask you a question first. How much do you remember? ……… Do you think we need a review?

Do you remember how Jesus began this discussion? “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?” (John 14:1-2 NLTse). But wait, we have to go back to the beginning of this long lesson John recorded. Call it respect. Do you remember where this lesson began? 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).

These become really serious lessons when we look back at them with the context of chapter 16. “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” Jesus told them all those things He taught and all those lessons were given to them so they wouldn’t abandon their faith.

What is that foot washing lesson teaching us about keeping our faith? If you don’t know, there is a lot you have to review. Jesus told them, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” When will that day come?

Don’t feel bad. The disciples didn’t understand either. So Jesus explain the meaning. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” (John 13:13-15 NLTse). Now all you have to do is experience the act to learn the lesson. It is a personal lesson no one can explain. The fact of the matter is, Jesus washed their feet to show them the close relationship He wanted with them. So He did something they would never forget. Do you remember what it’s like to be in love? It’s not unusual to do something for the one your in love with they will never forget.

Jesus also wanted them to learn how to serve each other. Learn that process. Love Jesus. Help people close to you and encourage them. That will make you ready to help people you meet along life’s road.

Jesus told them the love they show for one another will prove to the world whose disciples they are. Their knowledge of the Bible, doctrines and traditions they keep won’t prove a thing. Only that love they show for each other will prove it. No wonder the work is progressing so slow.

Then Jesus told them about that house He is building for them. This is my favorite part. I like thinking about that house and some of its features from time to time. If nothing else, that helps keep my faith strong. It helps me from being discouraged. It helps me build and maintain a vision of Heaven.

That’s when Jesus told us, He is just like His Father. Or we can look at it as God is just like Jesus. Can you imagine a God, the God and Creator of the universe is a servant just like Jesus? Is God really as simple and unassuming as Jesus? Is God really willing to give up everything for us on this tiny little planet in this solar system? That’s hard to imagine. It is worth keeping the faith just to see God, meet Him, to find out He is as humble and patient as Jesus.

Jesus emphasized the point, He is just like His Father and His Father is just like Him, and repeated it a number of times so His disciples would remember the lesson. Jesus knew what was about to happen to Him. The detail that haunts me is how Jesus remained silent throughout His trials. Not just one trial, but the trial in front of the priests, Pilate, Herod, and Pilate again. Four trials and hardly a word. Do you some times feel Jesus is silent when you pray?

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There is a lesson in Jesus’ silence far deeper than we can imagine, but shouldn’t be difficult for us to figure out. First we have to put ourselves aside to understand why Jesus is silent when we pray. By ourselves, I mean our selfishness. We always seem to pray like it is all about us. Make my life more comfortable. Help me with this. Give me that. And to be safe, we close with, “if it’s your will.” And of course, I think most people have been taught to add, “in Jesus’ name,” at the end of every prayer. It may seem strange, Jesus told us in those chapters, if we ask anything in His name it will be given to us. But let’s back up a little here.

When we pray in God’s will, are we listening in God’s will? We are in John chapter 16 in this book. Are there any examples where Jesus told anyone how to make their life more comfortable, or gave them anything like we ask for, lowered taxes, solved a dispute, gave advice, or told them what to do next in life? There’s not one example of any of that happening. Don’t stretch the healing Jesus did as a license to ask for specific things in your life, not material things. Don’t look at the advice Jesus gave Nicodemus or the woman in Samaria as a sign Jesus tells you want to do in life. Jesus offered knowledge, and pointed them to God’s Spirit. Jesus gave us few simple processes to follow to reach out to people. Those stories were recorded for us to learn from. The lessons are so vast, distinct, and personal, no one can list all of the details or lessons.

It seems like when we pray for answers in our own lives, Jesus goes as silent as He was in those trials. Why? What were those people trying to do? I don’t want to jump ahead at this point to study specific details, but we will look at the general back ground.

The priests made up their minds and decided on a verdict before Jesus’ trial. This is how a lot of people pray. Why would Jesus defend himself in front of a room full of priests who made up their minds before He was delivered to the masquerade party they called a trial? Prayers can become much like that trial. Minds are made up before a request is made and people want God to perform a predetermined outcome.

I am going to skip to Herod next. He wanted Jesus to preform a miracle. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because He didn’t really believe in Jesus. Herod had a lust for power and he would have used Jesus’ ability to perform miracles to his advantage. Herod was a fool. He never thought things through. His wife tricked him into killing John the Baptist.

Pilate on the other hand had a desire to know the truth. Like Herod, Pilate heard every detail about Jesus. It was their job to know everything that went on under their jurisdiction. Their lives depended on it. But Pilate really wanted to know. Pilate was fairly, but not completely convinced Jesus was from God. Pilate didn’t want to kill Jesus, but eventually caved into pressure. Even if Jesus told us what to do next, would we do it, or cave into the pressures of the world? Remember, the enemy is always trying to stay a step ahead. Just a side note here. Did you notice a parallel to prayer and the parable of the farmer sowing seeds?

When we pray in God’s will, why don’t we look into scripture to find out what His will is? God had sixty six books written by dozens of inspired authors over I don’t know how many generations. All of those books contain stories about people and most of those books, maybe all of them contain prophecies about Jesus or their recorded fulfillment. Put them all together and we can easily see how Jesus understood what was going to happen and why. Jesus also saw what He needed to do. How many times did Jesus ask His disciples if they saw Him? He meant actually saw Him. If they searched the scriptures, they would have seen the real Jesus and what was about to happen. Look at where this lesson is placed and tell me you can’t see the spiritual significance.

How many times did Jesus tell His disciples to be just like God over the past few chapters? If we’re supposed to be like Jesus, where will we find answers to our prayers? The same place Jesus found them, in scripture.

“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! “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. 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. No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 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. (John 14:12-20 NLTse).

I never saw this before until the first verse in John chapter 16 lit up like a neon sign. “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith.” Looking back we can see the details unfold. Jesus knew what was about to happen. Scripture verified what was about to happen after that dinner. God’s Word is one of the keys to hearing God’s voice in prayer.

Jesus next talked about following the commandments. There is also a process to follow in prayer as well as studying scripture. God followed all of His commandments as faithfully as He follows His process in prayer, writing, and understanding scripture. God established His own process, rules, and we can call them laws when He dictated His inspired Word to His faithful servants.

Jesus introduced another key to both prayer and understanding scripture, the Holy Spirit. “He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” I also noticed a process Jesus told us about concerning the Holy Spirit. First the Spirit will lead or guide us. Then the same Spirit will teach us. “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.” He teaches us by reminding us about everything Jesus told us. Do you see the process?

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Jesus would not have told us about the commandments, God perfect law and order, if He didn’t want us to learn from it, and apply the same lesson to the subject that followed, God’s Spirit. Jesus just showed how God’s Spirit follows the command to follow a specific order. First to guide, then teach by reminding us. How can we remember something we have not already seen, heard about, or read?

This process tells us, God’s Spirit has to first introduce us to scripture. Then we have to go back and be taught. Then we review, and of course learn more. The same is true after we’ve read through the Bible many times. The process repeats every time a new subject is introduced. First we are guided to a subject. We are guided to a process to examine that story, parable, or lesson. Then we are taught the spiritual meaning. Much of what we are taught is based on how much we remember. I prefer to look at it in simple terms, how much we review. If we had not followed instructions in the beginning of John 16, we would have missed a vast array of lessons. We’ve been shown the lesson by example. God’s Word first sent us back to review. Our review showed us all the steps involved. It begins with recognizing the need to serve one another. We have to learn to love each other. This is how the world will see our connection with Jesus. We’re also told God and Jesus are one, and we are one in them. Our connection to God has to remain strong. We pray in God’s will, which includes praying, listening, and hearing God’s voice like Jesus did. We have to follow God’s commandments. This gets us in a position to study scripture which is one of the most important steps. Another step, just as important as reading scripture is to be first guided, then taught by God’s Spirit. Remembering everything Jesus taught is one more step in the process. This is how the Spirit communicated with Jesus, taught Him, prepared Him for the tasks He had to preform that day, as well prepared Him for all those trials He faced. Scripture and God’s Spirit played the main role in Jesus’ knowledge of what He was going to face. God would not change His established process because we don’t want to follow it, or create our own process. If we’re asking God to bless us, or give us things, should we follow God’s process, or our own. Has following your own process worked?

When we get to chapter 15, we’re given a parable telling us how branches, our habits need to be trimmed away. When you pray to God, you better be ready to hear about habits you need to remove from your life. That is part of the process.

Jesus wants us to understand that trimming process. So He explained how it is done with love. Jesus explained how He loves the disciples, and how God loves them. Jesus also explained how we need to love each other. When we pray, we just can’t pray about ourselves. We have to remember to pray for our enemies.

Jesus told them how this change will bring joy. Could love bring anything else? These simple steps will free us from the slavery imposed by this world. All of these aspects are important parts of prayer. Jesus saved the most important detail for last. Jesus repeated the command to search scripture, and learn what they say about Himself. Jesus also repeated the other most important part of prayer, God’s Spirit. Those two are the most important parts.

I know from experience, when I pray about myself, or problems, I seldom hear God’s voice. But I still go through the process everyday to ask to be forgiven. Then I go through subjects bothering me. I pray about people I know and their needs. But I don’t hear God’s voice at that point. But when I pray about scripture I’m studying or about to write about the next day, God’s voice is loud and clear. I can clearly hear God describe the scene. I can see the people there, and Jesus. He tells me what is on His mind when He was talking to people, and what He hoped they would learn. I can see the expressions on their faces, and see the reaction to what Jesus is teaching, especially when He pauses.

The point is, Jesus always loves to talk about scripture. The key is, if Jesus is going to answer questions about our lives, or people we pray for, He will give us answers the same way God answered Jesus’ prayers, through scripture and the Spirit.

Although learning to listen to God’s Spirit in prayer and finding out how He communicates with you about your personal questions through scripture is important, we have a whole chapter to study. The best place to begin at in the introduction.

I Have Told You These Things

John 16:1-4 NLTse “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. (2) For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. (3) This is because they have never known the Father or me. (4) Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer.

The first thing I want to do is jump to the summation and compare it to this introduction. This will tell us if we are dealing with contrasts or the lessons build to a climax.

Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? (32) But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus began by telling His disciples the lessons He taught that day were meant to reinforce their faith. Jesus didn’t want to loose any of them. He already lost one disciple. Jesus told them what was going to happen. Jesus not only saw what was going to happen to Himself, He also know what was going to happen to His disciple. So he warned them. As we’ve already seen, Jesus also taught them how to pray and listen to God. Jesus didn’t directly explain that prayer process, but He included all the steps and requirements.

The world will persecute them because the world won’t understand what their teaching, how, or where they got their information and instructions from. At this point, Jesus didn’t explain all the details, but He did tell them what they needed to know, to remain faithful.

Jesus not only wanted them to remember His warning but everything He taught them. After His resurrection, Jesus explained everything in greater detail than what has been recorded. That’s why we need God’s Spirit, who will first guide us to find that information, then teach us what it means.

Jesus’ disciples told Jesus they understood. They understood Jesus talked in symbols. That explained why the world can’t understand. The disciples commented on of the most important steps, to believe Jesus came from God. Jesus questioned them. Did they really believe? They needed that belief to face the future.

Jesus told them they would be scattered, each disciple going his own way. Jesus was talking about His arrest when the disciples ran off and left Him alone. When we look back, we see a sequence. Judas betrayed Jesus. The disciples abandoned Jesus and Peter denied Him. Things did not look good. It was almost as if God had to start over.

Both the introduction and summation dwelt with problems and trials the disciples would see. Jesus was trying to prepare them. First He tried to prepare them for what was about to happen to Him. Then Jesus tried to prepare the disciples for what was about to happen to them. Usually Jesus put His disciples first. He followed the same process here. Jesus knew how His death was going to crush their hopes and dreams, how they would feel when they lost their friend, and how confused they would be by loosing their leader. If your confused, I would suggest you go back and review those chapters and pray about them. Approach God’s throne and let Him explain the details.

We also have to see how Jesus led into this phase of the lesson by reviewing how chapter 15 ended. We also have to keep in mind how this is one long lesson and consider it as a whole. That is why Jesus reminded the disciples He told them important information.

They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’ “But I will send you the Advocate–the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.” (John 15:21-27 NLTse).

Now we see how Jesus reminded His disciples about what He told them in between His warnings about what they were going to face. Jesus actually pointed out the prophecy they fulfilled. Jesus repeated the promise of God’s Spirit and added another role the Spirit fulfills, their testimony about Jesus. This is where Jesus introduced the disciple’s role of also being a witness for Him. Not at His trial, but after His resurrection as history has shown.

Looking at the introduction of chapter 16 and its summation, then comparing them to the summation in chapter 15, we can’t help but notice how Jesus repeated the same details. He did this to draw attention to them. Jesus repeated the most important details a number of times. When we consider chapter 13 to 17 one long lesson, we can’t help but see how Jesus followed basic rules of context, repeating not only key words, but phrases, and subjects.

I Am Going Away

John 16:5-9 NLTse “But now I am going away to the One who sent me, and not one of you is asking where I am going. (6) Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you. (7) But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. (8) And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. (9) The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me.

Is this like deja vu all over again. I’m sure you feel like you’ve heard this before. As a matter of fact, this is the third time Jesus brought up the subject of going away.

Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come. Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:20-24 NLTse)

“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. 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. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. “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. (John 14:27-31 NLTse)

In fact, Jesus repeated the words going away four times in chapter 16. All together, the term is repeated nine times. When Jesus repeats Himself, it is time to pay attention. What is the significance of the term? Why did Jesus repeat it so much?

Jesus first introduced the term when He was teaching inside the temple court. Jesus used the term to convey a somber message. Jesus told those people in the courtyard, they couldn’t follow Him, and they would die in their sins. The simple lesson was, they were from this world, and He was from above.

Jesus also used the term, “I am going away,” earlier in this lesson. The message to His disciples was a contrast to the message given to those people in the courtyard. Jesus told His disciples about the gift of peace He will return with. He also explained where He was going, to be with His Father. But Jesus included a warning when He told His disciples He was leaving. He told them about Satan coming. Later Jesus added more details about what they would face.

Because Jesus included a contrast, it’s easy to see some people accept Jesus’ resurrection and other won’t. That’s a detail easy to apply to stories telling about when Jesus rose from that tomb, but holds more of a spiritual meaning today. Because we don’t have eye witnesses today, we have to go by recorded words and faith. Which is easier to come by and which is easier to believe? Most people would assume the written word. But how many people actually read God’s Word? Most of the Christian world never read the Bible. They may have heard sermons and a few verses, but their only experience with Jesus’ resurrection comes from a movie or two. What kind of a relationship is that?

Jesus was careful to repeat certain words and phrases to draw attention to them. How important was it for Jesus to go away? If we know the Bible, we know Jesus refereed to His death, resurrection, and return to Heaven. This was by far the most important event in the history of this world. Well worth repeating. But how many people notice how Jesus tried to draw attention to it?

Jesus also promised the Spirit again. This is another subject Jesus repeated a number of times. When we look at the main theme introduced at the beginning of this chapter, we are reminded, Jesus told us He already taught this lesson. Because He is repeating it, He actually introduced the rule of first mention.

There is another study rule called the rule of first mention. When a word is repeated throughout a chapter, look back at the first verse it is mentioned in. Look how it is used in that verse. This will establish a direction sometimes based on the emotional side of the spiritual context used in the chapter. Don’t forget to look at similar and related words.

I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.” (John 1:31-34 NLTse)

Not even John knew Jesus was the Messiah until He saw God’s Spirit on Him. What does this tell us about the Spirit? He will show people we are connected with God. It makes sense. How are people supposed to know we have a connection with God if we can’t show a relationship with God’s Spirit? If Jesus needed God’s Spirit to show John the Baptist, He is the Messiah, how are we going to prove anything, or gain anyone’s confidence if we can’t show the same?

This was an important point, so John repeated it. When we look at Jesus’ ministry, we can see how important is was for Jesus to point people to God and His Spirit. The first time God’s Spirit is mentioned, Jesus explained that connection is with one of the best illustrations in the Bible.

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked. Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? (John 3:4-10 NLTse)

Jesus pointed Nicodemus the religious teacher to God’s Spirit. Jesus didn’t teach Nicodemus much, He knew He had very little time, so Jesus pointed him to the source of all knowledge and the One who could be with Nicodemus all the time. Jesus knew Nicodemus would be filled with a lot of questions, doubts, and fears. Jesus pointed Nicodemus to the only source He knew could help him through everything the enemy planned on throwing at him. Jesus prepared Nicodemus for the spiritual battle ahead. Not by providing a small weapon like a knife, but one with a magnitude of power beyond our imaginations. Jesus didn’t sent Nicodemus into battle with one meal, but the only source of unlimited spiritual food to last an eternity.

“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:31-36 NLTse)

What an I writing for? We look at the next mention of God’s Spirit and Jesus explained God’s Spirit much better than I ever could. All we need to do is link those verses together and we get the vision of God’s Spirit we really need. God wasn’t fooling around when He inspired John to write this book. Not only are we given information on the Spirit, but an example of Him at work.

Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21-24 NLTse)

We’re given not one example of Jesus introducing someone to God’s Spirit, but two. Notice how Jesus used different methods? See how each was tailored to the individual? You may not notice, but this is another example of God’s Spirit at work. Jesus knew how to communicate with God’s Spirit and listen to His voice. When Jesus followed instruction, He was able to do exactly what He was told to do, successfully lead two people to the Spirit.

If you’ll notice, Jesus saw the effect the Spirit had on the woman, but not on Nicodemus. That taught us, we’re not always going to see the result, but that doesn’t mean God’s Spirit stopped working. Introducing people to God’s Spirit is the beginning of a process that doesn’t end when we drop out of the picture.

Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 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.) (John 6:61-64 NLTse)

We’re given the perfect example of how hard God’s Spirit works in the back ground with Jesus’ own disciples. We’re constantly reminded how little they understood. John was one of those disciples and he wasn’t ashamed to admit, he had a difficult time understanding. It took him a long time to catch onto exactly what Jesus was teaching. One of the disciples never caught on. Judas is also used as a contrast of how the Spirit leads to eternal life. Quite a bit to think about.

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (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.) When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” (John 7:37-40 NLTse)

We’re also shown one symbol pointing to the Spirit, living water. Many people think spiritual water pointed to Jesus, but John’s comment made it clear, Jesus was pointing them to God’s Spirit. After reading the previous examples, we can understand that lesson. Jesus’ role was to point people to God’s Spirit. When people exclaimed, Jesus was a prophet, we’re reminded of a prophets role, to point people to God.

“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. 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. No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. 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. (John 14:15-20 NLTse)

Now we see another pattern emerging. Now we are covering the same event which is recorded from John chapter 13 to 17. If we looked ahead, we’d see additional verses describing the Spirit. At this point we’ll stick to rules of context and only look back.

We see a condition, to obey God’s commandments. This is another role of God’s Spirit, to help us understand those commandments. Not the way men teach, but the way they were meant to be understood.

We’re also shown the Spirit will first guide us into all truth about those commandments, as well as other subjects. We also see the close, intimate connection between Jesus and the Spirit. Having God’s Spirit in our lives is the same as having Jesus guide us. This is what He meant when He promised not to abandon us.

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. 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. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. (John 14:25-29 NLTse)

Jesus remaining with us is such an important point, He repeated it and added more details to the subject. Jesus remains with us through God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit will move from leading or guiding us to teaching us which will, or should bring comfort. If it doesn’t, you’d better go back to reexamine your relationship with Him, or the process your following. If you don’t feel that comfort God’s Spirit brings, you are missing something.

From a few short verses we’ve seen how Jesus sent us back to review two subjects He’d been teaching during His ministry. While we study these, we have to keep in mind how important they are to our faith. Keep that in mind as you think about how God’s Spirit and Jesus’ return effect your spiritual life.

There Is So Much I Want to Tell You

John 16:10-14 NLTse Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. (11) Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. (12) “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. (13) 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. (14) He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.

We’ve already covered many of the details Jesus taught about God’s Spirit. After reviewing another important subject, judgment, Jesus continued to explain the role of the Spirit. He added a new subject. This time Jesus went back to God’s Spirit guiding you and this time added a new detail. “He will tell you about the future.” I know most Christians consider this a very important subject. This subject will perk up the ears of most Christians. The future is the subject many Christians are interested in and some are obsessed with it. But what is the process?

Has anyone been able to explain the process God’s Spirit uses to speak with us? If we look back at the Old Testament, we see a simple process. God spoke directly to Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, David, many of the prophets, and others. God spoke to some of those and others like Jacob and Joseph in dreams. When we get to the New Testament, we see a greater role introduced with God using angels. We also see few examples of Jesus talking directly to God which was replaced by prayer. Why the change? I’m not sure, but it has to do something with what we see here. Jesus wanted to tell the disciples more, but they had to wait until the Spirit came. We also see another change symbolized by the disciples, first the twelve, then the seventy. The process was expanded to others like Nicodemus, the woman Jesus met at the well, the man Jesus case a thousand demons out of, and others. Peter and John explained what was happening. You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 1:6 NLTse).

God was moving from speaking through a few channels at a time to many. Since the method of delivering the message to this world changed, so did the way God communicated with this world.

Another factor came into play. The mystery of the Messiah was made clear. Lessons changed from telling about what the Messiah will be to what He accomplished. The message still includes what Jesus has to accomplish before His return, which is the future Jesus spoke about. We can prove that by reading the texts. “He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me.

God’s Spirit is all about Jesus. He has never been about us, although His role is to guide, teach, comfort, and encourage us, as well as help us to remember what Jesus taught. Since Jesus is repeating the subject of judgment, we should look up the previous lessons to see if we are following a new pattern.

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” (John 3:16-21 NLTse)

John 3:16 takes on a whole new meaning when we understand it from the point of view describing how Jesus came not to judge but save this world. We see an interesting link between the cross and judgment which will be described later in more detail. When you read the statement Jesus made about judging, it is eye opening as well as sobering. It is also one example showing how people take one section of a subject, make it a doctrine, and misled people into thinking they’ve been taught all the facts. Let’s be serious here, the first time we see judgment mentioned in John’s book happened to be one verse people separate from his book to make a simple doctrine. “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” Look at the word Jesus followed that sentence with. The word, “but.” That word should make us read the rest of the lesson which involves light and walking into that light. Is stopping at one verse walking into the light, or standing still? How much do we need to know about that light? I’d say that’s a personal question between you and God’s Spirit.

“He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else. He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but how few believe what he tells them! Anyone who accepts his testimony can affirm that God is true. For he is sent by God. He speaks God’s words, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. The Father loves his Son and has put everything into his hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:31-36 NLTse)

We can apply what is written about Jesus to God’s Spirit since we’ve already seen how Jesus and God’s Spirit are one. These verses show the connection between God’s Spirit and judgment. Since there are two view points to consider, Heaven and earth, there will also be two views on the judgment. We’re told about two sides of the judgment, remaining under it, or believing in Jesus and the Spirit He sends. The alternative to judgment is eternal life. It seems like a no-brainer, but that doesn’t stop people from creating a way around the simple process.

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. 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. For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 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. “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. “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. The Father has life in himself, and he has granted that same life-giving power to his Son. And he has given him authority to judge everyone because he is the Son of Man. 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, 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. 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.

(John 5:19-30 NLTse)

We have another series of verses showing how God’s Spirit is linked to the process of judgment. Jesus began this part of His lesson by describing how God directs Him to do everything. We’ve seen how God’s Spirit communicated with Jesus. Once again, we’re shown how God and Jesus are linked together, teamed up to accomplish the same goal. There is one sentence that I really like. Once we see the connection between Jesus and His Father, Jesus said, “Then you will truly be astonished.”

Giving life to the dead is one of those gifts or powers Jesus received from God. It may be the one that most astonishes us. We are also shown that God gave the role of judging to Jesus. Later we’ll be told how God judges. Later we’ll look into that a little deeper.

Giving honor and believing in Him and His son is part of receiving eternal life. Jesus added another condition. “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.” We also have to listen to Jesus’ message. What is that message? One part is covered here. Hearing Jesus’ voice when He returns to open the graves and raise the dead. How will anyone know Jesus’ voice when He opens the graves if they don’t know it when they were living?

The beginning of this chapter tells us what we have to do to keep our faith. This section of John chapter 5 covers part of the process to obtain eternal life, which is the same as avoiding judgment. More of that process is explained after Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (John 8:14-18 NLTse)

These texts contain another one of those verses some people like to take out of the chapter and use it to prove a preconceived idea. In essence, they don’t hear Jesus’ voice, nor do they know His Spirit. They try to make the claim, Jesus never judges anyone. They use one portion of a sentence to claim everyone is saved. Look at the portion of texts they use. “ I do not judge anyone.” Then look at the entire sentence. “You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone.” Jesus was referring to human standards. Jesus does not judge anyone by human standards, as He made clear in His previous sentence. “For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me.” Jesus told them there is a difference between Him and them. Then told them, He doesn’t judge by their standards.

There are more texts dealing with the subject of judgment. You can go over the rest yourself to pray and think about what they mean, what they teach, and how they are related. You can see how some statements seem to contradict others, if you don’t know the full story.

“No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (John 8:49-51 NLTse)

Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment–to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” (John 9:39 NLTse)

Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:30-32 NLTse)

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)

In a Little While

John 16:15-22 NLTse All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’ (16) “In a little while you won’t see me anymore. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” (17) Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? (18) And what does he mean by ‘a little while‘? We don’t understand.” (19) Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant? I said in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again. (20) I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. (21) It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. (22) So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.

Jesus repeated this subject a number of times. We looked at a list at the beginning of this chapter. When we see something like this, scripture is telling us there is something we missed, or there is something added here God’s Spirit is telling us we need to see.

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.

We saw a pattern established in chapter 16 by three subjects recorded in earlier chapters. Jesus intentionally repeated those lessons. We followed instructions from verse 1 and looked at what was taught in previous events. Then Jesus went back to the first lesson He introduced. What are we supposed to do? Go back to study the first subject again? We could do that. But when a pattern is broken, it often means the lesson is moving in a new direction requiring a new way of looking at it. The question of course is always, what is the new way of examining this part of the lesson? This is a good time to stop and pray.

Look at how many times the phrase or thought is repeated. The introduction and summation agree Jesus going away and coming back is the main theme in this chapter. Some people may try to apply this to what many they refer to as Jesus’ second coming, but the context makes it clear Jesus is teaching about His arrest and execution. What did we miss? Look at what John added.

First Jesus concentrated on the word going, and term, going away. He later changed to, in a little while you won’t see me anymore. We can see how they are related, and really should be highlighted the same color.

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.

When we take a close look at this section of scripture, we can see one important detail added to the main theme. Some of the disciples asked each other, “What does he mean when he says, ‘In a little while you won’t see me, but then you will see me,’ and ‘I am going to the Father’? The disciples repeated the phrase Jesus used. It’s important to pay attention to who said what. The important change to notice is, they asked each other.

A close look will show the disciples repeated the question, then added the fact, they didn’t understand. Those changes are important. Jesus pointed out this detail. This is one of the easiest places to see Jesus’ pause. You can see how Jesus gave them time to think. Jesus realized they wanted to ask him about it, so he said, “Are you asking yourselves what I meant?” Then Jesus repeated the term, “in a little while you won’t see me, but a little while after that you will see me again.” The way that term is repeated stands out like book ends with all the information between them.

The problem sticks out like a sore thumb. The disciples thought they could figure out the situation themselves. Now look at the situation. What is Jesus talking about? His arrest, trial, and execution, then finally resurrection. When was that going to happen? In the future. The disciples had no way of figuring out the future on their own. But that didn’t stop them from trying.

Jesus continued with a parable. This time He used the symbol of a woman having a baby. He told the disciples that’s what they would feel like. Not in a physical sense, but on an emotional level. Jesus told them, their grief was coming.

We see another side of Jesus. And let’s not forget, a side of God we really have to get to know. Jesus is about to face four humiliating trails, He will be beaten, whipped, and face the most painful execution derived my mankind. Jesus know everything in His future, and He is concerned about His disciples experiencing emotional grief. What does that tell you about God?

Do You Really Believe?

John 16:23-31 NLTse At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. (24) You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. (25) “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. (26) Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, (27) for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. (28) Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.” (29) Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. (30) Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.” (31) Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe?

I guess you’ll have to wait for this answer like I had to. I had to pray about those last few verses and then I was shown their spiritual connection. Jesus showed His concern, His love for the disciples by being more worried about them then He was about Himself. Don’t miss this point. In the parable Jesus used the symbol of a woman giving birth. Now we see Jesus asking them if they really believe. What does that word believe mean? This is another one of those moments the Spirit tells you to pause and look up the word.

G4100 πιστεύω pisteuō

From G4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): – believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

G4102 πίστις pistis

From G3982; persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly constancy in such profession; by extension the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself: – assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

G3982 πείθω peithō

A primary verb; to convince (by argument, true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty): – agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield.

I wonder how many people can figure out the definition on the emotional level Jesus was in at the time. The emotional level that brought Him here in the first place. The emotional level Jesus was in at the time, the day before He lost His life. People wake up! Jesus died!

When we look at Jesus’ question on the deep emotional level of Heaven, we can’t, or shouldn’t help but see Jesus was asking, “Do you really love me? Do you really believe in me? Let’s look at the definition of the word believe and break it down to the emotional level of love. Not that counterfeit love found in this world, but that special love from Heaven.

Did the disciples have faith and trust in Jesus like God has in Him? Were they committed to Jesus like His Father is? I wrote another book based on Mark’s Gospel. As I was writing that book, it became evident, Jesus was teaching His disciples about a real relationship. The sequence of events showed how Mark recorded lessons about a relationship. That was the common theme that connected them. It became evident, Jesus was teaching them about a relationship because He wanted a real relationship with them. Jesus reached out for their love. He needed their love to make it through the trials He had to face. But those disciples couldn’t catch on. They couldn’t give Jesus the love, support and commitment He needed. They were too busy arguing who was the greatest. They were too busy being in love with themselves.

I remember what it was like to be in love. Then I found out love never works on a one way street. Love amounts to nothing if it is not shared on the same level by both people. Now I feel humbled to have been through an experience close to what Jesus had to go through. I am also humbled and even more in love with Jesus because He tried to stop it, but I wouldn’t listen. I could list at least a dozen signs telling me not to marry that woman. But I was in love. I remember one in particular over the past few days. The day I my flight was scheduled to go to her and get married, I received a call. It was from someone who wanted to by my house. She offered full price, cash, no contingencies. I turned it down and left for the airport. Now I can’t sell the house for $50,000 less than that offer. And if I do, well the ex-wife gets a good portion of the money. That’s all she is concerned about. That is one lesson that sits heavy on my mind. I ignored warnings Jesus sent and paid the price. It was a heavy toll, but now I can look back and see the lesson.

When I heard about the divorce, I was devisated. I couldn’t eat for weeks. I lost so much weight it really showed. I was always normal, or close to ideal weight. 5′-8” and between 150-155 pounds. I was less than 140 pounds before I regained my appetite. I would not accept the divorce and was convinced I could fix it. I prayed to God constantly to help me fix it. Pain was on my mind and heart constantly for months. It was the only thing I could think about from the time I woke up to when I was finally able to fall asleep. After a few hours I’d wake up and it would be the only thing on my mind. She knew how emotional I would be and used it to her advantage. She used my emotions to not only manipulate me, but to extend and increase the pain I felt. She made no attempt to cover up her adultery but praised it. She bragged about it. She used it to hurt me.

I lost count of the number of months before we consummated our marriage. She always had an excuse. I thought that was just the way a good Christian woman acted. After that, we had sex every few months. Again I convinced myself that must be the way good Christian women act. They put away the lusts of the flesh and for some reason that made me love her even more.

Before we married, we prayed together everyday, and studied together. We would stay on the phone for hours and make sure we called each other before and after work. But that all changed as soon as we got married. She never prayed or studied the Bible after we married. I continued to do both as well as call her on the way to work, and when I was on my way home. That was another one way street.

Now that I look back, our marriage was one long one way street. She didn’t work much. But the few times she had a job, she always complained about it. And I was right there to support her. I’d tell her how they didn’t appreciate her and didn’t’ see the skills and potential she had. I supported her when she quit. Of course she always cried like it was a big emotional step for her. Looking back I can see how she used her tears as another tool or weapon.

I was reminded about another detail. She always told me stories about how she would constantly almost get into car accidents. After she told me her account of the story, I would always support her and agree it was the other person’s fault. I was in love and I could never see what she was doing. In her eyes she was perfect. She never made a mistake. As long as she has people to agree with her, she could convince herself she was always right. Sounds a lot like the same emotion and pride the disciples placed above their love for Jesus. She loved herself more than me like the disciples loved themselves more than Jesus.

After about a year of anguish, I finally started listening to God. One of the first things He told me was I stopped praying out loud to Him. That was because she didn’t like it. I stopped praying, thinking, what could go wrong? After all, I was in love. Love has a way of blinding you. I finally accepted the fact, God had to work on her and as long as I was there offering faithful and unlimited encouragement, she wasn’t going to accept any type of change. She was convinced she was perfect – adultery and all.

I had to go back and examine what love really was. I had to pray long and hard about it. I was determined to get Jesus back in the center of my heart. I saw how I placed my wife there and asked Jesus to leave. How do I get Him back where He belonged and how do I make sure no one ever takes His place in my heart? That is a difficult question to ask. And a hard answer to accept.

What took Jesus to that cross and through all that pain and suffering? We’ve seen how Jesus could look into the future and understand what was about to happen. He saw how the cross would change them. Jesus saw how they would accept the pain and let it remold and change them. I felt that pain for nearly a year.

I have to say, I have not found a woman close to that kind of love and commitment I felt for my wife when we were married. I hear a lot of women say they love Jesus, but their love is not even close to what I felt for my ex-wife. This time I am looking and waiting for much more.

As I learn more about Jesus and how much He loves me, and the love He offers to all of us, I am reminded about another part of my life. My mother died of cancer when I was very young. My dad never remarried. He loved her so much, he never did find another woman close her. My dad never found another woman who sparked the depth of love he had for her. Maybe it runs in the genes?

How do we get that kind of love for Jesus? I have to ask, how would you feel if someone stole your wife or husband from you, or they suddenly died? How would you feel? How empty would you feel? Would the meaning and purpose of life disappear without them? Would you feel like life had no meaning? Wouldn’t it hurt so much, days would drag on without purpose. Food wouldn’t taste the same. Sights and sounds, the little things in life like shopping, sitting together, a view of a full moon, or a sunset would pass without joy. Wouldn’t you feel like you’d never feel a happy moment again? Wouldn’t it feel like nothing had any meaning because you had no one to share it with? I felt that way for years. I still feel that way at times.

Multiply that sadness by an infinite number and you know what those disciples felt. Look at the scene. We normally suffer alone. I was alone in a big house. I had about four people to support me. But I felt so alone. Like happiness had fled only to be replaced by a deep feeling of dispair, hopelessness, loneliness, and sadness forever. The disciples gathered together to share their grief, support, and encourage each other. The lesson of washing each other’s feet was unfolding. Did they see the lesson and understand it. Not until after they saw Jesus when their grief was lifted.

This feeling and lesson of love is so personal, you have to take it up with Jesus on your own. You owe it to yourself and owe it to Him to sit down and talk about it. I can’t express or explain all the lessons He taught me. Some of them are too personal to share. But I praise the LORD because now I can look back and see why I had to live through that horror and experience all that pain for all those years. It gave me a glimpse of what Jesus’ disciples felt for a few days after they saw their friend executed and placed in a tomb. I hope you didn’t have to experience anything that drastic, but if you did, I hope what I shared has helped to release you from the pain. Now it’s time to go to Jesus to be healed and learn what love really is.

When we look at that definition of the word believe in John 16, we can’t help but see how closely the definition is to love. The word Jesus used definitely is a view from Heaven, which is far different than this world. Faith, entrust, spiritual well being, commitment, moral conviction, truthfulness, conviction, consistency, assurance, fidelity, reliance, and obedience are all factors of love as well as belief. We can see how the definition from Heaven far exceeds the expectations and commitments of this world. The question is, what is it going to take for this world to move from the love it understands, to the love Jesus, God, and His Spirit offer? Not only accept that love but be totally committed to it.

Once we understand and see the Heavenly meaning of belief, it opens up a whole new view into the difference of love and commitment between this world and Heaven. One example was on the news last week. The US has been locked in an unbelievable cold front for about a month. The east coast saw more snow than they could handle. Government studies showed how that severe weather caused more than four billion dollars in losses to the economy. I don’t know who does those studies or what criteria they actually use, but common sense paints a totally different picture.

Talking to some people around Milwaukee where we are experiencing record cold temperatures but not much snow, they tell me how busy they are. Common sense tells us plumbers are busy as well as people repairing and replacing furnaces. Record number of car batteries are being sold. Auto body shops as well as repair shops are seeing record income. On the east coast where it has been constantly snowing, people in the snow removal business are making more money than expected. The kid next door is making more money shoveling snow than he ever dreamed about. But government reports say the economy lost so much money. Their statement reveals where their love lies. . Not with the small businesses making record profits, but with large corporations facing a decrease in profits. And we can bet those figures are exaggerated so people feel sorry for them like my ex-wife thrived on. When we experience that love from Heaven, we can see that misguided love in this world and where their true intentions and commitments really lie.

Jesus told them a little bit of what was going to happen and then He shared the results. Jesus gave them a taste of what we find in Hebrews 10 where it explained how Jesus opened up a direct path to God’s throne for us. I’ve also been praying about why – for the most part, it seems God voice has fallen silent to this world. How do you think Jesus felt when He saw His love was on a one way street? I mean, can you imagine what He really felt? When I found out I was on that road, I couldn’t explain how much it hurt. I can tell you, I have not spoken to my ex-wife since the divorce. I have no need to communicate with her at any time on any subject. I have to be honest. A love like I had doesn’t die, but wisdom and knowledge tell me that love is nothing to waste. Especially on someone who has no idea how to return it. Does Jesus feel the same way? I talk to Jesus, and He answers. Jesus met and talked to His disciples after His resurrection. He saw the joy in their faces and felt the transformation in their hearts. He finally experienced and felt the love He gave them returned. Why does so much of this world believe Jesus stopped talking to us?

Why does it seem like Jesus doesn’t talk to so many people? Is it only because they aren’t listening? Or is a part of the reason because Jesus felt the pain of a one way relationship and chose not to communicate? Is it because He doesn’t want to feel that pain again? We’re created in God’s image and if we feel that pain, you’d better believe Jesus feels it to.

I can only speak from experience in human terms, but maybe that’s what this world needs to hear. Maybe that’s all this world is ready to hear. Maybe human terms and an understanding of that love Jesus has for us is a bridge they need to begin giving back the love they receive.

I have to be honest. There is a part of me that wants to protect myself from the pain. I never want to feel like that again. So I chose not to communicate with my ex-wife in any way, shape or form. I can be honest and tell you why. I would fall in love all over again in a minute. She wouldn’t have to put in any effort or show any love at all and I would lay myself at her feet and remain totally committed. I would give her much more than explained in that definition of believe and much more. Oh how I wish I could love Jesus that much and feel that strong about Him. But with my ex-wife, I know I have to protect myself. I’ve already lost so much.

We can’t explain the depth of Jesus’ love any more than we can understand or feel the pain He went through. Come on now, don’t you understand He came here as a human and felt much more than the cold, heat, exhaustion, hunger, the lash on His back, nails through His hands and feet, thrones on His head, and those other physical pains. Jesus felt more emotion and heartbreak than we could imagine. Because His love is so much deeper than ours, so is the emotional pain. Does that explain why people don’t hear Him communicate with them? Is it because they have no intentions or desires to return His love and Jesus is protecting His heart from the pain? Can we blame Him?

Lucky thing for us we have the Bible to help us understand and hear Jesus calling out to us. His disciples couldn’t provide the support He needed when He needed it, or return the love He gave them when He needed it most. But Jesus went back to them and couldn’t wait to fill their hearts with joy. After suffering the worst pain those disciples could imagine, it was gone in a moment. It was a pain only Jesus could heal.

Look at Paul as another example. He hated Jesus and all of His followers. But that didn’t stop Jesus from reaching out to Paul with all His love. And look what happened with Paul, how he changed. There are other examples in the Bible and many more in God’s book of life. He keeps a record of all of them like many of us record precious moments we want to remember. Imagine what those mean to Jesus when someone opens up their heart and returns the love He gives them. Can you feel that joy? Have you felt those emotions in this world? Do you remember what it felt like? Now multiply that by the infinite number of eternity.

Jesus opened a new door for this world. He loves us so much He promised to give us anything and everything. Don’t we make the same promises to the people we really love? Jesus wasn’t selfish with His love. He showed us where it came from. His love is so great it has to be shared. When He rose from that tomb He opened up a new door, a new era, “ At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.” Jesus gave us the greatest love, gift, and joy of all. He opened a direct path to God’s throne for us. How much does Jesus want us to understand that love?

Jesus explained that answer to His disciples. “I have spoken of these matters in figures of speech, but soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father. Then you will ask in my name. I’m not saying I will ask the Father on your behalf, for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”

First off, we should be happy because Jesus told us He returned to be with His first love, His Father. Up until this point, Jesus spoke in symbols and examples. As far as the disciples were concerned at that point in time, the love Jesus spoke about had not yet been revealed. Jesus told them, “soon I will stop speaking figuratively and will tell you plainly all about the Father.” But the time had not yet come for them to understand or feel that love. First they had to share the pain.

The disciples thought they understood, but at that time, there was no way for them to know. A lot of people think they understand Jesus’ love, but do they really? Are they 100% prepared to return that love? Look what’s not in the Bible. There’s no record of any of the disciples falling in love or getting married. Like my dad, they found one love that could not be equaled. Some times the things we go through in life prepare us for what is ahead. Lessons are often difficult to learn. Those four Gospels all agree, Jesus’ disciples found it impossible to understand Jesus’ love and God’s plan of salvation until after they passed through the pain. I think a lot of us are the same. We each feel our own personal pain. We all have our own way of dealing with it. We all have our own level of asking Jesus to get involved and help us to heal. And we all have our own level and quality of love we return to Jesus.

Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? We all have our own level of belief. The point is to remember how Jesus reached out to people in the Bible and learn from those examples.

You Will Be Scattered

John 16:32-33 NLTse But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (33) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Have you gone through that? Did you leave Jesus alone when He needed you? Image the Son of God needing people. Jesus pointed out, He was never really alone as long as He has His Father. Did you ever feel like that? The only one in the universe who could understand you was God? Then you would feel a little of what Jesus felt. When you can feel a little of what Jesus felt, you are ready to find that peace He offered.

Jesus made another promise. Well two of them. He didn’t want to hide anything, so He told His disciples the road was not going to be an easy one. I remember when I was in love, I felt like nothing in this world could hurt me. I wish I had that kind of love with Jesus. But I’m working on it and it is growing. It is getting there. That’s the kind of love and confidence Jesus wants us to have. The kind of love that can overcome anything and everything this world can throw at us. We just have to keep in mind, Jesus faced this world and won! And we can do the same when we finally figure out how to return the love He gives to us. There is no greater gift we can offer Jesus than to return the love He gave to us.

Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalms 51:15-17 NLTse)

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John Chapter 2

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 are 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.

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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 while He faced 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 with Jesus at a wedding with His mother and some 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.

John pointed out, Jesus didn’t trust people because He knew human nature. What did that mean? It’s early in Jesus’ ministry. He prepared for about thirty years before He began His ministry. At the wedding Jesus said, “My time has not yet come.” What was He referring to? It may be pointing out, He hadn’t defeated Satan before that wedding. If that was on His mind, Jesus would have been observing how Satan’s agents controlled people. That would have been something on Jesus mind throughout His ministry and life.

We also see the word servant repeated in this story. They 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 look out 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 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. His story reflects the same effects and reasoning as the other author’s account when Jesus cleared the temple court before He returned to teach a number of parables and answered 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 why 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).

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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 His 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).

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 down Jesus. 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 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 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 texts 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.

John Chapter 8

What does a misunderstanding of the commandments have to do with Jesus’ return? John covered the subject in detail. Preachers today fail to make the connection. Why? Preachers today teach one subject at a time. They fail to cover material designed to lead into the next subject. Once they miss the introduction to a subject, they miss the entire spiritual message contained in the next story. That is one general rule of Bible Study many people miss. Why? There are factions in this world who stand against Jesus’ return and are working hard to spoil that return in any way they can.

John 8:1-59 NLTse Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, (2) but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. (3) As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. (4) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (6) They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (7) They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (8) Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (9) When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. (10) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (11) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (12) Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (13) The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” (14) Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. (15) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. (16) And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (17) Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. (18) I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (19) “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (20) Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come. (21) Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” (22) The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” (23) Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. (24) That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (25) “Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. (26) I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” (27) But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father. (28) So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. (29) And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (30) Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. (31) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (33) “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (35) A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (37) Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. (38) I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” (39) “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. (40) Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. (41) No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.” (42) Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. (43) Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! (44) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! (46) Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (47) Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.” (48) The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (49) “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. (50) And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. (51) I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (52) The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ (53) Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (54) Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ (55) but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

I have to admit. I spent years looking forward to writing about John’s book. I always considered John’s Gospel the most passionate of the four gospels. Some of his chapters capture a unique relationship with Christ as well as the necessary and personal connection God is looking for from each of His servants. But those last two chapters and this one paint an entirely different story.

John has been focusing on frustrations Jesus faced throughout His ministry. The disappointment Jesus faced when dozens of His followers walked away. John wrote about the human side of Christ. You can imagine what He felt when those people turned and walked away because they either didn’t get their way, or couldn’t understand. Jesus felt that sinking, empty feeling in His chest. His heart ached. Jesus felt the sting of rejection.

After spending generations planning each event, talking with His prophets, and recording every detail, Jesus finally came to this world. He had to grow up like every other child. He worked in the home and helped His mother like any little boy. Jesus worked with His father like any other young man. Finally His Heavenly Father told Him it was time and Jesus began the ministry He trained for all His life.

Jesus had hopes and dreams like all of us. He had a desire to succeed like most people do. Jesus wanted to make a better life for His family like every father sets out to do. This world is Jesus’ family. All of us are like brothers and sisters to Christ. We are more important than children to His Father. Jesus dreamed of success. He thought of how the day would go, always expecting the best. Constantly praying and most importantly, listening to God’s voice and of course following directions. Jesus knew if He followed each and every step in the plan of salvation recorded in scripture, everything would work out. Of course Jesus knew He had to suffer. But could anyone or anything prepare Jesus for the continual heartache and disappointments He faced day after day?

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Jesus was constantly hounded and hunted by religious leaders of all types. Those religious leaders couldn’t agree among themselves on hardly any subject, but something brought them together. They united to put an end to Jesus’ ministry and His life. But that wasn’t the tip of the iceberg when it came to disappointments and set backs Jesus had to endure. People constantly pierced His heart and tried to nail His hands and feet long before they put Him on that cross. Not physically restraining Jesus, but spiritually.

Priests tried to stop Jesus from using His hands to heal because he healed on the Sabbath. Pharisees tried to stop Jesus from moving forward when they questioned His view on the law. Other religious factions attempted to hold Jesus back in every way they could imagine. All of them were guilty of condemning Jesus without a trial. But this was only a small portion of the trials Jesus faced.

People from the town He grew up in doubted Him and spread rumors about Him. They focused on the miracles and how they could profit from them. They insisted Jesus was born in Galilee and joined the priests in hiding His real birth place, Bethlehem. If people knew, it wouldn’t be good for business.

People followed Jesus around because of the miracles He performed. Gentiles and even the Samaritans turned away from Jesus as soon as the miracles passed. It was like a repeat of the Exodus when Israel and all the people with them forgot the miracles they saw in Egypt. No wonder Isaiah told us the path to God’s throne is on a mountain. It always seems like an uphill battle. If life’s road is not that easy, why would the path to eternal life be any easier?

A Woman Caught in Adultery

John 8:1-11 NLTse Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, (2) but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. (3) As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. (4) “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. (5) The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” (6) They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. (7) They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (8) Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. (9) When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. (10) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (11) “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Jesus returned to Jerusalem after the Festival of Shelters. Also known as the Festival of Tabernacles. He wasn’t going to give up. The previous chapter showed how Jesus was rejected by groups of religious leaders as well as people He grew up with in Galilee. Was Jesus returning to face more of the same treatment? How many of us would have given up?

One strange thing I’ve noticed about John’s style of writing over these past few chapters is Jesus’ disciples are hardly mentioned. John called attention to the people Jesus was trying to reach. John put the emphasis on how Jesus was able to reach people and what He had to deal with when people didn’t want to accept Him or His message. It’s evident, John left us with a valuable training tool.

Were the disciples there when those religious leaders brought that woman to Him? We don’t know for sure by only looking at John’s book. What we see is a few words and phrases Jesus and John repeated to focus our attention. We see the words taught, teachers, and teacher. So we know those words are drawing attention to a lesson.

We also see the phrase, “caught in adultery,” repeated. We should ask how the Pharisees caught the woman in the act and what happened to the man? Doesn’t adultery take two? Those are the types of questions most people ask and preach on. It’s only natural. Those are details on the surface. But we are searching for the spiritual messages in each story.

Looking at other key words, we find an unusual combination in accusers and condemn. When we look at the story, we can see how the Pharisees wanted Jesus to either condemn the woman or let her go. If Jesus forgave her, the Pharisees would have accused Jesus of acting like he’s greater than the law and condemned Him.

How did this woman get herself in that position. She was at the mercy of the Pharisees who put her at Jesus’ mercy. In later chapters we will see the same attempt at shifting responsibility in condemning a person. John didn’t tell us how the woman got into that position, but we can look back to see how John led us into this story.

Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked. They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!” Then the meeting broke up, and everybody went home. (John 7:50-53 NLTse).

John wanted to make it evident those religious leaders condemned people without a trial out of habit. You might say it was one of their traditions. Now that we have that information, we can see one of the reasons they didn’t want to listen to Jesus. That’s one major reason He had such a hard time reaching them. What lesson can we learn from that?

Look at people you’ve tried to reach. It seems for the most part, Christians reach out to other Christians. There seems to be three major groups. People who support you, who actually support one another. People who are looking for help and answers. The third group is Christians with all the answers who look for people to either debate or argue with. The Pharisees belonged to which group?

People who like to argue also tend to condemn people without knowing them. Like those Pharisees, their mind is made up and no one is going to change it. They may also try to trick you so they’ll have something to use against you. I think of those people as modern Pharisees. I think you’ll agree, they can’t see that in themselves. I have no idea why.

I wish we knew what Jesus wrote in that dust. But John doesn’t seem to give us any hints. If we followed general rules of context, we can look back to see if John included any hints. We can take a look at a list of verses that may give a clue.

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.

Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves

Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly

These are only a few. Other texts may be in previous chapters. Part of the answer may be seen later in this chapter. So far we see, Jesus had a message. He wanted to get that message across to them. Jesus knew their pride. Maybe if they wouldn’t listen to His messages, they might read them in the dust on the ground. Whatever He wrote, it made them leave. The older, wiser men left first, followed by younger Pharisees. Jesus got them to look below the surface. There is one more place we can look for an answer, in the summation.

Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

We don’t see a lot here telling us what Jesus wrote in the dust, unless it had something to do with Abraham. But we see something. They couldn’t stone the woman, so they picked up stones to kill Jesus. Another example of playing judge, jury, and executioner. Jesus kept returning because those Pharisees needed a lot of help. In a way, Jesus took the place of that condemned woman.

I Am the Light

John 8:12-20 NLTse Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (13) The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.” (14) Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. (15) You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. (16) And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me. (17) Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact. (18) I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.” (19) “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (20) Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come.

When John pointed out Jesus spoke to the people once more, he showed us how much Jesus cared. He wasn’t about to give up. He couldn’t give up. Jesus introduced another new symbol, light. Jesus kept this new symbol simple and provided the spiritual interpretation. Jesus is the light given to this world. He is the light that leads to eternal life. What Jesus didn’t do was repeat the word darkness, nor did He define it. That’s not to say He didn’t point to it’s interpretation. But the emphasis is on Jesus the light that leads to eternal life.

The Pharisees had no idea what Jesus was talking about. What happened to that lesson they learned when they dropped their stones and walked away? That was the problem. As soon as they began learning, they walked away. After showing they understood what Jesus wrote in that dust, it didn’t take long for them to go back to their way of thinking and way of doing things. Who was really guilty of adultery?

Jesus fired back at the Pharisees with the truth, they didn’t really know Jesus. They already showed they didn’t know where Jesus was born. Or they wanted to hide that information. Their comments showed how they didn’t understand what Jesus taught, or didn’t want to hear. Jesus pointed out their ignorance in a way they didn’t understand.

Jesus also pointed out their flawed judgment. It was only human. If those Pharisees were honest, they would have found one point they could agree with Jesus. But their instincts put them on the defense.

Jesus also told them how He and His Father are one and how God is His witness as well as He is God’s witness. This is a new concept for everyone in Jesus’ time. I don’t know why Jesus kept introducing new concepts at such a rapid rate. John chapter 7 and 8 took place over a few days. Over that time period Jesus introduced quite a number of subjects. He told them He brought a message from God. His teaching is from God. God sent Him. He will return to God. Jesus introduced the symbol bread and living water. He also told them to search scripture for proof of what He told them. Then Jesus told them, He is the light.

Jesus could have explained a lot more details about all the subjects He was teaching. If only they would listen. Jesus couldn’t force them and Jesus couldn’t wait for them to decide when they wanted to learn. Jesus was on a tight schedule. Another subject those religious leaders didn’t understand.

Jesus couldn’t make it any clearer. If they didn’t know Him, they didn’t know the God. It was true when Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem and it’s still true today. There is a process with specific steps. God works with people where they are, but the goal is always the same. People have to know Jesus to be saved. They have to know both Jesus and God to get ready for eternal life.

You Cannot Come Where I Am Going

John 8:21-32 NLTse Later Jesus said to them again, “I am going away. You will search for me but will die in your sin. You cannot come where I am going.” (22) The people asked, “Is he planning to commit suicide? What does he mean, ‘You cannot come where I am going‘?” (23) Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. (24) That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” (25) “Who are you?” they demanded. Jesus replied, “The one I have always claimed to be. (26) I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” (27) But they still didn’t understand that he was talking about his Father. (28) So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. (29) And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” (30) Then many who heard him say these things believed in him. (31) Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. (32) And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We suddenly see a pattern forming here. As we look back, we can’t help but see the same event occurring. Jesus talks to people and they walk away. A group of Jews and Gentiles sailed across the lake, found Jesus in Californium, listened to Him, then walked away. Jesus’ brothers told Jesus what they thought He should be doing, then left for Jerusalem to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. Jesus went to Jerusalem, talked to one group of religious leaders after another, and many groups of people. Jesus introduced one symbols after another, and one piece of a puzzle after another that would open up their understanding of the plan of salvation, and understanding all the prophecies about the Messiah. They all walked away. They all had one thing in common, none of them understood. They all questioned Jesus because they didn’t understand. Instead of listening to Jesus and learning about the Spirit He was trying to point them to, they walked away and left Him and His message behind. Instead of opening scriptures Jesus sent them to, they shut the door to understanding and God’s Spirit.

The scary part about this whole situation and one of the lessons in this story shows how all those religious factions united against Christ. Something drew them together to destroy and silence Him. This created a new religious movement known as unity. The first man made religious unity put Jesus on that cross.

That man made unity was broken when Jesus rose from that tomb defeating death and the grave. Jesus gave the world a clear and unmistakable view of God’s Spirit. After all those prophecies were fulfilled and Jesus, along side of God’s Spirit explained how and why each of those prophecies were fulfilled on time and to the letter, people could see solid evidence of God in His Word. For the first time in world history since Enoch, people had an understanding of God and how to communicate with Him. The new Christian church grew at a rapid pace because they knew how to teach others how to communicate with God.

Generations later, people began to forget how to listen to God’s voice. They forgot how to understand His Word. Men introduced their own messages one after another. Some groups clung to one message, others to another message. The church became fragmented. The work slowed. It finally stood still. Without God’s Spirit, the work stopped and so did the message which was soon forgotten.

No one knows where it started or who came up with the idea, but it made sense to a lot of men. If people all worshiped the same thing at the same time, God would once again hear us. The world thought a universal church where everyone followed the same course would bend God’s ear to this world once again. It sounded like a good idea, so a central church was formed, approving what they referred to as a unified form of worship.

A committee wrote out a step by step form of worship distributed throughout the world. When the world united in a single form of worship, God would once again hear us. Everyone who agreed followed their step by step worship service and preached the same message week after week. But there was no evidence God heard. So they standardized the way priests dressed, the appearance of the churches, and created new traditions for people to follow. One detail was added upon another in the hopes it would please God and they could find His Spirit once again.

Finally they decided what they really needed was to follow one man. So they elected one man to be the source of communication between Christ and His church. That seemed to work. People were so far removed from God’s Spirit and His word, they thought that one person who they choose could hear. When that one man told them he heard God, they believed him.

To them all of that made sense. After all, God had one service for His Tabernacle in the wilderness. But they forgot how that Tabernacle was arranged so every item, detail, and color pointed to Christ and His ministry. God dressed all the priests alike. But they forgot how that priestly order was abused and Christ died to put and end to it. They borrowed other points from scripture and changed them around to suit their needs and concepts of worship. But without God’s Spirit, all they had was one more man made from of worship. Copying it thousands of times did nothing to please God. What they needed to do was get back to what Jesus came to teach. They also needed to go back to understanding prophecies Jesus fulfilled. The prophecies taught by the early church at Jesus’ command.

Every change initiated under the disguise of unity shut God’s Spirit out of worship and sucked God’s Spirit out of each member of what they called their church. There was no way for people to communicate with God’s Spirit when every facet of worship and study was locked in chains of human control. Men recreated the system Jesus came to abolish.

Jesus warned about a big change about to come. People will search for Him but not find Him. We can’t restrict that search to Jesus’ resurrection. People didn’t stop searching for Him after His resurrection. Common sense tells us, that is when people began searching for Jesus. That was one giant landmark in earth’s history that changed this planet forever.

Jesus told them one important detail about their search. “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.” There is no way anyone is going to find Jesus if they don’t put away their worldly views and what the world told them about searching for Jesus.

I’ve noticed one thing most preachers have in common. Some are very good preachers. They can cover a lot of good points in their sermons. They tell people not to trust any man, or woman. They tell people to search scripture. They tell people how their lives depend on it. They don’t have a problem backing up what they say with scripture. But what most preachers can’t do is teach people how to study God’s Word on their own. They have no idea how to sit down and show people the step by step process. Most preachers follow a particular process to study but they don’t have the ability to sit down and show people what they do. That is a different spiritual gift from the same Spirit.

They may also have a great relationship with God. They may pray 90-99% of the day. They know how to see God in His Word, see Him in action in this world, wonder about Him in nature, and praise Him in song and prayer. But few pastors are able to preach a sermon telling people the step by step process to read and understand God’s Word.

This book is designed to show you patterns in God’s Word so you can learn to use them in your own studies. Like in this section of the book. You can see how I’ve taken my time over these last three chapters. It takes 1-3 days to write a chapter. That gives God’s Spirit a long time to confirm what He is telling me. I’ve had people call me and confirm what I was thinking about or writing at the moment. I’ve chatted with people half way around the world who were influenced at that moment to share details I was just about to write about or had written a few minutes before. None of those people had any idea what I was writing about. God will always confirm His message.

Look at the Old Testament. How many prophets did God send to the Jews when Jerusalem fell? I never counted all of them, but there is a whole list of them. What about the time they spent in Babylon and scattered all over the world? Got sent prophets where they were. God confirmed His messages then and He still follows guidelines He established. And He will continue to do so no matter what men think or say.

That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” Is there a difference between accepting Christ and knowing Him? How can you accept Jesus if you’ve never known Him? How can you know Jesus if you’ve never met Him or His Spirit? How do you meet the Spirit Jesus promised to send?

I hope I’m not getting ahead of God or John’s book at this point, but there are a few details I think we need to cover. God still speaks to us as clearly as Jesus spoke to those crowds. The problem is, we spend too much time arguing or making excuses. In other words, the lack of reception is our fault. God didn’t loose control or have His connection go bad. We’re at fault. Admitting we’re the problem is the first step.

I don’t really think it matters what you do to talk to God. Everyone I’ve talked to about this subject has their personal way of talking with God. All of them are simple. Some people actually use a prayer closet. Other people find a quite place. The key is a quite place to listen. When people begin to listen to God the enemy is there with a thousand demons to shut out God’s voice, which is like a thought, but clear, unexpected, and if you listen to those preachers who back up what they say with scripture, you better get ready to listen to the Preacher who wrote the book. He is going to flood your mind with so many pieces of scripture you’ll think your swimming in it. Every scripture will be related to the others in ways you never imagined. Things you didn’t understand will become so clear you’ll feel like smacking yourself because you didn’t see it before. You’ll hear God’s voice as soon as you learn to shut out distractions from the world. It takes a little practice.

As you progress, scripture will have a new meaning on everyday life. You’ll see connections you never imagined. You are going to places most people never thought about or knew existed. You’ll see how God’s Word lives, breaths, grows, and multiplies, all without leaving the page. Congratulations, you just found Jesus!!! You are finally following Him.

One thing I need to warn you about. Your meeting with Jesus is personal. Like everyone who talks with Jesus, you’ll remember a great deal of the information He shared with you, but you’ll only be able to explain about 10%. But when He gives you a message to share, He will always confirm that message. Jesus will confirm the message in His written Word. When you read the Bible you’ll see the exact same message within a day or two. Jesus will also send His followers, your friends with faith will confirm the message, and you’ll be able to freely discuss it with them.

Keep in mind, almost all the messages Jesus gives you will be close and personal like the examples we’re seen with Nicodemus and the women He met at that well. And don’t forget, some people will immediately understand the message while other people will be like Nicodemus and take years to understand.

I found out writing is a good way to talk with God. It slows me down. He has a way of showing when it’s time to stop. That’s a signal it’s time to pray or go back and read scripture for the day as I read through the Bible in about 6-9 months. I don’t know how He does it, but He always seems to have a part of the lesson I’m working on in the scripture I read that day.

Sometimes life events blend into the lesson God is teaching at the time. So I have to wait to go through a personal experience before I understand what lesson God is teaching at that moment. Or like I’ve mentioned before, God will send someone with that missing piece of the message.

This may all seem strange to some people but I know, this is the way God works and I know why. God’s method of talking to us and teaching us is designed to keep us humble all the time. When I receive one message from 3-4 different sources, it can never be my message. Only God could have arranged all of those events. We can see the events of our lives unfold and pages of our life story turn like pages in scripture. God is perfectly consistent with the methods He uses. If God created the perfect method of teaching in His Bible, how could he improve on it when it comes to teaching us lessons in our own lives?

Now you can see why I keep showing the simple methods of looking back and comparing scripture, and looking for connections. Those study methods aren’t only used to study the Bible, they are used to listen to God when He teaches us about lessons we need to learn in our lives.

I have much to say about you and much to condemn, but I won’t. For I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.” Jesus doesn’t condemn, but I have to warn you. When you first begin talking with His Spirit, Jesus can be surprisingly honest. I’m talking about an honesty that cuts to the bone and pierces the heart. Jesus used that method with that woman at the well. He will tell you personal details only you know about.

Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand that I AM he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me.” This shows how we won’t understand what Jesus tells us until after we experience it. And like the Gospels tell, Jesus will have to explain those details.

None of those people understood what Jesus was talking about until after His resurrection and He explained all the details to them. Jesus will share details you won’t understand at the moment. You’ll have to be like His disciples and the rest of those people and wait until the event unfolds. Then you’ll have to return for another talk so Jesus can explain all the details in your life.

The one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.” All the messages you receive from Jesus will be directly from God and will follow all of God’s laws. This is also why important lessons will be verified with scripture.

Many who heard him say these things believed in him. Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

But remember, only a few understood while many walked away. Not everyone will accept messages you deliver even when your certain they came from God and have been verified a number of ways. Look at the process and learn from it. God put people in your life you can share your success and disappointments with. Look how many times Jesus was disappointed over the past few chapters. Don’t expect your path to be all downhill. The only path up God’s mountain is uphill. God be with you.

We Are Descendants of Abraham

John 8:33-41 NLTse “But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?” (34) Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. (35) A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. (36) So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. (37) Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. (38) I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” (39) “Our father is Abraham!” they declared. “No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. (40) Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. (41) No, you are imitating your real father.” They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”

John showed the selective memory those people had. If we look back a few verses, we see Jesus was talking to the people who believed in Him. We also see an illustration of selected beliefs. People listen to Jesus up to a point. They listen to what sounds good to them and what they agree with. But when something gets a little rough, they change their minds about Jesus.

Those people forgot the Jewish captivity in Babylon. They mentioned Abraham. That goes back generations before the captivity in Babylon when most of the Jews were carried away as slaves. Jesus had to explain, He was talking about being slaves to sin.

Before Jesus was telling them they were going to die in their sins. Now He is telling them they are slaves to sin. Put the two together and you have people dying as slaves. What a life to live. But people don’t feel like their slaves. I’ve heard dozens of people say, “God gives us freedom of choice.” I often wondered what people meant by that. I finally found out when my ex-wife started an affair then filed for divorce. I couldn’t believe people in church thought that cliché took precedence over God’s law. Jesus had another definition for it. He called sin slavery leading to death. Jesus never called sin an option.

Of course Jesus had His own way of explaining this new symbol He introduced. Jesus used the illustration of a family. Some people own slaves who are in their homes but not really part of the family. Slaves are bought and sold. Some owners treat slaves well, other not so well. You can imagine. But children are family. Compared to a slave, family is free. We have to remember, Jesus is talking about being part of God’s family. We can’t confuse God’s family with any family in this world, no matter how good they may be. Jesus used family as another illustration to remind us, we have to leave the world behind when we consider spiritual matters and lessons.

Some of those people in that crowd wanted to kill Him. Jesus was addressing a wide range of personalities. Some accepted His message while others ignored it. What was He supposed to do? Jesus couldn’t make people listen. I guess that was the freedom of choice people were talking about. Jesus summed up that choice in His own way. “I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.” You are free to choose who you want to listen to.

It didn’t matter what Jesus said or how He tried to reach them. Those people who made up their minds to kill Him thought they were following God and everyone else was lost. I’m sure you’ve faced the same dilemma. Not much has changed in two thousand years.

Children of the Father of Lies

John 8:42-47 NLTse Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. (43) Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! (44) For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! (46) Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? (47) Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

This is a subject I looked at, and didn’t really want to get into. My marriage and divorce keep coming to mind. I wonder how a woman can be married for six years and live what was nothing less than a split personality. She eventually told me, she never intended to stay married. Her plan was to marry and have me support her while she finished her degree and got a job. She told me it was all my fault it took her six years to finish her degree. She planned on only two years, three at the most. So she blamed me for the delay. And took her anger out on me in ways I never imagined anyone was capable of.

Her mother and sister told me, it was tradition from where they came from. They were never meant to remain married to American men. It was their custom to marry American men until they were ready to move on. Even though my ex-wife had been in the US since she was eight years old. Those traditions were still strong. Stronger than common sense. Stronger than God’s law.

God only wrote ten commandments. One of them tells us not to lie. Since when is tradition an excuse to dishonor God’s law? I was shown how lies lead to breaking all the commandments. Lying dishonors God and parents. In her case, lies led to adultery which led to more and more lies. In her anger, she made twisted attempts to drive me over the edge. To use my emotions against me. She went as far as trying to push me into taking my own life by using more lies. She tried to commit murder. Lies also led to character assassination. She tried to do those things because she had no idea Jesus was a far greater force. I saw how Jesus used truth to battle lies. He brought back to mind all the warnings He sent me before I married her. It was not easy to take, but I could not argue with the truth.

I often look at presidents. They look young or at least normal when first taking office. But after four or eight years in office, they often leave, looking like tired old men. Especially now when I see a president younger than me looking so old. Hair turns gray. Faces develop lines. Their bodies show a distinctive stoop. Many people say it is the pressure from all those decisions they have to make. I wonder if it is pressure from trying to keep tract of all the lies they tell.

I saw my wife once, just before she filed divorce papers. I took a few pictures. I was still deeply in love and as we know, love can be blind. I looked at those pictures after I came to terms with the divorce and saw how old she looked. Those lies took a deeper toll on her than they did on me. I healed, but she still lives with the effects of all those lies.

Jesus called the devil the father of lies. He didn’t call him the father of lies to set up a comparison with His Father. Jesus would never compare the two. Not even in a contrast. Jesus called attention to the way the devil spawns lines. The devil cannot create anything. He doesn’t have power to create. All he can do is manipulate. Jesus referred to his followers as children. This is a contrast to God’s children like life and death are contrasts. But the devil cannot produce children. Looking back a few verses we see, all he can do is change them into slaves. His slaves.

The point Jesus was making is, the more we hear lies, the harder it is to hear God. The difference between lies and truth isn’t like a light switch where we have control to turn one on or off. It’s not like we flip a switch and suddenly our lives are filled with light and truth. It is an uphill battle to get away from those lies. This is the point Jesus was trying to make when He said, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not.”

People can and will get so deep into lies they control every aspect of their lives. One little white lie turns into another. I don’t have to explain the process or effect. What people don’t realize is how the devil uses lies to turn people away from God. How lies make people mistrust God to a point, they are repulsed by God because He is truth. “Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

Anyone Who Obeys Will Never Die

John 8:48-59 NLTse The people retorted, “You Samaritan devil! Didn’t we say all along that you were possessed by a demon?” (49) “No,” Jesus said, “I have no demon in me. For I honor my Father–and you dishonor me. (50) And though I have no wish to glorify myself, God is going to glorify me. He is the true judge. (51) I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!” (52) The people said, “Now we know you are possessed by a demon. Even Abraham and the prophets died, but you say, ‘Anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!’ (53) Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” (54) Jesus answered, “If I want glory for myself, it doesn’t count. But it is my Father who will glorify me. You say, ‘He is our God,’ (55) but you don’t even know him. I know him. If I said otherwise, I would be as great a liar as you! But I do know him and obey him. (56) Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (57) The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?” (58) Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I AM!” (59) At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.

Those people proved the point. As soon as they were faced with the truth, they were repulsed by it. Notice how they changed the subject? Jesus just told them the devil is the father of lies. They didn’t take it well when Jesus called them his children. That struck a sour cord. They shot back without thinking. They called Jesus a Samaritan devil. A little while ago they said Jesus was from Galilee. Now they claim He is from Samaria. Which is true and which is false? Notice how they jumped into a lie to defend themselves?

Now we see how far lies will draw people away from God and what they do to people. Those people showed they had no concept of eternal life. Those people showed how little they knew about God. In this lesson Jesus told the cold, hard truth. Something few people are able to accept. Lies pull us away from God as well as eternal life and and understanding of both. Lies distort our concept of right and wrong just like they did in Eden.

Satan wasn’t trying to give Eve anything. He wanted her to serve him. Like Jesus pointed out, Satan wanted to make Eve his slave. That tree didn’t do anything for Eve other than show her what it was like to sin and eventually the consequences. It didn’t give any special powers to her to be like God. She knew the difference between good and evil, right and wrong. But one lie from Satan made the sin look more attractive then the consequences.

How far did the truth get Jesus? He tried to tell them He is the living water. They couldn’t go where He was about to go. They would search for Him but not be able to find Him. For that they tried to arrest Him. Jesus told them if they never sinned, they have the right to cast the first stone. Jesus told them He is the light to this world. He has been given the right to judge, but He prefers not to judge people. Jesus gave them one view of His ministry after another using signs and symbols. But those teachers and priests couldn’t understand.

Jesus once again told them, they couldn’t follow Him to where He was going because they were going to die in their sins. They already proved they were sinners when they dropped those stones and walked away. But they couldn’t bring themselves to accept Jesus and all He was offering them. A portion of their sins were lies, which led to other sins and more lies. Their thoughts proved they were sinners and in need of healing and a savior. They just didn’t want to be saved in the manner Jesus offered them.

Why do you boast about your crimes, great warrior? Don’t you realize God’s justice continues forever? All day long you plot destruction. Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor; you’re an expert at telling lies. You love evil more than good and lies more than truth. You love to destroy others with your words, you liar! (Psalms 52:1-4 NLTse).

Jesus knew all of those trials and disappointments were coming. They didn’t take Jesus by surprise. Neither did their answers or the way they tried to change the subject. Jesus knew what was behind their lies and mistrust. Jesus knew money and status played a major role. But what could Jesus do? He kept on course and introduced lessons they had to hear. Yes, God gave us freedom to choose. Look at the choices those religious leaders and other people made. We see how they made those choices and if we look a little deeper into those stories, we can see why they made those choices.

Finally those people wanted to pick up stones and kill Jesus. They couldn’t do that to the woman caught committing adultery, but they wanted to stone Jesus. Why? Who was committing spiritual adultery in Jerusalem that day?

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

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
Now you can download the eBook here.

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 w