Friday, December 30, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 12

John 12

-Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where He had raised Lazarus from the dead. Mary and Martha made a supper for Him there at that time, and Lazarus reclined at the table with the Messiah. Martha served them, but Mary did something more audacious as she took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard and anointed Jesus’ feet wiping it with her hair. The house was soon filled with the fragrance of this perfume, and Judas Iscariot was none too pleased with the activity. He asserted that this perfume could have been donated to the disciples’ ministry for the poor at 300 denarii (a day’s wage). John maintains here that Judas, who would be the betrayer of Christ Jesus, was actually doing this from a motivation of thievery as he was known to pilfer the money box of the disciples as its treasurer. Money often corrupts (1 Timothy 3:3; 6:10, Hebrews 13:5). Jesus rebuked him for this accusation, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial, for you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” There was a large crowd there who were curious with Jesus’ presence as well as Lazarus’, whom they desired to see post resuscitation. However, John notes here that the chief priests were planning to put Lazarus to death also. We don’t know how that all turned out. Because of the miracle Jesus had performed with Lazarus, many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus’ teachings. This brought the wrath of the religious establishment for sure (John 12:1-11).

-The next day, which was Palm Sunday, the large crowd who had come to the Passover Feast took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Jesus as He came into Jerusalem. They shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD, even the King of Israel.” Jesus, as prophesied (Zechariah 9:9), rode on a young donkey humbly entering the sacred city where He was about to sacrifice His life for the forgiveness of sins. These things went right by the disciples as they were happening so quickly. Their understanding, not yet filled with the Holy Spirit, was dull; but, when Jesus was glorified, He enlightened their understanding, and they recalled these events. Testifying kept occurring by those who had seen His miracle of raising Lazarus. This was bringing curious observers out to meet the Lord. They had heard about His sign and wanted to inquire further during this desperate time of looking for a Messiah in their Jewish nation. The Pharisees were getting more fired up at all this controversy claiming that the whole world had gone after Him (John 12:12-19).

-There were some Gentile Greeks among those going up to worship at the feast. They came to Philip wishing to see Jesus. Philip told his fellow disciple, Andrew, and they both came to Jesus. Jesus told them frankly at this time, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” Jesus then went on, “Now My soul is troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” Then He asked the LORD to glorify the Father’s Name. A Voice came out of Heaven, “I have both glorified It, and will glorify It again.” The crowd, which was around, thought it to be thunder, but some were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus told them that this Voice had not come for His sake, but for theirs. Then He some more profound teaching came forth, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler (the devil) of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth (the cross), will draw all men to Myself.” Jesus was telling them that the Greeks could look to Him for salvation. Very shortly He would be sacrificed on Calvary for the redemption of all mankind who would believe. The crowd had limited biblical knowledge at this juncture and wanted to know why the Christ wouldn’t remain forever. They could not fathom the possibility that this could be a suffering Servant, even though Isaiah had clearly predicted this (see Isaiah 53 among other places in the OT). Jesus further taught on Him being the Light and for His followers to keep walking in this Light so that darkness would not overtake them. Darkness is related to blindness and not being able to find one’s way. Jesus said, “While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.” After saying these important things, the Lord went away and hid Himself from them (John 12:20-36). 

-Even though the Lord performed so many signs before them, they still were not believing in Him as the Son of God. This also fulfilled the prophecies, and John uses Isaiah 53:1 and Isaiah 6:52 as his proof texts. Isaiah, John says, had seen the glory of the LORD and spoke of this Messiah in plain language. But, even though there were many in doubt, there were many who did believe, even among the rulers of the Jews. However, because of their fear of man, the religious leading Pharisees, they were not openly confessing Him as Lord. Their fear was founded on them being cast out of the synagogue and open shame among their brethren. “They loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” Faith determines the action (John 12:37-43).

-Jesus now boldly summarizes His message:

“He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has One who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore, the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me (John 12:44-50).”

-*Application*- We should see the value of anointing Jesus as Lord as a major theme of this chapter. He should come before our community service and any works-based charity. Plus, we always need to do things with a righteous heart and pure motives. Stealing is forever wrong. Again, as we have seen so many times in John, belief is the crossroads in our stand with Christ Jesus. Are we seeking the approval of God or man? Is it man-made institutions or God’s Kingdom, earth or Heaven, that concern us the most? If we want to save our lives, we must lose them (Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, John 12:24-25). Following the Lord will always go against the tide and require obedient faith as the cross draws us into redemption.

Verses to Memorize: John 12:11, 24-25, 32, 43

Friday, December 23, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 11

John 11

-Lazarus of Bethany, who was a dear friend of the Christ, was sick in the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It had been Mary who anointed the Lord with anointment and wiped His feet with her hair. Lazarus was Mary and Martha’s brother. The sisters sent word to the Lord telling Him that Lazarus, whom Jesus loved, was sick. When Jesus heard of this, He made a statement, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” The Lord knows the end from the beginning. Jesus had great love and compassion for Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, but He stayed two days longer in the place where He was before going to Bethany. But, afterwards He told His disciples that they all were going back to Judea. God had a plan. Even though it was by now common knowledge that the Jews were out to kill the Messiah, Jesus had to go back and do the work of the Father. When His disciples questioned Him on going back, He answered them, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After this, He made another statement, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples thought He was talking about literal sleep, but Jesus had meant that His friend had by now passed away into eternity. So, Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” Jesus was glad for His disciples’ sakes that He was not there at the time of Lazarus’ passing for the purpose of building their belief in Him. Now they were on their way, charging into enemy territory in Judea, which necessitated Thomas’, also called Didymus, bold remark, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him (John 11:1-16).” The stage was being set.

-When Jesus came to Bethany, which was only a couple of miles to the east of Jerusalem, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. This was a legal death per Jewish law. Many of the Jews had come to console Martha and Mary concerning their brother, so there would be many witnesses to what was about to happen. Martha went out to meet Jesus, but her sister Mary stayed at the house. Martha, knowing God’s power to heal, point-blank told Jesus when she saw Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then she affirmed hope, “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to this grieving sister, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha thought He was speaking of the resurrection in some distant future, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus now makes a profound statement to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha affirmed her confession, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” After saying this, she went away and called her sister, Mary, saying secretly to her, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” When Mary heard this, she sprang up quickly and was coming to Him. Jesus had yet to get into the village, and when Mary left, all those coming there to console followed her out supposing she was going to the tomb of her brother to mourn. As Mary came to Jesus, she fell at His feet and also expressed belief that had He gotten there sooner all would have been well with Lazarus. Jesus experienced the emotion of the moment when He observed her and everyone there weeping. Deeply moved in spirit and troubled, Jesus asked, “Where have you laid him?” They told Him, “Come and see.” Then we have the shortest verse in Scripture, “Jesus wept.” This demonstration alerted the crowd to just how much He loved His departed friend. What we don’t know is that if Jesus was weeping because of the emotion of the moment or if He was weeping because He was going to be bringing his friend back to a fallen world from Heaven in Paradise with the Father. Either could be correct in this instance. There were those who still wondered why this all had to happen, and that it could certainly have been possible to heal him from death (John 11:17-37).

-Now Jesus came to the tomb of His friend, being deeply moved within His Spirit. The place where Lazarus had been laid was a cave with a stone covering it. Strangely, Jesus instructed them to remove the stone, but sensible Martha exclaimed, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus reminded her though, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” At last, they did remove the stone. Jesus raised His eyes to Heaven and spoke to the Father, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I know that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” Upon completion of these words, He commanded in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” He did it! The dead man walked out of the tomb coming forth bound hand, foot, and face with burial wrappings. Talk about awesome! Jesus got practical now, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Obviously for good reason, many of the Jews who had come to Mary and Martha now believed in Jesus because they had seen this once in a lifetime resuscitation miracle (John 11:38-45). This certainly foreshadowed His own resurrection, which was quickly approaching.

-However, some of them went and told the Pharisees of the things Jesus had done. These Pharisees and chiefs priest convened a council. Their pragmatism took over with their true evil in the fear of man showing by now as they maintained, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Caiaphas, who was high priest for that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” He had previously prophesied this event as the high priest that year, and he was now making efforts to make that a reality. This prophecy, he had rightly deduced, would not only help the nation of Israel, but it would also gather together into one the children of God who were scattered aboard. From that day on, they proactively planned together to kill the Messiah. Jesus on His part was no longer walking publicly among the Jews. He went away from there to the country, near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim. It was there where He would stay with His disciples. The Passover was now near, and many were coming out of the country to purify themselves before the LORD at His Temple. Many were seeking Jesus at this time and wondering if He would make an appearance. The chief priests and Pharisees were giving strict orders that if anyone knew His whereabouts, they needed to report it, so that they might be able to seize Him (John 11:46-57). The plot for the redemption of mankind was thickening.

-*Application*- Jesus is the resurrection and the life. If we believe in Him, our souls will never perish and we will be raised to life in the last day. This is the truth and hope that all humanity longs for in this cursed world. Share the message and be bold in it. Christ is still redeeming people today. Have no fear of man or their consequences (1 Peter 1:3-9). Be willing to wait for His perfect timing.

Verse to Memorize: John 11:25-26, 35

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 10

John 10

-Jesus now takes up His discourse on the “Good Shepherd.” He states truly, truly, that he who does not enter by the door into the sheep fold, but tries to come in another way, is a thief and a robber. The One who enters by the door is the actual Shepherd of the sheep. “To Him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear His Voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.” He went on to describe how the true Shepherd puts forth all His own and goes out ahead of them with the sheep following because they KNOW His Voice. The sheep will not follow a stranger. They will flee from him, since they don’t know the voice of a foreigner. As Jesus used this figure of speech to produce a spiritual implication, the Jews did not understand the things He was proclaiming. So Jesus said to them again in a more plain language:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the Door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a Shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the Good Shepherd, and I KNOW (emphasis mine) My own and My own KNOW Me, even as the Father knows Me and I KNOW the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My Voice; and they will become one flock with one Shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandant I received from My Father.”

This statement produced another division in His audience. Many were calling Him insane with a demon inside Him, which they warned others not to listen. Others, however, were saying, “These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he (John 10:1-21)?” Remember, the context of this monolog was surrounded by Jesus’ healing of the blind man, which was explored in chapter 9.

-It was at this time that the Feast of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. This is what we now know as Chanukah, which is the “eight crazy nights” that Adam Sandler sings about. This Feast of Dedication commemorated the miraculous cleansing of the Temple under Judas Maccabeus in 165 B.C. after Antiochus Epiphanes had defiled the sacred grounds by sacrificing a pig on the altar of burnt offering. It is celebrated towards the end of December, usually, on the Hebrew calendar and is also known as the Festival of Lights (for more see: So, as the text says, it was winter when Jesus was walking around the Temple area in the portico of Solomon. This is when the Jews gathered around Him and questioned Him to tell them plainly if He was the Christ. Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s Name, these testify of Me.” He uses the sheep metaphor again as He continues, “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My Voice and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My Hand.” He went on deeper into the psyche of the Trinity, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s Hand. I and the Father are One.” At this, which they took as blasphemy, they “picked up stones again to stone Him.” Jesus stood His solid ground undeterred and unafraid, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” The Jews retorted in their ignorance, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a Man, make Yourself out to be God.” Jesus used Scripture to prove His point and teach them some things they were unaware of, “Has it not been written in your Law, ‘I said, you are Gods (Psalm 82:6, see also Exodus 4:16; 7:1)’? If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scriptures cannot be broken), do you say of Him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” He continued, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may KNOW and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” At this He eluded their grasp and went away unscathed beyond the Jordan to the place where John the Baptist had originally been baptizing and spent time there away from the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem. But many came to Him in that place proclaiming the validity of John the Baptist’s statements towards this Jesus, and “many believed in Him there (John 10:22-42).”

-*Application*- First, have we listened to the Good Shepherd and became part of His fold. Sheep wander and are extremely fragile when left on their own. They need a shepherd and so do we, which is found in Jesus Christ alone. To hear His Voice, simply trust in Him, and He will reveal Himself. He desires us and wants us as those “other sheep (John 10:16)” that will become one with Him and the Father. Secondly today, we who may be leaders in the church or Christian ministry, or maybe just in our own families, need to heed the principles laid out here for being good under shepherds that do the work of the LORD here on this earth. Don’t be a hired hand and flee at the sight of trouble. Instead, we should lay down our lives for the good of the flock and be very strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9). Obedience in the Scriptures has to do with coming under the hearing of the one in authority. Let us do that with our Heavenly Father and teach those we have been given charge of to do that as well.

Verse to Memorize: John 10:10

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 9

John 9

-In passing by, Jesus saw a blind man who had been that way from birth. His disciples took this opportunity to ask a serious question, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” They, like many of us, wondered at the mystery of life and why some people are born with advantages while other are born with extreme disadvantages. It was a question about fairness and judgment essentially. Jesus obviously perceived this and answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Then He continued, “We (notice the plurality here) must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” Then, He performed yet another miracle. He spat on the ground making clay of the spittle and applied it to the blind man’s eyes. After this, He told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam (Sent). The man came back healed with eyesight. This captured the attention of those bystanders who knew him as the blind beggar. They rationally wanted to know how this miracle had transpired, and so he told them exactly how it happened. The people wanted to know where his Healer was, but the man didn’t know (John 9:1-12).

-These folks brought the man to the religious leaders, the Pharisees. Problem being, Jesus had healed this man on the Sabbath by making the clay and opening his eyes. This violated the man-made traditions of their law, so they inquired of the man. When it was revealed that it indeed was Jesus, a division arose between those who recognized His power and those who accused Him of being a sinner because of His grievance with their law. The healed man maintained a position exclaiming Him as a prophet, since he had experienced this miracle. The Jews were not so fast to accept the situation and fetched his parents to get more details. When they were questioned, they verified the facts that he had been blind since his birth and that this was actually their son. They had no idea how he had been healed though. They told the authorities to ask him how this happened since he was of adult age, plus they feared the repercussions of those perceived to confessing Jesus as the Christ. People were by now being cast out of the synagogue when they accepted the words of the Messiah. Now, the former blind man was called back and instructed to give glory to God and denounce this sinner, Jesus. The man answered them honestly, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They then wanted a recount of his story in what He did to him and how He opened his eyes. He got somewhat belligerent with them at this point, “I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” This led to a reviling by the religious authorities as they called him a disciple of the Lord. They purported that they were disciples of Moses, whom they knew spoke the words of God. They were again, slow and not willing to understand that Jesus was the Messiah. Their doubts overwhelmed them. The healed man made an astoundingly astute observation now, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” The evil Pharisees had now had enough, and condemned him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” This was the height of their own blind-arrogance in this situation. They ended up putting him out of the synagogue, which was the most shameful thing a person could have happen to them in the land of Israel (John 9:13-34).

-But, this thankfully is not the end of the story. Jesus heard that they had put him out and found him. He asked him the most important question of his life at this juncture, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He responded, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus revealed, “You have both seen Him, and He is the One who is talking with you.” The man was converted, “Lord, I believe.” And, he worshiped Him. Jesus now summed up the point, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” The Pharisees who were in ear shot of this saying remarked, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus responded, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains (John 9:35-41).”

-*Application*- The whole “Light of the World” theme should now be so apparent to us from this passage. Are we seeing with the Light of the LORD through His Son Jesus in humble faith, or are we still blinded by our own lusts, power, and pride? The choice, as always, is ours to make.

Verses to Memorize: John 9:3, 25, 39

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 8

John 8

-Though some of the early manuscripts that we have did not include the section from this episode on the adulterous woman, I personally believe that these events happened and are inspired by the Holy Spirit. Jesus had gone to the Mount of Olives, just across the Kidron Valley on the eastern side of Jerusalem. This is where He would spend much time praying, where He was betrayed, where He would ascend post-resurrection, and where He will one day return to this earth (Zechariah 14:4, Matthew 26:30-50, Luke 22:39-40, Acts 1:9-12). From there, early in the morning, He came again into the Temple, and many people were coming to Him. He sat down and began to teach the wisdom of the Kingdom. While this was occurring, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the very act of adultery. She was set in the center of the court, and the religious leaders began to test Jesus with her to see what He would say in regards to their laws. They wanted grounds to accuse Him, which I believe shows their knowledge of His love and compassion for all people from the very beginning of this incident. Instead of taking their bait, Jesus, in all His supernatural wisdom, stooped down and with His Finger wrote on the ground. The text is not specific as to what He wrote, though many men of God have speculated on this through the millennia. No doubt He was seeking the LORD’s will and desire in this matter with a perfect unity of purpose. The leaders persisted in asking Him what He would do. With this, Jesus straightened up, and said to them matter-of-factly and simply, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then He went back to writing on the ground by stooping down again. When those accusers heard this, they began to go away one-by-one beginning with the older ones. Jesus was soon left alone with the woman in that courtyard. Standing back up fully, Jesus asked, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She responded, “No one, Lord.” Then He exclaimed, “I do not condemn you, either, Go. From now on sin no more (John 8:1-11).”

-Then, Jesus continued His teaching by speaking to His listeners, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.” The Pharisees, who were often there observing, but seldom comprehending or believing, started an argument, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered their accusation, “Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me.” He then explained to them the details of the Law as far as the number of witnesses to pronounce a testimony as true. He and His Father bearing witness verified His testimony. So they wanted to know who His Father was. Jesus answered this by stating, “You know neither Me nor My Father; if you knew Me, you would know My Father also.” Jesus spoke these words in the treasury as He continued to teach in the Temple area, and no one seized Him because His time had not yet come for incarceration (John 8:12-20).

-Then He reiterated, “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going you cannot come.” The Jews thought He might be speaking of suicide or something. So the Lord clarified, “You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” Then He taught that unless they believed in Him, in others words the Messiah, they would die in their sins, thus not being allowed in His Kingdom’s presence. This mystified these religious people. They questioned, “Who are You?” So Jesus maintained, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.” They had not perceived that He had been speaking to them about Yahweh, the Father. Therefore, just to make clear the point, Jesus let them know that when they lifted Him up (a prophecy here), they would know that He was the One that did nothing of His own initiative, but only taught the things His Father taught Him. Then He maintained once more, “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” As these things were being spoken, many actually came to believe in Him (John 8:21-30). God’s work was being accomplished even through much adversity.

-*Application*- Our witness will not always be met with open arms and acceptance. Often there is a struggle between good and evil with the presentation of the supernatural ways of a loving God. Many people will not understand, and even be antagonistic towards the truth. Keep loving them with compassion and explaining the Father to them anyway, just like Jesus did. When we do, we will see people come to trust in the Lord.

-The Lord now addresses those who had believed in Him by picking up on the theme of abiding in Him who was the truth, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” These to whom He spoke thought of themselves as free already, so Jesus had to teach them about how sin makes humanity slaves. Real freedom comes only from the Son who releases His children from the bondage of sin and depravity (Romans 7:14-8:16). Then, He revealed the hearts of some of those who wanted to kill Him, “I know that you are Abraham’s offspring; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.” After that, He restated His position with the Father in doing the things He has seen with Him. Then, He rebuked those whose father was the enemy and told them if they were really Abraham’s children to do the deeds of their ancestor. Seeking to kill a Man of truth who was from God is not what Abraham was about. Christ plainly revealed that they were under the dominion of another father, Satan, or the devil. They pronounced that they were not born of fornication (possibly a slight on Christ’s character here with His reputation of being Mary’s illegitimate Son), and that God was their Father. But, Jesus told them that if this were so, they would love Him because He proceeded forth from the Father, not of His own initiative, but as a Man who was sent. He wondered why they did not understand what He was saying, and then concluded that it was because they could not hear His word since their father was the devil and they wanted to do his desires. He, Satan, was a murderer from the get go and does not stand in the truth. In other words, the devil is a liar and the father of all lies. That is his nature, but because Jesus was proclaiming the truth, He was not believed by this deceived bunch. Jesus boldly makes a concluding statement, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” The angered Jews retorted, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” This underhanded, half-breed, insult did not deter the Messiah, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. But I do not seek My glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” Taken back by this comment, the Jews now thought even more that He was demon possessed. They knew that Abraham and the prophets, as great as they were, all died and tasted death. They wondered aloud who Jesus made Himself out to be. Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I shall be a liar like you, but I do know Him, and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Offended, the Jews purported, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus then spoke in Messianic language they could all understand, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM (emphasis mine).” Because they perceived this to be a blasphemous statement as He equated Himself with the LORD, they picked up stones to hurl at Him, but Jesus was able to hide Himself and escaped out of the Temple (John 8:31-59).

-*Application*- The truth is what sets us free, not some man-made traditions and complications. These Jews were counting on ancestry to save them, not a Messiah, which had clearly been revealed by Abraham and the prophets of the Old Testament. This is a reminder that we are all born in sin and have a deceptive nature apart from coming to the Savior and making His truth our truth. His freedom is freedom indeed because it breaks us from the bondage of sin. And, it is the only way to eternal life. Accept His word and don’t deny it like many of these Jews did that Jesus was trying to reach with the gospel.

Verses to Memorize: John 8:12, 36, 42, 44, 58

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 7

John 7

-After many were not walking with him anymore (John 6:66) and knowing that He by now had drawn the ire of the Jews because they were actively trying to kill Him, Jesus was unwilling to walk in Judea, at least publicly. Therefore, He walked only in Galilee. The Feast of Booths was near; however, and His brothers told Him He should go into Judea so that His disciples could see His works that He was doing. Actually, they were doubting Him at this point. So Jesus told them plainly, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.” He stayed in Galilee after this statement, but later changed His mind after His brothers had gone up to the feast. He went secretly, since the Jews were seeking Him and asking as to His whereabouts. In fact, there was much dissension in the crowds concerning Him as some were declaring Him to be good, while others were saying that He led people astray from the Law and the LORD. However, no one was speaking openly about Him for their fear of the religious Jews in leadership positions (John 7:1-13).

-Something astonishing happened amid the feast as Jesus began speaking publicly up in the Temple. He was teaching and wowing all who listened because He had not ever been educated to speak on such things. He was maintaining His position as the one and only Son of God who sent Him into the world. He spoke, “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” Then He asked an apropos question, “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” The masses accused Him of having a demon and sarcastically wanted to know who sought to kill Him. Jesus continued to expound, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." It started to dawn on people who this was when He made this statement, and they began to ask if this was not the man whom they were seeking to destroy. He was speaking publicly, and they were saying nothing against Him. This made people wonder if the rulers were coming around to acknowledging Him as the Christ. Again, they thought they knew where He was from (Nazareth), but made the comment that no one would know where the true Messiah would be from. Jesus now cried out in the Temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. I know Him because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” Now they were trying to seize the Son of Man, but no man was able to lay his hand on Him because His time had not yet come. But, many from the throng of people did believe in Him with the exclamation, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He (John 7:14-31)?”

-The Pharisees got wind of the crowd’s mutterings about Him being the Messiah, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers out to seize Him there in Jerusalem. Jesus began to prophesy again, “For a little while I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am going, you cannot come.” By this saying, the Jews speculated that He might be going to the dispersed Jews among the Greeks, or even teach the Gentile Greeks. Now on the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and publicly cried out once more, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scriptures said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water (Isaiah 44:3; 58:11).’” The Lord was speaking of the Holy Spirit, “whom those who believed in Him were to receive,” post resurrection when He was glorified (Joel 2:28). Again, some believed, and claimed that certainly He was the Prophet, spoken of from ages past (Deuteronomy 18:15). But again, there was debate because He was known to have come from Galilee. They didn’t perceive that He was from the house of David, and that He had actually been born in Bethlehem according to the prophetic word (2 Samuel 7:1-17, Psalm 89:3-4, Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1, Luke 2:1-20). The division was real, with many wanting to take Him into custody, but no one was able to lay hands on Him. Now when the officers returned to the high priests and ruling Pharisees, they were asked why He was not brought. The officers answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” This made the religious leaders scoff, “You have not also been led astray, have you? No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?” They went on to state that this crowd, which they maintained did not know the Law, should be accursed. However, the astute and truth seeking Nicodemus, who had come to Jesus previously (John 3:1-21), rises and corrects them, “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” This angered the Pharisees, and they accused him of being from Galilee himself. They arrogantly postulated that no prophet ever arose out of Galilee (John 7:32-51). The wisdom of God was destroying the pseudo-wisdom of religious man-made and demonic pride.

-*Application*- God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace and truth to the humble who live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4, Zephaniah 3:11-13, James 1:9; 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). He confounds the wise of this age to display His glory over and above man-made religious systems that promote power and wealth in this temporary realm (1 Corinthians 2). His cross, while low, makes the path to Heaven sustainable and obtainable. Refuse the puffed-up attitudes and let the honesty of Christ indwell our faith.

Verse to Memorize: John 7:18

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 6

John 6

-Jesus, some time later according to John’s remembrance through the Holy Spirit, went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee (in the region of modern day Tiberias). A large crowd was following Him because they saw the signs and miracles He was performing on those who were sick. His popularity for peaking for obvious reasons. He went up on a mountain and sat down with His disciples. John gives more information on the timing of this event, which would’ve been spring time, with his comment about how “the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near.” Jesus, seeing the crowd and its size, pressed Philip with an examination question knowing what He was about to do, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” Philip responded with an earthly reply, “Two hundred denarii (a day’s wage) worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” Andrew came up and let the Master know that there was a lad who had five barley loaves and two fish, but he certainly had his doubts that is could fed this enormous crowd. Jesus now had the folks sit down. There was much grass in that place, and soon 5,000 men were sitting down in preparation. Jesus simply took the loaves, gave the Father thanks, and began to distribute to all who were seated. He did the same with the fish. The people got all that they wanted. When they were filled, the Christ spoke to the disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” Upon gathering up the scraps, they were able to fill 12 baskets from the five loaves. This miracle initiated a rapid response by the people, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus quickly perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him their king, so He departed in withdrawal to the mountain to be alone by Himself (John 6:1-15).

-When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea. They got in a boat and started to cross over towards Capernaum, on the northern side of the sea. It had become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them, though they knew where He was telling them to go (Mark 6:45-46). A storm came out of nowhere upon the disciples as they crossed the sea, which was not an anomaly for this region. This stirred the waves up, and when they had rowed about 3 or 4 miles, they perceived Jesus coming to them walking on the water. This freaked them out, naturally. But He spoke to them to calm their fears, “It is I; do not be afraid.” From another gospel, we see that this was the incidence when Peter also walked out on water briefly (Matthew 14:22-33). Immediately as the disciples were willing to receive Him into the boat they arrived at their destination (John 6:16-21).

-The next day, there was no small discussion about how Jesus had crossed over when there was only one small boat that had arrived. They wandered when He had gotten there and how. Jesus deflects the questions and controversy with this statement, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” The crowd wanted to know what they needed to do to achieve these works of God. Jesus took this opportunity to express a blessed truth, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” A discussion ensued concerning bread and the manna that God gave His people in the wilderness for survival from out of Heaven. Jesus conferred the true spiritual bread out of Heaven, which was Himself and His Spirit. This was eternal life giving bread, and the people were hungry for it. Therefore, Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst (reference back to Living Water, John 4:10-14; 7:38-39).” He maintained that there was still some unbelief in His audience, but then He made another important theological statement, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” He then reiterated previous comments that He had not come from Heaven to do His own will, but the will of God who sent Him. He promised that He would not lose anything that His Father gave Him, and that He would raise them up on the last day. This is resurrection power foretold. Then, He summed it all up, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day (John 6:22-40).” 

-*Application*- Jesus gives us miracles for sustenance sometimes, but His greater work is the spiritual Bread He gives us in providing our nourishment for eternal life. Are we hungry for the right kind of Bread today? If we have trusted solely in Him by His work on the cross, He is faithful and just to keep us and resurrect us in the eschaton. Praise the Lord!!!

-The Jews were grumbling about Jesus because of His comments about Him being the Bread that came out of Heaven. They knew His family, that He was the Son of Joseph and Mary, but their understanding was limited. Jesus, perceiving their thoughts and words, rebuked them for their attitudes. Then, He prophesied and taught on His Father’s drawing of people to Himself. He continued to defend His authority as being One with the Father and sent by Him. He never backed down, even when faced with a grumbling-complaining spirit. He maintained that the one who believes in Him would have eternal life and that He was indeed the Bread of Life. He began to talk of delivering up His flesh for this purpose, which caused an argument between the Jews. Then, Jesus gave them some more to think about, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the Living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the Bread which came down out of Heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this Bread will live forever.” These things were all said in the synagogue, which still has foundation stones to this day, in Capernaum as He taught on the Kingdom of God (John 6:41-59).

-After hearing these intense spiritual words, even many of His disciples thought that these statements were too difficult and hard to grasp. However, Jesus, conscious of their grumblings at this, made a remark, “Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” The God-Man knew from the beginning those who would accept Him and those who would not. He even knew who it was who would betray Him, referencing Judas Iscariot. The resulting consequence from all this as Jesus began to reveal Himself is that many of His disciples withdrew from Him and walked with Him no more. This necessitated a question to His twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter, being a leading spokesman full of faith, replied wisely, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” Jesus then reveals more of His submission to the Father by stating that it was not Him who chose the twelve, and then He explained that one in the group was a devil, again referring to Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, who would betray Him (John 6:60-79).

*Application*- The omniscience of Jesus startles us as we read these verses. He goes straight to the heart of the matter and dissects every intention. We see His unity with the Father and obedience that He never drifts from. This should be indicative of the Spirit-filled life of the believer. How perceptive are we in the face of adversity and speaking the truth even when we know it probably won’t be accepted and that we will lose favor with people, or popularity? Will we continue to speak the word from the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit in a difficult time? Whether people accept it or reject it, Jesus still has the words of eternal life.

Verses to Memorize: John 6:35, 63, 68

Monday, December 12, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 5

John 5

-Another miracle is recounted by John as he continues his narrative of the gospel of Christ Jesus. After the healing of the government official’s son in Capernaum (see John 4:46-54), there was a feast of the Jews in Jerusalem, and Jesus went up to fulfill the requirements of the Law of Moses. There was in Jerusalem at this time, by the sheep gate in the northern portion of the city, a place called Bethesda (House of Mercy), where they took care of the sick and infirmed. It had five porticoes, and remains of it still exist today in the Holy City. Some ancient texts include the last part of verse three through verse four, and some omit it. But, this passage states that when the waters moved, an angel of the LORD would come down at certain seasons in that moving water with the first into it receiving healing from whatever disease afflicted them. There was a man there who had been ill for 38 years, when Jesus entered the scene. Jesus saw him lying on the ground and knowing he had been in that condition for a long time asked him, “Do you wish to get well?” This might seem like a ridiculous question, but Jesus, being All-Wise, never makes a mistake. He wanted the man to decide for himself if he truly wanted healing from this Messiah. The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Then, Jesus commanded him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” Immediately, the Bible tells us, the man was completely healed after nearly 40 years of being a paraplegic. He began to walk around; I’m sure to his own amazement (John 5:1-9a).

-Now, it was the Sabbath Day when this all happened, so the religious Jews were condemning the man that was breaking their man-made traditions by carrying his pallet on this holy day, which Jesus had commanded him to do. These legalistic individuals now wanted to know who told him to do that, but the man was unaware of who He was. Jesus, on His part, had slipped away into the throng of people there undetected and unnoticed. Afterwards, Jesus found this man in the Temple. He approached him and told him, “Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” For this conversation, the man knew that it was Jesus who healed him, and he reported to the Jews information as they had requested. This began a persecution of the Savior because the Jews felt like their Sabbath laws were being broken by this misfit. Nevermind, that He totally healed a man that was crippled for nearly four decades. When Jesus maintained, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working,” the Jews became enraged to the point of wanting to kill Him because He was not only breaking their Sabbath, but He was calling God His own Father, thus making Himself equal with the LORD (John 5:9b-18). Jesus had a sophisticated response for their accusations:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish--the very works that I do--testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory from men; but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words (John 5:19-47)?"

-*Application*- Jesus claimed to be God’s Son and then supported His claim with His actions. He was completely in tune with the Father to give us an example of how we can conduct our lives being filled with His Spirit in communion. What we see Him doing, we must follow and abide in that power, even if the world does not get it or understand.

Verses to Memorize: John 5:14, 39

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 4

John 4

-When the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that He was making disciples and baptizing even more than John (see John 3:22-36), He left Judea and ventured toward Galilee, which would be His home base for His earthly ministry. The Word says that He “had to pass through Samaria.” There were other ways to travel to where He was going, but by the Spirit’s guiding, He knew that a great work needed to take place in this divided land of God’s promise. The Samaritans were half-breed Jews that had succumbed to worldly invasions and years of ridicule from their full-bread Jewish brothers. They had established their own forms of worship where idolatry and heresy were the norms. Jesus was coming to set a new course in this locale (John 4:1-4).

-He came to a city of Samaria by name of Sychar, which was near the parcel of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph during the Patriarchal Period in Israel’s history. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus arrived with His disciples wearied from a long journey needing some rest and sustenance at about the noon hour. There came a woman to this well where Jesus was as His disciples had gone into the city to buy some food. Jesus spoke to her, which was: 1) Not kosher for a Jew to even speak to a Samaritan, 2) Not kosher for a man to speak to a woman. He asked her for a drink of water. She was indeed surprised that He would do this, but Jesus wanted more than just a drink of water; He was after her soul. He began, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” The lady was perplexed and responded with the fact that He had nothing with which to draw water in this deep well. Then, she wanted to know how to get this “living water.” She initially commented that there was no way He could be greater than their ancestor Jacob, could He? Then, Jesus began to share His Deity with her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” Wow! The fountain of youth discovered, right??! Understandably, the woman wanted some of this kind of water. She, still grappling with the spiritual significance of this comment, maintained that if she got this kind of water, she would not need to come there to draw water anymore because there would be no thirst. She was also probably revealing some of her societal rejection at this point because she was an outcast, as we will soon see. Jesus now digs a little deeper into her soul, “Go, call your husband and come here.” She responded that she didn’t have a husband. Jesus, being all-knowing, replied, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” The gig was up, and the woman perceived that this Man was a prophet. There could be no other way that He could have known this information about her. Then she began to talk about worship, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and you people (the Jews) say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus made an astute comment here, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” Then, He looked prophetically into the future as well as revealing a truth about the present, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth.” The woman, after hearing this amazing theology, turned her thoughts to the coming Messiah, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” This reveals the woman’s seeking heart and a pre-understanding of some of the truths of the faith. But then, Jesus blew her away with this statement, “I who speak to you am He (John 4:5-26).”

-As this was taking place, His disciples came up and were amazed that He was speaking with a woman. However, they were not able to question Him on this for whatever reason. The woman left her waterpot and went back into the city to tell the men what had transpired concerning this Man claiming to be the Messiah. She convinced them to come and see, so they went out of the city and came to Jesus. Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus to eat, but He stated, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” When they discussed what this could have meant, He clarified, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.” Spiritual activity comes before physical nourishment in other words. Jesus went on to teach them to lift up their eyes and see the spiritual harvest that was at hand. The wages of benefit and reaping in Kingdom work was about to bring great rejoicing in this place. This was a work of the LORD, and they had simply entered into that labor as willing participants (John 4:27-38).

-“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified.” He had told her all the things she had done with His supernatural knowledge. This led the Samaritans to ask him to stay there for a while, which the Christ did for a couple of days. Many more believed in His word, and now knew that He spoke the truth. They concluded, “…for we heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world (John 4:39-42).” Awakening had come to Sychar through faith upon the revelation of God.

-After the two days, Jesus and His disciples went back to into Galilee with the Messiah testifying “that a prophet has no honor in his own country.” But the Galileans received Him because of what they had seen in Jerusalem at the feast. He came again into Cana of Galilee where He had turned the water into wine, and there was there a royal official who had a sick son in Capernaum. This official came to Jesus seeking help and implored him to come down and heal his son. His son was nearing the point of death, the sickness was so bad. Jesus responded, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” But the official was persistent. Jesus required faith, as He always does. He told the royal official to “Go” for his son lives. This man believed the word of the Lord and started off. His slaves met him on the way down to Capernaum with the great news of his son’s improvement. When he inquired of them as to the hour of his turn back toward the land of the living, they told him the time, and it coordinated perfectly with that instance when Jesus had spoken His word. This convinced the royal official, and his whole household became believers in the Messiah. John reveals this as the second major sign Jesus performed as a miracle when He had come out of Judea and come into Galilee (John 4:43-54).

-*Application*- What does it take to be a true worshipper of the Living God? Spirit and truth is the answer. If the Spirit of God is not on us and in us, we are doomed. If we do not understand the truth, which is revealed in His Word, we simply venture into heresy and false religion. Spirit and truth are essential if we are to come to Jesus as a follower.

Verses to Memorize: John 4:24, 50

Friday, December 9, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 3

John 3

-Jesus encounters a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus who was a ruler of the Jews, at night presumably due to Nicodemus’ stealth in meeting with such a controversial, but intriguing, character. The curious Pharisee started by calling Him “Rabbi (Teacher),” which was a mark of respect. Then he made a comment that was exceptional, “We know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him.” Nicodemus was interested in where Jesus was from, but the Christ was instead interested in talking to him about where he was going. Jesus began an ultra-important dialog on the Kingdom of God and how one enters into it. He frankly told the religious leader that truly, truly unless one was “born again” that one could not “see the Kingdom of God.” This stymied the learned man initially. He was thinking purely in the physical as he remarked, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus began to teach this spiritual novice about an otherworldly birth from the Father. This is a birth from the Holy Spirit, and It blows wherever It wishes with neither understanding of where It comes from or where It is going. Everyone born of the Spirit is like this. This strange phenomenon was something that Nicodemus could not wrap his mind around. Jesus then rebukes him as a leader of Israel for NOT understanding these spiritually discerned things of the LORD. He reprimanded him for not yet receiving His witness to the facts of spiritual new life and misinterpreting heavenly things. Then He confounded this intent listener by stating, “No one has ascended into Heaven, but He (referring to Himself) who descended from Heaven, even the Son of Man.” He went on to foretell of His crucifixion comparing it to Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness for the typological healing of the Hebrew people (Numbers 21:4-9). Then He made a vital comment concerning whoever would believe in Him, this Messiah, as inheriting eternal life. Next comes the most critical verse of Scripture in the entire Bible, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He continued that it was not His mission at this point to judge the world, but save the world from its deserved wrath by the Father due to sin and corruption. Jesus goes go into deep and abiding theology with Nicodemus proclaiming that the one who believes in Him is not judged, but the one who does not believe has already been judged due to distrust. Jesus then summed up man’s natural condition by confirming, “And this is the judgment, that the Light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God (John 3:1-21).” By the end, thankfully, we see Nicodemus with what appears to be a new birth spiritually as he helps Joseph of Arimathea post crucifixion (John 19:38-40).

-*Application*- The gospel is about a Person. A Person who was sent from a loving God that desires every single person on this earth to know Him and live with Him eternally in His Kingdom. He does not want us to perish, but to have life. Just like Nicodemus, Jesus does not want us to be in the dark. When we expose our evil deeds before the Father and confess them in the Name of a crucified Savior who shed His blood for us to cleanse us (Hebrews 9:14), we can come into the Light and be unified with Him forever in the land of forgiveness, restoration, and completion (Revelation 1:5). This is how life was meant to be. Accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by simply believing. It has nothing to do with our own works of goodness (Galatians 2:16).

-Now that the author has dealt with the essentials of the new birth experience, John moves on in the narrative as Jesus and His disciples came back into the land of Judea to the east close to the Jordan River area. John the Baptist was still baptizing in Aenon, near Salim, about half way between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee. There was much water there, and people were still coming for a baptism of repentance from their sins to this revered-prophetic man. John the Baptist had not yet been thrown in prison at this juncture, and there arose a discussion on the part of John’s disciples with a certain Jew about purification. John’s disciples approached him because many were now following after Jesus, to whom John had borne witness (John 1:19-34), and He was active in baptisms now, although it was His disciples, not Him, that were baptizing people (John 4:2). John, in a brilliant act of humility and non-competitive spirit, begins to take a back seat to the Messiah’s ministry. He credits Heaven with giving Him His success. He reminded his disciples that all along he had told them that he was NOT the Christ, but only a forerunner. He simply stated that he was like a friend of the bridegroom that greatly rejoices when he hears the voice of that anointed bridegroom. He stated matter-of-factly that his joy had been made full. Then he gives us all something to think about with this poignant and prophetic statement, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Then he declared, “He who comes from above is above all, he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who comes from Heaven is above all.” He wrangled with the distortion that even though Jesus has now borne witness to Himself, “no man receives His witness.” However, he teaches them that “He who has received His witness has set his seal to this, that God is true.” At the opportune moment, John the Baptist gives the Christ His proper credence, “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His Hand.” The chapter ends with a beautiful mix of grace, truth, and justice as John the Baptist finishes out, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:22-36).”

*Application*- We must decrease if Christ is to increase in our lives. It is a difficult thing to give up our natural-worldly lives, but in the end, it will be resurrected into eternal-spiritual life (1 Corinthians 15). Not only that, but Christ gives us abundant life in the here and now through His Spirit that fills the believer with His grace, fruits, and power (John 10:10). Step into the Kingdom of God and enjoy His presence forever as He overwhelms and conquers all our fears, worries, and concerns (Matthew 6:33-34, 1 Peter 5:6-7, 1 John 4:16-18).

Verses to Memorize: John 3:6, 16-19, 27, 30, 36

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Chapter 2

John 2

-On the third day, presumably the third day of the week (our Tuesday), Jesus found Himself, along with His mother and His disciples, at a wedding in Cana of Galilee, near Nazareth where He had grown up. The wine ran out for the time of feasting, which could have been an embarrassment to whoever it was that was putting on the celebration. Jesus’s mother, Mary, takes notice of this indiscretion remarking to her Son, “They have no wine.” Jesus replied, “Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come.” This response was in no way disrespectful, just a Hebrew idiom going on here. We observe no tension from the communication in what happens next. Mary instructs the servants to do whatever Jesus asks of them, which they did. There were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification containing between 20 to 30 gallons each. Jesus commanded the servants to fill the pots with water, and they filled them to the brim. Then, He told them to draw some out and take it to the headwaiter to which they complied. “And when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, ‘Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now.’” This was the beginning of Jesus’ signs, which He performed during His earthly ministry after the time of His baptism. It manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him (John 2:1-11).

-After this, Jesus, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples went down (north and east, but downhill from Cana) to Capernaum and stayed there a few days. After this, the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and the Messiah went up to Jerusalem. What He found there disturbed Him greatly. He found in the Temple area those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves. Moneychangers were everywhere seated doing their business. Courageously, the Christ made a scourge of cords and drove them out of the Temple along with the sheep and the oxen. He proceeded to pour out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those who were selling the doves, He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s House a house of merchandise.” Years later John and other disciples remembered some key prophecy and words of the Christ during this time. John relates a passage from Psalm 69:9, “Zeal for Thy House will consume Me.” When the Jews reproached Him asking by what sign He did these things, Jesus answered, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” This confounded the earthly-thinking religious crowd of Jews. They knew it took 46 years to build this magnificent structure. For Jesus to claim He could raise it up from destruction in three days seemed absolutely impossible. Jesus was of course speaking of the Temple of His Body that was resurrected on the third day, and when this actually happened, the disciples remembered that it was at this time that He had made this comment. This led them to believe in the Scripture and the word which the Savior had spoken. The scene returns back to the Passover festival in Jerusalem where many were believing in the Name of Christ Jesus. They were beholding the miraculous signs, though John doesn’t specially list them for the reader, that He was doing. “But Jesus on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man (John 2:12-25).”

-*Application*- The big take away here, besides realizing the amazement of His incredible miracles, is the Lord’s attitude towards His House. It is far too common to see business set up in the modern church structure in our homeland of America. One would have to wonder what Jesus Christ would do if He came in to worship at some of our locales these days. His righteous indignation would be warranted since we replace His House of prayer for a place of profit (Isaiah 56:7, Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46). Maybe it’s time we let a little of that zeal for the LORD’s House consume us and take a stand against things that distract from His work being done in the church. If we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), this should also be our attitude, should it not?

Verses to Memorize: John 2:9, 16, 24-25

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bible Study Notes in John- Introduction and Chapter 1

John 1

-Introduction- The Apostle John gives us the fourth gospel on the account of Jesus’ life from his perspective through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. John writes later in the cannon comparatively to the other gospel writers from what most scholars conclude. A date post destruction in Jerusalem could be considered viable. This would make the writing of the text sometime after 70 AD, even as late as the 90s AD. He writes for the purpose of proving conclusively that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of the Living God, and that all who believe in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16). It is primarily written to searching non-Christians or new believers in Christ, which makes this book an excellent starting point for newcomers to the faith in the Messiah. Therefore, the great themes of this book include, but are not limited to: The Messiah as the Son of God, Eternal Life, Belief (Faith, Trust), The Holy Spirit’s Work, Resurrection, and the Battle Between Light and Darkness.

-John 1- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1-3).” Right off the bat, John jumps into deep theology for us, as the reader, to grapple with. He is the LORD, pre-existent, eternal, and co-equal with the Father. This is Trinitarian theology at its finest biblical extraction. The Word (Logos) is Jesus, and He was from the very beginning with God as the Creator of the Universe. In Him, the Christ, was life, which became the Light of men as He came into the world. He shined in the darkness, but the darkness (the lost world) did not comprehend Him (John 1:4).

-There came a man sent from God by the name of John (John the Baptist). He came as the primary witness in order to testify about the Light, which was Jesus Christ. He made it clear that he was not the Christ, which coming into the world enlightens every man, but a proclaimer that was of lower rank and file. John the Apostle goes on to say that Jesus was in the world, the world that He Himself made, yet the world did not know Him in relationship. Jesus came to His own people, the Jews, but they did not receive Him. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His Name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:5-13).” John will pick up on this salvific theme of the rebirth later in Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21).

-Now John specifically states that Jesus, the Word, has become flesh and dwelt among mankind. His glory as the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth, can actually be seen on the earthly-tangible level. This is the One whom John the Baptist testified about as pre-existent and of greater rank. The great thing about all of this is that we, as humans, can receive “His fullness,” and “grace upon grace.” The Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth were actually realized through Jesus Christ, the Savior. Jesus, who is in the bosom of the Father (a Divine Unity), has explained God to us in a way we can understand (John 1:14-18). *Application* This is an amazing revelation that we should meditate on. God’s Law is perfect and valid (Matthew 5:17-20). It reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). However, it simply shows our imperfections and failures. It necessitates the need for Someone to rescue us from our self-induced separation from a pure and holy Sovereign. Thank God today that He has given us mercy rather than justice. He has given us His Son as a propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:25-27, Hebrews 2:17; 10:1-17, 1 John 2:2-6; 4:10). This is the impetus for eternal life.

-John the Baptist’s mission is declared in this next section. As the Jews were sending priests and Levites from Jerusalem out to Bethany beyond the Jordan to the east where John was baptizing his baptism of repentance (Matthew 3:1-12, Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3), he confessed without denial that indeed he was NOT the Christ. These religious leaders persisted in asking important questions concerning him however. Was he Elijah, the Prophet, or who? They really wanted some answers. They needed to be able to report back to those who sent them of the Pharisees what John had to say for himself. John responded by quoting the prophet Isaiah, “I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the LORD.’” They couldn’t process how he could be baptizing if he were not the Christ, Elijah, nor the Prophet. John reminded them that he could only baptize with water, but among them was the One coming after him, whom they did not know, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit as the true Son of God. John the Baptist rightly considered himself unworthy of this Messiah, or what he called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John simply testified to this Savior whom he had seen the Holy Spirit descending as a dove out of Heaven to remain on Him (John 1:19-34).

-The next day, it happened again as he was with two of his disciples that John the Baptist testified as to Jesus’ position as He walked by stating, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” This prompted these two disciples, one of which was Andrew, to follow Him and a brief conversation ended up gaining them the rest of the day with the Messiah from about 10am in the morning forward. Jesus’ disciples began to grow from this point in the text as Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathanael come on to the scene as they go into Galilee. Nathanael’s awakening starts with some skepticism as Philip tells him they’ve found the One whom Moses in the Law and the prophets wrote about. Nathanael’s hang up revolved around Jesus’ lineage from Nazareth and being the son of Joseph, which was really the Christ’s step-father. Nathanael point-blank asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip simply replied, “Come and see.” As Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, He made a poignant remark about his character, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit (dolos- guile, treachery, cunning, decoy, hypocrisy)!” Nathanael, now intrigued, asked the Savior, “How do You know me?” Jesus noted that before Philip even called him that He saw him under the fig tree implying that He even knew exactly what Nathanael was thinking about. We can see this from the reaction and further teaching of the encounter. Nathanael quickly proclaims Him to be the Son of God and the King of Israel. Jesus told him that this was nothing, but he would see far greater things than these. He reveals Nathanael’s thoughts about the Kingdom by stating, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man (John 1:35-51).”

-*Application*- Are we slow to accept some truths from the Messiah like those in our study today? Jesus desires to take us and make us into His image as children of the One-true, Living God (Romans 8:29; 12:2). How quickly He does that so often depends on our faith response to Him. Turn in repentance towards the LORD and ask Him to forgive all debts caused by the stain of sin. Then realize He has paid the price on the cross to erase all guilt and bestow eternal life to the believer. This opens up the heavens and awakens us to the spiritual reality of connection with the High Power in eternal relationship.

Verses to Memorize: John 1:1, 12, 14, 47