We know from the apostle Paul that more and more, Jesus’ claim to be God was rejected by the people of their native land and faith, even as more and more from surrounding cultures and religions had their eyes opened and came to faith.
For you and me today, the question is the same as it was in John’s day:
Who is Jesus and what is His significance to me?
John wrote his gospel to answer that question in such a convincing way, those who read it would put their faith in Jesus as Messiah.
You and I are not only to keep our focus on Jesus as we each individually follow him just as closely as we can, we also are to trust each other’s sensitivity to God’s guidance, and help each other the best we can
The difference between failure and success is Jesus himself. You never know how close you are to a breakthrough. The disciples had only to throw their nets on the other side of the boat, just this one last time, when Jesus gave them the word. And their nets were more full than if they had been catching fish the whole night.
Rites of passage mark a transition, an in-between, where we have moved from what was and entered into what will be, but as prepared as we might think we are, we are not yet good at living the new iteration.
It was seemingly impossible for Thomas to accept Jesus’ resurrection without some empirical proof. Doubt can be a good thing, because it makes us think. Doubt is one foot lifted, poised to move forward or backward.
John 20 moves backwards through Genesis 2-3, restoring each of the ruptured relationships caused by humankind’s rejection of God: the reign of death, the rule of man over woman, and the broken bond between God and humanity.
All four Gospel accounts describe Mary’s faithfulness and courage, a major financial supporter and patron of Jesus’s ministry, one who remained with Jesus at the foot of his cross until his death, and the first to arrive at his tomb the morning of his resurrection.
Though the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) all synchronize with each other, and John seems to stand alone in what it recounts, all four gospels agree on the main events concerning Jesus’s trials, crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Many have sought to create a timeline of events, poring through these four eyewitness accounts, as I will also do, today.
The risen Lord was about to be revealed, first to Mary, then to the women who had come to complete his burial, and finally to the disciples and all those in his inner circle of on hundred and twenty devoted supporters and friends.
The fellowship of finding another like-minded believer seemed to give both Joseph and Nicodemus the courage and resources they needed to do for Jesus what they could not find a way to do alone, or separately.
Swoon theories are like urban myths. When examined, the actual facts disprove the myth, but the myth keeps getting repeated. So, the writers of the gospels—and especially John—were careful to document the reality of Jesus’ physical death and his physical resurrection.
John must have been there to hear everything Jesus said, and those words must have sunk deep into John’s soul. Over the centuries, these words were gathered lovingly by the church to become the Seven Sayings of the Cross.
John briefly references the story of Simon from Cyrene (Found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke), and omits the story of the daughters of Jerusalem (found only in Luke). For John, the significance of Jesus’s journey from the Gabbatha to Golgatha is found in his continuing intentional drinking of the Father’s cup. He had a mission, and he would complete it, as any brave and mighty king would do.
One of the Gospel of John’s continuing themes is the weaving of the first three chapters of Genesis with the telling of Christ’s story. Because of this, I have woven more overtly those chapters with these crucifixions scenes.
Justice was the bedrock upon which Pax Romana was built. Pilate felt had done all he could to free this righteous and just man, standing on Gabbatha waiting with tranquil dignity for his judgement. Pilate could do no more.
The chiasm outlined by Jo-Ann A. Brant has a classic seven-point structure. A Exterior: John 18:29-32, Jesus is brought to Pilate with a demand for execution; Pilate refuses B Interior: John 18:33-38, Pilate asks about Jesus’s royal claim C Exterior: John 18:38-40, Pilate finds Jesus innocent, but the temple elite choose Barabbas …
The inward movement of John’s chiasm reached its climax in this shedding of the Lamb’s blood. Now would come the process by which the innocent Lamb of God would be offered up to die and become accursed, hanging on a “tree.”
Pilate stood and shouted over the fray, Which of the two do you all want me to pardon and set free to you? Bar Abbas? Pilate bit out his name with a look of contempt, or Jesus who is called Christ? The comparison was obvious: Did they still want to free a villainous murderer, or would they take the nobler option of freeing this gentle holy man who had been falsely accused?
Though John did not write about the interlude in Herod’s court, I am convinced he would have been there. Of course, the story could also have come from Joanna and her husband, Herod’s steward Chuza . . .
Caiaphas waited expectantly. He had been forceful in his insistence that Jesus was an agitator, inciting trouble all over Judea, having started his insurgency in the northernmost reaches of Jewish territory and bringing subversion all the way down to Jerusalem.
Jesus’s spiritual kingdom of truth apparently had borders that extended far beyond Judea and even Rome. His kingdom had no borders, because every person who wanted to know the truth would listen to Jesus and become a citizen in his kingdom.
God had prepared a day of reckoning that Pilate had no idea was coming. For him it was just another Friday. But he was instead going to experience the greatest crisis of his life, coerced into making a life-or-death decision of incalculable proportion and consequence.
If God did not judge sin it would mean that God was indifferent to the existence of right and wrong, good and evil. But the Lord is not indifferent. God’s wrath, grief, and intense pain over sin is the necessary and only right response.
As John suffered the trauma of witnessing, as Jesus endured the ordeal of his hour and the Father’s cup, as Peter wept bitterly, Judas also underwent internal agony. Matthew alone would tell his story.
To truly read John’s account, it is better, I think, to try to get down from our usual 10,000 feet, and attempt to get inside the story, to experience it, to be among the disciples and soldiers, to watch Jesus and watch Judas
Jesus never lost his composure. He had command of himself, making measured decisions all along the way, to be gracious, to speak with authority, to have confidence that God’s plan was unfolding exactly as designed.
In all four gospels, Jesus only ever asked the Father for one thing for himself. In this post, I imagine what it might have been like for John listening to Jesus pray, and I reveal what that one thing is.
Jesus was praying that you and I will be protected by the supernatural power of God as we intentionally engage the people around us, whoever they may be, with the goodness of God’s love, the gentleness of God’s goodness, and the good news of God’s gospel.
Jesus prayed that God would now sanctify every believer, and believers all together, setting apart God’s people, literally making the people of God the Lord’s sacred place in which God’s glory dwells and where God is worshiped.
Prayer is about making ourselves available to God to be loved, spoken to, and claimed by God. As we set aside our guarded, self-protective ways before the Lord, we open ourselves to the infilling of God’s presence.
It is well-being. It is health of the body, health of the mind, it is safety and security, it is prosperity, it is wholeness and completeness. For prosperity is knowing you are rich in blessing, that the Lord shall supply all your needs. For wholeness is being made complete in Christ.”
This is the deepest purpose of Bible study and prayer – to come to know and experience God’s love for us, Father, Son and Spirit, and to share God’s love with each other. The transformation of the Holy Spirit begins and ends here, in God’s love.
Jesus had shared with them everything the Father had given him, the secrets of the Father’s nature, of God’s plan for the world. He had shared his own pain, his feelings, his joy, the very humanness of himself with those in whom he had entrusted himself.
Emotional connection with God provides us with distinctive insights into God which cannot be gained any other way. But in order to anchor that truth into our real lives, we need to live it out. Something goes seriously wrong with our capacity to absorb or even understand Scripture if we do not live it, but just study it.
When John’s gospel was published in final form, A layer was was an added to his evangelistic call to believe. John’s pastoral teaching encouraged hurting believers to persevere in faith, connected deeply with the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
How do you describe a being Who is like an Eternal Community of three fully connected persons, more fully connected than you and I could ever imagine, because though they are three, they are also one? Yet, by design, you and I are to connect with God and with other people, to be in community, as Jesus had explained, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
So we asked our class to rewrite doctrine. We gave them a short list of scriptures to work with, encouraged them to go wherever else in the scriptures they felt prompted (or inspired) to pursue, and to come up with a doctrinal statement. Here is what our class came up with:
So far, this last evening together had been troubling. Jesus washing their feet, the abrupt departure of Judas, Jesus predicting Peter’s defection. Now to see Jesus was to see God? They were to do greater works than Jesus?
“Many Mansions:” Jesus was also using a wedding motif so familiar, so embedded in their daily lives and way of thinking, so much a part of their culture, that it needed no introduction and no explanation.
The antidote to Satan’s deceptions and schemes is found in retraining our minds, renouncing the lies, reprogramming the way we think by renewing our minds daily through the study of scripture, prayer, and living out the truths we learn.
If we as Christians operate from the worldly flow chart, where there are those who command and run the show, and there are those who only get to obey, then those at the top of the flow chart have made themselves to be greater than their Master.
There is no question that every person has been both a victim of others’ wrongdoing and an agent of wrongdoing in our own right. There is much each one of us has to ask forgiveness for. And there is much that was done to us, that only the Savior can redeem, at this point.
In this week’s posts, Judas had been having one small rebellion after another, and covering it over by pretending to love Jesus until finally, it seemed like out of the blue to the other disciples, he did something unbelievably awful.
The Gospel of John, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, does not contain Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. Instead, it is here, in the streets of Jerusalem that John remembered Jesus expressing something of how deep the cost would be for him, to face the cross.
As soon as the pilgrims streaming into Jerusalem from Bethany saw Jesus on the colt, they began to throw down their cloaks, cut palm branches and sing Hosanna–on purpose! They knew what they were doing.
Before entering into the events of Passion Week, it seemed good to gather the backstories that were in play during those fateful seven days. I promised to give four stories that would provide foundational understanding for what happened.
Yesterday was the first story, Story #1, A Lamb. Today are two more stories, and tomorrow will come the last story.
She was held in his gaze, paused, at peace, at rest, then Jesus closed his eyes, and an audible groan rose up from voice after voice, as she rose to up on her knees, lifted the jar with both hands, and poured a golden green brooklet of ambrosial oil onto Jesus’ head. Narrow rills streamed through his hair, and over his beard, the perfume so potent it overwhelmed even the incense burners.
Jesus received from Martha that night, and he received from Mary. Both worshiped in their ways, giving the Lord a rare blessing. In their working together, supporting each other, Martha and Mary’s love and honor to Jesus was multiplied.
Faced with the same evidence, some were moved to belief, and some were hardened in unbelief. And yet God’s purpose for Messiah still advanced. Even with free will, no person can alter God’s divine plan. As one commentator put it, Nothing people can do will thwart or alter the sovereign will of God, and nothing God does ever sets aside the free choice of people.
It is God Who creates new life within you and me, Jesus calls us by name and brings us out of death and into new life. Then God calls others to come help us unwind the old life from ourselves, all the things that had bound us in death.
Faith involves doing hard things. And obedience to God reflects belief in God and God’s word. Martha would have to put her belief on the line in front of her sister, in front of all those religious dignitaries, in front of all their extended family and people who had come down from Jerusalem.
[In the Greek] Though Martha’s voice had leaned more heavily on the final catastrophe of death itself, Mary spoke from the devastation of personal betrayal, her voice leaning on the connection of her brother, the unspoken meaning clear: you said you loved me, and he was my brother.
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My passion for the Bible began when I was eight or nine years old, somewhere in there, when on occasion my dad would take me to synagogue, where he sang. I remember watching the men in synagogue pray the words of scripture, murmuring and weeping, lovingly touching and kissing the Torah, and I wished I could read what they were reading.
Imagine, then, my wonder when I was given a Bible of my own! Read more