John

These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!


God, A Stranger

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
John 1:10

So much here…
It aches me to think that not one person recognized their Maker when He walked among them. So deep is sin and the deceitfulness in us that we are so blind to light even when face-to-face with Him. I can only imagine how much we might be missing today as well—God have mercy

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
John 1:11

This might be even sadder than verse 10.

These aren’t just any people—these are the very ones who have immersed themselves in the very Scripture that SHOUTS Jesus. These are ones who have prayed to God. Who were his special people. And when He came up close to them they had no clue who He was. They had their own ideas of God based on things here and there. But the Real God was essentially a stranger to them when He got close. Just consider that

New Names

He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter ).
John 1:42

It’s interesting He names Peter here. My mind thought of how Adam exercised his dominion over the animals by naming them. Likewise, I wonder if Creator Jesus is showing his dominion over Peter / the disciples by giving them new names? Maybe not…but an interesting thought…

On Mission

“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.[d] 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.”
John 2:23-25

I love how Jesus’ focus is totally on his mission, and he does not need validation from people to keep going. The only validation Jesus needed was from his heavenly father, and he lived in full confidence knowing his father loved him and was pleased with him.

Amen! I’d add that the reason given in John for Jesus not trusting people was that “he knew all people…he knew what was in each person”. I’ve taken that to mean that He recognized the fallenness within each of us. That the praise of man is fickle and misleading. That people can be hot and cold. That humans are not a good place to put your trust (that include in ourselves) – see Jeremiah 17.

I’ve been reflecting on the same as we are going through the gospels! Jesus knew his purpose and did not divert.

Righteous Judgment

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
John 5:30 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=John%205:30&version=ESV
2 elements to righteous judgment:

  1. Judge according to Gods word (“As I hear, I judge”)
  2. Judge according to Gods will, not your own

May we follow this same pattern in making just judgments today!

Hearing God

37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.
John 5:37-40

What a sobering thought!
You have never heard God’s voice, though you search the Scriptures. Because you aren’t willing to receive and follow what it says

John begins with calling Jesus “The Word”. And by that I’ve taken it to mean He is the exact expression and communication of God (because He is God in the flesh). But there’s also a strong correlation between the Scriptures (as God’s written Word) and Jesus (God’s personal Word). Both Scriptures + Jesus communicate God exactly. I think of it as the difference between writing someone a letter (Scriptures) and talking to them face-to-face (God in the flesh = Jesus). They written and face-to-face communication will sync and match, just the face-to-face version usually gives added “shades” and “coloring” that the written communication doesn’t have.

Along these lines, I’ve been thinking about how much Jesus (God’s Word) matches and fulfills Scripture (God’s Written Word) as seen throughout John:

  • Ch. 1 = Jesus matches the dream of Jacob, with angels ascending and descending on Him. He is the new Jacob/Israel, and would appoint 12 apostles, just as Jacob had 12 sons/tribes of Israel.
  • Ch. 2 = Jesus’ first sign was turning water into wine. I think this hearkens to Moses’ first sign of turning the water into blood. Jesus, like Moses, will save his people from oppression (the oppression of sin).
  • Ch. 3 = Jesus compares Himself to the bronze serpent in Numbers 21. His death on a cross would undo the power of sin/Satan over those who believe, just like the bronze serpent undid the power of the serpents for those who looked to it.
  • Ch. 4 = If you compare the story of how Isaac and Jacob gained a wife at the well, I see striking similarities. It starts by asking for a drink of water, but then gaining a bride (which I think she is part of Jesus gaining a bride–she recognizes Him as Messiah, and gathers the whole city to Him…this is like Jacob giving water to the sheep in addition to the woman).
  • Ch. 5 = Jesus heals someone lame for 38 years. I think of Deut. 2:14 and how Israel had to go 38 years in the desert before they enter the Promised Land. Jesus is the Promised Land, bringing healing to this man after 38 years.
  • Ch. 6 = Jesus compares Himself to the Manna that comes from heaven as nourishment for the people, like the manna while the Israelites were in the desert.

The point I’m sort of seeing and feeling out here (maybe still a bit raw) is that Jesus personified and fulfilled God’s written word in so many ways, as God’s ultimate Personal Word to the people. He showed them what God was really like. And the sad irony is that no one recognized God when He came.

Moses as Author

46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
John 5:46-47

Literally today i was talking with someone about whether Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Bible. He takes a more liberal view (that Moses wrote some but a lot was written by other authors). Then I opened up and saw this and BAM. Shows what Jesus thought. Amen!

More Confirmation

I also happened to hear a quick teaching on the Bible today and BAM they started talking about Jesus as Gods Word and comparing to Scripture, Gods written word. Exactly what I wrote about earlier. Just seems like God is really using John to weave together things in my life this week.

Not a Political Leader

Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
John 6:15

What a picture! They wanted Jesus to change things politically / militarily. He had a far bigger agenda. What a word for the zealot in our own hearts today as we think political / military change should be Jesus’ chief mission. His ways are better than ours!!

Not My Will

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.
John 6:38 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=John%206:38&version=ESV
I find this amazing. Jesus, as fully man, had a will that could be contrary to God’s will. Though being God He could lay down any human will and completely submit his will to the Father. That’s what pure righteousness looks like.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

“Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?”
John 7:51

This shows the US legal precedent for presuming innocence until proven guilty by due process.
I fear our mob mentality and instant judgment of people breaks this very important principle. May we go back to not judging quickly but presuming all innocent until proven guilty!

They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”
John 7:52

Even further, they judged him guilty because of something that seemed true but actually wasn’t if they would’ve investigated humbly and carefully.

Comedy, John, and Sheep

man – the gospel of John has been cracking me up! So many funny things that I think are supposed to make us pause.

One thing I just went over:
Jesus: “the sheep know the shepherd’s voice…” (vv. 4-5)
“But they did not understand what he was saying to them” (v. 6)
…the irony. He just said his sheep know his voice. But then right after they were like, “we don’t recognize your voice” haha…you must not be a sheep

Relationship Over Religion

“Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath?”
John 7:22-23

I love how Jesus is always teaching us relationship over religion. Jesus wants to see restoration, and he doesn’t seem to care one bit about his bringing restoration getting in the way of religious tradition.

Something else to consider: Jesus routinely points to the principles of Scripture as guidance over the letter-of-the-law / formula that the Pharisees were so in love with. Here he shows the ridiculousness of their extra-biblical traditions. That they were against healing on the Sabbath (a work of God), yet were OK with circumcision on that day (a work of man in accordance with God).

When you have externals, then self-effort can make you feel self-righteous. But when you go to principles, it becomes more relational and driven from internal change (as said), not “did I meet the quota?”

Other examples of this include:

  • Jesus pointing to David and his men getting the showbread from the priest (though it was “unlawful” to eat)
  • Matt 5 – where He rebukes them for thinking “they’ve arrived” when they don’t commit adultery but DO lust…or don’t murder but DO have hateful thoughts. In other words, they meet their human quota, but don’t obey from the heart. Of course, none of us do this, thus the need for the gospel!

More Confirmations

I’ve been amazed all week that I’ll comment things on here, then hear a “random” teaching here or there give confirmation of it. It just happened again, so wanted to share. This is from “Regeneration Through the Spirit” by Michael Reeves:

After reading from Mark 7, the speaker says:

So Jesus knew how sin collapses religion into a hollow outward show that fails to deal with the deep issues of the heart. So to be [truly] evangelical is to be highly wary of a pharisaical hypocrisy in which our lips may be orthodox [i.e. say the right words] but our hearts are not.

Regeneration Through the Spirit – Michael Reeves

Limitless

At the end of John:

  • death couldn’t stop Jesus
  • The stone couldn’t stop Him
  • A locked door didn’t stop Him
  • A doubting Thomas didn’t stop Him
  • And a night of toil without fish wasn’t too much for Him

I’m so convicted that I think my issues / blindspots / stubbornness is TOO BIG for Jesus to get through. Or even the church’s issues collectively.

Christ forgive me for seeing limitations with natural eyes.

A Servant

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
John 13:4-5

I love how Jesus’ response to “all things under his power” is to immediately become the lowest servant. Jesus flips culture upside down, and we are called to do the same. This is not an act of self-punishment or asceticism, however, because Jesus assures us that “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (v17).

Love this! Never noticed it was in response to things under his power. I do see though how those who are their position in Christ and the power of God in us are the freest to love and serve without conditions. Love because He first loved us…

Are The Gospels Reliable?

It seems to me that a lot of atheists try to discredit the word due to discrepancies and the lack of reliability. I was actually amazed how similar the accounts are (especially in the first three gospels). John is a bit different… I’m sure I’m biased but I see amazing reliability in these accounts!

Brian speaking:

  1. The more I’ve looked into the gospels (even did a full harmonization of all 4 gospels), the more I’ve seen incredible agreement. But I think it’s like what Jesus shows us with parables – those unwilling to follow will listen to a parable and be all confused and think, it doesn’t make sense (a good excuse for not following). But those willing to follow will see how amazingly it all goes together. Such is the same with how people view the gospels. Things may seem contradictory until you look closer. But only those interested in following Jesus will look closer.
  2. A person commenting on how people approach supposed “contradictions” in the gospels compared it to a husband who happens to come home from work early, and sees his wife hugging a man he didn’t recognize. If his relationship with his wife is already pretty poor, he could jump to the conclusion that she is having an affair. But if they have a healthy relationship, he will talk with her and try to figure out what is happening. Then he may realize a lot of scenarios that were totally pure, and not adulterous. All depends on where their heart is with their spouse and their relationship is at. That filters, so to speak, how you will approach things that your mind initially views as possible contradiction.
  3. There’s a beautiful picture, to me, of how Jesus’ earthly ministry (his body-in-the-flesh) is compared to the temple curtain in Hebrews 10:20. He was a walking holy-of-holies, because the Spirit filled Him (and He was God) while still living as a man. So the temple curtain speaks to his body. Well…check this out…if you look back to Exodus on how they were instructed to stitch the temple curtain together, you see they were told to use 4 different fabrics. 3 of the fabrics were of the same material, but different colors. While 1 of the fabric was completely different than the other 3. Now consider that for a moment! This is how the temple curtain was to be stitched, and this represents Jesus’ earthly ministry in the flesh (Heb. 10:20). Amazingly, this corresponds precisely to the way the gospels stitch together Jesus’ earthly ministry. We have 4 gospels (like the 4 fabrics). 3 are very similar (Matt, Mark, Luke) while 1 is very different (John). It takes the skill of the Holy Spirit (and humility) to see how they all stitch together. But they do stitch together amazingly to those interested in learning.
  4. this is already too long probably, but if you haven’t seen this, check it out: https://youtu.be/r5Ylt1pBMm8 …gives some powerful evidence that the gospels should be taken more seriously than skeptics have though

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