Prayer Requests for Week of September 25th, 2016

If you have a prayer request, please post a comment below or email them to me at atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com and I’ll get to them ASAP.

My requests: This year in BSF more people turn to Jesus for the answers.  For my husband: guidance in his job and if he wants to pursue another avenue in business.  And an improved eating plan for the family.

God bless and have a wonderful week!

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 3, Day 4: John 2:18-22

Summary of passage:  After the turning over the moneylenders’ tables, Jesus was asked for a sign by the Jews of his authority.  Jesus told them to destroy this temple and he would raise it again in 3 days.  The Jews thought he meant the Temple in Jerusalem but Jesus meant his body as a temple and that he would rise again in 3 days.  Only after his death was Jesus’ words understood.

Questions:

9a)  Jesus just proved he had the authority to drive the moneylenders out of the temple by doing it.  Here, the people demanded a sign, they didn’t ask for one.  Only prophets could do so; hence, they doubted Jesus as the Messiah.  The proof was in the act itself.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’ve asked for a sign in terms of making a decision but never a sign to confirm His authority over me.

10a)  Jesus points to his resurrection as proof of his authority, which the people did not understand until after the fact.    They believe he is speaking of the physical temple in Jerusalem where God dwells.  He completely ignored their request and instead offered a challenge:  Destroy me and I’ll rise again.  In essence telling them they can’t destroy him for he is God.

b)  Witnesses claimed Jesus had said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in 3 days.”  Jesus actually said was if you destroy the temple (himself), he will rise again in 3 days.  They twisted the usage of the word temple and added the pronoun “I”.  Jesus would not destroy anything; the people themselves are the destroyers.

Conclusions:  Good dissection of the passage.  Not much to add except in 9a.  No one knew Jesus because this is at the beginning of his ministry.  It’s not wrong to ask for a sign nor is it rebellious.  I think Jews were genuinely confused by Jesus’ behavior, given only the magistrates had such authority to drive people from the temple.  It’s right to question those who claim they are prophets.  What went wrong here is 1) they demanded a sign instead of asked for one  2) the people missed the fact that by Jesus doing what he did (something incredible and the mere execution of it proved he had a divine commission) he had just proved himself with this miracle.  So the people are asking for a miracle on top of a miracle.  That is where the rebellion piece kicks in.  They are doubting Jesus as the Messiah.

End Notes:  Jesus claimed the power to raise Himself from the dead, and He repeated the claim in John 10:18.  The New Testament also claims that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 6:4 and Galatians 1:1), and that the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead (Romans 1:4 and 8:11).  The resurrection of Jesus Christ was a work of each Person of the Trinity, each working together as One–The Triune God.  Cool!

Jesus purposely avoids answering the question and instead answers with another statement which he explains to his disciples is frequent in the book of John.  It’s also classic rhetoric in ancient Greek society to answer a question with a question made popular by the ancient philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato.

“The Scripture” the disciples believed is Psalm 16:10:  “…because you will not abandon me to the grave nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”

After Jesus’ death, it became clear how the physical body is a temple when inhabited by the Holy Spirit.  We see this in Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Peter 2:5, and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  Another example of how God reveals us things when He is ready, and how there are things we do not and cannot understand–only God does.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 3, Day 3: John 2:13-17

Summary of passage:  Jesus heads to Jerusalem for Passover.  He sees in the temple courts non-Jews or merchants who were not allowed in the temple selling their wares.  He freaks out, overturning their tables, scattering their money everywhere, and whipping their animals out of the temple.

Questions:

6)  Passover to remember when the Lord passed over the courses of the Israelites when they were enslaved in Egypt when he struck down the first-born of the Egyptians but not the Israelites.  The animals were there to serve as the required sacrifices every Jewish person must make to atone for their sins.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sometimes anger is justified when God has been disrespected and his temple has been defiled.  We must stand up for God in a righteous, just, and loving way.  Furthermore, note Jesus made the whip of cords.  He thought about his actions before letting anger take over.  This was calculated and planned.  It was not a burst of passion.  This is how we should act as well–not in the heat of the moment but after the inciting incident has passed.

8a)  “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  Psalm 69:9 which reads in full:  “For zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.”

b)  Part-personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus will come to prepare the way for the Lord, to purify the people and become the acceptable sacrifice for our sins.  The abundance of his sacrifice is immeasurable.

Conclusions:  Good lesson on justifiable anger and the consequences of blatant disobedience.  We also see the importance of being pure and clean before the Lord and gain a deeper understanding of why Jesus’ sacrifice was so very important.

End Notes:  Almost 2 1/2 million Jews descended on Jerusalem for Passover, a festival where all Jewish men were required to celebrate in Jerusalem (Exodus 12).  Think about that in ancient times.  That’s a ton of people.  With this many people in one place, it attracts those who wish to sell their services as well as some unsavory individuals hoping to make a quick buck.  The moneylenders or moneychangers were there to help Jews pay the temple tax (Exodus 30:11-16) which had to be paid in special coin.  Coins in ancient times were often clipped and made of insufficient metals designed to cheat people.  Hence, the coin had to be a certain type.  The amount was the equivalent of about 2 days wages.

You will see “Passover of the Jews” or “Jewish” used a lot by John.  This was for clarity to Gentiles reading this so they would understand the festivals.

Jesus is displaying authority with the whip, not violence here.

The temple courts was the only place Gentiles could come and worship.

Note this is a different scene than what Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe.  This is at Passover near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  The other time is when Jesus enters Jerusalem on the eve of his death.

We can be sure the money lenders returned after Jesus left.  However, Jesus’ point was clear:  don’t defile the house of the Lord.

First we see Jesus converting water to wine and now cleansing of the temple.  This is how Jesus works:  convert and then cleanse.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 3, Day 2: John 2:1-12

Summary of passage:  Jesus performs the first of his miraculous signs the day after having called Philip and Nathanael.  He attends a wedding in Cana still in Galilee.  Jesus’ mother told Jesus there was no more wine.  Jesus replied his time has not yet come.  Still, Jesus told the servants to fill 6 stone water jars with water and hand them to the master of the banquet.  The water had been turned into wine.  He then goes to Capernaum with his mother, brothers, and disciples and stays for a few days.

Questions:

3a)  The wine ran out.  In ancient times, it was custom to feed guests until they were full.  To run out of wine would have been a major faux pas.  The newly married couple would forever feel shame and be known for what happened at their wedding day.  Wine was also a symbol of joy, so the subliminal message would have been “We’re not happy.”

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  No.  Not to jump the gun and be patient and wait for Jesus to make the first move.  That doesn’t mean not to ask.  It just means to be patient.  Mary looks at Jesus expectantly.  We should not expect things from Jesus.  All we are is in His grace alone.  We must remember that when life doesn’t go our way and we’re tempted to blame God.

4)  He performs the miracle anonymously and without pomp.  He doesn’t stand up and announce to the whole wedding party:  “Hey, everyone!  I’m about to turn water into wine.  Everyone look at me!”  No.  Jesus performs miracles with no expectations of acknowledgment or anything in return.

Jesus is showing how he’s better than the Old Covenant if you think of Jesus as the wine and the Old Covenant as the water (See End Notes for more detail on this).

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  It seems to indicate that the disciples believed in Jesus when they saw his glory through this first recorded miracle.  They believed before but this miracle deepens their faith just like ours is deepened when we see God in our lives.  Jesus is building up his men for their important work to come.

Conclusions:  Once Jesus decides it’s go time, it’s go time.  He doesn’t dilly-dally around and waste time.  He knows his time is limited here on earth.  This is a great lesson for us all.  Do God’s work for your life now.  You never know when you’ll be called home.

End Notes:  Note Jesus calls Mary “woman” and not mother.  There is a shift in their relationship as Jesus embarks on his plan for the world.  It’s like when our kids grow up.  We’re always parents, but we cut the cord and let our children make their own decisions.  This Greek word indicates this change between the two.

These are one of the few recorded words of Mary in the Bible.  Note what they are:  “Do whatever he tells you.”  What wisdom and advice for us today!

Jesus’ “hour” is his destiny of his death on the cross and John pictures Jesus moving towards it (John 7:6,8,30: 8:20).

The 6 stone jars show detail and show how Jesus uses what’s at hand.  He uses us right where we are today!

Note how Jesus didn’t just conjure up the water.  He uses man to aid him.  Like today when we’re called for Jesus’ work.  This is very typical in Jesus’ miracles and we’ll see this throughout the book of John.  Imagine the servants’ joy.  They didn’t do the miracle, but they shared in it’s joy.  They were blessed by obedience.

The master of the feast would have been angry if the wine ran out.  The servants showed courage in carrying the water to him.

Note how Jesus makes “choice wine”.  Jesus makes the best and goes above and beyond expectations.  We should expect the best when Jesus is involved.

Note Jesus’ first miracle is a miracle of conversion:  water to wine.  Old Testament law to New Testament law.  Cleansing from the blood of Jesus.  Old life to new life.  The water is God under the Old Covenant.  The wine is Jesus under the New Covenant.

The wine was after the water, from the water, and better from the water–all indicative of Jesus.  This first sign points to the redemption of creation from all its trials, allowing the wine of joy to flow fully as the prophets had announced (Isiah 35:1-2; Joel 3;18; Amos 9:13).

John always refers to Jesus’ miracles as “signs”, which speaks to the action not the marvel.  There are 7 signs in the book of John (the number of completion), which reveal Jesus’ glory and point to the completion of salvation.  The large catch of fish is in the epilogue.

Map of Cana HERE

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 5: John 1:43-51

Summary of passage:  Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael as disciples in Galilee.  Philip is called first and he tells Nathanael who wonders if anything good can come from Nazareth.  Jesus knows Nathanael instantly and tells all that they will see heaven open and the angels of God ascend and descend on him.

Questions:

10)  John the Baptist, Andrew, and Philip.  Their faith, their strength of character, their heart for God, their commitment and perseverance for Christ.

11a)  Nathanael upon hearing that Jesus was from Nazareth wondered how anything good could come from Nazareth.  This is an honest and a prejudice response.  Nathanael, however, keeps an open mind and does follow Philip to come and see.  Nathanael asked Jesus how he knew him and we’re told Jesus saw Nathanael meditating on Scripture under the fig tree.  So he knows all about Jesus and asks questions.  And Nathanael declares Jesus truthfully who he is:  The Son of God and the King of Israel.

Thus, Nathanael does not allow prejudice to get in his way.  He investigates until he has his answer.  He thinks for himself.  Imagine if Nathanael hadn’t of followed Philip.  He would have missed Jesus!  Don’t let that happen to you!

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I think and question a lot.  I’m pretty honest.  We’re all born prejudiced in terms of making judgments on others.  It’s something we work our whole lives at to overcome.

12)  The stairway that linked heaven and earth was made possible by Jesus, who is the bridge (or the ladder) between heaven and earth.  This is what Jesus is referring to when he declares he’ll be the one in the middle, “the way, the truth the life” (John 14:6).  Heaven open means the disciples will see heaven’s testimony about Jesus as plainly as if they heard an announcement from heaven.

Conclusions:  The testimonies and the different ways people come to Jesus is prominent here.  All of our paths are different and all of our journeys are different.  As long as the path leads to Jesus, none of it matters.

Great example of overcoming prejudice and thinking and investigating for ourselves.  Our minds make unconscious judgements but we can consciously override them and see people for who they truly are.  Great lesson!

End Notes:  Philip, Andrew, and Peter were all from Bethsaida.  Undoubtedly, they all knew each other as 2000 years ago villages were small and close-knit.  This is not the first time Jesus has met Philip.  He’s met them before but here John is recorded the formal invitation by Jesus to Philip to follow him.  This we know from the other gospel accounts of this incident.

Nazareth was a town of ill-repute in the ancient world.  It was small and dinky.  Could anything good come from such a place?  This is how God works.  He takes the unexpected and makes it big.  Great analysis of this scene HERE

The Greek verb follow here has the sense of perpetuity.  “Keep on following….”

Bethsaida means “House of the fisherman” or “Fishertown.”  It’s very close to where the Jordan River enters the Lake of Galilee.  See map of Bethsaida in relation to Nazareth HERE.

Philip declares Jesus the one Moses wrote about in the law.

Rabbi is the Hebrew word for teacher.

Nathanael is the same person as Bartholomew.

Jesus compliments Nathanael by saying there is nothing false or no deceit within him.

“Under the fig tree” was a phrase Rabbis used when meditating on Scripture.  Hence, most likely Jesus saw Nathanael in prayer.  He could have been under an actual fig tree as well.

Then Nathanael recognizes Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus says there is greater things to come.  This applies to us today.  Do you believe it?  Do you believe there are much greater things to come with Jesus?

Why does Jesus quote Genesis here and reference Jacob’s dream?  Perhaps this was the very Scripture Nathanael had been meditating on under the fig tree.

Jesus calls himself many times the Son of Man.  This references Daniel 7:13-14 where the King of Glory who will judge the world is called the Son of Man, a messianic title.  It is Jesus’ favorite self-designation.  It is used 81 times in the Gospels and never used by anyone else but Jesus here.

Fun Fact:  “Truly I tell you” occurs more in their Gospel than in any other Gospel and nowhere else in the New Testament.  John is the only one who prefaces the phrase with “very” a total of 25 times.

Conclusions to Lesson 2:  Here we see 4 ways to come to Jesus:

  1. Andrew by the preaching of John the Baptist.
  2. Peter because of his brother.
  3. Philip who was called directly by Jesus
  4. Nathanael who personally encountered Jesus

We also see 4 different testimonies to the identity of Jesus:

  1.  John the Baptist testified Jesus is eternal, the man uniquely anointed with the Holy Spirit, the Lamb of God, and the unique Son of God.
  2. Andrew testified Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.
  3.  Phillip testified Jesus is the One prophesied in the Old Testament.
  4.  Nathaniel testified Jesus is the Son of God and the King of Israel.

We see all of Jesus’ titles in one chapter in the Bible.  Do you still doubt who Jesus is?

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 4: John 1:35-42

Summary of passage:  John the Baptist points out Jesus as the Messiah.  Jesus gains his first 2 disciples (John and Andrew) who were followers of John the Baptist.  They spent the day with Jesus.  Then Andrew found his brother, Simon, whom Jesus called “cephas” or Peter.

Questions:

8 )  Part personal question.  My answer:  They followed Jesus.  Just listening to him as he moved us around the country and believing he had my life all worked out and I don’t have to worry at all.

9a)  Jesus invited the men to follow him and see.  They had to spend the day with him.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Spending the day reading the Bible, praying, listening for answers and guidance from God.  Help others.  Walk in his ways instead of mine.

Conclusions:  The way to Jesus is simple:  He’s identified.  He invites you in.  You follow and spend time with him.  You believe.  Open hearts and open minds are all that are required.  If you follow these steps, belief and eternal life will follow.

End Notes:  Most scholars agree the 2nd disciple who is never named must be John.  John never names himself in this book and the account is so specific it must be made by an eye-witness.

“Look, the Lamb of God” is repeated from John 1:29.  Perhaps John always said this when he saw Jesus.  To him, it was the most important thing about Jesus.

John the Baptist did not care that his disciples left him for Jesus.  After all, that’s his mission in this world: to prepare the way for Jesus.

“What do you want?” or “What do you seek?” are the first words spoken by Jesus in the book of Joh.  And Jesus still asks us this today.

The disciples lived with Jesus and shared in his life.  Jesus did not separate himself from his followers.  The same is true today.

John remembers the time (the tenth hour) that he came to Jesus–another supporting detail that John was the 2nd disciple.

Every time we see Andrew in the book of John he is bringing people to Jesus (John 6:8 and 12:22). That is how most of us come to Jesus–through a friend or family member.  Every Peter has an Andrew.  Who was your Andrew?

“We have found the Messiah” is the simplest and greatest testimony for Jesus.

Jesus knew what kind of man Peter would become so he renames him.

By spending the day with Jesus, the disciples would have first-hand testimony of Jesus and his doings to tell others instead of just pure faith alone.

Comparison of the gospels accounts of the first calling of the disciples HERE  Interesting to see the differences.

Fun post about the order of the calling of the disciples HERE  Only 4 people total in the New Testament got renamed.  This same post goes over each in detail.  3 were disciples and Saul/Paul is considered a close second disciple.  There are also 3 sets of the brothers of the original 12 disciples. Cool!

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 2, Day 3: John 1:29-36

Summary of passage:  John points out Jesus as the Son of God since he saw the Spirit come done and remain on Jesus.

Questions:

6a)  Jesus’ baptism allows the Holy Spirit to live inside of someone and gives them the saving waters of God.  John’s baptism is only to cleanse the soul and prepare to receive Jesus.  John cleanses.  Jesus bestows.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Everything.  I walk with Jesus and in his ways–not in mine.  I work for him, not me.  It’s all about him.

7a)  The lamb was a sin offering for the Jesus people, a sacrifice they must make on the altar to atone for their sins.  Isaiah says how lambs are led to the slaughter.  In calling Jesus the Lamb of God, John the Baptist is saying Jesus is the sacrifice that must be made to atone for their sins.  The difference is this is final.  No more sacrifices will have to be made.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It’s a vivid image on the meekness of Jesus and the sacrifice he bore for our sins.  It makes me more worshipful.

Conclusions:  I will probably be saying “everything” a lot this year to personal questions because Jesus is our everything.

End Notes:  Here we’ve skipped ahead.  Most scholars believe this passage is after John baptized Jesus (since that’s when the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus: Matthew 3:13-17) and after the 40 days of temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; Mark 1:12-13).  Jesus came back to see John the Baptist in his work.

John could have described Jesus as any thing here:  the king, the conqueror, the Savior, the mighty, the great, etc.  Instead, he chooses the Lamb.  How powerful!  Jesus as the sacrifice–the whole reason we are saved and how we get to God.  Remember that.

Fun Fact:  “Lamb of God” is found in the Bible only twice:  here and in verse 36.

This whole sentence is perhaps the most concise description of Jesus in the Bible and the most important:  “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”.  John sees Jesus first, calls him by his role, and tells us what Jesus does for us.

Note how many times we’ve seen the lamb in the Old Testament:  The lamb slain before the foundation of the world, the animal slain in the Garden of Eden to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness, the lamb provided to Abraham in place of Isaac, the Passover lamb, and the guilt offerings required by God to cleanse Israel of its sins.

Taking away is bearing.

Note it’s sin (singular), not sins (plural).  All of humanity’s sin is bore by Jesus.

Jesus was before John like he was before all of us:  since the beginning of time.  Remember, John the Baptist is older than Jesus so he’s speaking of eternal existence here.

The Greek word for “man” here connotes head of household, Jesus’ superiority over man and women.

Jesus already had the Holy Spirit.  It was merely made visible by God to John so he could witness to the people.