BSF Study Questions John Lesson 16, Day 4: John 12:23-36

Summary of passage:  Jesus’ time to sacrifice for the people has come.  If a kernel of wheat (Jesus here) dies, he’ll produce many seeds for eternal life.  Whoever serves him must follow him.  Jesus came for the very reason to die for our sins.  A voice from heaven spoke and said it glorified God’s name.  When Jesus dies, he will draw men to himself.  Jesus told them to trust him (the light) for those who walk in the dark do not know where they are going.  Then Jesus left.

Questions:

8 )  The hour for him to sacrifice for our sins.

9)  In his death, Jesus produced many seeds.  If Jesus had lived, only he would have been saved.  He promises to produce many seeds with his death.  To have life there must be death first.

10)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  To dedicate your life to God’s purpose, not yours.  By following Jesus, you gain eternal life and laying down your desires.  He asks me every day to do His will and not mine.  Sometimes it’s confusing and hard to decipher.  I have so many talents and skills and what to do for Him?  Right now, it’s working and living and writing and teaching.

Conclusions:  I’m a bit ambivalent about this lesson.  We’ve talked about what “the hour” means repeatedly this year and losing your life roughly means living for God.

End Notes:  At least twice before Jesus said his time was not ready (John 2:4 and 7:6). The interest of the Greeks here is the signal for Jesus to die for the world and be glorified on the cross.

Hate our life means we will gladly give it up for God.  We live for God to serve Him.  Nothing else matters.  You do everything (work, study, raise kids, etc) for Jesus.  You want to be with him; hence, you follow him and then receive honor from God for doing so.  The love for God so overshadows all other love that by comparison it’s hate.

The violence of his death here troubled Jesus.  He knew it would be unpleasant and painful.

This was the third audible Divine testimony to Jesus’ status as the Son of God, after the Divine voice heard at His baptism and His transfiguration.

Some did not understand God’s voice, but some did.

The cross is God’s judgement on the world.  The prince of this world is Satan.  The cross would seem toe be Satan’s triumph; in fact, it is his greatest defeat, out of which flowed the greatest good ever to come to this world.

“Lifted up” means both the physical raising of Jesus’ body on the cross and also exalted in the eyes of others.  The cross–what Jesus did for us–is what draws all to him and God.  Jesus also could refer to his resurrection here and ascension to heaven.

Here we see plainly how the people were at the mercy of the priests.  The majority of the world in ancient times could not read and relied on the priests to tell them what the Bible said.  The priests left out important parts of Scripture which teach that Jesus will suffer and reign forever.  Hence, they were expecting the triumphant, military Messiah because that was all they had been taught.  Great lesson for us!

There is limited time as those of us who studied Revelation last year know.  At some point, Jesus will come again.  That is when time is up.  So turn to the light now while it’s still burning!

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 16, Day 3: John 12:12-22 with Matthew 21:1-16; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-46

Summary of passages:  John 12:12-22:  The Passover Feast attendants heard Jesus was heading to Jerusalem so they run out to meet him, carrying palm branches and calling him the King of Israel.  Jesus enters on a donkey.  His disciples don’t understand this.  Many people believed in Jesus and the Pharisees are angered.  Some Greeks even wanted to see Jesus.

Matthew 21:1-16:  Jesus sends two disciples to fetch him a donkey and her colt as they approached Jerusalem, which fulfills God’s word.  Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem where a very large crowd went ahead of him, announcing him as the Son of David.  Jesus entered and again threw out the money changers from the temple.  Jesus healed the blind and the lame.  The chief priests were indignant as the children praised him.

Mark 11:1-11:  Jesus sends two disciples to fetch him a donkey and her colt as they approached Jerusalem, which fulfills God’s word.  Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem where a very large crowd went ahead of him, announcing him as coming in the name of the Lord.  Jesus went to the temple but left since it was late, spending the night in Bethany with his disciples.

Luke 19:29-46:  Jesus sends two disciples to fetch him a donkey and her colt as they approached Jerusalem, which fulfills God’s word. Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem where a very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road for him.  The disciples began to joyful praise God and for sending the King.  The Pharisees, angry at this, yelled at Jesus to rebuke his disciples.  Jesus said he could not for the stones would cry if he did.

As Jesus approached Jerusalem he wept for he knew the future when the city would be destroyed and many would die.  He entered the temple and drove out the vendors.

Questions:

6)  Psalm 118:25-26:  Jesus is blessed and he shines his light upon us.  The festal procession took place with boughs in hand.  God’s word is true.

Zechariah 9:9:  Jesus comes righteous and with salvation, riding on a colt of a donkey.  God’s word is true.

7a)  Disciples, Pharisees, children, Jewish believers and non-believers, Greeks

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  In all aspects He calls me.

Conclusions:  Such an exciting passage.  Such a let down in the questions.  Can we please unpack these verses?  See End Notes for just that.

End Notes:  John 12:12-22:  From here on out, Jesus will be in Jerusalem.  This inaugurates Passion Week and is a deliberate action by Jesus to provoke the Jewish leaders against him.

This was the large crowd gathered for the greatest holidays of Judaism – Passover.  Many were from Galilee.  All came with lambs, which was required as a sacrifice.  The lamb had to live with the family for at least three days before sacrifice (Exodus 12:3-6).  Hence, picture this scene with Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem, surrounded by lambs–him being the greatest Lamb of all!

Josephus, the Jewish historian, tells us that one year a census was taken of the number of lambs slain for Passover and that figure was 256,500. (Boice)  Can you imagine this today?  That’s a lot of lambs!  The animal rights people would be up in arms!

Palm branches were a symbol of Jewish nationalism since the time of the Maccabees.  Still seeing Jesus as a political and national savior, they welcomed him as king, ignoring the spiritual side.  Later, palms appeared as national symbols on the coins struck by the Judean insurgents during the first and second revolts against Rome (ad 66-70 and 132-135).

Hosanna means “save now” and is from Psalm 118:25-6.  They welcomed him as Messiah.

Jesus sits on the donkey for both fulfillment of prophecy (Zechariah 9:9) and to indicate his kingdom is not military or political–it’s spiritual.  The donkey was used by clergyman and for peace.  Otherwise, Jesus would be riding a war horse.  Doing this, the Roman probably didn’t think much of Jesus.  He had no army with him.

‘Daughter of Zion’ is a personification of the city of Jerusalem; it occurs frequently in the Old Testament, especially in the later prophets. (Tenney)

Since only God has the power to raise the dead, the people were convinced Jesus would have the power to overthrow the Romans since he could do such a feat.

“The world has gone after him”, like Caiaphas’ (John 11:50) words, are prophetic as well.

We are not told the nature of these Greeks.  Were they converts?  Curiosity seekers?  One scholar (Bruce) speculates that between verses 19 and 20 a day or two had elapsed: Jesus was no longer on the road to Jerusalem, but teaching daily in the temple precincts.  And in the meantime, according to Mark 11:15-17, he had expelled the traders and moneychangers from the precincts — that is, more precisely, from the outer court — in order that the place might fulfill its divinely ordained purpose of being ‘a house of prayer for all the nations’ (Isaiah 56:7).  Did these Greeks recognize this action as having been undertaken in the interests of Gentiles like themselves who, when they came up to worship the true God, had to confine themselves to the outer court?

Why Philip?  He’s the one disciple with a Greek name.  These men have often been compared to the Three Magi.  They come to the cross.

Matthew 21:1-16:  Up until this point, Jesus had acted in secret for the most part, avoiding attention and the Romans seeking him.  Now, his time come, he makes a huge public entrance, announcing to all he has arrived.

John omits the part of obtaining the colt.  Matthew does not.  Jesus chooses to ride on the younger animal, the colt.  Mark and Luke tell us it has never been ridden before so it’s prudent to bring its mother along.  Here we see the Creator of the Universe riding his creation.  Awesome!  Zechariah mentions only one animal in his prophesy.

The day was chosen as well to fulfill Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks (Daniel 9:24-7).  Jesus may even have spoken these words in verses 4-5.

Great people used to ride on donkeys (Judges10;4; 12:14) until horses came upon the scene.  Now we seek Jesus as the Prince of Peace, riding a lowly animal that now only poor people rode and used to carry burdens.

The people’s reaction is one of honor:  spreading out their cloaks and cutting branches.  It also spoke of victory and success.

Hosanna was also addressed to kings (2 Samuel 14:4 & 2 Kings 6:26).  The people are unafraid to proclaim Jesus as their Savior and Messiah.  Jesus receives this as the day the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24).

Jesus knew he was in danger but he was unafraid of the Pharisees here.

Note in Matthew 2:3 when the Magi came looking for the King of Jews, ‘all Jerusalem’ was troubled.  Now when the king arrives all the city is stirred.

In five days these same people will demand Jesus to be crucified.  How fickle are us humans!  How tragic.

It was here, before he entered the city, that Jesus wept over it and what would come (Luke 19:41-44).

This scene is different than the one we already studied in John 2:13-22.  Obviously, the people continued in their cheating ways, charging way too much for sacrificial animals.   A pair of doves cost 4p outside the Temple and as much as 75p inside the Temple.  This is almost 20 times more expensive.

Note, however, this time Jesus is condemning both the buyers and the sellers for it takes two for this sin to happen.  The money lenders would not be there if there were no demand for their services.

The money changers would be there again.  The act is important though, the condemnation.  Jesus was showing all this is not okay.

Once the money lenders were cleared, Jesus could concentrate on his real work:  healing.  The blind and the lame were not allowed in the temple. Thus, they could not offer sacrifices.  Again, Jesus went to them like he does us.

The hypocritical priests are content with money lenders but not healers.  It was common for kids to shout praises.  The problem was calling Jesus “the Son of David.”  Jesus says kids matter too.

Mark 11:1-11:  Sending his disciples ahead of him left nothing to chance.  This had to be right.  He had to enter as the suffering servant, not a general.

Mark’s wording suggests Jesus had pre-arranged the taking of the colt with the owner.

Finally, the people honor Jesus for who he is not what he can give them.  Clothing was expensive in those days and most people wore the same clothes for days.  Laying out their cloaks for Jesus was an extravagant sacrifice indeed.  Public honor is encouraged here.

We call this event the “Triumphal Entry,” but it was a different kind of triumph. In the Romans’ eyes, this was far from triumphant.  To them, a Triumphal Entry was a honor granted to a Roman general who won a complete and decisive victory and had killed at least 5,000 enemy soldiers. When the general returned to Rome, they had an elaborate parade.  First came the treasures captured from the enemy, then the prisoners. His armies marched by unit by unit, and finally the general rode in a golden chariot pulled by magnificent horses. Priests burned incense in his honor and the crowds shouted his name and praised him. The procession ended at the arena, where some of the prisoners were thrown to wild animals for the entertainment of the crowd. That was a Triumphal Entry, not a Galilean peasant sitting on a few coats set out on a pony.

Jesus inspected everything, mainly seeking the hearts of the people.

Note in Mark we didn’t read:  Mark’s record contains the more complete quotation of Jesus’ reference to Isaiah 56:7: Is it not written, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations?” (Mark 11:17).  Isaiah prophesied, and Jesus demanded that the temple be a place for all nations to pray.  The money lenders were making it impossible for any Gentile to come and pray.

Luke 19:29-46:  So what is the triumph here?  The triumph of humility over pride and worldly grandeur; of poverty over affluence; and of meekness and gentleness over rage and malice.

The Pharisees know they are losing with the drowning out of the devil’s voice.  They ask Jesus to quiet the disciples to which Jesus replies how creation will cry out.

In some old copies of the Bible, they removed the passage about Jesus weeping here, because they thought that if Jesus were perfect He would not weep. But the perfection of Jesus demands that He weep at this occasion, when Israel rejected their only opportunity to escape the destruction to come.

God does not rejoice in His judgement.  Jesus here showed the heart of God, how even when judgment must be pronounced, it is never done with joy. Even when God’s judgment is perfectly just and righteous, His heart weeps at the bringing of the judgment.

“On this day”.  This day was likely the day prophesied by Daniel that Messiah the Prince would come unto Jerusalem. Daniel said that it would be 483 years on the Jewish calendar from the day of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to the day the Messiah would come to Jerusalem. By the reckoning of Sir Robert Anderson, this was fulfilled 483 years later to the day (by the Jewish reckoning of 360 day years, as in Daniel 9:25).

This is the day mentioned in Psalm 118:24: This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Jerusalem means “city of peace”.  Jesus predicted what would happen when the Romans attacked Jerusalem.  Therefore, he weeps.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 16, Day 2: John 12:1-11 with Matthew 26:6-16 & Mark 14:3-11

Summary of passages:  John 12:1-11:  Jesus leaves the village of Ephraim and returns to Bethany 6 days before Passover.  A dinner was given for Jesus.  Mary washed Jesus’ feet with perfume and her hair. Judas, seeing only wasted money, questioned Mary’s act.  Jesus defends her, saying this is intended for his burial.  A large crowd came to see Jesus and Lazarus.  Plans were made to kill Lazarus as well so his testimony would not convert more to Jesus.

Matthew 26:6-16:  While in Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper, a woman came and anointed Jesus with perfume which she poured over his head.  The disciples chastised her, saying the perfume should have been sold and given to the poor.  Jesus defends the woman, saying she has anointed him in preparation for burial and it was a beautiful thing.  Judas agrees to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Mark 14:3-11:  Mark says Passover is only 2 days away and the chief priests are looking for a way to kill Jesus.  While Jesus was in Bethany (4 days ago) at the house of Simon the Leper, a woman anointed Jesus with perfume.  Some rebuked her for not selling the perfume and giving it to the poor.  Jesus says she is anointing him for burial and it was a beautiful thing.  Judas went to the chief priests and agree to hand him over to them for money.

Questions:

3)  Part personal question.  My answer:  She brought what she could to Jesus.  She anointed him with what she had.  She sacrificed her most prized possession for him.  She humbled herself by washing his feet with her hair.  She loved him enough to give up what she had.  I would like to be more sacrificing for him as well.  More giving from the heart.

4)  Anger, indignant, wasteful, greed, perhaps jealousy among the disciples and definitely Judas.  Jesus defended her actions.  Judas’ heart hardens to the point he’s willing to betray Jesus for money.

5)  He said she was preparing his body for burial.  It was a beautiful act.  He says she will always be remembered for it.  I’m sure Mary was glowing and felt vindicated.  She was probably questioning herself if she was wasting precious perfume, but she followed God, let go of her fears, and did it.  Her faith was undoubtedly strengthened and she grew closer to Jesus and God.  Others saw Jesus defending a woman (unheard of in ancient times) and took notice.  Women are people too.  It probably didn’t change their attitudes towards women, but it planted a seed that would grow into our times today.  It showed all what was important (the giving out of love) not the gift and what it was worth.  It showed how time is precious and an individual (Jesus) needs to feel valued and honored as well.  It showed how an act of worship is more important than meeting the human needs of the poor (in this case).  It shows how much Jesus wants us as his children to come to him, to honor him, to worship him, to sacrifice everything for him, and to love him with all of our hearts, all of our souls, all of our minds.  Jesus first; others’ needs second.

Conclusions:  Great lesson!  I’ve never really thought about how Jesus defending Mary would impact her and others and how this act of anointing is so much more!  Jesus above everything else in our lives.  Period.  It reminds us Jesus first and the heart is what matters.  I love comparing the different accounts and getting different details and remembrances of this event.

End Notes:  All 4 Gospels have an account of a woman anointing Jesus.  John’s account seems to tell of the same incident recorded in Matthew and Mark that we read while Luke 7:36-50 is probably a different event.

John 12:1-11:  This was the last week before the death and burial of Jesus.  Almost one-half of John’s Gospel is given to this last week.  Matthew used more than 33% of his Gospel to cover that week, Mark nearly 40% and Luke over 25% – seven days of Jesus’ entire life.

This feast is celebrating Lazarus’ rise from the dead.  Martha and the other women in attendance would be serving the men.  Simon was a common Jewish name at the time.  He had once been a leper for he wouldn’t be hosting a dinner if he had not been cured, perhaps even by Jesus himself.

Washing a guest’s feet was not unusual during this time.  It was unusual to do this during a meal, with expensive perfume, and with her hair.

Mary’s gift was remarkably humble.  When a guest entered the home, usually the guest’s feet were washed with water and the guest’s head was anointed with a dab of oil or perfume.  Here, Mary used this precious ointment and anointed the feet of Jesus.  She considered her precious ointment only good enough for His feet.  Washing another’s feet was considered the job of a slave.

Mary’s gift was remarkably extreme.  She used a lot (a pound) of a very costly oil of spikenard.  Spices and ointments were often used as an investment because they were small, portable, and could be easily sold.  Judas believed this oil was worth 300 denarii (John 12:5), which was worth a year’s wages for a workingman.

Mary’s gift was remarkably unselfconscious. Not only did she give the gift of the expensive oil, she also wiped His feet with her hair.  This means that she let down her hair in public, something a Jewish woman would rarely do.  She did not care what others would think of her.  All she cared about was showering the Lord Jesus with worship and affection.

No one knows exactly what this oil was.  All that really matters is that is was very expensive.

We see Mary at Jesus’ feet often (Luke 10:39; John 11:32, 12:3).  This is pure devotion.

Judas probably felt shame and that’s why he objected.  Her love for Jesus shone bright and his heart was full of darkness for him.

Fun Fact:  This is the only place in the New Testament where Judas is mentioned as doing something evil other than his betrayal of Jesus. Judas successfully hid the darkness of his heart from everyone except Jesus.  Outward appearances often deceive.  Many people have a religious facade that hides secret sin.  Great lesson for us!

Mary was extreme in her love for Jesus–what he wants for all of us.  She should not have been criticized for it.  In the other Gospels, Judas wasn’t alone in this sentiment.

It was probably only later John discovered Judas had been stealing money from Jesus.

Scholars believe it was the very next day that Judas betrayed Jesus as it was recorded in Matthew and Mark.

Spending money at a funeral was not unusual and was expected, making Judas’ objection even more inappropriate.

Matthew and Mark do not record Mary’s name but say she’ll be remembered forever.  John records Mary’s name but omits the remembered part.  All that matters is Jesus remembers forever.

The chief priests were mostly Sadducees, and the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection. Lazarus was a living example of life after death, and having him around was an embarrassment to their theological system.  This was a problem that had to be gotten rid of.  When men hate Christ, they hate those whom he has blessed and will seek to destroy them as well.  Sin is growing.

What would stop Jesus from raising Lazarus again?  Sometimes man is so stupid!

Matthew 26:6-16:  The alabaster flask would have had no handles and a long neck which was broken off when the contents were needed.  Jewish ladies commonly wore a perfume flask around the neck, and it was so much a part of them that they were allowed to wear it on the sabbath.  Picture HERE

How could anything be wasted if it were for Jesus?  Nothing is too good for Jesus.

Inappropriate at the moment to object.  It wasn’t anything against helping the poor.

Mary probably didn’t fully understand her act and the burial implications.  It did not matter.  Her love matters.

Spurgeon says of this scene:  “I wish we were all of us ready to do some extraordinary thing for Christ – willing to be laughed at, to be called fanatics, to be hooted and scandallized because we went out of the common way, and were not content with doing what everybody else could do or approve to be done.”

Matthew implies this was the final insult to Judas who then went the the priests with his offer of betrayal.  What is Judas’ motive?  Speculation of course.  He was from Kerioth, a city in southern Judea, which would make Judas the only Judean among the other disciples, who were all Galileans.  Perhaps he resented the others.  Perhaps he wanted a political Messiah.  Perhaps he wanted to be on the winning side, the side of the priests.  Perhaps he didn’t believe in Jesus.  Perhaps he did and thought Jesus too slow in his revelation.  Perhaps his feelings were hurt from the rebuke.  It doesn’t matter.  All we see is greed.

30 pieces of silver would be worth about $25, a small price at the time.  Many have sold him out for much less since.

Mark 14:3-11:  Some scholars even speculate this oil was a family heirloom that had been passed on from generation to generation as was the custom at the time.

Here we are told she poured it on Jesus’ head.  Jesus had just entered Jerusalem and as king needed to be anointed.  Did Mary understand this?  The disciples obviously didn’t since they protested.

Mary says not one word.  Great lesson for us.  Actions speak louder.

Do you criticize those who show more devotion to Jesus that you?

Judas the hypocrite:  he wasted his entire life.

Mary “did what she could”.  That is all the Lord ever asks of us.  But be wary of doing less and using this as an excuse.

The word “beforehand” is a signal that this act was planned by Mary.  This was not spontaneous.  Also, many wonder if Mary actually understood the Lord better than the disciples.  Understood he was about to give his life for all instead of denying it like Peter.

Many ask, “What can I do for Jesus?”  That is for you to answer.  It comes from the heart.  Listen and it will tell you exactly what to do for him.  No one else can tell you.

This simple act gained Mary fame for eternity.  What will yours be?

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 5: John 11:45-57

Summary of passage:  As usual, some believed in Jesus after Lazarus was raised from the dead and some didn’t.  The Sanhedrin met and were threatened by Jesus’ rise.  They would lose power and the Romans would take over.  Caiaphas, the high priest, said it is better for Jesus to die than lose the nation to Roman control.  They plotted against Jesus who moved to the desert near Ephraim with the disciples.  The next Passover came and Jesus did not appear since he would be arrested immediately if he did so (and likely put to death).

Questions:

12)  Some believed; others were threatened by him.

13a)  “What are we accomplishing?”  “The Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  “It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

b)  Part personal question.  My answer:  Not to lose power.  Political survival.  Be careful not to oppose God when you’re single-minded about power and driven by greed.

14)  Part personal question.  My answer:  The significance is Caiaphas took this as a literal death to save the nation of Israel whereas Jesus did this spiritually:  he died for the nation to save their souls not their lives and gather all God’s people (Jews and Gentiles) as one to Jesus.  God is good.

Conclusions:  I can’t imagine Jesus enjoying this time on earth where he has to constantly hide from the Pharisees instead of ministering to the people.  It’s a good lesson for us.  There are times in our lives when we just have to do the grunt work and times in our lives that aren’t pleasant but we must endure like Jesus.  I think a lot of people picture Jesus just doing his miracles and then dying.  They forget the day-in and day-out living that he did like we all do to get to God’s purpose.

End Notes:  The people are divided and some went to the Pharisees.  John either learned of what transpired during this meeting through Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathaea or someone who was on the council and then converted to Christianity.

Now the Sanhedrin admit he is performing miracles and is the Messiah.  So now Jesus is a threat to them and he must be stopped.

In all four Gospels, the Pharisees appear as Jesus’ principal opponents throughout his public ministry. But they lacked political power, and it is the chief priests who were prominent in the events that led to Jesus’ crucifixion.  Here both groups are associated in a meeting of the Sanhedrin.  They did not deny the reality of the miraculous signs but they did not understand their meaning, for they failed to believe.

People probably imagine the “what if” again.  What if Jesus had lived?  Would everyone believe?  Maybe.  But then we wouldn’t be saved.  There is no “what if” ing God and His will.  What happens to you is for a reason.  Period.  Move on. Don’t dwell on “what if’s” because they will never be.  You can lament them.  But you can’t change them.

“Our place” refers to the temple.  It had become an idol to the Sanhedrin, thinking of it as theirs.  It’s God. Always.

Little did the Sanhedrin know that history would take its course and the Jews would love “our place” anyways in 70 AD when the Romans did invade Jerusalem, scattering the nation, and eradicating the nation of Israel for almost 2000 years.  And this had nothing to do with Jesus.

Caiaphas was logical but not moral.  He was willing to kill an innocent man to save many.

Caiaphas was high priest for 11 years.  “That year” is to draw emphasis to the year Jesus died. God overruled what he said here.  His words were true in a way he could not imagine.

Now, the high officials are joining with the lesser officials to kill Jesus.  Lazarus’ raising was the last straw to them.

Jesus retreats again because his time had not yet come.  He was not afraid.

Now, we are about to speed up history and Jesus’ days are numbered.  John jumps to a few days before Jesus’ last Passover.  The chief priests are the Sadducees and they were often in opposition to the Sanhedrin.  Not when it came to Jesus.  Both were united against him.

Note of location of Ephraim:  Ephraim was one of the original tribes of Israel but Jesus retreated to the town of Ephraim.  Unfortunately, no one knows exactly where that is and I couldn’t find any maps.  One could suppose it was located somewhere within this region.  Map HERE

Who was Caiaphas?  He was the official high priest during the ministry and the trial of Jesus (18-36 AD). By this point in history, the high priesthood had evolved into a political office, the priests still coming from the descendants of Aaron but being generally appointed for worldly considerations.  When Pompey gained control of Judea in 63 BC, the Romans took over the authority of appointing not only the civil rulers but the high priests also, with the result that the office declined spiritually.  Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, had been high priest by appointed of the Romans from 7-14 AD.  In-between, three of his sons had succeeded him but Annas was still considered a high priest.

We shall see after Jesus’ betrayal, it was the house of Annas where he was brought and tried.  Caiaphas then took a leading role in the persecution of the early church.  Summarized from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Douglas and Tenney.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 4: John 11:32-44

Summary of passage:  Mary then went to meet Jesus as well. Jesus wept with the mourners. He told the people to remove the stone away from his tomb. He thanked God and told Lazarus to come out, which he did still wearing his grave clothes.

Questions:

9)  “For the benefit of the people standing here that they may believe that you sent me.”  It’s important for us so we know everything Jesus does is for us and to clarify to us that Jesus’ power is from God.

10a)  “Come out.”  “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

b) Our spirits will all rise from the dead just like Lazarus’ physical body rose.  Jesus will conquer death.

11)  John 10:10: Jesus gives us life to the full.

John 17:1-2:  Jesus gives eternal life to all those chosen by God.

Ephesians 2:1-5:  We are alive in Christ and saved by grace.

Colossians 3:1-4:  Christ is our life who gives us glory.

1 Thessalonians 4:16:  Those dead in Christ will rise first.

I like Colossians because it emphasizes our glory in eternal life as chosen by God.

Conclusions:  For me, lackluster.  Question 11 was repetitive.

End Notes:  Same as yesterday’s.  Mary’s response to Jesus is the same as Martha’s. Is it out of faith or criticism? We don’t know and aren’t told here.

Jesus was moved as God is by our tears and pain. All the mourners would have been wailing. It is culturally acceptable 2000 years ago to cry unlike in our era, which is taken as a sign of weakness.

Fun Fact: The word for “wept” (the only place this form is used in the entire New Testament) that Jesus did is a quiet one. It is not a wail.

“Moved in the spirit” is more properly translated “groaned.” This phrase literally means in the Greek “to snort like a horse”. It implies anger at the Devil and “was troubled” implies tenderness for the mourners.

Jesus was so moved an involuntary groan escaped his heart. He shares in our grief and he does something about it. Lazarus being raised from the dead is what he does for all of us.

I find it fascinating how somehow tears became a sign of weakness. Abraham, Jacob, David, Jonathan, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Jeremiah the weeping prophet all wept in the bible along with Jesus. It’s a very human emotion/reaction and yet we work to suppress it. The ancient Jews wailed loudly for days when a loved one passed. Jesus dignified tears and if we are to be more like him, why not cry?

The ancient Greeks believed in emotionless gods and the inability to feel.

“Deeply moved” is used twice in this passage.

“What ifs” cause more grief in this life cause it’s all in the mind.

They needed to believe to see the glory of God. Otherwise, they would miss it.

Mary and Martha acted on their faith by removing the stone. Jesus used a loud voice so all could hear him. Lazarus listened as we all are when Jesus commands.

Lazarus would have been wrapped tightly in linen much like the ancient Egyptians wrapped their mummies. These “grave clothes” he would need again unlike Jesus who left his behind. Also, Jesus had man assist in the miracle by commanding them to remove the clothes.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 15, Day 2: John 11:1-16

Summary of passage:  Mary’s brother, Lazarus, was sick.  Mary had previously washed Jesus’ feet with perfume.  She sent word to Jesus who knew God’s plan.  He waited 2 days for Lazarus to die and then he returns to Bethany (just outside Jerusalem and remember Jesus is somewhere on the other side of the Jordan River) despite the disciples’ protests.

Questions:

3a)  He knew God’s plan to raise Lazarus from the dead. God alone can raise the dead and this event will help initiate events that will lead to the cross–God’s ultimate plan and glory.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To draw us closer to Him, rely on Him, and follow Him.

4a)  To let Lazarus die so that when he returns and raises Lazarus there will be no doubting God’s glory.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It’s all in God’s timing and what’s right for us and Him.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Those who walk with Jesus should have no fear.  Those who walk in darkness stumble and should have fear.

Conclusions:  I love how Jesus waits for Lazarus to die–waits on God’s timing.  Great lesson for us.  Patience is something many of us lack or need more of and this is a classic example of how good things come to those who wait.  Rely on God and His timing, not ours.

End Notes:  You could say Jesus saved the best miracle for last.  Here we have the 7th sign in John’s Gospel and it’s Jesus raising a man from the dead who had been dead for 4 days and whose body had begun to rot.  This puts Lazarus at having died shortly after the messengers left Bethany (1 day for travel, 2 days Jesus waited, 1 day to travel back).

Lazarus is the Greek form of “Eleazar” or God is my help.

John is the only one to record this miracle–the most astounding of all.  Why?  Some conjecture the other 3 Gospels were written while Lazarus was still alive and they didn’t want to offend anyone.  Some say it’s because Peter was not present with the Lord.  He was in Galilee preaching.  The other 3 Gospels may be based on Peter’s account of the Lord.

Note the women did not ask for a miracle from Jesus.  Just telling Jesus Lazarus was sick was enough.  They knew if Jesus could heal him, he would.  They had faith.

By the time Jesus got the message Lazarus was sick, he was already dead.  He knew this.  He also knew upon healing Lazarus, he’d set the course for his last days–the ultimate glory of God.

Note how Jesus loves all individually-Martha and Mary and Lazarus–as He does us.

He stayed two days deliberately until the fourth day.  This must have been agony for Martha and Mary but their faith did not waver.  This was bringing greater glory to God and shows us it’s in God’s timing, not ours.

Jesus could have healed Lazarus from afar.  Despite the dangers, he goes to Judea.  But Jesus still has work to do given to him by God.  There is enough time for us to do God’s purpose so don’t waste it!  No harm will come to them during this time.

Sleep is a metaphor for death.

Jesus is glad for many reasons:  grief was comforted, life was restored, many more believed, and the necessary death of Jesus was set in motion–not to mention his friend would live!

God often permits us to pass into profounder darkness, and deeper mysteries of pain, in order that we may prove more perfectly His power.

Remember Jesus was on the other side of the Jordan River.  He no heads back to Judea and Bethany to heal Lazarus.

All Jews in those days had two names – one a Hebrew name by which a man was known in his own circle, the other a Greek name by which he was known in a wider circle. Thomas is the Hebrew and Didymus, which is Greek for twin.  Thomas apparently looked like Jesus and hence his nickname.  Despite the risks, Thomas encourages the other disciples to accompany Jesus.  He may not understand the resurrection yet, but he knows Jesus enough to die for him.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 14, Day 5: John 10:22-42

Summary of passage:  The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) arrives in Jerusalem and Jesus is questioned again.  He tells the Jews they do not believe him because they are not his sheep.  His sheep know him and no one can take them away from him.  The sheep are God’s as well and he and God are one.  They tried to stone Jesus and he asked them again why they don’t believe in him and in the miracles.  They tried to seize him and Jesus fled across the Jordan where many came to him and believed in him.

Questions:

11)  The miracles he performed.  The Jews did not know Jesus.

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Eternal life because they follow him.  All the difference.

13)  They want to stone him or seize him.  Most today want to punish Christians.  He again tries to convince them who he is, using biblical and here irrefutable evidence, but then he flees.  We are to persevere, but not engage in violence.

Conclusions:  Question 12 is wearing on me.  It’s so broad I just keep it simple.  I love how Jesus tries to convince others of who he is but knows when it is hopeless and he’s done all he can so he focuses on those he knows will convert.  Great lesson for us with stubborn people in our lives.

End Notes:  The Feast of Dedication or Hanukkah celebrated the cleansing and re-dedication of the temple after three years of desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria (in 164 or 165 b.c.).  He instituted terror upon the Jews by emptying the temple treasury, instituting laws against Jews laws such as banning circumcision and the bible, and turning the altar into one for the Greek god Zeus.  Thousands of Jews were killed or sold as slaves.

The Greek for “winter” really connotes “stormy weather” here.

Solomon’s Colonnade was the name given to the portico which ran along the east side of the outer court of Herod’s temple. It is mentioned in Acts as the place where Peter addressed the crowd the congregated to see the man who had been cured of his lifelong lameness at the Beautiful Gate, and again as the place where the Jerusalem believers regularly gathered for their public witness to Jesus as the Christ (Acts 3:11; 5:12).

Jesus was not teaching.  Simply, he was ambushed by the religious leaders who were blaming him for their unbelief (personal responsibility, anyone?).  They hoped to get him to say he was the king of the Jews so then they could accuse him to the Romans of a coup against the emperor.

Jesus said “I told you and you do not believe” (I’d insert the word idiots afterwards).  He must be getting extremely taxed by these people.  He often didn’t call himself the messiah because it had such weighty political and even military implications.  When he does reveal himself, it’s to non-Jews (such as the Samaritan woman) because it was safer.

Just read all Jesus had told them who he was so far in our study of John:

I am the one who came from heaven (John 3:13, 6:38)

whoever believes on Me has eternal life (John 3:15)

I am the unique Son of God (John 5:19-23)

I will judge all humanity (John 5:19-23)

all should honor Me just as the honor God the Father (John 5:19-23)

the Hebrew Scriptures all speak of Me (John 5:39)

I perfectly reveal God the Father (John 7:28-29)

I always please God and never sin (John 8:29, 8:46)

I am uniquely sent from God (John 8:42)

before Abraham was, I Am (John 8:58)

I am the Son of Man, prophesied by Daniel (John 9:37)

I will raise Myself from the dead (John 10:17-18)

I am the Bread of Life (John 6:48)

I am the Light of the World (John 8:12)

I am the Door (John 10:9)

I am the Good Shepherd (John 10:11)

Pretty cool, huh?  If they don’t understand by now, they never will.  Their hearts will never turn.  Hence, we see Jesus retreat.

Earlier in chapter 10, Jesus tells them they are false shepherds.  He goes one step further here by saying they aren’t even sheep!

Great picture:  we are in both Jesus’ hands and God’s hands.

God and Jesus are one in essence.  “one” here has no gender.  It’s not a person.  Equally God (divine being), distinct in person.

Jesus wanted us to be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:11, 17:21). Such oneness cannot exist without an equality of essence, and all believers have this equality (Galatians 3:26-28), even as the Father and Son have this equality.

The Jews could not refute Jesus so instead they decide to stone him even though there has been no trial.  This is how much of a threat Jesus posed to the rulers.

Jesus answers the religious leaders with the law and an argument from the lesser to the greater.  The judges of Psalm 82 were called “gods” because in their office they determined the fate of other men.  In Exodus 21:6 and 22:8-9, God called earthly judges “gods.”  This is a metaphor and Jesus attempts to show them their fallacy in light of his works and who he is.

He testified as to the complete authority of the Old Testament.

Across the Jordan lay Perea.  There the Jews had no power.

John the Baptist did no miracles but was still a great man.  Great lesson for us as well.  Most of us won’t perform a miracle.  But we can make an impact on others.  Jesus’ work still goes on.