BSF Study Questions Lesson 21, Day 3: 1 John 2:3-29

Summary of passage:  We are in Christ if we walk as Jesus did.  If we obey him, we will know him and have God’s complete love.  You must love your brother to be in the light; otherwise, you are not.  If you love the world, then you are not in God.  If you do the will of God, you will live forever. Antichrists will come in the last hour.  They will deny the Father and the Son.  Being anointed with the Holy Spirit, it will teach you.  If you remain in the Father and the Son, then you will have eternal life.  Those who do what is right has been born of Jesus.

Questions:

6)  If you obey His word, God’s love is complete in you.  As long as you remain in the Father and the Son, you will have eternal life.  If you love your brother and shun the world, then you are in Christ.  If you obey God, walk with Jesus, and be righteous, you are in Jesus.

7)  The cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does.  All of these are negative.  A sinful man craves sinful things: sex outside of marriage, affairs, covets other people’s things, steals, cheats, lies, etc.  He boasts of his material possessions instead of his spiritual spirit.  The positive twist would be to strive for God’s will in your life, for God’s goodness in others’ lives, and to use your gifts and senses to do so.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  False teachers are those who deny Christ is the Son of God.  They could be those in the Christian community but do not abide in Jesus.  If you have the Holy Spirit, then you will know the truth when spoken and the lies when spoken.  Abiding in Christ protects us as well as the anointing.  If whoever is speaking says things directly against the Bible and God’s teachings, then they are false. Period. Pray. God will tell you. He will not let you be blinded.

Conclusions: We talked a ton about the Antichrist and false teachers last year in Revelation.  It was more prevalent in ancient society and with so many different religions floating around it would be hard to know what to believe in–especially as a new convert to Christ.  Still, we must be aware of cults and society’s tendency to follow charismatic leaders and smooth talkers.  The Antichrist could come at any time and the little antichrists preceding him as well.

End Notes:  Following God’s commandments is evidence of knowing God.  There is a difference between knowing about someone and knowing them.  God and you know which is truth.  God’s love is perfect or mature in those who obey and by this we know we are in Jesus.  We will walk at Jesus did.

What does that mean?  Walk as Jesus did?  It means that sin is distasteful to us and every day we lead more of a righteous life of obedience to God.

Loving one another is not new.  What’s new is the depth of love that Jesus spoke of in John 13:34.  Jesus’ love is what we are to grasp–loving everyone.   Our relationship with God can be measured by our love for other Christians.

We have to keep His commandments, walk as Jesus did, and love other Christians.  If one is missing, then we fail.  You can do all the right things, believe all the right truths, but if you do not love other Christians, then all is lost.

Hatred and love in the bible are more than emotions; they are attitudes expressed in actions.

Stages in Spiritual Life:  We all begin as little children in our spiritual walk with God.  It is enough to know God forgives our sins.  Fathers are people who have known God for years and are mature in their spiritual walk with God.  Young men are those in the middle of their spiritual walk who have fought with Satan.

The repetition is intentional.  The key is knowing God.  God’s word is our source of spiritual strength, which is tested in the youth phase, and which lives in our hearts.

The world here is sin, the world’s system, it’s way of doing things, and material objects.  It’s controlled by Satan and organized against God and righteousness.  It’s easy to fall in love with the things of this world that make us better off but not better.  The world and what we gain in the world or strive for pass away when we do.  Heaven and God are eternal.  We are to be in the world but not of the world (John 17:14-18).  Monks took this to the extreme in the Middle Ages.

This goes all the way back to Eve who looked upon the fruit, thought how it would satisfy her and how it would make her appear before Adam.  Our thinking is usually of the world.  You must arrest your thoughts, capture them, and then work to change them towards God.  Lot is another example who was of the world.

In this world, we have three eternal things: the Holy Spirit, the people around you, and God’s word.   Time, attention, and expense put into these three things pay eternal rewards.

The last hour is Jesus’ return. John considered the last days to be everything after Christ.  The Antichrist is instead of Jesus.  He will appear and do wonderful things to appeal to us.  There will be only one “Antichrist” at the End Times.  However, there will be smaller versions preceding him.  The antichrists in John’s day were the Gnostics.  “Anti” means against in Latin.

John assumes his readers will know someone will oppose God before the Second Coming.  Also known as the man of lawlessness or the beast from Revelation.

Fun Fact:  The word ‘antichrist’ occurs in the Bible only in the letters of John and only five times in four verses (1 John 2:18, 22, 4:3; 2 John 7).

Essentially, the Antichrist is a world dictator who leads humanity in what seems to be a golden age, until he shows his true colors – and the judgment of God is poured out on him and his empire immediately before the return of Jesus.  This could happen at any time.  Think of Stalin, Hitler, and Mao.  Many of these antichrists will identify as Christians but never were since they left.

Other characteristics of the antichrists John lists:  1) They deny the incarnation 2)  They deny Jesus is divine.  3)  They deny the Father  4)  They don’t have the Father  5)  They are liars and deceivers  6) there are many.

Anointing has the idea of being filled with and blessed by the Holy Spirit, enabling discernment and knowing the Truth.

This idea of anointing – literally, to be blessed with oil – was said to be the reason behind one of the punishments given to John in persecution. The Roman emperor Domitian cast John in a boiling vat of oil, as if to say, “Here is a real anointing.” John emerged from the vat of boiling oil unharmed, because he had a different anointing.

In verse 20, John used a different word for know than he mostly used before. Previously John used the word meaning knowledge by experience; here he used the word meaning knowledge by intuition. We know some things intuitively by the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

We must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, as the Bible defines Christ – the Messiah, who is fully God and fully man; who perfectly revealed the Father to us.  We don’t worship the same God unless your God is the God who was revealed in Jesus Christ.  If not, then your God is not the God of the Bible.  If you reject Jesus, you reject God.

Fun Fact:  John uses the word “love” 35 times in this letter alone.

What you have heard from the beginning is the message of the apostles (the New Testament).  We must abide or live in Jesus Christ.  We do this by knowing His word and living in His word.

Fun Fact:  John uses “abide” 6 times in these few verses and idea is strewn about the New Testament.

When God lives in us, we have eternal life in heaven.  This anointing of the Holy Spirit allows us to know the Truth and discern the falsehoods and guide us closer to Jesus.  Because you are abiding in Jesus, when he comes again you won’t be ashamed or fearful.  We’ve seen this before (John 14:23). We practice righteousness since we are born of God who is righteous.

Summary of 1 John 2:  Christians: 1) know Him (1 John 2:4), 2) abide in Him (1 John 2:6), and 3) are in the light (1 John 2:9).  If this is true for you, it will show in the life you lead and the love you hold for fellow Christians.

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BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 5: John 15:18-16:4

Summary of passage: The world hates believers because they were chosen by Jesus to be not of this world. The world will persecute and hate believers as they have persecuted and hated Jesus. The disciples and the Holy Spirit are to testify about Jesus. The time will come where the disciples will be thrown out of the synagogue and persecuted.

Questions:

12)  Part personal Question. My answer:  The human system that opposes God’s purpose and unbelievers.  They hate believers because they were chosen by God.  These people hate me or are indifferent to me because they are of the world and not believers.  Why would I ask myself questions?  It’s a fact and you deal with it and you move on with life.

13)  Part personal Question. My answer:  We need to be the light for others who may come out of the darkness.  We are called to evangelize.  By doing His will.

14a)  All believers, the Holy Spirit, and the disciples.

b) Part personal Question.  My answer:  Because Jesus was persecuted and the world hates believers.  They don’t know the Father nor Jesus, only the devil, so they follow the devil’s way which includes persecution.  We must respond as Jesus would with compassion and from an understanding that they are blinded to God and do not have Jesus’ heart.

Conclusions: Repetitive in terms of how you are living for Christ and bearing fruit. Talked about this last year as well in our Revelation study. In essence, Satan works through unbelievers. He tells them to hate us and persecute us. He blinds them to the Truth. We must understand it is Satan at work and not take it personally. We must be like Christ and still shine bright despite the encroaching darkness around us.

End Notes:  Jesus warns his disciples they will be hated.  All except John were martyred.  First the world hated Jesus, then them.  “You or Ye know” or “keep in mind” means be aware or be very sure.

The disciples were different from the world.  If people don’t know God, they persecute those who do.  Those persecuted (Christians) should sympathize for unbelievers because they don’t know God.

Because Jesus was God walking around on the earth, there is no excuse not to know God or more about Him.  Both his works and his words are enough to know Him.

Jesus quotes the Psalm here to show Scriptural fulfillment.

Jesus previously spoke of the sending of the Counselor (John 14:16, 14:26).  The departing Jesus knew the disciples would need the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit to face the opposition the world would bring.

“Who proceeds from the Father” or “whom I will send to you from the Father”: This is one source of a historic controversy between the eastern and western branches of Christianity, debating if the Spirit proceeds from the Father alone or from the Father and the Son (known as the filoque clause in the Nicene Creed).

The Holy Spirit’s job is to tell us and show us what Jesus would do and who he is.

The disciples’ job is also to bear witness for Jesus.

Jesus did not want his disciples to be surprised by opposition against them so he tells them they will be thrown out of the synagogue, which for a Jewish person is ostracism from all they know.

Most Christian martyrs are killed by followers of other religions.  Jesus is preparing his disciples because up until this point all hatred was against Jesus himself.  When Jesus departs, it will fall upon the disciples to bear.  He will not be there to protect them.  It wasn’t pertinent until this moment.  God’s timing.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 2: John 15:1-8

Summary of passage: Jesus says he is the vine and God is the gardener. God cuts off those who don’t bear fruit and prunes the branches that do bear fruit. Believers will only bear fruit if they remain in Jesus. Apart from Jesus, you can do nothing. Ask whatever you wish and as long as you remain in Jesus, your wish will be granted. For God’s glory you will bear much fruit.

Questions:

3)  Personal Question. My answer: The Christian life is a life of being molded by God. As long as we believe and stay with God, he will grant us many blessings and we will accomplish many great things. It helps me to know God has my back and I will do great things and accomplish much in my time here on earth. It gives me hope and inspiration to do more than what I’m doing now.  Apart from Jesus, we are nothing.

4)  Part personal Question. My answer:  The work of pruning or cleansing has already begun in the disciples as they listen to the Word of God. There is an initial cleansing and then more (John 13:10). Through the Word, we are cleansed (Ephesians 5:26). It condemns sin, inspires holiness, and promotes growth.  Jesus cleans us or purifies us to be with God. No verse “made me clean”. Only the blood of Jesus did that (1 John 1:7).

5)  Part personal Question. My answer: It means to always do what Jesus would do, follow God’s will for your life, and obey God and His Word. Remain connected to him.  The believer has no fruitfulness apart from union and fellowship with Christ.  A branch out of contact with the vine is lifeless.  By doing His calling in my life, living out the principles, values, and teachings of the Bible, and being a good mother, worker, and role model for a believer in Christ.

Conclusions: Good focus on what you’re supposed to be doing in this world and even if you aren’t sure, how you can still lead a life true to Christ’s by remaining in him through developing a personal relationship of prayer and dedication to His word.

End Notes:  Most scholars believe Jesus is speaking to the disciples here as they are standing in the upper room, preparing to depart.  Jesus only has a few more hours to prepare his disciples for the tumult ahead.  These are his closest friends and he is about to leave them.  He knows they will face fierce opposition, hatred, beatings, and execution.  So, he reaches for an allegory to explain himself again.

One, grapes.  They were just drinking wine.  He says they must remain connected to him in order to bear everlasting fruit.  Two, dead branches.  They have lost their connection somehow and now useless.

The vine.  Jesus’ 7th and last I am statement.  This would have stood out to both believers and unbelievers since everyone knew God as the great “I am”. Jesus is equivocating himself with God in all these statements.

The vine was a familiar symbol.  God repeatedly used a vine as a symbol of His people in the Hebrew Scriptures (Psalm 80:8-9).  Yet it was often used in a negative sense (as in Isaiah 5:1-2, 7 and Jeremiah 2:21).  Just in the previous week Jesus publicly taught about Israel being like a vineyard in the Parable of the Vineyard (Matthew 21:33-44).

Vineyards were everywhere in ancient Israel. There was a large golden vine set as a prominent decoration on the front of the temple communicating the idea that Israel was God’s vine.  And it was a recognized symbol of the Messiah.

Jesus is the true vine.  We must be rooted in him in order to bear fruit.  The branch and the vine picture complete dependence upon one another as well.  The vine in the Old Testament pictured Israel and God as the tender of the vine.

There are two understandings for verse 2.  Either the branches are taken away because they were never abiding the first place (judgment) or they are lifted up (another possible translation of the Greek) to be taken care of.

The word for prunes does mean cleansing as well in the Greek.  The vine will maximize its fruit if it is pruned.  God removes the dead wood from his church and disciplines the life of the believer so that it is directed into fruitful activity.  Good fruit in the New Testament represents a godly life (Matthew 3:8; 7:16-20) or virtues of character (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11).

The work of pruning has already begun in the disciples as they listen to the Word of God. There is an initial cleansing and then more (John 13:10). Through the Word, we are cleansed (Ephesians 5:26).  It condemns sin, inspires holiness, and promotes growth.

Abiding or remaining is a two-way street.  Choose to abide in Jesus and he will abide in you.  You have to be connected to the vine, to Jesus, to bear fruit.  Otherwise, it’s impossible.

Jesus repeats himself that he is the vine since so often they thought of Israel as the vine.  The purpose of caring for the vine is to receive fruit.  In this sense, we can say that fruit represents Christian character (such as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5). God’s work in us and our connection to Him should be evident by fruit, and perhaps by much fruit.  Fruits contain seeds which are meant to be spread.

Jesus abides in us in an active way.

We can do nothing of real, eternal value without Jesus.  You must remain connected to the master or you will fail.

Note you are thrown away, withered, and then burned–a slow progression of losing that connection with the Father.  Fire is associated with punishment and eternal repercussions like the burning lake of sulphur in Revelation.  It also was an Old Testament symbol of punishment.

Verse 6 Interpretations of the cast out branches:

1) Believes are the cast out branches who, though once true believers, end up in hell for lack of abiding and fruit. They were once disciples, but are now cast out

2) The cast out branches are ones who only appeared to be disciples, and who never really abided in Jesus, and therefore go to hell (like Judas)

3) The cast out branches are fruitless disciples who live wasted lives that are in effect burnt up, and this passage doesn’t refer to their eternal destiny (like Lot, Abraham’s nephew)

However, all agree that there are no true disciples who do not abide. The branch must remain connected to the vine or it has no life and is of no lasting good.  Genuine salvation is evidenced by a life of fruitfulness.

Verse 7:  Jesus connected abiding to the idea of faithfulness to His words (John 14:23-24) and answered prayer (John 14:13-14).

Spurgeon says “Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus.  It comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus.”

It is impossible to pray correctly apart from knowing and believing the teachings of Christ.

Abiding in Jesus means abiding in His words, and having His words live in the disciple.

Tenney explains:  “The connection is maintained by obedience and prayer. To remain in Christ and to allow his words to remain in oneself means a conscious acceptance of the authority of his word and a constant contact with him by prayer.”

This faithful, abiding disciple should expect answered prayer as part of their relationship with Jesus. A failure to see prayer answered means something is not right in the disciple’s relationship. Perhaps something is not right in the abiding, and prayers are amiss and unanswered. Perhaps something is not right in the asking and there is no perception of what Jesus wants to do in and through His disciple.

Verse 8:  We must remember bearing fruit is for God’s glory, not our own. When we achieve great things, it is God’s will and through God’s might not ours.  We give credit to Him for we ourselves can do nothing.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 19, Day 5: John 14:27-31

Summary of passage: Jesus says he’ll give the disciples peace. He tells them to not be afraid or troubled. He is going away and if the disciples loved him, they would be glad for he is fulfilling the Father’s wishes.

Questions:

12)  The Bible tells us that Satan is a fallen angel, a real being who tempts us and tries to destroy us. We see this in the temptation of Jesus. We are told he rules the world until Jesus comes again, hence a prince. He was hurled to earth and tries to lead us all astray.

13)  Personal Question. My answer: Jesus gives those who believe in him peace. Currently, I’m struggling with what God wants me to do in my life. Either quit my job and be a full-time mom or stay working and do everything else He calls me in this world. I know whatever I decide, it will be in His will and with His guidance. That gives me peace.

Conclusions:  If only we could grasp the peace Jesus offers every moment of our lives.  I know I struggle with peace and it only comes when I stay close to God and don’t stray or push him aside.  Staying in the Word like a bible study helps me to maintain that closeness we all so desperately need.

End Notes:  Jesus saying Peace be with you was and is a common Jewish departure saying and a common greeting as well.  However, Jesus is clarifying this customary saying to say my peace, or Jesus’ peace is the peace of God, an untroubled heart.  Hence, along with the Holy Spirit, Jesus is blessing his disciples with peace.

Jesus repeats 14:1.  With faith, the Holy Spirit, and peace, you will be untroubled.

The disciples were troubled at the news of Jesus’ departure.  Jesus says rejoice instead!  His work through the Holy Spirit will be greater than His work during the years of His earthly ministry.  For the sake of the world and yourselves, rejoice!  We sense that Jesus is joyful in his soon reunion with God.

The Father is greater than Jesus in position but not in being.  Both are equally God.

At this very moment, Jesus is arranging Jesus’ arrest–Satan is coming.  Jesus goes to the cross willingly. Satan has no hold on him since he is sinless.

Now Jesus and his disciples are ending dinner and going to go the Garden at Gethesemane.  They are still in the room because Jesus doesn’t actually leave until John 18:1.  We can imagine Chapters 15-17 is Jesus speaking as the disciples gather round him in the room.  As one probably knows when there is a gathering of a big group of people it takes a bit to get them moving.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 18, Day 5: John 14:8-14

Summary of passage:  Here, Philip really doesn’t get it and Jesus chastises him for it.  He asks Jesus to show him the Father and Jesus answers by saying he has seen the Father since the Father is in him.  He will do whatever they ask in his name to bring glory to the Father.

Questions:

11)  “even after I have been among you such a long time.”  “How can you say” such a thing.

12)  He is speaking God’s words, doing God’s work through miracles, and anyone who asks of him he will do it in God’s name.  Jesus was at the beginning and the Word and he is the Word and the Word is God so thus Jesus is God.  He is light.  He is the way, the truth, and the life.  He is God.

13)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Anyone who has faith in him.  He grants them whatever they ask.  Those in Christ will accomplish his will–which is greater than our will.  We can accomplish great things with Christ at our backs.  The Holy Spirit is the help Jesus has promised us.

Conclusions:  I almost think Jesus wants to hit Philip over the head he’s so dense.  He’s spent 3 years with Jesus and still doesn’t get it.  You’d think he’d at least get the fact Jesus is God but he doesn’t.  Jesus, exasperated, lays it out for Thomas and us.  He is God and believe in him will lead to great things in your life.

End Notes:  Philip wants to physically see God with his eyes.  Philip was so close to Jesus yet still did not understand him.  Many are like this today.

Jesus repeats himself again, saying all he says and does is by and through God.  I wonder how often he said this that’s not recorded.  Mankind is dense, aren’t we?

“I tell you the truth.”  This is the 1st of 3 assurances Jesus will give his disciples on the night of his arrest. He says this is not the end but the beginning of much greater works.  He expected the disciples to carry on his good works after he’s gone.  This will be with the power of the Holy Spirit in them.

After Peter’s speech at Pentecost more people believed than all combined under Jesus’ recorded ministry.  Christianity is now spread throughout the entire world.  This is what Jesus meant.

Jesus will do anything you ask for in his name–true to his character and in his will–not yours.  Prayer aimed at carrying forth the work Jesus did.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 17, Day 4: John 13:18-30; Psalm 41:9

Summary of passages:  John 13:18-30:  Jesus says he knows the hearts of all he has chosen and whoever whoever accepts those in his name (such as the disciples) accepts Jesus and thus accepts God.  Jesus knows Judas will betray him and he indicates this by giving him bread.  Judas takes it and Jesus tells him to betray him quickly and Judas leaves.  The disciples (clueless as ever) don’t understand.

Psalm 41:9:  Even friends betray one another.

Questions:

7)  We know that what the Bible says and what God says and what Jesus says is true.  We know we are to suffer to grow closer to Him.  We know we suffer because we are sinners.  But we also know we are forgiven in Christ, which gives us hope to grow through the painful circumstances and endure to the end.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Satan can infect anyone.

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  In one word:  dark.  He does not believe in Jesus or Jesus’ message.  He has believed the lies of Satan and let personal gain take over.  He has been blinded to the light and darkness reigns.

Conclusions:  Unsure here.  Something is missing here that I’m not unpacking and the questions aren’t jogging anything.  As always, read the end notes, which did unlock this passage for me.

End Notes:  John 13:18-30:  Jesus is predicting his betrayal for the other disciples’ sake.  He doesn’t want their faith to waver in him.  Hence, he’s telling him he knew all along Judas would betray him.  And Jesus is pointing out rejecting him as the one God sent is rejecting God.

Jesus loves Judas and thus is moved (and probably hurt) by the impending betrayal.  By telling all he knows about the betrayal, this shows Jesus is the one in control, not Satan or Judas.

The other disciples are confused because up to this point Judas has been one of them, doing everything and going through the motions of faith like so many do today.  They may have even thought Jesus was speaking of an unintended betrayal.

Peter, curious as always, asks John to ask Jesus whom he is speaking to.  One can imagine that in Peter’s mind, he’s gonna be the superhero here and stop the betrayal before it happens.  This also indicates to scholars that Peter is not sitting next to Jesus or he would have asked him himself.

FUN FACT:  This is the first of 4 times John refers to himself as “the one Jesus loved”.  The 4 are:

· Here in the upper room (John 13:23)

· At the cross of Jesus (John 19:26)

· At the empty tomb (John 20:2)

· With the risen Jesus at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:20)

All of these are connected with the cross and all indicate that John did not boast of this egotistically but out of the love of Jesus.

SPOILER ALERT FOR ART FANS:  The famous paintings you see of the Last Supper are all false (like this one HERE and HERE).  At a special or ceremonial meal like this they would lay on their stomachs around a U-shaped table, leaning on their left elbow and eating with their right hand their head towards the table, much like the Romans did at the time.  It seems that from John’s position next to Jesus, he could lean back and be close enough to speak quietly to Jesus and still be heard.  Bear in mind most of the artwork we associate with the Last Supper was painted 1000 years after the fact.  Times change and man for the most part had transitioned to eating sitting up at tables.  Hence, the depiction.

Picture this:  On each side of Jesus sat a disciple.  Spurgeon says it best:  “One of them was John the divine, and the other was Judas the devil. One of them was the seer of the Apocalypse, the other was the son of perdition.”

Another scholar, Morris, says this:  “The place of honor was to the left of, and thus slightly behind the principal person. The second place was to his right, and the guest there would have his head on the breast of the host. Plainly this was the position occupied by the beloved disciple.

The normal posture at a table was sitting, as rabbinical sources indicate; reclining was the posture reserved for special meals, such as parties, wedding feasts, etc.

Giving of dipped bread is like a toast today.  It was a special honor.  Jesus is still showing love to Judas even at the last hour.  Like he will to many of us at the Second Coming.  Jesus is showing how to love your enemies to the last and even offering Judas one last chance to repent.

Judas is in the place of honor and Jesus could speak to him without being overheard.  Also, scholars speculate that only John heard Jesus indicate Judas as the betrayer, being on Jesus’ other side.  Peter is the man of action, the superhero, and the one to defend Jesus with gusto and bravado and sometimes without thinking (like we’ll see in the Garden).  John did nothing to stop Judas from leaving and we are not told why.  He could have been shocked or he could have trusted Jesus to have it all under control.  We don’t know.  All we are told is “no one understood Jesus”.

FUN FACT:  This is the only time John uses the name Satan in his Gospel.

Judas rejects Jesus’ final act of love and Satan then completely takes over.  It’s a choice of Free Will.  And Judas will pay the ultimate price.

With the words “do quickly” Jesus is indicating he’s the one in control.  He would die as he directed, not as his opponents determined.

The disciples just thought Judas, as the one in charge of the money, had left to pay the bill or give alms to the poor.  Note how even though Jesus and them had little money they still gave what they could.  It’s not the amount you give but the heart that matters.

No one is immune from the devil.  Judas was one of the 12.  He lived with Jesus.  He listened to Jesus.  He watched Jesus perform miracle after miracle.  He was one of the best and still he was lost.  Man needs more than an example and good teaching.  It’s a turn of the heart.  If that doesn’t happen, there is no hope.

Psalm 41:9:  This is David lamenting how he was betrayed by good friends.  Two of which we know are his own son Absalom (2 Samuel 15) and by a trusted adviser named Ahithophel (2 Samuel 15:12 and 15:31).

This has the sense of an unexpected attack or someone taking advantage of someone.  In ancient times, if you take bread with someone you should be forever grateful.  If you then lift your heal agains them, it’s great betrayal.  It’s like the saying “don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

Jesus left off the words “whom I trusted” because Jesus did not trust Judas.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 14, Day 3: John 10:1-13 & Ezekiel 34:1-16; 30-31

Summary of passages:  John 10:1-13:Jesus uses the metaphor of a shepherd and his sheep to explain himself and believers. The only way into the pen is through him (the gate). The one who enters through the gate is the leader (Jesus). The sheep (believers) follow him and only him and know his voice. They will not follow a stranger. They flee from strangers.

Jesus explains he is the gate and whoever enters through him will be saved and have life.  The thief comes to steal and kill.  Jesus explains he is the good shepherd.  He knows his sheep and they know him. A hired hand cares nothing for his sheep.  He runs when a wolf attacks.

Ezekiel 34:1-16; 30-31:  Ezekiel prophesies that the shepherds of the Lord (here the rulers as well as the priests) have not taken care of their sheep.  They have not healed the wounded or brought back the strays.  So they were scattered and became food for wild animals.  Because God’s sheep has no shepherd He is against them and He will look for His sheep and care for them and bring them to Him.  God declares His people His sheep and He is their Lord.

Questions:

5a)  The false shepherds in Ezekiel do not care for their sheep.  They take everything from the sheep (curds, wool, and meat).  They do not heal the wounded or the sick.  They do not bring back the strays.  They rule the sheep harshly and brutally.  So they were scattered and eaten by wild animals.  The false shepherds in John come to steal, kill, and destroy.  The hired hand abandons the flock and allows it to be scattered.  He runs away and cares nothing for the sheep.

b)  He will search for His sheep and look after them.  He will rescue them from the places they were scattered.  He will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries and bring them into their own land.  He will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land.  He will tend them in a good pasture and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land.  They will lie down there and graze in rich pasture.  He will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.  He will shepherd with justice.  They will know He is their Lord and they are His sheep.

6)  Those who believe in him as the Son of God and Savior will have eternal life.

7a)  Personal Question.  My answers:  Be armed with the armor of God:  His word, His promises, a personal relationship with the Son, prayer, strong faith, the Holy Spirit, the belt of Truth, the breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-20).  Know God’s/Jesus’ voice and follow it.  Know Him!

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I am so blessed I don’t know where to begin.  My life, my family, my ease, my freedoms, my relationship with Jesus and God, eternal life, everything.  In this season of thanksgiving, I feel very thankful.

Conclusions:  Great to read God as shepherd and Jesus as shepherd.  Reinforces the Trinity and how God cares for His people.

End Notes: John 10:1-13:  So right after Jesus healed the blind man and the religious leaders threw a fit cause it was on the Sabbath and didn’t believe Jesus did it, Jesus talks about actually caring for people instead of caring more for legalities and rules.

In OT times and ancient Near Eastern culture, the shepherd symbolized the royal caretaker of God’s people. God himself was called the “Shepherd of Israel” (Psalm 80:1, 23:1; Isaiah 40:10-11; Ezekiel 34:11-16, Zechariah 10:2) and he had given great responsibility to the leaders (shepherds) of Israel, which they failed to respect. God denounced these false shepherds (Isaiah 56:9-12; Ezekiel 34) and promised to provide the true Shepherd, the Messiah, to care for the sheep (Ezekiel 34:23).

“I tell you the truth” is common in John’s Gospel and indicates a solemn assertion about Jesus and/or his ministry.

Political and spiritual leaders were often called shepherds in the ancient world (Isaiah 56:11, Jeremiah 31:5). Jesus explained that not everyone among the sheep is a true shepherd; some are like thieves and robbers. One way to tell the difference is how they gain entry among the sheep.

The idea is that there is a door (a gate), a proper way to gain entry. Not everyone who stands among the sheep comes that way. Some climb up some other way.

The religious leaders Jesus is speaking about gained their place among God’s people (the sheep) through personal and political connections, ambition, manipulation, and corruption.

A true shepherd comes through love, calling, care, and sacrificial service.

God wants His people to be led, fed, and protected by those who come in love.

The watchman knows the true shepherd. Towns of that time would have a watchman who watched over all the people’s sheep at night.

A shepherd knows all of his sheep and they know him. A shepherd may even name the sheep and the sheep may even know their name. He calls them and they follow.

According to Adam Clarke, there are 6 marks of a true shepherd in these verses:

· He has a proper entrance into the ministry

· He sees the Holy Spirit open his way as a doorkeeper to God’s sheep

· He sees that the sheep respond to his voice in teaching and leadership

· He is well acquainted with his flock

· He leads the flock and does not drive them or lord it over them

· He goes before the sheep as an example

In sheep pens of the time, there was only one entrance or gate.  Shepherds would sleep in front of the gate at night to protect the sheep.  Hence, the shepherd is the gate.

“All who came before” are the religious leaders Jesus spoke of in John 8:43:47–those whose father is the devil.

Jesus’ followers did not listen to the thieves and robbers.

“Come in and go out” is the common O.T. expression to denote the free activity of daily life. Jeremiah 37:4, Psalm 121:8, Deuteronomy 28:6.

“Abundant” in the Greek denotes a surplus.  Abundant life is a contented life.  It’s not an easy life or comfortable life but one of peace in Jesus.

“I am the Good Shepherd”  (Another I am statement–the 4th of 7 that are unique to John’s Gospel and point to Jesus’ unique, divine identity and purpose) is clear to the Jews–He is the one to care for them.

“Lays down his life” is perpetually.  Jesus is always giving us life.

In sum, the Good Shepherd: gives his life, knows his sheep, and is known by his sheep. This analogy applies to church leaders and pastors today.

Ezekiel 34:1-16, 30-31:  God promises the removal of the false shepherds and the promise of the Good Shepherd (Jesus).  The shepherds here are more rulers and their officials than the priests.  Remember David was the first ruler and he was shepherd.  This is deliberate.  To call a king a shepherd was common in the East at this time.  The disciples were fishermen whose job was to catch fish (men) for God.

Fun Fact:  The image of God as a shepherd begins with Jacob (Genesis 48:15) and end with Revelation 7:17.  Ezekiel developed the image of God as shepherd in more detail than any other author in the Bible.