BSF Study Questions John Lesson 16, Day 5: John 12:37-50

Summary of passage:  Many Jews still did not believe in Jesus.  God had blinded them and deadened their hearts.  Still, many believed in Jesus but were too afraid to say anything out of fear.  Jesus says those who see him see God and he is the light of the world.  Jesus speaks what God has commanded him to.  He has come to save the world.

Questions:

11)  Many Jews still did not believe in Jesus. God had blinded them and deadened their hearts.

12a)  Well, John quoted verse 10.  Some will never be able to believe in Jesus/God because they have been blinded and their hearts hardened.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Honestly, none.  I’ve never been one to care what people think of me.  It’s what you see is what you get.  I’m pretty authentic.

Conclusions:  I have no comments on this.  Either you got something out of this or you didn’t.

End Notes:  The Old Testament prophets predicted many would not believe in Jesus.  Today, this is the norm, especially among Jews.  But back then everyone believed in God so why not in Jesus?  It was man’s choice to believe or not.  Those who did not would be strengthened in their hardening hearts as judgement.

Isaiah, in seeing God, saw Jesus as well.  He understood they were one and the same.

Isaiah spoke primarily of the glory of God.  John speaks primarily of the glory of Jesus, making no distinction between the two.  Glory here is majesty and Jesus’ death on the cross, resurrection, and exaltation.  Both portray suffering and healing, rejection and triumph, humiliation and glory.

Fun Fact:  These are the last words in John’s gospel from Jesus to the public.  He emphasizes the culmination of all his previous teaching in John, including a challenge to decide, a warning to those who decide, against Him and a promise to those who decide for Him.  Scholars are unsure when Jesus spoke these words.

Jesus stresses his closeness and oneness with God, the need of man, the need of man to be saved, and his submission to God.

In John’s Gospel, the theme is:  Jesus came in love, but his coming is a judgement.  Judgement is the other side of salvation.  Rejecting Jesus is rejecting God since Jesus is doing God’s will.

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 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 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.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 14, Day 4: John 10:11-21

Summary of passage:  Jesus declares he is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for His sheep.  A hired hand cares nothing for his sheep.  He knows his sheep and the sheep know him just as God knows him and vice versa.  Jesus will bring other sheep.  He freely lays down his life and takes it up again as God has commanded.  Many Jews still insisted he is demon-possessed and did not believe.  But many believed.

Questions:

8 )  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Lay down his life for his sheep.  Jesus’ crucifixion.  Eternally grateful.

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Gentiles.  God calls all and wants all to be with Him.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus is God.

Conclusions:  Would have liked to explore the Gentiles more.  Pretty weak questioning today.

End Notes:  “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.

Jesus here declares he is for the Gentiles as well (the other sheep) and he will bring them together as one.  All the sheep will hear, answer and obey, the shepherd.

Lost in translation:  early translations of the Bible had “one fold” instead of “one flock”.  A fold of sheep is only a part of the flock.  Here, some churches used this mistake to justify exclusiveness.

Jesus can raise himself from the dead–what separates him as God and us as man.

That Christ would die for his people runs through this section of John’s Gospel.  Both the love and the plan of the Father are involved, as well as the authority he gave to the Son.  Christ obediently and voluntarily chose to die; otherwise, no one would have had the power to kill him (Luke 23:46).

Jesus, again, divides humanity (John 7:43; 9:16)–as it will be during the Last Days.

Both words and deeds validate Jesus.  Here Jesus was saving souls and telling people he’s gonna die for them and he’s accused of demon-possession?  What demon would ever do such a thing?

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 14, Day 2: John 10:1-6

Summary of passage:  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.

Questions:

3a)  The thieves are unbelievers or evil people or imposters or those who are spiritually blind like the Pharisees from Chapter 9.  The true shepherd is Jesus.  The true shepherd’s sheep are believers are those who believe in and follow Jesus as Lord and Savior.

b)  All people fit in one of these categories.  They either believe in him (the sheep) or they don’t (the thieves and robbers).

4a)  The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and they follow only the shepherd.  They are not deceived by others and they flee from the false shepherds.  The sheep depend on the shepherd for their lives–to feed them and care for them.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I got a full-time job to help my family.  I’m listening to Jesus to know  how long to stay in that role.  I’m continuing his work for me.  I’m raising my kids.  I’m trying to be a good wife and mother and employee.  I’m trying to return to regular church attendance as well.

Conclusions:  This is one of my favorite analogies of Jesus and believers.  They didn’t understand at the time, but they will.  It’s a consolation to all of us who don’t understand God’s will at the time but we follow anyways.  One day it will be clear to us–even if that day is on the other side of heaven.

End Notes:  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