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 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 3: John 11:17-44

Summary of passage:  Jesus arrives in Bethany four days after Lazarus had died.  Martha went out to meet Jesus and said if only he had come sooner.  Jesus asks her if she believes in him.  She says yes.  Mary then went to meet Jesus when Martha returned and said the same thing.  Mourners followed Mary 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:

6)  Martha knows Jesus could have healed Lazarus and now that he’s here she knows he can ask God to do something.  Jesus asks her if she believes in him even though Lazarus died.  She says yes.  She returns to get her sister.

7)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life.  They mean I will have eternal life.

8 ) Part personal Question.  My answer:   Jesus cares deeply for his people.  He was moved by how much pain they were in because of Lazarus’ death and was sad for them.  Jesus cares about my pain and shares in it.  He wants to comfort me and alleviate my pain.  When I suffer, he suffers.

Conclusions:  The personal questions to me are becoming redundant and are too simple and broad.  Great passage.  Needed more meaty questions to digest it thoroughly.

End Notes:  Why 4 days?  The Jews believed at the time that the soul hovered near the body for 3 days, hoping to return.  Then it left.  So Jesus wanted to be sure the time frame had passed and the miracle was indeed seen as a miracle from God.

It was tradition for mourners to stay with the family for an extended period of time after a death.  All work stopped and hence Mary and Martha were at home.

Martha honestly tells Jesus she is disappointed in his arrival.  She believes in his ability to heal the sick but not in his power to raise the dead.  Yet Martha “even now” has faith.  This is what we must have.  Despite our disappointment in Jesus not doing our will but his, we still have to have faith.

Raising Lazarus from the dead did not cross Martha’s mind so she assumed he meant in the Last Days.  This reaction is true.

Jesus IS the resurrection and the life.  He didn’t say “know” or “understand” or “have.”  He IS!  This is the 5th of the “I am” Statements in John.

Jesus of course is speaking of a physical death we all must suffer due to Adam’s sin.  But Christians never suffer a spiritual death.

He asked for belief.  However, if she had said no, Lazarus still would have risen since Jesus had already said he would (John 11:4).

Other Bibles say “secretly” instead of “aside”.  Scholars think this was so Mary could speak to Jesus without mourners around.

“The Teacher”.  Not a teacher but The Teacher.  There is only one.  Also, a woman uses this term.  Rabbis did not instruct women, but Jesus does.

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 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.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 13, Day 4: John 9:8-34

Summary of passage:  People doubted the healed blind man’s testimony when he returned from the Pool of Siloam but the man said no, it is him and Jesus healed him.  The Pharisees again take issue with the fact the miracle was performed on the Sabbath, not the fact the man can see again.  Still, the man is doubted so they bring in the man’s parents to verify who, out of fear, say ask their son.  Their son lectures the Pharisees, saying Jesus has to be from God because God does not listen to sinners.  The Pharisees throw the man out, calling him a sinner.

Questions:

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  They doubt even though this is a miracle all can see.  The parents are intimidated by the Pharisees so they don’t say anything.  Everyone is naturally skeptical of what you can’t understand so these people are skeptical.  However, they don’t believe the man nor his story.  This is today as well.  It’s hard to believe something unless you see it for yourself because you have to trust people and today that is hard to do.

10)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He is much more confident in his testimony for Jesus as time passes and he probably realizes his sight is permanent.  As my life progresses towards God’s goals for me, I am encouraged and grow in faith for God and what He has for me.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  No one has ever confronted me about God’s work in my life.  I just don’t interact with that many people.

Conclusions:  It’s important to see how this man’s faith grows as the Pharisees try to discount the miracle.  The man moves from barely knowing what has happened to an ardent defender of Jesus, which results in his being thrown out of the church.  He stands for Jesus no matter what.  As God moves, we move.  Period.

End Notes:  Because this was a sign of the Messiah and had never happened before, the neighbors and everyone was shocked and it was hard to believe.  It appears all the man knew was Jesus’ name.  He hadn’t even seen Jesus at this point.

One of the works specifically forbidden on the Sabbath was kneading, which is technically what Jesus did with the mud.  Jesus chose this day to work the miracle to challenge all of man’s interpretations of the Sabbath.  The Sabbath was made for man not the other way around.

Jesus often divided people.  Here, the Pharisees had to chose:  either Jesus was wrong or they were wrong.  The same logic is what Nicodemus said in John 3:2.  No one can perform such miracles unless they were from God.

It’s unheard of for religious leaders to ask a layman what he thinks in terms of religion or religious people.  Obviously, the division and confusion ran deep.

The man says Jesus is a prophet.  He is now understanding more of Jesus.  Also, a prophet was allowed to break the law on the Sabbath.  This would change everything if this were true.  However, it was easier to not believe the man than believe Jesus did such a miracle.

The parents refused to speak to the how out of fear of excommunication (being thrown out of the church). This threat prevented many of standing for Jesus (John 12:42).

“Give glory to God” is a charge to tell the truth (Joshua 7:19).  Jesus is a sinner because he broke man’s laws around the Sabbath.

The man who is uneducated in the law knows one thing:  he was once blind and now he can see.  This is our testimony as well.  God’s work in our lives is merely additional support of our faith in Him.

The man born blind never wavers in his faith and in what happened to him.  He stands strong in his testimony for Jesus.  Do you?

So what do the Pharisees do?  They insult the man, who wonders why the Pharisees can’t figure out something so simple to him (miracle=God).

Isaiah 1:15 and Psalm 66:18 are passages that say God is not obligated to hear the prayer of a sinner.  God can hear the prayer of a sinner, but He doesn’t have to.  Spurgeon says of this passage:  “If Christ had been an impostor, it is not possible to conceive that God would have listened to his prayer, and given him the power to open the blind man’s eyes.”

The pride of the religious leaders about the man lecturing them led to his being excommunicated.  This is a common pattern in false religions and in political systems not steeped in freedom.  As we’ll see in the next section, this led to the man worshipping Jesus.  It turned out all for God’s good and glory.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 12, Day 4: John 8:31-59

Summary of passage:  Jesus explains to the Jews that sinners are a slave to sin.  Only the Son can set them free.  The Jews insisted they were Abraham’s children; however, Jesus tells them if they were, they wouldn’t be rejecting him right now and they would love him.  Instead, their father is the devil who is a murderer and a liar.  If they belonged to God, they would hear what God says.

The Jews wonder if Jesus is a demon-possessed Samaritan.  Jesus rebukes them again, saying he is the way to eternal life.  Again, the Jews do not understand his words and say Abraham died and so did the prophets so how can he live.  Jesus says he was in existence before Abraham.  The Jews attempted to stone him, but he slipped away.

Questions:

9a)  Freedom from sin.  By holding to his teachings and knowing the truth (he is God’s Son).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Freedom from sin.  Freedom from guilt.  Freedom to fail and be forgiven.

10a)  Abraham.  The devil.  God is the ultimate Father, which the Jews say as well; however, their actions and words and deeds (trying to stone Jesus and not believing him) show they are of the devil and sinners.  Furthermore, remember the Jews are all descended from Abraham, which guarantees them eternal life (before Jesus).  Now that Jesus is on the scene he’s the only way to heaven, be it Gentile or Jew.  Jesus is speaking of spiritual father here.  If God were their spiritual father, they wouldn’t reject him.  They do; so they are of this world and the devil.  Huge difference between God’s children and the devil’s.

b)  When the devil lied to Eve about the tree of knowledge.  We are all born sinners and under sin until we accept Jesus as our Savior and his blood cleanses us completely of sin.  Some scholars say the first sin was the killing of Abel but most would argue for Eve’s initiation of sin into this world.

c)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  By accepting Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins.  I was lucky:  I was chosen from early childhood to be a believer.  I don’t worry much.  I trust in Him.  I live my life.  I follow His voice.  It’s not been easy, but it’s easier day by day.

Conclusions:  Long passage which my summary condenses.  Jesus basically says those who believed themselves to be saved based solely on their heritage are not and are actually of the devil.  He calls them out, points out how he is in fact God, and they try to kill him for it–a heart act from the devil.  Freedom from sin is found only in Christ.  The alternative is the devil.  End of story.

End Notes:  Many did believe in Jesus so he is speaking to those who have the beginnings of faith but still have doubts.

Abide (hold to my teaching) means welcoming it, being at home with it, and living it.  When you do this, THEN you will be Jesus’ disciple and you will know the TRUTH and be set free.

The religious leaders don’t even consider Jesus’ words and ask more on how to be free.  Despite the facts the Jews have been in bondage on and off for 2000 years and Rome now controlled them, they say they are free already–because of Abraham.

“Sin” in this passage indicates habitual sin.  There is no escape from slavery to sin since it is within.

They are physically Abraham’s descendants but not spiritually.  Jesus knows their hearts and the Word (him) has no place there for him.

Again, they question where Jesus came from.  Jesus says bluntly, “You cannot love God or call him your Father without loving me and accepting me.”  It’s impossible.  The Jews found it incredibly hard to wrap their minds around the idea of the Trinity as we do today.

The ability to hear God’s word is a gift none of us should take for granted.

Instead, the leaders are spiritual children of the devil, indicated by their desire to kill him.  The devil lies.  They rejected Jesus because he spoke the Truth.

Jesus asks them to name one sin of his.  They cannot.  Instead, they just called him names!  They had nothing left to accuse him of and with each word of Jesus’ more and more believe him instead of them!

Jesus tells all the secret:  Accept the Word and receive eternal life!  Again, blasphemy from anyone but God’s Son.  Keep here mean continue and abide in it.

“See” is an intense word in Greek meaning long, steady vision.

Once more trying to trap Jesus, they try to get him to say something offensive by asking him again who he is.

Jesus again says he knows God and claims he is greater than Abraham who also acknowledged this fact.

Fifty was the age a priest retired.  The Jews are merely saying you are too young to have known/seen Abraham.

Jesus responds with the 3rd “I Am” statement (John 8:24, 8:28).  The ancient Greek phrase is ego emi, which is  the same term used in to describe the Voice from the burning bush.  Jesus used a clear divine title belonging to Yahweh alone (Exodus 3:13-14, Deuteronomy 32:39, Isaiah 43:10) and was interpreted as such by Jesus’ listeners (John 8:58-59).  I AM was recognized by the Jews as a title of deity.

Finally, the religious leaders understood as demonstrated by the stones.  They knew he was claiming to be God.  They saw it as blasphemy.  These stones would have been in the temple as it was still being constructed in some areas.  Jesus escaped, probably mixing himself with the people in the temple but he could have vanished miraculously.  We are not told.