Knowing God Better – John 1
A little bit of housekeeping first, ok?
There are various translations of the Bible. Some use more formal wording than others. But the differences are minor. If you have a Bible, use it. You don’t need a particular one.I will be using the New Living Translation. But NIV, EST, NAS, or many others are just fine.
So you know, John 1:1-2 means, the book of John, chapter 1, verses(sentences) one and two. It’s just a way of notating the chapters and sentences, so we can quickly find something.
Ok, let’s start.
The Gospel of John is the 4th book of the New Testament, written by the apostle, John. He was probably Jesus’ closest friend. They spent tons of hours together, over three years.
John starts his gospel telling us about “the Word.” John tells us later in this chapter, that the Word is Jesus. “…the Word became human and made his home among us…the Father’s one and only Son.”
Today we’re going to look at John 1:1-5. (John, chapter 1, verses1-5)
Q – When did Jesus begin to exist?
A – 1. In the beginning the Word already existed.The Word was with God, and the Word was God.2. He existed in the beginning with God.
It says that the Word was *with* God, yet also *was* God.
Q – In verse 2 (see above), was Jesus ever not with God?
A – Jesus did not come into existence as a baby in the manger, Christmas morning. Jesus, as God, has always existed. In fact, he was involved in the creation of the universe.
Q – How was Jesus involved in the creation of the universe?
A – 3. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.
4. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
A candle is stronger than any darkness. It says that his life brought light to everyone.
Q – When you hit dark times in your life, how does verse 4 and the following verse, give you hope?
A – 5. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.
Write a summary here of what you learned from these 5 verses:
A—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–That’s a lot!! I’m amazed at all that God reveals to us in such a few sentences. He’s so kind to disclose so much to us.
“Thank you, Jesus, that you want us to know you.”
2nd lesson – Knowing God Better – Gospel of John in brief
Marilyn Adamsons’ story about a professor at her College
I had a professor in college who taught a course on the “Gospel of Mark.” It was a secular university. (That will be very clear to you, as I tell you this story.)
The course description said, “The Gospel of Mark.” But after getting into the course, we learned that the professor had rewritten the gospel, and it was his version that we would study!
It gets worse.
The professor was an ordained minister, but didn’t believe that God existed. So you can imagine his version of the Gospel of Mark!
So, with this as a background, I was thinking the other day, “What if someone wanted to grab a quick read of the most important sections in the Gospel of John?”
Like Marilyn we must make sure that when someone quotes from the Bible to make sure that it is correctly quoted from a recognized translation
That question “Who is Jesus” can border on sacrilegious if quoted incorrectly.
Which sections are “most important?!” I chose portions that tell us something significant about Jesus.
Everything is straight from the Gospel of John (no rewrites!!).
Read through this (it won’t take long).
4th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 2 & 3
We’re going to skip chapter 2, except for one verse toward the end.
John 2:23 says:
“Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him.”
One of those people was Nicodemus.
But he had a problem. Nicodemus held a prestigious position in the community. He was a religious leader. A *Pharisee*. Have you ever heard that term, “Pharisee?”
Who were the Pharisee? :
They were an important party within Judaism during the period of the New Testament . They were experts in the Mosaic Law and in the hundreds of additional laws devised to ensure that the people kept the laws of the Books of Moses. Jesus was very critical of the Pharisees.
He called them hypocrites because they were concerned about tiny infractions of their rules while they themselves did not live by the spirit of the laws of Moses. Nicodemus and Paul were both Pharisees who became followers of Jesus.
The Pharisees are the only people we ever see Jesus criticizing. And he was tough on them.
For two reasons:
1. They were proud, ostentatious religious leaders who lived for the praise of others. Had to have the best seats at banquets. Be noticed. Though the Pharisees were the religious leaders, Jesus said they were far from God, having no sincere heart for God.
2. They concocted crazy, impossible religious regulations that they demanded others follow. None of these rules had anything to do with knowing God or being in relationship with him.
Not only were they prideful and legalistic. The Pharisees were the worst kind of hypocrites. That’s where we get the word, “Pharisaical.”
Ok, so one of these Pharisees named Nicodemus had a problem. He has realized that Jesus is from God. So he comes to Jesus, at night, when none of his buddies will see him.
John, chapter 3, starting with verse 2:
2 “After dark one evening, he [Nicodemus] came to speak with Jesus.’Rabbi,’ he said, ‘we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.'”
What do you suppose Jesus did? In 1Peter 5:8 it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Jesus responds to Nicodemus with truth and kindness.
3 “Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Q – Why do you think Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to start over, and be born again?
Nicodemus was confused:
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
Jesus explains that he’s referring to a spiritual birth.
Q – According to verse 6, who gave birth to your relationship with God?
6 “Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.”
And this is the issue. The Pharisees focused on their rituals, strict doctrines, external doing good. They expected God to honor them for their effort.
But we don’t come to God with our credentials. God accepts us when we come to him for new life. When we put our faith in him, we are “born again” by the Holy Spirit.
Here is Jesus’ clear message to Nicodemus. Nicodemus needed to stop believing in himself. And instead believe in Jesus, because:
15 everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
Q – Do you believe in Jesus? According to Jesus, what do you have?
Next lessonl, we’re going to jump to verses 16-18. These are some of the most important sentences in all of Scripture. Stay tuned!
5th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 3 continued
Today we’re going to look at some of the most important sentences in all of Scripture!
Important for you to know (maybe memorize). And great for you to use if you want to explain to someone else how they can begin a relationship with God.
John 3:16 — Does that ring a bell? Have you ever seen someone hold a sign up at football games with this written on it? Here itis:
16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Please answer the following questions by looking at verse 16:
Q – What was God’s motivation?
Q – What action did God take?
Q – Who did he do it for?
Q – What would you gain?
Q – What would you need to do?
Q – If you believe in Jesus, what do you have?
In this gospel, John uses the Greek word, “pisteuo” for “believe.”
You will not find the passive noun, “belief” in John’s gospel. It is always in verb form. If I’m remembering correctly, Matthew and Mark use it nine times in their gospels, and Luke 10 times. John uses this word 99 times. And it means to fully trust, to fully rely on.
It is more than agreement. It isn’t like saying, “Yeah, I believe that plane could get me to Durban” It is fully trusting. It’s where you have to get on the plane.
When we believe in Jesus, we are asking him to enter our lives with an intent to rely on him, as God. When we do, we begin an eternal relationship with him…we are given eternal life.
Q – According to verse 17, what is God’s desire?
17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
A lot of people are surprised to find out what the Bible says about being “saved.”
The criteria for being saved is given in these verses. Verses 16-18. In verse 18 we’re told what it takes to be saved. And what God will judge people for.
What do you think it might be? How many times a person goes to church? How kind they are to others? How well they avoid sins?
Q – According to verse 18, on what basis does God judge people?What criteria is he using?
18 There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.
As we go through the Gospel of John, you’ll see the massive amount of reasons Jesus gives them to believe in him!
You might want to read through John chapter 3 in full now.
In our next study, we’ll see Jesus’ conversation with a woman. She also comes to him in private, for fear of what other’s might think.
I hope you’re enjoying these!
6th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 4
Today’s study of John 4 needs a little bit of background.
Samaria was an area a little bit north of Jerusalem, currently in the West Bank.
The Pharisees, whom we studied in John 3, avoided Samaria.Pharisees wouldn’t even walk down the same side of the street with Samaritans. They literally would cross the street.
And if a Samaritan touched them, the Pharisees considered themselves ceremonially “unclean” until they washed. Nice guys, huh?
[Samaria, The city of samaria, about 65 Km north of Jerusalem , was one of the capitals of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC ( Read about this in 2 Kings 17) During New Testament times , the entire central region of Palistine – south of Galilee and north of Judea – was called Samaria.
The people of the province of Samaria the Samaritans, were of mixed ancestry, part Jewish and part Gentile . As a result of this, the Jews of Jesus’ time considered the Damatitans inferior. Jews would not travel through their land or evenspeak to them (John 4:9)]
Following the lead of their religious leaders, most Jews avoided the Samaritans.
Jesus was a Jew.
On a trip, Jesus was passing through Samaria and stopped to rest by a well. We’ll start at verse 7. (I’m going to skip over a few verses, to keep this shorter.)
Q – Who initiated the conversation?
7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”
9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
Q – What did Jesus want to do for her?
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
Now Jesus is going to get very personal with this woman.
16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said,”You’re right!You don’t have a husband,18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
When you look at her reaction to this, she doesn’t seem to feel condemned by Jesus or ashamed. Instead, she’s impressed that he knew that.
So she figures, this is someone who can probably answer a question she’s always had.
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.
24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming, the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”26 Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
What do you suppose her reaction might be to this? Here’s a woman likely shunned by her community. I mean after five husbands, she finally gave up and decided to just live with the next guy. You can imagine how the town talked about her.
But here is what she did…
28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in theirvillage. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe.
42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the
Q – Look below at verses 10 & 14 again. What was Jesus’ desire for this Samaritan woman and the town?
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
Q – Jesus influenced a whole village through the words of a woman they did not think highly of. Do you think Jesus could use you to tell others about him?
I just bet he can!
Next study will be shorter.
7th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 5
This study is going to be kind of fun. John 5.
Jesus so infuriates the Pharisees, they begin to plot to kill him.
Wait until you see what Jesus did that irritated them to this degree.
Here it is. Jesus healed a guy who had been seriously ill for most of his life. The problem was, Jesus healed him on a Sabbath.
The Pharisees had taken God’s law — that the Sabbath would be a day of rest — and turned it into an oppressive, legal menace.Absolutely NO work was allowed.
For example, a woman could wear a hair clip, but if she carried it, then it would be considered carrying a burden and forbidden on the Sabbath.
Ok, so here is John 5:5. Jesus sees this guy:
5 One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to get well?” 7 “I can’t, sir,” the sick man said…” 8 Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!”
9 Instantly, the man was healed! He rolled up his sleeping mat and began walking! But this miracle happened on the Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish leaders objected. They said to the man who was cured, “You can’t work on the Sabbath! The law doesn’t allow you to carry that sleeping mat!”
Can you imagine? The guy hasn’t been able to do that for 38 years, and now they tell him it’s not allowed?!
11 But he replied, “The man who healed me told me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.'”12 “Who said such a thing as that?” they demanded.13 The man didn’t know, for Jesus had disappeared into the crowd.
Later, Jesus went to the Temple, found the man he healed. Jesus told him,
14 “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”
Q – Could there be sinful behavior that could make someone really physically sick?
(I can think of all sorts of harmful things we can do to ourselves that have natural, physical consequences.)
Q – What do you think of Jesus’ attitude toward this man? In verse 14, does Jesus sound angry, condemning, or judgmental?
14 “Now you are well; so stop sinning, or something even worse may happen to you.”
Here’s when things get heated.
15 Then the man went and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had healed him.
16 So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules.
17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” 18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.
Q – The end of verse 18 (above), notice that Jesus referred to God in a very unique way. What correct conclusion did the Jewish leaders draw?
One more bit of background you should know.
In the second book of the Bible, in Exodus, God asked Moses to deliver the Jews from their slavery in Egypt. God told Moses to go to Egypt‘s ruler and flat out tell him to let the Jews go free.
Moses then asked God an important question. He wanted to know God’s name. “Who shall I say sent me?”Kind of funny, in a sense. Like asking God for his business card.
God answered Moses, “I am who I am.” (Exodus 3:13-15)
Well, in the gospels you’ll see Jesus refer to himself as “I am”numerous times. Every time is significant. And in John 5, Jesus also refers to God in very intimate terms, as “My Father.” And added that he does what his Father does. Here it is again:
17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.”18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.
Have you ever heard someone say that Jesus never actually claimed to be God? ThePharisees certainly thought he did! And it was on this basis that they sought to kill him.
Q – If someone asked you to prove that Jesus thought he was God, what chapter would you bring them to?
Jesus’ identity is central to our faith. He doesn’t ask us to merely believe his teachings. He calls us to believe in himself.
Next lesson, we’ll continue in John 5. And we’ll see how Jesus presses the point even further. He says that to honor the Father, one has to honor the Son.
Feel free to read ahead.
8th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 5 continued
Today we’re just going to hit a few highlights in John 5:19-47.
In this section, Jesus is trying to get through to these highly religious Jews, who now want to kill him!
Jesus is about to explain further his relationship to the Father.
In the Middle East culture, it is common for someone from Egypt to be called, a “son of the Nile.” That means, he comes from Egypt.Or, to be called a “son of the Cedars” that means you are from Lebanon.
Back in verse 18, we’ve already seen that Jesus “called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.”
The term, “Son of God” means he came from God. It speaks of Jesus’ unique origin and relationship with the Father.
Q – In verse 19 & 20 below, what does Jesus say he can see?
19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Fatherdoing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing.
Q – In the next verses below, what else does Jesus say he can do?
21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. 22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge,
Q – In verse 23, what conclusion does Jesus want them to reach?
23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.
Q – In verse 24 below, what does Jesus offer and promise them?
24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message andbelieve in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
John 5:24 is a good summary of much of what Jesus said. It’s a great verse to write down, memorize, and share with others!
Q – Skipping down to verse 36 now. What proof does Jesus give that he actually is from God, that he can give eternal life to those who believe?
The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me.Remember, this conversation happens after Jesus healed a man who had been seriously ill for 38 years…who is now walking around well! This is just one of many, many miracles that Jesus performs.
Q – In the next verse below, how is Jesus different from them?
37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself. You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face, 38 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me–the one he sent to you.
Q – In the next verse below, Jesus is talking about the Old Testament scriptures…from Moses, David, Isaiah, etc. What do you notice in these next statements from Jesus?
39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet yourefuse to come to me to receive this life.
The people thought that if they memorized the Scriptures and tried to follow everything in them, they could earn eternal life. Jesus is pointing out that he is central to eternal life.
Q – In these next two verses, Jesus explains their problem. What is it?
44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. 46 If you really believed Moses, you
would believe me, because he wrote about me.
Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible and in the Jewish faith it is known as the Torah. It has been estimated that there are over 300 Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah, that Jesus fulfilled.
I have more information about that , if you’re interested:
Q – How would you summarize the main points you learned in today’s Bible study?
It’s great to dig through these verses with you! Next study is John 6. We’re going to hit just a few verses in it. Jesus talks again about how to have eternal life!
Thank him for giving YOU eternal life!
9th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 6
John, chapter 6 is a long chapter – 71 verses. And a great event.
I’m going to summarize some of it, and we’ll look at some key verses.
Q – Verse 2 below. Why were people following Jesus?
2 A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick.
This chapter tells us that the crowd was 5,000 men, plus women and children. Jesus decides to feed them all. And he starts with food they can find…a boy had five loaves of bread and two fish.
Jesus gave thanks to God, and the disciples handed out the food. And they all ate as much as they wanted.
12 After everyone was full…13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.
Q – What was the crowd’s reaction? Did they realize what happened?
(See verses below)
14 When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!”
So, what do you think happened the next day? When Jesus fed the crowd, they were on a mountain slope by the Sea of Tiberias.Jesus left them in the middle of the night, and literally walked on the Sea of Tiberias to get to the other side.
If you ever heard of Jesus walking on water – it’s true. It’s in John 6:16-21
Ok, so now the crowd wakes up and can’t find Jesus. So, they walk all the way around the water to the other side (20Km long, 13Km wide), where thy found Jesus. Right away, Jesus confronts them.
Q – What does Jesus think they should focus on?
26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned aboutperishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.
They don’t really get it. They try to goad Jesus into giving them more bread, by reminding him that God gave Moses and the Israelites manna (bread) when they were in the wilderness.
Jesus knows that they need more than bread! They have a long discussion and Jesus finally tells them:
33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.” 35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Q – In the following verses (below), how secure is YOUR relationship with Jesus?
37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”
They begin to argue about who Jesus is. Jesus again repeats that he can give them eternal life. And they’re still focused on bread!
So Jesus says something really shocking. He’s trying to get their attention, and he might be just a tad frustrated with them.
I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever
Jesus goes on to say:
58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not dieas your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”
Obviously, Jesus is seeing things from a different perspective.
Q – What is Jesus’ focused on for them? And what are they focused on for themselves?
Jesus really drove home the point hard:
56 Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57 I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live
because of me.
Even Jesus’ disciples are taken back by this. It says that many of them deserted Jesus at that point.
Jesus explains to them that eternal life does not hinge on people’s efforts – even eating or drinking. He clarifies:
63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Q – What was Jesus trying to get the people to understand?
Q – Do you think Simon Peter, one of the twelve apostles, got it right? (see below)
You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.”
It’s kind of refreshing, isn’t it, to see that religious effort is not what God wants from us. But simply to believe in Jesus.
10th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 7
I hope you’re enjoying these! Today I’d like to start by reminding you of a few points made earlier.
— Jesus came from God (Son of God), sent by the Father.
–– The Old Testament contains prophecies about Jesus.
These points are going to come up again in John 7, in a very cool way.
In John 7, Jesus is at a large religious feast. Again, the people are questioning his identity. They’re trying to figure out if he is the Christ, the Messiah. You can read this in verses 1-36.
We’re going to skip those and start at verse 37.
37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds,”Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'”
40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared,”Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.”
43 So the crowd was divided about him. 44 Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.45 When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”46 “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded. [The Pharisees replied] Search the Scriptures and see for yourself–no prophet ever comes from Galilee!”
Jesus, in fact, did grow up in Galilee. But he was BORN in Bethlehem!
Here’s what happened.
Just before Jesus was born, a tax law required Mary (and Joseph who was engaged to Mary) to go to their ancestor’s place of birth to be registered for the tax. That required them to travel to “the city of David” which is Bethlehem, which is where Jesus was born. (You can find this in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels.)
Also, the Gospels show that Jesus was of the royal line of David.
Do you know people who spend a lot of time arguing over the Bible, end up missing the main point?
What did Jesus talk about, regarding where he came from? Did he talk about Galilee, or Bethlehem? No.
Q – One way to study the Bible is to notice when something is repeated many times. What does Jesus say repeatedly? (see below) A –
John 5:23: Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.
John 5:24: …those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life.
John 5:30: I carry out the will of the one who sent me
John 5:36: The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me.
John 5:38: you do not believe me–the one he sent to you.
John 6:44: For no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me
John 6:46: only I, who was sent from God, have seen him
John 7:28: The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him
John 7:29: I come from him, and he sent me to you
John 7:33: I will return to the one who sent me.
I think you get the point.
Here’s a statement from Jesus that I’ll leave you with today.It’s after Jesus’ resurrection. He is talking to his disciples.
John 20:21:As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.
Wow. Huh? Jesus has a mission for us – to tell others about him.
11th – Knowing God Better – John 8
John 8 starts with a great story of Jesus forgiving a woman who was caught in adultery.
I have a brief article on this one that you might enjoy:
Today we’re going to start at verse 12. This is one of those statements from Jesus that you can bank your entire life on.
Q – What does Jesus promise you? (see below)
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
Q – What is our responsibility in the above verse?
Q – If we do follow Jesus, what is the result?
I am amazed that we can go through life with the confidence that we don’t have to walk in darkness. Jesus offers to be our light.And he asks us to follow him.
Write this verse down and memorize it! During those times when you feel lost, thank Jesus,
“Thank you, that you are the light of the world. Thank you that you will lead me. Thank you that you do not leave me in darkness, but will be my light.”
Today, I think I’m going to end our study right here. We’ll pick up the rest of John 8 next time.
Trust Jesus. He is our light!
A Change in Women’s Rights
Often, religions have been criticized for their view of women. And they should be! You can easily find illustrations of religious abuse of females all over the world.What many women don’t know is that Jesus was one of their greatest allies.
Jesus Christ lived 2,000 years ago, in today’s Israel. His perspective toward women ran entirely against his culture in the Middle East. There, women were sometimes treated as property more than as persons. And often, the woman’s role was confined to meeting the needs of her husband and children.
In terms of women’s rights, it wasn’t even a topic.
Jewish rabbis comfortably began every temple meeting with the words, “Blessed art thou, O Lord, for thou has not made me a woman.”All women were excluded from public religious life. It was rare that women were taught the Torah, even in private.
Jewish law allowed a husband to divorce his wife for any reason. The wife had no legal rights to object, or to be cared for. The husband simply handed her a bill of divorce and she was sent away. Imagine the insecurity and cruelty that this law brought to women. And, of course, a wife could never divorce her husband, on any grounds.
In certain Arab countries even today, we see cultural and religious restrictions, where women are required to wear full or partial coverings. Women are not allowed to leave their home alone or with friends. They can only be in public with a proper male escort. Women are not allowed to drive. Or have any say in whether their husbands take other wives.
In contrast to the Middle East culture that viewed women rather dismissively, we see Jesus giving great honor to women. Constantly.Jesus publicly included many women as his disciples. He taught crowds of both men and women. And he healed and performed miracles as readily for women, as for men.
Author Philip Yancey comments, “For women and other oppressed people, Jesus turned upside down the accepted wisdom of his day…. Jesus violated the mores of his time in every single encounter with women recorded in the four Gospels.”
Massive crowds followed Jesus, partly for his miracles, partly to hear him teach. His popularity, at the beginning, made it difficult for the religious authorities to know how to respond. So they came up with a plan.They, and all the people, had heard Jesus’ teachings about love and kindness. The religious leaders thought they could capitalize on this, and trip him up in their laws.
One of their more severe laws against women required stoning to death any woman caught in adultery. So they instigated a mob and dragged a prostitute before Jesus, making her stand alone in the seething crowd ready to stone her. They said to Jesus:
“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”1
They had Jesus in a no-win situation. If he gave her mercy, he was condoning adultery and proved to be an enemy of their law. If Jesus stoned her, then so much for his uniquely respectful treatment of women, and all his teaching about mercy and forgiveness.
Here’s what happened.Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.2One by one they walked away, “beginning with the oldest” until it was only Jesus left with her. Jesus asked her,”Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”“No one, sir,” she said.”Then neither do I condemn you, ” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”3
It makes sense that women who loved Jesus stood waiting at his cross while he died, when most of the male disciples fled for their lives.
Jesus so honored women that when he rose from the dead, he chose to appear first to women. This is remarkable. Women had such little standing in that culture that they had no religious or legal authority as spokespersons. Jesus gave them the role of being the very first to inform others of his resurrection.
Why? Maybe Jesus wanted to solidify that it was for the sins of women and for men that he came to die. Maybe Jesus wanted women and men to know that he offers them complete forgiveness and can also give them direction, peace, and eternal life.
In fact, Jesus proved this in a conversation he had with a woman who likely dealt with shame and constant criticism. She had been married (and divorced) five times. Can you imagine her humiliation to be rejected by five men? Jesus looked at the water she had drawn from the well and told her,
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”4
This was always Jesus’ desire. That we would experience his life in us. Eternally.
12th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 8 continued
Here we are in John, chapter 8. And people are still asking Jesus about his identity.
You’re seeing that Jesus is very unique from leaders of other religions. If you look at Buddha, Mohammad, the Dalai Lama…the conversation is always about what they said, their eachings.
But with Jesus, WHO he is, is the central point. He wasn’t asking people to only focus on his teachings. He was asking us to believe him. To rely on him.
So, here we are again, where Jesus is once more trying to help them realize who he is.
Q – What is the ramification if they don’t believe in Jesus?
(see verse 23 below)
23 Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. 24 That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.”
Q – How did Jesus view his relationship with the Father? Did Jesus have any doubts about his own identity? (see verses below) A –
26 I say only what I have heard from the one who sent me, and he is completely truthful.28 I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me. 29 And the one who sent me is with me–he has not deserted me. For I always do what pleases him.
Can you imagine being about to say that about yourself? “I always do what pleases him.” ?? I wish!! But Jesus could.
Q – In the following verses, what does Jesus promise us?
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Jesus already promised to be our light, to keep us from walking in darkness, if we will follow him. Now he is promising to lead us into knowing the truth.
Before I had a relationship with Jesus, I always wanted to know the truth about life.
I wanted to know what was important. How to live. What I could rely on. When I came to know Jesus, my search ended. He is the truth. He is our light. And he offers to lead us!
Again, I’m going to end here today. The next study is continuing in John 8 – it is when Jesus gets very confrontational with the religious scribes and Pharisees. He puts everything on the table.
And they go react!
See you in the next one.
13th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 8 still continuedHi MelYou know the common view of Jesus is that He is – Kind, patient, meek, mild?That is true sometimes. But not in John 8.Jesus really puts it all on the table, and tells the Phariseeswhat he sees in their hearts.Jesus just got done telling them that sin enslaves them. But ifthey will believe in Jesus, he will set them free.The Pharisees are really put off by that, claiming to bedescendents of Abraham, enslaved to no one! Jesus counters,saying if they were children of Abraham, they would do whatAbraham did…and listen to God. So, Jesus brings into questionwho they really belong to.Starting at John 8:42…42 Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me.Q – Now Jesus pulls out all the stops. Summarize what Jesus saysis true of them (see below):A –43 Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of yourfather the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hatedthe truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies,it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.Then Jesus asks a question of them (of his enemies) that noaverage person would normally be able to ask:46 Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin?Then Jesus finishes the logical progression of his message:And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”You know how they reacted? They began calling him names! Nokidding. They called him a Samaritan (a racist slur). And thensaid Jesus was possessed by a demon (a religious slur).Jesus does not back down. He says a few things, then this:51 I tell you the truth, anyone who obeys my teaching will never die!”They immediately retort:53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”Here is how Jesus responds:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” 57 The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”Q – Based on Jesus’ answer below, what do you think he is sayingabout himself? Who is he saying that he is?A –58 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!”Here is their reaction:59 At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.Remember the phrase, “I Am” is reserved for only God. So, onceagain, Jesus is clearly utting forth his identity.Before Abraham was born, Jesus existed. Eternally. “I am.”Those who say that Jesus never claimed to be God, have neverread the gospels!Next study is John 9, which is pretty comical. Even sarcastic.Thanks for hanging in there on these!
14th – Knowing God Better – John 9Hi MelJohn 9 opens with a very surprising question.1 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”Q – If the man was blind from birth, how could he have committedany sins? Do you think the disciples were asking Jesus about thepossibility of reincarnation?A –Their question really surprised me! I guess they felt comfortableasking Jesus anything…any question about religious theories.They could ask anything about life, the universe, ANYTHING! And(rightly) believed that Jesus would know.Here was Jesus’ answer…3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,”Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”And then Jesus did this…6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.Q – In verse 6 (above) did the blind man believe in Jesus, andcooperate with Jesus putting mud on his eyes? Or did Jesusforcefully do this to him? (Warning: This is a trick question.)A –There is not enough information in that verse to know. But ifwe keep reading, we do know! (Keep that in mind. Sometimes youneed to just keep reading.)Jesus then told the man…7 “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam”…So the man went and washed and came back seeing!Q – Did the man believe in Jesus?A –John 9 continues in a rather comical way. This man, born blind,can now see. And the crowd, and especially the Pharisees, aretrying to figure out if this is true. And if so, how did ithappen? (You should read the whole chapter.)Q – According to the verses below, why did the crowd take theman to the Pharisees?A –3 Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, 14 because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him.The man explained how he was healed.Q – What do you think of the Pharisees’ conclusion, in verse 16?A –16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.”Q – According to the next verse, how desperate were the Pharisees?A –18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents.Q – They asked the parents if this was indeed their son, and ifhe really was born blind. According to the parents’ answer below,what was important to his parents?A –20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue.Q – In the verses below, look at this man’s answer. What doesthis show you about how YOU can speak about what God has donein your life?A –24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.” 25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied.“But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”After the Pharisees threw the man out of the synagogue, Jesusfound the man, and asked the man this question…35 …”Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”37 “You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!” 38 “Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.Q – What does this show you about Jesus’ heart?A –Next study will be John 10, which might be my favorite chapter.See you then!
15th – Knowing God Better – John 10Hi MelIn the first five verses of John 10, Jesus talks about sheepand the job of a shepherd. I’m a city girl (Chicago). So it wasa little hard for me to picture all of this. Then it says… 6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meantSo that puts me in good company! Ha ha. The next verse showsJesus’ gracious heart: “So he explained it to them…”Those involved in this parable: the sheep, a hired hand (whodoesn’t care about the sheep), and the good shepherd.Picture a small field, with a fence around it, and a gate at theopening. The sheep are gathered behind a gate. And the shepherd’sjob is to stand guard at night, against thieves and wolves.During the day, so the sheep can graze, the shepherd leads thesheep in and out of the gate. They know the shepherd, and theysimply follow his voice.Jesus says…12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.Q – How does Jesus identify himself in this parable? And whatdoes he offer (us) the sheep? A –”I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures…My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.Q – According to the verses below, what did Jesus say he woulddo for us?A –11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father.So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up gain.Q – In those verses you just read, why do you think Jesus statesthis so many times?A –It is going to soon appear that Jesus is forcefully arrested,crucified, at the decision of the Pharisees and Romans. Jesuswill look like he has no control over the situation.Q – According to the verses above, who is in control of Jesus’crucifixion and death?A –In the next email, we will finish John 10, where Jesus describesour intimate relationship with him.I hope you are enjoying studying God’s Word!!
16th – Knowing God Better – John 10 continuedHi MelWe are finishing up John 10. Jesus has been describing himselfas our good shepherd. The one who cares for us. The one who willlay down his life for us.In John 10:22, Jesus is now in the Temple, during the religiousFestival of Dedication.24 The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”25 Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me.Q – In Jesus’ next statement, what reason does Jesus give, thatthey should believe in him by now?A –25The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.Jesus is referring to the miracles that they are seeing him do.(You know, all of those miracles that Jesus does, even on theSabbath!)Jesus goes on to describe those who do believe in him. In hisnext statements, Jesus implies three things he does, and threethings his sheep do.Q – What are those three actions Jesus’ takes? And what are thethree actions of his sheep? (see below)A –27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.Just so you get this one. Here they are:Jesus: speaks to us, knows us, gives us eternal lifeWe: listen to his voice, follow him, never perishQ – How secure does Jesus say, is our relationship with him?(see below)A –No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 TheFather and I are one.”What do you suppose the people’s reaction is to this? Youguessed it!31 Once again the people picked up stones to kill him.32 Jesus said, “At my Father’s direction I have done many good works. For which one are you going to stone me?” 33 They replied, “We’re stoning you not for any good work, but for blasphemy! You, a mere man, claim to be God.” At least they understood.Jesus tried once more to move them toward faith.37 Don’t believe me unless I carry out my Father’s work.38 But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me.Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.”Q – Summarize all that you know to be true of Jesus, and yourrelationship with him, just from today’s study.A –“Jesus, you are far more gracious than we will ever deserve.Thank you for giving us reason to believe in you. Thank youfor caring about us to the point of death. Thank you forspeaking to us. For leading us so that we may follow. And forknowing us, when we don’t merit your intimacy. Thank you forholding us tightly in your hand.”Next study – John 11. Jesus does the spectacular!Talk to you soon!
17th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 11Hi MelIn John, chapter 11, we’re going to see Jesus with three of hisbest friends. They are a family comprised of one brother and twosisters.He hangs out with them often. Two other places in the gospelsyou see Jesus in their home. They’re close friends. And Jesusclearly loves them. It even says so.In today’s chapter we’re going to see what Jesus does for hisfriend, Lazarus, the brother.He lets him die. He literally stood by, and let him die.Rather shocking if you’ve ever heard the song, “What a friendwe have in Jesus…”John 11 (New Living Translation)
The Raising of Lazarus
1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. 7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”
9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”
17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18Bethany was only a few miles[d] down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.” 25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[e] Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” 28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” 29 So Mary immediately went to him.
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,[f] and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 37 But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
The Plot to Kill Jesus
45 Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen. 46 But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council[g] together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. 48 If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” 49 Caiaphas, who was high priest at that time,[i] said, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! 50 You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”
51 He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation. 52 And not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God scattered around the world.
53 So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. 54 As a result, Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with his disciples.
55 It was now almost time for the Jewish Passover celebration, and many people from all over the country arrived in Jerusalem several days early so they could go through the purification ceremony before Passover began. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will he?” 57 Meanwhile, the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest him.
Q – Verse 3 (below), what do you think Mary and Martha wereexpecting? Why should they expect it?A –So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him,”Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”Everything they had watched Jesus do. Everything they knewabout him and about their friendship with him. Of course theywould send this message!They knew where Jesus was. All they had to do was send a message.Q – In the verses below, what two reasons does Jesus give forNOT going to Lazarus?A –4…it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.”15 I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”Next letter will finish this study of John 11. It’s powerful.Mary and Martha had the same conclusion. If Jesus had come, theirbrother wouldn’t have died. But Martha adds this comment of faith:21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Martha is a rock. Her faith in Jesus is steady even in the moment.Q – Does Martha believe Jesus is going to raise Lazarus from thedead right then? (see below)A – 23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”Q – Is Martha’s faith focused on her needs, on Lazarus’well-being, or on Jesus? (see below)A –25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life.Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”Mary is not so calm.32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.The translation we’re reading is unusual in wording it as, “adeep anger welled up within him.” Other translations say Jesuswas: deeply moved in spirit and troubled deeply moved within his heart was troubled very much he groanedSo I guess translators have a hard time puting into words Jesus’emotions.Q – In light of Lazarus’ death, people wailing, his good friendssuffering, how else did Jesus’ react? (see below)A –35 Then Jesus wept.Again, in verse 38. I’ll bracket these words… 38 Jesus was [still angry, deeply moved] as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.
39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.Logical Martha protests:“Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”Martha’s faith in Jesus just took a left-turn. Jesus had toremind her: 40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” Q – What was the outcome of Jesus making Lazarus alive afterbeing buried for 4 days? (see below)A –45 Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.46 But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 53 So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death.Q – Based on this chapter, when the circumstances look dismalin your life, is Jesus aware of your circumstances and does hehave a big picture in mind?A –Q – Do you think Jesus’ cares?AQ – What does he want you to do?
A –Next chapter, we’ll see a happy reunion!
18th lesson – Knowing God Better – John 11 (continued)Hi JonnMary and Martha had the same conclusion. If Jesus had come, theirbrother wouldn’t have died. But Martha adds this comment of faith:21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” Martha is a rock. Her faith in Jesus is steady even in the moment.Q – Does Martha believe Jesus is going to raise Lazarus from thedead right then? (see below)A – Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when 23 everyone else rises, at the last day.”Q – Is Martha’s faith focused on her needs, on Lazarus’well-being, or on Jesus? (see below)A –
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”Mary is not so calm.32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.The translation we’re reading is unusual in wording it as, “adeep anger welled up within him.” Other translations say Jesuswas: deeply moved in spirit and troubled deeply moved within his heart was troubled very much he groanedSo I guess translators have a hard time putting into words Jesus’emotions. They were extremely intense, however you word it.Q – In light of Lazarus’ death, people wailing, his good friendssuffering, how else did Jesus’ react? (see below)A –35 Then Jesus wept.Again, in verse 38. I’ll bracket these words…38 Jesus was [still angry, deeply moved] as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.Logical Martha protests:“Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will beterrible.”Martha’s unwavering faith in Jesus just took a left-turn. Jesushad to remind her: 40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” This comes next:41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothing, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”Q – What was the outcome of Jesus making Lazarus alive afterbeing buried for 4 days? (see below)A –45 Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.46 But some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 53 So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death.Q – Based on this chapter, when the circumstances look dismalin your life, is Jesus aware of your circumstances? Does helikely have a big picture in mind?A –Q – As you look at Jesus’ emotions here, do you think Jesus’cares about you?AQ – What does he want you to do? Find a verse above thatsummarizes what God wants you to do.A –If you want to know the heart of Jesus, this chapter tells youa lot. It’s in Scripture, so that we can know him and trusthim.Hope you’re enjoying these. Talk to you soon!
19th – Knowing God Better – John 12Hi MelWhat do you do when your brother, who was dead and buriedin a tomb for four days…comes back to life?You throw a party!!!So Mary, Martha, Lazarus have a party, in Jesus honor. (How doyou thank someone who brought your brother back to life?)9 When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead.Q – And in true form, the religious leaders weigh in. According tothese verses (below), why were the Jewish priests so opposed toJesus?A –10 Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too,11 for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.Sometimes you’ll find in a section of Scripture, a main pointrepeated. In today’s study we’re going to see one of these.*Glory* The priests wanted glory. In verses 12-15 we see instead,the crowd giving Jesus glory. They put palm branches on the road,and Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey while the crowd criedout:“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”We’re told that Jesus did this, “just as it is written.” Meaning,in the Old Testament. (in this case, by the prophet Zechariah.)Then you see an interesting comment in verse 16:16 His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.When did Jesus enter into his glory? It wasn’t now, as he isreceiving the crowd’s praise. Here’s a clue. See what Jesus said:23 …Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 27 Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came!” 28 Father, bring glory to your name. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. 33 He said this to indicate how he was going to die.Q – According to the verses above, why did Jesus come?A –The crowds are hoping that Jesus will be their new King. ButJesus is entering Jerusalem with a whole different agenda.35 Jesus replied, ‘My light will shine for you just a little longer. Walk in the light while you can, so the darkness will not overtake you. 36 Put your trust in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.’Chapter 12 continues, and quotes the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah.Then adds this interesting comment about Isaiah (who lived 700years before Jesus):41 Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he said this, because he saw the future and spoke of the Messiah’s glory.In contrast, we read:42 Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue.And this is the zinger close:43 For they loved human praise more than the praise of God.Q – On a personal level, do I, do you, live for the praise of menor the praise of God?A –Jesus calls us to focus on him:46 I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me willno longer remain in the dark.An amazing offer, don’t you think?I hope you are enjoying this study of the Gospel of John. If youhave any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
20th – Knowing God Better – John 13Hi MelThanks for staying with me through all of these!When we get to John 14 through 17, we’re going to slow down alittle. So we’re going to take a quicker look at John 13.Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Maybe? But not to wherethey had you killed! (I mean, you’re still here, right?)At this “Last Supper” Jesus tells his disciples that one of themwill betray him. In verse 18 and 19, Jesus says, …this fulfills the [Old Testament] Scripture that says,
‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ 19 I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I Am the Messiah.It is Judas who goes to the Jewish authorities and, for money,tells them when and where to arrest Jesus.(Read chapter 13, to see the full story of Jesus’ interactionwith Judas.)Jesus’ desire is that the disciples will know that he is theMessiah, the Christ, the Son of God (all various titles that meanthe same thing).But Jesus also wants them to know he loves them.John 13 opens with this statement: (I’m going to quote from adifferent translation, just because I love the way it’s worded):1 …when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.That is such a true statement of Jesus’ relationship with us.“…having loved his own who here in the world, he loved them tothe end.”At this “last supper” Jesus chose the role of the lowest servant,and washed each of the disciples’ feet. He then talked abouttheir need to also be humble. And to serve others.Jesus always seemed concerned with heart motives, right attitudes.In earlier chapters of John, we looked at some of the laws thePharisees had. They were obsessed with outward behaviors andrules. Now Jesus brings them a new law:34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.Q – What do you think of Jesus’ commandment?A –Q – How would they know how to love? What does Jesus point tothat would help them know how to love? (see verse 34 above)A –In our roles and responsibilities, there are certain standardswe are measured by. It might be productivity, timeliness, ideas,what we accomplish, etc.Jesus tells us how we show others that we are followers of him:35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.In chapters 14 – 17, we will look at HOW we’re able to love oneanother. Jesus is our model. But he’s much more than that. He isalso God, and the one who can live in us and love others,through us.You’ll see!Talk to you soon.
21st – Knowing God Better – John 13 continuedHi MelToday’s study will be about what it takes to get to heaven.We’re going to start in verse 31. Judas is leaving. He’s goinggo betray Jesus to the Jewish authorities, to help them arrestJesus.At this point, Jesus brings up an uncomfortable topic.Jesus is talking about leaving the disciples. But this time, thedisciples cannot go with him.31 As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. 32 And since God receivesglory because of the Son, he will soon give glory to the Son. 33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer.And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going.This is one of those times when you need to keep reading to findout what Jesus is talking about.The disciples were confused about this.36 Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you willfollow me later.”As John 14 starts, we begin to understand. Jesus says:Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more thanenough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.Q – Where is Jesus preparing a place for them? (see above verses)A –Q – Often Jesus talked about being sent by the Father, who is inheaven. Jesus came from the Father. So where is Jesus going?A –If you’re still not sure what’s going on here, the disciples wereconfused also.Jesus said to the disciples:3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”Here is Jesus’ reply. It is a monumental comment! It’s one thatyou should consider writing down and memorizing. Here you go:6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.So now Jesus has clarified that he is going to the Father, andhe is preparing a place for them to be with him, with the Father.Q – When Thomas asked him how they could possibly know the way,how did Jesus answer him? What is the way to the Father in heaven?A –Jesus is not merely a way to the Father. He isn’t like a greatteacher or a prophet that points people toward God. It isn’t likehe’s just saying, “Listen to what I tell you, and it will tell youhow to get to heaven.”Jesus said that he is THE way, and in fact no one can get to theFather except through him. He is the truth. He is eternal life.Here’s why Jesus is not just A way to the Father. Here are verses7 through 11, Jesus’ speaking:7 If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”9 Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip,and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. 11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe becauseof the work you have seen me do.Jesus is reminding them of all they have seen…Lazarus beingraised from the dead. A man born blind able to see. Feeding fivethousand people, starting with five loaves of bread and two fish.Q – Are there times when the current circumstances have you soconfused, so focused on the problems, that you forget what youknow about Jesus?A –I’m going to cheat a little and give you a statement that Jesusmakes in John 16 (which we haven’t come to yet). But it landsthe plane for you. Jesus tells his disciples:27 for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God. 28 Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father.”Q – What is the main verse for you to know and believe aboutJesus from today’s study of John 14?A –There may be several. Make sure you catch John 14:6.6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.No one can come to the Father except through me.And Jesus explains why this is true: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! I am in the Father and the Father is in me”.For those who believe in him, he is preparing a place for us.And he will bring us there, to be with him forever!Next study…some here-in-this-life help for us!If you are looking for a way to tell friends or relatives aboutJesus, I have an idea for you.
22nd – Knowing God Better – John 14Hi Mel
In John 13, we saw Jesus at his last supper with his disciples.In John 14, Jesus is now sounding urgent, very parental with hisdisciples. Protective.He knows he’s leaving them soon. The crucifixion is near, andJesus knows it. He also knows that this is going to be a verystressful, unsettling time for them. So he has some importantwords for them…which he repeats several times.Q – In these verses below, what is Jesus’ instruction to them?A –
15 If you love me, obey my commandments.21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. 23 …all who love me will do what I say.Q – What does the following verse tell you what Jesus caresabout, and modeled to them?A –
31 I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father.Amazing consistency. Jesus was so clear.Would they be able to obey Jesus once he leaves? Here’s whatJesus says:16…I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth…you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you, 18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans–I will come to you.Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will live in them. To those whodesire a relationship with God, who believe in Jesus, God doesnot remain outside our lives. He is not “out there” and we simplydo our best to obey him. No. He comes to live inside of us,giving us his life in us. Giving us the power to obey him.Jesus says in these verses:20 When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.3…and we will come and make our home with each of them.Q – According to these verses, who lives in the lives of believers?A –verse 17 -20 & 23 –You can see here, and in many other places in Scripture, Jesusclearly describes the Father, the Holy Spirit, and himself in aunique relationship with each other. Jesus asks the Father tosend the Holy Spirit. And “they” as one God, reside in us whobelieve. This is a great illustration of the Trinity – three,yet only one God.And if you have any questions, please feel free to email me:Next chapter, Jesus will tell us how to rely on his love!
23rd – Knowing God Better – John 15Hi MelWhat do you know about growing grapes?I know zip about farming,Yet, John 15 is all about growing grapes. It was a familiar picturefor the disciples, so Jesus used it to teach them about hislove. And also the importance of staying connected to him.Ok, so grapes. I had to do some hunting on the Internet. Here’sa great picture I found. Please look at it. Possibly even printit out for reference.You’ll notice that there are three parts:– the vine is the thick stalk that connects to the ground– the branches are skinnier and up on the trellis– the grapes are attached to the branchesWhat is the goal of someone who runs a vineyard? To produce themost grapes possible, with his land. And he/she probably caresabout the quality of the grapes.Jesus gives this directive:4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. for a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.What kind of fruit is Jesus looking for?What have we been hearing him say? “A new commandment I giveto you, that you love one another.” “If you love me, obey mycommands.” “By this will all men know that you are my disciples,that you have love for one another.” Right?
Picture a branch that is broken or cut away from the vine. It’slying alone on the ground. Can it produce grapes? Why not?Because it’s dead and has no life in it.In John 14 we learned that the Holy Spirit will live in us,and never leave us. Jesus said, “Because I live, you will livealso.”Look at verse 5 again:5 Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those whoremain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.Jesus is showing them that they need to rely on the vine forlife. The branches can do nothing on their own. They can onlyproduce fruit because of the vine.I’m pretty sure that the nutrients come from the vine which isin the ground. The water they need also comes through the vine.The branches simply are “there” to let the vine produce grapes,produce fruit. Their main job is to stay attached!Here then is Jesus speaking – verses 9-129 I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remainin my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.Q – According to the next verse, why is Jesus telling them this?A –11 I have told you these things so that you will be filledwith my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!Doesn’t it seem a little ironic that Jesus would be talkingabout them being joyful, when he’s heading toward the cross?Q – What will bring them joy? (see verse 9, repeated below)A –
9 I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.And again, Jesus talks about the grapes, the fruit he wants toproduce in us:12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.Q – Do you think loving others is also what will bring joy toour lives?
16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.17 This is my command: Love each other.Conclusion.What does Jesus offer us? (verse 9)What does he want us to do? (verse 9)What will he produce in us, if we remain in his love? (verse 16and 17).Our main job…rely on the vine, and let him produce the fruit.Let him love others through us. That is his desire.Next lesson we’ll finish up John 15 where he talks about realopposition.
24th – Knowing God Better – John 15 continuedHi MelI like people who just say what’s true. It sometimes takescourage to tell the truth, to not sugar-coat it. Especially toughwhen its the last thing the person wanted to hear, but needed to.We’re going to see Jesus tell the disciples some really toughnews. Jesus is about to go to the cross soon. And his message tothem is this: you’re going to suffer too.See, you’re not sure YOU even want to read this.We hate suffering!But Jesus wants them to be prepared. He doesn’t want themsurprised by this. And, he tells them some good news in themidst of it. So here goes…These are Jesus’ disciples, whom he chose, and they indeed lefteverything and followed Jesus. So now Jesus is preparing themfor his departure. John 15:18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you….Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And ifthey had listened to me, they would listen to you. Q – The disciples are obviously going to stay in the world awhile. They’re not going to die soon. So what did Jesus mean by“I chose you to come out of the world”?A –
The world, the Jews and the Romans will hate them and persecutethem because their lives have been changed by Jesus, and they’regoing to talk about it! If they kept silent. If they went backto fishing, or collecting taxes, or whatever their occupation,they probably would be fine. But Jesus chose them to livedifferently.To live for him.He knew they will spend the rest of their lives telling othersthat Jesus is the Christ. And, because of Jesus’ life in them,they would display a character that would be different from others.Q – How about you? What do you do when our culture goes a certainway, and you choose another way because of your relationshipwith Jesus? Can you give one example where that’s happened inyour life?A –
Jesus tells them that the world’s hatred for Jesus is not rational.It’s without cause. And the world’s treatment of the disciples willbe the same. And, their suffering will be for the same reason –some choose to reject God.21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father.24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them thatno one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’So Jesus is telling them, be prepared, they’re going to hate youtoo, and it will also be unfair. Without justification.In John 16, Jesus gets very specific:2 For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. 3 This is because they have never known the Father or me.So Jesus is giving them the truth so they will stay strong, andunderstand why this is happening.We’ll end with these last statements in John 15…the good news.Jesus is not leaving them to fend for themselves. They will notbe telling the world about Jesus on their own. Whew.Jesus tells them again that he will send them the Holy Spirit:26 “But I will send you the Advocate–the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.27 And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.This week, ask God to give you an opportunity to testify aboutJesus. Remember the vine & branches? Ask Jesus to convey his lovethrough you.And tell them something about Jesus that might be helpful forthem to know.If you get asked a question you don’t know how to answer, tellthe person to go to……………… That’s not cheating. That’s serving aperson well, in helping them consider reasons to believe in Jesus.Maybe email them a link to an article. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. He will. More on the HolySpirit in our next email.A verse I like: “And I pray that the sharing of your faith maypromote the knowledge of all the good that is ours in ChristJesus our Lord.”
(Philemon verse 6, RSV)Talk to you soon!
25th – Knowing God Better – John 16Hi MelThe last lesson was about Jesus giving the disciples some reallytough news: They would be persecuted also.In this chapter we’ll see that they won’t be on their own! Lifeand difficulties are not going to be solely on their shoulders.Isn’t that great news? We can handle difficulties. What’s awfulis when we have to be all alone! And figure everything out onour own.But this never needs to be the case for us. This chapter explainswhy.Jesus is telling them that he is going away (back to the Father),but he will send them “the Advocate.” (John 16:7)Jesus primarily refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of truth.”Q – Look at the following verses. After Jesus’ resurrection, whatwill the Spirit of truth do for the disciples?A –
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receivesfrom me….The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.I picture the Holy Spirit as somewhat of a coach. “Ok, guys, here’sthe plan. Here‘s what you need to know… Here’s what I need to fillyou in on.”Sometimes when I’m in a situation, I’ll get out my Bible and apiece of paper. At the top of the paper I’ll write a briefdescription of what’s going on in my life. Then I’ll write, “God,what would you like me to know about you pertaining to thissituation? How do you want me to trust you? What would you likeme to know?”God always seems to answer that prayer. I want to trust him. Iwant him to tell me whatever perspective I need. Correct mythinking, my motives, my understanding of life. And show me whatabout himself that I need to know, to trust him better.This is what the Holy Spirit does for us. He is the Spirit oftruth.Q – Why can we ask God to do this for us? (see verses below)A –
27 for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God.also you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. 24 You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.I’m not saying that we get to go through Scripture and pick outwhat we want to believe God will do for us. I’m not talking aboutthe situation or the end result. We don’t dictate to God.Instead, the prayer that I’ve seen God faithfully answer is thisone: what about You do you want me to know and rely on?No matter what’s going on in our lives, Jesus says that he isable to give us peace. And I believe that happens as we chooseto trust him.Here’s how Jesus wraps up his comments about his leaving, theirfuture suffering, the Holy Spirit guiding them into truth…
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.Q – As you read Jesus’ statements, what does the world give us?And what does Jesus give us? (see verse 33 above)A –Q – Which is more powerful (the world or Jesus)?A –Ionce heard someone say, “When the world seems to be fallingapart around us, Jesus can keep us together, because he hasovercome the world.” I’ve found that to be true.Next study is in John 17….an awesome chapter!! We get to hearJesus pray to his Father. We get to see what’s on his heart andwhat’s important to himTalk to you soon!
26th – Knowing God Better – John 17Hi MelIn the Old Testament when God spoke with Moses, God told Mosesto take off his shoes, for the place he was standing on was“holy ground.”I kind of feel that way when we come to John 17.We’re listening in on a very intimate conversation betweenJesus and the Father. Shhhhh…. listen….1 After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.Does this remind you of anything?Way back in John 5, Jesus rightly accused the Pharisees of onlywanting praise and glory from the people. Their hearts and liveswere not set on bringing glory to God.But look at Jesus: Glorify your Son so he can give glory backto you.Brace yourselves for this one. Jesus goes on to say:4 I brought glory to you here on earth by completing thework you gave me to do. 5 Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. Wow, huh? We can only aspire to one part of this – to bring Godglory by completing the work he gives us to do. But we can’ttouch verse 5.Ok, jumping back up to verses 2 and 3, which I skipped. Jesustalks about eternal life. Referring to himself, Jesus says:2 For you have given him authority over everyone. He giveseternal life to each one you have given him.Q – According to his next statment (verse 3 below) how can wehave eternal life?A –
3 And this is the way to have eternal life–to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.Jesus then refers to his disciples. As you read the followingverses, ask yourself…Q – Is this also true of you?A –
6 I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from thisworld. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, 8 for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that Icame from you, and they believe you sent me.Q – As you read the following verses, what is Jesus’ purpose foryour life? (If you’ve ever searched for a life purpose, this isit!)A –
9 My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are minebelong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory.I’m going to end here, and next lesson we’ll see how Jesus praysfor the disciples…and for us (literally)…verse 20:20 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their messageThat’s us!.
27th – Knowing God Better – John 17 continuedHi MelBefore we keep going on John 17, I’d like to interject a quickcomment. In John 17 we’re listening in on an incredibly uniqueconversation:God the Son, talking with, God the Father.Obviously, some of what Jesus says in that prayer is going tobe foreign to us. The nature of God is different from our humannature.For one thing, we live in a 3-dimensional world. I, as a person,am separate from another person. God is not limited by spacedimensions. So, the Son can be separate from the Father, andyet not. (For an article on the nature of God, please see( See the trinity explained)Ok, starting at John 17:9 9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you havegiven me, because they belong to you.Jesus is very mindful of the disciples, whom he is soon leaving.He really cares about them and their welfare. The majority ofJesus’ prayer is focused on them.11 Now I am departing from the world…protect them by thepower of your name so that they will be united just as we are.12 During my time here, I protected them by the powerof the name you gave me. I guarded them.13 I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.Jesus then mentions that the world hates the disciples, just likethey hated him. So he prays:15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but tokeep them safe from the evil one.Do you know who Jesus is referring to by “the evil one?” Satan.In John 8:44, Jesus describes Satan as “a liar and the father oflies.” So it makes sense that Jesus then goes on to pray:17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holysacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.Q – Jesus has prayed for their protection in the world. What doesJesus mention as a protections for them? Look at the followingverses:
11 …protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 …I protected them bythe power of the name you gave me.For you who believe in Jesus, you belong to him. You havebecome his child (John 1:12) and bear his name (Christian -Christ in one, or inside one.) So, simply belonging to him isone level of protection.Q – What other protection does Jesus give us? (see below)A –
17 Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.Q – And finally, what else does Jesus mention as our protectionfrom the evil one and the world?A –
21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. 25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me.26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”So, in summary, Jesus is about to go to the cross, and leave thedisciples. He is concerned for them and wants to protect themthrough:his name (belonging to him, God as our Father), his word, which is truth, his love in us, himself in us.Q – Can we securely go through this world if we have that?A –
Jesus does not pray or promise that they will escape all painor all problems. But as we go through this world, this is whatwe have from him.I skipped verses 20 and 21, so let me give them here:20 “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.Next chapter…Jesus is arrested. Isn’t it amazing that he wouldbe so mindful of the disciples (and us) right before all thathe knew he would soon endure?You don’t need to wonder if God is aware of you or if he caresabout you. If you are tempted to doubt that, look at what hesays here.Next chapter, things get intense.
28th – Knowing God Better – John 18Hi MelI hope you’re enjoying these studies. We’re able to only hitsome of each chapter. So I hope you’re able to take time toread the whole chapter.You might remember, Judas was one of Jesus’ 12 apostles. Hespent three years with Jesus and the other disciples. But atthe end, helped the Romans arrest Jesus.3 The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove.Jesus shows his desire to protect the disciples who were withhim:
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. 8 …”And since I am the one you want, let these others go.”The rest of today’s study is going to focus on Peter.Earlier in John 13, Jesus had told Peter that Peter would denythat he even knew Jesus. Not just once, but three times beforethe morning (before the rooster crows).
Can you imagine blowing it, not once, but three times? Yes, wecan relate!So here we are in John 18.Q – From the verses below, how many disciples followed Jesus ashe was arrested and brought to the high priest?A –
15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, as did another of the disciples. That other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus.John rarely refers to himself by name in his gospel. So it’slikely John who is there, with Peter. (John also shows up atJesus’ crucifixion.) Q – When Peter denied Jesus, was it under pressure from thehigh priest? How scared was Peter? Who did he cave into?(see below)
16 …the woman watching at the gate, and she let Peter in.17 The woman asked Peter, “You’re not one of that man’s disciples, are you?” “No,” he said, “I am not.”Q – Who else did Peter give in to? (see below)
18 Because it was cold, the household servants and the guards had made a charcoal fire. They stood around it,warming themselves, and Peter stood with them, warming himself. 25 they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.” Q – Who else did Peter deny Jesus to? (see below)
26 But one of the household slaves of the high priest…asked, “Didn’t I see you out there in the olive grove with Jesus?” 27 Again Peter denied it. And immediately a rooster crowed.Usually we stay in the Gospel of John. But I want you to seesomething from Luke’s gospel. Luke included more of theconversation between Jesus and Peter, when Jesus told Peterthis would happen. (By the way, Peter is often called “SimonPeter.”)From Luke 22:31-34: Jesus says:32 But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”We’ll see that Peter became one of the bravest leaders of theearly church (of the early Christians), boldly proclaimingJesus’ resurrection from the dead.Can you imagine Jesus praying for you? Knowing your faith wouldfail, but praying for you? Praying that you would become the oneto strengthen others?Don’t be discouraged by your failings. Jesus has not deserted us.He promises to never abandon us. (Hebrews 13:5)Next study…Jesus’ conversation with Pilate (who orders hiscrucifixion).
29th – Knowing God Better – John 18 (continued)Hi MelOk, today we’ll begin with a quick history lesson.Jerusalem, in Israel, is where Jesus was on trial. In Jesus’time, though it was mostly inhabited by Jews, the Roman governmentwas in control.The Jews did adjudicate their own religious laws. But in this case,they brought Jesus to the Roman government. In a minute you’llsee why.Pilate was the Roman “curator” (the governor) in charge.We see Pilate, scratching his head, trying to figure out whatcrime Jesus has committed:35 “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?”Q – Why did the Jews bring Jesus to the Romans, rather thandeal with Jesus themselves? (see verses below)A –
29 So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?” 30 “We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted. 31 “Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them. “Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied. 32 (This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die.)So, you get that the Jews wanted Jesus killed. They wanted himgone.Pilate tried to persuade the crowd to let Jesus go. But first,he tried to appease the crowd, by torturing Jesus some.(John 19):1 Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip.
2 The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him.
3 “Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.The whip was called a “cat-o-nine-tails.” It had metal orbone-tipped ends on 9 straps of leather. Usually they limitedthe whipping to 40 times, which was enough to cut down to theperson’s bones.Pilate then tries to release Jesus:
4 Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.”Q – Looking at the verses below, what was the single reason theJews wanted Jesus killed?A –
6 When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.”7 The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.” To the Jews, they had only two choices: believe that Jesus waswho he claimed to be, or charge him with blasphemy, punishableby death.Today, we are presented with the same question. There is nomiddle ground. We either believe Jesus is equal to God, as heclaimed, or believe he was lying or insane.(Read the insert below to discuss the possibility), and why Jesus went to the cross to die for us:Jesus didn’t ask us to decide about his teachings. The maindecision is what we decide about his identity.Next, we’ll finish up John 19, where John gives us his reportof Jesus’ crucifixion.
30th – Knowing God Better – John 19Hi MelRegarding Jesus’ crucifixion…not only did Jesus know whatwas going to happen, but many Old Testament prophets hadalready written about it.In John 19, you’ll see these statements:24…This fulfilled the Scripture that says…28…and to fulfill Scripture he said…36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say…Isaiah was just one of the prophets who wrote about the comingMessiah. Isaiah lived 700 years before Jesus. Isaiah describesthe Messiah’s crucifixion in detail (hundreds of years beforecrucifixion was invented as a form of death).Before we look at John 19, in today’s study, let’s just readexcerpts from Isaiah, chapter 53.There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
3 He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. 7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. 8 Unjustly condemned, he was led away.No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. 9 He had done no wrongand had never deceived anyone.But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush himand cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. 11 then he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.Next study, we’ll look at John 19. In the meantime, thankJesus for paying for your sin. He did. Your sins are fullypaid for. All of them…”he will bear all their sins.”It is sobering, because we are guilty…but he took away notonly our sins, but our guilt. If we believe in Jesus, andwhat he did for us, we are forgiven. (See Colossians 1:13-20)Ok, I was tempted to write out that section from Colossians, butyou can look it up on your own, if you have time.John 19 next!
31st – Knowing God Better – John 19 (continued)Hi MelLast study we read the prophet Isaiah’s description of theMessiah being crucified: beaten, whipped, pierced for ourrebellion, etc.Ok, in John 19…16…So they took Jesus away. 17 Carrying the cross byhimself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull…18 There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus betweenthem.Look at these verses:23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided hisclothes among the four of them. They also took his robe,but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.24 So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.” This fulfilled the Scripture that says, “They divided my garments among themselves and threw dice for my clothing.” So that is what they did.Look at what the prophet David said in Psalms 22 (anotherchapter from the Old Testament, that describes Jesus’crucifixion):16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs…They have pierced my hands and feet. 17 I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat.18 They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.Jesus’ crucifixion was the Roman form of torture. Since Pilatewas willing to have Jesus beaten and whipped when he believed him to be innocent, you can imagine how cruel crucifixion was.His wrists and feet were nailed to a cross. He hung in thatawkward position unable to breathe from the weight of his body.Yet, in that state, look at Jesus’ concern for his mother…26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved…This is how the apostle John referred to himself in his gospel.He viewed his highest worth in terms of Jesus…the disciplewhom Jesus loved.Jesus said to his mother, Mary: 26…”Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on thisdisciple took her into his home.Q – According to the next verse, how would you describe Jesus’mission on earth?A –
28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and tofulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.”See Psalms 22 again:14 My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me.15 My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.Back to John 19: 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It isfinished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.This is Jesus, who healed the blind, the lame, the demon-possessed.He brought Lazarus and others back to life. Clearly, the nailsdid not keep him on the cross.Q – According to Jesus’ statement from John 10 (below), were theJews and Romans in control of Jesus’ crucifixion?
A – 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.Before they took Jesus down from the cross, they wanted to makesure he was dead.33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was alreadydead… 34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out.I am told that a medical evidence of death is when blood andwater separates.I love John’s added note here. He sounds like a coroner:
35 (This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe.)Next study will be the burial and the resurrection of Jesus!!talk to you again soon,
32nd – Knowing God Better – John 20Hi MelI’m going to start off today with a question:Q – Who were the two men who took Jesus down from the cross? Andwhat was interesting about them? (see below)A –
38 Afterward Joseph of Arimathea, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus (because he feared the Jewish leaders), asked Pilate for permission to take down Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave permission, Joseph came and took the body away.39 With him came Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus at night.You can find Nicodemus in John, chapter 3. Both of these guyswere “secret” believers in Jesus, who didn’t want others toknow about it. But now, they both felt compelled to show up.We’re told that they brought with them 75 pounds of perfumedointment and long sheets of linen cloth. This was the commonapproach in preparing a body for burial. The gummy ointmentwould be spread between the strips of linen cloth, wrappedaround the body. It would harden like a tight casing.39 He brought seventy-five pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes. 40 Following Jewish burial custom, they wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth.We know from the other gospels that they placed Jesus in thetomb was Joseph of Arimathea’s own tomb.41 The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. 42 And…they laid Jesusthere.The other gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) fill in a little detailthat John doesn’t mention in his gospel.The Jews knew that Jesus had said he would rise from the dead.So, at the request of the Jewish leaders, the Romans affixed anofficial Roman seal from the boulder to the tomb’s entrance, andposted a trained guard of Roman soldiers at Jesus’ tomb.John 20:1 Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb…We know from the previous chapter that Mary Magdalene had beenat Jesus’crucifixion. When she got to the tomb, what happened?…and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.
2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. [meaning, John] She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 They were both running, but the other disciple [John] outran Peter and reached the tomb first.Q – What did John see in the tomb? It wasn’t completely empty.What did he see? (see below)A –
5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.Q – What happened when they saw the linens, but only the linens?(see below)
8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed–9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesusmust rise from the dead.Next study you’ll see even more proof of Jesus’ resurrection…till then,
33rd – Knowing God Better – John 20 (cont.)Hi MelI realized that in the last study, I never really explainedwhat a tomb looks like. Jesus wasn’t buried in the ground.Instead, he was put in something that looked like this:(take a look) see the Tomb of Jesus (insert)Ok, in the last lesson we noticed that Peter and John SAWsomething where Jesus wasburied. No body. But empty linensthat had been around Jesus’ body and head.Today, we’ll see that Mary Magdalene also saw something. (Marywas the first one to see the open tomb and ran and got Peterand John.) Now, Peter and John have left. But Mary is still atthe tomb…sobbing.Q – What did Mary see? (see below)A –11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.The angels asked her, “Why are you crying?”Q – Did Mary realize that Jesus had been raised from the dead?Look at Mary’s explanation for her weeping. (see verse below)A –13 Because they have taken away my Lord…and I don’t know where they have put him.So then someone else shows up and asks her the same question,”Dear woman, why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” But the really cool part is…the person was Jesus!14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you lookingfor?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said,”if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”I love Jesus’ reply!!16 “Mary!” Jesus said.That was all she needed. Verse 16 continued: She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).It makes sense that Jesus’ next words are “Don’t cling to me…”That is exactly what Mary wanted to do!!!But Jesus has instructions for her, and she follows them. Herethey are:17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.Mary Magdalene was someone that Jesus cast 7 demons from. (seeLuke 8:2). She followed Jesus from then on, literally all theway to his crucifixion, and now to his tomb, wanting him tohave a proper burial.Jesus appeared to her, turning her sorrow into joy (somethinghe promised the disciples he would do through his resurrection).It is against all Jewish norms for Jesus to choose a woman tofirst appear to. She was also the one who first grabbed Peterand John to come to the tomb. And now she is the first one toannounce that she had seen Jesus risen!!Some have pointed to this as further confirmation that thegospels are accurate, because no one would have scripted itthis way!But Jesus did. He often delivers the surprising.Next lesson, we’ll see what Thomas sees.
34th – Knowing God Better – John 20 (still)Hi MelWe are nearing the end. But not quite. Still John 21 to go.Today we’re going to finish up John 20.Ok, Peter and John saw empty grave linens. Mary saw two angels,plus Jesus himself! Now the disciples will see something.Remember when Jesus was arrested? Peter was in the courtyard soscared he denied he even knew Jesus. When your leader is sentencedto the most brutal torture imaginable, until death, it certainlywould unnerve the followers.So it makes sense that we see:19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said.Q – Did they recognize Jesus? (see verse 20 below)A – 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!Q – What message did Jesus have for them? (see verse below)A –21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them andsaid, “Receive the Holy Spirit.In John 14 we saw that Jesus said he would send them anotherCounselor to be with them forever. Jesus referred to him as“the Spirit of Truth.”As soon as Jesus was raised, he sent the Holy Spirit into thelives of those who believed in him. It’s the same way for us.When we believe in Jesus and ask him into our lives, we alsoreceive the Holy Spirit, right then.)There was one disciple missing from this. Thomas.24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas…was not with theothers when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”Q – What was Thomas’ reply? What did he want? (see below)A –But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”If you’ve ever heard the phrase “doubting Thomas” – this iswhere it comes from. Here his best friends tell him somethingwonderful, but he is not quick to believe.What does Jesus do with this? He lets Thomas stew on this foreight days. I’m sure Mary, Peter, John and all the rest of thedisciples were trying to convince Thomas from what they’d seen.But he wouldn’t bend.Until this…26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peacebe with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”Thomas’ reply:28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.Q – Did Thomas go too far, referring to Jesus as his God? (seeJesus’ response below)A –29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”I love that Jesus gives us credit for believing without seeing.At the same time, we’ve seen so much in this gospel, we’re notwithout convincing proof!John ends this chapter in a profound way. I will leave itwithout comment. It’s worth writing down!30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is theMessiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. Next lesson, John chapter 21.
35th – Knowing God Better – John 21Hi MelI’ve really enjoyed being in this study with you. At the start,I really expected to be writing maybe 7 or 8 of these. But onceyou get into Scripture, it’s tough to pull out or hit thesurface.When I first received Christ, I was so excited to read God’sperspective on life. I was a student, the very end of highschool. I learned to alternate studying one night with readingthe Bible the next.It was the only way to get the studying in!Well, here we are at the last chapter of John. The disciplesare probably still trying to figure out their lives now thatJesus is not with them. Peter does the sensible thing and goesback to his normal way of life: fishing.3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out inthe boat, but they caught nothing all night.Bummer to try to return to your old, familiar way of life, onlyto find out it isn’t working.4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. 6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and theycouldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.They’d seen miracles before.7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!”There’s John again, referring to himself as “the disciple Jesusloved.” When they got to shore, Jesus had breakfast ready forthem.10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said.11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.I’m wondering why it would cross their minds to ask who he was.Maybe Jesus didn’t look quite the same. Maybe it now took somefaith to know him…just like we know him, not based onphysical appearance.13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.Now we see an interesting dialogue between Jesus and Peter. 15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.””Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.If you’ll read John 21, you’ll see that Jesus asks him thisquestion three times, which hurt Peter’s feelings some. Jesustold Peter to feed and take care of his sheep.Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.You know that Jesus isn’t talking literally about sheep. He’sreferring back to what we read in John 10:14: 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. And John 10:27:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.No one can snatch them away from me…So Jesus is now telling Peter to feed his sheep.Q – Why do you think Jesus asked Peter if Peter loved him?A –Q – Why do you think Peter’s love for Jesus would be therequirement for Peter’s job of feeding Jesus’ sheep?A –
Here’s why I think Peter would need to love Jesus in order todo this job. Peter would face persecution, just like Jesus did.Jesus talks about this next:18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”There is only one motivation strong enough to endure that…ifyou love Jesus. If you are convinced that he is the Lord, theSavior of the world.I used to think it was kind of mean for Jesus to tell Peter this.But then I wondered if it might have been extremely kind. Here’swhy.Peter had denied he even knew Jesus – three times. Jesus was nowtelling Peter that Peter would be faithful to Jesus until death.In some ways, that would be encouraging to Peter. It would givehim confidence in his leadership role, in feeding other believers,in helping others know Jesus, like he knew Jesus.Next lesson will be our last. I’ll wrap up the end of John’sgospel.
36th – Knowing God Better – John 21 (continued)Hi MelThis is it. The last lesson on the Gospel of John.You should get a gold star for hanging in there! I hope you’reencouraging others to this study also. John, chapter 1, started out declaring Jesus to be the Wordof God…who now came.4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,and his life brought light to everyone.5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.John now ends his gospel, his report, this way:24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these eventsand has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.
25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.Of course, Matthew, Mark and Luke also wrote accounts of Jesus’life. They are also found in the beginning part of the NewTestament.Luke also wrote the book of Acts. He starts out, referring to hisgospel. Acts 1:1 —
1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven…Q – What does Luke say that Jesus did for 40 days after hisresurrection? (see below)A –
3 During the forty days after his crucifixion, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them aboutthe Kingdom of God.In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24, Luke records one of those timesthat Jesus appeared to them. The disciples were still trying tofigureout why Jesus’ tomb was empty.So Jesus appeared to them, and explained a few things to them —Luke 24:25-27
25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in theScriptures.26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to
suffer all these things before entering his glory?”27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the thingsconcerning himself. Wouldn’t THAT have been a great Bible study to be in?!Q – Now going back to Acts 1, Luke is talking about yet another timethat Jesus appeared to them. Why did Jesus explain all of theScriptures to them? (see verses below)A –
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Thank you for joining me in this study. Let me end reviewing a fewoffers for you.If you have not yet received Jesus into your life, I’d encourageyou to, and do so:I have The Spiritualtarter Kit” for you to kick off withIf another opportunity comes up, I’ll be sure to let you know aboutit.Take care,