com presents Jesus Christ in the Writings of John These lessons on Jesus Christ in the writings of John are central to the Christian message of hope and salvation. This is evident from the profound preamble of the Gospel to the climactic conclusion of the Revelation. Jesus Christ takes center stage and remains there. Jesus came from glory to grime, from heaven to hell, and at last returned from grave to glory. Why? Because He loves us so! He bore it all that we might live. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the Originator and Sustainer, the Message and the Messenger, the Savior, the Almighty King, the Judge. Above all, He is our hope and our salvation. He takes us seriously, so hopefully our study of the inspired Scriptures will help us take Him more seriously and into the very center of our hearts. May we bask in the tenderness of His care, His message from the Father, His exemplary living from day to day, His marvelous deeds, His commitment to our eternal welfare, His unparalleled sacrifice, and wondrous truths, and come to know that without Him as our helmsman we are like a drifting ship on a stormy sea. But with Him as our Pilot we can pass through the troubled waters and enter into the haven of rest.

Introduction The Word Made Flesh The Witness of John the Baptist Jesus the Savior of the World Jesus the Water of Life Sowing and Reaping Christ’s Authority

Jesus the Bread of Life Jesus the Christ Jesus and Abraham Christ the Light of the World Jesus the Good Shepherd Jesus the Resurrection and Life Jesus Glorified Jesus the Servant of All Our Heavenly Home The Comforter Promised Jesus the True Vine The Mission of the Holy Spirit Jesus Interceding Walking in the Light The Supreme Gift of love John’s Vision of Christ Worshipping God and the Lamb The Saints in Heaven The Final Results The Great Invitation Harmony Bibliography
"And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17) presents Jesus Christ in the Writings of John INTRODUCTION
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The purpose for writing the fourth Gospel is clearly stated in John 20:30, 31. John had in mind both the person who needed to accept Jesus as Lord and Christ and the believer whose faith needed strengthening. The fourth Gospel begins with a prologue about the Logos, which emphasizes the divine nature of Jesus and makes clear His role in the creation of all things. It then teaches that this same Logos, none other than Jesus, "became flesh and dwelt among us" (1:14). He lived and worked with real people in the first century A.D. John wants his readers to understand that the death of Jesus was a real event, which took place in a real historical setting. Furthermore, he insists that event had eyewitnesses, as did the fact of His resurrection (19:35; 20:1-8, 11-29; 21:1-25). This story is not historical fiction! The Logos (the Word)1 discussed above is only one of the many ways Jesus is described in this Gospel. Note below some of the ways: The monogenes (unique/special) Son of God (3:16) The Son (3:17, 36; 5:27-29) Son of Man (1:51) Teacher from God (3:2) Prophet (4:19; 6:14; 9:19) Messiah/Christ (1:41; 4:25, 29) King of Israel/Jews (1:49; 19:19) Holy One of God (6:69) Lamb of God (1:29, 36) Paraclete (14:16) Rabbouni/Rabboni (20:16) Rabbi (1:38, 49; 3:2, 26) The Lord/My Lord and my God/God (1:1; 20:18; 21:7). Throughout John's magnificent work his desire is to emphasize the genuine humanity of Jesus and at the same time, as stated earlier, to make sure that the reader has understood that He is the Christ, the Son of God.2 Brief Analysis of John's Gospel The word "Father" occurs 140 times in this Gospel. The name "Jesus" is found in John 242 times, 99 times more than in Matthew, and 158 times more than in Luke, showing how closely John keeps to his object of writing about the person of Jesus. He also uses other names of Jesus, as "the Son" 19 times, "the Son of

God" 9 times, "the Son of man" 13 times, "the Life" 22 times, and "the Light" 25 times, besides the names "the Holy One of God," "the Lamb of God," and "the King of Israel," 333 times in all. John enumerates the claims of Jesus as follows: He claims to be a perfect teacher; To set a perfect example, to be the model Man for the race; To be a perfectly sinless being; That all men should love and obey Him; To work miracles as no other man ever did; That in Him the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled; That He Himself would rise from the dead; To be the final Judge of the world; to which should be added, The Word of God; and The Only begotten Son of God. The method of proof by witnesses and signs The witness is the testimony of competent persons who told what they knew – the Father, Jesus, John the Baptist, the apostles, who were close to Jesus, and others who saw, heard, and experienced. The word "witness" is found 76 times in this Gospel; and the two Greek words meaning "to know" are used 131 times – oida, "to know," 79 times, and ginosko, "to know thoroughly," 52 times. The signs were miracles; acts of supernatural power worthy of the Son of God; Credentials of His Divine Commission; Symbols and Emblems and Objectlessons of the Great Truths He taught. John, having before him the other Gospels, selects from the many things he had seen and heard from Jesus during years of most intimate communion with Him, those signs and testimonies and teachings which best revealed the nature of Jesus and His revelation of the Father. Witness of John and others (John 1:6-9, 15-51). 1. Sign. The wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). Witness of Jesus in the temple (John 2:12-25). Witness to Nicodemus. The new birth (John 3:1-21). Witness of John. Second witness (John 3:22-36). Witness to the Samaritans (John 4:1-42). 2. Sign. The nobleman's son. Cana and Capernaum (John 4:43-54). 3. Sign. At Pool of Bethesda – and Witness arising therefrom (John 5:1-47). 4. Sign. Multiplication of loaves and fishes, and Witness at the Feast of Tabernacles. Life and light (John 7:1-8:59). 5. Sign. Sight to the blind (John 9:1-41). Witness to resurrection and life (John 11:1-57). Witness. Triumphal entry to many in the temple (John 12:1-50). Witness of Jesus to His own disciples. Last supper and discourses (John 13-17). Witness of the crucifixion – infinite love and forgiveness (John 18, 19).

Witness of the resurrection. Immortal life. The ever-lasting Savior (John 20, 21). The Apostle John The two sources of knowledge concerning him are: The New Testament and traditions. His family descent His father's name was Zebedee, whose business was fishing in the Sea of Galilee. He seems to have been in comfortable circumstances, for he owned a boat and employed men to assist him (Matt. 4:21; Mark 1:20), and Salome ("Peace"), his wife, the mother of John, was one of the band of women who ministered to Jesus (Mark 15:40; 16:1). His birthplace and early home was Bethsaida (House of Fish, Fishtown), on the northern shore of the lake, near where the Jordan flows into it; or perhaps Capernaum. Business led them often to be at Capernaum, the populous commercial emporium (Luke 5:10; John 1:44). Date of birth The exact date is unknown, but he is generally regarded as younger than Jesus. He was probably born between A.D. 1 and 5. Period of his life From early church fathers, who lived not far from his time, such as Irenaeus and Jerome, we learn that he lived to be 90 or 95 years old, and died in the early part of the reign of the Emperor Trajan, who began his reign A.D. 98. So that John's life extended over nearly the whole of the first century of the Christian era. His personal growth in love is shown in the tradition that in his feeble old age (in his nineties) at Ephesus he still tried to preach, sitting in a chair, and repeating over and over, "Children, love one another." The events of his life come before us in some detail as we study selected lessons from his writings about Jesus Christ. He had an elder brother, James, who was the first Christian martyr. During his early manhood he was a Galilean fisherman with his father. He was one of the first disciples of Jesus. He was one of the most prominent of the disciples during Christ's life, and during the early records of the church in the Acts. He was on friendly terms with the high priest (John 18:15). The latter part of the Acts concerns chiefly the work of Paul, but John was also doing his unrecorded work. As mentioned above, tradition fixes on Ephesus as the scene of his later ministrations, and perhaps the seven churches of Asia (in the vicinity of Ephesus) enjoyed his care (Rev. 1:11). Writings Five books of the New Testament are ascribed to John: The fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and the Book of Revelation. Character It has become a conventional rule in sacred art that because John speaks more

about Love than the other apostles, and was especially beloved by his Master, he must have had a soft, sentimental countenance, without the winkles of age, betraying no conflict. Such a fancy is strangely contradicted by facts. Jesus named John and his brother James, Boanerges (sons of thunder), because according to Muir in Hastings' Bible Dictionary, the name is "both descriptive and prophetic of the union of the passionate and vehement with the gentle and loving in their character, and the fact that once and again tempests of long-restrained emotion would burst forth out of the deep stillness of their strong, reserved natures." He had a peculiarly tender, gentle, loving, and receptive nature, and was also ardent, bold, and impetuous. He blended the gentleness of the dove with the sublime force and vision of the eagle. The lesson of John's character lies in the change brought about by Jesus, expressing and controlling the strong forces of his soul, gradually changing them into His image from glory to glory, "the glory of the only begotten Son of God." All tempestuousness, threats, ambitions, and narrowness are consumed in the perfectness of love. The Synoptic Gospels & John A contrast between John and the other three Gospels (called synoptic; i.e., those which have a "general view" of the life of Christ) is plain even at first glance. The synoptic Gospels3 seem to have been the sifted and perfected record of the preaching of the apostles. They told the story over and over again as they preached. It was written at various times by several different people as we learn from Luke. This statement of facts was the great need of the early church, till the facts became a part of the hearts, memories and lives of the early Christians. In time there came another need, both among the Jews and those permeated with Greek learning. Questions arose, errors would be promulgated, and difficulties would arise. For instance, the Jews, as well as Christians, were tenacious of the unity of God, but the question immediately arose how it was possible for Jesus to be the divine Son of God, and yet God be but one. John states the fact so that all can see the truth. He proclaims the same truths taught by the other Gospels, but in different language for a different people. He who lived nearest the heart of Jesus recalls many of His teachings not reported by the others. John does not at this late day write a new Gospel, or new words of Jesus, but writes down what he had been preaching for more than half a century. It was this fact that made the wonderful perfection of the style and language of this Gospel, as well as its accuracy. Apostle of Love

In Gethsemane, after Jesus had requested Peter, James, and John to be stationed at a certain spot to "wait . . . and watch . . ." (Matt. 26:38), all three watchmen fell asleep – not only once, but three times (Matt. 26:40-45). Then, when the mob had seized Jesus, John was among Jesus' disciples who "deserted and ran away" (Matt. 26:56). But by the next afternoon, John had recovered and was the only one of the apostles who stood by Jesus' cross (John 19:26), showing more love for Jesus than all the other apostles. In fact, John's love was so great that "from that hour" he considered Mary as his own mother. John's love was like a deep and broad river, which flows with tranquil blessings till it meets some great obstacle of wrong. Then it rises into a mighty, impetuous torrent; bursting forth into intense moral indignation, sweeping away anything seeking to destroy the person and cause of his beloved Jesus. It is John's passionate affection that made him so indignant at the Samaritans who refused to receive Jesus, that he would have called down heaven's lightening to blast them (Luke 9:54), that, in large part, made him ambitious to sit close to Jesus in His kingdom (Mark 10:27), and made him so courageous in the high priest's palace, while Peter the bold was denying his Lord. In five New Testament books the Holy Spirit4 inspired John to write the word "love" (agape), one hundred and one times. It is no wonder that John is called "the apostle of love." Love is the greatest word in existence (1 Cor. 13:13; 1 John 4:8, 16); the most difficult, most divine, most manly and virile. Conclusion Jesus Christ is central to the Christian message of hope and salvation.5 This is evident from the profound preamble of the Gospel to the climactic conclusion of the Revelation. Jesus Christ takes center stage and remains there. Jesus came from glory to grime, from heaven to hell, and at last returned from the grave to glory. Why? Because He loves us so! He bore it all that we might live. Hopefully, these lessons will lead us to see Jesus as the Alpha and Omega, the Originator and Sustainer, the Message and the Messenger, the Savior, the Almighty King, the Judge. Above all, He is our hope and our salvation. Jesus takes us very seriously. A serious study of Jesus Christ in the writings of the apostle John will help us take Him more seriously – into the very center of our hearts. Jesus Christ is sufficient for our every need, and through faith in His faith6 we have the promise of eternal life in the light of His glorious presence. May we bask in the tenderness of His care, His message from the Father,7 His exemplary living from day to day, His marvelous deeds, His commitment to our eternal welfare, His unparalleled sacrifice, and wondrous truths, we will come to know that without Him as our helmsman we are like a drifting ship on a stormy sea; with Him as our pilot we can pass through the troubled waters and enter into the haven of rest.

Jesus Christ in the Writings of John is a companion series to The Life of Christ and is a brief walk through the writings of the Apostle John – the Gospel of John, 1 John, and Revelation – as they proclaim Christ.
Footnotes: 1 For more information on the Word of God, see God’s Word, A Religion Library section of 2 For more information on Jesus Christ, see God the Son, A Religion Library section of 3 For more information on the synoptic Gospels, go to The Life of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels section of 4 For more information on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit, A Religion Library section of 5 For more information on salvation, see God’s Salvation, A Religion Library section of 6 When we understand Romans 3:21-26 we understand the Gospel, all of Romans and the Bible. The 1885 English Revised Version changed “the faith of Christ” to “faith in Christ” in Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16, 2:20, 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; and Philippians 3:9. In his COMMENTARIES ON THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT, Coffman concludes that the King James Version is a correct translation of all these verses, a fact confirmed by the total agreement of the Emphatic Diaglott in each case. James Macknight, Adam Clarke, as well as other older commentators, also agree with the King James Version translation of these verses – “the faith of Christ”, like the “faith of Abraham” in Romans 4:16. On this subject, a full-time minister wrote: “God provides righteousness to those who believe. If through the faith of Jesus – everybody would be saved.” A Bible professor wrote: “Both ideas . . . are biblical . . .” An elder of the church wrote: “The believer’s faith causes him to respond to that perfect justification which is and was brought by Christ in His obedience to God’s will of offering His son as the perfect atonement for all mankind (sins).” We concur with the elder, older commentators, and Coffman, whose commentary on this verse is a scathing rebuke of many modern-day professors and preachers, pointing out that we should stay with the King James Version in this verse, because changing it represents the same tampering with the Word of God that resulted in the monstrosity of changing “the righteousness of God” to “a righteousness” (Rom. 3:21 & Rom. 1:17). Coffman writes: “the true Scriptural justification by faith has absolutely no reference to the faith of stinking sinners, but to the faith of the Son of God. The only end served by this change was to bolster the faith only theory of justification.” He further writes: “the true grounds of justification cannot ever be in a million years the faith of fallible, sinful people, would appear to be axiomatic. How could it be? The very notion that God could impute justification to an evil man, merely upon the basis of anything that such a foul soul might either believe or do, is a delusion. Justification in any true sense requires that the justified be accounted as righteous and undeserving of any penalty whatever; and no man’s faith is sufficient grounds for such an imputation. On the other hand, the faith of Jesus Christ is a legitimate ground of justification, because Christ's faith was perfect.” In the absolute sense, only Christ is faithful – “Faithful is he that calleth you” (1 Thess. 5:24). Only He is called “the faithful and true witness” (Rev. 3:14). The faith of Christ was also obedient; a perfect and complete obedience, lacking nothing. Therefore, we conclude that the sinless, holy, obedient faith of the Son of God is the only ground of justification of a human being – Christ only is righteously justified in God’s sight. How then are we saved? We are saved “in Christ,” having been incorporated into Him – justified as a part of Him. Our study prompts agreement with Coffman’s conclusion that faith is not the ground of our justification; it is not the righteousness which makes us righteous before God. The “faith of the Son of God” is the only basis for our justification, and that faith is definitely included in the “righteousness of God” mentioned in this verse. Even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ shows the principal constituent of God’s righteousness. In conclusion, God’s righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus Christ – His absolute, intrinsic, unalloyed righteousness – implicit in His perfect faith (mentioned here) and His perfect obedience (implied). The contrary notion that God’s righteousness is some imputation accomplished by the sinner's

faith is unfounded. Any righteousness that could commend itself to the Father and become the ground of anything truly worthwhile would, by definition, have to be a true and genuine righteousness. That righteousness was provided by the sinless life of the Christ, summarized in this verse as “through faith of Jesus Christ,” the idea being much clearer in the King James Version, “The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” We concur with Coffman on this subject, including his final conclusion, “. . . the word believe in this verse refers to sinners” faith (believer’s faith) which is no part of God’s righteousness at all, but, like baptism, is but a mere condition of salvation – being neither more nor less important than baptism.” 7 For more information on the Father, see God the Father, A Religion Library section of "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

Next / Index presents Jesus Christ in the Writings of John THE WORD MADE FLESH
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Subject: Plain Facts About Our Savior Jesus Christ Golden Text: "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." (John 1:14) The Son of God, knowing the Father’s heart, became man in the person of Jesus Christ, reveals to us the nature and love of our Father and His unending interest in man, and is our Savior from sin into the kingdom of heaven. Lesson Plan: Introduction He is the Word of God – and the Word Was God (vs. 1-3) He is the Source of Life (v. 4) He is the Source of Light (vs. 4, 5, 7-9) By Him We Become Children of God (vs. 10-13) The Word, the Life, the Light Was Jesus Christ (v. 14) Jesus Christ, the Revelation of the Father (vs. 15-18) Conclusion Light from Other Scriptures: The Divine Christ – Hebrews 1:1-10; John 3:16, 18; Colossians 1:16, 17; Isaiah 9:6; Philemon 2:5-11; Revelation 1:8, 12-16. The Word Made Flesh – Study the new light thrown upon this statement by the accounts of the virgin birth in Luke and Matthew; by John 3:16; Hebrews 1:1, 2; Romans 8:3; Philemon 2:7; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 1:1, 2. Learn by heart: John 1:1-14 (Nothing in all literature or all history is more worthy to be written indelibly on the heart).

Introduction Plain Facts About Our Savior Jesus Christ A great personality exerts a wonderful and indescribable charm. It radiates warmth; it creates an atmosphere; it breathes out

enthusiasm . . . The study of personality is more fascinating than the study of light, for while it sheds over us its transparent beauty, and apparently simple charm, when we begin to look at it through the prism of analysis, we find that it breaks up into more hues than those of the rainbow. While its greatest power is exercised when it is streaming in unanalyzed, it becomes more beautiful and more wonderful when seen in its elemental forces. (Hale) The first chapter of Corinthians has been referred to as, “The Spectrum of Love.” We may call the prologue to John’s Gospel as well as his other writings, “The Spectrum of Jesus Christ,” describing the elements that together form the perfect Savior of the world.

Scripture Reading: John 1:1-3 (KJV) He is the Word of God – and the Word Was God 1:1 ... “In the beginning [as in Genesis 1. Back of all manifestations of God] was the Word” which proceeded from Him. The Word is “the revealer of the incomprehensible and invisible God” (Exp. Greek Test.). Words are the expression of what is in the soul – reason, conscience, will, purpose. This Gospel account appropriately begins with the words, “In the beginning,” because a number of important beginnings can be seen in what John wrote. For instance: The beginning of all things (v. 3) The beginning of recognition of Jesus as Son of God (v. 34) The beginning of Jesus’ disciples (v. 41) The beginning of the apostleship (v. 41f) The beginning of use of title Son of Man (v. 51) The beginning of Jesus’ public ministry The prologue (1:1-18) does not deal with the details of Jesus’ birth. There is no genealogy of Jesus as Matthew and Luke give (Matthew 1; Luke 3). Instead, there is an opening statement that almost boggles the mind! John 1:1 begins with a phrase that echoes across the expanse of time: “In the beginning.” We immediately think of Genesis 1:1. Let us say the phrase “in the beginning” over and over. If we do, a question immediately arises: “Beginning of what?” If these two phrases in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 were all we had about God in the Bible, we could easily conclude that the writers were speaking about the beginning of God. However, the eternal existence of God is one of the major themes of the Scriptures. Therefore, we apply one of the classic rules of biblical interpretation at this point: Never interpret an obscure passage so as to contradict plain biblical teaching in another passage

on the same subject. Thus we conclude that “beginning” in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 refers to God’s creative work, not His existence. Hence the article “the” has been inserted in English translations. “Was the Word.” The Greek word Logos from which Word is translated was widely known in the world of John’s day, being found some 1,300 times in the writings of Philo, a Hellenistic Jew of Alexandria (30 B.C. to 40 A.D.). However, John owed nothing to Philo, who taught that “the absolute purity, perfection, and loftiness of God would be violated by direct contact with imperfect, impure, and finite things.” He went even so far as to say that “God could not be conceived of as actively concerned with the multiplicity of individual things.” Philo’s Logos had no hard identity of any kind, being called the “reason of God” in one view, and in another, “a distinct individual, or hypostasis, standing between God and man.” Philo’s Logos did not create anything, for matter was viewed by him as eternal; and it is impossible to form any intelligent harmony out of Philo’s writings on the Logos, described in the encyclopedia Britannica as “self-contradictory.” It was the inspired genius of the apostle John which seized upon this word, applied it to Christ, and gave it a meaning as far above anything that Philo ever dreamed as the heavens are above the Nile Delta where Philo lived. The Word, as applied to Jesus Christ, is found only four times in the NT, twice in this prologue (vs. 1, 14), in 1 John 1:1, and in Revelation 19:13.1 1:1 ... “The Word was with God.” The Greek preposition expresses not merely being beside, but a living union and communion; implying the active notion of intercourse. “The divine Word not only abode with the Father from all eternity, but was in the living, active relation of communion with Him” (Vincent). The apostle’s doctrine of the Logos is thus different from the Logos of Greek philosophy in these particulars: (1) The New Testament Logos is God, (2) is personal, (3) created all things, including matter, and (4) became flesh and dwelt among men. To presume that John got anything like that out of Philo’s Logos is like supposing Thomas Jefferson got the Declaration of Independence out of McGuffy’s Third Reader. 1:1 ... The Word was God.” There is only one God, and this statement guards against the error which the phrase, “with God” might suggest, that there is more than one. No one can more emphatically assert the absolute unity of God than both the Old and New Testaments. The apostle John left nothing to chance, categorically affirming in this third clause that the Word was indeed God, a truth reaffirmed at the end of the prologue (v. 18), and again by the apostle Thomas (20:28). John’s estimate of the deity of Christ does not exceed that of other New Testament writers.

“The statement 'the Word was God,' means that Christ was divine, and is therefore to be worshiped with the same worship as is due the Father” (Drumelow). 1:3 ... “All things were made by Him.” Whatever God does, the Word does. In Holy Scripture we are told that Jesus: Is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature . . . For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him (Col. 1:15) . . . Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the Word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Heb. 1:3)2 This is the first requisite of the Savior we need 1. He must be divine, with all knowledge and all power to save. 2. Thus He can reveal the truth about God, and His nature and His love, and about the heaven He has prepared for us. 3. Thus He reveals to us that God is a real person, in whose image we are made, and because we are like Him we can know Him and love Him. 4. Such a Savior, by attracting us to Himself, always attracts us to God. If He were not identified with the divine, all the love, honor and devotion we give Him would lead us away from God, toward idolatry. Now, the more we love Jesus, the more we love God. 5. Thus Jesus is in His person, in His actions, in His Words, in His character, which we see and know, a continual revelation of God, and of the reality of God. We have never seen God. He is invisible. It is difficult to realize His presence. But Jesus makes God real to us, just as the body, words and actions of our precious Friend makes us realize His invisible spirit. Holy Scripture gives us a marvelous statement of what Christ did in creation: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. The Word was God; the Word was with God. Through Him all things were made. (John 1:1-3) Here we have identification, relationship, and activity. In this compressed statement we have a paradox: complexity surrounds the simplicity of God. We see that the relationship between God and the Word spoken of in John 1:1-3 is in fact a Father/Son relationship. It necessitates a conclusion that both the Father and the pre-incarnate Son are deity. Therefore, the eternal Father/Son relationship of God is implied in every biblical passage about the creation of the world. Truly, as John wrote, “the Word [logos] was God. All things came into

being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” The conviction that the power of God created all things runs throughout the New Testament. However, the full realization that this power was expressed through – the logos – the preexistent Son, God the Son, who later became incarnate – comes to the forefront only in the writing of John, which completed the New Testament. It is tempting to read into these passages the clearly stated logos concept as found in the Gospel of John. After all, we usually read the Gospels first when we begin reading the New Testament. However, we should remember that, chronologically speaking, John’s writings are the last of the New Testament. This means that it was not until John’s awesome pronouncement near the end of the New Testament that the full brilliance of God’s creative work was unveiled. The logos/Word, the preexistent Son, God the Son, who later became incarnate, was shown to be the energizing power of God the Father. This logos/Word brought into being a universe that had not existed before; it was all a perfect display of the unspeakable wisdom and power of God.

Scripture Reading: John 1:4 (KJV) He is the Source of Life 1:4 ... “In Him was life.” The Power creating life, maintaining everything in existence, was in the Word. He was the fountain of existence to all things, including every form and degree and kind of life, natural and spiritual. “For as the Father raiseth the dead, and quickenth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will” (Exp. Greek Test.).3 In the first chapter of Genesis the word ‘create’ (whose meaning is interpreted by v. 3 of this chapter, “to cause to come into being”) is used only three times: (1) of matter, (2) of life, (3) of the soul of man. The efforts of men to produce either of these by the forces of nature have proven to be a failure. Life must come from life. It includes intellectual life, based on physical life, and spiritual life based on the intellectual. The great need of all living men is Spiritual Life, Eternal Life. Spiritual life means more than mere existence; Eternal Life means more than eternal existence. It is the kind of life for which the soul was created. The soul fulfills the functions for which it was made in the image of God. It is the life that has in it all the good, blessedness, and richness needed to make any life worth living. At the same time this glory of living does not need to fade away, changing into bitter fruit, the apples of Sodom, as do so many of the pleasures and golden dreams of this worldly life, but in Christ the glory brightens, the blessedness increases forever and ever. It is life that makes heaven, heaven. The descriptions of the New Jerusalem are full of it. It is the life of Angels. It is the life of God. It is the life of love.

Scripture Reading: John 1:4, 5, 7-9 (KJV) He is the Source of Light 1:4 ... “And the life was the light of men.” For not only was the first effect of life on matter to produce light, but the first condition of seeing the light is life. All the light in the universe cannot make dead things see. Dead minds cannot know. And mere life without light is of little avail. It is difficult for us to realize what Light does for us. Light is everything to us. All things are practically non-existent without light. Light set in motion by life is the source of life, beauty, manifested reality, warmth, comfort, joy, health and power. What light does for the natural world, Jesus does for the world of man, for mind, soul and spirit. He reveals God, heaven, and truth; He shows the way; He cheers, comforts, vivifies, renews. Coffman wrote: God’s revelation of Himself to sinful and fallen humanity appears in this. Beginning at the gates of Eden, God laid down the program of instruction and revelation designed for the enlightenment of all men, and the guidance of all men into the way of eternal life (Gen. 3:15). Although the Adamic fall is not mentioned here, it is implied through the identification of man’s source of light, being not within himself, but derived from the Savior. Only they are enlightened who now the life of Christ; all others are in darkness. 1:5 ... “The light shineth in darkness.” The darkness of the physical universe, changing it into all the glories and blessedness inconceivable, which all living brings enjoy. Still more, the light shines in the darkness of sin, ignorance and error, the spiritual darkness of the world, without hope, without God, without heaven. Every religion has something of God’s light. But Jesus Himself was the great light of the world. 1:5 ... “And the darkness comprehended [‘apprehended’] it not.” Did not admit or receive the light so that the darkness would be removed; did not grasp or take possession of, as one would grasp a prize in the games. The world has never yet received all the light God has sent. Another translation is interesting – “the darkness overcame it not.” The light, though sometimes apparently overcome, was really victorious; withstanding every assault, continuing triumphantly in a darkened world. “This is not a ‘wail’ (as some have said), but a note of exultation, a token of victory” (Schaff).

The unregenerated world hates God and the knowledge of His truth; but the hatred and opposition of evil men cannot prevent the light from shinning. It shines of its own inherent glory regardless of how inadequate human response to it might be. The history of the last . . . millenniums is here summarized as the Light shining in darkness! (Coffman) 1:6 ... “A man sent from God.” The apostle now turns from the statement of the great truth, to the witness to that truth, so that men would receive Jesus as the Light. “Sent from God” identifies John the Baptist as a true prophet with a valid message from God. This verse, and the two following, forms a parenthesis in this prologue dealing with the mission of John the Baptist. 1:7-8 ... “The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light . . . He was not the light, but came that he bear witness of the Light.” This parenthesis, including v. 6, presents the following facts with reference to John the Baptist: He came from God and was therefore a true prophet. He was not the light. His mission was to bear witness to the light To bear witness to the light was to bear witness to Jesus Christ. It is true, of course, that Jesus Himself said of John, “He was the lamb that burneth and shineth; and ye were willing to rejoice for a season in His light” (5:35); but the apostle John here made a distinction between the light of John the Baptist, which was a dim and borrowed light, and that true light which lighteth every man coming into the world. In no sense could John the Baptist be that light. As the true light, Christ was self-revealed, independent, preexistent, and eternal. He was the perfect light, in that the source was in Himself as identified with the Father.4 1:7 ... “That all might believe through him.” The purpose of God in sending John the Baptist was that all men might believe in Christ. His was the function of a herald who went before a king, announcing His coming, preparing the popular mind to receive Him. John the Baptist effectively discharged that responsibility. The fact that many would not believe was due to hardening and prejudice on their part, not due to any fault of the noble herald who went before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah. 1:9 ... “That was the true Light.” The real, genuine, as contrasted with counterfeit or symbolic light. John was the witness; here was the test. The test of true religion is that it is adapted to all needs, circumstances, ages, races, and all degrees of intelligence. It is the sun, not an electric lamp.

Scripture Reading: John 1:10-13 (KJV) By Him We Become Children of God 1:10 ... “He was in the world.” By creation, in all nature, providence and revelation – last and most, in the person of Jesus Christ.5 These words bluntly state a near incredibility. That the very creator of the world should cast aside the glory of His eternal existence, choosing to enter earth life as a man subject to all the inconveniences and limitations of the flesh – that is a fact of awesome wonder; but added to that is the obstinate and rebellious refusal of the Lord’s creation to acknowledge Him when He came! As the prophet cried out so long ago, “Lord, who hath believed our report?” (Is. 53:1). 1:10 … “And the world knew Him not.” Did not recognize Him, did not acknowledge His claims, and took no notice of His advent and teachings. He seemed to be no part of the history of the times – yet; this being has changed all history and all nations. Coffman points out that “God was taken by surprise by man’s refusal to know the Lord, for His prophets had faithfully foretold it. The repetition of “world” in these lines dramatizes the marvel of humanity’s not knowing Jesus when He came.” 1:11 ... “He came unto His own.” The chosen race, the people specially prepared for His coming, the ones who were looking for their Messiah, to whom the promises had been given, His brethren according to the flesh. 1:11 ... “His own received Him not.” The nation, as a whole, did not receive Him as their promised Messiah, King, or Redeemer. They might today be walking as kings and princes, the central power and glory of the world, the transforming power of the nations, in whom all nations were to be blessed, had they only received Him. Compare the parable of the wicked husbandmen (Matt. 21:33-44). These words strongly remind one of Paul’s words (Rom. 9:1-5). John, having registered the fact of the unbelief of the chosen people (in major part, that is), next turned to a consideration of those who had received Him. 1:12 ... “Gave He power.” R.V., “the right.” The original word combines the two ideas, both the “right” and the “power.” 1:12 ... “To become the sons [better, “children”] of God.”6 Every person in one way is a child of God, made in His image. But there is a far higher sense in which we may be His children, born in His spiritual likeness, into His purposes and character. 1:12 ... “Believe on His name.” By choosing God, accepting Him as Teacher, Savior and King. This is the human condition, the necessary act of the soul. 1:13 ... “Born [made new; come into new life], not of blood [of ancestral inheritance. They were not sons of God, because they were Jews, descended

from Abraham], nor of the will of man [the individual father and mother. However good they may be, they cannot impart the new spiritual life], but of God.” God’s life imparts itself to the person who will receive it. It is the same kind of life as God’s.7 New birth New birth is a condition of salvation. The apostle John assumed that believers who received the right to become God’s children would exercise it by obeying the Gospel, being born again.8 The burden of the thought in this verse is that the new birth is spiritual, from above, from God, and not from Abrahamic descent, that is, “of blood,” nor “by the flesh,” nor “of the will of man.” In other words, the new birth is not caused by, and does not follow, sexual activity, whether of men or of women. Two thoughts in this verse are developed later in John’s Gospel: the new birth in chapter 3; and the true children of Abraham in chapter 8.

Scripture Reading: John 1:14 (KJV) The Word, the Life, the Light Was Jesus Christ 1:14 ... “And the Word was made flesh.” Became flesh, “human nature, as a whole, under the aspect of its present corporeal embodiment” (Exp. Greek Test.). Through the Virgin Mary and the miraculous conception, the worthy and fitting way in which the Son of God should become flesh.9 “The phrase ‘became flesh’ means more than that He assumed a human body. He assumed human nature entire, having a human body, a human soul, a human spirit” (Vincent). The Spirit and the Word were together with God in creation.10 The New Testament makes the astounding announcement that “the Word was God.” Jesus was the living Word (John 1:14). He came out of the wilderness after the temptations full of the Spirit and in His power. At some point after God created mankind, something went terribly wrong. The man and woman chose a self-serving path and disregarded God’s protective warnings. This sin cost them their fellowship with God and brought on the horror of death. The chasm between God and Adam and Eve was deep and wide. The consequences were far-reaching; they even affect us. As every link in a chain used in oil drilling is smeared with oil, each generation in human history has been linked and smeared with sin. Unless altered, the human race was doomed to death (Rom. 5:12). We were separated from God and without hope in the world (Eph. 2:12). All would have been lost if God had not acted on our behalf. In an incredible demonstration of love, mercy, and grace, God came to earth in Person! He crossed the gulf. He built the bridge. He acted out of love that cannot be measured by its height, depth, breadth, or length. What He did was not only unexpected; it was undeserved. What glorious, joyful, invigorating good news! On the other hand, how easy it is to misunderstand!

Many of the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament pertained to the coming of God’s Messiah. The culmination of these is seen in the coming of Jesus. By the time the New Testament was completed with the writings of John, it had been revealed to the church and the world that not only was Jesus the Son of God, but He was also God the Son (John 1:1-14; 20:26-31). Our specific goal in this series of lessons is to deepen our understanding and heighten our appreciation of what God has done for us. 1:14 ... “And dwelt among us.” Greek, “tabernacled” among us, dwelt as in a tent, as the Shekinah, the glory, the divine Presence dwelt in the tabernacle in the wilderness. The word, “tabernacled,” expresses two thoughts: (1) That Christ really dwelt among us, not merely appearing to some person, or coming in a vision, as in previous ages; and (2) That His abode among us was temporary, only a few years. The Greek word (translated “dwelt”) derived from the noun for “tent,” is often used without any reference to its etymology; but so allusive a writer as John may well have been thinking of the tabernacle in the wilderness where the Lord dwelt with Israel (Ex. 25:8:9; 40:34), and more particularly of that pillar of cloud above the tent of meetings, typifying the visible dwelling of the Lord among His people.11 1:14 ... “And we [John and many others in Palestine] beheld His glory.” – The outshining of His character in all His teachings, healings, actions, sufferings and death for others. This expresses the loving kindness and tender mercies and everlasting love of God the Father. 1:14 ... “Only begotten.” This is peculiar to this apostle, and used in 1:18; 3:1618, and 1 John 4:9. Such a title could never have been used except by one who understood and accepted the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ. The unique authority and glory of Christ also appear in this, because such a title excludes the notion that any human being, or any angel, could be the Son of God in the sense that Jesus is. 1:14 ... “Full of grace.” Greek for “grace” = “charis.” From the same root as “chairo;” meaning “to rejoice.” Primarily: “that which gives joy or pleasure;” and hence “outward beauty, loveliness,” something that “delights” the beholder – a loveliness of form in the Greek graces and loveliness of character in the Christian graces. Therefore, “grace” means “the expression of this to others, kindness, favor, good will,” the loving kindness of God, His perfect delight in helping man, and in producing in them all the loveliness and graces of character, making heaven what it is. The combination recalls the description of Jehovah, Exodus 34:6, and is not infrequent in the O.T. As applied to the Lord, the phrase marks Him as the author of perfect Redemption and perfect Revelation. Grace corresponds with the idea

of revelation of God as love (1 John 4:8, 16) by Him who is Life; and truth with that of the revelation of God as light (1 John 1:5) by Him who is Himself Light (Westcott). 1:14 ... “And truth.” – Reality, sincerity; the revelation of things to us just as they are.

Scripture Reading: John 1:15-18 (KJV) Jesus Christ, the Revelation of the Father The witness Again the apostle brings in his witnesses so that men may believe. 1:15 ... “John beareth witness of Him and crieth, saying, This was He of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for He was before me.” The principal purpose of this Gospel is stated in 20:30-31. As one of the herald’s original disciples, John was in a position to speak with authority pertaining to the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. This verse shows exactly what the relationship truly was. Between the two, there was the difference between God and man, time and eternity, finite and infinite, between sun and reflected moon-light, between the Lord and the servant unworthy to unloose His sandals. In fact, John the Baptist himself had faithfully borne witness to the difference. The statement of the herald John that Christ was “before” him shows that the apostle’s understanding of the pre-existence of Christ and the eternity of the Word had begun with His own acceptance of the teaching of the herald John on those very subjects. The herald was six months older than Jesus, and, only in respect to Jesus’ eternal existence before the incarnation, could he have affirmed that Christ was “before” him. Dummelow paraphrased it this way, “He existed before my birth, and even before His own birth, as the eternal Son of God.” When John the Baptist began his ministry, he quickly pointed out to the religious authorities that he was not the Messiah. Rather, he was preparing the way for Him. John never called Jesus the Messiah, but he insisted that the One coming after him – who was actually before him – was much greater than he. His statements implied the Messiahship and affirmed the Lordship of Jesus (Matt. 3:1-3; John 1:15, 19-23, 30). Therefore, when Jesus entered into His ministry after His baptism, it is not surprising that He was often referred to in terms of kingship by many of His Jewish contemporaries. Some, believing Him to be a great prophet, wanted to make Him king (John 6:14-15). Others cried out, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Some Gentiles were also aware of the aura of kingship that surrounded Jesus’ life and ministry. At His birth, magi from the East, presumably Gentiles from Persia or Arabia came seeking the one born “King of the Jews” (Matt. 2:1-2). Near the end of Jesus’ life, Pilate, the Roman governor, was particularly concerned about Jesus’ reputation and His acknowledgment that He was the Messiah, the King, and the Son of God (Matt. 26:63-64; John 18:37). At Jesus’ crucifixion, Pilate ordered a sign to be placed on the cross; it read: “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS” (John 19:19). The testimony of experience 1:16 ... “Of His fulness,” His inexhaustible store of grace and truth, which belong to the Son of God; a fountain forever flowing; a sun forever shining. 1:16 ... “Have all we received.” We know what these are by experience; we have felt His love, His forgiving love; we have received His grace in our hearts; we have seen His loving deeds; we have heard His gracious words; we received His gift of Pentecost; His graces have begun to grow in our hearts; we have been transformed by Him. In his Commentary on John, Coffman wrote, All blessings come from God. The wealth men receive is invariably through the employment of God-given talents and opportunities; the vigor, strength, health, and intelligence of every person is given to him from above. The great artists have no cause for the vanity which often marks their conduct, since all skills and abilities are from the Lord. In his remarkable Essay on Experience, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: Nothing is of us or our works . . . all is of God. Nature will not spare us the smallest leaf of laurel. All writing comes by the grace of God, and all doing and having. I would greatly allow the most to the will of man, but I have set my heart on honesty in this chapter, and I can see nothing at last in success or failure, than more or less of vital force supplied from the Eternal. Illustrations: Jesus is the inexhaustible source of grace and truth In the Norse legends, Thor was given a drinking-horn, which he vainly tried to drink dry. He afterward learned that it was connected with the ocean, and he would have had to drink all the water of the world before emptying the cup. An Eastern king was showing his treasure-chest to the ambassador of the king of Spain, after their discovery of the mines in America. The ambassador put his hand to the bottom of the king’s chest, and said, “I can reach the bottom of your treasures; but there is no bottom, no end, to the treasures of my Master.” 1:16 ... “And grace for grace.” Margin “grace upon grace.” Either: (1) the same graces in us which are in the Master, the same spirit, the same loveliness, the

same good will to men, the same fruits of the spirit, or (2) grace upon grace, cumulative grace “so that ever and anon fresh grace appears over and above that already received,” grace added to grace, or one grace the means of increasing other graces, as in 2 Peter 1:5-7. 1:18 ... “The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” It is difficult for us to realize the presence of a being we have never seen, Who is the invisible power intermingled with all the natural laws and movements of nature. It was so in Old Testament times; it is so today. But Jesus has revealed the Father. His character is the character of the Father; His deeds are the deeds of the Father; His miracles revealed the power, the presence, and the love of the Father; His words are the truths of the Father; His very coming was the revelation of the Father’s love. Jesus is His teachings, and in His works, shows us just what God is doing for men; He lives the divine life amid human things. He walks before us in the grace and glory of the heavenly Father. So that Lecky says that He “has not only been the highest pattern of virtue, but the highest incentive to its practice . . . The sample record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers, and than all the exhortations of moralist. This has, indeed, been the wellspring of whatever has been best and purest in the Christian life”12 Thus Jesus could say, "He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). In this magnificent verse, the apostle shows how men may know God, despite the fact that God may not be known through human sensory perception. God is revealed to mankind by Jesus Christ the Holy One. The nature and attributes of God are revealed through Christ whose identity with man is also perfect.

Conclusion Points of contact with modern life: Here we find exactly the Savior we need. Our first duty and privilege is, therefore, to receive Him. The Savior we need is the Savior for the whole world. Therefore we should make Him known everywhere, far and near. If we really believe in this Savior we cannot but exhaust every effort to have all men receive Him.
Footnotes: 1 James Burton Coffman, Commentary on John. 2 See John 3:16, 18; Philemon 2:5-11; Revelation 1:8, 12-16; Isaiah 9:6. 3 See John 5:21-26; 6:47-58. 4 Coffman, Commentary on John.


For more information on Jesus Christ, see God the Son in A Religion Library section; and The Life of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels from 6 See Romans 8:16, 17; “children and heirs of God,” heirs of His character, His home, His training, his blessedness. 7 Read in concert 1 John 3:1-3. 8 See John 3:5. 9 See Luke 1:26-38; Matthew 11:18-25. 10 For more information on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, see God the Spirit and God’s Word in A Religion Library section of 11 W. F. Howard, Interpreter’s Bible. 12 Lecky, History of European Morals. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

Previous / Index / Next presents Jesus Christ in the Writings of John THE WITNESS OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
(John 1:19-34; also read John 3:22-36; Mal. 3:1-3; 4:5, 6) Navigation: Previous >> Next

Subject: How John Bore Witness to Jesus Golden Text: "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) Lesson Plan: Introduction The Witness of John's Preaching The Witness to the Delegation from Jerusalem (vs. 19-24) The Witness of John's Baptism (vs. 25-28) Witness of John Pointing out Jesus to His Disciples (vs. 29-34) Conclusion Setting of the Lesson: Time: John the Baptist began preaching in the summer of A.D. 26. He had been preaching about six months when Jesus came to him to be baptized, and was pointed out by the Baptist as the Messiah about January, A.D. 27. The deputation of the Pharisees was six or seven weeks later, in February. Place: John preached chiefly in the Wilderness of Judea, a thinly inhabited region west of the lower Jordan and the Dead Sea. Jesus came to him and was pointed out to the people at Bethabra (ford-house or boat-house), beyond Jordan, fourteen miles south of the Sea of Galilee, called "Bethany," in the R.V. Intervening History: The childhood and youth of Jesus, thirty years; His baptism by John; the temptation. Jesus – Thirty years old, just entering His ministry. John the Baptist – Thirty and one-half years old, having preached six or eight months in the wilderness. Rulers – Tiberius Caesar, emperor of Rome, 15th year from his association with Augustus (Luke 3:1), but 13th as sole emperor. Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea (2nd year). Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee (31st year). Research and Discussion: John the Baptist. The prophecies concerning him, how fulfilled. How he prepared the way for Jesus. Different ways in which he bore witness to Jesus.

The character and nobleness of John as shown in this lesson. The success of men who seem to fail. Why Jesus is called the "Lamb of God."

Introduction This lesson is best considered through a series of scenes showing how John bore witness to Jesus, introducing Him to the people. These scenes should be set forth in such a way that students will see the real doings of real living people. In order to accomplish this use your imagination and see the transactions, in your mind's eye point out each person, each act, as on a picture spreading out before your presence. John the Baptist Born in the summer of B.C. 5, probably at Hebron, six months before Jesus. His parents' names were Zacharias and Elizabeth, both of priestly descent from Aaron. John was a relative of Jesus (Luke 1:36). For thirty years he lived a retired, ascetic life in the wilds of his native land. Doubtless, during these silent years, he had been studying the ancient prophecies, watching the tendencies of the times, their sins and their danger; and, in communion with God, had seen the only way of safety. Then the Word "came 'upon' him, as it literally reads, probably in one of those wonderful theophanies, as when God spoke to Moses from the flaming bush, or as when He appeared to Elijah upon Horeb." (Burton). Suddenly, like Elijah of old, with an abruptness almost like a flash of lightning from a clear sky, he appeared "a burning and shining light among the hills of Judea." His appearance was like that of the great prophet Elijah as he appeared, and, doubtless, correctly, to the popular mind. He was their ideal of a great prophet, raised above caring for temporal things, and protesting against the luxury of the age. He was clothed in the coarse, rough cloth called, in the Scriptures, "sackcloth," manufactured from the long and shaggy hair of the camel. It was cheap, but admirable for keeping out the heat, cold, and rain. This mantle was girded around him with a leather girdle of undressed hide. His food consisted of locusts, closely resembling our grasshoppers, and wild honey, which is found abundantly in the hollows of old trees or in rocks in Palestine. His manner of living was natural and easy under the circumstances. His work was to bear witness to Christ, and prepare the way for His mission of Redemption. For six months before Jesus began His public ministry and for more than a year contemporary with Him, John bore witness before the people, the Jewish priests, the Roman soldiers, the rulers, the king, with heroic courage and noblest faithfulness. Then for a year more he bore silent witness as a prisoner in Herod's castle, and when his work was accomplished, then, as the blossoms fall when their work for the fruit is done, he joined the glorious army of the martyrs who "Climb the rugged steeps to heaven, Through peril, toil, and pain," to sing with them the song of triumph of Moses and the Lamb.

A hero of the ages John's life from beginning to end was heroic. His willingness to seem a failure in order to be a success just doing his work was heroic. Seeming failure is often the greatest success. James Martineau once said, "A world without failure would be a world without agony, and a world without agony would be a world without hero, saint, or martyr." History has made immortal not only the men who have achieved great success, but those who have been worldly failures while achieving the success of faith, courage, righteousness and self-sacrifice. Hannibal, Leonidas, Socrates, Savonarola, Dante, and a long list of other names are immortal, while the seemingly successful men of their day are forgotten. The seeming failures are often the inspirers and comforters of the world. John's mission, fulfillment of prophecy, a vision across the ages Centuries before His coming, prophets foretold the Christ, the Redeemer. With divinely illumined vision they had seen Him, picturing in wondrous colors, and the glories of His reign. For ages these visions had been spread out before the Jewish people, possessing their thoughts and hopes. But the beginnings were so small, so feeble, so different from their expectations, dazzled by the glories of the final outcome that they were in danger of not recognizing the Redeemer when He did come, as the stars cannot be seen when the sun is shining. But two prophets foretold a sign which would bear witness to His coming. Isaiah (40:3) pictured the work of one who would immediately precede the Messiah, preparing the way before Him. And Malachi showed the forerunner coming in the spirit and power of Elijah. John the Baptist was the realization of the portrait, doing exactly what the forerunner was expected to do, and thus he bore witness that the promised Messiah was at hand, as the morning star is the forerunner of the sun.

The Witness of John's preaching Scene: the wilderness of Judea John preaching. Great crowds of all classes of men flocking to hear him. Multitudes baptized confessing their sins. Indications of great expectancy and excitement. John's preaching was well adapted to awaken a consciousness of guilt, danger and need. He denounced the sin of men to their faces. His preaching was of the "Thou art the man" order. He told Herod that he was a criminal, the Pharisees that they were a brood of vipers; he bade the soldiers cease from violence, and the publicans from dishonesty. He appealed to patriotism, showing that the nation was a fruitless tree, and that the ax was already lying at its root. He made men see that unquenchable fire was burning, consuming those who insisted on being like worthless chaff, or like trees bearing evil fruit.

How did this bear witness to Christ? Jesus Christ was at hand with help for every one of these needs – forgiveness for the guilty, victory for the tempted, safety for those in danger, food for the spiritually hungry, the water of life for the thirsty, guidance for the erring, comfort for the sorrowing, healing for the sick, new life for the dying, hope for the hopeless, satisfaction for every need, "love divine all love excelling," for all. So far as John made them feel their needs, that’s how far his witness was effective for the Savior Who could meet their needs with inexhaustible supplies.

Scripture Reading: John 1:19-24 (KJV) The Witness to the Delegation from Jerusalem Scene: at Bethabara – on the banks of the Jordan. Here begins the historical story of the manifestation of the Word made flesh, considered in the last lesson. John the Baptist had been preaching some months. He had baptized Jesus (Matt. 3:13-17), and seen the signs by which he recognized Jesus as the Messiah (vs. 32-34). Jesus had passed through His testing by the temptations in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). The statements following the words "The next day" in v. 29 make this order certain. 1:19 ... "This is the record [the witness] of John" on three successive days. It was a time of excitement and ferment respecting the Messiah. The thoughts of the new dispensation were in the air, but with a confusion of definite expectations. John's appearance, preaching and great success aroused the inquiring minds of even the rulers. 1:19 ... "The Jews." Probably the Sanhedrim, source of authority; composed of priests, elders and scribes, but they 1:19 ... "sent priests and Levites," probably because John the Baptist's father was a priest. Those sent were Pharisees (v. 24), representing the religious and national hopes, having the most earnest expectations of the Messiah. 1:19 ... "To ask Him, Who art thou?" Not His name, but whom do you claim to be? The questions of the people as to whether this reformer was the Messiah or not had reached their ears.1 1:20 ... "He confessed, and denied not." As if he had been tempted to claim honor which the people could have easily been induced to bestow on him, but "with earnestness, almost horror, he disclaimed" it. "His high conception of the office emphasizes his acknowledgment of Jesus" (Exp. Greek Test.). "He was not the Light, but was sent to bear witness of the Light" (v. 8). 1:20 ... "The Christ." The Anointed One; Hebrew "the Messiah," Whom they were expecting.

1:21 ... "Art thou Elias?" Elijah, the forerunner of the Messiah (Matt. 17:10; Mal. 4:5, 6). 1:21 ... "I am not." Compare Matthew 11:14, where Christ says that John is Elijah. Christ speaks figuratively, John answers literally, and humbly, and in reply to the expectations of the people of a literal return of Elijah. 1:21 ... "Art thou that [the] prophet?" The well known prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15, who some thought would be a second Moses, others a second Elijah, others the Messiah. Allusion is made to this prophet in three other places (John 1:25; 6:14; 7:40). 1:23 ... "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness." He was the fulfillment of a prophecy well known to them. John was a Voice making known the Word, meaningless without the Word. John is called "a voice" because: (a) He was the utterer of God's thought; (b) "The whole man was a sermon"; (c) He called attention not to himself, but to his message, as does every true (d) preacher and teacher of the Gospel. Himself weak and insignificant, like words, sound, motion in the air, he yet produced a mighty effect on the souls of men. In the wilderness. A pathless, fruitless waste, which "fitly symbolizes the spiritual condition of the Messiah's people" (Exp. Greek Test.). 1:23 ... "Make straight the way of the Lord." He prepared the way for Christ, as in the Orient with its shifting sands and imperfect roads; there was anciently a straightening and repairing of the roads when the king was to travel over them.2 The witness: Not only John's testimony but also his whole work of preparing for Christ was a witness. Preparation of the road-bed: Witness to the railroad and its trains? Preparation of the ground, assembling of stones and lumber: Witness to coming building? Preparation of wires: Witness to the coming of electric lights, cars, telegraph, telephones, and computers? Etc.

Scripture Reading: John 1:25-28 (KJV) The Witness of John's Baptism 1:25 ... "Why baptizest thou then?" They expected a general purification before the coming of the Messiah (Zech. 13:1; Ezek. 36:25). If John was not the Messiah, not the divinely promised Elijah and prophet, by what right did he call men to repentance, asking them (the Jews) to join the kingdom of God by a rite used for proselytes becoming members of the Jewish religion and nation. John's answer: 1:26 ... "I [emphatic] baptize with water [the sign and symbol of real purification, the preparation for the Messiah]: but there standeth one among you..." At this very time, though you do not recognize Him. He has been standing on these banks, mingled with the crowd, baptized in these waters, the One of Whom I testified 1:27 ... "Who coming after me is preferred before me," and who is so much greater than I, that His 1:27 ... "shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose." The latchet was the leather thong or string which bound the shoe or sandal to the foot. Untying it was one of the most menial services one could do for another. As much as a prince was greater than his meanest slave, so much greater was Jesus than John. 1:28 ... "In Bethabara" (house of the ferry-boat). "Both revisions read ‘Bethany’ (boat-house). Not the Bethany of the Mount of Olives, for it was beyond the Jordan. Since the names have the same meaning, it is quite possible that it was called by both names indifferently" (Exp. Greek Test.), or the place was between the villages, and called by either.

Scripture Reading: John 1:29-34 (KJV) Witness of John Pointing Out Jesus to His Disciples Scene: on the banks of the Jordan, at the Bethabra fords. Great crowds. Jesus among them, approaching John. The second of the three successive days. 1:29 ... "Behold the Lamb of God." Jesus was so named by John, because the lamb was used in three ways as a symbol of the deliverance which Jesus brought: 1. John and his hearers were familiar with the representation in Isaiah (53:7) of the coming One, "as a lamb led to the slaughter."

2. Even more would the Jew think of the Passover lamb, as the type and promise of national deliverance. 3. The daily sacrifice of a lamb was continually before the Jews, teaching them the meaning of all the sacrifices, continually reminding them of their need of atonement3 for sin. It is well worth noting that Jesus died for our sins at the Passover feast, at the hour of daily sacrifice. 1:29 ... "Which taketh away the sin of the world." "To bear away sin is to remove the guilt and punishment of sin by expiation, or to cause that sin be neither imputed nor punished" (Thayer's Greek English Lex.). 1. The work of Christ is to do this for the whole world. 2. Jesus provides redemption enough for the entire world. 3. He pardons past sin, no longer remembering them, blotting them out forever. 4. He is actually removing sin from the world. Wherever He comes; wherever there is a heart that accepts and obeys Him, sin is being removed. 1:30 ... "And I knew Him not." Or, “I also knew Him not.” I, like you, did not at first know Him to be the Messiah. He now proceeds to tell them how he learned Who He was. 1:31 ... "But that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with [in] water." "While John did not know Jesus as the Messiah, until the hour of His baptism, he did know that his own work of baptizing in water was ordained for the purpose, among others, of manifesting the Messiah to Israel" (Hovey). 1:32 ... "And John bare record [witness] . . . I saw." Have seen, forty-two or more days before, when he baptized Jesus. The story is recorded in Matthew 3:16, 17; Mark 1:9-11. 1:32 ... "The Spirit descending from heaven [upon Jesus after His baptism] like a dove." (R.V., “as a dove out of heaven”). "The Holy Spirit descended, not only in the manner of a dove, but in bodily shape (Luke 3:22); which I cannot understand in any but the literal sense as the bodily shape of a dove seen by the Baptist" (Alford). 1:32 ... "And it abode upon Him." Pointing Him out, and expressing the permanence of the presence of the Holy Spirit. 1:33 ... "And I knew Him not." Did not recognize fully that He was the Messiah till this promised sign was given. Only by a divine revelation did he learn.

1:33 ... "He that sent me [John was conscious of his divine mission. He was sent by God] . . . the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost" and, therefore 1:34 ... "This is the Son of God." God's own peculiar only-begotten Son. God's own voice confirmed the sign to John and the people (Matt. 3:17). Luke adds "and with fire," to "baptizeth with the Holy Ghost" (3:16). Baptism means cleansing, and fire means warmth. How can warmth cleanse? The answer is that moral warmth does cleanse. No heart is pure that is not passionate; no virtue is safe that is not enthusiastic. (Ecce Homo) Symbols of the Holy Spirit4 1. “The dove” brooding "was symbolic of the quickening warmth of nature. In Jewish writings, the Spirit hovering over the primeval waters is expressly compared to a dove. Compare, also, Noah's dove as a symbol of the new creation" (Exp. Greek Test.). The “dove” expresses God’s abiding love in our hearts; and ever the Spirit produces, in the hearts of those dwelling in the Spirit, the dove-like nature, gentle, loving, attractive. 2. “Fire,” burning up the evil nature, cleansing the dross from the gold, warming, cheering, life-giving, enlightening. 3. “Water” cleanses, quenches thirst, refreshes, fertilizes, essential to fruits and flowers. The witness was: 1. John's testimony entirely disinterested and self-sacrificing. He gave his whole life bearing witness to Christ, resisting every temptation to gain notoriety, or making friends of the influential Pharisees. 2. It was the witness of facts that entirely convinced John himself. 3. It was the witness of a voice from heaven. 4. It was the witness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. "It was the token that in Jesus are fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament with regard to the pouting out of the Spirit in the Messianic age, and especially to the impartation of the Spirit to the Messiah Himself (Is. 61:1; Luke 4:18), prophecies which describe the crowning glory of the latter days" (Westcott). The result of such witness is the assurance that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior.

Conclusion Witnessing is a two-fold work. One the complement of the other, and both needful: 1. We need the witness that Jesus is the Savior, for the sake of our spiritual life and growth. Our assurance of the Gospel depends on facts. Theories, vision,

reasoning – are insufficient foundations for our hope. We need facts; we need the witness of those who know. Facts are the irrefutable evidence of Christianity. They are like Joseph's wagons. The words of Jacob's sons could not convince him that Joseph was alive, but when he saw the wagons his son had sent, he then believed. So the religion of Jesus is not mere theory; it is proved abundantly by facts. The fact that lives have been made better, changed for good, that wherever the Gospel enters a community or a nation it elevates them – like Joseph's wagons, all facts that should convince men. 2. We should be witnesses for Christ and His Gospel. What Jesus has actually done for us, and in us, is our witness to Him. Every victory we gain through the Gospel, every virtue of Christ that shines through us is a witness. Illustrations There is a fable of an old lantern in a shed, which began to boast because it had heard its master say he didn't know what he would do without it. But the little wick within spoke up and said: "You'd be no comfort at all if it wasn't for me! You are nothing; I'm the one giving the light." Like the lantern, we are nothing. But Christ is everything! Our hope and goal should be to keep in communion with Him, letting Christ dwell in us richly, shining forth through us. The lighthouse does not need to be labeled, "This is a lighthouse." The light tells its own story. Pity the person who goes around with a little light, saying, “Look at my light! See how I shine!” If you are filled with the Spirit of God, you will shine – you don't have to shout it. A Christian mother laid out for herself this program: "My aim, with God's help, is to live so that Christians I meet might become better, and those I meet who are not yet Christians, might come to Christ." She dedicated herself to being a daily witness of character and the perfecting of mind, body and spirit, so that her very life was a constant witness for her Master, Jesus Christ.
Footnotes: 1 Note: "The five questions of the priests represent a descending climax (the Messiah; Elijah; an anonymous prophet; why baptizest thou?); the short, laconic answers of the Baptist, in striking contrast, are rising from negation to affirmation, and turn the attention away from himself and towards Christ" (Schaff, Lange). 2 Trumbull, Studies in Oriental Social Life. 3 For more information on atonement, see Day of Atonement in Additional Resources section of 4 For more on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: The Kingdom of Heaven and How to Become a Member Golden Text: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Lesson Plan: Jesus Receives an Evening Visitor (vs. 1, 2) A Conversation Concerning the Kingdom of Heaven (vs. 3-8) The Authority Behind the Teaching (vs. 9-13) The Way to the New Life (vs. 14-17) A Persuasive Argument (vs. 18-21) Conclusion Setting of the Lesson: Time: Sometime in April, A.D. 27, during Jesus’ visit at Jerusalem for the Passover. Place: Some room in Jerusalem at a house where Jesus was a guest. Reached by an outer stairway. Jesus: With five or six followers. One miracle. One typical deed. One sign given. John: Still preaching in the wilderness. Place in the Life of Christ: Early in the first year of His ministry. The Judean ministry. The year of beginnings. Inductive Study of the Lesson: 1. Make a study of Bible teachings concerning the kingdom of heaven and its nature, using any good concordance under the titles “Kingdom of heaven,” “Kingdom of God.” 2. A study of the conditions of membership in it, such as “faith,” “repentance,” “confession,” “baptism,” “born again.” 3. From these write out a summary of your conclusions.

Scripture Reading: John 3:1, 2 (KJV) Jesus Receives an Evening Visitor

When, in what period of Christ’s ministry did this teaching occur? During the Passover feast, after the cleansing of the temple, and after Jesus had performed some miracles (John 2:23). It was one evening in the spring. Jesus spent the larger part of the first year of His ministry in Judea, giving the first opportunity to leaders, men of dominant personality, men of learning, wisdom and influence. Describe the man who came to Jesus one night 3:1 ... “A man of the Pharisees.” The most religious sect of the Jews; the most learned, the most devoted to the study of the Bible; the least entangled in Roman politics, cherishing the hope of a coming Messiah and Deliverer. At the same time many of them did not live up to their belief, and were selfish at heart, holding false notions concerning the Messiah and His kingdom. 3:1 ... “A ruler of the Jews.” That is, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court and Senate, or Parliament, combined. The members were scholars of authority, of great dignity, and of supreme control in state and church, always one in Jewish polity. He was probably a man of wealth and prominence among his fellow members. 3:1 ... “Names Nicodemus.” “Victory of the people,” or “Conqueror of the people.” Why did he go to Jesus by night? It is unjust to Nicodemus to charge him with cowardice because of this. He shows no sign of fear, but he does show wisdom and prudence, and the kind of timidity that is connected with these qualities. 1. He was probably busy during the day, and no doubt Jesus was not at home during the day, being out and about doing good. 2. The quiet evening hour, “far from the madding crowd,” was the best time for his purpose, and he could have as long a conversation as he pleased. 3. It was a matter of the commonest prudence not to commit himself publicly to the new Teacher till he knew more about Him. Why? Because if so prominent a man as Nicodemus had been seen consorting with Jesus all sorts of reports would have spread around, created misunderstandings, invited interference and hindering the accomplishment of his purpose. Sometimes courage is required to be viewed by others as being afraid. “Similarly the founder of the Megaric school of philosophy, visited Socrates by night when Athens was closed against his people by an edict” (Grotius). Compare the Queen of Sheba coming to see the wisdom of Solomon (Matt. 12:42; 1 Kings 10:1-13). What was his object in visiting Jesus? This is plainly seen in the statement he made to Jesus.

3:2 ... “Rabbi [Teacher, Master; a very respectful address], We know [and he soon gives his reason] Thou are a teacher come from God.” Not that he was a believer in Jesus as the Messiah, but he accepted Him as a prophet revealing the will of God. 3:2 ... “For no man can do these miracles [signs] . . . except God be with Him.” The signs were such that only God could do them. The Prophet could not do them of Himself. They were worthy of God and His messenger. Nicodemus, a learned man, certainly spoke admiringly of Jesus. As one “teacher” to another “Teacher,” Nicodemus saw in the “signs” Jesus performed evidence of God’s power and blessing. Did Nicodemus see more? Not necessarily. We know, however, that God was building up to revealing the true nature of His Son. The progressive revelation of God continued. Jesus was a Jew. His stature, learning, life, and activities led the Sanhedrin Rabbi Nicodemus to address Jesus, saying, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher” (John 3:2a). Jesus knew the Torah; the teachers of the Torah were aware that He knew well the Sacred Writings. Therefore, when Jesus used the Scriptures as testimony of His divinity, the teachers did not miss His point. They were aghast and incensed because they knew that He was serious. They knew He was claiming to be God. Nicodemus did not ask anything, yet his statement implies that he came to learn about the kingdom of God, and perhaps other questions being discussed among the people, such as “What message do You bring from God that will throw light on these stirring and perplexing questions?” “Is the kingdom of God at hand?” “Is John the Baptist taking the right course with his baptism of repentance?” etc. Who were present at the interview? Besides Jesus and Nicodemus it is likely the Apostle John was there, reporting what he heard and saw. The other four or five followers of Jesus were probably with friends in various parts of the city.

Scripture Reading: John 3:3-8 (KJV) A Conversation Concerning the Kingdom of Heaven
(It's Nature Shown by the Conditions of Belonging to It)

What is the kingdom of heaven? It is that condition or state where God reigns as King, where He is the supreme object of love and service, where His will is the law, and men obey it as naturally as they breathe, where all His subjects are formed in His holy image and inspired with His spiritual life. It is that for which we pray in the first petitions of the Lord’s

Prayer. Belonging to God’s kingdom means many things. He belongs to God’s kingdom: Who recognizes God as his Father; Who hallows His name; Who constantly seeks to obey God’s will without hesitation; Whose supreme desire and aim is that His kingdom shall grow; Who does God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven. And when all men have been offered and have accepted this supreme love and grace of God, then this world will have truly been transformed into paradise, the kingdom of heaven. Paul expresses the essential meaning when he places the “fruits of the Spirit,” whose source and inspiration are the Holy Spirit,1 in contrast with the “works of the flesh.” This kingdom naturally required some form or organization to best accomplish its work. But the two ideas, however closely allied, are as distinct as body and soul. One may have form without the spirit, as well as spirit without the organization. What was Jesus teaching about belonging to the kingdom of God? 3:3 ... “Verily, verily [repeated for the sake of emphasis], I [the Teacher sent from God] say unto thee [this is My message], Except a man be born again.” “Anew,” as in the R.V. Whosoever is “born again” is “born anew” and “born from above.” Although alive physically, we may be dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1). Death means separation. If we are spiritually dead, we are separated from God. Therefore, we must be born again of water and the Spirit in order to have “newness of life” (John 3:1-8). This new birth occurs when we are baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:311) and receive the Person of the Holy Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38-41). Spiritual life begins when the Holy Spirit enters in. If one allows the Spirit to continue to live within, “the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8b). Except a man have a new spiritual life imparted by the Holy Spirit, in addition to his natural life received through his parents. 3:3 ... “he cannot see [understand, know the meaning of, feel the motives, realize the presence of] the kingdom of God.” What is it to be born anew, from above? 1. We have a natural physical life. We live in a world of sense. Our supreme choice may be to enjoy this life, making its pleasures and desires supreme, possessing the things that minister to it, at any cost, at the expense of other people, at the expense of conscience, duty and love. This is the life of the flesh, of this world. A thousand good, lovely and charming things may come into this life. But when one or the other must give way, the test of life becomes: what is our supreme choice?

2. There is a life of supreme love to God and His commands, a spiritual realm, belonging to the higher nature. Whosoever enters into this realm is alive to God, righteousness and love. His chief controlling motives are love to God and love to man. His deepest choice is to serve and obey God. It is the beginning of a character that will grow into the heavenly life, perfection of the human being. This life is imparted by the Spirit of God, enabling one to choose God, gaining the victory over the lower nature. It is by this power, through this inspiration, under this influence that we are enabled to bear the fruits of the spirit which are the virtues of the kingdom of heaven. In his book “Brain and Personality,” Thomson points out that the will is the ranking official in man. The will is king in man. “It is the will which creates the man.” It is through the decision and choice of the will that the decision is made regarding which kingdom we will serve. And the Spirit of God works on this will. “Our wills are ours, we know not how, Our wills are ours to make them Thine.” Everywhere the issues of life are chiefly determined by the will . . . Christian discipleship begins where all excellence begins, in the dedication of the will to goodness ... Seek first God’s kingdom and its righteousness. This is not the whole of the Christian faith, but it is its first article . . . The reason is like the sails of a ship, which give momentum and lift; the feelings are the waves, thrown off tumultuously on either side; but the rudder, which direction and control to life, is the will. (Peabody) Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the great truth embodied in the Christian conception of entire surrender to the will of God . . . I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this. (William Harrison) “I resolved to devote all my life to God, all my thoughts, words, and actions” (Wesley). I have been for the last hour on the seashore, not dreaming, but thinking deeply and strongly, and forming determinations which are to affect my destiny through time and eternity. Before the sleeping earth and the sleeping sea and stars, I have devoted myself to God – a vow never (if He gives me the faith I pray for) to be recalled. (Kingsley) Does this new birth imply a perfect Christian character? The word “born” implies that this new life from above is the beginning of a process of growth. There has begun the child-like of the kingdom which, through the continued influence of the Spirit, will grow into “the perfect man in Christ Jesus,” and through stress and storm and battle become at last complete, like

the fisherman’s hut in Goethe’s, Tale of Tales, transformed, by virtue of the light within, into an exquisitely beautiful temple of solid silver. At any time during the process the unchanged portions of the rough timbers can be seen, and homeliness form of untransformed parts. But the Seeing Eye perceives the process. Why is one not born again unable to see the kingdom of God? Life is full of illustrations. A stingy man cannot see the blessedness of giving. One who has no ear for music cannot understand the seventh-heaven exaltation of those who are filled with the spirit of music. Those who live and move and have their being in the works of the flesh do not understand, for they have not experienced the meaning, the blessedness, the glory of a life filled with the fruits of the Spirit. Becoming absorbed in the forms and organization of religious systems can easily make any elder, deacon, preacher, teacher, and leader blind to the reality of the spiritual life it is intended to foster. Why was Nicodemus so astonished at this teaching? Because as a leader among the chosen people of God – representatives of the kingdom of God for ages – to whom were given the promises, who possessed the only temple of the true God, who were the one organization of the true religion, it was hard for Nicodemus to realize that all this was just the outward expression of the means leading to the real spiritual kingdom of God. The real spiritual kingdom of God, wherein dwells righteousness; whose atmosphere is love, devotion, worship of the heart, all that makes heaven what it is. The lampstand was made for the light. In his own view, Nicodemus had already been born into the kingdom, a child of Abraham, an inheritor of the promises, a worshiper of the true God. What further explanation did Jesus make? Jesus replied by repeating His teaching with an explanation. 3:5 ... “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit.” The new birth “of water and of the Spirit” is one birth, not two, despite there being two elements in it. Born of water One of these elements “born of water,” is water baptism; the element of the new birth which man must do and for which man is responsible. “For this reason, in Acts 22:16, Saul of Tarsus was commanded, ‘Get thyself baptized’” (Vine). “Born of water” is a reference to the ceremony of baptism; but there is no magic in water, nor does the ceremony itself contribute anything to sanctification, as often alleged. Millions of faithful Christians can testify that submission to the commandment of baptism did not automatically give them a new nature, the new nature coming through a growth process in consequence of the endowment of the Spirit. Care should be taken to distinguish between “baptism”2 as a reference to the immersion ceremony, and “baptism” meaning the new birth of which the

ceremony is an element. Jesus Himself used the word in this latter sense in Mark 16:16. What then does the ceremony of baptism do? 1. It is the last of the preconditions of salvation, the others being: believing, repenting, and confessing Christ. Once the sinner has complied with the preconditions of salvation, God then forgives all previous sin, granting a state of absolute innocence in God’s sight. Fulfilling these preconditions does not merit or earn God’s forgiveness. It does not place God under any obligation other than His own gracious and merciful promise, i.e., to endow obedient sinners with a status of absolute innocence in His sight. This is accomplished, not by the ceremony of baptism, but by God when the ceremony is obeyed – not before. This is clear from “Arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling upon the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). 2. The penitent sinner receives a clear conscience by submitting to the ceremony. This is affirmed by the apostle Peter (1 Pet. 3:21). Even many of the religious organizations denying the necessity of baptism have not dispensed with it altogether, no doubt because of conscience. The universal rejoicing attending submission to the ordinance of baptism was in New Testament times (Acts 8:38; 16:34, etc.), as in the 21st Century, certain evidence of a clear conscience. 3. The ceremony of immersion called baptism is the appointed device by which God inducts the penitent into corporate union with the Son of God, i.e., into His kingdom, church, or spiritual body. This status uniquely belongs to the baptismal ceremony. “Baptizing into the Name (Matt. 28:19) would indicate that the baptized person was closely bound to, or became the property of, the one into whose Name he was baptized” (Vine). Three times the New Testament declares that men are baptized “into Christ,” or into His “body” (Gal. 3:26, 27; Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 12:13). “Baptism is the occasion when the Spirit brings to new life him that believes in the Son of Man!”3 4. The baptismal ceremony is retrospective regarding past sins of the believer, i.e., the pivot separating believers from all sins, endowing a new status of innocence. It is earned? No! The new status is a gracious gift of God to unworthy sinners. But only to those who penitently take God at His Word and obey the Gospel. God, not men, adds the baptized believer to the kingdom or church of our Lord, Jesus Christ (Acts 2:47). 5. But there is more. The new baptized believer, having a clear conscience, forgiven of all past sins, and added to the spiritual body, receives the Holy Spirit, not to make him a member of Christ (baptism did that), but because he is a member (Gal. 4:6). This is the second element in the new birth. Isn’t the Holy Spirit all that really matters? Perhaps in a sense; but this all-important thing is connected with the ceremonial element (baptism), made a contingent of it, a consequence following Christian baptism. That is why both are required; why both are essential; not separated births but one new birth. The apostles honored this requirement of both elements before there can be a new birth. On Pentecost, Peter said: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Born of the Spirit The other element of the new birth, “born of the Spirit,” is the receiving of the promised Holy Spirit, an earnest of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13, 14). Born of water is done by man. Being endowed with the Holy Spirit is God’s work. Do you really think that if someone omits their part (not being baptized) that God will go ahead and endow the Holy Spirit anyway? John 3:5 clearly teaches that both elements are absolutely necessary in the new birth. Whereas the ceremony of baptism is retrospective regarding past sins, the reception of the Holy Spirit is prospective, looking to the perfection of the believer in Christ. It is this progressive work of the Holy Spirit that leads to a greater and greater degree of sanctification in the heart of the saved. Summary When a person is truly baptized (and only believing, penitent, confessing persons can be truly baptized), as Christ commanded, God sends the Holy Spirit into his heart (the second element of the new birth). When viewed in connection with this divine fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit, baptism is the new birth. But it is not a birth of water only, but of “water and of the Spirit” as Jesus said. On the other hand, when baptism is thought of as the water ceremony only, it is only part of the new birth, though a vital and necessary part. It is proper to use baptism as a synecdoche for the new birth in its entirety, as Jesus did in Mark 16:16. What does it mean to follow in the steps of Jesus? Jesus came to do the will of His Father. The will of God for Jesus meant baptism, temptation, and the cross. What does God’s will mean for us? It means the baptism of the Great Commission, for one thing (Mark 16:15). Jesus invited us to do God’s will and showed us how that following in the steps of Jesus means doing the will of God. If Jesus was so serious about John’s baptism, how serious should we be about a greater baptism, the baptism of the Great Commission? The baptism of the Great Commission is greater than John’s in its duration. John’s was only for a brief period; the Great Commission baptism is for the Christian Age. The baptism of John was administered by John; the baptism of the Great Commission was administered in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19-20). The baptism of the Great Commission is mentioned in the seven “ones” (Eph. 4:4-6), and John’s is not. 3:6 ... “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” etc. By the word “flesh” He signifies the appetites, desires, faculties, which animate and govern the body, as well as the body itself – the whole equipment with which nature furnishes a man for life in this world. This natural birth gives a man entrance into much, and forever determines much, that has important bearings on his person, character, and destiny. (Dobs)

3:6 ... “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” To belong to the spiritual kingdom it is essential to be born of the Spirit, just as it is essential to be born of the flesh to enter life in this world. This is the scientific law of biology. Even Aristotle lays down the same law, “every nature generates its own substance”4 3:7 ... “Marvel not,” because of the reason given in v. 8. Natural life is as full of mysteries as spiritual life. 3:8 ... “The wind.” "The same word in Greek as ‘spirit’ in the previous verses, occurring about three hundred and seventy times in the New Testament, meaning ‘wind’ only once, in a quotation from the Old Testament" (Exp. Greek Test.). Therefore two translations are possible, both teaching exactly the same truth.5 3:8 ... “The wind bloweth where it listeth,” or pleases, according to its own laws, absolutely beyond human knowledge and control. 3:8 ... “Thou hearest the sound thereof,” etc. You see the results, but the causes are beyond your reach. Even today, when we have daily reports from the weather bureau’, no one knows where and when a storm will arise. They see the storm and its direction, telling with great probability the place it is heading for and when it will get there. But regarding the beginning and end, they know not 3:8 ... “Whence it cometh and whither it goeth.” 3:8 ... “So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” We cannot know the Spirit’s methods. However, fruits of the new life are as plain and certain as forest trees bending in strong wind. We may not know much about how we are born again, but we know we are by the fruits. Even in the brightest light of science, the impartation of life to man, to animal, and to plant is still as great a mystery as ever. But the fact of life is a certainty. Summary In these verses Jesus helps Nicodemus believe and understand the invisible power of the new birth. It’s easy to understand that a baptismal ceremony can be seen; but forgiveness, a clean conscience, and receiving the Holy Spirit cannot be seen. Like the invisible wind’s profound power. Jesus tells him that he should not reject a doctrine merely because he could not understand it. Neither could the wind be seen, but its effects were well known, and no one doubted the existence or power of the agent. (Barnes) Is this teaching a hindrance to becoming a Christian? On the contrary, it is the greatest help, because the Holy Spirit is always present. It is no more hindrance than sunlight is a hindrance to seeing. You cannot see without light. Is that a reason for keeping the eyes shut when the light is always ready for open eyes?

Can we know when we are born again? Does anyone really believe that Jesus was telling Nicodemus he could not tell “when” the wind was blowing? We all know when the wind is blowing. Christ also revealed the “when” of the new birth. It was “when” we are baptized into Christ. As Paul said, “Being then made free from sin” (Rom. 6:17, 18 A.V.), that is, “when” we have been baptized. Paul was discussing Christian baptism in that passage. He did not hesitate to make the Christian’s baptism the exact moment, the “then” of being made free from sin, becoming a servant of righteousness. Briefly stated We must be born again of water and the Spirit in order to have “newness of life” (John 3:1-8). This new birth occurs when we are baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:311) and receive the Person of the Holy Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38-41). Spiritual life begins when the Holy Spirit enters in. If one allows the Spirit to continue to live within, “the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8b).”

Scripture Reading: John 3:9-13 (KJV) The Authority Behind the Teaching
(The Witness of Jesus to It's Truth)

What was Jesus’ authority for this teaching? First, the authority of Scripture. To Nicodemus’ exclamation 3:9 ... “How can these things be?” Jesus refers him to the Scriptures. A few similar questions might be: How did God create the heavens and earth? How does God answer prayer? How are the dead raised up? Illustration The chemist Farraday received an engraved cup of pure silver with his name and inscription on it. One day a workman knocked it into a jar of nitric acid and it was quickly consumed. The workman was frantic with concern, but Farraday only smiled. He added other chemicals to the jar, precipitated the silver from the solution, and returned it to the original craftsman; within six weeks, the same cup was sitting in its accustomed place, perfect as before, inscription and all! If man with his little learning can do something like that, how easily may God recall our human spirits and re-clothe them with robes of flesh. Shall we dare disbelieve it, simply because God has not permitted us to photograph Him in the process?

3:10 ... “Art Thou a Master [a teacher] of Israel,” your business being to study and explain the Scriptures. 3:10 ... “And knowest not these things?” You will find this truth in the Scriptures you teach.6 Is it not strange that the same pattern of evil is endlessly repeated? Just as the Pharisees of Jesus’ day stumbled at being “born of water,” i.e., at being baptized, so many in the 21st Century stumble at the very same thing; and it is no less a marvel now than it was then. Second, the authority of personal knowledge and experience. 3:11 ... “We speak.” “We,” referring perhaps to God the Son, God the Spirit and God the Father. Or “We” including perhaps the disciples gathered with Jesus, sharing in the witness of the power of the new birth. 3:11 ... “That we do know … have seen.” If “We” is referring to His disciples, it would have the force of saying, “Nicodemus, I am not merely speaking the truth to you, but the demonstration of it is also before your eyes in the person of My disciples; and yet you do not receive the truth.” 3:12 ... “If I have told you earthly things,” the need of the new life, the new birth, and its fruits, things which can be experienced, seen and tested here. 3:12 ... How shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” “Heavenly things” refers to such things as the incarnation, Christ dying for the sins of the world, the existence of the spirit world, the final judgment, heaven, hell, and all the great spiritual realities lying utterly beyond earthly vision. It was of some such heavenly things that Jesus spoke about to Nicodemus. In other words, these truths, i.e., divine forgiveness, perfect, free, universal love of God, the divine nature of Christ, the atonement, the reality of life beyond the grace, the way to obtain it, the blessedness of heaven, the glories of the Messiah’s kingdom, cannot be learned without a revelation from heaven; 3:13 ... “No man hath ascended up to heaven [and brought back the testimony of an eye-witness], but He that came down from heaven.” The “Word” of John 1:1-3, 14, Who “was with God, and was God,” and, therefore, knew absolutely the things which He revealed to men about spiritual and heavenly things. 3:13 ... “Which is in heaven.” Here Jesus claimed His unique office as God’s messenger Who descended to man out of heaven, and yet, in a sense, Who was still in heaven. This verse, admittedly difficult, has led to the view that heaven is a state rather than a place, and that Jesus could say the Son of man was in heaven even while He was on earth. Another

view supported by this is that during the personal ministry of Christ He continued in the full possession of His heavenly attributes. Still another concept that finds support is the doctrine of the ubiquitousness of Jesus. (Coffman) While on earth, Jesus’ home was still in heaven, and He continually maintained a vital connection with heaven. As Coffman pointed out above, so far as heaven is a state, Jesus was always in heaven. The whole universe is heaven to Jesus – His senses always open to perceive and receive.

Scripture Reading: John 3:14-17 (KJV) The Way to New Life 3:14 ... “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness.” This refers to the last of Moses’ miracles, on the borders of Canaan (Num. 21:4-9: 21:7ff). Because of rebellion and disobedience, the Israelites, on their wilderness journey to the Promised Land, were bitten by the fiery serpents, and many died. The bite was incurable. Moses was directed to make a brazen serpent, place it on a pole, and carry it through the camp, so that everyone could see. Anyone looking on this brazen serpent was cured. The looking was an act of faith, implying repentance and a return to obedience and God. It does not appear that the brazen serpent was ever intended as a type of Christ. It is possible to draw likenesses out of anything; but, in such matters as these, we should take heed that we go no farther than we can say, ‘Thus it is written.’ (Clarke) 3:14 ... “Even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” By His whole life, teaching, and character, but especially by the cross and its redeeming love, containing all motives and powers that attract men to Him. Today the crucified Jesus is the best known, most exalted person in all history, in the entire world, past or present and so will He be forever. Points of comparison 1. The painful and deadly nature of sin, like the bite of the fiery serpents. 2. It is incurable by human power. 3. The “mode” of lifting up, so that all may see. 4. The “design” was similar – to save those who were dying. 5. The “conditions” of cure were the same – looking, believing and obeying. What is the faith that saves?

3:15 ... “Whosoever believeth in Him.” Faith does not mean believing just any creed, doctrine or teaching of man’s religious systems. Romans 3 provides us with a clear understanding of the kind of faith that saves.7 1. Faith is a personal trust in Jesus, as King, Savior and Teacher. 2. Faith is total commitment to His guidance, to His revealed Truth. 3. Faith is trusting Christ so much that we seek out in God’s Holy Word how to be born again. 4. Faith is accepting and trusting Christ to put His obedient disciples under His personal influence and teachings. 5. Faith is accepting and trusting Christ so much that we believe what He says in the Holy Scriptures. 6. Faith is trusting Christ so much that we follow and obey all His directions and teachings as revealed in the Bible. He knows the way; and we trust His guidance. He brings promises from God, and we accept them all as true. 3:15 ... “Should not perish” from the effects of sin, the natural result of which is the ruin of the soul. We need to always be on guard and not be fooled by teachings of men, when in contradiction with God’s Holy Word, especially the misconception that is sometimes substituted for the verse now under consideration, changing its meaning to: “All believers shall be saved, whether or not they are ever baptized into Christ.” But, those souls, who, by faith, have been born again and who are now striving daily to obey God through studying, accepting and believing His Holy Word will never perish. 3:15 ... “But have eternal life.” Eternal life is the life which nothing can destroy, which endures beyond the grave, growing fuller and richer as the ages roll on. It is a Christian’s present possession, and does not begin with the world to come, but continues in it. It is more than mere endless existence. It is goodness, fullness of life, joy, peace, love. It is the kind of life lived in heaven, the kind of life God lives. William Harrison often spoke about everlasting life. Toward the end of one of his sermons, he said: I may lose fame, I may lose money, I may lose friends, I may lose everything – no, there is something I can never lose. Praise be to God, I shall always keep it – everlasting life. How do we know that the faith in Jesus that obeys will save us? We know it because the coming of Jesus and the death of Jesus are the highest proofs that God loves us, even when we were sinners; that He has done all that wisdom and love can do to save us from sin; and, as we have studied in this lesson, He has provided the means of salvation.

3:16 ... “God so loved the world.” Not merely heavenly beings, angels, seraphim, and saints, but this poor, sinful, unworthy world, so far from Him in character. It was this wonderful fact which the angels sang on the fields of Bethlehem. The greatest demonstration of that love in history is God’s great love offering – Jesus Christ, His Son. That was “agape,” the all-giving love: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus’ death on the cross was the greatest expression of human love that the world will ever know, because it was the perfect pattern of the love of God the Father made visible for all to see. 3:16 ... “That whosoever believeth.” The offer is unlimited. Faith is the great principle of Christianity, motivating every act of obedience, securing the believer in times of bewilderment or temptation, sustaining the disciple through tribulations and distress, enlightening the soul through every darkness. Faith is the first of the preconditions of redemption in Christ Jesus, and it is also the last in that there is never a single moment of the Christian pilgrimage when faith is not required. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Glorious as faith assuredly is, it is faith “in Christ” that saves, not faith “in faith,” as detailed in footnote7 below. It is no more a hindrance than the stairs are a hindrance to coming out from a burning building, or a road is a hindrance to reaching a place. Faith is that first step toward. It is faith that makes us yearn to obey Jesus Christ and it is faith that makes us burn inside to say, as the old gospel song, “Take Me to the Water.” 3:17 ... “Not ... to condemn the world.” Or “to judge” as in the R.V., for the world was already in sin, condemned, under judgment, as in v. 18. 3:17 ... “But that the world through Him might be saved.” The condemnation is no part of the Gospel, any more than the disease is a part of the doctor’s remedy. He might have to make men feel that their hidden disease is dangerous, so that men may be willing to be cured; but his work is to cure.

Scripture Reading: John 3:18-21 (KJV) A Persuasive Argument These verses repeat the truth in various ways “that there may be no possibility of missing the point that so far as God’s purpose was concerned it was one of unmixed love that all men might be saved” (Exp. Greek Test.).

The condemnation, darkness, deeds of darkness, the love of darkness are already in the world. Christ came to remove the condemnation, to bring the light, to save. Decision Day The one great essential, both for the individual, the State and the Nation, is a new life in the soul that supremely loves the good and hates the evil. This is the one way to the best life both here and hereafter. The State and nation is made up of individuals, and, therefore, if everyone had this new life the whole country would be free from its corruptions and crimes. The newspapers, radio and TV would give us the morning news about good deeds, instead of a flood of crimes and wrongs. Each of us needs a new heart, a new choice, a new source for a right life. There is a story about an old Spartan, who, after vainly trying to make a dead man stand upright, said: “It lacks something inside.” There is a story about a man whose clock would not go. It needed a new mainspring. Will we put ourselves in Nicodemus’ place and decide now to believe and obey Jesus with all our heart? Will we be born again of water and Spirit? Will we receive eternal life?

Conclusion Technology and Faith The human condition since World War II has remained agonizing. The Korean conflict reminded us that World War II was not the war to end all wars. The Vietnam bloodshed raised the specter of doubt as to whether peace on Earth is possible. The cold war of fifty years has yielded to provincial outbreaks of conflict with their atrocities, misery, and death. This human cauldron so characteristic of much of the twentieth century has been exacerbated by the bewildering advance of scientific technology in all fields of human endeavor. We are left reeling and uncertain, confused and fearful, shattered, with no solidarity, adrift, with no anchor. The feel of impending doom is heightened in the minds of many as our millennium draws to a close. In times like these, many people become “religious” for the first time. They often turn to some charismatic leader and find relief in escapism, cults, and “end-ofthe-world” (eschatological) thinking. Others, influenced by doomsday evangelists, turn to Jesus on a spiritual high that is carried along by excess emotionalism and sustained by showmanship and sensationalism. Back to the Bible

The preceding observations are intended to be a reminder that it has become intellectually valid to study the Scriptures as accurate historical accounts of the life of Christ. The search is not always easy; neither is it simplistic. However, if it is done diligently, the rewards are many and wonderful. Many different methods are being utilized today by advanced students of the Scriptures who have a deep faith in the veracity of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. It can be said with confidence that we cannot legitimately be branded as naive or foolish for turning to the scriptural accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus. On the contrary! In the Bible we find Him Who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life!”
Footnotes: 1 For more information on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of 2 For more information on baptism, see God’s Salvation in A Religion Library section of 3 G.R. Beasley-Murray. 4 Ethics Maj. 1:10. 5 It is possible that during the pauses of the conversation the wind was heard. 6 For instance: Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; 36:26; Jeremiah 24:7; 31:33. 7 When we understand Romans 3:21-26 we understand the Gospel, all of Romans and the Bible. The 1885 English Revised Version changed “the faith of Christ” to “faith in Christ” in Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16, 2:20, 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; and Philippians 3:9. In his “Commentaries on the Old and New Testament,” Coffman concludes that the King James Version is a correct translation of all these verses, a fact confirmed by the total agreement of the Emphatic Diaglott in each case. James Macknight, Adam Clarke, as well as other older commentators, also agree with the King James Version translation of these verses – “the faith of Christ”, like the “faith of Abraham” in Romans 4:16. On this subject, a full-time minister wrote: “God provides righteousness to those who believe. If through the faith of Jesus – everybody would be saved.” A Bible professor wrote: “Both ideas . . . are biblical . . .” An elder of the church wrote: “The believer’s faith causes him to respond to that perfect justification which is and was brought by Christ in His obedience to God’s will of offering His son as the perfect atonement for all mankind (sins).” We concur with the elder, older commentators, and Coffman, whose commentary on this verse is a scathing rebuke of many modern-day professors and preachers, pointing out that we should stay with the King James Version in this verse, because changing it represents the same tampering with the Word of God that resulted in the monstrosity of changing “the righteousness of God” to “a righteousness” (Rom. 3:21 & Rom. 1:17). Coffman writes: “the true Scriptural justification by faith has absolutely no reference to the faith of stinking sinners, but to the faith of the Son of God. The only end served by this change was to bolster the faith only theory of justification.” He further writes: “the true grounds of justification cannot ever be in a million years the faith of fallible, sinful people, would appear to be axiomatic. How could it be? The very notion that God could impute justification to an evil man, merely upon the basis of anything that such a foul soul might either believe or do, is a delusion. Justification in any true sense requires that the justified be accounted as righteous and undeserving of any penalty whatever; and no man’s faith is sufficient grounds for such an imputation. On the other hand, the faith of Jesus Christ is a legitimate ground of justification, because Christ's faith was perfect.” In the absolute sense, only Christ is faithful – “Faithful is he that calleth you” (1 Thess. 5:24). Only He is called “the faithful and true witness” (Rev. 3:14). The faith of Christ was also obedient; a perfect and complete obedience, lacking nothing. Therefore, we conclude that the sinless, holy, obedient faith of the Son of God is the only ground of justification of a human being – Christ only is righteously justified in God’s sight. How then are we saved? We are saved “in Christ,” having been incorporated into Him – justified as a part of Him. Our study prompts agreement with Coffman’s conclusion that faith is not the ground of our justification; it is not

the righteousness which makes us righteous before God. The “faith of the Son of God” is the only basis for our justification, and that faith is definitely included in the “righteousness of God” mentioned in this verse. Even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ shows the principal constituent of God’s righteousness. In conclusion, God’s righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus Christ – His absolute, intrinsic, unalloyed righteousness – implicit in His perfect faith (mentioned here) and His perfect obedience (implied). The contrary notion that God’s righteousness is some imputation accomplished by the sinner's faith is unfounded. Any righteousness that could commend itself to the Father and become the ground of anything truly worthwhile would, by definition, have to be a true and genuine righteousness. That righteousness was provided by the sinless life of the Christ, summarized in this verse as “through faith of Jesus Christ,” the idea being much clearer in the King James Version, “The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” We concur with Coffman on this subject, including his final conclusion, “. . . the word believe in this verse refers to sinners” faith (believer’s faith) which is no part of God’s righteousness at all, but, like baptism, is but a mere condition of salvation – being neither more nor less important than baptism.” "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

Previous / Next / Index presents Jesus Christ in the Writings of John JESUS THE WATER OF LIFE
(John 4:5-14; also study John 4:1-42) Navigation: Previous >> Next

Subject: Jesus Teaches a Lesson on the Water of Life Golden Texts: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. 22:17) “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” (John 4:14) Lesson Plan: Introduction The Teacher Resting by a Famous Well (vs. 1-6) The Unlikely Student (v. 7) The Wise Approach (vs. 7-9) Great Obstacles Overcome (v. 9) A Lesson on the Water of Life (vs. 10-14) Setting of the Lesson: Time: Probably December A.D. 27, inferred from the saying of Jesus in v. 35. Place: Province of Samaria. At Jacob’s well, near Sychar (commonly identified with the village of Askar, less than a mile north Jacob’s well; about 2 miles west of modern Nablus), in the valley between Mts. Ebal and Gerizim. Place in the Life of Christ: At the close of the Judean ministry and beginning of the Galilean ministry. The end of the first year of His public ministry. Jesus – now about 31 years old, having preached about a year. John the Baptist – Preaching at Enon, near the Jordan, between Jericho and the Sea of Galilee. Inductive Study of the Lesson: 1. The main theme of this study should be the water of life. The verses under each heading should be brought together, and the different thoughts and various aspects they present should be summed up, making a full and clear statement of the subject as revealed in the Bible, applying it to daily life. 2. The thirsts of the soul: Psalms 42:1-3; Matthew 5:6; 16:26; Romans 7:23, 24; Psalms 51:1-10; 63:1-3; Revelation 3:17. 3. The failure of the world to satisfy the thirst: Ecclesiastes 1:12-14; 2:1-11; Romans 7:18-24. 4. The Water of life. The symbol: Psalms 46:4; 42:1; 23:2; Matthew 5:6; John 4:10, 14; 7:37, 38; Isaiah 55:1-3, 10-13; 41:17, 18; 44:3; 35:1, 7; 12:3; Revelation 22:1, 2; Ezekiel 47:12; 36:25.

5. The water of life. The Holy Spirit: Luke 11:13; John 4:14; 7:37-39; 14:16, 17; 16:13; Acts 2:1-4, 16-18; 10:44, 45; Joel 2:28, 29; Zechariah 14:8; Ezekiel 36:26, 27; Proverbs 4:23. Research and Discussion: The prejudice between Jews and Samaritans. Jacob’s well and its associations. Jesus’ method of winning this disciple, compared with His method with Nicodemus. The water of life. How Jesus made the Samaritan woman realize her spiritual thirst. True worship.

Introduction 1. The thirsts of the soul. The urgent need of the water of life. Thirst is a type of the intense human desires impelling men to activity, satisfying happiness, life and progress. Absence of physical moisture from a man’s body for a day or two brings indescribable distress, and if continued long enough will cause death. Consider Coleridg’s “Ancient Mariner” who finds, “Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.” It has been said that of all the physical wants man can feel, none is capable of being raised to such a pitch of intensity as the want of water. This expresses the pain of unsatisfied desires of the soul. For every person is full of wants, longings, desires, hopes, both of the body and soul. There are thirsts for pleasure, power, money, respect, love, and knowledge. There are thirsts for friendship and love of God, forgiveness, immortal life, holiness, happiness, usefulness, heaven, a larger sphere, and broader life. The larger the soul; the greater its thirsts. The greatness of any being is measured (a) by the number of his desires and thirsts; (b) by their quality; (c) by their capacity, intensity. The soul grows from the satisfaction of these hungers and thirsts. A soul with no appetite is sick. Education, civilization, progress, goodness, always increase the thirsts of the soul. Heaven is not the quiet of “Nirvana,” but larger vision, more and purer desires to be satisfied. You cannot be satisfied without the “desires.” Every time we thirst after righteousness, and the thirst is satisfied, we have a larger vision of what righteousness is a more heavenly thirst, a larger, fuller, sweeter satisfaction. There can be no heaven if these great thirsts go unsatisfied.

2. This world can never satisfy the thirsts of the soul. The ambitions, longings, thirsts for wealth, power, and pleasure, are never fully and continually satisfied by anything the world or flesh can give. The pleasures clog as in Johnson’s “Rasselas,” where is described one who in the absolute perfections of the Happy Valley was so discontented that with great difficulty he climbed over the surrounding wall of mountain crags and escaped. Even common bodily appetites are only partially satisfied without the spiritual and heavenly. This world cannot satisfy the spiritual thirsts of the soul. Seeking satisfaction in this world is like trying to quench thirst by drinking salt water. The more we drink, the thirstier we are. Under the most favorable circumstances, Solomon tried all the world had to give, finding all to be vanity and vexation of spirit. Alexander conquered the world, but it did not satisfy his soul; and, if he could have conquered all the worlds that stud the heavens, he would still have wept for more. Why? Because God has never created a single human soul so small and poor that it can be filled only by the material universe. Literature is filled with expressions of the failure of trying to satisfy the soul with worldly things. 3. The water of life. Jacob’s well was a type of the sources of earthly good. As God has made the world full of streams to satisfy our bodily thirst, so He has made it full of springs to satisfy our natural longings and desires. And by each fountain of earthly good Jesus still sits, pointing men to the higher and better things of which it is a hint and a type. By earthly pleasure He points to heavenly and spiritual joy; by earthly riches He teaches us of treasures in heaven; by earthly love He points to heavenly love; by earthly desires to heavenly desires; by earthly activity and business to zeal and earnestness in the kingdom of God. Living water denotes the gift of the Holy Spirit. This was preeminently the promised gift of the Father (see especially Is. 44; Joel 2), beautifully and most aptly symbolized by the flesh, springing water, which, wherever it comes, makes the desert rejoice and everything live (Ezek. 47:9). (Schaff) It is the source and life of every virtue, every good, including all the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23), every cleansing, life-giving, beautifying influence in the world. As many sided as man is, so is the religion of Jesus many sided. As He has made music for the ear, light and beauty for the eye, water for thirst, food for hunger, so He has something to meet every want and satisfy every thirst of man. Even the wants of our physical nature are not perfectly satisfied except through Him. Our food is not perfect unless we eat and drink to the glory of God, and have with it not only “the feast of reason and the flow of soul,” but the flow of gratitude and love. To be perfect, our natural wants must be transfigured. Jesus transforms the whole life, making the desert blossom like the rose. The living waters are inexhaustible because there is no limit to the sources of supply, just

as the fountains and springs are filled from the limitless ocean, by means of God’s “cloud chariots.” There are more of the influences of God’s Spirit waiting for us than we can receive. We might as well expect to breathe all God’s air, or use all His sunlight, as to exhaust the gifts of His Holy Spirit He urges us to receive. Christ does not give us a cup of water, from which we can drink up and the contents be exhausted, but a fountain of water in our own souls, ever flowing, ever fresh, inexhaustible. This is what completes the gift, making it perfect. It is not a cistern, but a fountain. It is not outside; it is within us. Illustrations “The Conquest of Arid America,” by William E. Smythe (Harper), shows how water from the mountains can transform the arid desert regions of our western plains into gardens and orchards and prosperous homes. “It lies there a clean blank page, awaiting the makers of history – the goodly heritage of our people.” Water, water, water, is Mr. Smythe’s refreshing burden. He reiterates and magnifies Pindar’s definition of the virtue of water as the purest and best. He sees in it the qualities of an elixir for civilization. Irrigation is next to providence in the regeneration of humanity. The need of churches, the people, the whole country is the reception of God’s gift of the living waters through His Holy Spirit, making the moral desert “blossom as the rose” (read Is. 55). Cisterns or fountains Those who drink of this living water are not selfish, but let it flow freely to all. They are not cisterns, but fountains. It is the very nature of the Christian to impart. Those imparting to others have the fullest and freshest supply for themselves. Out flowing keeps the fountain pure. There is an oriental legend of a fountain into whose waters a good angel infused the mysterious power that a new fountain gushed wherever some drops fell on the barren plain, so that a traveler carrying a portion of this water could safely traverse any desert however wide or day, because he took with him the secret of unfailing springs; and he could impart their waters to others. 4. How Jesus awakened and deepened the consciousness of thirst. The remainder of the story shows how Jesus brought the woman to a consciousness of her sin and unworthy life, so she might feel her need, and seek the waters of eternal life. Convincing of sin and need, as a preparation for further light and life, is illustrated everywhere. No one will seek a physician unless he feels sick, or take food unless hungry or read good books without a thirst for knowledge.

Scripture Reading: John 4:1-6 (KJV) The Teacher Resting by a Famous Well For several months Jesus and John the Baptist were preaching to crowds at the same time in different parts of Judea, John extending his labors up the Jordan, but not entering Galilee, as far as we know. John, from the nature of his work, sent to Jesus those interested and desiring to be delivered from sin, till, after a while, Jesus had more followers than John. John’s glory was in self-renunciation, leading men from himself to the Messiah. Why did Jesus leave Judea and go to Galilee? The reason given in v 1 was the interference of the Pharisees. Jesus and John the Baptist were so different in their ways that it would be easy to bring the disciples of the two into collision, so that instead of John’s mission being a preparation; it would become a hindrance to the work of Jesus. Illustration Wait till the scaffolding has been taken away before furnishing the house. Let the plowing end before sowing seed in the same field. The Greek word in v. 3 for “left” Judea is an unusual one. “The general idea that it conveys is that of leaving anything to itself, to its own wishes, ways, fate; of withdrawing whatever controlling power was exercised before” (Westcott). The natural result was that the growing popularity of one who claimed to be their Messiah, but disavowed their views and condemned their conduct, should awaken intense opposition on the part of the Pharisees, as well as envy on the part of the more zealous, but less Christianized disciples of John the Baptist. It was wise, therefore, that Jesus should leave these stony and brier-overgrown fields and go to Galilee, where there were fewer prejudices and more open minds, and there get His kingdom well rooted and started, before He returned to Judea again. Hence He left Judea, by one of the great highways leading to the valley between Mt. Ebal on the north, and Mt. Gerizim on the south, and came to 4:5 ... “A city … called Sychar … that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.” (See Gen. 33:18-20; 48:22) Few places in Palestine, after Jerusalem, have had so much of Bible history connected with them.1 Abraham, Jacob, Joseph’s bones from Egypt, the great meeting on entering Canaan, the decision to divide the kingdom, etc., are all connected with this place. Vincent points out that “Sychar” means drunken town, or lying town. No spot in all the Holy Land was more lovely and attractive in natural scenery, and none was richer in its varied associations than that region which came within the sweep of the eyes of Jesus as He sat down to rest by the well. (Trumbull)

4:6 ... “Now Jacob’s well was there.” “One of the few sites about which there is no dispute. It is a short half mile south of Askar, and a mile from Nablus, the ancient Shechem. It is at the fork of the roads which lead to these two villages. The well is 75 feet deep, but originally much deeper, as the bottom has been filled up with rubbish. The well is about 7 feet, 6 inches in diameter, but the mouth of it is a narrow neck 4 feet long, and only large enough for a man to pass through with arms uplifted” (Hastings’ Bible Dictionary). Ryle noted that this reference contains all that is known about this well, as to its origin; because the Bible nowhere mentions Jacob digging a well, although it is recorded that Abraham and Isaac dug wells. Coffman writes, “Still, this reference is enough. The well is still there and is, in all probability, one of the few authentic places that can be identified as the place where Jesus sat.” The word for well in Greek means “fountain.” Originally it was probably a well of running water, but later became so filled up that it had only surface water for drawing. The woman in vs 11 and 12 uses the other word, meaning “cistern” or “well.” In 1866, Capt. S. Anderson was let down to the bottom of the well by rope, with great difficulty and reported, The well is dug in alluvial soil and lined throughout with rough masonry. The bottom of the well was perfectly dry during the month of May, and covered with loose stones. I can confirm the saying of the Samaritan woman that “the well is deep.” In 1697, Maundrell determined the depth at one hundred and five feet, with fifteen feet of water. In 1838, Calhoun found nearly the same depth of water. However, in 1839 he found the well to be seventy-five feet deep with ten or twelve feet of water. In 1841, Dr. Wilson found the depth only seventy-five feet, which is confirmed by the later measurements of Captain Anderson in 1866, and of Lieutenant Conder in 1875” (Vincent). In 1914, McGarvey wrote, “All visitors of more recent date have found it dry and gradually filling up from the habit of throwing stones into it to hear the reverberation when they struck the bottom.” A retired Bible professor and frequent visitor to the Bible Lands, points out that while visiting Jacob’s Well in 1998, he found it in use, guarded, with flowing water; in the center of a Byzantine church. He also pointed out that the well’s depth is now about 115 ft. 4:6 ... “Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey.” Since the Word became flesh (1:14), He also suffered from physical limitations in His humanity (Heb. 2:10-14). The perfect humanity of Jesus is evident in the Gospel of John. He alone recorded the saying from the cross, “I thirst!” and it appears that the apostle was particularly impressed with the bone-tired weariness of Jesus as He sat wearily by the well when the apostles departed to buy provisions. It would appear that the Lord’s unusual weariness might have resulted from the fervor and enthusiasm with which the preaching and baptizing had been accomplished in the preceding days. It was

the kind of letdown that every great campaigner feels when the effort is over; and the long march up from Judea had intensified His weariness. (Coffman) He had probably been walking several hours, as the Orientals were accustomed to start early in the morning, 4:6 ... “And it was about the sixth hour.” If John used the Jewish reckoning of time, calculated from sunrise at about 6:00 a.m., the time was about noon. If John used Roman time, which started reckoning from 12:00 p.m., the time would be about 6:00 p.m. (MacArthur Study Bible) Josephus describes Moses sitting at a well at “mid-day,” weary with his journey, and the women coming to water their flocks (Antiquities 2: II, I). 4:6 ... “Sat [was sitting] thus on [by] the well.” Probably on the low curb usually placed around wells (Ex. 21:33), resting, and waiting for the return of His disciples (v 8). Illustration The preacher was weary, but not discouraged. Feeling “more fit to go to bed than to preach,” he looked up and said, “Lord Jesus, I am weary in Thy work, but not weary of it.” Practical 1. Wayside ministries. Jesus was always ready for good work in season and out of season. Many of our best opportunities come to us at unusual and irregular times, as mere incidents in our regular duties. 2. Jesus weary and resting. There is a certain comfort in knowing that Jesus was weary, that He grew tired as His work pressed Him, that He felt the need of rest and longed for it. If Jesus felt weariness in His life work, and yielded to it without sinning, we also are entitled to be tired and to take rest, as a part of our likeness to Christ (Trumbull). 3. Jesus sitting by the wells of life. By every fountain of earthly good Jesus still sits, pointing men to the higher and better things of which it is a hint and a type. By earthly pleasure He points to heavenly and spiritual joy; by earthly riches He teaches us of treasures in heaven; by earthly love He points to heavenly love; by earthly desires, to heavenly desires; by earthly activity and business, to zeal and earnestness in the kingdom of God. 4. This well was a type of the Samaritan religion. Originally they had the living water of the books of Moses, and drank from them as Jacob and His sons from the living water of the Shechem well. But the water became stagnant. They never went beyond Moses; the well was so filled up with forms and prejudices and the mere letter of the law that the living water was covered up. The stagnant well of water, becoming muddy by agitation, and corrupt by lying undisturbed, is inferior for use and gratification, and

is not like the running water of the living spring, which continually freshens itself, and runs itself clear, and is always replenishing itself in purity and copiousness, for use and enjoyment. (Bosanquet) There is the same danger for us today.

Scripture Reading: John 4:7 (KJV) The Unlikely Student 4:7 ... “There cometh a woman of [out of] Samaria.” Not the city of Samaria, seven miles away, but from the country of Samaria; one of Samaritan race and religion. 4:7 ... “To draw water.” She did not come from the city, where there were plenty of better wells, nor would it be natural to suppose that she did so. This was the well of the cornfields, dug there for the express purpose of providing water for those employed in the sowing and the reaping of those fields. Women were often engaged in the labor of the fields, or in ministry to laborers there, and this Samaritan woman seems to have been so employed. Commonly, the women drew water for the men. (Trumbull) Practical 1. Notice that Jesus was always willing to teach one student, without waiting for numbers. Like this Samaritan woman and Nicodemus, He often gave His choicest thoughts to one. 2. This student was one of the most unlikely; a disreputable woman, rather bold and free in her manners, voluble of tongue, unlike most of the women who ministered to Jesus. And yet Jesus gave her His time, His best thoughts, His care. A single soul, even the poorest and most obscure, is worthy of all our efforts, our time, our earnestness, and our best truth. 3. The fourth Gospel may be called the Gospel of the Conversations, for, more than any other, it reports particular interviews of our Lord with individuals. These conversations, too, are real conversations, for Jesus was not like some famous men, who discourse in monologue. Not infrequently, He gave the thought and let them do the talking. “Christ never appears to have saved anything for a large audience, nor feared that any utterance of truth, breathed into the receptive heart of however humble a hearer, could fail of its effort” (Vose). 4. Note how differently Jesus presents the truth to this woman and to Nicodemus, who, because he did not feel his need, needed to be shown the necessity of a new birth. This woman knew and felt her sin. It was cleansing and new life that she needed – the same Gospel from different points of view.

A character study The woman of Samaria was a most unlikely disciple. As mentioned above, she was entirely different from the women who ministered to Jesus, such as Mary and Martha of Bethany, Salome, and the wife of Chuza. 1. She was disreputable; 2. Rather bold and free in her manners; 3. With a rather coarse attractiveness; 4. Of some native ability; 5. Of open soul; 6. A Samaritan; 7. Of a perverted religious training. One might think she would have been almost repulsive to Jesus, and yet He saw the open mind, the possibilities of her nature. “It is strange that Christ should often speak His most remarkable words to the least remarkable persons” (Fairbairn). What a comfort that is to us!

Scripture Reading: John 4:7-8 (KJV) The Wise Approach First: Jesus asked a favor 4:7 ... “Give Me to drink.” The Savior asked for water because He needed it, but He used the request as a means of preparing the way for His teaching. A useless request would have defeated His purpose. It was an act full of the nicest tact, and exhibiting perfect knowledge of the human mind. He asks a favor and puts Himself under an obligation. No line of proceeding, it is well known to all wise people, would be more likely to conciliate the woman’s feelings towards Him, and to make her willing to hear His teaching. (Ryle) Second He used, as He often did, the things nearest at hand, as His text or introductory illustration – the common, everyday, natural objects around Him – as a means of leading this woman to eternal truths: here the well and water-jar; by the sea, nets and fishing; the loaves for the bread of life. Third Jesus ignored race prejudice and religious differences entirely, demonstrating the courtesy and largeness of His heart – a most attractive factor. Fourth

The Lord’s wisdom appears still greater when we consider the significance among the Orientals of giving drink. Among us, even an enemy might ask or receive a drink of water without fear of compromising himself or his opponent; but not so in the East. There, the giving and the receiving of a drink of water is the seeking and making of a covenant of hospitality, with all that that covenant implies. It is not, indeed, like a covenant of blood or a covenant of salt – indissoluble; but it is like the covenant of bread sharing, which makes a truce, for the time being, between deadliest enemies. (Trumbull) Regarding Oriental customs it is not considered “improper for a man, though a stranger, to ask a woman to let down her pitcher and give him to drink” (Lennep). It is just possible that, as Sadler says, “the chances were that He would be rudely refused, as, in fact, He was on another occasion, when under similar circumstances He sought a night’s rest in one of the villages of this alien race (Luke 9:53).” But Westcott is probably right: “He made an appeal to common human kindness that goes deeper down than religion or moral antagonisms.” Illustration In Scott’s, The Talisman, King Richard of England and his knights were entertained by Saladin, but when the Templar, who had just committed a foul murder, was about to drink, just as the cup reached his lips the saber of Saladin “left its sheath as lightning leaves the cloud,” and smote off the Templar’s head. Saladin had not intended to punish in this way, but said: If I had permitted him to taste of my cup, how could I then without incurring the brand of inhospitality, have done him to death as he deserved? Had he murdered my father, and afterward have partaken of my food and my bowl, not a hair of his head could have been injured by me. “Jesus saith unto her, Give Me to drink.” In this account, we are confronted with remarkable contrasts between: God and man Man and woman Royalty and commonality Wisdom and ignorance Unmarried and the oft-married Purity and immorality Jew and Gentile In his commentary on John, Coffman, points out that These multiple contrasts of race, sex, religion, moral status, marital status, social position, ability, wisdom, etc., must be accounted the

most dramatic and significant of any that occurred in our Lord’s ministry. Yet, Jesus and that woman had one think in common; both wanted a drink of water. Unerringly, Jesus saw the common ground between them and did not hesitate to stand with her upon the common platform of their mutual need. How loving, tender and considerate was our Lord in His attitude toward this daughter of Samaria! Fifth 4:8 ... “For His disciples were gone away … to buy.” They would bring with them means with which to draw water, or they expected that at this time of day some one was sure to come along who could draw the water. Some think that John remained with Jesus and overheard the conversation he reported. This is given as the reason why He asked the woman instead of His disciples to draw the water; and also why He could talk more freely to the woman. In many cases, reproof, advice, and entreaty are much more effective with one person alone than when others are present. The wise parent or teacher avoids the effect of the audience on the child. All of us are affected by the presence of others seeing what we do, and how we take reproof or advice. The reproved in that case usually always resist longer, and the stubborn become even more stubborn. Illustrations and Suggestions Notice the wise approach of Jesus to the lesson He wished to teach, which might have easily been rejected, or have failed to reach the understanding and heart of the woman. “The way to gain another’s good-will is not at first by doing, but by receiving a kindness” (Abbott). We are told that When Harmosan, a Persian ruler, surrendered to Khaleef Omar, and was brought a prisoner into the presence of his captor, he asked at once for a drink. Omar asked him if he were thirsty. “No,” he said, “I only wish to drink in your presence, so that I may be sure of my life.” He was assured that he might rest perfectly secure; and that assurance was kept. (Trumbull) Note how this woman found Jesus while performing her daily duties; like the wise woman of Medina. Examples It’s been said, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” When idle we are easy prey for the devil. The angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds while they were keeping watch by night over their flocks. Matthew was called while receiving custom. Peter and Andrew, his brother, were fishing; James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, were mending their nets, when called by Jesus.

Scripture Reading: John 4:9 (KJV) Great Obstacles Overcome 4:9 ... “How is it that Thou, being a Jew.” The difference in dress, speech, manner, etc., made plain His nationally. 4:9 ... “Askest drink,” etc. “The wonder of the Samaritan woman was that a Jew should seek, by asking and receiving drink, to make a friendly compact with a member of a hostile race” (Trumbull). 4:9 ... “For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” A remark thrown in by the writer to give the reason for her surprise. “This ill-will, however, did not extend beyond familiar intercourse, for in such matters as buying and selling intercourse was allowed” (Tittmann). The slight differences in nationality (the Samaritans being a mixed race), in religion (the Samaritans retaining only the Pentateuch, rejecting the prophets), and a rivalry in temple and religious worship, separated the two sections, and the bitterness was all the greater because there was so much in common. Illustrations The rivalry between business men is far greater between those in the same business, or the same city, than between those whose business is so different that there is no danger of collision. This occasionally happens when churches are located near one another. Sadly, many will be on the best terms with certain races as servants, but repel with indignation the same people attempting social equality. Practical It would not be easy to find in modern times a more difficult position as to race, social conditions and religious intolerance than that which Jesus faced at this time. He wished to gain the Jews to His cause, and yet to converse with this woman and with the Samaritans would excite prejudice against Him from the Jews. But He went straight forward in the path of duty, leaving the consequences with God. The greater the mind, the nobler the character, the more assured the position, the less power there is in prejudice. Illustration We often look at people, not as through a clear glass, seeing them as they really are, but as through a colored glass, or as reflected in one of those mirrors which distort every feature. Compare the feeling toward the Jews so universal in the Middle Ages,2 so strong still in Russia and France; not wholly extinct even in England and America. Has race and class died out? Jesus had reason to feel as many of His followers have felt since, that being too free with the Samaritans would prejudice His cause with stricter Jews. What are your feelings on the subject?

Scripture Reading: John 4:10-14 (KJV) A Lesson on the Water of Life 4:10 ... “If thou knewest.” There were two things which the woman did not know – the gift of living water, and the presence of the Messiah. “The pathos of the situation strikes Jesus. The woman stands on the brink of the greatest possibilities, but is unconscious of them” (Exp. Greek Test.). Illustration In a sermon titled, ‘’The Living Water,” William Harrison told the story of a father and daughter, dwellers in an old Scottish castle, so poor they could only live in the scantiest way. However, all the time they were rich, because in a secret cupboard were masses of flashing jewels, put there by some ancestor. If they had only known how rich they were! Likewise God’s utmost gift of forgiveness, strength, love, power for noble living, is presently before us, ours for the taking, if we only knew! 4:10 ... “The gift of God.” His Son and the salvation3 He was bringing to man – The Messiah and the waters of eternal life. Perhaps there is no cry more striking than that of the Eastern water-carrier – “The gift of God,” he cries, as he goes along with his water-skin on his shoulders. Jesus here refers to Himself as the gift of God to the entire world. Isn’t it amazing? – the supreme gift of God from all eternity now sits on the ledge of Jacob’s well. We should praise the Holy Spirit4 for allowing us this moment in our Lord’s earthly life. This poor woman; no doubt dodging the scorn of neighbors, coming to the well in the heat of the day, suddenly meeting face to face the Lord of life. Moses finding the burning bush does not ‘hold a candle’ to this meeting. We sometimes think of this woman as pathetic, because she stood face to face with God incarnate, and yet did not know it. But are we not also blind? Are not our senses too often deadened? Are not our souls feeble, when, face to face with God, we nevertheless cannot see Him? 4:10 ... “Thou wouldest have asked of Him.” Emphasizing “thou,” Palmer points out that “spiritually, our positions are reversed. t is thou who art weary, and footsore, and parched, close to the well, yet unable to drink; it is I who can give thee the water from the well, and quench thy thirst forever” (Cambridge Bible). “If thou knewest . . . thou wouldest have asked.” This is the glory of that woman. These words show why Jesus had this discussion. He saw in this woman a fallen life, seeking truth. She possessed an inward quality that makes her far superior to many of every age who know the Lord of life, yet will neither ask of Him nor respond in any way to His mercy.

4:10 ... “And He would have given thee living water.” “That is perennial, springing from an unfailing source (Gen. 26:19), ever flowing, fresh (Lev. 14:5)” (Westcott), bringing life, refreshing. Schaff points out that “living water denotes the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 7:39). This was preeminently the promised gift of the Father,5 beautifully and most aptly symbolized by the fresh, springing water, which, wherever it comes, makes the desert rejoice and everything live (Ezek. 47:9).” “Living water” is a reference to the water of life, the spiritual realities that lead to everlasting life in the presence of God. The metaphor was probably suggested by the thirst which had brought them both to the well. Just as the body requires water, just so the soul, if it is to live, must drink at the everlasting fountain of God’s word. 4:11 ... “Sir, Thou has nothing to draw with.” In other words, I have no leather bucket, a skin with three cross sticks at the mouth to keep it open, and let down by a goat’s hair rope. Not to be confounded with the waterpot she carried (v. 28). Such wells often do not have implements for drawing water and must be provided by the user. Those dipping water from such wells are provided with small leathern buckets and a line. At the present day these skin buckets may be seen lying on the curb stones of almost every well in the Holy Land. (Vincent) Unconsciously she gave utterance to a spiritual truth – the water of life beyond our reach, but the rope of faith long enough to reach it. 4:11 ... “From whence then hast Thou that living water?” This indicates that the woman had previously considered the fact that Jesus was not talking about the water in Jacob’s well. While her response shows that she did not understand the meaning of ‘living water,’ in view of the fact that Jesus had no rope, still it does reveal that she understood at least a part of what Jesus was saying. In fact, as the next verse shows, she might have even suspected the metaphorical significance of His words. 4:12 ... “Are Thou greater than our father Jacob?” In other words, “Can You dig a better well than he did, or find a better source of water – a sweeter water?” Or, “can You get water without drawing it, while even Jacob had to undergo the labor of drawing?” 4:13 ... “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again.” The natural water of the well, and all earthly satisfactions it typifies. The supply may give out. The thirst may become painful. The soul is never fully satisfied with earthly things, and the time comes when they leave the soul, in its greatest need, dying of thirst. This water satisfies only bodily thirst, and only for brief periods. Worldly supplies never fill the deeper thirsts of the soul.

4:14 ... “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him.” Emphasize “give.” The living water is a gift, requiring only that we receive it. The best things of God can never be bought. Sin has “wages,” its rewards can be bought, but eternal life is God’s gift. Perhaps the only pay one can give is love and trust. 4:14 ... “Shall never thirst.” Earth’s supply may give out. Our thirst may become painful. The soul is never fully satisfied with earthly things, and the time always comes when they leave the soul, in its greatest need, dying of thirst. This does not contradict the Beatitudes, “Blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness,” declaring that there is an unfailing supply always at hand for the thirst. Life is made up of a succession of thirsts and their satisfaction. There is no enjoyment unless there is a thirst, and unless the thirst is satisfied. This satisfaction is what is promised in this verse. The reason follows. The water that satisfies is not from without, an external supply, that may fail or be far away, but 4:14 ... “Shall be in him a well of water.” Not the word “well” used by the woman, but the word for fountain or spring, used in v. 6. Cisterns are of limited supply, and may dry up. “All attempts at the spiritual life without having the spring inside of us will be like galvanizing a corpse. Some motion like that which comes from life may be produced, but not life itself; that must operate from within” (Deems). “The Spirit and the truth of God have entered into the life of his soul, and are felt to be an abiding, indwelling, unfailing source of spiritual peace, strength, and hope” (Hovey). 4:14 ... “Springing up into everlasting life.”7 Not merely in the future, but in the present. Whosoever has this living water in the soul has eternal life, the kind of life that never fails to satisfy, never cloys, and never ends. “Fullness and richness of being, the realization of man’s true destiny through union with God, and likeness to Christ. Such life is, of course, by its very nature, imperishable” (Stevens). “It is so abundant that it is enough for everlasting needs. The water Christ gives becomes a fountain, and the fountain swells into a river, and the river expands into and loses itself in the great ocean of eternity” (Reynolds).
Footnotes: 1 See Genesis 12:6; 37:12; Acts 7:16; Joshua 8:33; 20:7; 24:1; 24:32; 1 Kings 12:1; 12:25. 2 See Shakespeare’s “Othello.” 3 For more information on salvation, see God’s Salvation in A Religion Library section of 4 For more information on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of 5 See especially Isaiah 44; Joel 2. Also for more information on the Father, see God the Father in A Religion Library section of 7 Compare John 7:38, 39. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: Sowing and Reaping Golden Text: “One soweth and another reapeth.” (John 4:37) Lesson Plan: Introduction The Mission of the Woman to Her Fellow-Citizens (vs. 27-30) Jesus’ Conversation with His Disciples about Their Work (vs. 31-38) Two Days at Sychar (vs. 39-42) Conclusion Setting of the Lesson: Time: December, A.D. 27. About ten months following appointment of The Lord’s first disciples. Place: Jacob’s well, near Sychar, at the foot of Mt. Gerizim, in Samaria. Rulers: Tiberius Cesar, Emperor of Rome; Pontius Pilate, Governor of Judea; Herod Antipas, Tetarch of Galilee. Feasts: In A.D. 27 – Passover, April 9; Pentecost, May 30; Tabernacles, Oct. 4. Jesus: Now about 31 years old, at the close of His first year’s ministry, chiefly in Judea. Intervening Events: Soon after the interview with Nicodemus in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover in April, Jesus and His disciples left the city and spent the summer and autumn in the country of Judea, probably in various places. Here He taught the people, and His disciples baptized them, the crowds leaving the ministry of John and flocking in large numbers to Jesus. This awakened the jealousy of some of John’s disciples, and they reported the fact to John, who then bore his last and noblest recorded testimony to Jesus as the Messiah. Beginning Suggestions: Picture the scene at the well – Jacob’s well (fountain or spring, a water-source) is on a knoll, really a spur of Geriazim, 18 feet high. It is now about 60 feet deep, but was once much deeper. There is now water in it only during the rainy season – the weary Savior resting by the well; the disciples busy in the city purchasing provisions; the woman with her water jar, and her leather bucket for drawing water; the request, and the conversation.

The following facts and brief information will hopefully help to more deeply impress this marvelous subject on the mind: 1. The first showing – personal invitations to Christ (vs. 27-30). The disciples return and interrupt the conversation, but at the right point. The woman immediately leaves the well and her water jar, forgetting her worldly errand in her eagerness to relate her wonderful discovery of the Messiah. Consider the duty and privilege of inviting others to Jesus, and the good seed that may thus be sown. 2. First reaping (vs. 30, 39). The harvest from this sowing was a large number believing and coming to Jesus for help and salvation. Consider the great truths of sowing and reaping as given in Psalms 126:5, 6; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 6:7, 8. a. We cannot reap without sowing b. We reap what is sown c. We reap more than is sown d. If we sow, the harvest is certain to follow 3. Second sowing – working for Christ (vs. 31-34). Jesus had been sowing the good seed. In this work His body itself had been refreshed. God had fed His soul with bread from heaven. Illustration The power of the mind over the body has continual illustration both in experience and in the observation of medical men. A new interest will often entirely remove weariness. “The physician is daily called upon in the exercises of his profession to witness the powerful effects of mental emotion upon the material fabric. He perceives that moral causes induce disease, destroy life, retard recovery . . . Such influences are admitted to play an important part either for good or evil” (Winslow). There is not a natural action in the body, whether voluntary or involuntary, that may not be influenced by the peculiar state of the mind at the time (Hunter). So spiritual work, Christian conversation through small homegatherings, may refresh and renew body as well as spirit. 4. The second reaping (vs. 35-38). Mark the difference referred to here, between the earthly and spiritual harvest. The spiritual harvest is always waiting for us. The fruits of this harvest point to eternal life, salvation for others, spiritual life, comfort, character, and usefulness in the worker. The wages: No one labors in vain. The sower is as important as the reaper – a comfort to many workers. Illustration

The foundations of a lighthouse deep down in the sea, and forever hidden from view, are as essential to the safety of the passing vessels, as the lamp on its top radiating light far over the waters. The early inventors of the rude machines which have been perfected by later men of genius were as essential to the final success as those who perfected the inventions. 5. The third sowing – faith (vs. 39, 40). Faith founded on the testimony of others – sowing interest and endeavor; leading others to Jesus. Illustration A house is worth much more when resting on a good foundation rather than a poor one.

Introduction In passing through Samaria, on His way from Judea to Galilee, Jesus and His disciples stopped to rest at Jacob’s well, near Sychar. Jesus, being specially weary, remained by the well, while His disciples went on a little further to purchase provisions at Sychar. In the meantime Jesus held a conversation on the living water with a Samaritan woman who had come to he well for water. As the disciples returned with the provisions, the Savior announced to her that He was Himself the promised Messiah. The woman then hastily returned to the city to report the wonderful discovery she had made. Our lesson now begins.

Scripture Reading: John 4:27-30 (KJV) The Mission of the Woman to Her Fellow-citizens 4:27... “And upon this.” At this juncture in the conversation, just as He had declared Himself the Messiah. The conversation was ended. 4:27 ... “Marveled that He talked with the woman.” Rather, “was talking” with “a” woman, contrary to the precepts of the Rabbis. “Let no one talk with a woman in the street, no, not with his own wife.” The woman being a Samaritan would only increase their astonishment (Cambridge Bible). Low estate of women The low estate of women in that generation is evidenced by these words. What Jesus did was simply not done. The custom of the times would not allow any holy man to do what Jesus did here; but consider these beautiful words: Woman, who made it fit and decent and moral for a prophet to talk with thee? Who threw a zone of mercy and protection around thy little child? Who lifted thee up and changed thee from man’s chattel

and property to man’s friend and equal and inspirer? Who obliterated the brand of the slave from thy face and put on thy brow the halo of chivalry and tenderness and romance? Who so changed thy lot, that instead of marveling today that a prophet should talk with a woman, what men marvel at is that there ever was a time when men should have marveled that Christ talked with a woman? Come then, woman; break thine alabaster box, filled with the ointment precious and very costly. Come, break the box and pour thine ointment of love and gratitude upon His head and feet. Come, wash His feet with the tears of thy love and wipe them with thy hair for a towel! (McCartney) The value of one Isn’t it interesting how many times Jesus gave His most precious gems of truth to small audiences? A large part of His recorded Words were uttered to a few individual hearers. An interesting consideration: following the example of Jesus, just how much importance should we place on large audiences or numbers? Let us be encouraged. 4:27 ... “Yet no man said, What seekest thou?” Perhaps something in His look restrained them. No doubt they felt that something strange had taken place. 4:28 ... “The woman left her water pot.” Same word for “water pot” or jar as in the miracle at Cana, and used nowhere else (Cambridge Bible). This circumstance, though seemingly insignificant, is not without importance 1. Leaving her water pot was a pledge of her speedy return, probably proving that she went to seek some one. She set herself, as it were, as the messenger and missionary of Jesus. 2. Perhaps, in kindness to the Lord – He might use it. 3. Leaving it allowed her to go on her errand more quickly. 4. Leaving it showed what an impression the Savior’s conversation made on her. In her eagerness to tell folks of the marvelous news that the Messiah had come, she forgets all about her original errand. When from our low plain of sin and mortality, the soul of man glimpses light of the Eternal City, all temporal and secular concerns recede. Important as the water pot was to that woman, what a negligible trifle it became to her whose heart had just been lifted up to see the Christ. Here was that same motivation that inspired the fishermen of Galilee to leave their nets and their father, and Matthew to leave his seat of custom, and follow Jesus. No mortal considerations can withstand the blast of that solar wind which emanates from the Sun of Righteousness. 4:28 ... “And went her way into the city, [a half or three-fourths of a mile away] and saith to the men,” whom she would naturally meet on the roads and in the streets. 4:29 ... “Come, see.” She invites them to find out for themselves the good she has found, and to persuade them she relates her own experience.

With these same words, Philip persuaded Nathaniel (John 1:46); and with the same Jesus invited the disciples to His abode (John 1:39); and, with the same words, an angel of heaven said, “Come see the place where the Lord lay” (Matt. 28:6). Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior needs only to be observed to be believed; and the apostle who wrote this Gospel account retained that truth in focus throughout. Should we do less? Do you sometimes feel that ‘professional’ church leaders, consumed with personal agendas, fail to simply lead us to “Come, see” Jesus Christ? 4:29 ... “A man which told me all things that ever I did.” How natural is this exaggeration. In her excitement she states not what He had really told, but what she was convinced He could have told her. 4:29 ... “Is not this the Christ?” Rather, “Is this – ‘can this be’ – the Christ?” Cook pointed out that the form of the sentence grammatically suggests a negative answer (v. 33); but hope bursts through it. Although she believes it, she thinks it almost too good to be true. Also, she does not wish to seem too positive and dogmatic to those who do not yet know the evidence. There is no reason to suppose that this woman had any doubt that Jesus was the Christ; but she wisely presented her witness in such a manner as to require the citizens of Sychar to provide their own answer to so great a question. 4:30 ... “Then [in response to her words] they went out of the city, and came unto Him” (rather, “and were coming to Him”). Westcott points out that the tense of the original is vividly descriptive. The villagers started on their journey, and are seen, as it were, pursuing it. The narrative leaves them on the way, and returns to Jesus and His disciples, and the conversation recorded in vs. 31-38 takes place during the time the woman was on her way to the town and her return with the people she had notified. Such a development as this would surely require time 1. There was the distance between the well and city, a distance traveled twice by this woman before any person in Sychar heard the message. 2. No doubt considerable time passed during the conversation between Jesus and the woman. 3. Additional time was required before the word could be generally circulated among the people. A great multitude moving toward the well would have required even more time. The movement of the multitude toward Jesus across the plain separating the well and the city deeply touched the Savior’s heart. The prevailing color of clothing in those days was white, dyes being so expensive that only the rich used them. The Lord’s reference a little later to the “white” harvest fields surely referenced that field of people dressed in the white garments of the poor moving toward the Lord probably under the glare of the noon sun.

Scripture Reading: John 4:31-38 (KJV) Jesus’ Conversation with His Disciples about Their Work 4:31 ... “In the mean while.” Between the departure of the woman and the arrival of the multitude she had inspired. 4:31 ... “His disciples [who had brought food from the city – vs. 8, 27] prayed Him [entreated Him], saying, Master [better, Rabbi, as in R.V.], eat.” It is possible that by now it was later in the day, and no doubt several hours had passed since they had partaken of food. Jesus had become wearied in His journey (v. 6), and was in need of food when He arrived at the well. Perhaps, too, they urged Him because He may have been engrossed in His thoughts, putting off His meal, unwilling to partake of food. Such urgency by the disciples that Jesus should eat might be a key to the Lord’s excessive fatigue. Perhaps Jesus, caught up in the glorious enthusiasm of baptizing great numbers the previous days, had not eaten much. It seems certain that the apostles were concerned and insisted that Jesus eat. But it was not yet time for eating. Visible in the distance was a great multitude of villagers, moving toward the Lord of life; and He would break for them the bread of life before relieving His own physical hunger. Do you see a difference between the Lords feeling of urgency to reach the lost and ours? What are some examples revealing the difference? 4:32 ... “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” There is perhaps more than one interpretation regarding what this meat was: 1. The indwelling Spirit of God, sustaining grace. A faint type of it is afforded in earthly experiences by the strength which often seems to be imparted to a feeble mother in the hour of her child’s sickness, carrying her through vigils impossible for her to sustain, but for her love. Her work is not her food; her food is love and faith, which sustains her for her work. No Christian can live by or on his work; nor did Christ (Abbott). 2. He was so refreshed and strengthened with the prospect of fulfilling His work, the earnestness of doing good for the coming multitude that it did away with His desire for food. The truth probably lies in the union of both views, i.e., by the indwelling of the Spirit the divine food came to Him through doing His Father’s will (v. 34), thus refreshing both body and spirit, as it often does ours. 4:32 ... “That ye know not of.” Omit the “of.” The common rendering entirely obscures the meaning: our Lord does not say “know not of,” but “know not,” – ye have no experience of it. The New King James version renders it this way, “which you do not know.”

4:33 ... “Hath any man brought him ought to eat?” Another instance of dullness of spiritual understanding. It was one of the most difficult of all works for Christ to make men see the spiritual meaning of things, and recognize the superiority of spiritual things. In a Samaritan village, it was unlikely that anyone would have brought food to Jesus; but the disciples once again struggled with a literal understanding of the words of Jesus, and the possible solution they suggested was as good as any. Jesus helped them understand. 4:34 ... “My meat is to do the will,” etc. Literally, My food is “that I may” do the will of Him that sent Me, and thus finish His work. The food of Christ is His aim and purpose. 1. The highest satisfaction of the soul is in doing God’s will. Compared to this, bodily food is of small importance, necessary as it is. 2. Doing God’s will is the means through which the soul is fed and grows strong. Doing His will is the very act of eating the spiritual food God supplies, and it always refreshes both body and spirit. 4:34 ... “To do the will … and finish His work.” Godet points out that the present tense “to do the will” refers to the accomplishment of the divine will at every instant; and the “finish the work” in the aorist tense, to the final consummation of the task. Jesus has not yet received any food; but the amazing responsiveness of the woman at the well triggered an opportunity to perhaps convert a whole city. The satisfaction of His physical hunger would have to wait, despite the Master’s weariness. 4:35 ... “Say not ye,” etc. He then illustrates the work of God which He had just begun among the Samaritans, by a similitude from the face of nature before them. Glancing, on one side, at the peasants scattered over the fertile valley, busily sowing seed (probably all around them), and, on the other, at the Samaritans thronging from the town in answer to the woman’s call, He says to His disciples, Are you not habit of saying, at this season of the year, “There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest”? So it is, indeed, in the natural, but not in the spiritual world. The seed is just sown, and already the harvest appears. “Life up your eyes” (pointing to the approaching Samaritans), “and see how the fields are already whitening to the harvest.” (Neander) Comparing converted souls to a harvest made a profound impression on the Apostle John. He made five references to it in as many verses (Rev. 14:14-19). “Send forth thy sickle and reap; for the hour to reap is come; for the harvest of the earth is ripe,” etc.

4:35 ... “There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?” This cannot be a proverbial saying, for there is not the slightest trace of such a proverb (Luthardt), and the time between sowing and the harvest is not four months, but six in Palestine (Edersheim). A proverb would not be false to fact. It is, therefore, a statement of the facts around them at the time. Westcott noted that the “harvest began about the middle of April, and lasted till the end of May.” Therefore, these words and this event fall somewhere in between the middle of December and the end of January (Luthardt). 4:35 ... “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields,” etc. It seems that these words refer to the arrival of the people of Sychar. Compare here the promises and principles stated in Psalms 126:5, 6; 2; 1 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 6:7, 8. 1. There is no harvest without a sowing. 2. The harvest will be like that which is sown. 3. The harvest will be far more abundant than the seed. 4. If we faithfully sow the good seed, the harvest is sure. No drought or insect will ruin the spiritual harvest. 4:36 ... “He that reapeth receiveth wages.” “These words were spoken by the Lord during the interval before the arrival of the multitude. This is an extension of the metaphor of the harvest, there never being a harvest without a sowing and reaping. The great reward is the gathering of fruit unto life eternal, in the joy of which both sowers and reapers shall rejoice together” (Coffman). We don’t know if Jesus was thinking about the reaping Philip the evangelist would do in Samaria (Acts 8:4-13), or if He was thinking about the multitudes who would believe that very day (John 4:41) – perhaps both. The Lord’s husbandman has both wages and heaven. The earthly wages of the successful evangelist is not in his salary – not in fame or position – but in the reward of affections, and the consciousness of spiritual work achieved. To this is added the joy inherent in bringing souls to Christ, and through Christ into eternal life. This joy will not be consummated until the reaper enters into glory, with an “abundant entrance,” presenting sheaves to the Lord (Abbott). But the best reaper’s wage will be the “well done, good and faithful” from our heavenly Father; and a close second will be the delight of expressing love to God’s Son by some fruitful service, adding to the number that love and honor Him. 4:36 ... “Fruit unto life eternal.” Spiritual life, true, divine life enduring forever – fruit in two directions: 1. The results of a Christian’s labors, i.e., giving eternal life to others through Christ; and 2. The reward will be in higher spiritual life for the child of God.

4:36 ... “That both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” There is another reward of equal joy in the harvest with the reapers – the sowers; those who sowed in tears, never seeing even the slightest springing of the seed they planted. There are many in God’s service whose duty is chiefly that of sowing, who seldom obtain a glimpse of the harvest, and seldom are encouraged by seeing the results of their labors. Some preachers, some teachers and some parents, must be content largely with the sowing. But in the harvest they have an equal part and joy with the reapers. When converting someone to Christ, the wise preacher will always search for and when possible seek out the original ‘seed sower.’ 4:37 ... “Herein is that saying true.” “Undoubtedly a reference to a proverbial saying, to which Christ gives a new and spiritual significance” (Abbott). 4:37 ... “One soweth, and another reapeth.” Primarily, Christ is the sower, sowing in tears and reaping little. The apostles were the reapers, gathering in a single day more souls into the church of Christ than Jesus Himself in His whole lifetime (Acts 2). But, secondarily, the prophets were sowers and the apostle’s reapers. This fact is illustrated by their constantly quoting of the prophets in attestation of the divine character and mission of Christ. This method of the harvest was also used by Paul who extended it to cover the interval between sowing and reaping, thus, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6). In Paul’s usage of the metaphor, the Gospel preacher is the one who plants, and the one who waters; and he added, “So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” (Coffman) Finally, the twofold work of sowing and reaping goes on throughout all time, the same man sometimes being both sower and reaper, sometimes sowing in tears for a lifetime, so that another may reap in joy. 4:38 ... “I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labor.” The words probably point to the successful labors of the apostles during the previous summer and autumn in Judea. 4:38 ... Other men labored,” etc. The reference, as in the case of the sower, is to all who had in any manner prepared the way for Christ – to the prophets; to John the Baptist; and to Jesus Himself, whose whole mission, work and sacrifice on the cross made the successful labors of the apostles possible. This was also a stern reminder to the apostles that the great ingathering they were about to see was not the result of their efforts and abilities, but that they were reaping fruit from the labors of others, in this case, the labor of the Master Himself, and of the woman. This was the viewpoint expressed by Paul (1 Cor. 3:6). The great response to the Gospel that the apostles were about to see might have easily turned their heads except for this warning of the Savior.

Scripture Reading: John 4:39-42 (KJV) Two Days at Sychar While Jesus was talking with the disciples, the woman had been busy sowing the seeds of truth among her countrymen, and the first fruits of the harvest of souls was now appearing. 4:39 ... “Many of the Samaritans [in contrast with unbelieving Jews] of that city [Sychar] believed on Him.” Their minds had been prepared by the general expectation of the Messiah, and there were fewer hindrances in their way than in the way of the Jews, who were bound to the old system by many ties of training, social life, habits, national expectations, and religious ceremonials. Many new ideas and improvements first find their way into general use through new peoples and in new lands. 4:39 ... “For [because of] the saying [the narrative – not the simple statement only] of the woman [as, or while, she earnestly, constantly, and not once for all] . . . trusted, He told me all that ever I did.” This proof of His supernatural knowledge convinced them that what He said about Himself, i.e., that He was the Messiah, must be true. God would not give that miraculous insight to one who would make a false report of Himself.1 This city’s acceptance of Jesus Christ is a stark contrast with the snobbish rejection of the Lord by the hierarchy in Jerusalem. Here in this city, early in the Savior’s ministry, is wholesome evidence that the Gentiles would turn to the Lord when given the opportunity. This overwhelming display of affection for Jesus in Samaria should have warned Israel that the day of grace for them was running out – that the times were hastening to the day foretold by God through Moses, when it was prophesied that “I will provoke you to jealousy with that which is no nation. With a nation void of understanding will I anger you” (Deut. 32:31). Beginning of Faith This beginning of faith, founded on testimony, and on the divine work of Jesus, unimpeachable testimony to a conflicting fact. As the testimony of others to the reality and blessedness of Jesus, to the power that has wrought a marvelous change in them, should be received by us, leading us to come to Jesus. By the time Jesus was through with His discourse to His disciples, the Samaritans of Sychar had reached Jacob’s well, where Jesus was waiting for them. 4:40 ... When the Samaritans were come.” The next step in their faith is to go to Him, asking Him to remain so they too might learn from Him. 4:40 ... “They besought Him [kept beseeching Him] that He would tarry with them.” Both to receive their hospitality, and to be more fully instructed. With all

Jesus’ desire to instruct them, He waited for them to express their desire for instruction. Is this example of Jesus one we should follow today? This impulse to receive and trust the Savior appeared in their subsequent treatment of the apostles (Acts 8:14). This was a fruit of their faith – a step toward higher faith. So many of us speak of believing in Jesus, but do we truly go to Him for the strengthening of our faith? Do we truly go to Him (through the Word of God) for instruction in truth? So that we can learn how to live as true disciples? 4:40 ... “And He abode there two days.” To teach them the way of life, to strengthen their faith, leading more of them to become His disciples.2 4:41 ... “And many more [than those who had believed, because of the woman’s word] believed because of His own word,” or teaching; not because of miracles, for there is no record of any miracles performed in Sychar (Clark). This shows how Jesus spent two days – teaching the Samaritans of Sychar, and those of the region attracted there. Many people who had not been convinced by the word of the woman believed, however, as soon as they heard Jesus Himself. No numbers are given, but the impression is left that practically all Sychar believed in Christ. 4:42 ... “And they said to the woman.” What a change. Only two days ago she had gone to the well, probably in solitary isolation, perhaps shrinking from the scorn of neighbors. Now, suddenly she has been elevated to a status of equality and acceptance. Those who extended the hospitality of Sychar to Jesus did not fail to include also the lonely and sinful woman who was their link to the Lord of life. 4:42 ... “Now we believe … for we have heard Him ourselves.” Those who believed through hearing the woman’s report now come into fuller and stronger faith by personal contact with Jesus Himself. Likewise, we, too, should make progress from that knowledge of Jesus and His truths which comes from reading and the instruction of others, to that founded on the firmer foundation of personal experience and acquaintance with Jesus. 4:42 ... “And know that this is indeed [the Christ] the Savior of the world.” “The Christ” is used in the New King James. This view was the fruit of two days of teaching by Jesus. In showing the Samaritans that He was their Savior, the Master surely taught them that the Messiah, though a Jew, was not the Savior of the Jews only, but of the entire world. Only in this way could they be included, or could His Gospel meet their wants.3

Conclusion Practical

1. We can overcome the worldly and temporal by deep interest in the spiritual. “The woman in her zeal forgot her occupation, as Jesus in His had forgotten His thirst” (Tholuck). 2. She convinced others by relating her own experience. Experience is the unanswered argument. Our best efforts toward helping others grow come out of our own experiences. 3. The wonderful things the Lord does beyond human power, i.e., marvelous conversions and victories of the Gospel, are proof that Jesus is still living and working on the earth, and that His religion is from God. 4. Observe the method of the spread of Christianity in its earliest years. “The new convert became a missionary, propagating its faith (compare Acts 8:4; 9:20)” (Abbott). 5. vs. 31, 32: The spiritual food of the soul is far more important than bodily food. 6. Through Christian work for others our own souls are fed with bread from heaven. 7. Spiritual work in doing good to our fellowman often refreshes the body, renewing its health and vigor. 8. Oh, what a glorious thing, how rich a prize for the expense of a man’s whole life, were it to be the instrument of rescuing any one soul. 9. He who gives himself up to Christian work has double pay: (a) He has a temporal support of some kind, and (b) the work itself is a joy. Most men toil not from delight in the work itself, but for its rewards. But Christian work is its own reward. 10. v. 36: The forgotten worker, who sowed the seed, has as real a part in the harvest, and in its rewards, as those who gather the ripened grain with songs of joy. 11. v. 39: We cannot save others, but we can lead them to Christ. 12. Those having some real faith prove its reality by going to Jesus for instruction and help. 13. Jesus abiding with us is the greatest of all blessings. 14. v. 40: Christ does not force His instructions on us, but waits for us to ask Him, because only when we have the desire for Him and His instructions, will they be of use to us. 15. We gain more by using well what we have. 16. To know Christ Himself by personal experience is the surest foundation of faith. 17. Jesus Christ is doubly blest to us because He is not only our Savior, but the Savior of the world. We can trust Him more confidently, more lovingly, as we see Him helping and saving others.
Footnotes: 1 Note: The secret of all soul-winning is the ability of making oneself of “no reputation,” as the Lord did (Phil. 2:7 A.V.). We can only marvel at this woman’s willingness to make the exposition of her personal life the principal evidence, leading a city to the Lord. It’s unlikely that her mere statement, “He told me all the things that I ever did,” was enough to turn out a whole city to see Jesus. Such a statement was surely followed up with a statement of “what things” Jesus had said; and it can also be assumed that, regardless of the woman’s standing in the eyes of her neighbors, or regardless of what any of them knew about her, there were areas of the Savior’s revelation that laid bare the dark secrets of her soul; yet she unflinchingly cried out the message to all who would heart it. “At the very least, the witness

was such as publicized and blazed abroad the sordid details of her life to the total community. No one can look upon this as a small thing that she did.” 2 Note: This verse clearly shows the success of the woman’s efforts. The whole city immediately invited Jesus to stay with them, and the Master graciously accepted their invitation. Doesn’t your heart cry out, “This is the way it should have been everywhere Jesus went”? Sadly, this Samaritan village stands uniquely apart in the warm welcome they extended to the blessed Savior of the world. 3 Note: What a perception. This village was not looking for a knight on a white horse who would throw out the Romans, resurrecting the vanished empire of Solomon. They took Jesus for what He truly was and ever is; not a political or military hero, but a Redeemer come to give eternal life to men. “Oh, that Jerusalem might have been as perceptive as Sychar!” "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: The Credentials and Power of Christ Golden Text: “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” (Matt. 28:18) Lesson Plan: Introduction Jesus Working Like the Father (vs. 16-18) Jesus Working With the Father (v. 19) Jesus Loved by the Father (v. 20) Jesus Possessed of Divine Knowledge (v. 20) Jesus Giving Spiritual Life (vs. 21-26) Jesus the Judge of the World (v. 27) Jesus the Resurrection and the Life (vs. 28-30) Conclusion Setting of the Lesson: Time: Probably about the first of April, A.D. 28, four months after our last lesson. It was a feast (5:1), probably the Passover, which that year was March 29 to April 5. Place: At Jerusalem, in connection with the healing at the pool of Bethesda, the site of which is uncertain. Jesus: Between 31 and 32 years old, early in the second year of His ministry. John the Baptist: Was imprisoned about this time in the Castle Macherus. Beginning Suggestions This is a particularly difficult lesson, although full of very blessed and comforting truths. It will require more than ordinary study. Consider the intervening history After remaining two days at Sychar, teaching the inhabitants and making many disciples, Jesus continued His journey northward, as He proposed when He left Judea, and came to Cana in Galilee, where, nine months before, He had performed the miracle at the wedding. Here was the home of Nathanael, one of His disciples. While He was here, a nobleman of Capernaum came to Him on behalf of his dying son, and was bidden to return, “for thy son liveth.” For the next three months till the Passover, there is no record.

Review the whole first year of Jesus’ ministry, which closes with this lesson. It is recorded only in John. Read the story of the pool of Bethesda, from which this discourse grew. Write out briefly the course of thought; what Jesus was aiming at in this discourse, and His argument for that end. Illustration Doing the Will of God (v. 30). The end of life is not to do good, although many of us think so. It is not to win souls, although most of think so. The end of life is to do the will of God. That may be in the line of doing good or winning souls, or it may not. For the individual, the answer to the question, “What is the end of my life?” is this: to do the will of God, whatever that may be. Spurgeon once replied to an invitation to preach to an exceptionally large audience, “I have no ambition of preaching to thousands of people, only to do the will of God,” and he declined. If we could have no ambition past the will of god, our lives would be successful. When all is said and done, the maximum achievement of any one’s life is to have done the will of God. No man or woman can do more with a life. There is no happiness or success in any life until that principle has taken possession of a life.

Introduction Circumstances When the Passover drew near, held this year March 29, Jesus, in common with many of His countrymen, went up from Galilee to Jerusalem to celebrate it. On the Sabbath (Saturday), quietly walking around the city, He came to the pool of Bethesda, where there had gathered a large number of people under the porticos by the pool, waiting for a peculiar movement of the water, which occasionally bubbled up in a mysterious way, for a brief time, and then subsided. There was a popular impression that this mysterious movement of the waters was caused by an angel, who troubled the waters at various unexpected times, and thus imparted a healing power to them. Then, whoever enters in first, before the commotion ceased, was supposed to be healed. Jesus, looking on, saw one man who, with an infirmity of 38 years’ standing, unable to get to the water in time, and Jesus healed him of his paralytic weakness, and bade him, “Rise, take up thy bed and walk.” The miracle, along with the fact that it was done on the Sabbath, and in carrying his bed the man was working on the Sabbath by Jesus’ command, aroused the opposition of the Jews, who went so far as to try and kill Jesus. This state of affairs is the text for the discourse selected for this study.

Scripture Reading: John 5:16-18 (KJV) Jesus Working like the Father

He does exactly what God does; therefore He has God’s authority for what He does. 5:16 ... “And for this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, because He did these things on the Sabbath.” These zealots who had made the Word of God of none effect by their tradition were adamant in their refusal to allow the slightest possibility of any error on their own part. Their foolish and unscriptural Sabbath regulations were so dear to them that they would crucify the Christ of glory rather than yield on the tiniest iota of their conceited interpretations. Note: John did not say here that Jesus broke the Sabbath but that He “did these things,” a far different thing from breaking the Sabbath. (Coffman) 5:17 ... “But Jesus answered them.” Answered the charges implied in v. 16, that Jesus had broken the Sabbath law, and was therefore a sinner and opposer of God, instead of a prophet. 5:17 ... “My Father worketh hitherto.” Jesus was justified in healing and helping an afflicted man on the Sabbath, because His Father had been doing such work during the whole of His Sabbath rest. It was Sabbath work, and according to the fourth commandment. 5:17 ... “And I work.” In other words, I do exactly according to His precept and example with the same will and purpose. The Father had never ceased to work in support and maintenance of all things, therefore the Lord was in full character with the Father when He healed a man on the Sabbath day. Furthermore, no Sabbath regulation of any divine sanction had ever forbidden such an act. God’s Sabbath work For six divine days the Lord worked making heaven and earth, ending with the creation of man. Since then has been His seventh day, wherein He rested from the work of creation. No new species of plant or animal is known to have been created since man. Has God been inactive? On the contrary, He has continued the necessary operations of nature, as well as working for the redemption of man, both of which are “Sabbath” labors. And He works even now. Like Him, Jesus worked, and we should work. Except for eating and drinking (necessary for existence), there is no record of Jesus doing secular work on the Sabbath. But His works on the Sabbath were works of mercy, religion, teaching, and helping man. And these are still “Sabbath” works. There is no shadow of excuse in Christ’s conduct or teaching for a “Sabbath” spent in worldly pleasures and recreations. Nor is the ‘Sabbath’ to be a day of mere idleness. The “Thou shalt nots” of the fourth commandment are the forces to keep out worldly cares and labors, in order to preserve a free field for the true “Sabbath” deeds. 5:18 ... “Therefore the Jews sought the more.” They now have a second reason for their persecution.

5:18 ... “To kill Him.” Nothing less than this would do. They could have no peace as long as such a man lived. Nothing less could keep Him from teaching things opposed to their traditions. 5:18 ... “Because He not only had broken the Sabbath.” Not, broke the law in any particular case, but was annulling the law and duty of Sabbath observance (Vincent). He did relax what they supposed to be essential to the preservation of the day, but what was really destroying it (Abbott). Man’s true rest is not a rest from human earthly labor, but a rest for divine heavenly labor (Westcott). 5:18 ... “But said … that God was His [own] Father [His Father in the highest peculiar sense], making Himself equal with God.” “On the same level with God” (Meyer). “On an equality with God” (Norton). “Of the same nature and condition” (Robinson). The Jews rightly interpreted the words of the Lord. Westcott pointed out that they saw that He claimed the power of abrogating (determining its intent with Fivine knowledge) the law of the Sabbath in virtue of His absolutely special relation to God, thus placing His action on the same level with the action of God. How strange it is that some can read the New Testament and then deny that Jesus claimed to be God. Even the Lord’s enemies knew the implication of His words. In fact, it was the Savior’s claim to be God which they construed as blasphemy, and on which they based their demands of Pilate that He be crucified (John 19:7). Coffman wrote, vs. 17 and 18 are among the most important in Holy Scripture, especially as related to the heresy of Arius (died 336 A.D.) and Sabellius (circa 230 A.D.), the former teaching that Christ was a created being, and the latter affirming that God, the Holy Spirit, and Christ are identical, and that Jesus was not God come in the flesh. “Other passages may contain as important witness against Arian, other against the Sabellian, departure from the truth; but this upon both sides plants the pillars of the faith” (Trench). This open break between Jesus and the ruling hierarchy was sharp and irrevocable; and, fittingly, Jesus now speaks about this occasion at some length to His enemies in a vain effort to persuade them of the truth of His words and of His claim to be the Messiah. The rest of this chapter is consumed with an overwhelming testimony of the Lord Jesus concerning Himself.

Scripture Reading: John 5:19 (KJV) Jesus Working with the Father

5:19 ... “Then Jesus answered.” He added another of His credentials of the proofs of His divine authority as the Son of God. He not only worked like God, but He was working with God, with His aid, approval, and purpose. 5:19 ... “Verily, verily.” The same original word as our word “amen,” i.e., “in very truth.” 5:19 ... “The Son can do nothing of Himself” (negative form). Such is the union between the Father and the Son. In other words, it is impossible for any act of the Son to spring from self, from His own will, irrespective of the Father’s will. As Hovey stated, “this inability was a glory and perfection.” Their will and working are one. The two are so closely related that to see one is to see the other; to hear one is to hear the other. This stresses the obvious truth that no mere man could have healed the cripple; demanding the deduction that Jesus displayed the power of God in doing such a great wonder. 5:19 ... “But what He seeth the Father do” (positive form). The New King James, “but what He sees the Father do.” The Son of God can perform no act which differs in character from the action of the Father. The divine insight of Jesus Christ is now evident. He was not merely an observer of mortal deeds only. He also beheld supernaturally all the works of God. 5:19 ... “For what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (in like manner). For it is the very nature of the Son to do whatever the Father doeth. Also, to do these works after the same plan and proceeding, so that there can be unity without discord. The Son does the same things, with the same power, in the same manner. Jesus’ actions were in complete harmony with God’s actions, not only in quality, but in the manner of their being done. Jesus’ words here are nearly the equivalent to the deduction of Nicodemus, “No man can do the signs which Thou doest except God be with Him” (John 3:2). In the words of Hovey, the actions of Jesus here were: To convince His foes, if they will suffer themselves to be convinced that His action has been in harmony with the will of God. In doing this, He is not called upon to emphasize His personal distinction from the Father (that was admitted by His accusers), or to insist directly on His equality with the Father (for to do that would be to confirm their impression that He was a blasphemer), but rather, without denying either of these, to convince them, if possible, of His absolute unity with the Father in action. (Commentary on John) All the actions of Jesus were in complete harmony with God’s will. In fact, the Son of God was not and is not capable of doing anything contrary to God’s will.

Scripture Reading: John 5:20 (KJV) Jesus Loved by the Father 5:20 ... “For the Father loveth the Son.” To love is expressed by two words in the New Testament, Phileo and Agapao. Agapao indicates a reasoning, discriminating attachment (the deliberate choice of one out of a number) founded on the conviction that its object is worthy of esteem, or entitled to it on account of benefits bestowed. Phileo represents a warmer, more instinctive sentiment, more closely allied to feeling, implying more passion. Thus, Phileo represents the affectional element of love, and Agapao the intelligent element. Men are directed to love (Agapao) God; never Phileo, since love to God implies an intelligent discernment of His attributes, not merely an affectionate sentiment. Both elements are combined in the Father’s love to the Son (Agapao in John 3:35; Phileo here, 5:20). Agape is used throughout the panegyric of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Erao, “Love” in which the idea of sensual passion predominates, is never used in the New Testament. (Vincent’s Word Studies) Sadler pointed out that all this unfolding of the divine love in the Godhead, though expressed in human language, and after the manner of men, is absolutely true, because the human relationship of father and son is after the pattern of the Divine. He goes on to say that even if it is not true of earthly fathers and earthly sons, it is because of the imperfection and sin of the human beings, preventing the love and confidence which there is in the persons sharing the divine nature. The fact that the Father loves the Son should have been known by the priests, because God had declared it vocally at Jesus’ baptism.

Scripture Reading: John 5:20 (KJV) Jesus Possessed of Divine Knowledge 5:20 ... “And sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth.” It is difficult to imagine a more powerful claim to deity than this. From, apostles, prophets, and philosophers, no small part of the doings of God are concealed. From the Son, nothing is hid. And, as God shows Him all that is done, He must be possessed of

omniscience, for to no finite mind could be imparted a knowledge of all the works of God. (Barnes) “He who loves hides nothing” (Bengel). The Father conceals nothing from the Son. As Barnes wrote above, from apostles, prophets and philosophers no small part of the doings of God are concealed. From the Son nothing is. 5:20 ... “And He will shew Him.” The knowledge the Son (incarnate) possessed of the Father was progressive (Whitelaw). The Father shows Him everything He does, but not everything at the same time (Gess). 5:20 ... “Greater works than these.” By this, Jesus meant that the Pharisees had not seen the exhaustion of His mighty powers. In the next verse, the Lord indicates that He would even raise the dead. Godet pointed out that the Jews opened their eyes wide at the healing of an impotent man. What will it be when, at the voice of this same Jesus, mankind will recover life spiritually, and even one day physically. A poor healing amazes them; what will a Pentecost do and a resurrection from the dead! 5:20 ... “That ye may marvel.” That “ye” is emphatic, and is addressed to those questioning His authority, whose wonder would, therefore, be “astonishment” rather than “admiring” faith, but which might lead to faith (Vincent). The Mystery The clearest light on the mystery implied in the above verses, comes from a perception that the Divine uniting with the human a person, the Messiah, the Son of God is formed. And as such, many things could be said of Him, which could not be said of Him as the second Person in the Trinity, without being united with the human. The Word once emptied of the divine state, entered fully into the human state; and after having been revealed to Himself at His baptism as a divine subject, re-entered at the close of His human development upon the divine state. By His human existence and earthly activity He realized, in the form of becoming, the same filial relation which He realized in His divine existence in the form of being. And hence all the terms used by Jesus, the showing of the Father, the seeing of the Son, the expressions cannot and of Himself, apply to the different phases of His existence, to each according to its nature and measure. (Godet)

Scripture Reading: John 5:21-26 (KJV) Jesus Giving Spiritual Life

Jesus has just been speaking of works greater than His actual miracles, which He shall one day accomplish at the will of His Father. He now explains what those works are: the resurrection and the judgment of humanity. 5:21 ... “For as the Father raiseth up the dead.” The general terms of v. 21 must be employed in their widest sense, including both a physical and a spiritual resurrection and gift of life. The spiritual being referred to in vs. 24, 25; and the physical in vs. 28, 29. 5:21 ... “And quickeneth [maketh alive] … even so the Son quickeneth.” Maketh alive “whom He will.” It is in His own power, dependent on no will but His own. Of course that power is exerted only according to infinite wisdom and love. Through these bold words, Jesus sought to compel His foes to make a deduction which obviously they should have already made, namely, that a being with the power to do what Jesus had just done possessed also the power to raise the dead. These words of Christ were fulfilled in the raising of Lazarus; and, in context, these words amount to a promise that Jesus would indeed raise the dead before the very eyes of His enemies. These words also have a spiritual application which Jesus stressed a little later (John 5:25). 5:22 ... “For the Father judgeth no man.” Rather, “For not even doth the Father.” To Whom the work of judging primarily and essentially belongs (Ps. 50:4; Ezek. 18:30; Dan. 7:10; John 8:50; Rom. 2:16; 2 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 10:30). “Judge any man,” i.e., directly. 5:22 ... “But [He] hath committed [given] all judgment.” The whole judicial function in all its parts and sorts, embracing therefore present moral and future legal judgments upon men (Cambridge Bible). 5:22 ... “Unto the Son.” Because the work of quickening with which also He has been entrusted requires such work of judging (Whitelaw). What about John 1:17f? Is there a contradiction? No, because there Christ was refuting the false expectation that the Messiah would execute a military and political judgment against Gentiles. Regarding that kind of judgment, Jesus came not to judge but to save. The judgment mentioned here (John 5:22) refers to eternal judgment. God has made eternal judgment the exclusive province of the Son of God. Into the hands of Jesus Christ, God has placed all eternal judgment. Here Christ plainly told His enemies that they were in the presence of the Judge Who would judge them in the last day. 5:23 ... “That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father,” etc. For they are one God. If Jesus is not divine, then to honor Him thus, to love Him and trust Him as a Savior, would lead us away from God. Now all honor and worship of the Son is honor and worship of the Father. The more we love Christ, the more we love God. The Father is made known by the Son, “who is the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person.” So that whosoever honors and loves the one, must admire and love the other. Moreover, the Son is

the representative of the Father, His Ambassador, and dishonoring the Ambassador is dishonoring to Him who sent Him. No stronger statement of the deity of Christ appears in the Holy Word of God. How is God honored? By the soul’s purest adoration and worship. That is the way Christ should be honored. These words are equivalent to Jesus’ saying, “I am God and am entitled to all the honor belonging to the Father.” 5:24 ... “He that heareth.” We see from this that “whom He will” (v. 21) implies no arbitrary selection. It is each individual who decides for himself whether he will hear, believe and obey Christ. 5:24 ... “Believeth on Him that sent Me.” New King James: “believes in Him Who sent Me.” Hearing and believing Christ’s word are equivalent to believing God Who sent Him. Believing Jesus is believing God. Thus, there is another skillful advocacy of His deity. He that trusts in God, showing it by believing with all his heart the message God has sent by Jesus Christ and, of course, obeying the Gospel “hath,” not merely “shall have.” 5:24 ... “Everlasting life.” That which cannot be destroyed, which endures beyond the grave, and grows fuller and richer as the ages roll on. It is more than an endless existence. It implies blessedness, fullness, joy, glad activity. A tree “exists” when it is dead, but it “lives” only when it freely carries on the processes which make it leaf, blossom, and bear fruit. This verse focuses on the true mission of our Lord’s coming into the world, to bring mankind eternal life. If the Pharisees had been the type of people who are interested in such a blessing, they might have been convicted by such a promise. But they were too busy with their earthly concerns to pay any attention to the great hope these precious words offered. Eternal life is here spoken of as a present possession of the recipient; but that present possession must be understood as a title deed in the form of God’s own promise of a state of bliss following the resurrection of the dead. Such an inheritance, though in a sense only prospective, creates such a profound change in the life of the possessor, coloring his entire life, transforming even sorrows and hardships, providing the motivation of a higher life-style – so vast a change, in fact, that, in the sense intended here, the believer truly has eternal life. Eternal life 1. Eternal life is the true spiritual life of the soul – that which is natural to it in its highest state. 2. It is the divine life which is implanted in us when we are born of the Spirit and the water and become children of God. It begins in this life; but 3. Being divine and natural, it endures forever.

4. It is the life that belongs to heaven, which inspires all heavenly beings, making heaven what it is. As a Bible professor beautifully said: “The perfect tense of the verb ‘live’ is ‘love.’” 5. It is the condition of all the highest blessings. These cannot be known without the spiritual life. All pleasures and delights are nothing to the dead. 6. Eternal life, from its very nature, produces a perfect morality, the noblest conduct. 7. Of all things in the world eternal life is most worth the seeking. 5:24 ... “Shall not come into condemnation.” New King James, “shall not come into judgment.” “That judgment which issues in condemnation and punishment” (Sadler). For all will be judged (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 3:8). This is the secret of how eternal life is made available to mankind. The great corollary underlying the promise of eternal life is that so great a blessing is inseparable from absolute perfection and holiness. It is inconceivable that God would perpetuate throughout eternity anything imperfect or unholy. This clause furnishes a clue to the manner in which absolute perfection and holiness can become actual qualities of those destined to eternal life. If we come into judgment in our own names, standing along in our righteousness, pleading our own identity and worthiness, none of us shall be able to stand. And every person who has ever lived will fail in such a judgment as that – hence the profound promise of Jesus here that the saved “cometh not into judgment!” How can this be? Will God not judge everyone? Yes, of course; but those who believe and are baptized into Christ, who continue to be united with Him, being found at last “in Him” – those shall not come into judgment in their own name or identity, but as Christ. No person shall ever be saved on the basis of his/her own personal merit or righteousness; but in Christ, and as Christ. Everyone who is truly united with the Lord shall be saved, the grounds of justification and redemption being nothing less than the perfect faith and obedience of the Son of God Himself. 5:24 ... “But is passed from death.” The realm of sin and death, temporal, spiritual and eternal. 5:24 ... “Unto life.” New King James: “Into life.” He has come into the condition of eternal life. Not having perfect identity with Christ, in Christ, and as Christ, is a state of death; because, apart from Christ, the entire race of men is in a state of utmost condemnation. On the other hand, eternal life is in Christ. Thus the soul that receives Jesus Christ as Lord passes out of death into life. (Coffman) 5:25 ... “Verily, verily [again marking the importance of what is said] … the hour is coming [it is drawing near; it is sure to come], and now is.” It has already begun. “These words exclude the meaning of a bodily resurrection; the hour for which had not yet arrived” (Cambridge Bible).

5:25 ... “When the dead [the spiritually dead; those without eternal life, as mentioned in v. 24] shall hear the voice of the Son of God [Who has divine power to make Himself heard] … shall live.” Shall become alive. Shall have eternal life. These three verses, of which this is the center, are among the most instructive in the whole Word of God. This seems to refer to the first resurrection, because of the contrast of it with the final resurrection in the next verse. This (v. 25) is a spiritual rekindling of life; v. 26 a physical resurrection from the grave. Significantly, the Lord announced: 1. That the spiritual resurrection was then in progress, 2. That the Son of God is the author of it, 3. That His Word is the means of it, and 4. That as His Word was received or rejected men would or would not have a part in it. A terrible warning What a terrible warning to those who at that very moment were rejecting His Word, not allowing His true interpretation of God’s Sabbath law. Instead they were plotting a way to maintain their own ridiculous interpretations. It also should be noted that by rejecting Jesus’ Word regarding Sabbath regulations, the priests were light years away from receiving the profound teachings recorded in this paragraph. They remained in a state of spiritual death – the sound of the voice of the Lord of life falling in vain on stopped-up ears. Jesus saw all that; and the thought must have come to Him: “Very well, My voice calling men to spiritual resurrection you will not hear; but I shall speak again on another occasion (that of the final judgment), and then you will hear!” In fact, such is the thought expressed later in John 5:28. 5:26 ... “For [giving the reason why He could promise this] as the Father hath life in Himself [the original source and creator of life], so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” He, too, as the Messiah, is a source and creator of life. The Pharisees had already decided to kill Jesus (John 5:18). They were diligently seeking a way to carry out their plans. In that context, these words carry the weight of John 10:17, 18, where Jesus plainly states they would not be able to murder Him, but that He would lay down His own life and take it up again. Jesus affirmed here in v. 26 that the Son is co-equal with God in the possession of life in Himself.

Scripture Reading: John 5:27 (KJV) Jesus the Judge of the World

5:27 ... “And hath given Him authority to execute judgment.” All men, not only day by day, but in the final great day, are to be judged by Christ. He is to be the judge. His character and teachings are to be the test. His very presence in the world is a judgment. “Authority” is the great word with reference to Christ. None of the apostles failed to be impressed with it. Matthew summarized it in Jesus’ own words as “all authority in heaven and upon earth” (28:18). 5:27 ... “Because He is the Son of Man.” A son of man. In this passage alone the phrase “son of man” stands without the article. He is a son of man, a representative man. One who has a feeling for our infirmities, and was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” God would not judge the intelligent creation whom He fashioned in His own image, until first He Himself had become a man in the person of the Son, in order that His judgment would therefore be more merciful, righteous and just. Christ as Judge 1. “The judgment is to take place with human publicity; therefore the judge must be visible as man” (Luther). 2. By His incarnation Christ has so identified Himself with all the interests of humanity, as its head and Savior, that humanity belongs to Him; it is for Him to redeem, to save, to make alive, to judge, to condemn. The final resurrection and judgment are only the completion of the process commenced in His becoming man for us, and for our salvation. This is the kindest arrangement: (a) because as mediator He must have the tenderest regard for man; (b) because as man He would sympathize with us, regarding our temptations; (c) because as God-man He would have a fellow-feeling with us as well as with God. When we think of the final judgment, we should keep in mind: No stranger shall judge us, but He who is our fellow, Who will sustain our interests, and have full sympathy in all our imperfections. He who loved us, even to die for us, is graciously appointed to assign the final measurement and price upon His own work. He who best knows by infirmity is to take the part of the infirm; He Who would fain reap the full fruit of His passion; He will separate the wheat from the chaff, so that not a grain shall fall to the ground. But it would be false to deny to God the feeling of compassion, “Like as a father pitieth . . . so the Lord pitieth . . . for He knoweth our frame” (Ps. 103:13, 14). Son of God; Son of man – the real Savior of man must be the Son of God 1. That He may have all power to save; 2. That He may be omnipresent wherever man and his needs are; 3. That He may be ever beyond and above man, always drawing him upward; 4. That all the love toward Him may also be love to God; 5. That He may be able to make atonement for sin.

He must at the same time be the Son of Man 1. That He may reveal Himself to men; 2. That He may not only sympathize with them, but that they may know and feel His sympathy; so 3. That He may reach and touch their hearts; 4. That He may be able to make atonement for their sins

Scripture Reading: John 5:28-30 (KJV) Jesus the Resurrection and the Life 5:28 ... “Marvel not at this.” Do not think that this is too hard to believe, for another similar wonder is to visibly take place; and they should see some examples of it. In v. 20, Jesus had said “that ye may marvel,” in His words with the priests; but that was not a reference to the final judgment in view here, being rather a prophecy of the raising of Lazarus. The priestly community in Jerusalem ignored and belittled the healing of a man crippled for thirty-eight years; and, if Christ’s miracles had terminated there, infidelity might have contrived some plausible basis of unbelief. Therefore Christ hurled a challenge in the face of His enemies by promising to raise the dead to life again; but even that, when it occurred, did not convince them, for their error was not a matter of intelligence or reason, but the error of a wicked heart. (Coffman) 5:28 ... “All that are in the graves.” He is now referring to the physical resurrection. 5:28 ... “Shall hear His voice.” A voice like the sound of a trumpet (Rev. 1:10), and like the sound of many waters (Rev. 1:15), that is, like the roar of the ocean for fullness and power.1 In v. 21 Jesus claimed power to raise the dead; but His statement there fell a little short of declaring emphatically that He would indeed do so (although it was clearly implied). These words, however, dogmatically declare that Christ will raise all of the deal on earth, that the dead of all ages will respond to His voice, and that Christ will judge them and assign the eternal destiny for both the good and the evil. 5:29 ... “Unto the resurrection of life.” A resurrection which brings perfect life, or eternal and blessed fellowship with God (Hovey).

5:29 ... “The resurrection of damnation.” New King James: “resurrection of condemnation.” The Revised Version: “judgment,” i.e., a judgment of condemnation. These verses contain a tremendous witness of Jesus Christ Himself, spoken in such a way as to demand their acceptance by men; but the Master saw that the Sahedrinists and their followers were adamant in their rejection of all that He was declaring, despite the signs He did. Such a rejection Jesus met by a change of tactic, and thus He at once marshaled other witnesses on His own behalf. In v. 30, Jesus changes His approach to the closed minds of the priests, still trying to induce them to believe. 5:30 ... “And My judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will.” Nothing is surer to pervert judgment than selfish ends in the judge. Jesus Christ, through His perfect communion with God, was absolutely above the influence of human fear or favor. “My judgment is righteous” is the equivalent of “My witness of Myself is absolutely true, because I am doing the will of God who sent Me.”

Conclusion His self-awareness reflects the Son’s deity on earth One area of evidence concerning Jesus’ deity is His divine awareness. Although we have little information about Jesus’ personal life, the insights we are given in the Gospel accounts illustrate that He was aware of His deity. He used His divine omniscience and omnipotence as tools in His ministry. He knew all that would happen as He fulfilled His role as Redeemer – including the thoughts and actions of others, both present and future. His self-awareness is show in many ways. His knowledge of His relationship with His Father From early childhood, Jesus was conscious of His role in His Father’s plans. When Joseph and Mary found Him in the temple, this conversion followed: “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking fore you.” And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” There is no evidence that Jesus was unaware of His divine relationship with His heavenly Father. Quite the contrary! What does this Father/Son relationship mean in light of Jesus’ deity? He said elsewhere, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27). This is an affirmation of universality (“all things”) and exclusiveness (“except the Father . . .

except the Son”). This unique Father/Son2 relationship means nothing unless it includes intimate, divine relationship. This relation of Father to Son enables the Son to reveal the Father to others as He chooses. This “Divine initiative” lies behind some of the remarks Jesus made to His disciples. For example, Jesus informed a questioning Thomas that He was (and is) the exclusive way to the Father. Thereupon Philip asked that they be permitted to see the Father. Jesus’ response gives a marvelous example of His consciousness of His identity: He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me. (John 14:9b-11a) Jesus was aware that He was the Father’s Son. The two are so closely related that to see one is to see the other; to hear one is to hear the other. In our study from John 5:16-30, Jesus went further in saying that whatever the Father does is what the Son does because they are mutually aware of each other. Life and judgment have been entrusted to the Son by the Father; therefore, both the Father and the Son are to be honored (John 5:19-23). Jesus’ awareness of His relationship with His Father rested on the foundation that He was (and is), as His Father is, deity.
Footnotes: 1 Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16. 2 For more information on the Father and Son, see God’s Fullness in A Religion Library section of "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: The Bread of Life Golden Text: “Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35) Lesson Plan: Introduction The Crowds Returning to Capernaum (vs. 22-24) Seeking the Bread of Everlasting Life (vs. 25-29) The Proof (vs. 30-34) Jesus Is the Bread of Life (vs. 35-40) Practical Thoughts Setting of the Lesson: Time: About the middle of April, A.D. 29, the Passover that year beginning April 16 (John 6:4). Place: Capernaum, on the North-West shore of the Lake of Galilee. Inductive Study of the Lesson: 1. What does Jesus want us to understand about Him by these expressions? “The Bread of Life” and “the life.” 2. Jesus and the Bread of Life. John 6:48-51; 58; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, and the use of “bread” in the institution of the Lord’s Supper.1 3. The Mana referred to in John 6:49, 50; Exodus 16:14-35; Nehemiah 9:15; Psalms 78:24. Jesus the Life: John 1:4; 5:24; 6; 11:25; 14:6; 17:3; 1 John 1:2; 2:25; 5:11-13, 20; 2 Corinthians 4:10; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3; 2 Timothy 1:1, 10: Revelation 2:7. 4. Old Testament Miracles of Feeding compared and contrasted with this miracle of Jesus. Elijah fed by ravens (1 Kings 17:6); miraculously increases the widow’s meal and oil (1 Kings 17:9-16); Elisha feeds one hundred men with twenty loaves (2 Kings 4:42-44). The night of prayer (v. 15; Matt. 14:23-25) When Jesus had fed the multitudes, He sent them away to their homes, constrained the disciples to set out for Bethsaida in their boat, and then retiring to the mountain retreats He spent the night in prayer. Probably the reasons were:

1. He needed rest after the long days of labor teaching and working. 2. In all spiritual work there is need of constant communion with God. The best part of prayer is this communion. If Jesus needed this, how much more do we? 3. He specially needed consolation and strength; for His labors seemed only to collect unspiritual and fanatical crowds, out of all sympathy with the true design of the Messianic mission. 4. The action of the people to make Him a king (v. 15) was a renewal of one of His greatest temptations – to obtain a worldly kingdom, and greatness and honor, with ease and plenty and immediate success, instead of a spiritual kingdom and the salvation of men by the hard and slow way of self-denial and the cross. The storm at sea (vs. 18, 19) While Jesus was praying among the hills, the disciples were rowing in a northeast direction toward Bethsaida, where apparently they were to meet Jesus, take Him on board, and then proceed to Capernaum, their home. On the way they were overtaken by one of the sudden, violent storms from the north, so common on the Sea of Galilee. The danger was great, and the tempest drove them away from their harbor. The reason for this experience probably was to train them in faith, hope and courage. “He will not have them to be clinging only to the sense of His bodily presence – as ivy, needing always an outward support – but as hardy forest trees which can brave a blast; and this time He puts them forth into the danger alone, even as some loving mother-bird thrusts her fledglings from the nest, that they may find their own wings, and learn to use them. And by the issue He will awaken in them a confidence in His ever-ready help” (Trench). Beginning Suggestions 1. Seeking the Bread of Life (vs. 22-27). Picture the scene. The morning after the feeding of the five thousand, the people sought for Jesus (vs. 22-24). Two Motives for seeking Jesus: (a) The one for His teachings and spiritual blessings, and (b) the other a mere seeking for the worldly results of His miracles. v. 26 does not contradict v. 14, but only explains it. Illustrate the distinction by various things in common life. A man may be said to work for money, or for the poor on whom he wishes to spend the money he works for. A person may be said to spend time in recreation, or for health which recreation brings. Illustration “Him hath the Father sealed.” When most people could not read, it was necessary to use seals and signs. Thus the ancient hotels for names had picturesigns, such as “the Elephant and Castle,” “The Boar’s Head.” For the same

reason seals were used, instead of written signatures. Thus God authenticated Jesus to us as His Son, and our Savior, by signs which all can understand.2 The contrast between food for the body and food for the soul. Show what this food is, and the importance of it, as in the above notes. Illustrate the need of laboring for this food, hungering for it, by illustrations taken from our bodily wants. If the body has no appetite, no hunger, it is sick. It cannot grow strong and well without an appetite, and food to satisfy it. 2. Finding the Bread of Life (vs. 28-35) The people were convinced that they needed this bread, and they go on questioning Jesus. In reply, Jesus shows them the bread of life and how to obtain it. The answer of Jesus to their first question leads them to the great essential truth of the Christian life. The work of God which lies at the foundation of all is believing, trusting and obeying His Son. Why? Because by true faith the heart is changed into a heart that loves righteousness, from which flows all the works God would have us do; and because no work is really good unless filled with faith and love. Illustrate again by things in common life. An act of kindness is “not good, unless it grows out of kind feeling.” Gifts do not excite our gratitude, if they are made from selfish motives. Obedience to parents is not satisfactory, if it is merely outward and with no obedient spirit. While, on the other hand, we know that obedient acts will flow from an obedient heart, and kind deeds from a kind heart.3 Illustration The ancient Greeks represented their gods as living on ambrosia and nectar, food and drink of divine delicacy and flavor, but not to be taken by mortals. But our Lord sends from heaven the food of the immortals, that all men may partake thereof and live forever. Illustration Several years ago the well known political economist, John Stuart Mill, died. Unfortunately he had been taught by his father to disbelieve in the Bible. Some years before his death he made a remarkable statement, especially considering his supposed disbelief. He said something like this: “There could be no better rule found to decide questions of ethical propriety than for a man to ask himself, ‘What would Jesus of Nazareth have done in such a case?’ There is another felicity here: there are no faults to imitate. You know we have an aptitude for imitating faults. If a man undertakes to imitate a public speaker he always succeeds in imitating his faults, and so with authors, athletes, singers, actors, politicians, etc. But in imitating Christ there are no faults to copy, and if we can bring our thoughts to the right conception, there is nothing to think of, nothing to do, but to imitate His excellences.

Mark Jesus’ answer to their desire for proof (vs. 30-33). He gives them proof. His own person and works and teachings are the proof, as is true today with Christianity.4 Show how Jesus is that bread; how He gives life to the soul, saves from death to eternal life, nourishes and strengthens every part of the soul, develops character, satisfies every longing. Observation shows that becoming a Christian works a marvelous change not only in the moral character, but in the intellect, culture, in broadness of view, in quality of existence. 3. Eating the bread of life (vs. 35-40) By trusting and obeying Jesus Christ. Show the harmony of v. 35 with the beatitude, Matthew 5:6. Consider the two sides of our salvation: the “Divine” and the “human.” Illustration We may not be able to harmonize both in theory; but we must do with these questions as we do with nature – ascertain the facts, knowing that if they are facts, they must be in harmony whether we see it or not. No one could by reason alone see how spirit could act upon and with matter, as our souls actually do with our bodies. It would seem impossible that water, which is 700 times heavier than air, could float in large bodies on that air; and yet, lakes and rivers are floated there in clouds. The divine and the human elements in our salvation are facts; we all know it; therefore they must harmonize.5

Introduction Jesus’ discourse in this lesson naturally follows His work of feeding five thousand. He now teaches some of the deepest and most needed truths to the crowds following Him back from Bethsaida to Capernaum. Consider 1. The last part of the discourse, beginning either at v. 41 or v. 52, was delivered in the synagogue (v. 59) and therefore on the Sabbath. The earlier portion, included in our lesson, was probably spoken without. 2. This should not be studied as a verbatim report of the Master’s discourse, but simply as providing the substance.

Scripture Reading: John 6:22-24 (KJV) The Crowds Returning to Capernaum

6:22 ... “The day following” the feeding of the five thousand, the arrival of Jesus and His disciples at Capernaum in the latter part of the night. 6:22 ... “The people which stood on the other side of the sea.” The other side from Capernaum, in the vicinity of the place where the five thousand were fed. These were probably among the number who received the miraculous bread. 6:22 ... “Saw that there was none other boat there, save that one.” This sentence, including the rest of v. 22, is a parenthetical clause, explaining why the people lingered on the plain of Bethsaida, because they thought that Jesus Himself must be there. They had seen the disciples sail away in the only boat; they had seen that Jesus did not go with them. Therefore He must be somewhere in the region. 6:23 ... “Howbeit there came other boats,” etc. This verse is another parenthesis, explaining how the people were enabled to sail across the sea to Capernaum. 6:23 ... “From Tiberias [on the south-west shore of the lake] … after that the Lord had given thanks.” This shows emphasis on giving thanks. Perhaps at this juncture the miracle took place. Re: vs. 22-23, Coffman wrote: The next day, a part of the multitude who had partaken of the loaves and fishes confronted Jesus on the western shore, near Capernaum; and they first demanded to know where Jesus had gotten away from them. They knew that there had been only one boat and that He had not entered it. John’s mention of the boats from Tiberius in this place is a reference to taxi boats which, after the storm subsided, had gone to Bethsaida Julius in search of fares. Some of the crowd had probably used the taxis as a means of catching up with Jesus. 6:24 ... “They also took shipping.” New King James: “they also got into boats,” i.e., the boats that had come from Tiberias, driven perhaps driven by the same gale that had delayed the apostles (Cambridge Bible). 6:24 ... “Came to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.” They came here, because this was one of the frequent resorts of Jesus and His disciples, and here they would be most likely to find Him. They were filled with curiosity regarding how Jesus eluded them. But Jesus did not offer an answer, moving instead to correct their spiritual condition.

Scripture Reading: John 6:25-29 (KJV) Seeking the Bread of Everlasting Life 6:25 ... “When they had found Him on the other side of the sea [the other side from the plain of Bethsaida, from which they had sailed], they said unto Him, Rabbi [a title of honor and respect, signifying “Master” or teacher], when camest Thou hither?” Bengel points out that the question ‘when’ includes “how.” They had sought Him in vain. They could not understand how or when He could have reached Capernaum without their knowing anything about it. 6:26 ... “Ye seek Me, not because ye saw the miracles” (signs). This does not contradict v. 2, where it is said that they followed Him “because they saw the miracles He did on them that were diseased.” In a certain sense they followed Him because of the miracles. However, it was for the “results” of the miracles, not for the miracles themselves as expressing God’s thoughts and Christ’s true mission. They came for the healing and the food, failing to see the true meaning of the miracles. 6:26 ... “But because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.” Were satisfied with food, “as animals with fodder” (Westcott). They were not hypocrites; they only took a low view. They were not seeking Him, but His gifts. Therefore, he that loves someone for money or meat loves money or meat more than the person. What is our focus? Today the temptation is great for leaders in the church to primarily view the economic sector of holy religion. However, when preachers, elders, deacons, leaders forsake the spiritual aims of the church, pandering instead o the economic and social desires of the people, they succeed only in arousing hopes and ambitions that are doomed to frustration. What happens when a church begins a literal feeding of the multitudes? Do you think it will be any different than what happened here? In other words, it will tend toward the direction of some kind of social upheaval, not in the direction of moral and spiritual improvement. Consider what happened when Christ fed the multitudes. The response was not, “Here is proof – a Savior from sin had arrived.” No, far from it. They concluded, as someone suggested, that “Jesus should feed them three times a day for forty years, thereby releasing them to dedicate their full energies to destroying the Romans. When Christians or churches seek to provide for people what they should provide for themselves, the hopes and ambitions released by such efforts are just as sinister as those released so long ago on the grassy slopes of Butaiha. 6:27 ... “Labor not [work not] for the meat [food] which perisheth.” The food for the body. Daily food is not to be the chief end even of labor. It is not to be the great object for which we work and expend our energies. Labor for earthly food should merely be a means to something higher. That should be the true end of

our labor. Therefore, do not make the supply of bodily wants the chief purpose of labor. 6:27 ... “But for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” We should put our life’s work into that which endures. The great passion of too many of us today seems to be for material, secular and earthly things, not the procuring of food giving eternal life. This verse is not saying, “Do not work for daily bread.” Actually, the opposite is commanded. Even in Paradise, Adam was commanded to labor; and toil was ordained as man’s occupation after the fall. No one should ever be ashamed to work. Our Lord Himself spent most of His earthly life in a carpenter’s shop. Paul the apostle was a tent-maker. The admonition here does not forbid work as the normal employment of a Christian’s time, but that a Christian worker should keep first things first and secondary things secondary. In general, the church today needs this instruction as much as the unspiritual crowd that gathered around Jesus in Capernaum. Christ and the Social Gospel Two kinds of food are considered in this verse: the perishable and the eternal. The problem of separation and distinction is one of the great challenges confronting Christianity today. True religion should have the moral and spiritual as the number one great concern. The concern and consideration of its leaders, overriding all others, is the final attainment of eternal life. Absolutely everything in this world must be subordinated to the goal of Christian faith. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness this very thing came into focus, i.e., making bread out of stones (Matt. 4:4). Today we might ask, “And why not?” Wouldn’t that solve the economic problem? From the miracle here recorded, it is clear that Christ could have done it. He could have made enough bread for all who ever lived or ever would live on earth. Why didn’t He do it? He would have, if miraculous bread was the correct answer – either for His own personal need, or for the needs of everyone. However, when Jesus rejected Satan’s proposal for Himself, He also rejected it for all of us. Hard as it may be for some to accept in some circumstances, there are other things more important than bread. Mankind has failed to receive and accept this truth. And, in some instances, even the church itself has failed to receive and accept it. Thus it requires our attention. There is a caution much required when what many call their Christianity is not easily differentiated from mere humanism, and not a few are preaching social reform instead of the salvation of men’s souls. Dostoevski was of the opinion that humanitarianism is the form of atheism most to be dreaded, the greatest anti-religious force in Europe; so he confidently laid it down. (Howard) Let us beware lest we act as he did in the fable, who stood watch in a lighthouse, and gave to the poor in their cabins about him the oil

for the mighty lanterns that serve to illuminate the sea. (Maeterlinck) Material or Spiritual When thinking about how much time some church leaders spend focused on and concerned about economic situations, we can’t help but feel that what vexes Christ the most regarding such is not that material things are so badly distributed, but rather that they are so grossly overvalued. It’s obvious that in our Lord’s standard of measurement material things rank very low indeed. Sometimes, in our mind’s eye, we envision Jesus Christ looking in amazement at a world pressing and jostling like swine around their feeding troughs, paying life away for what to our Savior are, at best, trifles. This is not to say that fleshly and material needs have no importance, or that Christians are bound and obligated, to the fullest extent of our abilities, to alleviate such needs. But shouldn’t we slow down our mad pursuit of secular and material values? Shouldn’t we concern ourselves more with the ultimate needs of the soul? After all, one is a temporary need; the other eternal. 6:27 ... “Which the Son of man shall give unto you.” Coffman points out that “Christ did not here reveal the shocking truth which He would later stress that He Himself was the true bread from heaven; here He identified Himself only as the giver of it.” The Bread of life What is this food that endureth to everlasting life? The food of the soul and mind? 1. It is that which sustains its spiritual life in God. 2. It is that which strengthens and builds up the character, 3. Faith, 4. Love, 5. Hope, and 6. Knowledge of what is good; 7. That which strengthens the soul in holy purposes and work. The soul needs food as much as the body. 6:27 ... “Which the Son of man.” The term is especially appropriate here, because it is only by virtue of His incarnation and Messianic office that Christ gives this enduring food. 6:27 ... “Shall give unto you.” Besser wrote: “It is a meat which is ‘given’ thee; but yet thou must strive after it, if thou wouldest possess it.” We must labor for most of the best gifts of God, seeking earnestly and supremely. He gives us our daily bread; but we must labor for it. He gives us education, wisdom, character; but we must seek and work. Yet they are none the less His gifts. 6:27 ... “For Him hath God the Father sealed.” To seal anything is to attest by some sign or mark that it is genuine, that it comes from the person who sealed it with his endorsement. The seal to the ancients was like our signature. God had

borne witness: Jesus came from Him, with His sanction and endorsement as a Teacher and Savior. Jesus had been “sealed”: 1. By direct testimony in the Scriptures, 2. By the same in the voice from heaven at His baptism, and 3. By indirect testimony in His miracles and Messianic work. From the most ancient times, documents sealed by kings were considered to carry the utmost in power and authority (Esther 8:8). John’s use of “sealed” therefore appears as an assurance of the absolutely sufficient power of God to provide salvation through Jesus Christ. (Coffman) 6:28 ... “What shall we do?” The Revised Version, “What must we do?” “What is the work God would have us do so that we might have this bread of life as our reward?” Abbott points out that this is the question of all religious aspiration, and Christ’s answer is the response of Christianity to the soul-hunger of the ages. “What must we do?”6 is a question encountered several times in the New Testament. On Pentecost, in the jail at Philippi, and on the Damascus road, the question ‘What shall I do?’ was the initial movement of souls toward the Lord. The question has a scriptural answer, and one should never substitute the sophistry of men for the divine answer. In answer to this question, the Holy Spirit said: Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved . . . Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins . . . Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins calling on His name (Acts 16:31; 2:38; 22:16). 6:29 ... “Jesus answered [their question implied they were teachable—willing and ready to learn] … “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” He turns their attention from the outward to the inward, to the source and spring of all good works. Because: 1. Faith is the principle which produces good works, the tree on which they naturally grow, the fountain from which they naturally flow. 2. No works are really good which do not spring from faith. What are acts of love if no love is in them? What are outward acts of morality if there is no virtuous heart behind them, pervading them? Only one with true faith does the works of God. What is this faith? Webster’s 1991 college dictionary says that faith is “confidence or trust in a person or thing. Belief that is not based on proof.” It is the accepting of Jesus Christ as our Teacher and Lord; so that His teachings and truths are the real things of life to us, “the substance of things hoped for.” It is far more than a mere assent to historical facts about Jesus. How does this faith produce the works of God?

1. Since Christ is the truth, he who accepts Him as Teacher will know the will of God. 2. Since Christ commands only what is right, and all that is right, he who accepts Him as Lord and Master will do what is right, conforming his life to the will of God. 3. He that follows Christ follows a perfect example. 4. Christ imparts the spiritual life and love which are the source of all the truest good works.

Scripture Reading: John 6:30-34 (KJV) The Proof 6:30 ... “What sign shewest Thou then that we may see, and believe Thee?” New King James, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You?” They understood that in the words “Him Whom He hath sent” Jesus claimed to be the Messiah; but they wanted proof. Their demand for a sign was characteristic. The Pharisees demanded a “sign from heaven” (Matt. 16:1; 12:38), no doubt meaning some spectacular wonder of their own choosing; but Jesus rejected their vain and carnal demands, resting the final proof of His Godhead upon “the sign of the prophet Jonah,” that is, the death, burial and resurrection from the dead. Regarding another occasion, Mark stated that Jesus “marveled at their unbelief” (Mark 6:6). Jesus probably marveled here, too. 6:30 ... “What dost Thou work?” New King James, “What work will You do?” What do You do that will prove You to be worthy to be the king of the Jews? So far as this desire for proof grew out of a real desire to know whether He were the Messiah, it was right. Christ does not wish us to have a mere blind belief, but always gives us proofs and reasons for the faith He requires of us. The marvelous wonder of the day before was now lost on this carnal crowd. Instead of being convinced, they demanded sign after sign, even suggesting a moment later that Jesus’ miracle was inferior to Moses’ miracle (actually God’s miracle, not Moses’) of the manna. The marvel of unbelief Unbelief is such a wonder that Christ Himself marveled at it! Coffman points out some thoughts on the subject. Unbelief is: 1. A state in which man consciously accepts for himself the status and destiny of a mere animal. Contrary to the deepest instinct of the soul as well as the prompting of personal ego, an unbeliever rejects the status available to him

as a child of God, claiming and ascribing to himself a destiny identical with that of animals. 2. Contrary to man’s nature. Our very nature is to believe. Evil men know that trait is in men and take full advantage of it, all of the schemes ever devised for defrauding men having as their dominant characteristic a reliance on man’s willingness to believe almost anything. Barnum said it this way: “There’s a sucker born every minute!” What an incredible marvel. What a wonder – that men will not believe in God, but will believe in witchcraft. No wonder Jesus marveled at unbelief. 3. A denial of man’s highest hopes. The unbeliever forsakes the hope of heaven, forfeiting all cosmic value for himself. Such a spiritual renunciation is soul suicide; and even Christ marveled at such a thing. 4. A denial of the senses – a closing of the windows of the mind. It is a refusal to see, hear and understand the mountainous evidence calling men to believe in the Lord Jesus. It is like a man staring at the Grand Canyon or the Matterhorn and saying, “I do not believe it!” The Holy Bible, the history of Israel, the great commemorative festivals of Judaism and Christianity, the sweep of the religion of Christ through history and the collateral enlightenment and civilization which invariably attended it, and the lives of faith in all ages – these the unbeliever will not see. The thundering voice of history, the testimony of the calendar, and the witness of all that is highest and best in art, literature, music, architecture, government, and psychology – all are rejected by the unbeliever in the manner of Southey’s owl hooting at the noon sun, and saying, “Where is it? Where is it?” 5. Reverse logic. In Mark 6:6, where it is stated that Jesus marveled because of their unbelief, the reference is to the citizens of Nazareth who rejected Jesus because He lived in their village. This was their logic (?): We are unworthy and ignoble; Christ came from one of our families; therefore He is unworthy and ignoble. That is exactly like saying: I hear this great and wonderful music; but since a person like I am is hearing it, it cannot possibly be true. This is the logic (?) supporting unbelief. Unbelief is truly a marvel. It displays human ignorance, perversity and conceit turned wrong side out, staggering the imagination and it about as easy to understand as the death march of the lemmings. It makes no sense at all that the highest of creatures should consciously reject for himself any higher eternal status than that of an animal. This truly is an unqualified wonder. 6:31 ... “Our fathers did eat manna in the desert [Ex. 16] as it is written” Psalms 78:24. The meaning of this reference to Moses giving the manna to the Israelites in their 40 years’ wandering in the wilderness, is “Moses proved that he was sent from God by giving the people bread from heaven to eat; now what do you do that is greater than this to prove that you are the greater prophet, even the Messiah?” They probably had been thinking over the miracle of the loaves since the day before, when they tried to make Jesus a king because of it. Now it seems they questioned whether He was, after all, as great as they at first thought. Implied is a contrast between the work of Moses and the work of Christ. The manna came down from heaven – the bread was distributed upon the earth. The manna was given day by day as needed for forty years – the bread had

been given but once. Abbott points out that the mamma was a sweet and delicate food, while the bread which Christ had distributed was barley bread, the commonest fare of the poorest people. 6:31 ... “He gave them bread out of heaven to eat.” It is always best to be on guard when Satan quotes scripture. Their quotation of Nehemiah 9:15 was misquoted because they made Moses the antecedent of “he” rather than God, an error Jesus corrected. This was actually, on their part, a disparagement of Jesus’ sign the day before. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus claimed to be greater than Moses. However, the carnal crowd, still intent on using Jesus in their schemes against the Romans, contrasted His miracle unfavorably with what they improperly called Moses’ miracle, the manna, of course, having being provided for many years. They were trying to intimidate Christ into feeding everybody for years. And, they would have liked something better than barley loaves. The carnality of these people and the boldness of their daring suggestion constitute a remarkable proof of the fourth sign, because it is clear that they recognized that Jesus Christ had the power to do what they wished Him to do. Their logic was excellent, recognizing the fact that one who has the power to feed five thousand from five loaves and two little fishes also has the power to feed all men indefinitely. How easily Jesus could have fed an army to be used against the Romans. Thus their motivation for what was said here. Jesus in reply to their question shows that the proof of His mission is stronger than that for Moses to whom they had referred. 6:32 ... “Moses gave you not that bread from heaven.” Here He makes a double denial of the fact they had given as authenticating Moses’ mission as a prophet. 1. That Moses did not give the manna; it was given by God; Moses had nothing to do with bestowing it; the Israelites found it in the morning after the dew had dried off the ground (Ex. 16:4, 14). 2. This manna was not the true bread, but merely a type or shadow of the spiritual antitype (Abbott). This manna was bread from heaven but not in this highest sense. Christ again tried to lift their eyes to God’s “true bread from heaven,” Christ, the Savior. The tragedy was complete in this, that they could not see the true bread before their eyes, being utterly blinded by the barley loaves from yesterday which dominated their thoughts. In many of God’s wonders, there are primary and secondary manifestations. Thus, there are two miracles in view in sign four. The primary wonder was the barley loaves; the higher marvel was Christ Himself, the true bread of heaven. Jesus never succeeded in lifting the eyes of His audience to that higher level of seeing the true bread of life. All they could ever see were barley loaves, barley loaves, barley loaves. What about you?

6:33 ... “For the bread of God is He.” Westcott points out that Christ does not identify Himself with “the bread” till the next answer; and the request of the Jews which follows shows that nothing more than the notion of heavenly bread was present to them. 6:33 ... “Which cometh down from heaven and giveth life.” Christ here lays down a general principle defining the essential characteristics of God’s spiritual gift. That alone is the true bread 1. Which is evermore descending from the heavens, a perpetual bestowment; 2. Which bestows life; 3. Which is for the world. The manna did not last over a single day (Ex. 16:19, 20), and finally ceased to fall when the Israelites entered the Holy Land (Josh. 5:12); they that ate it all died (v. 49); and it was given only to a single nation. The type was brief in its duration, limited in its effects, confined to a few recipients. Abbott points out that the antitype is for all mankind, confers everlasting life, and is bestowed evermore. 6:33 ... “Unto the world.” The true bread was not for Israel alone, but for all the world. The true bread was far greater than the manna in these particulars: 1. It gives and sustains spiritual life, a far greater thing than merely sustaining physical life; 2. It is for the entire world, not merely for Israel alone; 3. It creates spiritual life leading to eternal life, which no man could have done. 6:34 ... “Then said they unto Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.” Alford believed that the Jews understood this bread, as the Samaritan woman understood the water; that they both understood it to be some miraculous kind of sustenance bestowing life everlasting. However, Abbott disagreed believing that the people were shallow and superficial; not comprehending the meaning of Christ’s words; that while they didn’t know what they were, they still saw in them the offer of something desirable, so they asked for it. In the minds of some there may have been a dim sense of the value of the inner life, such as is sometimes borne in on sensual and superficial natures by the mere power of the presence of a great soul. And in some no doubt there was a comprehension of His true meaning and a deep spiritual hunger. This verse is strongly suggestive of the woman’s words at the well (John 4:15). But this was as close as they came to believing. Here there was no following on to know the Lord. Moreover they did not know what they were asking, and there is a strong possibility they were still thinking of supplies for an army.

Scripture Reading: John 6:35-40 (KJV) Jesus is the Bread of Life

6:35 ... “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life.” Here before you, you have One who fulfills in Himself all that is characteristic of the true bread from heaven. (a) He came from heaven. (b) He bestows everlasting life. (c) He is for the whole world (v. 33). “I am the bread of life” is one of the seven great “I am’s” of John. In that age, bread was essential to every meal. It was the staff of life, a fit emblem of Christ, the soul’s food. The Jews did not believe Him. They considered His claim blasphemy. Since blasphemy was a capital offense punishable by stoning (Leviticus 24:16), they sought to accomplish by mob action what they were not allowed to do under Roman law (John 18:31). All things considered, it seems appropriate to speak of the “I am” formula as follows: It is Jesus’ boldest declaration about Himself. “I am.” This means: where I am, there is God, there God lives, speaks, calls, asks, acts, decides, loves – Nothing bolder can be said, or imagined. This profound statement is not primarily a confession. It is much more than that. It is an astounding declaration. It is the language of deity Himself (e.g., Isaiah 41:4). With this in mind, many statements in Jesus’ life become charged with special significance. Note some examples: “I am the bread of life,” “I am the light of the world,” “I am the door of the sheep,” “I am the good shepherd,” “I am the resurrection,” “I am the way,” “I am the truth,” “I am the true vine,” “I am the life” (John 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). How could one make such statements about himself? Someone has said that Jesus was either a fanatic, a lunatic, or God. Anyone who reads these accounts, believes them, and then insists that Jesus was a fanatic or a lunatic, says more about himself than he does about Jesus. Jesus the bread of life 1. He brings spiritual life to men. He awakens the spiritual faculties and senses that were dead to the higher, ‘immortal’ interests. A new sphere or region is opened to men, as if one who had been born blind had the sense of sight given to him. 2. This spiritual life is eternal life. He that belongs to Jesus lives forever. 3. He nourishes every faculty of the soul, enlarging and strengthening them all, and thus the soul grows in perception, power and in activity. 4. He especially is food to the character, making it grow more and more like His own. 5. The soul has many hungers, appetites and desires for higher things. That soul is dead which does not hunger. The best and highest and happiest earthly condition is that which is full of desires, aspirations and longings, called hunger in the Beatitudes. Yes, the soul is full of longings and hungerings, but Jesus satisfies them all. Jesus can give satisfaction to every form of the soul’s hunger.

How Jesus is the bread of life 1. By His life, death on the cross and atonement, Jesus has made it possible for us to enter into spiritual and eternal life. 2. He has brought to us the message of eternal life from God, of which we could not be certain without this proof. 3. The Holy Spirit whom He sends imparts and sustains life. 4. He brings the means and motives of eternal life. 5. He strengthens and inspires all the activities by which the bread of life is received, and is enabled to nourish the soul. First, satisfaction of the soul’s hunger 6:35 ... “He that cometh to Me.” This is equivalent to ‘believing on’ Him in the next clause, and to eating His flesh in v. 54. It is opening the heart to receive Him. It is trusting Him with all the heart. It is going to Him in faith and prayer for comfort, help and teaching, and all that the soul needs. The original words, “He that is coming,” are chosen with exquisite delicacy. The figure is not that of one who has achieved a toilsome and lengthened journey (as if the words ran, “he that at length has reached Me”), but that of one whose resolve is taken, and who sets out in the right way, whose aim and desire and constant thoughts are towards his Lord. He that “is coming” unto Jesus shall cease to hunger. (Abbott) 6:35 ... “Shall never hunger.” “Shall never desire spiritual grace and not have it given to him” (Sadler). 6:35 ... “He that believeth on Me shall never thirst.” This is parallel to the previous clause, meaning the same. The living water and the bread of life are two metaphors, both referring to Jesus Christ. “Believeth on me” should not be understood as an affirmation of the popular superstition regarding salvation by “faith only” (see John 12:42). Second, all who come shall receive 6:36 ... “But I said [in some unrecorded part of the conversation] unto you, That ye also have seen Me.” New King James: “That you have seen Me and yet do not believe.” “Ye have seen Me (not merely heard of Me), and (yet) do not believe” (Cambridge Bible). 6:36 ... “And believe not.” They had seen Him outwardly. They had seen Him as a teacher. Still they did not accept Him for what He was. And they did not receive and live by His teachings. The seeing was outward and bodily, not of the soul. In the unfolding of Himself as the bread of life, Jesus pressed the argument for their receiving Him, because He wanted to satisfy their spiritual hunger. Now He brings forward another argument, as He further reveals Himself as the bread of life, in the blessedness of those who come to Him, and receive His bread.

6:37 ... “All that the Father giveth Me.” Here we see the divine side of our salvation, showing 1. That God’s salvation is no failure. While some believe, some are hardened, some hate and oppose, and some are traitors. Is, then, God’s work in vain? No, for ‘all’ that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me. 2. That God will do for us His part which is essential to our salvation. No one but Himself can give life. All means are in vain without His gracious influences. And these He gives, and gives freely. “The present tense of ‘giveth’ should be noted. The giving is not of an act in the past, but of a ceaseless love ever in the present” (Ellicott). “All that the Father giveth Me” refers to all who shall be saved, none being excluded, so long as they truly come to Christ, that being the thrust of the second clause. Significantly, this verse makes no reference to faith like that in the previous verse; but this does not exclude faith, the verses being supplementary each to the other. Thus, one must believe and come to Jesus in order to be saved. 6:37 ... “Shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” This is the human side of our salvation. We do not know the purposes of God, or the plans of His providence, but we do know that we are free to come to Him. We also know that no sincere person ever went to Him and failed salvation. “The Greek word used here for ‘come’ emphasizes the idea of ‘reaching’ or ‘arriving’” (Vincent). “No wise cast out,” i.e., out of My kingdom, presence, fellowship. All three are certainly included. “Everyone who comes is welcome” (Hovey). Coming to Jesus is equivalent to entering His kingdom; an entering that requires one to be born of water and of the spirit (John 3:5). Coming to Jesus therefore means being born again. No subjective experience whatever can be substituted for the new birth. “Coming” is something that a man does, not something that he things, believes, or feels. We may not be able to completely understand the divine and the human in our salvation, but every person is conscious of the facts: 1. That there is a part over which we have no control, and which God must do for us; 2. That there is a part we must do for ourselves, or we cannot be saved; and 3. That if we do our part, God never fails on His part. “If there is no free will, there is nothing to save; if there is no free grace, there is nothing wherewith to save” (Bernard). Schaff points out that Christians should pray as if all depended on God, and then work as if all depended on themselves.

6:38 ... “For I come down from heaven, not to do Mine own will,” etc. Here Christ gives a reason why none need fear that they will be cast out, and fail salvation, if they seek it. Why? Because He came down from heaven for this very purpose. Not for His own pleasure, but to carry out the will of God, which will is revealed in the next verse. Could there be a bolder statement of the virgin birth of Christ than this from the lips of Christ Himself? “I am come down from heaven.” From first to last John stresses the eternal existence of Christ and His prior residence in heaven, the virgin birth being an inescapable corollary. How else could God have entered our earth-life as a man? 6:38 ... “Not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” Jesus’ absolute submission to the Father’s will is stressed throughout the John’s writings. Jesus did not even speak from Himself but delivered the words God commanded Him to speak (John 12:48, 49). Third, eternal life 6:39 ... And this is the Father’s will … that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing [that not one should fail salvation], but should raise it [that is, the whole, all that is comprehended in the gift – v. 37] up again at the last day.” The day of resurrection. A promise that all those who respond to the offer of salvation; all who die in Christ Jesus shall not perish when they die. They shall live again, and continue to live forevermore. Death cannot destroy eternal life which God gives them through His Son. “I shall lose nothing,” refers not merely to what happens in this life, but throughout the whole sweep of time to eternity. Not even death shall defeat the purpose of God in the redemption of them that believe and come to Jesus. “The last day” is repeated four times in this chapter (vs. 39, 40, 44, and 54). “These words show that Christ came to abolish not natural, but spiritual death. Believers will die, but their death will be followed by a glorious resurrection” (Dummelow). 6:40 ... “And this is the will of Him that sent Me [God’s will, that cannot be broken, is further explained in this verse, lest any should mistake] that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him … everlasting life.” A present possession indeed, a noble quality of life, but enduring forever. These words in v. 40 are a restatement of the great promise of the preceding verse. While no power in the universe can forcibly remove a Christian’s crown, but through the freedom of will, one may defect, therefore, “Hold fast that which thou hast, that no one take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11). Calvin wrote: “They are madmen who seek their own salvation, or that of others, in the whirlpool of predestination, not keeping the way of salvation which is exhibited to them.”

Practical Thoughts

1. vs. 24-26: There are two ways of seeking Jesus – one seeking His outward gifts, the other seeking Him for what He is. 2. Jesus taught those who came for the lowest motives. We are not responsible for the motives of those who come to our teaching, but we are responsible for what we do to help them. 3. v. 27: The true aim and purpose of life is that which is spiritual and eternal, belonging to the character and soul rather than the body. 4. The soul needs food as much as the body. 5. The food of the soul is that which gives it fresh life, enlarging its being, strengthening its faculties, developing its moral character, satisfying its longings and aspirations. 6. Jesus Christ is the source of this food for soul. 7. v. 29: The first duty God requires is to receive from Jesus the new heart, which is the source of all true moral action. 8. vs. 30-33: God does not ask credulity of us, but faith; and He gives us reasons and proofs on which to ground our faith. 9. The greatest proof of Christianity is Christ Himself, His person, His works, His character, His teachings, the effects of His life on the world. 10. v. 35: The tests of the bread of life are: (a) it is from God; (b) it is life-giving; (c) it is for the whole world; (d) it satisfies the wants of the soul. 11. vs. 35-40: The blessedness of the bread of life: (a) it satisfies; (b) it continues; (c) it gives safety; (d) it brings eternal life here; (e) it gives eternal life beyond the grave. 12. The way to obtain this blessedness – coming to Jesus, believing Jesus, i.e., accepting and responding to His offer of salvation, eating the bread of life, receiving and keeping it in the heart and life. 13. The object of eating is to gain strength for the duties of life.
Footnotes: 1 Compare Deuteronomy 8:3; 30:20; and Matthew 4:4; 6:11. 2 Note that Jesus teaches them; and some doubtless were led to become His disciples, even though they did not seek Him at first with the highest motives. 3 Note the marks by which we distinguish the true bread of life from all imitations. By these same tests we can understand the infinite value of this divine food. 4 Note the tests (v. 33) of what is the real bread of life. 5 Note the blessed promises to those who go to Jesus for the bread of life – none cast out, the want satisfied, life eternal. 6 For more information on “what we must do”, see God’s Salvation in the A Religion Library section of "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: Jesus Shown to be the Messiah Golden Text: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:16) Lesson Plan: Introduction The Discourse of Jesus on the Living Water (vs. 37-39) Discussions As To Whether Jesus Was the Christ (vs. 40-44) No Man Spake Like This Man (vs. 45-49) A Defense by Nicodemus (vs. 50-52) Conclusion Setting of the Lesson: Time: Oct. 17, A.D. 29. About six months after the last lesson. The feast of Tabernacles this year began on Oct. 11 (Lewin), and this was the seventh day of the feast. Place: Jerusalem, in the court of the temple. Intervening History: Christ’s labors for a period of six months, from the Passover (April 16) to the feast of Tabernacles (Oct. 11-17), A.D. 29, is unrecorded by John, except the notice in a single verse (John 7:1), that this time was spent in Galilee. During this period are the events recorded in Matthew 15-18; Mark 7-9; and Luke 9:18-50. These include the healing of the daughter of the Syrophenician woman in the land of Tyre and Sidon, of the deaf man in Decapolis; the feeding of the four thousand; the Transfiguration; and several discourses with His disciples. Beginning Suggestions: A brief glance at the Intervening history. The Circumstances in which Jesus came to the feast, and what He did on a previous day. Jesus proved to be the Messiah by His Miracles (v. 31) – God’s signature to His message; and by His unlikeness to wicked men (vs. 32-36). Jesus belonged to an entirely different kingdom, in place, in principles, in character.

I. The scene Make a study of the feast of Tabernacles, particularly the ceremonies connected with the drawing of water from the pool of Siloam and its meaning, the excited multitudes, the ceremonies; the temple courts crowded with people, possessions, music, shouting, responsive chanting. Picture the scene on the last day of the feast. Worldly things – riches, honors, philosophies, hopes – cannot satisfy the soul. Draw out from your personal thoughts what these thirsts are. II. Jesus shown to be the Christ by satisfying the thirsts of the soul (vs. 35-39) In a lull in the ceremonies, Jesus’ voice is heard ringing all over the temple courts. From the water brought from Siloam, from the thirst and supply in the wilderness 1500 years before, from the thirst the multitudes felt at this time, Jesus draws a great lesson and impresses it on the people. Their souls were thirstier than their bodies. The thirsts of the soul Draw from your personal thoughts what they are. The world can never satisfy them. Illustration Satisfying the soul with this world is like quenching thirst with the salt water of the sea, making even more thirst. It is like a mirage, appearing water while it is a desert. Examples Solomon tried all that the world can give, and under the most favorable circumstances, yet found all to be vanity and vexation of spirit; Alexander conquered the whole world, but was still unsatisfied; Byron, with rank and wealth, and all manner of pleasure, failed in contentment and happiness. Jesus supplies this living water. Consider in what respects the Holy Spirit is like living water.1 Illustration Standing water is never pure. The flowing water is fresh, cool, and healthful. How sad for a Christian to be compared to a “bog” or “marsh” – always absorbing and never giving out; receiving truth but never teaching it; always learning the promises, but never imparted them to others; becoming stagnant, malarious, full of reptiles, like a bog. Illustration Lock Katrine, embowered among the highlands of Scotland, is a poem in water, immortalized in story and song till it seems almost transfigured with a glory beyond its natural beauty and charms, is still the source of the water supply for the city of Glasgow, flowing down among the homes of the poor, cleansing the filth from the streets, bringing refreshment, cheer, comfort, cleanliness, and

health everywhere. So every one who has the living water – especially possessed amid wealth, culture, education, talent – is given the privilege of sending the living water in copious streams to the unbelievers, to the poor, to the sinful, to all who are in need. “I will bless thee and make thee a blessing.”2 III. Jesus shown to be the Christ by the objections against Him (vs. 40-44) Many of the people took so little pains to ascertain the facts, arguing about statements from the Scripture, regarding what the Christ must be, and discussing why Jesus could not be the Chris. But Jesus fulfilled those very Scriptural predictions; He was of the seed of David, and He was born at Bethlehem. In attacking religion, many are really attacking a caricature of their own making, and their very arguments when rightly understood are actually a defense of religion. Illustration Years ago a news story was printed about a well-known man named Beecher who was driven away from an anti-slavery meeting in New York by a mob. The mob followed him, and, thinking he was in a certain house, attacked it with stones, rotten eggs, and all kinds of objects. But the article points out that Mr. Beecher was in another house, looked with calm at the flying objects, because he was not there. So, true religion looks at many attacks of unbelief, because it is not there. They are attacking something else – religious systems – which they have labeled “religion.” Illustration Persecutors are like the man who tried to put out the flames by scattering the fire-brands over the city; or like the man who sought to destroy the thistles in his garden, by plucking the heads of seeds, flinging them over the ground and stamping them in. Illustration Regarding the divisions among people: William Harrison said, For all practical purposes, the human race can be divided into three parts. (a) Honest men, who mean to do right, and do it. (b) Knaves, who mean to do wrong, and do it. (c) Fools, who mean to do whichever of the two is pleasanter. And these last may be again divided again into two: those who would rather do wrong, but dare not unless it is the fashion; and those who would rather do right, but dare not unless it is the fashion. IV. Jesus shown by His speaking as never man spoke (vs. 45-52) His truths being divine, His words with the authority of one who knows all things, His consciousness that His Father sent Him, the love that comes with the message – all show that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.


Jesus has now been about a year and a half in Galilee without visiting Judea, because the efforts of the leaders to kill Him interfered with His work. But every good Jew was expected to go up each year to one of the three feasts. Jesus had been up to the Passover in A.D. 28 (John 5:1), but did not go up to the Passover of A.D. 29 (John 6:4, comp. 7:1), and therefore He went to the Tabernacles in the face of the danger from the Pharisees. But He went up secretly, with His brethren. Suddenly, in the midst of the feast, He appeared in the temple and taught the people, probably in Solomon’s porch (Edersheim). This caused so much interest that the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest Jesus, but in vain. He does not appear again in the temple till the last great day of the feast, as recorded in this lesson. The Feast of Tabernacles 1. Time. This feast was held from the 15th to the 21st of Tisri (SeptemberOctober) of each year, the first two days and the last being kept sacred, like Sabbaths, the other days being half-holidays. 2. Object. In Exodus 23:16 it is called the feast of ingathering, and was in one aspect a “Thanksgiving” for the produce of the year, the corn, wine, oil, etc., having all been gathered in. It was also a commemoration of the life in the wilderness, and a thanksgiving for the settlement in permanent habitations; hence the command to dwell in booth (or “tabernacles”) during the week the feast lasted (see Lev. 23:33-44). 3. How celebrated. Jerusalem, the city of solemnities, of places, of beauty and glory, wore quite another than its usual aspect; for this was pre-eminently the feast for foreign pilgrims coming from the farthest distance, whose temple contributions were then received and counted. These pilgrims could come more easily at this time of the year than any other. Above all, booths were erected everywhere, in court and on house-top, in street and square. These arbors or booths were made of branches of trees – palms, sycamores, olives, pines, willows, etc. Nobody was living at home; everybody in these booths – all the people of the city, and crowds from the country. Then in the temple all day long the smoke of the burning, smoldering sacrifices rose in slowlywidening column, and hung between the Mount of Olives and Zion; the chant of Levites, and the solemn responses of the “Hallel” were born on the breeze, or the clear blast of the priests’ silver trumpets seemed to awaken the echoes far away. At night all these vast temple buildings stood out, illuminated by the eight great candelabras that burned in the court of the women, and by the glare of torches, when strange sound of mystic hymns and dances came floating over the intervening darkness. Two remarkable features were added to this feast: (a) the drawing of the water daily from the pool of Siloam, as described below, and (b) the lighting of the eight great lamps (supported on two lofty stands, four on each) in the court of the women, mentioned just above. 4. The symbolism. The whole symbolism of the feast, beginning with the completed harvest, for which it was a thanksgiving, pointed to the future. The ceremony of the outpouring of water was considered so vitally important that the festival was given the name of “House of Outpouring,” symbolical of: (a) The outpouring of the Holy Spirit; (b) The temple-illumination – the light

shinning from the temple out into the dark night of heathendom; then, at the first dawn of morning, 3. The blasts of the priests’ silver trumpets, the army of God, as it advanced with festive trumpet-sound and call, awakening the sleepers and uttering solemn protest against heathenism (condensed from Edersheim). The last day of the feast With imagination, put yourself in the number of worshippers who at daybreak on “the last, the Great Day of the feast,” are leaving their “booths” to take part in the service. The pilgrims are in festive array. Each person carries in the right hand the “Lulabh,” which, although properly meaning “a branch,” or “palm-branch,” consisted of a myrtle or willow-branch tied together with a palm-branch between them. This was to fulfill Leviticus 23:40. “The fruit (A.V., “boughs”) of the goodly trees,” mentioned in the same verse of Scripture, was supposed to be the “Ethrog,” the so-called Paradise-apple, a species of citron. The “Ethrog” was carried by each worshipper carried in the left hand. So, armed with “Lulabh” in the right hand and “Ethrog” in the left, the festive multitude divided into three bands. To the sound of music, one of these bands starts off in a procession around the temple. A priest followed, bearing a golden pitcher capable of holding three “log” (more like two pints). They proceeded to the fountain of Siloam, in the valley south of the temple. Here the priest filled from this fountain the golden pitcher, bringing it back into the court of the temple amid the shouts of the multitude and the sound of cymbals and trumpets. The rejoicing was so great that Rabbis often said that unless a person had been present at this ceremony or other such ceremonies in which this feast was distinguished, they did not know what rejoicing meant. The return was timed so they arrived just as the pieces of the sacrifice were being laid on the great altar of burnt-offering. This was toward the close of the ordinary morning sacrifice service. The water from the golden pitcher was poured on the altar. Immediately the great “Hallel,” consisting of Psalms 113-118, was chanted antiphonally, or, rather, with responses, to the accompaniment of the flute. As the Levites intoned the first line of each psalm, the people repeated it; while to each of the other lines they responded by “Hallelu Yah” (“Praise ye the Lord”). At the close, they shook the “Lulabh” toward the altar, expressing the reality and cause of their praise, reminding God of His promises. At the close of this festive morning service, there was a pause while the priests prepared to offer the special sacrifices for the day. At this moment there arose, so loud as to be heard throughout the temple, the voice of Jesus. He did not interrupt the services, because for the moment they had ceased – He interrupted, and He fulfilled them. The special sacrifices were offered. Psalms 82:5-8 was chanted with instrument accompaniment. In further symbolism of this feast, point to the ingathering of the heathen nations, the public services closed with a procession round the altar by the priests, who chanted, “O then, work now salvation, Jehovah! O Jehovah, send not prosperity.” But on “the last, the Great Day of the feast,” this procession of priests made the circuit of the altar, not once, but seven times, as if they were again compassing, but now with prayer, the Gentile Jericho which barred their possession of the Promised Land (condensed from Edersheim).3

A high point in the ritual of Tabernacles was the pouring out in the Temple court a golden pitcher of water from the Siloam Pool. This libation was held to symbolize the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Messianic age. (Hunter)

Scripture Reading: John 7:37-39 (KJV) The Discourse of Jesus on the Living Water 7:37 ... In the last day, that [the] great day of the feast.” That is, on the seventh day of the feast, Oct. 17 of that year (Edersheim). Many other commentators think it was the eighth day, a special, solemn assembly, held after the conclusion of the feast (Lev. 23:36). But on this day there was no ceremony of drawing of water from Siloam. The time therefore was probably the seventh day, the last day of the feast. 7:37 ... “Jesus stood.” In the temple court, probably in Solomon’s porch, where He witnessed the joyous procession described in the introduction above, i.e., bringing the water from Siloam, when the people sang the words of Isaiah 12:3 to the sound of cymbals and trumpets – “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” – words to which Geikie points out Rabbinic tradition attributed a Messianic meaning. 7:37 ... “And cried.” Heralded, spoke in a loud voice, so that all could hear Him. This was probably in the pause and hush in the ceremonies mentioned in the above introduction. 7:37 ... “If any man thirst.” It was burning autumn weather. The sun shone for months in a cloudless sky and early rain would surely have been desired. Geikie points out that water is at all times a magic word in a sultry climate like Palestine, but at this moment it had a double power. The ceremonies of the pouring of water commemorated that part of the wilderness wanderings when the people were suffering from a terrible thirst, and Moses at God’s command brought water for them from the rock (Num. 20:1-11). Now Jesus invites all who were suffering from spiritual thirst, like the burning thirst of the people in the desert. Thirst is emblematic of spiritual necessities; an intense need and desire for pardon, for help, for righteousness, for love, for peace, for comfort, for God, for a worthy life, for immortal life. 7:37 ... “Let him come unto Me, and drink.” To come to Jesus is believe on Him, accept His teachings, and yield to His commands. It is to come into sympathy with Him, likeness to Him. Jesus has everything that will quench the spiritual thirst of mankind. Do we long for pardon? It is brought to us by the cross of Jesus. Do we hunger for love? In Him – His coming, His teachings, His death – is manifested the love of God to us.

Do we need Him? He is always near, able and willing to save to the uttermost. Do we long for God? He is God. Do we thirst for a life worth the living? He gives us an object of life worthy of the greatest, and yet possible to the lowest. 7:37 ... “And drink.” To drink is to go to Jesus, receiving these blessings at His hand. In this context, Jesus’ cry for mankind to come unto Him and drink was equivalent of His promise to give the Holy Spirit to all who would follow Him. Thus, in the Gospel, there is yet another recurrence of emphasis on water. 7:38 ... “He that believeth on Me.” Clark puts it this way, “He that acknowledges Me as the Christ (v. 31), and with a penitent and obedient heart trusts in Me for salvation from sin.” 7:38 ... “And the scripture hath said.” The reference is not to any one isolated passage, but to the general tenor 1. Of such passages as Proverbs 18:4; Isaiah 44:3; 58:11; and 2. To such passages as foretell the gift of the Holy Spirit, such as Ezekiel 47:112; Joel 3:18; Zechariah 13:1; 14:8. 7:38 ... “Out of his belly.” Better, “his heart” (Clark). It signifies the inter-most heart of man, which, saturated with Christ’s life, opens like the rock (Ex. 17:6), pouring forth its spiritual wealth. 7:38 ... “Shall flow rivers of living water.” Just as the rock in the desert contained not only water, but the water flowed forth for the thirsty multitudes (Num. 20:1-11; Ex. 17:6), and the stream followed them, supplying their needs (1 Cor. 10:4). 7:38 ... “Shall flow.” This clearly implies something received that it may flow from the recipient to others Abbott points out that the water which we drink becomes in us a spring from which living waters flow, as the light which illuminates in us in turn makes us one of the lights illuminating the world (Matt. 5:14; Phil. 2:15). We might not desire to be a teacher, but how can a true Christian fail to impart the spirit of Christianity to others? 7:38 ... “Rivers.” Denoting abundance, freeness, continued supply, in contrast with the small, golden pitcher used in the ceremony of the pouring of the water. 7:38 ... “Of living water.” Pure, running water, ever flowing streams; the opposite of stagnant, malarious, poisonous water; also life giving water. Clark points out that the Gospel of Christ brings life, health and joy. Interesting that in v. 37 Jesus says, “Come unto Me and drink,” while here in v. 38 He says, “He that believeth on Me…from within him shall flow,” etc. These expressions are poles apart in meaning.

“Faith” is an action of the mind and heart; while “coming” is an action of both soul and body. “Faith” is subjective; “coming” objective. “Faith” is allied to thought; “coming” to deeds. Vs. 37 and 38 refer to Christians receiving the Holy Spirit (v. 39). When this promise was fulfilled, they received the Spirit “after they believed” (Eph. 1:13), and after they repented and were baptized (Acts 2:38ff and Gal. 4:6). Therefore, these two verses are a reference to the future giving of the Holy Spirit to Christians in consequence of and subsequently to their believing in Christ and obeying the Gospel, obedience being the meaning of “come unto Me” in v. 37, and believing being the thing mentioned in v. 38. Both are required. The mutual and inspired intercourse of Christians from Pentecost downwards, the speaking in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, the mutual edification of Christian assemblies, the entire work of the apostles, of a Stephen, etc., furnish an abundant historical commentary on this text. 7:39 ... “but this spake He [this is John’s interpretation of Christ’s words in the temple] of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive.” The Holy Spirit and His influences were the living waters, abundant, free, purifying, bringing life, health, salvation to the soul as water to the thirsty, as rain to the parched earth, and making every Christian a source of the same influences which he has received from the Holy Spirit. This is a prophecy of the Dispensation of the Spirit which was to commence with the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, continuing through the ages. We need to lay more emphasis in our day on this wonderful gift, both for our individual growth and usefulness and for the salvation of the world. 7:39 ... “For the Holy Ghost.” Spirit, omitting, “Holy,” as in Revised Version. Clark points out that in the first clause we find “the Spirit,” but in the second, the article is absent, and the words literally mean “for the Spirit was not yet,” – the word “Spirit” meaning, not the Holy Spirit as a Person, but a bestowal or reception of His influence and power. 7:39 ... “Was not yet given.” The dispensation of the Spirit, when His influences should come in their full abundance, had not yet come. It would not come till after the atoning sacrifice was made, John 16:7. 7:39 ... “Because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” Not till Jesus had been crucified, raised again, and exalted by the right hand of God, made Lord and Christ; not until He, through His resurrection, had entered into His glory, revealing Himself to His people as glorified; not till then did the Spirit come to dwell forever on and in them, flowing from them and us into the world. The great work of the Spirit could not fittingly be accomplished till Jesus had completed His work and made His atonement, showing what He really was. Why? Because the Spirit was to use this work leading mankind to Jesus as King, Savior and Lord.

The Holy Spirit and Christians Today The desire for an intimate relationship with the Spirit is understandable, and the fact that it is possible makes it even more attractive. However, the immediate and direct approach may lead to bewilderment, disappointment, and grief as one begins to realize the Holy Spirit is not doing what one thinks He should. In fact, misunderstanding about the work of the Holy Spirit today has led to great harm. The Holy Spirit4 and Christians are intimately related. The relationship is nonmiraculous and indwelling. Each person receives the Holy Spirit as a promised gift when he or she turns to Jesus in an obedience of faith (John 5:30-32; 7:3739). As Christians, we become a place where the Spirit of God lives (see 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). Spiritual life is dependent on the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit in our lives we are spiritually dead. The first and greatest benefit of the Spirit in us is spiritual life. Although alive physically, we may be dead in our sins (Eph. 2:1). Death means separation. If we are spiritually dead, we are separated from God. Therefore, we must be born again of water and the Spirit in order to have “newness of life” (John 3:1-8). This new birth occurs when we are baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-11) and receive the Person of the Holy Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38-41). Spiritual life begins when the Holy Spirit enters in. If one allows the Spirit to continue to live within, “the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal. 6:8b).

Scripture Reading: John 7:40-44 (KJV) Discussions as to whether Jesus was the Christ By His public words in the temple, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah. The Jews expected their Messiah to fulfill the promises repeated at the ceremony of the Outpouring; therefore they understood that Jesus was making this claim. And only the Messiah could fulfill what He promised. 7:40 ... “Many . . . of a truth this is the Prophet.” The Prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15, 19 whom some identified with the Messiah, others supposed would be the forerunner of the Messiah (Abbott). 7:41 ... “Others said, This is the Christ.” The great Messiah King whom they expected, whom the prophets foretold, and to whom their whole religious ceremonial pointed. 7:41 ... “Shall [the] Christ come out of Galilee.” Christ seemed to them to come from Galilee, because His childhood home and much of His ministry was there. They did not believe that the Christ could come from Galilee,

1. Because, as below, it seemed to contradict their Scripture. 2. They could not bear to think that one of these despised Galileans should be their king. 3. They had always looked for the Messiah in connection with Jerusalem, the capital and temple, the religious center of the nation. It is interesting that they seemed ignorant of the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem as the prophet had foretold (Micah 5:2). It appears they merely assumed that since He lived in Galilee He had also been born there. Added to the difficulty of the people was also the slander of the Pharisees that no prophet had ever come out of Galilee. But they were wrong about that, too. Jonah, the first of the prophets came from Galilee (2 Kings 14:25). More about this when we consider v. 52. 7:42 ... “Hath not the scripture said.” This is their argument for believing that Jesus, being a Galilean, in their opinion could not be the Messiah. 7:42 ... “That Christ cometh of the seed [or “offspring”] of David [see Ps. 89:19-29; 132:11; Is. 9:6, 7; 11:1-5; Jer. 23:5, 6], and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” Where David was born and lived for about sixteen years, till he was called into the service of King Saul.5 The trouble with their argument was the lack of facts. Their quotations of Scripture were an argument in favor of Jesus being the Messiah, for He fulfilled the Scriptures. Many arguments against Christianity today are of the same nature. Unbelievers set up a caricature of the true religion and argue against that. However, in so doing, they really present arguments in favor of true religion as it is in the Gospel. 7:44 ... “Some of them [of the multitude, not the officers mentioned in the next verse] would have taken Him [arrested Him, carrying Him before the Sanhedrin as a pretender]; but no man laid hands on Him.” Not even those who had been commanded to do it (see vs. 32, 45). Clark points out that they were fettered on one hand by fear of the adherents of Jesus, and on the other by the secret power of God, impressing them with an involuntary awe, so they dared not proceed. Wicked people will be charged with such sins, as they would willingly have committed, but could not because of opportunity. Although the purpose of the Pharisees was set upon taking Jesus and destroying Him, God restrained them until the appointed time.

Scripture Reading: John 7:45-49 (KJV) No Man Spake Like This Man

7:45 ... “Then came the officers.” Abbott points out that these were not Roman soldiers, but temple police. They had been directed by the officers of the Sanhedrin to arrest Jesus (v. 32). 7:45 ... “To the chief priests and Pharisees.” Regarded now as one body, the Sanhedrin, and not as the separate classes composing it, as in v. 32. Westcott points out that the Greek forms show this distinction. The day was a Sabbath, and yet the council was gathered. It would seem as if the Sanhedrin had continued sitting, waiting for the return of its officers, an extraordinary proceeding on so great a day (see on v. 37), showing the intensity of their hostility. Their question is in harmony with this. 7:45 ... “Why have ye not brought Him?” The officers had returned without fulfilling their mission. Arresting Jesus was not all that easy. When meeting Him face to face, the arresting detail was so taken by the Lord’s marvelous powers that they aborted their assignment, returning without Him. Since God had pre-determined that the Lord would suffer at the following Passover, it can therefore be concluded that even if they had tried they could never have physically apprehended Jesus. His hour had not yet come. Needless to say, the Pharisees were furious, and they did not like the answer they received regarding the failure to arrest Him. 7:46 ... “Never man spake like this man.” They were not overawed by the multitude, but by the words of Christ Himself. Abbott points out that there is no stronger testimony, even in the Gospels, to the marvelous moral power of Christ’s personality and words than this declaration of the temple police. This testimony came, too, from men who had been influenced by a hostile spirit, checking out every word and every look. With that convincing power and evidence of truth His teaching had come home to their consciences and hearts! Augustine remarks: “Of him whose life is lightning, his words are thunders” (Clark). No man spake like Jesus 1. Because He spoke with the authority of one who knows. All of heaven and earth, past and future, was known to Him. 2. In a higher degree than any other He spoke to men’s needs. 3. He spoke to men’s hearts. 4. He spoke to their consciences. 5. He spoke the good news from God. 6. He spoke truths clearly and distinctly that had been veiled or unknown. 7. He spoke in a noble, royal manner worthy of His theme. Here was another proof that Jesus was the Christ. “Never man spake.” There is an inference in these words that Jesus was more than a man. Otherwise, they would have said, “No other man ever so spake.” This implication was certainly not lost on the Pharisees. Detecting a tender little

bud of faith in the officers, they moved against it with the savage ferocity of wild boar. 7:47, 48 ... “Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers,” etc. Implying that those who were sent were men of influence and position. Every weapon of reproach and ridicule was used against Jesus to keep men from becoming His disciples. They implied that any one of influence, knowledge, good sense, who was capable of studying the question at all its levels, would not accept this young man Jesus as the Messiah. 7:49 ... “but this people [the crowd, the multitude] who knoweth not the law.” Have not been instructed in the schools of the Pharisees and taught how to read and interpret the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Therefore they are not qualified to judge for themselves in these matters, and must not presume to set up their opinion in opposition to that of their rabbis and leaders. Therefore, too, they are easily led astray (v. 47), and induced to credit and receive an impostor who pretends to be the Christ. 7:49 ... “Are cursed.” Or, “accursed are they?” Execrable, doomed to error and deception, worthy of contempt and perdition (Clark). The arrogant sophistry of the Pharisees had entrenched itself in this position: “Nobody should dare to believe in Jesus as long as we Pharisees have not done so; we are the people; we decide what is true or false.”

Scripture Reading: John 7:50-52 (KJV) A Defense by Nicodemus 7:50 ... “Nicodemus” Before all this, he had come to Jesus by night (John 3). Nicodemus does not yet appear to be an open disciple; but we see him now approaching it. His defense of Jesus in this excited meeting required boldness, as well as conviction of the truth. 7:50 ... “Being one of them,” i.e., a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin. Such men as Nicodemus, as well as perhaps others, were helpless regarding the policies of the organization. The members were now divided in their views and would stay divided, perhaps up to the bitter end. Why? Because there is no evidence whatever that the final meeting of the Sanhedrin that condemned the Savior had a full representation of its members or even a legal quorum. The men who controlled that body had already decided eighteen months earlier to kill Jesus (John 5:18). So, at the point of Nicodemus’ objection, Satan was already in charge of the hierarchy. It was far too late to reverse the purpose of murder in their hearts.

7:51 ... “doth our law judge any man, before it hear him?” There is a covert sarcasm, not so much in the words as in the position the rulers had placed themselves. They had just been sneering at the people for not knowing the law, and yet at the same time they were acting contrary to the law. They had not examined the claims of Jesus. They had not compared them with the Scriptures. They were seeking to arrest and put Jesus to death contrary to the law. Nicodemus no doubt knew that his question would be shouted down, which may account for his mild manner in stating it. Anything stronger would have surely brought their wrath on him. 7:52 ... “Are Thou … of Galilee?” Any one who would defend Jesus of Galilee, even to do Him justice, they thought must be allied to the Galileans. 7:52 ... “Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” Alford points out that the prejudices of the Pharisees led them to forget their history as well as their law. Abbott points out that Jonah was of Galilee (2 Kings 14:25), perhaps Elijah (1 Kings 17:1), and Nahum either of Galilee or Assyria (Nahum 1:1). Sneers are the weapons when arguments fail.

Conclusion 1. Both Jesus and Jonah were asleep in a ship at sea in a storm. 2. Both were awakened, Jesus by disciples, Jonah by the captain. 3. Both were involved in the ship’s security, Jesus for safety, Jonah for peril. 4. Both freely gave themselves to save others, Jesus to save all men, Jonah to save the sailors. 5. Both produced a great calm, Jesus by fiat, Jonah by being cast into the sea. 6. Both passed through that “three days and three nights” experience mentioned by Christ (Matt. 12:38-41). 7. Both converted Gentiles, Jesus through apostles, Jonah by his preaching at Nineveh. 8. Both were from Galilee (2 Kings 14:25). Despite all this, they shouted Nicodemus down, saying that no prophet ariseth out of Galilee. No prophet? Well, only the Messiah. That great prophet like unto Moses, whose coming out of Galilee was typified by Jonah, the first of all the prophets and a type of Christ. Practical Thoughts 1. v. 37: To impress the truth, the true teacher takes advantage of every incident and matter of general interest. 2. All men have thirsts of the soul which this world can never satisfy. 3. Jesus Christ has the living water which can satisfy these thirsts. 4. But rivers or oceans of living water will not help us unless we go to Jesus and drink.

5. “The wells of salvation are open to all men who are like dry ground” (Majus), Isaiah 55:1; 44:3. 6. v. 38: Those who drink of this living water are not selfish, but let it flow freely to all. They are not cisterns, but fountains. It is the very nature of the Christian to impart. 7. Those that impart to others have the fullest and freshest supply for themselves. The out flowing keeps the fountain pure. 8. v. 39: More emphasis should be laid on the gift of the Holy Spirit, for life, strength, and guidance, comfort, enforcing the truth, touching the heart, and converting the soul. 9. vs. 40-44: There is always division of thoughts and feeling where the claims of Christ are presented. 10. Free and full discussion will aid the cause of truth. 11. Men are continually setting up men of straw, labeling them Religion, or Gospel, then seeking to overthrow them; often by the very arguments which sustain true religion. 12. v. 46: Jesus’ words were divine, therefore not like man’s words. They were clearer, truer, more helpful, and more worthy, than any man can speak; but especially because they were a message from our Father in heaven. 13. vs. 47-52: When men fail in argument, they use sneers and reproaches. 14. Those opposing Jesus are usually not consistent with themselves. 15. Times of opposition and excitement often draw out timid disciples.
Footnotes: 1 Note especially that in order for this water to be refreshing to us it must constantly be flowing – it must go forth to others, not confined to ourselves. 2 Note: “If this day our fleece is dry it is not because there is no dew in heaven, nor because none fell last night.” “If we take little pitchers to the well, we shall carry little water away.” 3 See The Tabernacle in Additional Resources section of 4 For more on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of 5 See Micah 5:2; Luke 2:4; 1 Samuel 16:1, 5, 18; 17:12-15, 58. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: The Glorious Liberty of the Children of God Golden Text: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56) Lesson Plan: Introduction The Test of Discipleship (v. 31) The Glorious Liberty of the Children of God (vs. 32-38) Whose Children Are Ye? (vs. 38, 44-50) Greater Than Abraham (vs. 51-59) Conclusion Setting of the Lesson: Time: The next day after the last lesson, which was the octave of the feast, when the temple would be once more thronged by worshippers (Edersheim). Place: Jerusalem; the temple; in one of the porches around the court of the Gentiles. Beginning Suggestions: The introduction to this lesson will naturally be brief, recalling the events of the last lesson, and returning with Jesus to the temple the next day. Note the result of the Lord’s teaching – many believed on Him. The first eight verses contain the part of the lesson where this lesson will dwell. Therefore the subject: The Glorious Liberty of the Children of God. I. Those in the school of Christ are the children of God (v. 31) Disciples are learners, attending school. Christians are those who continually go to the school of Christ, studying and obeying His Holy Word. Illustration This can be illustrated by common school life. A visitor is not a student. A servant who looks in occasionally is not a student. A student attends regularly, consuming lessons from the teacher. Christ is the Teacher, so wise, loving, helpful, knowing all truth; teaching by His living example.

In order to belong to this spiritual school, to be a disciple of Christ – a Christian – one must accept Him as Teacher and Master, endeavoring to do His will, learning His lessons. II. Glorious liberty (vs. 32-37) In these verses we have a contest between the slavery of sin and the freedom of the Gospel. Illustration This liberty in Christ can be iIlustrated the slavery of sin by the power of bad habits. It is often thought that to become a Christian is to enter into slavery, because we must obey laws, and be subject to God. But obedience to love makes us masters and not slaves. Illustration Laws are like fences by the roadside, restraining those who wish to do evil. But to those who wish to travel without trespassing, the fences are guides, not restraints. Consider how the Gospel brings freedom in all ways. How it ever tends to free thought, free minds, free bodies, free nations. Refer to Scripture passages about this liberty. III. Children and heirs (vs. 38, 44-50) The test of being children is the family likeness. This is true of the children of God. It is also true of qualities. We may be children of anger or of love; children of selfishness, or children of goodness and purity. And we are heirs of that of which we are children. IV. Their Teacher (vs. 51-59) We learn from v. 46 that Jesus is perfect in life and character. From v. 51 we learn what reward He will give His disciples, the same referred to in v. 31. Then from the later verses we learn that He was the greatest of men, living in eternal existence, therefore knowing all truth. Where can we find such a Teacher, such a school, such liberty, such rewards?

Introduction Jesus came to the temple the next day after the incidents of our last lesson, teaching in the court of the women, near the treasury (John 8:20). Then, in another place, perhaps in one of the porches of the court of the Gentiles (because it is probably only there that they would cast stones at Him), Jesus continued His teaching, and many believed on Him. In this lesson, our Lord

speaks first to these, and afterwards to the Jews who overheard what He had said, and made objections to it.

Scripture Reading: John 8:31 (KJV) The Test of Discipleship 8:31 ... “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him.” New King James, “who believed Him.” There is a change in the expression regarding their belief. In v. 30 John uses the strong phrase “believe on Him.” Here he uses the much weaker “believed Him” (Cambridge Bible). Are we then to regard the Jews in this verse as included in the “many” of the last? Certainly not, because of the essential difference between the expressions used in the two verses, “believed in Him” and “believed Him”; the former denoting a true faith in Jesus, an acceptance of Him which included a surrender of the heart, the “self,” to Him. The latter denotes an acceptance of His words as true. Those who “believed Him” were heading toward higher faith, though now a long way from attaining that goal. Will they draw nearer to Him and “believe in Him,” or will they return to His enemies? Schaff points out that the instructing and encouraging words Jesus now speaks, prove to be the test of their faith. They had the belief of the head, but not of the heart. They believed Him but did not believe in Him. 8:31 ... “If ye continue [continue to receive it, study it, live by it, obey it] in My Word [My teaching, the doctrines I inculcate, the truths I teach, the commands I give], then are ye My disciples indeed.” True followers and learners. Jesus did not say, “You have believed on Me, therefore you are saved”; but in effect He said, “Now that you have believed, if you really want to be My disciples, do what I have commanded.” Ultimate salvation of ‘believers’ depended then, as it does today, upon obeying the Gospel of Christ, presented first on Pentecost in Acts 2. A disciple of Jesus is one who accepts Jesus Christ as Teacher and Master; one who attends His school. To just visit a school does not make one a member. Sitting on pews or chairs with other students, passing the time in a school-room, does not make one a student of that class. However, accepting the Teacher, submitting to His discipline, obeying His rules, pursuing the required studies, and continuing in these things, makes one a student of that school. The school of Christ 1. Jesus Himself is the Teacher and Master, directing our studies and guiding the discipline. He is a wise, learned, loving, faithful, helpful, constant Teacher. 2. The lessons to be learned are to know Christ’s will, to become like Him in character (Eph. 4:13; Col. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17); becoming an embodiment of the beatitudes and the fruits of the spirit. 3. Our whole life is the term time. 4. The school-books are the Bible and the discipline of life. He sends not only commands, promises and examples from His Holy Word, but special

discipline, teaching each virtue. There is something in our lives that cherishes every good quality, desiring to cultivate every virtue. When we have special trials of patience, temper, and/or honesty, then we need to remember that we are in Christ’s school, and that He is teaching us a lesson. In times of prosperity, peace, and joy, we are learning other lessons in the same school. 5. When we become a member of Christ’s school, we abide there and learn from Him.

Scripture Reading: John 8:32-38 (KJV) The Glorious Liberty of the Children of God 8:32 ... “And ye shall know the truth.” This will be the result of continuing in Christ’s Holy Word. They would know the reality of things. They would see things as they are. They would come into the right doctrines and see them in their right relations. There is no other place where we can learn the truth except in continuing in Christ’s Holy Word, loving, obedient, docile students in His school. 8:32 ... “And the truth shall make you free.” Free from the bondage of ignorance, error, and sin; as Clark points out, free from the slavery of evil passions, groveling views, and corrupt propensities. Serving God is the highest freedom. When the truth of Jesus Christ comes to the heart, it works at once a wonderful freedom from harassing cares and turbulent passions, from Satan’s tyranny, and from the fear of death. it comprehends the freeing of the intellect (2 Cor. 3:17), and as Jacobus points out, the freeing of the will from the bondage of sinful nature (Rom. 7:23). Jesus knew that deliverance from the Roman yoke was the great work expected of the Messiah. He therefore spiritualized this hope (Godet). The power can set us free (v. 32). The psalmist said: “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path’ (Ps. 119:105). The apostle John said of Jesus: “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). In the Bible we find His Word personified. We find Him as the One through whom we are led back home (John 14:1-6). In the Bible, written by inspired men, we meet the most inspirational Person we could ever know. He said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). Our God is truly inspirational, in more ways than one. Neither Jesus’ followers nor His opponents were prepared to see in the episodes of His life the evidence of Immanuel – “God with us.” We, as readers of the whole truth about Jesus, should be careful not to anticipate the truth. We must let it unfold before us. We should not deliberately ignore this principle. Jesus spoke of coming to the truth, not anticipating it prematurely (John 8:32). Freedom of the children of God

Cicero said, “He is free who lives as he will.” A sinner is never free. 1. He is not free to do wrong, because his conscience, nature, the law of God, the fear of punishment, hinder him. 2. He cannot do right freely, because his evil nature and bad habits prevent him. 3. He is compelled to bear the consequences of his sin against his will. But the faithful child of God is free 1. Being free from sin, he is free from the slavery of sin. 2. He is free from the curse of the law, and the forebodings of conscience. 3. He has mental freedom. Nothing gives so much mental freedom as the Gospel; for the Gospel conquers the great enemies of freedom, i.e., prejudice, selfishness, and falsehood. The Christian cares more for the truth than for life. He freely ranges every field of thought. God his Father has made all things; therefore it is His children’s privilege to study all. And as a fact, under the Gospel is the greatest mental freedom this world knows. 4. He is free from corroding cares and burdens. 5. He has the freedom of Christian action. His life is the free outflowing of his Christian nature, like the morning song of a bird. Laws are like fences by the roadside, not restraints but guides. 6. This freedom grows more and more complete as one becomes perfect in the Christian life. How does the truth give freedom? 1. The truth of “pardon” gives freedom from the fear of punishment. 2. The truth of confession to God and man gives freedom from guilt. 3. The truth of God’s loving care gives freedom from corroding cares and burdens. 4. The truths of the Gospel give freedom from sin and the tyranny of bad habits and our evil nature. 5. The broad truths of God in heaven and earth give mental freedom. 6. The truths of salvation, a new heart, the presence of the Holy Spirit, imparts the new life, making Christian action free and natural. 7. As a knowledge of natural law enables us to make that law our servant and helper, making us masters of nature, so, knowledge of the spiritual laws makes us masters in that realm, enabling us to make its powers our servants and helpers. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Their faith had not made them free, nor does faith alone make us free today. Abiding in Jesus’ Word, knowing the truth and obeying it – these, too, are prerequisites for eternal life. To all the people of all ages, to the sum total of all who ever “believed on” Jesus Christ, these words are the Savior’s unqualified personal mandate, “Abide in My Word if you would truly be My disciples!” 8:33 ... “They answered Him.” The answerers are ‘those that believed,’ not some others among the hearers. They had not yet become disciples, were not

yet distinct from the mass of unbelievers. Therefore, in speaking to them, He ascribes to them the sins of their race (Alford). 8:33 ... “We be Abraham’s seed.” And therefore endowed with all the privileges of true Israelites, whose laws forbade the enslaving of their countrymen. 8:33 ... “And were never in bondage to any man.” Lange points out that these words can only mean: Often as we have been under oppression (under Egyptians, Babylonians, Syrians), we have never acknowledged any oppressor as master, but have always submitted only from necessity, reserving our rights to freedom, and striving after it. Vs. 35, 36 clearly prove that the hearers of Jesus were thinking of neither their national independence nor their spiritual superiority, but of the “civil” and consequently individual liberty which as Jews they enjoyed. With the exception of a single, specially foreseen case, the law forbade slavery with regard to members of the Israelite community. It was therefore a very rare occurrence for a Jew to be reduced to the condition of a slave. Godet points out that, for the most part, the dignity of freedom shone on the brow of all who bore the name of the seed of Abraham. 8:33 ... “How sayest Thou, Ye shall be made free?” They totally misunderstood the slavery and freedom to which He referred. In view of the whole nation being in bondage at that time to Rome, one might wonder just how to take a boast of this kind. Perhaps it merely meant that they had never willingly consented to any such servitude, which was true. Jesus was talking about their being in slavery to sin, despite the fact that they had “believed on” Him; their actual release from such spiritual bondage would come under the benevolent terms of the new covenant – that is, if they would follow Christ and obey the Gospel. 8:34 ... “Whosoever committeth sin.” Jesus did not bring political freedom. He brought a far more important spiritual freedom. Jesus here tries to relieve their error. 8:34 ... “Is the servant.” The bond-servant, the slave, of sin. Because his evil nature and bad habits hold dominion over him, compelling him to do that which he knows is wrong, and which he often resists in vain. Two of the commonest illustrations of this slavery are alcohol and drugs. But all sin is equally a bondage. 8:35 ... “And the servant [any bond-servant] abideth not in the house [household] for ever.” Stier and Bengel point out that the reference here is to Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac: the “bond” and the “free.” They had spoken of themselves as the “seed of Abraham.” The Lord shows them that their may be of that see “two kinds,” “the son,” properly so called, and the “slave.” The latter does not abide in the house for ever: it is not his right or his position. “Cast out the bondwoman and her son.”

8:35 ... “But the son abideth ever.” “Consequently, these Jews, while continuing the slaves, or bond-servants, of sin, had not the rights of children in the family of God, and were liable to be cut off from both the household and its general privileges at any hour when the Master should please” (Clark). Ellicott points out that if we again read vs. 31, 32 (where “continue” is the same word in the Greek as “abideth” here), noting the close connection between abiding, truth, and freedom, we have, it is believed, a simpler clue to the meaning than any of the usual explanations. He goes further, pointing out that in this verse the thought is that if they were really the children of Abraham, they would be of Abraham’s spiritual nature, abiding in his home, and inheriting the promises made to him. They had not continued in the spiritual freedom of sons, but had departed from the house, and had become, spiritually, bondmen. This verse is a reminder to all sinners that the penalty of sin is death. As bondservants of sin, our days in the house of flesh are limited. This introduced another element of the bondage from which the truth makes us free, i.e., the bondage of our mortality. The old dispensation with its special privileges for Israel has ended. Abraham’s true children will remain in his household (the new covenant) and enjoy its privileges permanently; but Abraham’s slaves (think of Hagar) will be driven out. Only a son enjoys freedom. Therefore, if the Son of God will make them free, they will be free indeed. (Hendrikensen) In view of the teaching of Christ on the true children of Abraham a little later, Hendriksen saw Ishmael as the bondservant, and Issac as the “son” of this verse. The distinction between the true sons of Abraham, that is, the “spiritual seed” and the mere fleshly descendants, is of utmost importance in understanding the Scriptures. Christ is the true “seed” of Abraham; and all of the “spiritual seed” of Abraham are “in Christ.” 8:36 ... “If the Son therefore shall make you free.” “It is the right of the son, as the representative of the family and heir of the patrimony, to pronounce the enfranchisement of the slave, and to raise him to the rank of a member of the family” (Godet). If therefore the Son of God makes them free by His power and truth, then will they have true freedom, as He promised in v. 32.1

8:37 ... “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed,” or “offspring.” “The acknowledgment of their claim to natural descent from Abraham serves only to strengthen the reproof that follows” (Lange). 8:37 ... “But ye.” The Jews as a whole under their leaders, of whom these to whom Jesus spoke were a part, having the same spirit. 8:37 ... “Seek to kill Me [as in the John 7:32, 44, 45], because My Word hath no place.” Hath not free course ‘in you,’ because you do not allow My Word of truth to enter your hearts and lives, and permeate your character. The truth

arouses opposition in you, and not love. The argument is that they were not true children of Abraham, because they were not like Abraham in character and actions. Therefore they must be the bondslaves of the family, and not sons, for sons inherit a likeness to their parents. Jesus freely acknowledged their physical descent from Abraham, but in the same breath pointed out their murderous intentions against Jesus Christ, the “seed” singular (Gal. 3:16) in whom all the great promises of Abraham were to be realized. What a contradiction in their conduct. Spiritually, those men were the sons of the devil, as Jesus would shortly say.

Scripture Reading: John 8:38, 44-50 (KJV) Whose Children Are Ye? 8:38 ... “I speak that which I have seen with My Father.” Implying existence with Him. He reports the truths He brought with Him from heaven, the things He had seen. They were divine. The Son is like the Father.2 In other words, if you were really God’s children through Abraham, you too would love and receive these truths from your Father. 8:38 ... “Ye do that which ye have seen [“heard from”] your father.” As explained in v. 44, where the Lord builds the conversation to its climax. They were the children of Satan because they did the deeds of Satan.3 8:44 ... “Ye are of [“from”] your father the devil.” Because they are like him, imitate him, serve him. It should be noted again that these men, denominated as sons of the devil, were “believers on” the Lord Jesus. However they did not love Him and would not obey Him. f we are in fact justified by “faith alone,” then why weren’t these sons of the devil justified? They imitate him in two respects: 8:44 ... “He was a murderer from the beginning.” Why was he a murderer? Because, from the very outset, he endeavored to seduce into disobedience, to destroy, the human race. Abbott points out that his declaration “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4) was not merely a lie, but a lie whose object was the death of mankind. 8:44 ... “Abode not in the truth.” Referring perhaps to the fall of the devil from being an angel of light in heaven. But one thing is sure: from the beginning he deceived man. His first act toward the human race was a falsehood, and he has been a deceiver every since. 8:44 ... “There is no truth in him.” His heart is false, his intellect distorted, he loves what is not true, and delights in deceiving others. The fountain and spring of his life is falsehood.

8:44 ... “The father of it.” Of lying, producing this false nature in others. Satan has many sons on earth today. How can we know them? Hatred of Christ and His teaching is inherent in their nature. Satan is so powerful that angels dare not bring a railing accusation against him, yet he is nevertheless a creature, fallen from his first estate, destined to be destroyed. He does not share control of the universe with God; but, due to the fall, finds mortals naturally inclined to yield to the temptation he exerts upon them. If children, then heirs; is the law of our being. If children of God, then heirs of God – His character, His home, His possessions, His care and love. If children of Satan, then heirs of Satan – his character, his deeds, his influences to evil, his torments. 8:45 ... “Because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.” Because you, as children of the devil, do not want the truth or love the truth. They wanted to be undisturbed in their errors. Have you noticed that evil requires no reason for rejecting the truth, except for the fact of it being so. Evil cannot love righteousness. Jesus now continues with His invincible logic. That “I tell you the truth” is proved by the fact stated in the form of a question. 8:46 ... “Which of you convinceth Me of sin?” (NKJV renders, “convicts Me of sin”). “Which of you.” The total sinlessness and perfection of the Savior’s life proved His Godhead; and all who ever knew Christ concurred fully in this judgment of absolute holiness pertaining to Him, a fact that His bitterest enemies allowed to stand unchallenged. To “convince” is to satisfy a man’s own mind regarding a particular truth; to “convict” a man is to prove him guilty. Jesus says “of sin,” implying falsehood, in this case the opposite of truth. If the Lord’s declaration regarding Himself, i.e., that He came not from the earth but from the Father above, and was the longanticipated Messiah, was not true, it would have been false and fraudulent – not just a mistake, but a lie. By the implication of this question He asserts His sinlessness; defying His opponents to point out a single sin in His life, a single flaw in His character. The argument is this: If I am not the Son of God, find out some human defect that indicates a human origin and kinship. And this has never been done. Imagine if you will a pause, a moments’ expressive silence, no answer from the Pharisees, and then these following crushing words, calmly uttered: 8:47 ... “If I say the truth, why do ye not believe?” This stage of the interview having been reached, their faith had become no faith. Note also that this does not deny their fundamental position of “believing on Him” as the promised

Messiah. They still recognized Him as the head of the theocracy, the rightful and lawful heir of the temple and of the extinct throne of Solomon. It was “what Jesus taught” that they did not believe (Matt. 21:38). Their hatred of the truth was so great that they deliberately decided to kill Christ and run religion according to their own preferences. This spirit is still in the world. 8:47 ... “He that is of God [as you say you are] heareth [to believe and obey] God’s words.” You do not hear them, therefore you are not of God as you assert. In other words, the only proof needed to demonstrate that one is a son of the devil is being unwilling to “hear” in the sense of “obeying” the Word of God. 8:48 ... “Then answered the Jews.” They could not answer His argument; therefore, as is common, they began to call Him hard names. 8:48 ... “Thou art a Samaritan,” i.e., an enemy, one filled with jealous hatred of the Jews. This was a gross racial epithet reserved for those utterly hated.4 8:48 ... “And hast a devil.” A demon; not the same original word used by Jesus above to represent the prince of the devils, but an evil-spirit demon. One possessed with a demon would naturally speak slanderous and bitter words, and bring unjust charges, as they called these words of Christ. It seems incredible that they pressed their claims to righteousness by resorting to such vilification. They meant, “We are not children of the devil; You are the one who has a demon.” 8:49 ... “I honour My Father.” By doing deeds and speaking words worthy of God, His Father. His teachings were true. His representations of God were noble and worthy. His character and example honored and reflected God. 8:49 ... And ye do dishonour Me.” They had spoken and acted in a disrespectful and insulting manner, as if Jesus were an imposter, or a man beside Himself. This they did with the blindness of corrupt hearts, which kept them from discovering His real character and merits. They dishonored Jesus (a) by failure to love and obey Him, and (b) by the groundless slanders perpetrated against Him. 8:50 ... “And [but] I seek not mine own glory; there is one that seeketh and judgeth.” He will not protest against the dishonor they offered Him. Why? Because His cause is in the Father’s hands. That glory which he seeks not for Himself, the Father seeks to give Him. The Father is deciding, and will decide, between His enemies and Himself. The Lord refused to be outraged by their insults. In His humiliation, He made Himself of no reputation. However, depraved humanity never fell lower than the vile exhibition revealed in this passage. Here, fallen men appear in the sad role of reviling the Son of God. But the precious and loving Savior did not fly into a rage, but calmly reminded them that God would seek and judge.

Scripture Reading: John 8:51-59 (KJV) Greater Than Abraham It is evident that with the last word of v. 50, Jesus had for the present finished with His questioners. But He knew that among those Jews who believed, and of whom the greater part had, when put to the test, immediately succumbed, there was a certain number who fulfilled the condition laid down by Him (v. 31: “If you continue steadfast in My word”); and it was to these that He addressed the promise of v. 51. (Godet) 8:51 ... “He shall never.” There is a double negative in the Greek, emphasizing it, “shall certainly never,” “shall by no means.” 8:51 ... “See death.” There shall be to him no end of existence, no cessation of life and joy. To him physical death is only the gate to eternal life; not an end of existence, only a change. This is not a promise of escape from mortality, but of eternal life. A more glorious promise has never and will never come to man. How strange that it should have been enunciated so earnestly in the midst of the vulgar and vituperative charges of His enemies. What a flower was this that bloomed in the sewer of their hatred of Jesus! 8:52 ... “Then said the Jews.” Judeans, who overheard Jesus’ words. 8:52 ... “Now we know.” To their minds only a lunatic, a madman, possessed by a demon, could make such an assertion, as they proceeded to argue. 8:52 ... “Abraham.” The great father of the race, who walked and talked with God. 8:52 ... “Is dead.” They use the word only in the physical sense. The noblest sayings ever to bless dying men are here scorned and ridiculed. The thrust of this entire interview had been spiritual, but they wanted none of it. Instead they literalized His words and mocked Him in scorn. There was no way to break through the crust of their hatred. 8:53 ... “Art Thou greater?” Can you do for others what all the heroes and saints of the past were unable to do, even for themselves? 8:53 ... “Whom makest Thou Thyself?” Whom and what do You pretend to be?

The Lord’s foes were right about one thing: His claims certainly did place Him on a much higher level than Abraham or any of the prophets. Before their very eyes, Christ made the blessed promised of breaking the bonds of death for everyone who ever lived on earth. However, these crude listeners could only bellow their rage and unbelief that anyone could be greater than Abraham or one of their prophets. Behold, a greater than Abraham is here. 8:54 ... “Jesus answered, If I honour [glorify] Myself, My honour [glory] is nothing.” To “honor” or “glorify” is to attribute honor, generally by words. Christ’s reply to the question, “Whom makest Thou Thyself?” is that He makes nothing of Himself, leaving others to interpret His character from His life and teachings. If they had believed His promise (v. 51), they would have recognized that He was greater than Abraham; but it would have been useless to repeat it. However, this repeated emphasis regarding His oneness with the Father gave added weight to the promise. It is as if He had said, “If I had made this wonderful promise of Myself as a man, to be fulfilled by My own power, it would amount to nothing.” 8:54 ... “It is My Father that honoureth [glorifieth] Me.” By giving Me the authority to make this promise and to fulfill it. John later returns to a specific instance of God’s glorifying Jesus (John 12:28); but, in another sense, God was continually glorifying Jesus through the mighty signs He was empowered of God to perform. 8:54 ... “Of whom ye say.” But falsely, for your actions contradict your words. It seems incredible that these people so stoutly claimed to be God’s children, while at the same time being so vindictive in their hatred of that same God’s eternal and only Son! 8:55 ... “Yet ye have not known [learned] Him, but I know Him.” Abbott points out that there is a double contrast in the two verbs. One signifying acquired the other direct intuitive knowledge. In the tenses, the one signifying a past act, “never have known,” the other a perpetually present possession, “I always know.” The sense may be expressed: “Ye have never acquired any knowledge of God, but I am always in fellowship with Him.” Despite all the superficial love of the Law of Moses, and all the feasts and sacrifices, neither the people now face to face with Jesus nor the nation as a whole had truly come to know the Lord. In the presence of Christ their ignorance was acute, because the Savior was one with God in all things. 8:55 ... “A liar like unto you.” Who say you know Him when you do not. The Lord could not have concealed the truth without violating His own sacred commission. Therefore there was no alternative to declaring God’s message, regardless of the disease it would bring upon the chosen nation.

8:55 ... “But I know Him, and keep His sayings.” Westcott paraphrased this: “Even in this crisis of separation, when My words will be misunderstood and so widen the breach between us (v. 26), I proclaim the knowledge which I have and fulfill My mission by keeping His word.” Having answered the reproach, “Thou glorifiest Thyself,” Jesus comes to the principal question, “Art Thou greater than our father Abraham?” not hesitating to plainly reply (as paraphrased by Godet): “Yes, certainly, for after being the object of His hope on earth, I became that of His joy in paradise.” 8:56 ... “Your father Abraham.” There is a cutting irony in the apposition, Abraham, “your father.” Their father rejoicing in the expectation of a presence which excited only their malice and hatred (Godet). 8:56 ... “Rejoiced to see.” That he might see, in vision and in promise. “The partial vision moved him with the confident desire to gain a fuller sight” (Westcott). 8:56 ... “My day.” The manifestation of Christ; the coming of the kingdom of God in its fullness; the dispensation of the Gospel. 8:56 ... “And he saw it.” 1. The patriarch received the promise in which was contained the coming of the day of Christ. By faith he saw this day in the far distance (Gen. 15:4-6; 22:1618). 2. In the fullness of time the day dawned; the heavenly host sang praises to God for its advent; and (none who remember the appearance of Moses and Elias on the Mount of Transfiguration can feel any difficulty in the words of this verse) Abraham, too, saw it and rejoiced (Schaff). This was one of the most interesting things Jesus ever said. When did this occur? Coffman points out that “it did not happen in Abraham’s lifetime for ‘These all died in faith, not having received the promise, but having seen and greeted them from afar’ (Heb. 11:13).” This verse goes beyond what happened during Abraham’s life span, suggesting that just as Moses and Elijah had been granted personal conversation with Jesus (Matt. 17:3), something similar may have also been granted to Abraham. The whole mystery of this focuses the mind upon the words of the Lord, “He that keepeth My word shall not see death!” 8:57 ... “Thou art not yet fifty years old.” The meaning is: Thou art not yet an old man. 8:58 ... “Before Abraham was, I am.” Because He always existed with the Father (John 1:1-3), and His coming into the world was only a manifestation of His continued existence.

What a majestic statement, “I AM.” Jesus’ conclusion of this confrontation reminds us of God’s statement, “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3:14). There can be no reasonable denial that Jesus here claimed equality with God. In fact, a close view of the teachings in this chapter reveals that Jesus presented Himself as one with Almighty God a dozen times. Regarding the conclusion of this confrontation, Coffman points out that “fittingly, it should be concluded with the greatest of John’s “I AM’s,” but which, for some incredible reason, is never listed in the “seven.” 8:59 ... “Then took they up stones.” Because of His last words. They clearly see what Jesus means. He has taken to Himself the Divine Name, and they prepare to stone Him for blasphemy (for which stoning was the Jewish punishment). Cambridge Bible points out that “material lying there for completing and repairing the temple would surely have supply them with missiles.”5 They did not misunderstand the words of Jesus. No, their error was in not believing His words. One can only wish that all exegetes had as clear a view of what Jesus meant as these enemies in our study who took up stones to kill Him. The statement that Jesus existed before Abraham is an affirmation of His deity. 8:59 ... “But Jesus hid Himself.” Most likely by mingling with the multitude, thus concealing Himself from His opposers.6 8:59 ... “And went out [“went forth”] of the temple.” Clark suggests that “in this we see a special providence rather than a miracle.” Reynolds wrote: There is no need to imagine more than the exercise of His majestic energy before which demoniacs quailed, Pilate trembled, and the guards of the temple fell on their faces. The crisis was approaching. How often would He have gathered them, and given them eternal life, but they would not. The Lord’s patience, persistence and determination in His struggle to break down the great separation between Himself and this audience of Jewish leaders is truly amazing. And, it is equally amazing, when all prospect of healing their hearts failed, to behold the majesty and authority with which Jesus declared His Godhead and proceeded to deliver God’s message on earth.

Conclusion We can read that the Father persisted in unfolding the true nature of His Son. For example, there is truth in describing Jesus in the words of Nathanael: “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (John 1:49). Jesus commended his sincerity – but his words smack of the old nationalism imbedded in the Jewish mindset of the times. Was Nathanael free from such influences?

The Jews yearned for a national revival and the glorious reign of a king whom they could look to as God’s anointed, chosen Son, as their forefathers had enjoyed during the reigns of David and Solomon. The Jewish multitudes yearned for Jesus to be king (John 6:15). On one occasion Jesus’ power over death led the observers to a remarkable conviction. “A great prophet has arisen among us!” they said. “God has visited His people” (Luke 7:16). This was a great declaration made while they were filled with awe, but did this praise acknowledge Jesus as God? We must remember that the Israelites had seen God’s visitation among them occurring in His words or His works, without implying the incarnation of God Himself.7 Perhaps we should not be surprised that it was not until after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that human lips declared Him to be Immanuel. How ironic that this earthshaking truth was uttered by the very person who had been skeptical. Thomas had seen the power of Jesus. He had heard His unparalleled teachings. Thomas had enjoyed the privilege of observing His perfect, righteous living. He had seen His deep compassion for those in distress. Perhaps he had even heard Jesus Himself say that He was “I AM” (John 8:58). It is probable that all of this came into focus in the mind of Thomas as he stood before the resurrected Jesus. What he saw was no longer framed in a statement, doctrine, or propositional truth for his consideration. He saw the crucifixion scars on the body of Jesus. He knew that he was looking at resurrection – and he knew that no one has power over death but God. Therefore, ‘Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). At last God, the spiritual Father, had made it clear. Jesus of Nazareth is His spiritual Son – Deity, in the flesh!
Footnotes: 1 Note: The Pharisees had claimed to be Abraham’s seed; but they were merely his fleshly descendants. However, the truth Christ was presenting is this: to truly be Abraham’s “spiritual” seed, they would have to be “in Christ,” or “in the Son,” and thus as Coffman points out, reckoned a part of the “seed’ singular (Gal. 3:16). Until they accepted Christ, their status would continue to be that of slave – not a son of Abraham. 2 For more information on the Father and Son, see God the Father and God the Son in A Religion Library section of 3 Note: the differences between the physical and spiritual descendants of Abraham is fully developed in Romans 8-9. 4 See under John 4:7. 5 Compare John 10:31, 33. 6 Compare Luke 4:30. 7 1 Kings 17:22-24; 2 Kings 4:32-36; Jeremiah 29:10. Also, concerning Luke 7:16 in “A Commentary on the Gospel of Luke,” Boles said: “They at once recalled Elijah and Elisha and declared that a great prophet like these had risen ‘among us,’ and that God had visited His people again with a ‘prophet.’ When Jesus forthrightly affirmed His deity, it elicited ridicule, contempt, and persecution from the religious leaders (John 8:42-59).” "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: Jesus the Light of the World Golden Text: “I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5) Lesson Plan: The Blind Man (vs. 1) The Mystery of Providence in His Affliction (vs. 2-4) Jesus the Light of the World (v. 5) The Blind Man Receives His Sight (vs. 6, 7) Discussions Concerning the Cure (vs. 8-11) Practical Thoughts Setting of the Lesson: Time: October, A.D. 29. Probably the next Sabbath (v. 14), after the discourse on the living water, at the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (which that year began October 11, through the 18th), and the discourses with the Jews the day after. Place: The pool of Siloam, at Jerusalem, near one of the gates of the temple. Place in the life of Christ: Toward the close of the third year of His ministry. The Lord is nearly 33 years old, toward the close of the third year of His ministry, about six months before His crucifixion. Rulers: Tiberius Caesar, emperor of Rome (16th year); Herod Antipas, over Galilee (33rd year); Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea (fourth year). Inductive Study of the Lesson: 1. Compare the other miracles for the blind: Two blind men at Capernaum (Matt. 9:27-31); two blind men at Jericho (Matt. 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43); one blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26); one at Capernaum (Matt. 12:22, 23). 2. Make a study of the uses of affliction in connection with the discussion in this chapter. For example: 2 Chronicles 33:12, 13; Daniel 12:10; Zechariah 13:9; Romans 5:3, 4; 2; 1 Corinthians 1:3, 4; 4:17, 18; Hebrews 2:10; James 1:2, 3, 12; 1 Peter 1:7, etc. 3. Compare the affliction of Job and its outcome. Also, the Psalms and our modern hymns, as the outcome of affliction and victory over it. 4. Jesus the light of the world: John 1:9; 8:12; 3:19; 12:35, 36; Luke 4:18, 21; Isaiah 29:18; 35:5; 42:7.

Research and Discussion: The basic question for discussion in this lesson is will we now open our eyes to see Jesus as He is, and follow His light? The various healings of the blind. Christ’s relation to the Sabbath. The Pharisees, good and bad characteristics. The character of the blind man. Opposition to Christ and its causes. Standing up for the truth. What is conversion? Reasons for belief in Christ. Tell the story of the blind man. One reason given why God permits sorrow. The purpose in sending the blind man to Siloam. How Jesus is the light of the world. The restored man’s argument. Beginning Suggestions: Subject: Jesus the light of the world As exemplified and illustrated by this lesson. The miracle described is another of Jesus’ Parables of Redemption. I. The darkness (vs. 1-3) The blind man and the discussion about him as to the cause. Consider the relations of suffering to sin and to God’s redeeming work. Comforting applications to those who are afflicted, because the affliction does not argue special sin on their part, nor the anger of God, but has come to them that the goodness and redeeming love of God may be manifested in them. Types. This blind man was a type (a) of the sinner; (b) of the Jewish nation; (c) of every nation that refuses to put righteousness before all outward prosperity. Blindness is a type of ignorance, sin, sorrow. The sinner is blind to his own best good, to the great spiritual realities of heaven, hell, true holiness, the possibilities in his soul, the joys and glories of a spiritual life, to the highest motives, and to eternal life. Thus spiritual blindness narrow, restricts, and darkens the soul. Illustration Many people are like Jonah asleep in the storm, blind to the realities around them, dreaming of good that cannot be realized while running away from God. We are tempted to misjudge both ourselves and others in the shadow of affliction or misfortune. Illustration

So it was with Job’s friends. They were sure Job was a bad man, because God could not be just and afflict a good man so severely. But the book of Job shows there are several other reasons why good people may be afflicted. 1. It is a test for themselves and for others, whether they are really good or not (Job 1, 2). It showed that piety and love of God were sincere and real. 2. The long discussion (Job 3:31) was on the basis that affliction was a punishment, as it sometimes is. 3. Job 32-36 shows that it is meant for discipline, a training in goodness. 4. Job 36-41 shows that we cannot always tell the reason for affliction, but must trust God’s love; and 5. The last chapter of Job shows that in the end it means good, that no life of a child of God is a tragedy, but is a final success. Our God can make good to grow out of trouble, so that the trouble will scarcely be realized because of the glory of God’s goodness shinning through it. The battle is forgotten in victory, loss in the gain, temporal in the spiritual. II. The light (vs. 4-7) Jesus removing the darkness and blindness of the world. Illustration Consider v. 4, in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar:” There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. What light does: It shows the way; makes clear heaven, goodness, God, the future. It brings warmth, cheer, comfort, beauty. It is the source of life and power, driving away darkness. Illustration Hastings points out that Sir James Wylie, once physician to the emperor of Russia, attentively studied the effects of light as a curative agent in the hospital of St. Petersburg. He discovered that the number of patients who were cured in rooms properly lighted was four times that of those confined in dark rooms. Jesus the light: Jesus brings this light into this dark world. Consider the cure of the blind man. Consider the use of means – how they helped the blind man; how they are from God; and yet the means alone can never do the work. God’s power flows through them. Jesus is the light of the world in two ways First, Jesus is the light of the world by shining heaven’s light on men. Illustration

Take away the light, and both serenity of mind and strength of body are gone. The very tissues of the body degenerate in utter darkness. Take away the light, and the body becomes blanched and wasted. There is a catalog of diseases belonging to darkness. Illustration The arctic explorer, Dr. Nansen, wrote: I found that the deep depression of the long arctic night was more than men could bear. Courage, cheerfulness, and hope can live only in the light. He later pointed out that he had to make by electricity “a little sphere of perpetual day. Second, Jesus is the light of the world by opening the eyes of men to the light that is shining. Illustration Aristotle, in one of his works, fancies the feelings of one who, having lived in darkness all his life, should for the first time behold the rising of the sun. He might have had some idea of the world from the light of candles or of moon and stars; but when the sun rose, what new glories would burst on his vision. Also the dangers would be shown in clearer light, as well as the safe roads. Like the coming of Christ to the world, “a dayspring from on high.” Illustration The sunlight of Jesus’ love. A lady being treated for rheumatism was advised by her physician to sit at a certain window in her house where the warm rays of the sun might shine on her. The pain was at length relieved, but she continued to take her daily sun-bath. On being asked why she sat there when the pain was gone, she replied, “O, it is so sweet to sit here and feel the warm, soothing influence of the sun.” So the disciples of Christ who sat at the feet of Jesus while the sunlight of His love beams on the soul, until the healing power is experienced, finding delight from then on in communion with Him. The blessing when Jesus opens our spiritual eyes. Illustration 21st Century wires and computers are essential means for sending email messages and all kinds of transactions around the world; cars and planes are essential means of travel. However, they have no power in themselves. They are all means through which the power flows. Consider how Jesus is the light of the world now; that He removes sin, ignorance, and sorrow; and brings life, peace, joy, beauty, knowledge. Illustration I once saw in a picture a representation of the scene of the Nativity. The mother sat with the infant Christ in her arms; the bending forms

of the worshipping wise men were seen at the right hand; the star was blazing in the sky; the camels and beasts were about the tent. It was all done with exquisite skill and powerful delineation; and yet I found that many other people besides myself turned back, as though not satisfied with the inspection they had given it. I stood a long time studying to find out what was the special and peculiar fascination of this picture, and discovered that every individual object in the picture was shaded as though the light had come from the babe in the mother’s lap. (William Harrison)

Scripture Reading: John 9:1 (KJV) The Blind Man 9:1 ... “As Jesus Passed by.” Walking in Jerusalem on a Sabbath day (v. 14), probably near the temple where He may have been worshipping, and around the gates where crowds of the poor and unfortunate would be begging help from the worshippers, hoping their hearts would be softened by religious influences surrounding the place. 9:1 ... “He saw [evidently looked at] a man.” Jesus did not wait for the man to come to Him, but took the initiative. The blind man was under great disadvantages, and might not be able to hear much about Jesus, or to know when He was near in the crowds and noise of the city, as He could in the courts (Luke 18:35, 36). Jesus is always specially helpful to the weak and unfortunate, and “answers before they call.” The sad history of this man may have been familiar to the Lord’s disciples, as he was evidently a well-know beggar in Jerusalem, one with whose story many were acquainted (v. 8). 9:1 ... “Which was blind from his birth.” Of the six miracles connected with blindness which are recorded in the Gospels, this is the only case described as blindness from birth. In this lies its special characteristic (v. 32), for “since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind” (Ellicott). Blindness is especially frequent in the east. In northern Europe there is only about one blind in a thousand, in Egypt maybe one in a hundred. Actually, very few people have truly healthy eyes for various reasons. The causes: (a) sudden changes in temperature and light; (b) intense brightness of the sun, and (c) fine dust in the air of sandy countries. Congenital blindness is incurable by modern science. His affliction 1. He was blind. Consider what a terrible thing blindness is; how it deprives one of a large part of all that is happy and blessed in life; how it darkens and narrows life; how little beauty can come in; how many avenues of learning it

closes. Ruskin stated that “the greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and telling what is seen in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think; but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion all in one.” 2. He was helpless. There was almost nothing which a blind person could do in that country. This man could neither remove his blindness nor support himself. He was dependent on his friends, and they could do little for him. 3. He was poor. A blind beggar (v. 8). “All the roads leading to Jerusalem, like the temple itself, were, at the times of the feasts, frequented by beggars who reaped a special harvest from the charity of the pilgrims” (Geikie). This blind man was a living parable to the Jewish nation, blind, wretched, poor (Rev. 3:17), and they did not realize it. A type 1. The sinner is blind. What was true of the eyes of this man’s body is true of the eyes of the sinner’s soul. The former could not see the natural world, and the latter cannot see the spiritual world. Meredith points out that “the man who is physically blind may, like John Milton in his blindness, see God and revel in the beauties of the spiritual world; but the sinner is shut out from God and heavenly things.” The sinner is blind to his own best good, to the great spiritual realities of heaven and hell, true holiness, the possibilities in his soul, the joys and glories of a religious life, the highest motives, eternal life. Therefore, spiritual blindness narrows, restricts and darkens the soul. 2. He cannot cure himself. While he can go to Jesus and be cured he cannot cure himself; he cannot forgive his own sins, nor change his own nature, without divine aid.

Scripture Reading: John 9:2-4 (KJV) The Mystery of Providence in His Affliction 9:2 ... “And His disciples asked Him, saying.” This question grew out of the fact that it was the common opinion among the Jews that every trouble and misfortune was the direct result of some special sin. 9:2 ... “Who did sin, this man or his parents?” Here was a case where the disciples could not see how the above opinion could be true. Blindness that began before he was born could not be the punishment of his own sin. Therefore, they ask whose sin it was. Could it be his parents’ sin? Or was it possible that the man had sinned in a pre-existent state? They were sure that the affliction was the direct result of some sin. The question was even more perplexing, because there was a measure of truth in the underlying principle. Abbott wrote that “It was not only a Jewish opinion that such afflictions were a divine punishment for sin; it is the teaching of experience, that special diseases are frequently the natural consequence of sin either in the sufferer or in his

ancestry, and the teaching of Scripture that all disease, and even death itself, is the fruit of sin. This truth Christ had already recognized in at least two instances (Mark 2:5; John 5:14), and it is enforced both by warnings and by historical illustrations in the Old Testament (Lev. 26; Deut. 28:22; Num. 12:10; 2 Kings 5:27). The same truth is enforced by the doctrine that “whatsoever a man soweth that shell he also reap.” It was this question of the disciples that troubled Job and his friends, and has troubled people in all ages. The belief that every affliction is the direct punishment of God for some special sin, and that we can judge the moral and spiritual condition of people by the calamities befalling them, or by the outward success and blessings crowning their days, tends to several great evils; (a) self-complacency and spiritual pride; (b) uncharitable judgment of others, and (c) hopelessness and despair on the part of the afflicted, instead of learning the lessons affliction is intended to teach. 9:3 ... “Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents;” i.e., in such a way as to be the cause of the blindness. Godet points out that our Lord does not deny the existence of sin either in this man or in his parents. Not that it was through sin that all evil came into the world, but only that this blindness was not the punishment for any particular sin in either the man himself or his parents. The same truth is taught in Luke 13:1-5. Those on whom the tower of Siloam fell were not worse than others, but “except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” Sin, as Jesus Himself recognized in more than one instance, was the cause of suffering (Mark 2:5; Luke 13:1-5; John 5:14). Hence the disciples wrongly inferred that special suffering was always caused by some special sin. There could be only two sources of this sin: 1. It might be the sin of the man himself, either in some vague, unexplained way, or they may have had in mind the theory of a pre-existent state not unknown to the Jews (Lightfoot, Calvin), in which the sin was committed. 2. His blindness might have been caused by some sin of his parents, for we do inherit tendencies from our parents. The problem of the disciples is still our problem. When in the depths of sorrow we sometimes feel with Omar Khayyam, “There was the Door to which I found no Key, There was the Veil through which I might not see.” Have you ever read or heard of a mother sorrowing over a child born blind, who felt – The worst of it is, no doubt it is all my fault; such a misfortune could only befall a child because of its parents, because poor dear children are so innocent. I am tormented with the question; by what sin I committed that has brought such a calamity on my child?” So Job’s friends argued that some special sins must have been the cause of the calamity that came upon him. It has been said that “Extraordinary afflictions are sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.” Compare the suffering of Job, martyrs and apostles. On the contrary, their sufferings may be occasioned by their very goodness.

Everyone in the world today is suffering more or less from the sins of others, but the suffering is not a punishment for those sins. 9:3 ... “But that the works of God.” The “works of God” – primarily His saving, redeeming works, including His friendly love; watchful providence for their good, His overruling, transforming power. So when Lazarus was dying, Jesus said to His disciples, “This sickness is not unto death; but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby.” The “works of God” are always good and loving expressions of His heavenly, fatherly character. God’s relation to evil The laws of Nature are ordained by God, and His power is always behind and in them. They are unchangeable, for if they were changeable, erratic, uncertain in their action, life would be intolerable and this world one frightful chaos. Natural laws are the best laws for man as God made him. As far as we are able to attain conformity to those laws, we find ourselves happy, well, and free. They belong to a perfect world. Disease, suffering, death, come because of man’s failure to conform to those laws. God hates sin, He hates death, He wants to rid this world of sorrow and suffering, He is bringing the time when this mortal shall put on immortality, when sorrow and sighing shall flee away, when death shall be swallowed up in victory. The work of God God uses sorrow and suffering for this purpose by chastisement and discipline. Chastisement is “to make chaste,” and “chaste” is the beautiful, snowy, spotless, pure, and holy. Discipline, related to “disciple,” “one who learns,” is the education of the disciple. Chastisement is the purifying of man’s spirit. Discipline is the education of man’s spirit. Through these, and through every possible good influence of light and love, God is training us for the perfect heavenly life. Thus this blind man was an opportunity for the “works of God” – the works which God sent Jesus to do on earth – to 9:3 ...”Be made manifest in Him.” Christ turns the attention of His disciples to a new aspect of the case. Instead of groping back into the hidden mysteries of the divine purposes, and striving to trace the connection between sin and suffering, they were to look forward and see what the mercy and grace of God would accomplish. This man’s blindness was the divinely-ordained means of bringing him in contact with Christ. He was to receive eyesight, and with it the blessing of salvation. Clark wrote that “his bodily infirmity was one of the pre-arranged conditions of obtaining spiritual eyesight. More that this, it would furnish an opportunity for Christ to give a new proof that He is the light of the world.” Thus Christ gives the key to the Christian doctrine of suffering. “It is inflicted sometimes as a special punishment for special sins, but more frequently it is a means of grace, inflicted either that by our endurance we may manifest the grace of God to others (2 Cor. 12:9), or may be taught of God ourselves (Heb. 12:6, 11)” (Abbott).1

Consider how Jesus ignores the perplexed and even perplexing question of the origin of evil. The question for us is not where suffering has come from, but what we are going to do with it; what are our duties and privileges in regard to it, how it can be transformed into good. Illustrations Charles Mackay has a poem in which Milton, blind to the blue sky, “sees the bowers of Paradise;” and Beethoven, “Music’s Great High Priest,” deaf to all sound, yet in his soul hears “jubilant hymns and lays of love.” Helen Keller is a similar instance of God’s marvelous work. As did Job by his sufferings showed forth God’s glory to the world. The storm shows new glories in the rainbow and powers in the sun that would otherwise be utterly unknown. In the darkness is shown a myriad of heavenly stars never seen in the daytime, shining with revelations of the goodness, the greatness, and the omnipotence of our heavenly Father. But for suffering how could we know the love of God? But for darkness how could we know the true light? From a pillow of stones many have seen the heavens opened; and from Pisgah’s rocky heights, climbed in weariness and toil, have come the vision of the Promised Land. Who would not be willing to be blind for a few years if thereby he could reveal and proclaim Jesus as the light of the world, and reflect the goodness, the power, the comfort of God to millions of his fellow-men? The blindness was no wrong to the man, for it gave him knowledge of Jesus, a hope of heaven, new virtues, and experiences which could not have been his in any other way. God confers on some the high prerogative of suffering, to demonstrate to a scoffing world or an incredulous accuser of brethren what righteousness really means. The martyrs, prophets, apostles, Christ Himself are examples. Comforting Applications to those who are afflicted, because the affliction does not argue special sin on their part, nor the angel of God, but has come to them that the goodness and redeeming love of God may be manifested in them. God’s triumph in men is to cause all evils to bring forth good, all enemies to lead to victories, all their crosses to become crowns. Illustration In the cemetery among the beautiful hills of Williamstown stands a monument to a college classmate. While wrestling, in his freshman year, he injured his knee. Lameness, pain and ill-health were his guardian angels through study and travel, till he became a professor in the college and a saintly man, whose face shone almost like that of Moses when he came from the presence of God. Words are carved out on that monument which speaks of his life: “My misfortune has been my good fortune” – “My trouble has been my blessing.” 9:4 ... “I [‘we,’ margin of NKJV] must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day,” i.e., while the fitting opportunity lasts, as the daylight is the fitting

time for our daily work. “After the Passion there was no longer the opportunity for the performance of the works characteristic of the historic Life of Christ” (Cook). Also, before the night of death falls on them. The stoning which Jesus had just escaped (John 8:59) may have led Him to think of death, but all His short life was lived eagerly, in the desire that every minute should count for God. The substitution of “we” for “I” (a change supported by the best evidence) lends peculiar force and beauty to the verse. Jesus associates His disciples with Himself; like Himself they have a calling which must not be disobeyed, to work the works of God; for them, as for Himself, the period of such action will not always last. As joined with the verses which precede, this saying could not but come to the disciples as a reminder that not idle speculation, but work for God, was the duty they must fulfill. (Schaff) 9:4 ... “The night cometh, when no man can work.” Jesus does not exclude even Himself from the proverbial law. The day of opportunity passes, never to return. Even Christ must do His work of redemption and teaching at the time appointed, or it never could be done. He might do other works afterwards, but not those. A college student put over his father’s fireplace a brass plate with a picture of reckless fraternity scenes under which was the legend: “Motto of the Don’t Worry Club: ‘This is God’s World – Not ours.’” His father, coming in later, objected to the motto, saying, “If this is God’s world, then your fraternity members have reason to sit up and do some sober thinking. This is God’s world, and it is also ours. No man has a right to kick the world along toward the devil, while comforting himself with the thought that the world is God’s. This is God’s world, and it is our privilege to discover God’s place in it for each of us, and help to achieve God’s purpose in the world.” The urgency Jesus felt is here too. There was so much to do and so little time. Every man, like Jesus, should confront each new day in the consciousness that “on my day of life the night is falling.” Like Him, may we all fill every fleeting hour with love and labor for mankind. “The night cometh, when no man can work,” does not mean that we are not to work in the next life, for heaven will be full of blessed employment; but our chance for work as men on the earth will be gone forever. Compare Romans 13:12, where Paul likens death to day after the night of life. Both metaphors are true. Illustrations Death is night, but it is dawning as well. I believe that this world is our school, the place where we learn our trade, where we paint the picture, as it were, which we offer when we desire to be admitted to the great guild of artists, and according to the result of which, in the eye of the Judge, is our place hereafter. (Maclaren)

Holman Hunts famous painting, “The Shadow of Death,” represents Christ as a young carpenter stretching out His arms after a hard day’s work. Mary, horrified, sees that His shadow looks like a man on a cross. In the old days wheat had to be put into the mill while the water was flowing; if the water stopped flowing we could not grind. Likewise, we must teach the child while young. We must visit our sick friend while he is sick. We must show sympathy to those in trouble while the trouble is upon them. The last sentence ever formed on the lips of Cora Bell Gray (1878-1966), servant of Christ and dearly loved Christian, was this: “So much to do, so little done; I love you.” Do the lengthening shadows of the long, long night ever affect you? Do thoughts like, “After that – the dark,” “We shall never pass this way again” – ever scourge your soul to frenzy? It is a frightful thing to make no deeper mark on the world than some of us are making!

Scripture Reading: John 9:5 (KJV) Jesus the Light of the World Jesus now shows one of the works that must be done now, while the day lasts. “One of the most remarkable and dramatic passages in the history of our Lord” (Henry Ward Beecher). 9:5 ... “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” It was prophesied that the Messiah should open the eyes of the blind (Is. 29:18; 35:5; 42:7). The direct reference is to Christ’s fulfillment of these prophecies (Luke 4:18, 21). But it is true, in a larger sense, that just so far as Christ is in the world, and accepted by the world, He becomes its light, intellectual, moral, and spiritual (Abbott). Whatever darkness is in the world, of that Christ is the corresponding light. Whether it is the darkness of sorrow, or ignorance, or depravity, or spiritual death, Jesus Christ sends the rays of His light to dispel the darkness, and we need only open our eyes to see. He now illustrates this great truth by another Parable of Redemption – a miracle on the blind man, which is a sign, proof and parable of His work of enlightening the world. Spiritual light, and, as He was about to prove, light of the material eyes. “If it was still the last day of the feast (John 7:37) and the shades of evening were beginning to fall, it would give the language additional significance” (MacArther Study Bible). The darkness of sin “What emblem could better set forth the condition of mankind than a born-blind beggar?” (Meyer).

There are those who see well the beautiful things of nature, but who see nothing of the still more beautiful things of God’s love and grace. They see not the divine hand that moves everywhere in providence. They never behold the face of Jesus Christ, in whom shines all the glory of God. (Miller) All are in such darkness until Christ enlightens them. The light of the world is the sun, and the sun is a perpetual illustration of what Jesus is doing in the moral world. There are three kinds of rays coming from the sun, differing from one another probably only as to the length waves they compose. 1. Light rays. Nearly all the light we receive comes from the sun. Even the moonlight is reflected sunlight. Even when we are in the shade, or in the house, where we cannot see the sun, the light we receive is sunlight, dispersed from particles in the air, reflected from all things around us. Even light from our lamps is sunlight which has been stored up in the earth. So it is that all our spiritual light, no matter the source from which it seems to come, is really from God. Our white sunlight is really composed of thousands of colors, shades, and tints, filling the world with beauty. Such variety is in the pure light from God, reflected from our manifold natures, needs and circumstances. The light drives away darkness, shows the way, makes clear heaven, goodness, God, the future; filling the world with beauty and glory. 2. Heat rays. Nearly all the heat in the world comes directly or indirectly from the sun. The fires that warm us and are a source of power are from the wood or coal in which the heat of the sun has been stored. Such is God’s love to us, bringing cheer, warmth and blessing. 3. Chemical rays, which act upon plants, and cause the movements of life. These rays are in a sense the source of life, the instrumentality of life. So God is the source of our spiritual life. Light, love and life all come from the Father of lights. The world cannot do without Jesus. He is as vital and necessary as the sun itself is to the physical world. All energy and life come from Him. Mankind is commanded to respond to the light. We should: 1. Believe on the light and become sons of light (John 12:36). 2. Walk in the light (1 John 1:6, 7). 3. Put on the whole armor of light (Rom. 13:12). 4. Arise and shine in the reflected glory of the light (Is. 60:1). The meaning is clear: we should exhibit an obedient faith in Christ.

Scripture Reading: John 9:6, 7 (KJV)

The Blind Man Receives His Sight Jesus now illustrates this great truth by an enacted Parable of Redemption – a miracle on the blind man, which is a sign, proof and parable of His work of enlightening the world. 9:6 ... “He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle.” Why did Jesus do this? Coffman writes, No one knows for sure, but it might have been to emphasize His humility. Jesus did not demonstrate professional airs, mutter mysterious words or pass His hands over the man’s eyes; and, by the use of a means so simple, He forever removed the idea that He might have used some powerful medicine. The anointing with clay also had the function of emphasizing the blind man’s condition. Even a casual glance at his mud-anointed eyes would eloquently reveal his handicap to any who chanced to see him. All so-called rationalization of this miracle based on the alleged efficacy of certain kinds of clay should be rejected. If there had been any curative powers in Jerusalem dirt, a market would have been established for it, and it would have been exported all over the world. Edersheim points out that it is also possible that means were used in this instance for the sake of the blind man as well as for those who would hear about it later. Why? Because (a) the blind man seems to have been ignorant of the character of his Healer, and it needed the use of some means to make him, so to speak, receptive. (b) On the other hand, not only the use of means, but their inadequacy to the object, was certainly impressive. (c) Symbolical also was the means used. Sight was restored by clay, made out of the ground with the spittle of him show breath had at the first breathed life into clay; and this was then washed away in the pool of Siloam, from whose waters had been drawn on the Feast of Tabernacles that which symbolized the forthpouring of the new life by the Spirit. (d) It is noticeable that Christ never cured without giving giving the healed something to do, as a test of faith and obedience. When He was asked to heal, the simple request served as an indication of faith; when, as here, He volunteered the cure, He seems always to have required some act as an evidence of faith and obedience. (Abbott) Christ worked with common means, perhaps to show what wonderful powers lie dormant in the natural world, and certainly to help the blind man’s faith by the use of means, however plainly inadequate. “He was leading the man by an old village recipe to the faith through which a miracle is possible” (Morrison). Christ used it in opening the eyes of another blind man [Mark 8:22-26] and the ears of a deaf man [Mark 7:33], but He healed four other blind men merely with a touch [Matt. 9:27-31; 20:29-34] (Exp. Greek Test.).

In spiritual cures there is great advantage in leading the inquirer to make a choice, put forth a simply act of will, such as simply rising for prayer or going to hear the Gospel preached, etc. The Scottish phrase, “clayed up,” means to feel hopelessly dense – When God seems to be increasing our darkness that is His way of preparing us for the light. Teachings 1. We should never despise means, even in works where all the power is divine, as in the works of healing, conversion and revivals like the one on Pentecost.2 2. Even while we use means we should not depend on them, but on the Lord who made or commanded the means, and is the source of the power flowing through them. 9:7 ... “And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam;” i.e., wash off the clay that has been put on your eyes; wash the blindness from your eyes, as Naaman, the leper, was told to wash in the Jordan. This was the test of his faith and obedience. “The pool of Siloam is identified with a pool or tank still found in the vicinity of Jerusalem, which stands to the south of the temple mount, and consists of an oblong tank, partly hewn out of the rock, and partly built of masonry, measuring about fifty-three feet in length, eighteen feet in width, and nineteen feet in depth, with a flight of steps leading down to the bottom” (Abbott).3 The pool is at the outflow of “the only true spring at Jerusalem” (Hastings). It was probably the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37), when the ceremonies included the exultant drawing of water from this poor, carrying it to the temple. 9:7 ... “Which is by interpretation, Sent.” Or “sending,” i.e., outlet of waters. The pool, by its very name, was a symbol of Him who was sent into the world to work the works of God (v. 4), and Who gives light to the world by providing a fountain in which not only all uncleanness is washed away, but all ignorance and blindness of heart (Abbott). Contrast the case of Naaman, the Syrian general (2 Kings 5:9-14), as an illustration of unbelief, setting forth the faith of this blind man. The pool may have been called ‘sent’ because the waters were “sent” forth from the aqueduct from the Virgin’s Spring. The word “sent” is so frequently used by Jesus of Himself (John 5:36, 37; 17:3) that we naturally apply it here also to Himself as if the noiseless stream which their fathers had despised (Is. 8:6), and which they could trace to its source, was a fit type of Him whom the Jews rejected because they knew His origin, and because He had no external force. (Exp. Greek Test.) 9:7 ... “He went his way [he believed, obeyed] … and came seeing.” “Came,” not back to Christ, Who had probably now gone away (v. 12), but it appears to his own home. Consider the trial of this blind man’s faith. As a condition of cure,

he was directed in his blindness to take a considerable walk. Consider, too, a parable of redemption in the miracle. The whole world has lived in darkness from the beginning (Ps. 107:10; Matt. 4:16; 1 John 5:19); Christ, the light of the world, comes to call us out of darkness into marvelous light (Acts 26:18; 2 Cor. 4:6; Col. 1:13; 1 Pet. 2:9); the condition of receiving that light is faith and obedience, without which the soul remains in darkness (John 1:5; 3:19); and Christ often calls us to prove our faith by walking, in obedience to His direction, in the darkness for a while, in order that we may come into the light. (Abbott) The cure complete “Came,” i.e., either to his home, or to the place where Christ had met him, though Jesus by now may have left the area (v. 12). A new world was created for him, more marvelous than his loftiest dreams. The opaque eyeballs were turned into open windows through which earth and heaven might pour their surprising beauty and grandeur. More than this, his spiritual eyes were opened, and he saw Jesus the goodness of God and eternal life and heaven. He saw doors of usefulness open before him, power of sympathy and help, a new meaning to life. Illustration Aristotle, in one of his works, fancies the feelings of one who, having lived in darkness all his life, for the first time beheld the rising of the sun. He might have had some idea of the world from the light of candles or the moon and stars; but when the sun rose, new glories burst into his vision. Much more beautiful, perfect and far-reaching that he could have conceived. The safe roads as well as the dangers are shown in clearer light. The coming of Christ into the world – “a dayspring from on high” – is like this. Believing and obeying Jesus Christ – receiving Him into our souls – is like this. Consider how the history of this blind man is a history of the growth of faith, one step or stage leading to another; and how the spiritual growth corresponds to the physical change from blindness to light. The whole story is a parable of how sinners, individuals, and nations are brought, by Christ, from the darkness of sin and ignorance to the height of the Christian life and hope. “Obedience brings sight. If any man will do His will, He shall know of the doctrine” (Maclaren). In his great sermon, “Seeing,” the Scottish evangelist Nisbet, spoke of the glory that comes to the Christian convert, “I can see him coming up the road now. ‘O dear God,’ he says, ‘what a city I have been living in – what skies, what trees, what birds; look at that temple, with soaring towers, what flashing roofs. The faces, too, of my fellow men. What a wonderful world it has been, and I never saw it till this moment.” Jesus the Light of the world

1. Jesus is the Light of the world, because He brings light from heaven, the light we need in our darkness: The light of the knowledge of God, of His Fatherhood, His love, His forgiving mercy, His truth, His law, of heaven and the way there. Jesus Himself, with His character, teachings, deeds, was Himself Light in the world, revealing these things. 2. He is the Light of the world because He opens our eyes to see the light of heaven, ourselves, life and the world in the light of heaven. New Life in the soul, the life given by the Holy Spirit, is the means of our seeing the light. An example Much of our growth and progress depends on better seeing – seeing more of the meaning of God’s Word, seeing God, seeing eternal realities, seeing the significance of life, seeing opportunities of doing good, seeing better ideals and possibilities. Heaven and earth, so full of blessings, truths, opportunities and glories, are often invisible to us, as the chariots and horses defending Elisha were invisible to his servant. 3. Jesus is the Light because He sheds light on all our sickness, troubles and burdens. He cures diseases, makes all things work together for good to those that love Him, He gives new motives and hopes that lighten our burdens, and He fills us with His love and reveals His heaven. Illustrations “Christ’s mission, like the lighthouse on the English coast with its inspiring, rockcarved legend, was ‘to give light and to save life’” (Foulkes). “May we first know how blind we are, and then come to Him for sight, and then out of past mercy always win new trust, and so go on until at last we come unto the perfect Light” (Brooks). I received a circular the other day informing me that by following a course of five-minute exercises daily I can lay aside my glasses and recover perfect sight. But I doubt all easy and five-minute roads to perfection. The Lord Jesus does not do quack work with blind eyes. When He deals with blindness He begins with the fundamental nature of things. (Young) One of the most interesting men I ever met was one who had spent over forty years in prison, and who, at the time I knew him, went each morning to the gate of one of our Scottish jails to meet discharged prisoners and invited them to come hear the preaching of the Gospel. Christ had given him sight! (Hathaway) A plant shut up in a dark cellar will lean lovingly toward any chink in the wall through which a tiny ray of sunlight struggles to kiss its waning energies. Why does the plant turn toward the light? Because the sun is its life. So Christ is the soul’s life.

Scripture Reading: John 9:8-11 (KJV) Discussion Concerning the Cure vs. 8-11, and to the end of the chapter. Such an event as this must awaken discussion. If it fails to do this, much of its power for extending the truth is lost. The wind that would blow out the fire of truth actually makes it burn even brighter. When Jacob heard that his son Joseph was alive, he could not believe the good news, till he saw the Egyptian wagons Joseph had sent. Facts convinced him. Facts are the unanswerable argument in favor of Christianity. The lives made better; souls changed from evil to good; moral effects of revivals; changes which Christianity has brought in the world – these and much more are arguments which infidelity cannot answer. Illustration As sinners stand up in meeting and testify to the goodness of God, so one who is called afflicted may rise up in gladness of conviction and testify to the goodness of life. Once I knew the depth where no hope was, and darkness lay on the face of all things. Then love came and set my soul free. (Helen Keller) The results 1. The fact was established beyond a doubt. 2. The necessary inference was that Jesus was from God, and, therefore, the Messiah He claimed to be. 3. But the man himself was excommunicated, and, therefore, the more prepared 4. To become and remain a disciple of Jesus. Illustrations There is more logic in a simple demonstration than in a whole volume of reasoning. An old philosopher was contending that there was no such thing as motion. His opponent in the singular debate arose and strode across the room. He proved motion by moving. A man wrote a book to prove that no vessel could cross the Atlantic propelled by steam. A steamship carried the first copies of his book across the sea. There may have been logic in his argument, but there was better logic in the steam. (Albertson) The blind man’s creed was short at first, but it rapidly grew longer. A creed is like a tree that starts in a single stalk (blind man: “one thing I know”), and goes on branching and dividing as long as it is fed at the root, fed by the Spirit and the Word. The creeds of men stand still because their experience stands still.

Practical Thoughts The darkness 1. Blindness of the body – an example of the darkness of sorrow and trouble abounding in the world. 2. Mental blindness – ignorance, low ideals, narrow outlook, failure to know what is wisest and best for this life. 3. Moral blindness – ignorance of God, righteousness, heaven, possibilities of the soul, highest hopes and joys, of true life. The cures 1. The fruit of sin in general suffering, darkness, blindness, both spiritual and physical. 2. In many cases we cannot trace the connection. The wicked do not always suffer the most in this world. Also we have no right to infer, because a person suffers more than another, that it is evidence of a greater sinner. In actual fact, it is often the reverse in God’s providence, and the best people are among the greatest sufferers. 3. God permits His children to suffer so that through suffering may come a higher good. God’s love, blessing and transforming power will be made known to them: He leads them through a path of darkness to a light and joy inconceivable and full of glory. Jesus the Light 1. To the body; 2. To the mind; and 3. To the spirit. He reveals truth, joy, heaven, hope, righteousness. He gives life, which is the light of men. It has been said: “There is no object so foul that intense light will not make it beautiful.” Our part 1. We must receive the light by obedient faith. Much of the discipline of Providence is to lead us to believe and obey. 2. We must use the means. God is the author of the means, as He is of faith. By going to the pool of Siloam and washing – believing and obeying – the blind man was cured. If we can understand why the blind man received his sight after washing in the pool of Siloam, wholly apart from any power in the waters, and without supposing that the waters in the pool had anything to do with his healing, then we should have little difficulty with the analogy of the way we are saved in the washing of the waters of baptism, when baptized into Christ, and yet without supposing the water had any efficacy. The blind man was healed in the act of washing in Siloam. He did not go seeing and then wash; but he went and washed and came seeing. 3. We must reflect the light which Jesus – not man – has brought into the world. 4. We must do each work in its time, always remembering there is a “too late” even for good deeds.

The conflict of light and darkness 1. The best of deeds can be misunderstood and called evil. 2. It is one thing to break over human rules, regulations, creeds and standards, another to disobey the Word of God. 3. The fruits are the test whether we are sent of God. The progress of faith The history of the blind man illustrates the growth of obedient faith, as well as its conditions. At first the blind man knew nothing of Jesus; but without knowledge or definite hope he obeys Christ’s direction, going to the pool of Siloam, washing and seeing. He still knows nothing of the Healer, except that He is ‘a man that is called Jesus.’ Despite the timidity of his parents, the threatening of the Pharisees, he maintains the truth, defends the unknown, asserts Jesus to be a prophet, and a man of God. Finally, he finds in Him the Messiah, the Son of God. Fidelity, in that which is least, is the condition of receiving larger gifts in knowledge and faith. (Abbott)
Footnotes: 1 Note: This does not assert that God creates evil that good may come, nor that the blindness had no connection with laws of His universe which punishes sin, but that God permitted these laws to work, and allowed this evil to come upon him, because blessings could come to the man through it, which would come in no other way. God permits the trouble, and transfigures it; leading through a path of darkness to a light and joy inconceivable and full of glory. 2 For more information about Pentecost, see section titled, The Way Home. 3 See the references in Nehemiah 3:15; Isaiah 8:6. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

Previous / Next / Index presents Jesus Christ in the Writings of John JESUS THE GOOD SHEPHERD
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Subject: Jesus the Good Shepherd Golden Texts: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” (Ps. 23:1) “I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) Lesson Plan: Introduction The Sheepfold (vs. 1-6) Jesus the Door (vs. 7-10) The Good Shepherd (vs. 11-16) An Ever-Loving Shepherd (vs. 17, 18) Setting of the Lesson: Time: Probably the Feast of Tabernacles, October 11-18, A.D. 29. However, some commentators consider that John 9:1-10:21 took place at the Feast of Dedication (John 10:22) in November. Place: Judea and probably Jerusalem, perhaps in or near the temple. Persons: Perhaps the blind man whom Christ had just healed, some of Christ’s disciples and some of the Pharisees. Place in the Life of Christ: The latter part of the third year of His public ministry; Jesus fulfilling a new aspect of the Messiah and His work. Research and Discussion: The difference between our shepherds and those of the Orient. The various things a shepherd does for his sheep. Who are represented by shepherds, by sheep, by the porter, by robbers, by hireling, the wolf? What by the fold, the door, by “calling by name,” “knowing his voice?” Christ a shepherd. False shepherds. Christ the door. Who belong to Christ’s flock? What does it mean “one flock, one shepherd?” This lesson compared with Psalms 23. How to follow the Good Shepherd.

Inductive Study of the Lesson: 1. Carefully read John 9 and 10:1-21, as if there were no chapter division, keeping in mind the relation of this lesson to what had gone before, not only to Jesus, doing true shepherd work, but to the man who had been driven out of the fold, to the Jewish leaders as thieves and robbers in the guise of shepherds, and to the Jewish religion as the fold. 2. Old Testament light: God from early times has been represented as a Shepherd to His people. Make a list of the qualities of a good shepherd found in these references: Genesis 49:24; Psalms 23 (the Shepherd Psalm); 80:1; Ezekiel 34:11-16, 22-31. Compare this list with the descriptive characteristics found in John 10. Especially place Ezekiel 34 side by side with John 10:1-21. 3. Other References in the New Testament: Luke 15:4-7 (parable of Lost Sheep); Matthew 18:12-14; Hebrews 13:20; John 8:47; 10:27; 18:37; 1 Peter 2:25. Is anything new added by these to the description of the Good Shepherd in John, and if so, what? 4. The Lord our Shepherd: Isaiah 40:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Zechariah 9:16; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4; Ezekiel 34:23; 37:24; Micah 5:4. 5. Under-Shepherds: Good (also translated “pastors”): Ephesians 4:11; Jeremiah 3:15. Bad: Ezekiel 34:1-10; Jeremiah 12:10. 6. Jesus the Door: John 14:6; Ephesians 2:18. Corresponding passages: Matthew 18:12, 13; Luke 15:4-7; Psalms 23; Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:11-23; Zechariah 11:14-17. Beginning Suggestions: It is well to keep the familiar 23rd Psalm in close connection with this lesson, putting together all the references to God as the Shepherd of His people. Consider the development or unfolding of the characteristics of Jesus as a Savior: In John 5, Jesus is the Source of Health; In John 6, the Bread of Life; In John 7, the Water of Life; In John 8, the Truth; In John 9, the Light of the World; In John 10, the Shepherd of Love. In this way we realize what a wonderful Savior Jesus is! There is a close connection with the last lesson, for by expelling from the synagogue the man who had been cured of his blindness, the Pharisees, who held the place of shepherds of God’s flock, had proved themselves bad shepherds. Why? Because they had driven away a member of their flock instead of leading him into green pastures. The discourse revealed in this lesson seems to have originated from this fact. Jesus set a picture before the leaders and people of both the bad and good shepherd, so that they might be convicted of their sin, finding the Good Shepherd and the true fold. I. The parable (vs. 1-6)

To understand and apply this lesson, the first need is to have a vivid picture of oriental shepherds and their flocks, their customs that are different from what we see and know. Illustration As we sat and looked, almost spell-bound, the silent hillsides around us were in a moment filled with life and sound. The shepherds led their flocks forth from the gates of the city. They were in full view, and we watched them and listened to them with no little interest. Thousands of sheep and goats were there, grouped in dense, confused masses. The shepherds stood together until all came out. Then they separated, each shepherd taking a different path, and uttering, as he advanced, a shrill, peculiar call. The sheep heard them. At first the masses swayed and moved, as if shaken by some internal convulsion; then points struck out in the direction taken by the shepherds; these became longer and longer, until the confused masses were resolved into long, living streams, flowing after their leaders. (Porter) Illustration A traveler in Greece found three shepherds with flocks of six or seven hundred each, all mingled together, but the sheep would answer to their names when called by their owner, but not if called by another. This traveler experimented with them. He called, and the sheep took no notice. The shepherd called, and they came. Then he said that the sheep knew the shepherd by his dress and not by his voice. But when the shepherd exchanged clothes with the traveler, the sheep would not obey the strange voice; but, when in the traveler’s dress the shepherd called, the sheep came at his bidding. In like manner the Christian knows Christ’s voice, through God’s Holy Word, the Bible. He knows Him not by “church forms” “creeds of men,” “religious systems,” which may from time to time be changed, but by His eternal nature – His goodness, truth, and love which never change. II. Its interpretation What is meant by the fold? Who are the sheep? What is the door? Who are the shepherds? Who are hirelings? What are the wolves? What is it to climb up some other way? What is it to hear the shepherd’s voice? What are the green pastures? Are you a teacher of God’s Word? An under-shepherd? If so, then you need to inquire of yourself if in fact you are a good shepherd, caring for your flock, which in this case are the students in your class. Are you trying to lead your students toward becoming good sheep of the Good Shepherd? Are you setting forth as clearly as you can to your students, by example, the privilege and duty of good sheep? The 23rd Psalm and many other Scripture references will be helpful. Notice also the marks of good sheep: (a) they know His voice; (b) they listen; (c) they follow Him; (d) they refuse to stray. III. Jesus, the Door of the sheep (vs. 7-10)

Notice especially, (a) that the only way to enter the true fold is through Jesus. Consider how that is; (b) the liberty, largeness, fresh pastures, the going in and out under the Shepherd’s leadership; (c) The large and abundant life He gives them; (d) the entire safety of those who follow the Shepherd. IV. Jesus, the Good Shepherd (vs. 11-18) (a) He knows each of His sheep by name. Dwell on the comfort and help from this personal knowledge and love (v. 3). (b) He has prepared a fold for them – a church on earth, a home in heaven. (c) He goes before them, a perfect example. (d) He defends them from all enemies. (e) He feeds them in green pastures. (f) He gives His life for them. Consider the meaning of this, and His taking His life again. Also, why the Father loves Him; and, therefore, we should love Him and He loves us when we exhibit the same characteristics.

Introduction The healing of the blind man in John 9 throws a beautiful light on John 10. The restored blind man had been driven out of the Jewish fold, representing the kingdom of God. In effect, Jesus says to him, Those who have driven you out of the fold had no power to do it, for, though claiming to be shepherds; they are but thieves and robbers, destroying the sheep, stealing their right to food and shelter. Theirs is not the true fold. The door through which they drove you out was not the door. I, who have healed you, am the Door, and by believing in Me, you have come into the true fold. I am the Good Shepherd, and by following Me you will come to green pastures and still waters. You are not excommunicated. You are not an outcast, but one of God’s own flock, admitted to the fellowship of God and all good men. Jesus now sets before the leaders and people, a picture of the bad and good shepherd, that they might be convicted of sin, find the Good Shepherd and the true fold. Circumstances The words may have been spoken on the evening of the day when the blind man was cured; and the shepherds on the hills round Jerusalem may have been see gathering their flocks home from their various pastures to their shelter for the night (Reith).

Scripture Reading: John 10:1-6 (KJV)

The Sheepfold “This passage is an allegory rather than a parable. This and the parallel passage in chapter 15 are the only instances of allegory in the Bible” (Cambridge Bible). We have before us a picture of the Good Shepherd, showing us why we should accept, love and obey Him as the Shepherd of our souls; and a picture of the flock, showing us how to act toward the Good Shepherd. The parable of the Good Shepherd is a continuation of the conversation which arose out of the healing of the blind man in chapter 9. Jesus explains to the excommunicated man who it is that has power to give entrance to the true fold or exclude from it. (Expositor’s Greek Testament) Speer points out that “perhaps the parable was suggested by the sight of the shepherds and their flocks on the hills about Jerusalem. The image was a favorite one in the Old Testament (Ezek. 34:2; Jer. 33:1; Zech. 11:3; Ps. 23).” We are first told how we may recognize the Good Shepherd, in contrast with thieves, robbers, and hirelings, like the scribes and Pharisees in Christ’s day. The door 10:1 ... “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” John’s Gospel alone uses this double affirmation, and never at the beginning of a discourse. 10:1 ... “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold.” An Eastern sheepfold is not a covered building like our stable, but a mere enclosure surrounded by a wall of loose stones with thorn-bushes on the top, or a palisade, usually an effectual barrier against wolves. The door consists of a few sticks laid across the entrance, and here the shepherd and his dog watch through the night (Van Lennep). The sheep are brought into it in the evening, several flocks being generally assembled within it. After committing them to the care of a common keeper, the porter, who is charged with their safe keeping during the night, the shepherds retire to their homes. In the morning they return, and knock at the closely-barred door of the enclosure, which the porter opens. They than separate the sheep by calling them. After separating the sheep, the shepherds lead them to the pastures. It is by scaling the wall that robbers penetrate the fold. Calling to mind these customs, described by Bochart in his “Hierozoicon,” and confirmed by most modern travelers, almost explains the allegory (Godet). The interpretation 1. The sheepfold. Abbott points out that “the sheepfold, in this parable, answers primarily to Israel, the then visible and organic church of God, but secondarily to the church of Christ in all ages, the visible and external organization, in which the professed disciples of Christ, His sheep, are gathered for better protection.”

2. The door. Edersheim points out that “to it the entrance had been His free love, His gracious provision, His thoughts of pardoning, His purpose of saving mercy. This was God’s Old Testament door into His sheepfold.” The door was the appointment of God, the consecration to God’s service, a character fitting for that service, preparation by the knowledge of truth, by spiritual experience, by the presence of God, enabling the disciples to shepherd the sheep. Later the figure is changed, and Christ Himself is represented as the door, all the above being found in Him. The door represents the right, appointed way of entering the leadership or shepherding of the flock, fulfilling the necessary conditions of a good shepherd. Jesus, as the Good Shepherd, came as the Messiah foretold by God in the prophets; His character was that of a divinely appointed shepherd; His purposes, teachings, works, miracles, methods of work, all were those which must belong to a good shepherd of God’s people. Every true under-shepherd must have the same characteristics, fulfilling the ideal of a good shepherd. Entering His kingdom and the leadership therein requires serious consecration to God’s service, seeking His glory – not our own. A character fitted for God’s service demands unselfish devotion to the good of others, preparation by the knowledge of truth, by spiritual experience, by the presence of God. 3. The sheep are the true servants of God (Hovey). Sheep are innocent, trustful, obedient, teachable, defenseless, and dependent on human protection. 10:1 ... “But climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” Thieves and robbers represent those who were first all who claimed to be the Messiah, but without authorization of God, without the works and character of the true Messiah, but with some selfish purpose of aggrandizement at the expense of the sheep they ought to feed. They robbed instead of feeding. Therefore these terms included all who claimed to be teachers and leaders of the people, without the truth of God, without being filled with divine purpose, helping and saving men, but seeking wealth, honor, rank, at the expense of the flock they should have fed. They had no characteristics of a true shepherd, such as appear in the following verses. Jesus referred to the same men as having made the temple a den of thieves and robbers; and here they are compared to violent outlaws who climb the wall to plunder the sheep belonging to another. The people could easily see the application. “The ‘thief’ uses fraud and the ‘robber’ is prepared to use violence” (Expositor’s Greek Testament). Illustration Dr. James M. Farrar often told children how that “once a band of robbers tried to break into a castle but found the doors and walls too strong for them. Presently one of them discovered a tiny window unbarred. They found a little boy and put him through the narrow window, and he unlocked the big window, and so all the robbers got into the castle. Any little wrong a child does – or a man – is like putting the little thief inside the castle.”

Blind mouths Two one syllable words expressing the accurate differences of character in two great works of the church – pastor (elder) and preacher. Pastors see; Preachers feed. The most unpastorial character a man can have is blindness. The most unpreachable character is, instead of feeding, to want to be fed – to be a mouth. Why do some climb “up some other way?” To avoid being seen by those who care of the sheep. They become preachers, teachers and leaders in the church from selfish motives, without true consecration to God, without spiritual devotion to the good of men, but simply to gain honor, or money, or a living, or an easy life. This person receives the honor and emoluments of his office without performing its duties. Sadly, unless stopped, the end result is that sheep are led astray into sin and error, robbed of goodness, truth, spiritual growth and, in the end, even heaven. Such a person obtains possession of sheep to which he has no right, like a thief, robbing the true Shepherd; and the sheep are robbed of their spiritual lives, happiness and the true Shepherd’s care and home. This was a picture of the Pharisees, though, like some of us today, they did not recognize it. Other enemies are described in v. 12. The true shepherd 10:2 ... “But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” The sheep enter in by the door into the sheepfold. The true shepherd enters in by the same door with the sheep. The Pharisees separated themselves from the people; but the power to lead men lies in sympathizing with them and walking in the same way with them. Abbott pointed out that “there is not one salvation for the teacher and another for the taught; the door is the same to all.” 10:2 ... “Is the [“is a”] shepherd of the sheep.” The guide, leader and teacher of the true children of God, wherever they may be found (v. 16). Entering by the door, as described above, is the test whether one is a true shepherd. Such an one only will truly care for the sheep, guarding them from evil, feeding them with truth, leading them (by teaching and example) to God’s “green pastures and still waters” of Psalm 23. As a student of God’s Holy Word, wouldn’t you agree that all religious authority of any actual validity is derived from Christ who came into the world to redeem it? That Jesus was the true door of access to the spiritual Israel, the children of the promise, who at the time were commingled with the fleshly, hardened Israel? That The Father sent Him? That He came in His own character through the true door which was Himself? The porter 10:3 ... “To him the porter openeth.” “There is always a caretaker at night with the flocks in case of sickness among the animals. There is an elevated stone

platform both inside the fold and in the courtyard on which the shepherd in charge can rest himself” (Mamreov). Alford believed and stated that “the Holy Spirit is especially He who opens the door to the shepherds; see frequent uses of this symbolism by the apostles (Acts 14:27; 1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; Col. 4:3): and instances of the porter shutting the door (Acts 16:6, 7). “To him the porter openeth” is an inert factor in the analogy. Efforts of expositors to assign significance to the porter are proof enough that no spiritual meaning is clearly discernible. Thus, Ryle and others hold that the Holy Spirit is meant; some think the porter means Moses; some John the Baptist. McGarvey said, “If he represents anybody, it is God.” Webster thought he stood for ministers and teachers in the church. Wordsworth and others saw him as Christ, Who is not only the Door and the Good Shepherd but the Porter also. The view here is that the porter was just one of the facilities of the sheepfold, like the wall or the thorn hedge, or like the bag out of which the sower planted his field, in that parable, the bag not being mentioned but necessarily inferred. 10:3 ... “And the sheep hear his voice.” When several flocks are penned in the same fold the animals naturally get mixed during the night. But there never is any trouble on that score, and it is one of the prettiest and most interesting sights at such times to watch the sheep hurry out of the fold at the sound of the call of the shepherd. They will pause for a second or two, listen attentively, and then trot along to range themselves unerringly around their own shepherds. (Mamreov) Alford wrote that we should Listen obediently, give heed to the voice of the true Shepherd. “The sheep” throughout this parable are not the mingled multitude of good and bad; but the ‘real’ sheep, the faithful who “are,” what all the fold “should be.” The false sheep (goats, Matt. 25:32) do not appear; because it is not the character of the “flock,” but that of the “shepherd,” and the relation between him and his sheep which is here prominent. 10:3 ... “And he called his own sheep by name.” Eastern shepherds have names for their sheep as we have for dogs, cats, and horses. “Several flocks may be penned in one fold for safety, and in the morning the shepherd calls forth his own, his voice being immediately recognized by the members of his particular flock” (Westminster New Testament). Longfellow represented Miles Standish as saying, “And like Caesar, I know the name of each of my soldiers.” Ellicott wrote that

we have to think of a much closer relationship between the owner and his sheep, which were almost part of his family, than any with which we are familiar. All animals learn to know those who love and protect them, and the Eastern shepherd was as much with his sheep as we are with domestic animals. Some sheep always keep near the shepherd, and are his special favorites. Each of them has a name, to which it answers joyfully, and the kind shepherd is ever distributing to such choice portions which he gathers for that purpose. These are the contented, happy ones. They are in no danger of getting lost or into mischief, nor do wild beasts or thieves come near them. The great body, however, are mere worldlings, intent on their own pleasures or selfish interests. They run from bush to bush, searching for variety or delicacies, and only now and then lift their heads to see where the shepherd is, or rather where the general flock is, lest they get so far away as to occasion remark in their little community, or rebuke from their keeper. Others, again, are discontented and restless, jumping into everybody’s field, climbing into bushes, and even into leaving trees, whence they often fall and break their limbs. These cause the good shepherd incessant trouble. Then there are others incurably reckless, who stray far away, and are often utterly lost. Calling by name Jesus takes a living, personal, peculiar interest in each redeemed soul; bending over it continually with infinite tenderness, watching each doubt, each fear, trial, temptation, fall, each rising again, each conflict, victory and defeat, watching each one individually with a solicitude as special and particular as if His loving heart were fixed only on that one. Hanna points out that no vague, indefinite, indiscriminate superintendence is that which the great Good Shepherd still exercises over His flock, but a care that particularizes each separate member of it, descending to the minutest incidents of their history. 1. He knows each individual’s want, nature, circumstances, ministering to each exactly what is required. 2. He loves, cares and protects us as individuals. Our Heavenly Father knows every star by name (Ps. 147:4), guiding and caring for it as perfectly as if it were the only one in existence. While the purpose of all is gained, the individual is never sacrificed for the whole. He gains his best in gaining the best for all. Providence is not merely the ordering of general laws, so that what is best for the whole will come to pass, no matter who is crushed in the process; but all things work together for the individual good of those that love Him (Rom. 8:28). 3. He assigns our duties not merely as a part of humanity. He calls us by name. No one but a divine Savior, omniscient and omnipresent, could know His disciple by name, and be present everywhere to hear their prayers and grant them aid.

Leading to fresh pastures 10:3 ... “And leadeth them out.” We have here the third characteristic of the true shepherd. He not only (a) enters the fold by the door, and (b) calls the sheep with his well-known and familiar voice, but (c) he is careful to lead them forth to good pasture. He leads them to green pastures and beside still waters. He guides them to the best things in life, to whatever will enlarge their souls, ennoble their lives, develop their capacities, and increase their usefulness. Sometimes the way to the best pastures, the waters of rest lie beyond deserts and mountains, leads through rugged and rough paths. Some have understood the meaning to be that the Shepherd Leads the true flock out of the fold of Judaism into the free pastures of Christianity, in which it is supposed to be doubtful whether there is any fold – the restraint of the fold being supposed to be contrasted with the absolute freedom out of it; but nothing can be more contrary to the historical truth. Neither Christ nor His apostles ever led the Christian Jews – the converts to Christ in Jerusalem or Palestine – out of the Jewish fold so long as that fold was in existence. (Sadler) When the shepherd has called his sheep, and is satisfied that none is missing, he starts for the pasture; but this is continually changing, for the hillsides and uncultivated plains are practically common lands belonging to the village, and shared by all, so that no one can retain the best pasturage day after day. (Edersheim) In this way, Jesus leads His disciples, His Holy Spirit guiding into all truth. No one is wise enough to choose his own life for himself. Old age usually brings out a hard truth: many youthful plans did not work out. But Jesus knows, and all who trust in Him will be guided to better places – far beyond our hopes and dreams. Going before them 10:4 ... “And when he putteth forth.” This stronger expression denotes the solicitude of the shepherd, seeing that each and every one of his sheep is in the flock. Putteth forth instead of “leadeth out,” in v. 3, implying a “constraint,” as if some of the sheep were unwilling to leave the fold . . . an energetic putting forth of any sheep who might be hesitating to leave the restful fold, or fearful of the dangers in untried fields. (Vincent) 10:4 ... “His own sheep.” “All his own” in R.V. Not one is left out. The Shepherd is too wise to yield to the unwise wishes of His flock. 10:4 ... “He goeth before them.” To this day the Eastern shepherd goes before his flock, leading the sheep, not driving them – keeping them near him through

their recognition of his voice (Schaff). The shepherd goes before, not just to point out the way, but to make sure it is practicable and safe. Likewise, our Good Shepherd goes before us. He leads us where He wants us to go. He is a perfect example of what He wants us to be. He lays no burden on us that He does not bear Himself. He has gone before us through the gates of death, leading the way to heaven. Should we not expect our elders, preachers and teachers to go before the flock, as examples in every good work, guiding and directing the sheep in their fold? Characteristics of true sheep 10:4 ... “And the sheep follow him.” This is the proof that we belong to His flock, if we follow in the footsteps of the Master, turning neither to the right hand nor the left, whatever temptations may allure us to one side or the other. The object of the allegory being to set forth the relations of Christ to His sheep, the possibility of bad sheep is not taken into account. That side of the picture is treated in the parables of the lost sheep and the sheep and the goats. (Cambridge Bible) 10:4 ... “They know his voice.” The true disciple recognizes Christ’s voice, knowing whether a teaching or an influence is from Him 1. By the inner witness of the Spirit; 2. By comparing it with the Word of God; 3. By its truth and righteousness; 4. By its tendency. Whatever leads away from God, whatever tempts to sin, whatever has not the spirit of Christ pervading it, is not from God. 10:5 ... “And a stranger will they not follow.” “By a stranger is meant any one whom they do not know, not necessarily a thief or robber” (Cambridge Bible). If a stranger calls they stop short, lift up their heads in alarm and if it is repeated they turn and flee, because they do not know the voice of a stranger. The true disciple knows his Master: 1. He is like Him in purpose and hopes. 2. He has the witness of the Spirit. 3. He loves the same righteousness. 4. He is filled with the Word of God. 5. He knows that whatever tempts him to do wrong must be the voice of the enemy. 6. He knows that whatever leads him to a higher life, to nearer communion with God, to all that is heavenly, must be the voice of God. A soul trained in righteousness easily distinguishes between sinful discords and divine harmonies.

10:5 ... “For they know not the voice.” A true disciple can recognize a different spirit, tone and purpose and will not follow. 10:6 ... “This parable.” Not the word usually translated parable in the other Gospels, but rather a metaphor, an allegory. John 15, concerning the True Vine, is similar. There are no real parables in the fourth Gospel. 10:6 ... “They understood not.” They understood the words, but not the point. They did not understand the meaning and application of the Lord’s imagery. Maurice pointed out that “they did not feel the application of it; they did not see what shepherds and sheepfolds had to do with them.” They did not answer to the description of good shepherds, and were unwilling to see themselves as thieves and robbers. They would have understood if they had known their Old Testament better. So Jesus proceeds to apply it.

Scripture Reading: John 10:7-10 (KJV) Jesus the Door The allegorical picture now before them, Jesus now takes up one point, explaining and applying it. 10:7 ... “I am the door of the sheep.” By which sheep and shepherd alike enter. It is the door “of the sheep” rather than of the “fold.” The thought is of a door to a life, rather than to any organization. Schaff pointed out that In saying “I am the door of the sheep,” Jesus says in effect, (1) that through Him alone has any true guardian and guide of the sheep entered into the fold; (2) that through Him alone will the sheep within the “fold” be led out into the open pastures. The latter thought is easily understood; it presents the same promise of the gladness, and freedom, and life of Messianic times as was set forth by the symbols of the feast of Tabernacles in the seventh and eighth chapters. The “door” symbolizes the means of entrance, by which the flock can get into the fold, with its safety, shelter, food and care. Compare the narrow way and straight gate of Matthew 7:14. How is Jesus the door? 1. Through Him all enter into the blessings of salvation. 2. Jesus brought the truths of salvation from God. 3. He made the only atonement for sin. 4. He brought to men the new spiritual, divine life, without which no one can see God.

5. He brought in Himself every power, leading men to be good. He was and is the embodiment of all the influences by which men became children of God, even under the old covenant. To Him all their sacrifices, ceremonies and all their prophets pointed. 6. He sends the Holy Spirit, and embodies all the influences and motives which lead men into the kingdom of God, and trains their character for its life. 7. The sheep enter this door through obedient faith. 10:8 ... “All that ever came before Me.” Not all teachers or prophets, but certainly all those who came ‘professing to be the Messiah;’ or all those pretending to be teachers from God, substituting false doctrines and principles, selfish ends, formalities, and all methods of man-made salvation for the divine teachings pointing to Christ. They represented themselves as the door through whose teachings the people could be saved, and yet they were actually obstructing the door, placing themselves before Christ, between Him and mankind. 10:8 ... “Are thieves and robbers.” The teachers opposed to Christ were robbing the people of salvation, true life, of the Messiah, and all the blessings He brings, of continued national existence. When asked to whom this description applies, one naturally thinks of false Messiahs, of whom many appeared in Jewish history. But whether the thought of false Messiahs is admissible or not, the meaning of the words surely extends farther, embracing all who had sought to turn the people from waiting for God’s promise, or had substituted principles of national life for the hope of the Messiah. Such had long been the practical effect of the rule and teaching of Pharisees and Sadducees. They are certainly, perhaps mainly, thought of here (Schaff). Jesus, of course, did not refer to the prophets, because they did not claim to do the work of Messiah, but pointed forward to Him. The Lord was here referring to the proud, assertive Jewish leaders, false shepherds of the sheep, seeking to feed on the sheep and not to shepherd them. Here was a test of teachers, preachers, leaders and rulers of all kinds. Here was a mirror through which the Jewish leaders could see themselves. Each of us needs to look at ourselves through this mirror. 10:8 ... “But the sheep did not hear them.” The true people of God did not go after these false Messiahs, nor obey the false teachings of the Pharisees. The true people still hoped for the Messiah as promised, and looked for spiritual redemption, and did not join in the selfish policy of the Pharisees. They saw in Jesus the marks of the true Messiah. The false teachers had their followers, but they were only “the blind led by the blind;” they were not the “sheep.” To the rulers who fattened themselves at the expense of the flock, the Sadducean high priests, and the Pharisaic doctors, the Herods and the Roman procurators – all these wicked shepherds (in the sense of Ezekiel 34) had climbed into their place of domination over the flock by illegitimate means; and it was they who conspired

against the divine Shepherd, Who would lay down His life for the sheep and Who would gather together into one flock the scattered children of God. (Richardson) 10:9 ... “By Me if any man enter in.” To the fold, the kingdom of God, the state of reconciliation and salvation offered by the Messiah. He saves His sheep 10:9 ... “He shall be saved.” From all the dangers to which sheep are exposed, from sin, death, error, from those who would injure; safe from robbers and wolves seeking to destroy; safe from false teachers; safe from the sins that ruin; safe from the punishment of his sins; safe from troubles, dangers and temptations of life. But being safe is far from all. He gives His sheep a wide range of freedom 10:9 ... “He shall go in and out.” Once belonging to the flock and the fold, he can go in and out under the care of the Shepherd and be safe everywhere, having freedom of activity for all his powers. Exercise is as needful to the Christian as food. Wherever there is help, or blessing, or wider vision, through all the realms of knowledge, literature, and science; through the most heavenly transfiguration experiences, through trials that purify, battles that ennoble by victories, there the sheep may go under the guidance and protection of the Good Shepherd. We must “go in” to learn to trust, rest, think, before we can “go out” to do good to others, or to learn best the outer world and make outward things a part of the kingdom. He feeds His sheep 10:9 ... “And find pasture.” Compare the green fields and still waters of the 23rd Psalm, and the Bread of Life (in one of our past lessons). All the best fruits of earth and heaven are for the sustenance of the disciple of Christ. There is something to satisfy every want and longing of the soul. Satisfaction for every need of the soul, sustenance that is pleasant and brings life and growth. The fullness of the Christian life is exhibited in its three elements – safety, liberty, support. Admission to the fold brings with it first security (“he shall be saved”). But this security is not gained by isolation. The believer “goes in and goes out” without endangering his position (Num. 27:17; Deut. 31:2); he exercises the sum of all his powers, claiming his share in the inheritance of the world, convert to the divinest uses all the fruits of the earth. But in all this he retains secure in his home. And while he does so “he finds pasture.” He is able to convert to the divinest uses all the fruits of the earth. But in all this he retains his life “in Christ,” and approaches all else “through Christ,” who brings not only redemption but the satisfaction of man’s true wants (compare John 7:37). (Westcott)

10:10 ... “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” False teachers are seeking their own honor or advantage. They are willing to teach error to mislead others, tempting them to wicked conduct, depriving them of liberty and happiness, keeping them away from God, so that they may gain some advantage. He gives life to the sheep 10:10 ... “The thief … I am come that they might have life … abundantly.” Jesus does for His disciples what the shepherd cannot do for his sheep. For instance, Jesus gives life, eternal life to His sheep. He feeds and inspires this life more and more. It is not mere living a sickly existence, but abundant life, the freshness and overflowing vitality of youth, when mere living is a joy, when activity is a delight, like the song of a bird, or the play of a child. “Of His fullness have all we received.” 1. Life may be increased in intensity; 2. Life may be broadened by unfolding the faculties; 3. Life may be deepened, made rich, not only by broader areas of culture, but by priceless mines beneath the soil. Abbott points out that True religion gives this present life more abundant development, and through that eternal life. Therefore, any form of religion that deprives mankind of its free, natural and joyous life, is antiChristian. The constant tendency of Christ’s teaching and influence is to make the whole life, social, intellectual, moral and spiritual more abundant. The spiritual life is to be overflowing, without measure, as God continually bestows His gifts. It will be abundant in quantity – like the fullness of life in youth – abundant in quality, overflowing with happiness and with every good.

Scripture Reading: John 10:11-16 (KJV) Jesus the Good Shepherd 10:11 ... “I am the Good Shepherd.” Not simply “a,” but “the Good Shepherd” foretold in the Scriptures.1 The word translated “good” cannot be adequately translated; it means “beautiful, noble, good,” as opposed to “foul, mean, wicked.” It sums up the chief attributes of ideal perfection. Christ is the perfect shepherd, as opposed to His own imperfect ministers; He is the true shepherd, as opposed to false shepherds (adapted from Cambridge Bible). “Perhaps even Christ never spoke more fruitful words than these” (Maclaren).

Marks of a good shepherd 1. He feeds the sheep, leading them by the still waters and into green pastures. 2. He provides a home for them. 3. He defends them from all dangers. 4. He rules over them with justice and kindness. 5. He has a personal love for each one. 6. He will do all these for them, even at the expense of his life. Westcott wrote that “Christ is not only the True Shepherd, Who fulfills the idea of the shepherd, but He is the Good Shepherd Who fulfills the idea in its attractive loveliness.” How was Christ like a shepherd? 1. In His care for men (vs. 10-13), 2. In His knowledge of men (vs. 14, 15), 3. In the breadth of His love for men (v. 16), 4. In the eagerness of men’s love for Him (v. 27), 5. In His divine commission to care for men (vs. 15, 17, 18, 25, 29). “Good” in “the Good Shepherd,” is used “probably in the sense in which we speak of a ‘good’ painter or a ‘good’ architect; one who excels at his business” (Expos. Greek Test.). “Rather, the Fair Shepherd. The adjective is not ‘good,’ but ‘beautiful.’ It implies that Innocence and Tenderness were translucent through human beauty” (Farrar). 10:11 ... “The Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” Robertson wrote, In Palestine, at any moment, sheep are liable to be swept away by some mountain-torrent, or carried off by hill-robbers, or torn by wolves. At any moment their protector may have to save them by personal hazard. The shepherd-king (1 Sam. 17:34-37) tells us how, in defense of his father’s flock, he slew a lion and a bear. Every hour of the shepherd’s life is risk. Pitiless showers, driving snows, long hours of thirst – all this he must endure, if the flock is to be saved. The suffering of Christ was death. But the suffering from which He redeemed us by death was more terrible than death. The pit into which He descended was the grave. The pit in which we should have been lost forever was the pit of selfishness and despair. Jesus, the Son of God, came from heaven to save men. His whole life was given for the sheep. Then He died on the cross to make atonement for them, bearing their sins on the cross. We owe Him eternal gratitude and love. All our live should be a singing of the new song of the Lamb, “For Thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood . . . Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Rev. 5:9-13).

Compare the beautiful hymn, “The Ninety and Nine.” Marks of the hireling 10:12 ... “but he that is a hireling.” The shepherd in the East is usually the owner or the son of the owner of the flock; though sometimes an agent whose salary is a fixed proportion of the produce, as Jacob under Laban. The hireling is one hired for fixed wages, merely for the day, having no further interest in the flock. The application is to those ministers who care chiefly for the emoluments and advantages of their position, and retire when the position become irksome or dangerous. (Cambridge Bible) 10:12 ... “Seeth the wolf coming … and fleeth.” He cares more for his own safety than his honor, or for the harm that may come to the sheep. The wolf The wolf is the enemy of souls in any of his manifold disguises, as not only persecution, but heresy, worldly living, a low standard of faith and morals (Sadler). The hireling Not every one receiving pay is a hireling, but he who serves only for pay, without love for the work, or care for the employer. A hireling seeks his own interests, his own reputation, his own pecuniary gains, more than the good of the flock; sacrificing the sheep for himself. The true preacher of the Gospel never works for pay, but people support him so that he may give all his time to the care of the sheep. Giving His life for the sheep Jesus gave His life for the sheep. He died that they might be saved from their great enemy, sin. He laid down His life for the sheep all through His ministry. He that will save others, cannot save himself. I lay down My life “for” – that is, instead of – the sheep. If the shepherd had not sacrificed Himself, the sheep would have to be sacrificed. This is the enunciation of a general principle by which every good shepherd can be distinguished from the hireling; because every good shepherd is ready to sacrifice his life for his sheep because they are his. The good shepherd may or may not be called on to die for his sheep; but he always lays down his life for them. To lay down the life is to consecrate it, devote it to the flock; as a mother, who is always ready to die for her children, but who, living or dying, belongs to her children, and surrenders herself to them. So we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16), through comparatively few are ever called on to die for them. (Abbott)

10:13 ... “The hireling fleeth.” Runs away in time of danger; neglects the sheep for his own advantage. 10:14, 15 ... “And know My sheep, and am known of Mine [even] as the Father knoweth Me,” etc. In a limited way this is true of a good pastor (elder) or shepherd; he knows his flock personally and sympathizingly. He is not merely a pastor to them, but their best spiritual friend and advisor. But this knowledge is never perfect, and in the under-shepherd never can be. His insight is imperfect; his sympathy is partial. It is only Christ Who can say, I “know” My sheep. The completeness of this knowledge can only be compared to the knowledge that God the Father has of His own Son. He knows our secret thoughts, hopes, plans, temptations, what is good for us, the effect of each influence on our characters and lives, what discipline is good for us. Jesus Christ can take perfect care of His sheep. Hanna pointed out that There is a bond of acquaintanceship, affection, communion, and fellowship between each true believer and his Savior – in its origin, strength, its present blessedness, and its glorious issues in eternity. No earthly bond offers an adequate symbol to match the intimacies of eternal love, i.e., the mysterious bond between the Father and Son. This bond consists of oneness of life, unity of spirit, harmony of desire and affection. 10:15 ... “And I lay down My life for the sheep.” He knows them, knows their needs, their danger from the enemy, what capacities there are in them for serving God, returning His own and His Father’s love. So, because of this knowledge, He lays down His life for them, that His infinite grace may reach them and perfect them (Sadler). 10:16 ... “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold.” The Gentiles, who were not in the kingdom of God, but would be brought in as members of the church He would soon begin. He does not say “of another fold,” as if there would be another true church, but “not of this fold,” scattereth abroad, without fold as yet. 10:16 ... “And there shall be one fold.” “One flock” in NKJV is better. Coffman points out that Jesus here changed from the word “fold” to that of “flock,” because, due to the metaphor, it might otherwise have appeared that the Gentiles were to be called into the institution of the Jews. There was to be a new institution, God’s “one flock.” Jesus’ super-national wisdom appears in this prophecy of the “one flock,” including Jews and Gentiles alike of every tribe and nation.

This dream of a world-wide, universal fellowship of God’s people was envisioned in the great prophecies of Isaiah, and glimpsed in the experience of Jonah; but Jesus here dogmatically stated it as if it had already been accomplished – one in heart, one in purpose, one in the service of God and man.

Scripture Reading: John 10:17, 18 (KJV)

An Ever-Loving Shepherd 10:17 ... “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life.” Abbott wrote, Not because I “have” laid it down, as though the Father’s love was caused by the earthly love and sacrifice of Christ, but because I “lay” it down. In other words, because Christ’s Spirit is one of selfsacrificing love, manifested by, but not alone embodied in, the incarnation, He is loved by the Father (see Phil. 2:9; Heb. 1:9). To say it another way, because Jesus was in such sympathy with His Father, He was willing to die in order to carry out His Father’s purpose. Jesus was worthy of God’s love – He expressed God’s love. 10:17 ... “That I might [may] take it again.” 1. Clark wrote that “His rising from the dead was as necessary as His dying, because by His resurrection He secured the fruits of His death (compare Rom. 4:25). Christ died in order to rise to a more complete life, and to raise men with Him. Westcott determined that “this purpose evoked the love of the Father.2 2. Dr. Abbott varies this meaning: The meaning is interpreted by Christ’s declaration to His disciples: “He that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” Christ lays down His life by His humiliation, His incarnation, His passion, and His crucifixion, that He may take it again in the life of the myriads whom He has redeemed from death by His own death. He takes it again when He sees the travail of His soul, and is satisfied (Is. 53:11), which He does when those who have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb stand before Him (Rev. 7:14, 15). So every mother, laying down her life in continued self-sacrifice for her children, takes it again in their developed manhood and womanhood. This taking His life again was essential to the work of salvation. Otherwise He would have ceased to be the Good Shepherd. “Christ was raised.” This is a

passive voice expression, which means that Someone applied power to resurrect Jesus. The Scriptures speak of God the Father raising Jesus from the dead (Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20a). Jesus Himself spoke of rising from the dead (Luke 24:7; John 10:17-18). The power of the resurrection is the activating power of the Holy Spirit3 (1 Timothy 3:16). 10:18 ... “No man taketh it from Me.” His death was entirely voluntary. Men killed Jesus, but He had full power to escape from them had He wished to do so. No one imposed upon Jesus the duty of leaving heaven, of coming to this world, suffering and dying. He chose to do it, so that He might save us. 10:18 ... “This commandment have I received of My Father.” While He did it voluntarily, it was in accordance with His Father’s expressed will. God gave Jesus the command, that if He would save mankind, He must lay down His life, and take it again. This is the divine law of salvation. In discussing John 10:17-18, Barclay states: Jesus always saw the Cross and the glory together. He never doubted that He must die; and He equally never doubted that He would rise again. The reason for this confidence was Jesus’ confidence in God. Jesus Christ proves Himself the True Shepherd, because He lives to be our Good Shepherd forever! The Application Jesus, the Shepherd of Modern Man – Do we need guidance? We have the same need the sheep have. We are hungry with unnumbered desires; we want food for the body and the soul, and we need to be directed to it. We are perplexed by the devious paths in life, and we need a plain goal, and a straight way to it. The business person has a thousand tangles – his/her relations to employees, competitors, patrons; and he/she needs wise guidance. The student needs direction through the mazes of science. No one can go far in life without a guide. Do we need protection? We have the same need the sheep have. Evil people are ready to harm us and pull us down. Satan and his unseen hosts are ready with myriad crafty temptations. Our own passions assail us like wild beasts. No sheep was ever in greater danger than a human soul, however sheltered and fortunate the human lot may seem to be. How does Christ guide? By His book, the record of His life and Words. By His under-shepherds, the pastors (elders) of His church. By His voice in our hearts. By the example of those that have lived and are living the Christian life.

How does Christ protect? By arming us before hand against our enemies, through His warnings and instructions; and especially by purifying and fortifying the soul so that temptations fall away without gaining a foothold. By raising up human friends and helpers. By dealing Himself with the unseen powers of evil, routing them in answer to our prayers. What more does Christ do? He died to save us from death. If I am standing by the rapids of Niagara, above the falls, and my friend stands by me protesting his love, proving it by plunging into the rapids and is swept over the falls to his death, I am impressed only with the pity and folly of it. But, if I am in the rapids struggling for my life, my strength almost gone, and just at the awful brink my friend plunges in, and, at the cost of his own life, rescues me from death, then I know the meaning and reality of his love. (William Harrison) The shepherd and his sheep, the bread of life, the vine and the branches – in these three Christ pictures the union of His followers with Him. Each represents a closer degree of union than the one before it. 1. The shepherd and sheep are separate, 2. The body and food become united, 3. The vine and branch have always been one.
Footnotes: 1 See Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:11-23; 37:24; Zechariah 13:7; compare also Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:4. 2 Compare John 12:32; Philemon 2:9; Hebrews 1:9; 12:2. 3 For more information on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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(John 11:17-46; also read John 11:1-16) Navigation: Previous >> Next

Subject: Jesus the Resurrection and the Life Lesson Aim: To show the love and power of Jesus Christ, realizing that this life is only the portal to our eternal life in Him. Golden Text: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) Lesson Plan: Introduction “Lazarus is dead” (vs. 1-16) “I am the resurrection and the life” (vs. 17-27) “Jesus Wept” (vs. 28-37) “Lazarus, come forth” (vs. 38-46) Conclusion Setting of the Lesson: Time: January to February, A.D. 30, about two or three months before Christ’s own resurrection. Place: Jesus was in Perea at Bethany (or Bethabara), beyond Jordan where John had baptized Him (compare John 10:40 with 1:28), when He received the message that Lazarus was sick at his home in Bethany, on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem. Jesus: Thirty-three years old, having completed more than three full years of His ministry. Place in the Life of Christ: In His Perean Ministry. Jesus had left Galilee. He now enters upon His last mission to the Jews in the closing months of His ministry. Intervening History: After the parable of the Good Shepherd at the Feast of Tabernacles in October, Jesus returned to Galilee. His stay there, however, was brief. Then making His final departure from Galilee (Luke 9:51), He sent forth the seventy into Samaria, where He soon followed, journeying eastward, till He reached the Jordan. Crossing the river He turned to the south, and slowly moving toward Jerusalem, teaching and preaching as He went, He reached the city about the time of the Feast of Dedication, December, A.D. 29 (John 10:22). At this feast He spoke the words which in John follow our last lesson (10:22-39). Then He retired to

Bethabara (Bethany) in Perea, beyond Jordan, where we find Him at the beginning of this lesson (10:40). The large section of the Gospel, according to Luke included in chapters 9:51 to 17:10, together with John 10:22-42, contain the only record we have of these three busy months in the life of Jesus. Research and Discussion: The connecting history. The Bethany family. Its contrasts. Why Jesus delayed going there. Why God permits sorrow and death. The character of Thomas. “Jesus wept,” Jesus “troubled.” The cave and the stone. How Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. Proofs of our immortality. The effect of this miracle on Jesus. Inductive Study of the Lesson: 1. Other Instances of Raising the Dead: Jairus’ daughter (Matt. 9; Mark 5:35-42); the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15); Lazarus of Bethany (John 11); Dorcas (Acts 9:36-41); and Jesus after His crucifixion (John 20). 2. Consider and study these. Regarding the ones mentioned in the Gospels: note the increasing difficulty of the work, the increasing importance of each one to the mission of Jesus as the Savior, and the progressive light thrown on immortal life. 3. Read the whole chapter, till you know the story clearly and can tell it your own words; its scenes visible in your mind’s eye as if you had actually seen them. 4. Next select, consider and study words and phrases having deeper meanings than appearing on the surface, such as “Therefore,” connecting vs. 5 and 6, “walk in the day,” Lazarus “sleepeth,” Thomas “called Didymus,” Jesus “wept,” and “groaned,” and “troubled Himself.” 5. Then note phrases and verses bearing upon the work and mission of Christ, and which are most helpful to our daily living. 6. Consider and study Jesus as the Resurrection and Life. Sum up the teachings of the following passages, and any others you can find: Personal (John 11:5: 21-29; 6:39, 44; 14:19; Rom. 8:10, 11; 1 Cor. 15; 6:14; 2 Cor. 4:14; 5:1-5; 1 Thess. 4:14-17; Phil. 3:21; 2 Tim. 1:10); Moral (Rom. 6:4-11, 13; 2 Cor. 4:10, 11; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:18-21; 2 Tim. 2:11, 12). 7. Light from other Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15 gives a full discussion of the resurrection life. 8. Parable of redemption: Mankind – naturally dead in trespasses and sins; We cannot by our own power raise ourselves to life; Our only hope is in Jesus Who is the Life; We should go to Jesus in behalf of those we love. Sometimes Jesus delays His answers to our prayers regarding the conversion of loved ones and friends, but always for some wise reason, and usually to grant us better blessings in a better way. But Jesus always comes to them in answer to our prayers.

Jesus weeps over those who are dead in sin. Jesus sympathizes with us. But we need more than sympathy; we need help, so Jesus gives us life. Jesus calls, Come forth, but there is something for us to do – obey and come. When we come into the new life, we are often bound with the grave-clothes of former habits, prejudice and ignorance of spiritual truths. One of our duties is to “loose them and let them go.”

Introduction The family that Jesus loved At Bethany on the Mount of Olives, about two miles southeast of Jerusalem, lived a family of three – a brother and two sisters – with whom Jesus made His home when in that region. The family may have been prosperous because: (a) of owning their home; (b) of the high cost of the ointment Mary used on Jesus; (c) of the number of Jews who came to console the sisters on the death of their brother. Martha was apparently at the head of the household. She was an active, energetic woman, while Mary was more reflective and affectionate.1 As Jesus loved John most among the disciples, so this family was closest to His heart of all the families on earth. On this subject, Sadler points out that this is one of the places which tell us how truly Jesus is our brother. The boundless love which dwells in the Infinite God does not overwhelm or supersede the distinguishing affection of the human friend. Jesus in the home There are many whose presence in our homes would be a perpetual benediction and inspiration; but none as much as Jesus, with His teaching, example, sympathy, love and counsel. We can have Jesus in our hearts and homes, if we: 1. Invite and welcome Him, 2. Put away all that is distasteful and opposed to Him, 3. Cherish all that He loves, 4. Listen to His Words, 5. Obey Him, 6. Love Him with all our hearts. What a change His presence would make in our families.

Sickness in the Family Lazarus, the brother, was dangerously sick while Jesus was at Bethabra, beyond Jordan 28 or 30 miles away. Sending for Jesus The first thought of the sisters, when all common means failed, was to send a message to Jesus that His friend was sick. No request was made. The message was itself a prayer. When we or our loved ones are sick, we should go to Jesus with our trouble; not to the neglect of available means, because whatever helps and cures is the gift of God’s love, but for His guidance, help and blessing. Lessons about sickness: 1. All of us, rich and poor, are liable to sickness. Even the great Caesar had epileptic fits, and was stricken with a fever in Spain. 2. There are often reasons for allowing sickness, which to God’s mind are clear and wise, but a mystery to us. Christ says to us as He did to Peter, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.” 3. Sickness, especially in its convalescence, leads us to see this world, the spiritual world, and eternal things in a new and truer light, compelling us to rest and meditation. Many, like Jacob, from a pillow of stones in the night of sorrow, have seen visions of heaven and their Father, receiving the messages God’s angels have brought. 4. Sickness often prepares us to sympathize with others and help them. 5. God’s glory in His goodness and love is manifested in His healing and helping us. The Death and burial of Lazarus Lazarus died soon after the messenger left, and as usual, was buried the same day. The sister’s hope was gone. Friends came to the house, condoling them in the affliction. Yet Jesus delayed two days before He set out to aid and comfort His friends – a delay full of mystery, and yet for the glory of God and the blessing of those afflicted. The mysterious delay: 1. Abbott points out that “this delay was necessary to complete the work in which Jesus was engaged, and from which He would not suffer Himself to be drawn away even by considerations of personal sympathy.” 2. “He had taught at the first miracle (John 2:4) that the hours of His work were marked out by signs that He alone could read, but that every hour had its work, and every work its hour” (Ellicott). 3. Abbott again points out that “this delay was necessary to the consummation of the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus in such form as to forever prohibit the impression that death had not really taken place.” 4. The delay also developed and increased the faith and love of the Bethany family and the Lord’s disciples, giving them a vision of the future life and their Savior’s power, seen only from the mountain-top of sorrow.

5. Jesus Himself was soon to lie three days in the grave; if, therefore, He was able to raise up Lazarus after four days’ burial, they would have stronger faith in the resurrection of Jesus from His three days’ burial. The Christian’s death, a sleep Jesus taught His disciples a lesson about death, by comparing it to sleep. Because: 1. In both, the person is unconscious of the worldly activities around him. 2. The soul continues to live, while the body is unconscious. 3. There is to be an awakening to new and fresh life. The very expression implies immortality. Additional Introductory Considerations I. Jesus teaching the doctrine of the resurrection (vs. 20-27). Martha, learning that Jesus has come near the village, goes out to meet Him, expressing her disappointment that He had not come sooner. Then Jesus instructs her regarding the resurrection, and His power to raise the dead. Note the facts: (a) There is a resurrection; (b) it is by the power of Jesus; (c) it is for those who believe; (d) new life, eternal life, implanted in the soul, is the condition; (e) Jesus always has this power. Illustration of the change in the resurrection A planted seed does not come up a seed, but a flower. Can we not likewise consider the future of our present body in light of what the flower is to the seed? In other words, as the flower is more beautiful than the seed that produced it; as it lives in an atmosphere of light, air and beauty, instead of underground darkness; as it has new powers, new fragrances, new privileges, beyond the imagination of one who has seen only the seed, so will be our new spiritual body, compared with this one. Illustration of the fact that we are still the same though changed Each flower – each plant – is the natural outgrowth of its particular seed. Each seed produces its own plant, and no other. We recognize an oak tree the moment we see the acorn. We see the flower in its seed, the seed in its flower. Likewise in heaven we shall be changed, but still the same person. In heaven we wish to see our own friends, those we love who have died. They may be as much changed as the loveliest flower is changed from its seed, as the mighty oak from the acorn. That which makes us ourselves, our innermost nature, will not be changed. In other words, we are not changed into someone else, i.e., another person. Compare this blessed assurance of immortality – the triumphs of Christians looking through the veil at death’s door – with the unbeliever’s hopeless look into the darkness of death and the grave, seeing nothing beyond. II. Jesus at the grave (vs. 28-38)

Consider the tombs and manner of burial. Note v. 28, applying the words “The Master has come and calleth for thee.” Note v. 35, “Jesus wept,” and what it means. III. Jesus gives a proof of His power to raise the dead (vs. 39-44) Note that even Jesus must pray; He is ever in communion with the Father. Illustration An unbeliever once said, “When I was a boy, my mother taught me to say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven; but, so far as I know, He has never left there.” This was just the contrary to Jesus, and should be to us. Note that such mighty deeds as this were not without great cost to Jesus, Who bore our infirmities. All earnest doing of good has its cost. IV. A parable of redemption Apply the raising of Lazarus as an illustration of the raising of men from the death of sin to eternal life. Introductory Conclusion Like other sayings of Jesus, this one – that He is the resurrection and the life – is like a well-cut precious stone, its rays ever darting on many sides. 1. The raising of Lazarus proved that the soul has an existence independent of the body, and that death does not end all life. Lazarus could not have been brought back to life had his soul gone out like an extinguished flame. Illustration Plato and the Greek philosophers debated over the famous question whether the relation of the soul to the body is that of “harmony to a harp,” the music ceases forever when the harp is broken, or of a “rower of a boat,” the rower surviving though the boat be destroyed. They decided in favor of the latter. The soul is not the product of the body, as harmony is of the harp, nor does it cease, as music, when the harp is destroyed, or as the flame when the candle is burned out. But the soul has an independent existence, as the rower’s existence is independent of the boat, and controls the body as the rower controls the boat. Illustration The fact of the separate existence of the soul from the body may also be illustrated by a watch, whose works are separate from the case and even with removed will keep going. 2. This reinforces our assurance of immortality beyond the grave, which not only the teachings of Jesus, but the fact of His resurrection, give to us. Heaven and life forever are facts. Thus comes the victory over the “Valley of the Shadow of Death,” the “Dark River,” and the “King of Terrors.” In the beginning God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, light out of

darkness, order out of chaos. In the Gospel Jesus said, “Let there be life,” “Lazarus, come forth,” and there was life from the cave of death. Illustration “The submerged bud of the water-lilly struggling upward from the ooze, and groping dimly through the grosser element, is a prophecy of the light and air in which it is to open and flower” (Trowbridge). 3. The outlook into eternity, the hope of immortal life broadens the vision and enlarges the soul. No person can be narrow who lives in the present reality of two worlds, where every thought and act has a meaning beyond the grave. 4. We find in this great comfort in the loss of loved ones. Mrs. Browning wrote, “Say not Good Night, but in some brighter clime Bid me Good Morning.” 5. Jesus is the moral resurrection from the death of worldliness and sin to spiritual life. A good motto to live by: “Disce ut semper victurus, vive ut cras moriturus – learn as if you were to live forever, live as if you were to die tomorrow.” 6. Only those who have eternal life while living here on earth can be sure of eternal life hereafter. Through Lazarus’ glasses Robert Browning, in his poem, An Epistle, supposed to have been written by an Arab physician who was visiting Palestine while Lazarus was still alive, described the way Lazarus looked at life after returning from his four days’ dwelling in heaven. Earthly cares and hopes were small and dim in that light. “How many cares and worries would disappear if viewed through Lazarus’ glasses.” “On the other hand, through these same wonderful glasses, how important and weighty is any seemingly slight occurrence if it plants the seed of vice or virtue in any human heart.” “We ought to test each event of life through these glasses.” “Does it affect merely my material circumstances, or has it an influence on my character, my spiritual self, or on my friend’s character, my friend’s soul?”

Scripture Reading (Beginning Verses): John 11:1-16 (KJV) “Lazarus is Dead” This has been called “that most Divine chapter.” “Alike in its intrinsic importance, and in the effect it produced on the policy of the Sanhedrin, the raising of Lazarus may be regarded as the culmination of the Savior’s ministry” (MacArthur Study Bible). John alone records it, probably because it happened in Judea, outside the other resurrection miracles which John omitted. Further, it may have been dangerous to relate the story during the lifetime of Lazarus, perhaps involving him in persecution. But when John wrote, Lazarus and his sisters were probably dead. Thus John alone names Peter as the disciple who cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant.

A strange delay Christ and His disciples were in Peraea, on the east of the Jordan, having been driven there by the hostility of the Jews, who were on the point of stoning Jesus because He claimed to be the Son of God (John 10:31). Mary and Martha sent word to Him, doubtless by the fastest runner they could find, telling Jesus, “Him whom Thou lovest is sick.” Hearing this, Jesus remained in Peraea two days. He may have had special work to complete there, but the account shows that He purposely delayed in order that the event might give an opportunity for the manifestation of His wonder-working power. The sickness and death of Lazarus was part of the material Christ used in building up His kingdom. Lessons from the sickness of Lazarus 1. Blessed is that home where Jesus loves the members of the family, and they love Him. 2. The true home is one where Jesus is one of the family, and where He loves to abide. 3. We may make our home His home, too, by: (a) casting out every word and thought that would be unpleasant to Him; (b) cultivating those qualities and actions which are congenial to Him, so that He will feel at home; (c) loving Him; (d) by inviting Him to come. 4. V. 2: One deed of self-sacrifice exalts the character forever. 5. Sickness and sorrow come to every household. 6. When they do come, go to Jesus for help, while using every means of health. 7. V. 4: If we trust Him, Jesus can and will make all suffering and trouble work out to our highest good, and God will be glorified in the loving kindness and tender mercies He shows us through our suffering and trouble. 8. V. 6: The mysterious delays of God are simply a part of His plan to bring higher good, and this will be especially manifested (v. 15) in larger faith, clearer views of God, in a better preparation for the work before us. 9. Vs. 9, 10: There is a time to work, fulfilling our duties. While God continues to make the day shine, nothing can prevent our accomplishing His purpose. 10. We can do our work only in the shinning of God’s presence, spirit and help. 11. We should use all diligence because the night cometh, when no man can work. 12. The death of the Christian is like sleep. We shall see one another again in the morning. 13. V. 16: We should follow Jesus wherever He leads, through it be to die with Him. Further lessons from sickness and death in the family 1. God the reasons for allowing sickness, and they are clear and wise to Him, though a mystery to us. So, Jesus says to us what He said to Peter, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.” 2. Sickness, especially in convalescence, leads us to see this world, the spiritual world, and eternal things in a new and truer light, compelling us to rest and meditate. From a pillow of stones, in the night of sorrow many, like Jacob, have seen visions of heaven and their Father, receiving messages from God’s angels. 3. Sickness often fits us to be sympathetic with others, better able to help them.

4. God’s glory in His goodness and love is manifested in His healing and helping us. Illustration Longfellow, in his “Hyperion,” compares the setting of a great hope to the setting of the sun. Though the darkness deepens, yet in time the stars of heaven shine out one by one. Illustration Christ did not come to the help of the disciples, storm-tossed on the Sea of Galilee, till the fourth watch of the night, when they were nearly worn out with rowing; and even then “He would have passed by them.” Christ does not shield His followers form sickness, sorrow and death. Death a sleep Christ’s delay was in the face of His supernatural knowledge that Lazarus’s sickness had been fatal. He said plainly, “Lazarus is dead;” but He was evidently unwilling to call death anything but sleep. To the Lord of life death was and is only a slumber from which He can arouse us. Before Christ many Hebrew, Greek, and Roman thinkers had called death a sleep. Our word “cemetery,” is from a Greek word meaning sleeping-place. “But at this time death among non Jews was generally conceived of as a sleep from which there was no awakening” (MacArthur Study Bible). Christ’s resurrection miracles and His own resurrection proved the glorious reality of immortality. A hazardous journey No wonder the disciples were amazed when Jesus declared His intention to return to the place of stoning. Likewise Paul, driven from Antioch and Iconium and stoned at Lystra, returned within a few weeks to the same cities. Sanders points out that “they think of the danger to Him, and are not without thought of the danger to themselves (v. 16).” In answer our Lord repeats a thought we considered in our lesson titled, “Jesus the Light of the World.” His work was laid out for Him by His Father, and while He walked along that appointed way it was plain daylight, wherever the path of duty might lead. But if He should turn from that path by seeking His own safety, He would at once plunge into the darkness of night. Then Thomas spoke up. We might have expected Peter to express a courageous willingness to follow His Master, but perhaps Peter was not there, because the miracle is not mentioned in Mark, Peter’s Gospel. At any rate Thomas was equal to the occasion. Though characteristically foreboding, he showed the heroic stuff that was in him. Illustration Christ was the meekest of men, and also the bravest. Likewise the strongest and bravest of beasts of prey, the lion, is also the most patient and merciful. He knows his own strength and courage, and therefore does not need to show it off. The Bible calls Christ the Lion of Judah; but it also calls our Savior the Lamb, dumb before the shearers.

Scripture Reading: John 11:17-27 (KJV) “I Am the Resurrection and the Life” 11:17 ... “When Jesus came [a journey of about twenty-five miles], He found that he had lain in the grave four days already.” “According to Jewish custom burial took place on the day of death, so that, allowing somewhat more than one day for the journey from Peraea, it seems probable that Lazarus died about the time the messenger reached Jesus” (Expositor’s Greek Testament). The burial of Lazarus had, according to Jewish custom, no doubt taken place on the same day on which he died (Acts 5:6, 10). The burial of Lazarus Lazarus was, as became his station, not laid in a cemetery, but in his own private tomb in a cave – probably in a garden, the favorite place of interment. Not only the rich, but even those moderately well-to-do, had tombs of their own, which probably were acquired and prepared long before they were needed, and treated and inherited as private and personal property. The tombs were either rock-hewn, or natural caves, or else large-walled vaults with niches along the sides. In such caves, or rock-hewn tombs, the bodies were laid, having been anointed with many spices, with myrtle, aloes, and, at a later period, also with hyssop, rose-oil, and rosewater. (Edersheim) 11:19 ... “To comfort [R.V., “console”] them concerning their brother.” “Deep mourning usually lasted seven days, during which visits of condolence were received (Gen. 37:35; 1 Sam. 31:13; 2 Sam. 12:17; Job 2:13)” [MacArthur Study Bible]. Feastings and wailings are the prominent characteristics of the funeral week . . . The tears of friends in a time of sorrow are peculiarly prized in the East; and they are sometimes caught as they fall, and preserved in little bottles of flasks. These tear-drops are unearthed from ancient tombs in Egypt and Syria. (Trumbull)2 11:20 ... “Then Martha [as the elder sister and mistress of the house] … went and met Him,” no doubt overpowered with grief. “After the body is carried out of the house all chairs and couches are reversed, and the mourners sit on the ground or on low stools” (Edersheim). At first Jesus did not come to the house, but some way let the family know that He was near the village. The reason was the presence of the Jews in the house (v. 19). Why?

1. They would surely make it difficult for Him to say what He desired to share with the afflicted sisters. 2. Some might report His arrival to the Pharisees, thus interfering with His plans. 3. Because, as Abbott points out, “the conventional mourning customs of oriental society were exceedingly distasteful to Him.” “11:20 ... “But Mary sat still in the house.” Note the remarkable coincidence between this narrative and Luke 10:38, 39, regarding the two sisters. Even in the midst of her sorrow and occupied with attention to family concerns, Martha sees the messenger who announces the approach of Jesus. She goes forth to meet Jesus, outside the village (v. 30). “Absorbed in her grief, Mary hears nothing of the message: it is not until Martha returns to her that she learns that Jesus is near” (Schaff). 11:21 ... “Then said Martha unto Jesus,” [No doubt sadly and not reproachingly] Lord if Thou hadst been her, my brother had not died.” Mary (v. 32) says the same thing later, showing that the two sisters had no doubt often said this to one another. “They should have said, ‘Lord, in these very chastenings of friendly love Thou hast been here – not to save me from sufferings, but to save me spiritually through and by them” (Farrar). Cook points out that “the words are a simple expression of faith and love, without complaint.” But they are also an expression of deep regret because of His necessary absence. She felt sure that Jesus would come as soon as He could, and that He who had healed so many strangers would not do less for His dearly beloved friends. Yet she could not hide her sorrow that He was unable to be present to help. Her language expresses the very essence of soul-torture at such a time. Sometimes we are slow to believe that our sorrow is “for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. “Even though we believe we did the best we knew to do at the time, still it’s true that our afflictions often echo Martha’s “if,” and we find ourselves saying if we had not done this, or that; if it had not been for our blunder, or that of a friend or physician, our beloved would not have died. “Chance is the God of atheism, a comfortless God in the time of our trouble” (Abbott). “It is the bitterest drop in their whole cup of anguish that all this might have been otherwise” (Trench). 11:22 ... “Even now … God will give it Thee.” Martha must have known that Jesus had raised the dead, even if such a miracle had not been performed in Judea; and even if she had not known, she had full confidence in His power with God. The words express a half-formed hope, which she dare not utter, perhaps dare not even think, that her brother may be restored to life again. Word had come to them from Jesus, telling that this sickness should not issue in death, but that it should further God’s glory and glorify the Son. And now He is Himself present. His words cannot fail, and He Himself cannot be there without a purpose. She dare

not say more; but she rests in this, that whatsoever He asks, God will give. (Ellicott) 11:23 ... “Thy brother shall rise again.” These words might mean that her brother would be brought back to life again now, or they might be spoken for the purpose of giving her comfort in the assurance of immortal life through the resurrection – that she would meet her brother again. Jesus no doubt spoke this way to lead her to a higher faith. 11:24 ... “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Martha had a theoretical belief in the resurrection, but not a practical one. These words express a half-formed hope, which she dare not utter, perhaps dare not even think, that her brother might be restored to life again. Jesus had sent word telling them that this sickness would not end in death, but that it will further God’s glory and glorify the Son. And now Jesus is present. His words cannot fail, and He Himself would not be there without a purpose. She dare not say more; but she rests in this, that whatsoever He asks, God will give. (Ellicott) “There is ample evidence that the Pharisees believed in a future life and in a resurrection of the just” (Hovey). It is also possible that she may have learned more about it from Jesus Himself, in connection with his bringing the dead to life. But this hope was far off, bringing little comfort to her suffering soul. Her heart was filled with want, need and love for her brother. Abbott points out that this statement of Martha’s faith is based on the belief of orthodox Jews, that all the dead have departed to Hades or the under-world, where they dwell in a shadowy prison-house – righteous in paradise, wicked in hell – awaiting the Messiah’s coming, calling all the righteous from the under-world, while the wicked shall be thrust back again. Martha believed that her brother had gone to this abode of the dead, awaiting a day of judgment and resurrection. However, she found little consolation in this faith. A beloved brother was no more – now dwelling among the dead. In her heart, the vague hope of a far-distant revival did not comfort her. It is in contrast to, and in correction of, this creed, that Christ utters the declaration of vs. 25, 26. The vague thought embodied in Martha’s words can hardly be understood by us today. Why? Because in us these words awaken memories of a resurrection in the past – our Lord, Jesus Christ. And that resurrection brings to us true knowledge of our resurrection at the last day. This moment of Martha’s greatest need Jesus chooses for the greatest revelation of Himself. “When all else has failed, He will comfort” (Schaff).

Illustration A gentleman stepping into a poor woman’s house saw framed and glazed upon the wall a French note for a thousand francs. He said to the old folks, “How cam you by this?” They informed him that a poor French soldier had been taken in by them and nursed until he died, and he had given them that little picture when he was dying as a memorial of him. They thought it such a pretty souvenir that they had it framed. They were greatly surprised when told that it was worth a little fortune. Do you not have certain words of Jesus Christ framed and glazed in your heart, yet never turning them into actual blessing? If so then you have done as Martha did when she took the words, “Thy brother shall rise again,” and put around them this handsome frame, “in the resurrection at the last day.” (Spurgeon) Then came Christ’s wonderful declaration – great words that have thrilled mourners for over two thousand years. 11:25 ... “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead [R.V. “though he die”], yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.” The “intention” of this saying seems to have been for the purpose of awakening faith in Martha that He could raise her brother from the dead. This Jesus does by announcing Himself (it is the expressed emphatic personal pronoun – “I” and no other) as “the Resurrection” (meaning, that resurrection in the last day shall be only “by My power,” therefore I can raise now as well); more than that, the Life itself; so that “He that liveth and believeth in Me shall not die forevermore,” i.e., faith in Me is the source of life, both here and hereafter; and those who have it, have Life, so that they shall “never die.” I understand these words as an embodiment of Christ’s creed respecting life and immortality. Jesus is the source of the resurrection, and the fountain of life. Whoever, therefore, by faith in Christ, has Christ in him the hope of glory, never knows death; to him there is no Hades, no dark and dismal abode of the dead, no long and weary waiting for a final great jail delivery – a judgment and acquittal. He passes at once from the lower to the higher state: he has already come to the general assembly and church of the first-born (Heb. 12:22-24). What we call death summons him simply to depart and be straightway with Christ (Phil. 1:23; Luke 23:43). The eternal life which Christ here and now gives to those who are by faith united to Him (John 5:24) is never suspended. Against the conception, common now as then, of death as a long sleep or a long and dreary waiting for a final resurrection, is Christ’s teaching here that “There is no death”; what seems so is transition. (Abbott) Ainger stated that “these words changed the whole current of world thought.”

Actually, for the Christian there is no vague, future resurrection; it is as definite and present as Christ. It makes death not just a sleep (v. 11), but Life. Immortality is no longer merely a doctrine – it is a Person; the resurrection is Jesus Christ Himself. “It is as though Jesus said, “In Me death is certain to live, and the living is certain never to die” (Godet). All true life is in Christ. In Him everything essential to life is lodged – its origin, maintenance and consummation; all conveyed to the obedient believer in union with Jesus Christ. Death does not affect this life. “This statement of Christ is the great inheritance of the human family” (Coffman). 1. Without disparaging Christian doctrine in any sense, we can say that it is faith in a Person, Jesus Christ, that makes all the difference. 2. This means Jesus is God in human form. This truth He promptly proved by raising Lazarus. Coffman points out that “Jesus had claimed Godhood as Light of the world, the Good Shepherd, the giver of eternal life, the door of the sheep, as existing before Abraham was born, and in numerous other ways.” Here Jesus appears as Resurrection come in the flesh. 3. This means much more than an assertion of Jesus’ power to raise Lazarus, extending to all dead who ever lived (John 5:24-29). Again, Coffman points out that “the ‘Come forth,’ shortly to be sounded over Lazarus’ grave, is the same cry that shall awaken all the dead on earth.” 4. Herein is the meaning of “shall not see death.” Jesus Christ did not end physical death. He did end its significance, making it a beginning instead of an end. As Hunter said,” The Christian will of course pay the last debt to nature; but, because of that saving link with Christ, the physical death he must one day experience loses all reality.” “And whosoever liveth,” etc. This truth is presented in two forms: resurrection and life. Some like Lazarus had believed and died; some like Martha live and believe. Comforts and Blessings from Jesus as the Resurrection and Life 1. We have assurance of immortal life. Death does not end all. Lazarus could not have been brought back to life if his soul completely gone out like an extinguished flame. 2. Only eternal life begun here gives any hope of eternal life beyond the grave. 3. We will be the same persons there as here, only changed; our bodies renewed, transformed as a seed is transformed into a flower. “I believe that someway and somehow our precious Savior will find a way for us to know our friends, and they us, in that better world” (William Harrison). 4. The change will bring new powers, new developments, new sources of life and joy, as much beyond our present life as the life of a flower in the air and sunlight is above the life of the seed in the ground. 5. The resurrection is victory over death’s terrors – the agonies of separation from those we love; the dread of annihilation, of our lives being like the flame of a candle that death blows out, the destruction of our hopes and labors.

6. Jesus is the moral resurrection from the death of worldliness and sin to new spiritual life. 7. Having partaken of this moral resurrection, receiving life from Jesus – living this heavenly life with the same principles and virtues that make heaven – we have the assurance of rising again after natural death, living forever with Jesus in His heavenly home. 8. All these blessings can come only through Jesus Christ; through obedient faith in His name. 11: 27 ... “She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ.” Martha does not say that she believes Jesus is the Life of death. This thought was no doubt too new and starling, requiring more time to think it out. But she does believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and in that faith she accepts whatever He tells her about Himself and His powers. This is a truly Christian faith. The weight of her confession is colossal. In the words, “I have believed,” is the meaning that for an extended time she had believed and that she continued to believe in Jesus as a super-natural person. She called Him “Lord” and “Christ” and “Son of God” in a single breath, adding that she meant the divine Messiah, the holy One foretold from of old as coming into the world from God. What a magnificent confession!

Scripture Reading: John 11:28-37 (KJV) “Jesus Wept” 11:28 ... “When she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly.” She did it secretly (a) because the interview with Jesus would be so much more free and blessed if it could be alone with Him, without unbelieving Jews around. (b) “Lest some of the Jews who were present from Jerusalem might be unfriendly to Jesus and take occasion to inform the rulers of His presence. The fear was well founded. See v. 46” (Clark). 11:28 ... “The Master is come, and calleth thee.” Martha, having received comfort and hope, hastens quickly (v. 29) to impart the good news to her sister, who had remained at home unconscious of the arrival of Jesus. Jesus Himself asked her to go, so that He could go with them to their brother’s grave. Martha carries the message that Jesus has come, and “calleth thee.” The Master’s Call He is our rightful Master and Teacher, having the right to call us. Jesus Christ calls us: 1. By His noble, loving character; 2. By His words; 3. By kind acts toward us;

4. By His Holy Spirit; 5. By offering the supplies for all our wants; 6. By the invitations and exhortations of friends; 7. By Sundays and religious services; 8. By His providence; 9. By afflictions; 10. By our consciences. Jesus Christ calls us: 1. To Himself and God; 2. To the resurrection of Life; 3. To higher and better lives; 4. To the satisfaction of all our needs; 5. To usefulness, to work for our fellow men; 6. To heaven, joy, love, every good. 11:31 ... “She goeth unto the grave,” according to the custom of Jewish women. 11:32 ... “Then Mary … fell down His feet.” Not so Martha (v. 21). Meyer noted that “Mary’s feelings were of an intenser and stronger kind, or she was more given to expression. She uttered the same words as Martha had done. They were doubtless an oft-repeated refrain . . . on the subject of their sorrow.” No further conversation with her is recorded. Either the author would not repeat what had been said before; or Mary’s faith did not need the aids which Martha had received; or the presence of the Jews prevented. Together they went to the grave, which was a hollow in the side of a rock, with a stone lying against it, serving as a door. 11:33 ... “He groaned in the spirit.” The word translated “groaned,” expresses indignation and displeasure, not sorrow (MacArthur Study Bible). Jesus was deeply agitated in His soul with indignant emotions, probably in view of the power of sin producing disease and death, an example of which was before Him. “He felt all that sin had wrought. He beheld the wages of sin” (Trench). He beheld death in all its fearfulness, as the wages of sin; and all the world’s woes, of which this was only a little sample, rose up before His eyes, along with all the mourners. He may have seen Satan, the great foe of the human race, perhaps combined with the thought that He would Himself soon pay the penalty of death (Whiteclaw). Death itself caused this indignation . . . He saw all the agony of it in millions of instances. There flashed upon His spirit all moral consequences of which death was the ghastly symbol. He knew that within a short time He too, in taking upon Himself the sins of men, would have taken upon Himself their death; and there was enough to raise in His spirit a Divine indignation, and He groaned and shuddered. (Reynolds)

11:33 ... “And was troubled.” “Troubled Himself,” the outward expression of the strong inward feeling causing Him to “groan in spirit.” The word means to agitate, disquiet, as waters of the sea. He “troubled Himself,” as a man “distressing Himself,” or “troubling Himself,” or “making Himself anxious.” (Exp. Greek Test.) “His whole frame shuddered. A storm of wrath seemed to sweep over Him” (Sanders). 11:35 ... “Jesus Wept.” Moffatt: “Jesus burst into tears.” The shortest verse in the Bible, and one of the most meaningful and beautiful. Our Lord knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead, but He sympathized deeply with the grief of the sisters and their friends. In other words, His knowledge of the future did not make Him indifferent to the present. Godet wrote that “the very Gospel, in which the deity of Jesus is most clearly asserted, is also that which makes us best acquainted with the profoundly human side of His life.” “Homer’s gods and goddesses weep and bellow when wounded, but are not touched with the feeling of human infirmity” (Vincent). It is fitting that this short sentence is in a verse by itself. Why did Jesus weep? (a) He wept in sympathy because of the sorrow around Him. (b) His heart was full of sorrow, as He saw in this instance before Him one of multitudes of sorrows filling the earth. Our Lord shed tears, wept silently, an entirely different word from the “weep” and “weeping” of the mourners in vs. 31, 33. This verse offers further expression of the intense and varied feelings of Jesus – indignation, grief and sympathy. Christianity bids us weep with that weep. In the beautiful words of Leighton, that we “seek not altogether to dry the stream of sorrow, but to bound it, and keep it within its banks.” The emotions of Jesus express the heart of God and His loving kindness toward the children of men.

Conclusion We learn from this verse 1. That the most tender, personal friendship is not inconsistent with pure religion. Piety makes tender love’s emotions. 2. It is right, even indispensable, for a Christian to sympathize with others in their afflictions. 3. Sorrow at the death of friends is right. It is right to weep. All that religion does in that case is to ‘temper’ and chasten our grief, teaching us to mourn with submission to God, to weep without murmuring. 4. We have here an instance of the tenderness of the character of Jesus. The same Savior ‘wept’ over Jerusalem, and felt deeply for the poor dying sinners.

Barnes noted that “to the same tend and compassionate Savior Christians may now come (Heb. 4:15); and to Him the penitent sinner may also come, knowing that He will not cast him away.” 5. The action of Jesus on this occasion, as well as others, shows that the working of these greater miracles brought an intense strain on His physical system. It was a part of His vicarious bearing of our infirmities. The good that He did was at a real cost to Him. As He came to the tomb, we are told that “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). What compassion! What love! What empathy! What humanity! It has been said of this passage that “the evangelist describes His (Jesus’) sorrow in the tenderest description of His human nature to be found in all the Gospels, Jesus wept’” (Howard). To this we can say, “Amen!” Jesus exhibited that He was truly human in His body and emotions. There was nothing “impersonal” about the humanity of Jesus. His manhood was not a clever facade. It was as real and true as His deity.
Footnotes: 1 See Luke 10:38-42; John 12:1-8. 2 See Psalms 56:8. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: The Way of the Cross Lesson Aim: To show that the sowing of life by losing it has a continual and wise application in our lives. Golden Text: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” (John 12:32) Lesson Plan: Introduction “The Gentiles Coming into the Kingdom” (vs. 20-22) “The Way into the Kingdom” (vs. 23-26) “The Truth Confirmed by a Voice from Heaven” (vs. 27-30) “The Decisive Hour has Come” (v. 31) “The Means of Triumph” (vs. 32-34) “An Exhortation – Walk in the Light (vs. 35, 36) Conclusion Setting of the Lesson: Time: Tuesday afternoon, April 4, A.D. 30. Three days before the crucifixion. Place: Jerusalem, probably in the court of the Gentiles, the outer court of the Temple. Jesus: At the close of His earthly ministry. Intervening History: We can only take a glimpse of what is recorded about the works and teachings of Jesus during these intervening weeks. They are found chiefly in the other gospels.1

Introduction The raising of Lazarus from the dead produced a great excitement. Some of the Jews reported the facts to the Pharisees, who summoned a council to determine what steps should be taken to put a stop to this reformer’s influence. They resolved that He should be put to death. But Jesus’ time was not till the

Passover, which was the type of His sacrifice. According to Josephus, Jesus retired to Ephraim, a small town lying in the mountainous district of Judah, about 20 miles north of Jerusalem and remained a few weeks, till just before the Passover – returning to Jerusalem by way of Perea beyond the Jordan. He cleansed ten lepers, blessed the little children, healed two blind men near Jericho, spoke several parables and discourses on various subjects, and reached Bethany Friday eve, six days before Passover. On Saturday evening, after the Jewish Sabbath had closed, was the supper at Bethany where Mary anointed the feet of Jesus? On Sunday, after their Sabbath, was the triumphal procession. On Monday Jesus cleansed the Temple the second time. On Tuesday He spoke several parables in the Temple courts, taught a lesson from the widow’s mite, and, toward the close of the day, as He was leaving the Temple never to enter it again, the Greeks came to find Him, as described in the beginning of our lesson. Godet wrote: “. . . during the days which succeeded the entry, Jesus dwelt in the Temple, as in His palace, and exercised in it a kind of Messianic sovereignty.”

Scripture Reading: John 12:20-22 (KJV) The Gentiles Coming into the Kingdom 12:20 … “And there were certain Greeks.” The original word “Hellenes” means persons of Greek nationally (not the same as Grecians, Hellenistae, in Acts 6:1, who were Jews who spoke Greek and had lived in Greek cities), born Gentiles of the Greek race. They may have come from Greece, or from some of the Greek cities nearer by, of which there were several in Decapolis. The ancient Greeks were supreme in intellectual power, culture, and skill. In arts, the world has never surpassed their works in marble. In literature, they have left for all ages their deep impress upon the literature of the world (Van Dore). 12:20 … “Among them that came up to worship at the feast.” John Knox wrote: The Greeks were Gentiles – we do not know from where – who had already become proselytes to Judaism or faithful friends of the synagogue (God-fearers) . . . Notice that it is the desire of the Greeks to see Jesus which alone interests the writer. He does not tell us whether or not these particular Gentiles saw him. Presumably they did; but that does not matter. But, Meyer wrote: “They were accustomed to go up; present participle signing habit.” And Ellicott wrote: this shows that though Greeks by birth, they had been admitted to the privileges of Judaism. They belonged to the class known as

‘proselytes of the gate,’ so named from the phrase in the law, ‘the stranger that is within thy gates’ (Ex. 20:10, etc.). These were not circumcised, but accepted Judaism, attended the feasts, acknowledged the one God. 12:21 … “The same came therefore to Philip.” Many questions arise around this incident, such as whether or not the Gentiles went to Philip because he had a Greek name, or if they had come with an offer of sanctuary from Jesus’ enemies, etc. The Spirit-inspired evangelists never catered to human curiosity, relating only the facts which were pertinent to their holy message of salvation. Why to Philip? Either because they accidentally met him first, or because they may have had some slight acquaintance with him. Philip and Andrew are Greek names, and the only ones of Greek origin among the disciples. If these Greeks came from Decapolis, which is not far from Galilee, the mention that Philip was from Galilee may indicate that they had met him before, or at least had known about him. 12:21 … “And desired him.” Asked him, expressed a wish. They may have just arrived, and Jesus being in the court of the women (Mark 12:41), where they could not go, they asked one of the disciples to obtain an audience for them. 12:21 … “Sir, we would see Jesus.” Not merely to look at Him, but to have a private conversation with Him on religious subjects (Godet). Why did they seek to see Jesus? (1) Possibly curiosity may have had some influence. (2) Having witnessed the triumphal entry, and His miracles, and His cleansing of the temple, they may have been inclined to believe that He was indeed the Messiah, and wished to learn the truth with greater certainty. (3) There may have been a spiritual attraction to Him, and a desire to learn from Him the truths of salvation, and to learn whether Gentiles could be admitted to His new kingdom. (4) They may have gone further, and have desired to do Him homage as their king and Savior. (5) “How do we know even whether, having witnessed the opposition He encountered from the rulers of His own nation, they did not desire to invite Him to turn to the Gentiles . . .” (Godet). Gaebelein wrote: Eusebius mentions a tradition (and it is merely that) that these men had been sent by the Syrian King Edessa with a commission to invite Jesus to come to his realm, assuring him a hardy and princely welcome . . . The coming of these Greeks was prophetic. The leaders of the nation were seeking even then to kill him, but Gentiles came to seek to know him; rejected by his own, the Gentiles would turn to him. This visit is significance primarily because it was one of the first demonstrations of the Gentile world in favor of the Gospel – soon to flow over the whole human race. It was one of the signs not only that the doors of the Kingdom of God were

to be opened to all nations, but also that the nations were beginning to seek after God, and were being prepared to enter the Kingdom. We would see Jesus. (1) This should be the desire of every heart. (2) We should see Him as He is, as divine, as the atoning Savior, as our teacher, as our example, our Lord – always ready to forgive and help. (3) Seeing Jesus will attract our hearts to Him, and away from the world. (4) The more clearly a church sees Jesus, the nearer they will be to being a true and perfect church, with pure beliefs, and perfect conduct, and active Christian life. (5) If the world would see Jesus, their prejudices against religion would be removed. 12:22 … “Philip cometh and telleth Andrew.” The two were of the same city, Bethsaida (John 1:44). Abbott wrote: “The fact that Philip takes Andrew with him is one of the frequent indications of the awe with which, despite the fullness and even familiarity of his love, Christ inspired His most intimate disciples (Luke 9:45; Mark 9:32, etc.). It is to be remembered, however, that the request would seem doubtful to them, since Jesus Himself had confined His ministry chiefly to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:5; 15:24).” 12:22 … “Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.” Andrew – once again appears in Scripture bringing someone to Jesus, corresponding with what is said of him bringing Peter and the lad with the loaves and fishes. At the time this request was communicated to Jesus, He was probably in the court of the women, where He frequently taught, and where He had just before spoken of the widow’s mite (the treasury chests were in that court). Here these Greeks could not enter. Between the court of the Gentiles and the court of the women was A stone fence, bearing upon pillars, placed at regular distances, the following words in Greek and Latin: “No alien must pass within the fence round the temple and the court. If any one be caught doing so, he must blame himself for the death that will follow.” This prohibition is known from two sources: from Josephus (Ant. xv. 11, 5); and the discovery by M. Ganneau of the very slabs, bearing the exact words. (Ellicott) So, in order to meet these strangers, Jesus would have gone into the court of the Gentiles. It is not recorded whether He went to see them or not, nor what He may have said to them alone; but it is probable that He gave them an audience, as He did Nicodemus.

Scripture Reading: John 12:23-26 (KJV) The Way into the Kingdom 12:23 … “And Jesus answered them.” Whom? The disciples who brought the request; the Greeks who made the request; and the multitude. Then in their

hearing the Lord unfolded the deepest significance of their request in relation to the consummation of His own work.” 12:23 … “The hour.” The time, the era. 12:23 … “That the Son of man should be glorified.” Far from being glad to have an offer of sanctuary (if such a thing was involved), Jesus instantly recognized that the moment of His suffering was at hand. His sufferings, death, and resurrection would be the “glorification” referred to here. He viewed it thus, because in that would be the means of His winning millions of souls. (Coffman) The prophets of the Old Testament foretell the ingathering of the Gentiles through the Messiah. This is both His glory and the glory of the Jewish nation in Him (Ps. 2:8; Is. 53:11). In this application of these Greek proselytes Christ sees a prophetic indication of the time when, with a profounder meaning, the Gentile world will everywhere put forth a request to see Jesus, when, being lifted up, He will draw all men unto Him, when He will break down the partition wall between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14), and gather into one nation the dispersed children of Go (John 11:52; Col. 3:11; Rev. 7:9). “The term Son of Man is used here by Christ, as always when referring to Himself, equivalent to the Messiah” (Abbott). “But this glory could not come, as they supposed, from His triumphal entry into Jerusalem – by setting up His throne there in great earthly splendor, but, most amazingly, by death” (Jacobus). The Son of Man would be glorified by taking His place on the right hand of God; by the ingathering of all nations and peoples, of which these few Greeks were the earnest and the illustration. Jesus saw His followers excited by His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and the desire of strangers like the Greeks to see their Master. He saw they were secretly expecting a glorious kingdom to be immediately set up, in which they would have chief places, power, and authority (Ryle). The glory was indeed to come, and very soon, but in an entirely different way from their expectation and hopes. Jesus proceeds to show them how He should be glorified. 12:24 … “Verily, verily.” Words emphasizing a great and important truth. Jesus announces the only way in which He could be glorified. Thus, as a general principle, He calls emphatic attention to the fact – so strange to them, and so hard for them to see and believe – that only by His death can He accomplish His great work and gain His true glory. The Lord then presents an illustration that will make this truth plain and vivid. 12:24 … “Except a corn [grain] of wheat fall into the ground and die,” etc. A grain of wheat, though containing within itself the germs of life, and possibilities of vast harvests, yet remains alone, unless, planted in the earth it dies giving birth to the plant that grows from it. In death it becomes true life – releasing the inner life-power which the husk had held captive. This life-power, multiplying itself in successive grains, can cover the whole field with a harvest of much fruit. “This

is an image setting forth the abundant life of the church through the Lord’s death” (Sadler). “The history of all that is best, and truest, and noblest in the life of [many] centuries comes to us as the fulfillment” (Ellicott). So, if a grain of wheat remained alone it would perhaps be safe, but it would be useless – not really living unless it falls to the earth. Only then can the life-germs burst forth, and the single grain, in its own death, gives life to blade, and stalk, and ear of corn. This law is one to which our Lord’s own life is subject. Here, too, life comes from death. The moral power which is the life of the world finds its source in the death of the Son of Man. “He is life.” “In Him is life.” “Whosoever believeth in Him hath eternal life.” Such truths (as well as others) the holy Scriptures have told us again and again. However, while still living on earth, Christ tells those assembled that this life presently exists in germ form – that in His death it will burst forth, grow up, and multiply itself in a great spiritual world harvest. The history of all that is best, and truest, and noblest in the life of all the centuries since Jesus was on earth comes to us as fulfillment. Hearts hardened, sinful, dead, having been led to think of His death, have felt germs of life springing up, bursting the husks of their former person – growing up into living powers which have changed their whole being. This is the individual fulfillment that has come to many and may come to all. Three applications of this metaphor are: (1) in nature, the death of seeds is necessary to their production of fruit; (2) Jesus consented to die as a means of winning the world to Himself; and (3) for all who would be saved, the process is the same. One must renounce himself, loving not his own life, but losing it, and taking up fully the identity of Jesus in order to be saved. (Coffman) 12:25 … “He that loveth [places first in his affections] his life.” Pepper wrote: “Though, as we have seen, Christ had His own death in view, He yet speaks of the principle in its universal application.” The word “life” is often translated soul, as in v. 27. It is much more than existence: life means one’s self; all that makes life worth living – the character, the blessedness which give life (soul) its value. 12:25 … “Shall lose it.” Lose all that makes life worth living; lose even the earthly rewards which he called his life, and, much more, eternal blessedness. Abbott spoke of the life (soul) being the aesthetic and intellectual part of man in contrast with the spiritual nature. In other words, whosoever makes pleasures and enjoyments of life a chief aim, seeking to have worldly blessings and rewards at the expense of righteousness, religion, and service to Jesus Christ. To love one’s life (soul) in such a way is to make self first – self-gratification becomes the law or principle of all action. To do this is to lose life (soul). Why? First, this principle is a wrong or wicked principle – the soul’s ruin. Second, this principle ruins the soul because it is at war with the nature of God, the nature of the human soul, and with the constitution of all society, both human and angelic, earthly and heavenly (Pepper).

12:25 … “And he that hateth his life.” When it comes in conflict with his true life, treats it as if he hated it. In comparison, when needed, he sacrifices outward things which worldly men chiefly seek, and which appear to make life on earth happy and worth living – honors, riches, pleasures, power. But note this is to be for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s (Mark 8:35). 12:25 … “Shall keep it unto life eternal.” Life here is another word in the Greek, life in the abstract. All the natural powers of the soul, all the sources of enjoyment, all intellectual powers, everything that gives value to the worldly life, shall be perpetuated, transfigured forever, in a higher degree, by making them subordinate to the love and service of God, and sacrificing them when necessary to the higher good. The loss is temporal, the gain is eternal; the loss is small, the gain infinite; the loss is of outward things, the gain is in the nature of the soul itself, containing blessedness and glory that will a thousand times compensate all outward loss. Note here the promise of eternal life. The doctrine of the “last things,” or eschatology, is alleged by some to be lacking in this gospel; but, as Howard noted, “That favorite term in the Johanine vocabulary, ‘eternal life,’ is eschatological in its origin.” The reference to final resurrection and judgment (5:24-29), and the recurring refrain, “I will raise him up the last day” (6:39, 40, 44 and 54) along with such passages as the one now before us, make it clear that John’s gospel, in this particular, is no different from the others. 12:26 … “If any man [would] serve me, let him follow me.” Let him act out the above principles, as Christ had done and was about to do. This is Christ’s answer to the request of the Greeks. Service of Christ is to be sought, not by secret interviews, but by practical following of Him in a life of daily self-sacrifice for others (Abbott). 12:26 ... “And where I am.” In character – in glory – in His kingdom – in companionship on earth – and in heaven. This is also a reference to last things, as Dummelow wrote: “(This means) where I am soon to be, viz., in heaven.” 12:26 … “There shall also my servant be.” There is no other way to where Christ is, and whosoever walks in this way will certainly come to where Christ is. 12:26 … “Him will my Father honor.” As he honors Christ; making him partaker of the joys and rewards of Him whom he serves.

Scripture Reading: John 12:27-30 (KJV) The Truth Confirmed by a Voice from Heaven 12:27 … “Now is my soul troubled.” The word “soul” is the same word rendered “life” in v. 25 (Compare especially Matt. 16:25, 26). It is the seat of the

natural feelings and emotions. There is a real shrinking from the darkness of the death which is at hand (Ellicott). Jesus found it difficult to live up to the principles He had just enunciated. If it had been easy for Him, He would not have been an example to His followers, who do find it difficult. The events unfolding before Jesus were extremely ugly and tragic, not simply for Himself, but also in the profound implications for the chosen people. The total rejection and casting off of Israel loomed ominously in this visit of Gentiles who would accept Jesus, contrasting so tragically with the obduracy of the chosen nation. (Coffman) The shock has come already . . . The presence and petition of the Greeks foreshadowed the judgment of the chosen people, and brought forward the means by which it would be accomplished. The prospect of this catastrophe was perhaps the crisis of the Lord’s present conflict. (Westcott) 12:27 … “And what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour.” The R.V. margin has “save me from this hour?” interrogatively, which is necessary to sustain the thought. It means that Jesus would have prayed that prayer if His purpose had not been dying to save mankind. This is the agony of His trial and crucifixion. This is more easily understood if, like the R.V. marginal notes, we ask, “Shall I say, Father save Me from this hour?” as My flesh and earthly life prompt. There was a real struggle between this earthly life or soul, and His spiritual consciousness. “No;” He says, “I cannot say this.” 12:27 … “For this cause.” To fulfill the duties, and bear the agonies it brings. 12:27 … “Came I unto this hour.” But I will say (v. 28). In other words, therefore He will say something entirely different, 12:28 … “Father, glorify Thy name.” Not My will, but Thine be done. Do what will most glorify Thy name on earth, at whatever cost to Me. “Glorify Thy name”, offered in the emotional tension arising from Jesus’ consciousness that His “hour” was at hand, this prayer is surprising in that it has no petition for Himself, but only for the glorification of the Father’s name. Some consider both to be prayers. The result is first a prayer under the influence of fear. “Save Me from this hour.” Compare “Let this cup pass from Me” (Matt. 26:39), and then a prayer under the influence of ready obedience – “Glorify Thy name,” through My sufferings. But the Greek means “save Me out of”, i.e., “bring Me safe out of,” rather than “save Me from,” “keep Me altogether away from,” as in “deliver us from the evil” (Matt. 6:13). John omits the agony in the garden, which is in the other Gospels, and well known to every Christian. But here John gives us an often forgotten insight into a less known truth – that the agony was not confined to Gethsemane, but was part of Christ’s whole life.

12:28 … “Then came there a voice from heaven.” “The plain implication of the narrative is that this was an articulate voice, the words of which were understood by others than Jesus, though not by all” (Abbott). That some of the multitude heard the words is obvious. The apostle John heard and understood the words himself, without any need of anyone’s interpreting them to him (for no such thing is mentioned). Thus it may be assumed that they were intelligible words, wanting only attention on the part of the hearers to be understood. (Coffman) 12:28 … “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The Father had glorified His name by giving Jesus daily and hourly the power to do and to bear all that had been laid on Him up to that moment; and He would glorify it by continuing to give Him the power to do and to bear all that should be laid on Him to the end. The prayer and the promise are both for us. In our passion-hour true prayer will be the cry, not of the soul, but of the spirit; a cry, not to be saved from our Calvary, but to be enabled to glorify our Father’s name in and through it. “And the answer is interpreted by our experience in the past (Ps. 77:10-12); the grace that has been sufficient will be sufficient to the end” (Abbott). 12:29 … “The people … said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.” The whole multitude heard a noise; but apparently the meaning of the voice was perceived by each in proportion to his spiritual intelligence. The whole multitude heard a noise; but the meaning of the voice was only perceived by each in proportion to his spiritual intelligence. Thus the wild beast perceives only a sound in the human voice; the trained animal discovers a meaning, a command, for example, which it immediately obeys; man alone discerns therein a thought. (Godet) Cox expressed it: “Here we have an illustration of the fact that people often hear things differently according to what they are themselves. Some hear thunder, others an angel’s voice, but Jesus understood.” It is one of the mysteries of life that some see and hear the things of God, but others do not. Daniel was by the river Hidekel when he saw the holy vision, but his companions were not aware of it. Paul’s companions on the Damascus road heard the noise but not the words of the Lord. 12:30 … “This voice came not because of me.” Not to strengthen or confirm Me; not that I had any doubts about My course, or any apprehension that God would not approve Me and glorify His name. 12:30 … “For your sakes.” To give you a striking and indubitable proof that I am the Messiah, that you remember it when I am departed, and be comforted, supported, and saved.

In other words, since the voice was given for the multitude’s sake, it follows that they should have understood it. That some did not may be a reflection on themselves, in that their moral condition did not permit them to hear God’s voice. Jesus did not need such a testimony, but the carnal multitude did.

Scripture Reading: John 12:31 (KJV) The Decisive Hour has Come 12:31 … “Now.” “The hour” of v. 23. The crisis of all ages had arrived. Jesus would die on the cross to redeem men from the curse of sin, enabling them to be saved eternally, and to restore the fellowship with God that was broken such a long time ago by the disaster in Eden. 12:31 … “Is the judgment of this world.” Greek “crisis.” 1. Now is approaching the decisive scene, the eventful period, the crisis, when it shall be determined who shall rule this world. There has been a long conflict between the powers of light and darkness. Satan has so effectually ruled that he may be said to be the prince of this world. But My approaching death will destroy his kingdom, will break down his power, and will be the means of setting up the kingdom of God over man (Barnes). 2. Judgment means condemnation. “This very week, by My crucifixion, the religious systems of the world shall receive a sentence of condemnation.” To an extent of which now we can form no conception, it was a world without God, plunged in idolatry, worshipping devils – in open rebellion against God.2 “When Christ died, this order of things received its sentence of condemnation” (Ryle). 3. “His cross is in fact a judgment seat, and men are discriminated morally and spiritually by their reception of the suffering, self-sacrificing Redeemer” (Abbott). His love on the cross, His self-sacrifice for others, His doing the will of God at any cost, condemned the selfishness and sin of the world. 12:31 … “Now shall the prince of this world.” “The title ‘prince of this world’ was the regular Rabbinic title for Satan” (Ellicott). He was also called the “god of this world” and “the prince of the powers of the air.” It is perfectly natural that evil beings should exist in the spiritual world as they certainly do; and that some leading spirit should assume control, organizing the forces of evil, as is certainly done in this world. That being is call Satan, or the devil, the prince of this world. 12:31 … “Be cast out.” Not out of heaven, but out of his position and dominion. His empire shall come to an end. Notice that while the judgment of Satan “is” – his casting out is “shall be” or future. It would begin with the atonement on the cross, but the process would be completed in the future. The world’s battle was fought and the victory won on Calvary. The death of Jesus was the determining cause, the grand crisis, the concentration of all that God has ever done or ever

will do, to break down the kingdom of Satan, and set up His power over man (Barnes). In other words, Satan’s kingdom shall be destroyed. His empire shall come to an end. It does not mean that then his reign over all men should entirely cease, but that then would be the crisis, the grand conflict, in which he should be vanquished, and from that time his kingdom begin to decline, until it should finally cease (Barnes). The second coming is not to redeem the world, but to realize for the world the fruits of redemption, in an established and eternal kingdom of righteousness, after, by the cross, humanity has been judged, the evil cast out, and the redeemed race lifted up into oneness with Christ Jesus (Abbott). The head of Satan would now be “bruised” in fulfillment of Genesis 3:15. This great victory is here called the casting out of the prince of this world. Here’s the mystery, hidden before time eternal: that the cosmic victory over Satan would be won by such a thing as the death of Christ on Calvary. The victory came through death itself, and that at the very moment when Satan might have thought that he had won (Heb. 2:15). The words Jesus spoke here were in anticipation of that victory. The casting out will be accomplished by the cross, as the next verses show.

Scripture Reading: John 12:32-34 (KJV) The Means of Triumph 12:32 … “And I, if I be lifted up.” Upon the cross, as explained in the next verse. The word for “lifted up” is usually rendered “exalted.” It was by the lifting up upon the cross that Jesus was exalted to be Prince and Savior. “If” is not to be rendered as equivalent to “when.” The language is sympathetic with that of verse 27; it is the last trace of that soul-storm. His crucifixion was contingent; it was made, to the last, dependent on His own voluntary submission (Abbott). But there is no intimation of uncertainty or doubt. It is difficult to realize the tremendous faith which this expression reflects. We hear these words through [many] centuries of Christian history which followed them; but, when Jesus made the statement here, there was little visible evidence to make anyone believe that these words might literally come true. It must have seemed to those who heard it the most presumptuous statement ever made. (Baxter) 12:32 … “Will draw all men unto me.” Or towards Me. Christ crucified was and is the attractive power, drawing men to Himself. Jesus Christ draws us because He alone loved sufficiently to die for us. Jesus Christ is the only true revelation of God; the only perfect soul who ever lived on earth. In that alone is the satisfaction of the soul’s deepest desires.

“All men” – Not merely all nations, people of all ages, but all men. It does not mean that every one will become a Christian; for the facts at that very time refute such an idea. But, our Lord was attractive to human nature – even those in opposition were drawn. They hated the light, but could not help looking at it. And in the end the whole world will be drawn to Christ. Consider the attraction of the cross: 1. Christ by His cross will draw to Himself not only men of all classes and climes, but all human interests and resources, all commerce, all enterprise, all art and science, all wealth and power in the world (Jacobus). 2. Every conceivable power that can draw men to a holy, Christlike life, is found in Christ crucified. (1) Heroism, which always attracts men. (2) The love of God more clearly shown than anywhere else. (3) A vision of the evil and danger of sin, which never seems as evil as when seen in the light of what it costs God to save from it. (4) The forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God. (5) The hope of everlasting joy and glory. 3. The power of the church and Bible study is in holding up Christ crucified – more Christ, more true success. No outside attraction can take the place of this. 12:33 … “This he said.” This verse simply explains what Jesus meant by being “lifted up.”3 The primary reference of this is to Jesus’ death by being lifted up upon the cross; but the word suggests other truth also. Christ was lifted up from the grave; He was lifted up into heaven; He has been lifted up in the hearts of men by the preaching of the Gospel in all ages since then. (Coffman) 12:34 … “We have heard out of the law.” The term “law” refers to the whole of the Old Testament Scripture.4 12:34 … “That Christ [the Christ] abideth forever.” They expected their Messiah to free them from the Roman rule, and to set up a kingdom that would never end. They were right in their interpretation of the Scripture, but did not understand the way in which it was to be fulfilled. 12:34 … “Son of man” This was without a doubt Jesus’ favorite title for Himself. By the use of it He meant everything, and even more, than is conveyed by “Messiah,” “Son of God,” etc. The multitude was present when Jesus spoke of the Son of Man (v. 23), and so it was no impropriety for them to question “Who is the Son of Man?” They had wrongly construed the prophecies as meaning that Messiah would continue on earth forever as a literal ruler over God’s people; but this is not strange in view of the fact that some still misconstrue them in the same manner. 12:34 … “How sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up” In other words, how do you reconcile what you have said with the prophecies of the

Messiah? Your statements contradict the Bible, and are opposed to our needs. You are not the Messiah we want. 12:34 … “Who is this Son of Man?” For He cannot be the one foretold in Scripture, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. We have nothing to do with the kind of Son of man you say you are. Such passages as this show us one reason why the people were so variable, sometimes almost believing – then turning away. They could not reconcile their interpretation of Scripture with the facts in Christ’s life. His miracles, His teachings, and His character, made Him seem divine, but on the other hand they could not see how in other things He filled out the picture of the promised Messiah.

Scripture Reading: John 12:35, 36 (KJV) An Exhortation – Walk in the Light Actually, there was no answer to their question which would coincide with the people’s attitude. Jesus had proclaimed Himself the Light of the world,5 but they were not willing to walk in it. 12:35 … “Then Jesus said” He could have explained how that the Messiah was to abide forever; have dominion over all the world; must be a crucified and risen Savior; how through the resurrection He was to abide forever; that He saw this infinitely more clearly than we do – though it is plain even to us. But the people would not have understood nor believed. Therefore, instead of answering them directly, Jesus offered a solemn warning, pointing out at the same time the only way to answer their questions. 12:35 … “Yet a little while is the light with you.” This may refer: 1. To the opportunity they yet had as a nation to repent, accept the Messiah, and be saved from the impending destruction. It was not yet too late, but it soon would be. The last hour of the day of salvation had arrived, the sun was about to set for Israel. Within forty years Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. It was then that “darkness came upon them,” and they “knew not whither they were going,” or what was to become of them. 2. Abbott believed that the light referred to is the moral and spiritual nature of man. He wrote: I understand Christ’s meaning then to be this: You have yet for a little while longer the light of conscience; it is not utterly quenched. Beware. Walk according to such light as you possess, lest utter moral darkness come upon you. And he who walks in such darkness knows not the future fate that awaits him.

Israel’s day of grace was fading. The sneering, captious questions of the unregenerated would be endured only a few more days. Their one remaining great opportunity was then and there. If they had believed, it would have conferred upon them the right to become sons of God, but such a blessing would not wait much longer . . . With these solemn words, the Lord rang down the curtain on the great Judaean ministry, except for a few more brief hours during His holy passion. (Coffman) 12:36 … “While ye have light, believe in the light” Accept it as God given, and act accordingly. Or, while you have the light of opportunity, believe in Him who is the Light of the world. 12:36 … “That ye may be” R.V., “that ye may become sons of light,” implying a promise of growth. 12:36 … “These things spake Jesus, and departed” This was the farewell of Jesus to Israel. He then retired and did not reappear on the morrow. This time it was no mere cloud which obscured the sun; the sun itself had set (Godet). The public ministry of Jesus had closed. Two summaries of this ministry are given: one by John and the other by Jesus and recorded by John. John’s summary is in vs. 37-43, and the summary of Jesus is in vs. 44-50 (Cox). 12:36 … “And did hide himself from them.” A most suggestive statement! From how many of “the wise and prudent” does the Christ still hide Himself, because they treat His message with contempt. Is it possible that He has hid Himself from large portions of mankind, because He knows they would reject Him with scorn? Has He hidden Himself from you?

Conclusion We learn from these verses 1. Regular attendance during the stated seasons of divine worship is often the way to larger blessings and more intimate knowledge of Jesus. (v. 20) 2. The desire of everyone should be to see Jesus. (v. 21) 3. It is wise to ask others to help us see Him. Their experience and more intimate acquaintance may lead us to a nearer and clearer knowledge of Him. 4. It is a great privilege, by words and example, to lead others to see Jesus as He is. Many do not see the real Jesus and so reject Him, because His followers have misrepresented Him. (v. 22) 5. We are hindered from seeing Jesus (a) by prejudice; (b) by ignorance; (c) by looking at the false reflection of His life in some of His followers; (d) by the love of sin; (e) by some particular sin. 6. The gaining of life by losing it is continually illustrated in daily life. We gain the most physical pleasure from our appetites, as in eating and drinking, by

subordinating them to the higher law of right and duty. We gain the most from recreation by making it subordinate to our daily work o study. By losing we save. (vs. 24, 25) 7. To be with Christ in both service and self-denial is the way to be with Him in His glory. (v. 26) 8. The reward of faithfully following Jesus is twofold: (a) the companionship of Jesus; (b) honor from God. 9. There are often great and severe conflicts; but they that seek first the glory of their heavenly Father will gain the victory. (v. 27) 10. More depends on the hearer than the speaker; whether the voice of God in His Word be a mere sound, or a message from heaven, and how clear and blessed a message, depends on the spirit with which we listen, and how attentively we have listened in the past. The voice itself is not on trial, but those who listen are. (vs. 28, 29) 11. All decisive hours, hours of great choices and great temptations, are judgment days. (v. 31) 12. There is no power as attractive as Christ crucified. (v. 32) 13. The power of the church, the preacher, and the teacher for good is in direct proportion to their experience and teaching of a crucified and risen Redeemer. 14. When we see only a part of a thing it may seem false and irreconcilable with the Word, while the harmony is perfectly clear to a wider vision. (v. 34) Summing up the lesson – Jesus Glorified 1. By the coming of the Gentiles (vs. 20-22): These Greeks were the earnest of a great ingathering of Gentiles. In order to have a kingdom that would cover the whole earth, it would be necessary to have all nations come under His divine sway. The promise was that Gentiles should be brought in (Is. 60:3, 11, 14). Illustration The sunrise upon the mountain peaks, a proof that soon the daylight will flood the whole earth. Illustration The Greeks could not enter the court of the women where Jesus was, because between that court and the court of the Gentiles, was A stone fence bearing upon pillars, placed at regular distances, the following words in Greek and Latin: “No alien must pass within the fence round the Temple and the court. If any one be caught doing so, he must blame himself for the death that will follow.” This prohibition was known before, from Josephus (Ant. Xv. 11, 5); but . . . one of the very slabs, bearing the exact words, has been discovered. (Ellicott) Application The desire to see Jesus as He is. The more clearly and truly we see Him the greater Savior He is to us. What hinders us from seeing Him? – Prejudice; ignorance; neglect; the love of sin; some single sin.

2. By His death on the cross (vs. 23-26): The cross was the only path by which Jesus could reach His true glory in the redemption of the world. Illustration – the misery of self-love A celebrated man of fortune, who had been courted by princes, flattered by statesmen, and admired by fair women, despairingly said to a friend, “The great business of my life has been to get away from myself.” The best part of his life was spent in a course of fashionable dissipation – absorbed in selfcontemplation; always the hero of the hour. Seeking pleasure for its own sake, one often becomes the pitiful object of his own hatred and scorn. The world hates egotists. The abnegation of self is the first step in the path of Christian discipline. No great moral reform ever had its inception in a mind laboring for love of glory. Self-worship is the cause of much misery. Whatever the state of a man’s fortune or position in life, no man can be happy as the god of his own idolatry. Application Jesus illustrates necessity by the growth of a seed, applying the truth to His disciples who are to follow Him. The sowing of life by losing it has a continual and wise application in our lives. We gain the most physical pleasure by subordinating our appetites to the higher law of right and duty. We gain the most from recreation by making it subordinate to our daily work or study. By losing we save. The reward is twofold: (1) Companionship with Jesus in His glory – His sufferings and principles of life; and (2) honor from our Fatgher. 3. By a voice from heaven (vs. 27-30): The heavenly testimony being the best that is possible. God speaks from heaven by His Spirit, by divine words of conversion, by the progress of the Gospel, by answers to prayer testifying to Jesus. 4. By the attractions of the cross (vs. 31-36). Illustration A magnet attracts all particles of iron. Every particle is not brought to it, but every particle is attracted. Illustration The people had difficulty reconciling their idea of a kingly and perpetual Messiah and the death of the Messiah on the cross (v. 34). When we see only a part of a thing it may seem irreconcilable, while the reconciliation is perfectly clear to a wider vision. A mountain path is often obscured, winds around in the opposite direction and seems to end in the hillside, but a wider view makes all plain.
Footnotes: 1 See Matthew 19:3 to 23:39; Mark 10:2 to 12:44; Luke 17:11 to 21:4; together with John 11:45 through 12:19. 2 Compare 1 Corinthians 10:20.

3 4

See John 3:14. They may have referred to such passages as Psalms 89:36; 110:4; Isaiah 9:6, 7; Ezekiel 37:25; and Daniel 7:13, 14 for the Scriptures from which they had heard. In all of these, the everlasting dominion of the Messiah is implied or stated. 5 See John 9:5. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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(John 13:1-17; also read Luke 22:24-30; Matthew 20:20-28) Navigation: Previous >> Next

Subject: How Christ Serves Us, and How We Should Serve Him (The Importance of Lowly Service) (Jesus Teaches Humility) (Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet) Golden Texts: “Whosoever would be first among you, shall be servant of all.” (Mark 10:44) “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28) “I have given you an example.” (John 13:15) “By love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13) “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” (John 13:17) Lesson Plan: Introduction The Strife to be Counted Greatest (Luke 22:24-30; Matt. 20:20-28) Our Lord’s Greatness and Humility, Loving to the End (vs. 1-5) Peter, Slow to Understand Christ’s Humility (vs. 6-11) Following Christ’s Example of Humility (vs. 12-17) Practical Thoughts Setting of the Lesson: Time: Thursday evening, April 6, A.D. 30, at the beginning of the Passover feast, the day before the crucifixion. It was the evening after the 14th Nisan, and therefore was the beginning of the 15th of Nisan (Friday, April 7), which, according to Jewish reckoning, commenced immediately after the sunset of the 14th (April 6), and was the day on which the Passover was eaten. The four days after Palm Sunday included the second cleansing of the temple, the miracle of the barren fig-tree, daily teaching in the temple, and, probably daily returns to Bethany in the evening. Place: An upper room in Jerusalem; perhaps, as Edersheim thinks, belonging to Mark, one of Christ’s disciples and given up to Christ and the Twelve for the Passover. It was pointed out by the man with a pitcher (Mark 14:12-16), probably in order that Judas should not know the place long enough in advance to betray Jesus there. Place in the Life of Christ: the evening before His crucifixion. His last meeting with His disciples. Institution of the Lord’s Supper.

Intervening History: Soon after the visit of the Greeks, and the Lord’s discourse, Jesus left the Temple. The disciples pointed out to Him the buildings of the Temple, and the massive stones of the structures; and Jesus foretold its utter destruction. Then, going out of the city toward Bethany, they came to the Mount of Olives, where the whole city lay before them in its glory; and Jesus foretold the destruction of the city, and the end of the world (Matt. 24), and uttered those three marvelous parables recorded in Matthew 25. The next day, Wednesday, was spent in retirement with His disciples, probably at Bethany, while certain Jews at Jerusalem plotted His death.1 On Thursday, the disciples went into the city to prepare for the celebration of the Passover, and toward evening Jesus went with His disciples to the upper room in the city, where the Passover was to be celebrated by them. It is here the events of our lesson took place. Order of Events at the Supper: The strife for seats of honor (Luke 22:24-30) The Passover meal begun (Luke 22:14-18) The rebuke by Jesus washing their feet (John 13:2-20) While eating He declares who should betray Him (John 13:21-26) Judas leaves the table (John 13:27-30) After the departure of Judas, Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:14-20; Matt. 26:26-29) Discourses and prayer (John, chapters 14-17) Inductive Study of the Lesson: An interesting and helpful study can be made of this lesson by first bringing together the few notices of ambition, or self-seeking, on the part of the disciples, as, for instance, they gathered at the supper (Luke 22:24-30); the ambitious request of James and John (Matt. 20:20-23); on the way home from the transfiguration (mark 9:33, 34; Luke 9:46). Contrast with the Pharisees (Matt. 23:1-8; 6:1, 2, 5, 16). Note the special temptations to the disciples, from honor given to Peter, James, and John at the transfiguration; at the raising of Jairus’ daughter; of Judas as treasurer. What are the results of your inquiry? The warnings of Jesus against this danger (Matt. 20:25-28; 23:1-12; 18:1-6; Mark 9:35-37; 10:13-16; Luke 9:46-48; 14:8, 9; Matt. 5:3). What warnings given to the early church (Rom. 11:20; 12:3, 16; 1 Cor. 4:6, 7; Phil. 2:3; 1 Pet. 5:5, 6; Jas. 3:1; 1 John 2:16; 3 John 9; Rev. 3:17). The example of Christ (Is. 53:7; Zech. 9:9; Matt. 11:19; Luke 22:27; John 8:50; 13:5-14; Phil. 2:7). From the above, make a summary of the principles which should govern our daily life, as well as the arguments therefor. For Home Research and Discussion: The origin of the Passover. The upper room. Washing the disciples’ feet.

The teaching of this act. How Judas became a traitor. Jesus loving to the end. Christ’s greatness and humility. The symbol of feet-washing. Peter’s attitude. The weakness and strength of Peter. How to follow Christ’s example of service?

Introduction Beginning with chapter 13, John’s narrative develops Jesus’ special revelation to the disciples who received Him, despite the betrayal by Judas and Peter’s denial. The 13th chapter details the washing of the apostles’ feet (vs. 1-11), statement of Jesus’ purpose in the painful disclosures about to be made (vs. 12-20), identification of the traitor (vs. 21-30), the new commandment (vs. 31-35), and the prophecy of Peter’s denial (vs. 36-38). Beginning with the 13th chapter and going through chapter 20, John records the events of our Lord’s final week, climaxed by the resurrection. Our lesson considers only the first seventeen verses of chapter 13. Christ’s washing of His disciples’ feet has rightly been called the most remarkable of His deeds. This is a lesson with the strongest possible contrasts. We are to see Christ’s majesty at its highest point of earthly glory, and His humility at its lowliest. If we serve Christ we have at our disposal infinite resources of power and authority, but we must use these resources meekly, by serving others – triumphing only through loving, tender ministries to mankind.

Scripture Reading: Luke 22:24-30; Matthew 20:20-28 (KJV) Jesus, having spent Wednesday in retirement at Bethany in preparation for the awful day of crucifixion, the next morning sent two of His disciples to the city to prepare for the celebration of the Passover. It was to be the scene of His farewell words to His disciples. In the early evening of Thursday He and His disciples went to Jerusalem, and entered the upper room where the meeting was to be held. The Strife to be Counted Greatest Luke 22:24-30 We cannot understand the full meaning of our lesson unless we turn to Luke and read about the contention among the disciples; and to Matthew (and Mark) for the request of James and John, and the consequent indignation of the other disciples.

Strife One occasion of the act that follows seems to have been a contention among the disciples about who should be greatest. It may have kindled at the time by the question as to who should have the place of honor nearest to Jesus, but it was no new feeling. Before this, the mother of James and John had asked that her sons might sit nearest to Jesus in His kingdom; and as the time was manifestly drawing near when Jesus should come in His kingdom, the natural selfishness of the heart prompted them to desire the first and best places in that kingdom. Therefore, as this feeling would be a great injury and hindrance, and was contrary to the whole spirit of His kingdom, it was of the utmost importance to root it out, and Jesus with most impressive words, and by a symbolical act that would long be remembered, taught His disciples the truths of humility and service. The strife probably occurred while the disciples were gathering in the upper room, perhaps before sitting down to the table. It arose from the desire of some to be esteemed greatest, and the unwillingness of others that they should be. In other words, it was apparently twofold: who should be greatest, and who should not be least – a very strange scene on the eve of the most solemn time in all their lives. 1. The time was close at hand – Jesus was soon to be glorified, and His kingdom founded, and the natural selfishness o the human heart prompted them to desire the highest and best places in the new kingdom. The desire may have been kindled into a flame by the question regarding who should have the place of honor at the table, nearest to Jesus – on His left. It is possible that those who had received unusual honors may have claimed the best places as their right. (a) Three had more than once been selected by Jesus for His companions on special occasions, such as the transfiguration; (b) John was the disciple whom Jesus loved: (c) The keys had been given to Peter (Matt. 16:18, 19); (d) Judas, as the treasurer, may have had special ambitions – chief of the treasury; and (e) We know that some time before this the mother of James and John came to Jesus, asking that her sons be placed nearest the king (Matt. 20:20, 21). 2. Another occasion for this strife was doubtless the fact that there was no servant to perform the necessary but menial service of washing the travelsoiled feet of the disciples, and none of them were willing to perform it for the others. Who should serve, and who should be served was the questions. The self-seeking spirit leads to Satan’s kingdom, not to Christ’s. It is the spirit of hell, not of heaven. Self-seeking ambition produces evils innumerable and sorrows unspeakable. It was Milton’s Satan who said, “Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven.” Like a growing devil in the heart, ambition rules the unreigned. But distinguish between the strong desire to improve, to have large usefulness, to grow in holiness and love, and the desire to have more honor and power – to be better than others. To do the very best we can in everything good is, after all, our duty.

Three things that developed the feeling into outward expression: 1. They seem to have wanted the seats of honor at the table nearest the Master. 2. They wanted to have the highest and best places in the new kingdom to be soon inaugurated. James and John had asked for these places. Peter was prominent. These three had more than once been favored, as at the transfiguration. Judas was treasurer. These could naturally assume a certain superiority, and the assumption would “gall the rest, and rankle in their minds.” 3. There was a lowly duty to perform for one another. A lowly duty commonly performed by the lowest slaves, or someone fit for little else. However, in a household like theirs – without slaves – this common duty would have to be performed mutually for one another. But no one was willing to be beneath the others and make himself their servant, so the common duty remained undone. As usual among good men (Judas not included), their higher motives mingled with lower ones. In other words, we may be sure (with the exception of Judas) that the best of motives were mingled with the unworthy ones. They simply wanted to be nearest their Teacher and friend, whom they loved. They wanted to be useful in the new kingdom with power to lead many to the Savior. This fact is recognized by the Lord, because of His gentle, but obvious reproof of them – assuring the good far overbalanced evil. Illustration In a dream the angels took his zeal and weighed it, and told him that it was excellent; it weighted exactly 100 – as much as could be asked, they said. He was greatly gratified by the result, but then they began to analyze it in various ways. Using a crucible the angels tested it in various ways, with these results: 14 parts selfishness; 15 parts sectarianism; 22 parts ambition; 23 parts love of man; and 26 parts love of God. He awoke humbled, determined to be more consecrated. But a dream does not make it true. We are to be very careful how we judge other people’s motives. It is often very hard for to distinguish wrong from right ambition, either in ourselves or in others – whether our ambition is better or greater, or as good and as useful as it can be. The disciples on this occasion exhibited one of the greatest dangers confronting the church of our Lord in this or any age. And we need to pay very close attention to this lesson – study it closely – and absorb the way Jesus taught us to overcome it.

Scripture Reading: John 13:1-5 (KJV) Our Lord’s Greatness and Humility, Loving to the End No teaching is as powerful as living a great truth – showing by example how a person should act. As we look at these verses, note the greatness of Christ, and

the lowliness of the act. Also, note the reasons for the statements in verses 1-3 as bearing on this act of Jesus. Illustration During the terrible cholera that raged through Europe years ago, there were two examples of two kings who went through their cholera-stricken people to help and comfort them at the expense of their own lives. The cholera raged at Naples. It was confined to the lowest and poorest parts of the town, and, because of this fact, a mad rage took possession of the plague-stricken populace. Any wealthy people who went down among them from the better part of the town did so almost at the peril of life. The desperate people resented the very prosperity that sought to help them. For instance, there was a rich Greek who paid someone to drive among them every day, with broths, wines and medicines for the sick that he had purchased. Finally, they grew so mad and desperate in their misery, that the very thought that he was able to come and bring them help enraged them, and one day they mobbed him, killing his horses, and breaking his carriage to pieces; he barely escaped with his life. A riot was imminent, and Naples would have fallen into unutterable horrors, except for Humbert, king of Italy, who went to Naples and entered the plague-stricken quarters of the city, and the hospitals. Why did not the people mob him, as they had the Greek? After all, the king was wealthy, too. It was reported later that the people accepted the king because he came among them as one of them, sharing their dangers. He spent his days in their poor hovels; he spoke to them in their own Neapolitan patois. He nursed their sick. He held them in his arms when they were dying. He wept over them when they died. He was their brother in their sorrow, and the bitterness melted out of their hearts, and, like little children, they were ready to do his bidding. In 1885, Alfonso, king of Spain, went into one of the provinces of Spain where they were dying at the rate of 4,000 a week, and visited hospitals. On his return to Madrid, he received a tremendous welcome from the crowd gathered at the station. King Alfonso was never very popular with his people, but history reveals that this little demonstration of kingly sympathy and courage in a time of sore need, won their love. Of all the words and actions of our Lord that have been recorded in the Gospels, there is none, perhaps, more remarkable, more unlike every other system of morals with which we are acquainted, than the action described in this passage of Scripture. It is a lesson which we all need, at every time of life, at every age of the world, in every condition of society. (Arnold of Rugby) This is a lesson of the strongest possible contrasts. We are to see Christ’s majesty at its highest point of earthly glory, and His humility at its lowliest. The first picture gives the church a proud sense of its coming triumph in the world; the second reminds the church that it triumphs only through its loving, tender ministries to men. The first picture teaches us personally that if we serve Christ we have at our disposal infinite resources of power and authority; the second, that we must use those resources meekly, in serving others.

It is perfectly natural to pass from our Lord’s crowning evidences of power and popularity to the scene of the upper room – the most conspicuous illustration of Christ’s humility. Jesus was King of the Jews, and Lord of the earth; but He was the Son of God. As the first, He had entered Jerusalem in triumph; as the second, He had received the first fruits of the Greeks; as the third, He advanced along the path of sacrifice, appointed by His Father. The feet-washing, in its humility and self-abnegation, was the beginning of Calvary. What preparations were made for Christ’s last supper with His disciples? The disciples probably expected Christ to observe the feast in Bethany, which was considered within the limits of Jerusalem. But he, the true Paschal Lamb, was to be sacrificed once and forever in the Holy City, where it is probably that in that very Passover some 260,000 of those lambs of which he was antitype were destined to be slain. (Farrar) Therefore, He sent Peter and John to Jerusalem, where by a mysterious sign (Mark 14:13), there willing host was indicated and the roof room was made ready for their reception. What was the relation of this feast to the Passover? It occurred the evening before the feast of the Passover, Nisan 13. The first three Gospels “are correct in stating that the Last Supper had in some sense the character of a Paschal meal; but it is quite evident from John that the Last Supper was not the Passover in the ordinary Jewish sense” (Cambridge Bible). How do you picture the room of the Last Supper? It was unlike the famous “Last Supper” of Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps the world’s greatest painting, located in the refectory of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, at Milan, was the most consummate outcome of his genius. Every other picture of the Lord’s Supper is dwarfed into insignificance by the side of this. Christ himself remains majestic in isolation, his wonderful majesty only slightly dimmed by sadness. The apostles are divided into four groups. At the right of the Saviour, Peter is leaning across the traitor Judas to whisper in the ear of the youthful and beautiful St. John that he should ask Christ whom he meant to indicate. Peter is ardent and excited; John is sunk in sorrow. Judas is grasping the bag in his right hand; while his left, half lifted from the table, shows that he, too, is alarmed; his face is powerful and bad, but not revolting. His arm has, at least in Raphael Mengs’ engraving, with evil omen, upset the salt cellar. (Farrar) Regarding the upper room itself, Farrar wrote: The room probably had white walls, and was bare of all except the most necessary furniture and adornment. The couches or cushions, each large enough to hold three persons, were place around three

sides of one or more low tables of gaily painted wood, each scarcely higher than stools. The seat of honor was the central one of the central triclinium, or mat. This was, of course, occupied by the Lord. Each guest reclined at full length, leaning on his left elbow, that his right hand might be free. At the right hand of Jesus reclined the beloved disciple, whose head therefore could, at any moment, be placed upon the breast of his friend and Lord. What quarrel had arisen among the disciples? A contention as to precedence (Luke 22:24). Perhaps it started in the seating of the disciples, each seeking the “chief seats,” those nearest Christ. Why was this quarrel grievous to Christ? 1. Because He had tried so hard, by precept and example, to cultivate in them the spirit of lowliness and self-forgetfulness (Mark 10:35-45; Luke 9:46-48, etc.). 2. Because it showed how little of His spirit His disciples had, and yet He must soon leave His work for them to carry on. 3. Because the quarrel marred this last hour of communion, when He was about to institute the most blessed of commemorative rites. 4. Because He was even then in the shadow of that cross He had so often foretold, and His disciples’ hearts should have been especially tender instead of boastful and self-seeking. 13:1 ... “Now before the feast of the Passover.” That is, immediately before: just as He was about to sit down with His disciples to the Paschal feast (Abbott). This is to be construed with he loved, etc., at the close the verse. Notes regarding time and place It was in the upper room before the supper began, while they were waiting for the supper to be served (v. 2). This is the natural meaning, and agrees with the other Gospels (Matt. 26:17). Some interpret the statement as meaning that this supper was not the Passover supper, but on the evening before, and, therefore, in direct contradiction to the statements of the other evangelists. But this is forced and unnatural. The notes of time in John’s Gospel clearly show that St. John places the crucifixion on the preparation or eve of the Passover, i.e., on Nisan 14, on the afternoon of which the paschal lamb was slain; and that he makes the Passover begin at sunset that same day. Consequently our Lord was in the grave before the Passover began, and the Last Supper cannot have been the paschal meal. (Cambridge Bible) Coffman writes: We take these words in their simplest and most obvious sense as declaring that the supper about to be narrated occurred in advance

of the Jewish Passover; and, although it resembled the Passover in so many details, it was nevertheless not technically the Passover. Jesus was crucified on the Preparation (19:31), and the Passover was eaten after sundown the day Jesus died. There is no way the Passover itself could have been called the Preparation. The synoptics are in perfect harmony with this, Matthew making it clear that Jesus ate this mean reclining (26:20), which he would not have done had it been the Passover. So in a number of entirely consistent notes of time, John represents the Last Supper as taking place the day before the Passover, or on Thursday the thirteenth of the month Nisan, so that our Lord was crucified on the afternoon of Friday, the fourteenth of Nisan, at the very time when the paschal lambs were being slain. The synoptic Gospels represent the Last Supper as eaten twentyfour hours before the regular Passover feast. 13:1 … “When Jesus knew.” R.V., “Jesus knowing,” being fully conscious. The verb being in the participial form, as in the following phrase, “having loved.” 13:1 … “His hour was come.” Throughout His ministry, Christ was fully aware of the Father’s ordering of all His steps and Jesus was fully conscious that the moment of His offering on the cross was at hand. Here and elsewhere in this Gospel it is implied that the course of Christ’s life and its various crises were foreordained by the Divine counsel (John 2:4; 7:6; 12:23, 27; 17:1). Till the appointed time, His enemies could have no power over Him (John 7:30; 8:20; 11:9). (Century Bible) 13:1 … “That he should depart out of this world unto the Father.” The Greek expressing the act of going over from one place or sphere to another. His going away could not quench His love. Even the sufferings of the cross could not destroy His love, but manifested greater strength and glory. He has watched the dark shadow creeping always nearer, now he can feel its chill sweep his cheek. He has come to the moment when conscience searches the heart of the average man with fingers tipped with fire. And what is he doing? Bathing the feet of a few fishermen. What ineffable calmness! What unbroken serenity! Unconscious of any need in himself, he seems conscious only of the need of the friends he is to leave so soon. (McClelland) He was conscious not only that it was His hour of agony, but that this hour was the gate to the eternal glory with His Father. The Lord knew that the time of His death was fixed in the providence of God, and Scripture has man references to this appointed hour.3 The light from beyond shone back even on this dreadful hour. He saw beyond the veil.

13:1 … “Having loved his own” Vincent’s Word Study points out that of the two Greek words for “love,” Jesus uses the word indicating the discriminating affection; the love of choice, and selection. He showed His love by coming into the world to make them His own. “His own” were His nearest friends, the disciples, and also the world-wide circle of His disciples of which these twelve were the nucleus. They were His own, because He had chosen them; because they had been made into new men by Him, all the best in them coming from Him; because they had chosen Him as their Teacher and Savior; because they were like Him, filled with His spirit, carrying out His plans. They are His children, His brothers and sisters, His disciples, His people, His friends. “They shall be mine . . . in that day when I make up my jewels (Mal. 3:17). 13:1 … “Which were in the world.” John speaks of them as “in the world,” having in mind the fact that their Master was so soon to go “out of the world” and leave them sadly alone. Under such circumstances our Lord’s love would shine most brightly. Christ held His followers as peculiarly His own possession, selected from mankind and given Him by His Father. The Savior cherished them, and no one should pluck them out of His hand.4 So, in what spirit was this act of humility performed? In the spirit of the tenderest love, not of haughty rebuke. 13:1 … “He loved them unto the end.” (R.V. margin, “to the uttermost”). “He loved them through all the sufferings and to all the issues to which His love brought them.” (Expositor’s Greek Testament). He loved them “unto the end and limit of all love.” (Morrison). “The statement is the suitable introduction to all that now looms in view.” (Dods). “Well may it be noted that, under the present consciousness that the great crisis is come, Christ is occupied, not with self, but with them.” (Bernard). Meyer’s Love to the Uttermost is a worthy reading. It is possible to perform a kind deed in an angry way and lowly deed in a proud way; but this was true love and humility. The beautiful act was inspired as much by sorrow at the coming separation (v 1), as by a desire to rebuke the disciples. Christ shows His deep affection for those He was so soon to leave. “Parting brings deeper tenderness, as an earthquake may lay bare hidden veins of gold” (Alexander Maclaren). The end both in time and accomplishment; that is, He loved them till death broke in on His life of love; He loved them till love had finished its purpose in them by their redemption; loved them despite their quarrels and contentions, that by love He might brood and perfect the new life in them. Abbott points out that “He loved them even when He saw what that love would cost Him. Looking in the face of agony and death, He went on in His work of love. Properly the word signifies not merely end, but also completion. The phrase, His own which were in the world, does not imply a limitation of love, as though His love were for a limited number; but it is only in His own that His love accomplishes its designs.” “It was just because He saw that the time of parting was at hand that He redoubled His

tenderness toward those whom He had so faithfully loved” (Godet). And He loved them even when He saw what that love would cost Him. Looking in the face of agony and death, He went on in His work of love, proving that He so loved by washing their feet, by the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and by His death on the cross. He loved them (1) to the uttermost limit of love, the greatest love known in the universe; and (2) with a love without end. God’s love never changes, never ceases, any more than the sun ceases to shine, although men may hide from its light in caves and dungeons. This loving to the end is the test of love – love that fire cannot quench, nor water drown; love that no failure or disappointment or ingratitude or even hate, in the ones loved, can cause to diminish or cease. Yes, the very fact of their weakness and imperfections in a hostile world full of pitfalls and temptations never hindered His love toward them, as sickness and pain increases the care and devotion of the Good Physician. Jesus foresaw Peter’s denials, but He loved on; He foresaw that all the twelve would forsake Him and flee from His danger within a few hours, but He loved them still; He foresaw the treachery of Judas, but He did not cease to love him, but sought again and again in these remaining hours to save him – He washed his feel, He warned him, He gave him the sop from the table. He knew of the ambitious strife of the apostles, but He still could set them an example of love. He could foresee all the imperfections and failures of His followers down through the ages, still, His love never failed. 13:2 … “And supper being ended” The literal meaning is, “supper having come.” Ended is not in the original. The meaning is the supper being, being served, having commenced, while supper was in progress. Meyer wrote, “The original is simply, ‘and supper being’ i.e., being in progress, during supper, in the Revised Version” The disciples had arranged themselves around the table as best they could, possibly as Professor Dods suggests, “looking at the table, looking at the ceiling, arranging their dress, each resolved upon this – that he would not be the man to own himself servant of all.” Take note of the wisdom of Jesus in dealing with them. In the excitement of their strife they were not in a fit condition to receive the lesson Jesus would teach. He waited for “the psychological moment.” By waiting till supper was fully begun, Jesus gave the disciples ample opportunity to repent and take the lower instead of the better places, and to wash one another’s feet. The delay would also give time for their excited feelings to quiet down, and their reason and conscience to begin to act, and a sense of shame to come over them for such a contention at such a time. They may have seen the sadness in Jesus’ face, a silent reproof. It was the custom for slaves to wash the feet of the guests before sitting down to meat; and we are tempted to suppose that the symbolical act, which our evangelist relates here, took the place of this custom. (Sanday) 13: 2 … “The devil having now [already] put into the heart,” etc. Here we see the circumstances of the other side of the scene, three in number. First, the devil,

who had “already” plotted the destruction of Jesus, fixed on Judas as the instrument; second, Judas Iscariot, the victim of the devil’s wiles; and third the feelings of the devil’s heart – treachery, hatred. The three particulars are in the sharpest contrast with those in verse 1 – the devil with Jesus, Judas with “his own,” treachery with love. “Darkness is over against light, earth over against heaven, the lie over against the truth” (Schaff). The devil was the sower, but the soil was ready to receive the seed. Thus, a past suggestion is indicated. The devil having deviled it into the heart of Judas; the archer having shot his shaft, the sharp arrow of fatal suggestion of betrayal, into the man’s mind, one of the fiery darts of the wicked; this is the intense figure in the expression. (Robinson) Satan excites thoughts, feelings, and purposes in such a way that we are conscious of nothing but our own thinking, feeling, and willing, and can judge this or that to come from him only by its moral character. The fact that Satan suggested evil to our minds does not impair our responsibility, since the thought, feeling, purpose, is consciously and freely our own. (Broadus) Yes, Satan was certainly the seed-sower, but Judas had for a long time been preparing the soil of his heart to receive the evil seed or it could not have sprung up. The suggestion of Satan may have come through his love of money and through anger at the reproof of Jesus for complaining of Mary’s waste of ointment.5 Satan opened the door, and Judas, looking in at the riches to which it opened, walked into the trap.6 In this connection, read vs. 18-30, for help understanding how Jesus treated Judas. He knew the heart of Judas. He knew that he was a traitor, and had joined the ranks of His enemies, and their leader and inspirer, the devil. But, 1. He did not denounce him. “Had Jesus unmasked him before such fiery spirits as John and Peter, Judas would never have left that room alive. Peter’s sword would have made surer work than with Malchus. Judas therefore is included in the feet-washing” (Expositor’s Greek Testament). But Jesus did as He had always done – He used every means that kindness and love could suggest to make Judas a good man. 2. Now He proceeds to wash his feet, giving Judas the same lesson regarding the need for purity, and the noble service of love as the other disciple’s received, and that should have melted even the heart of one like Judas. “Jesus at the feet of the traitor! What a picture! What lesson for us” (Astié). Illustration In the Orient there is a tree which puts forth a beautiful leaf, then a red hypnotic flower, and afterwards a gall-apple filled with poisonous dust. It is called the “Judas tree”: it appropriately symbolizes the self-propagating power of evil; its leaf, its blossom, and its fatal fruit. (Burrell)

3. Jesus showed Judas His portrait in the Scriptures, the infamous portrait of a traitor violating the most sacred covenant among the Orientals (vs. 18, 26). Judas should have recoiled with horror as he looked into this mirror. 4. Jesus applied the picture by foretelling it. 5. Jesus clearly set it out by giving the sop, expressing covenant friendship. George M. McClellan wrote these stirring words: Christ washed the feet of Judas! Yet all his lurking sin was bare to him; His bargain with the priest; and, more than this, In Olivet, beneath the moonlight dim, Afore was known and felt his treacherous kiss. Christ washed the feet of Judas! And thus a girded servant, self-abased, Taught that no wrong this side the gate of heaven Was e’er too great to wholly be effaced, And, though unasked, in spirit be forgiven. 13:3 … “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands.” (1) The tense expresses no presentiment of coming power, but an act already past. Fully conscious that He was the Son of God, with all power and glory, to which He was soon to return. This verse sets before us the infinite condescension of Jesus, and reinforces the lesson of the act that follows. No disciple could ever claim that he was too great, too glorious; too high ranking, too supremely power, to do the humblest service for man. Greatness and power are given for this very purpose. His act of profound humility was performed in the clear consciousness that He was King of kings and Lord of lords, that God had given Him the sovereignty and possession of all the earth. This fact, and what follows, shows the greatness of Christ’s condescension in washing His disciples’ feet. 13:3 … “That he was come from God.” (2) Words expressing that He had left the presence of God as the “sent” of God; not His divine original, which would have required another form of expression. 13:3 … “Went to God,” (3) That He “went” (was going) as One who has executed His commission. The tree clauses thus connect themselves with His work of redeeming love (Schaff). These two verses are given, in order to set forth more clearly the condescension and love of Jesus in the act of washing the disciples’ feet. Reading the traitor’s heart, Jesus still washed the feet of Judas, no doubt moving his heart to repent of his betrayal, if it had not already been hardened; v. 3 shows the greatness of Jesus’ condescension. It was the Messiah, the Christ 7 – all powerful, all glorious – who washed the feet of the fishermen of Galilee.

The love which went out toward this little group of men had Deity in it. It was the love of the Throne, of the glory He had with the Father before the worlds were, of that which now fills the bosom of His ascended and glorified nature. (Meyer) The consciousness of impending separation leads us all to try to put all our love into a last look, a last word, a last embrace, which will be remembered forever. The earthquake of parting lays bare the seams of gold in the rock. (Maclaren) Christ washed His disciple’s feet knowing that He was the Son of God and conscious of His deity; fully realizing also that He was to die a horrible death on the morrow. As their God, those twelve men owed Him supreme worship, as well as tender, thoughtful and eager service as their personal Savior. This long preamble to the actual deed was the fruit of some sixty years of the loving meditation of John on it – every word having a deep and reverent meaning; every word heightening the solemn and sweet significance of the scene. The Supper scene We must not think of a modern table with chairs, as represented in many famous pictures, but rather a low, Eastern table, surrounded on three sides by couches or cushioned divans, on which each guest reclines, lying on his left side and leaning on the left hand, with his head nearest the table, and his feel stretching back towards the ground. Each guest occupies a separate divan, or pillow. Thus it was easy to wash their feet one after another. (Farrar) The room was finished with table, couches, table equipment, basin and pitcher for washing hands and feet. Such an Eastern table would have been oval or rather elongated, two parts covered with a cloth, the single divans or pillows would have ranged in the form of an elongated horseshoe, leaving free one end of the table, somewhat as in this picture:

Here “A” represents the table; “B” “B” respectively the ends of the two rows of single divans on which each guest reclines, lying on his left side, and leaning on the left hand, with his head (“H”) nearest the table, and his feet (“F”) stretching back toward the ground. Each guest occupies a separate divan or pillow. (Thus we see how Jesus could wash their feet.) As to the arrangements of the guests, the chief personage would sit near one end of the table. If there were three persons, he would sit between the two. We know from the Gospel narrative that John occupied the place on Jesus’ right, at that end of the divans, as we may call it, at the head of the table. But the chief place next to the Master would be that to His left, or above Him. In the strife of the disciples, i.e., who should be accounted the greatest, this had been claimed, and we believe it to have been actually occupied, by Judas. This explains how, when Christ whispered to John by what sign to recognize the traitor, none of the others heard it. It also explains how Christ would first hand to Judas the sop, which formed part of the Paschal ritual, beginning with him as the chief guest at the table, without thereby exciting special notice. Lastly, it accounts for the circumstance that, when Judas, desirous of ascertaining whether his treachery was known, dared to ask whether it was he, and received the affirmative answer, no one at table knew what had passed. But this could not have been at his left, or the post of chief honor. Regarding Peter, we can understand how, when the Lord with such loving words rebuked their self-seeking, and taught them of the greatness of Christian humility, he should, in his impetuosity of shame, have rushed to take the lowest place at the other end of the table. Finally, we can now understand how Peter could beckon to John, who sat at the opposite end of the table, over against him, and ask him across the table who the traitor was. The rest of the disciples would occupy such places as were most convenient, or suited their fellowship with one another (Edersheim). 13:4 … “He riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments;” He had lain down on the couch, expecting that one of His disciples would wash the feet of the company, as was evidently the custom among them. This was the Passover Supper, not the Lord’s Supper, which was instituted later in the evening. The Paschal supper began by the head of the company taking the

first cup of wine mingled with water, and speaking over it “the thanksgiving.” This cup was then passed around. The next part of the ceremonial was for the head of the company to rise and “wash hands.” It was at this point of the supper, shortly after the strife among the disciples, that Jesus took the basin and ewer which were at hand, and taught them this lesson. The immediate cause of our Lord’s act of humility and service was undoubtedly the unworthy strife among the disciples – not the first that had occurred, i.e., as to which of them should have precedence in the kingdom of which Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His popularity since had given them renewed hope (Luke 22:24-27). Very likely this strife was brought to a head by some foolish struggle for the chief seats at the table, those on the right and left of Jesus. The Savior could not proceed with the solemn scene of the Last Supper while His disciples were in this ugly mod, and it was with uneasy glances as He laid aside His upper garments for ease in performing the contemplated service. 13:4 … “And he took a towel, and girded himself.” Oriental garments are much the same now as in the days of Jesus. Over the drawers and the trousers and the shirt, and perhaps over the vest and the kuftan, like a dressing gown, are worn loose, flowing robes, which must be laid aside when one has any special service to perform. Into the girdle, which may be of leather or may be a shawl, the skirt of the kuftan is tucked when one is preparing for menial service, or for running, or for fighting. “The Lord ‘girded himself’ by girding His inner tunic about the loins with a towel, used partly in lieu of a girdle and partly to wipe the feet. Thus Christ put on the ordinary habit of a servant for a servant’s work” (Abbott).8 With the towel for a girdle, He fastened up His long robe out of the way. “And I think that when John, in his revelation on Patmos, saw the Son of Man girt with a golden girdle (Rev. 1:13), he would recall this girding at the supper” (Morrison). Our Lord had been waiting patiently and hopefully to see whether some of the Twelve would be moved to perform the customary bathing of the hot and dusty feet, bare in their sandals; but all were too angry and proud. He waited till it was clear that no one else would do it, and then He did it Himself. 13:5 … “Then he poured water into the basin.” “The large copper basin commonly found in oriental houses” (Cambridge Bible). A pitcher of water was ready as part of the arrangements of the room made in advance by Peter and John, and the usual large copper basin lay beside it. In this feet-washing the feet were not put into the basin; the water was poured over the feet, and the basin held under to keep the water from spilling on the floor. In other words, the feet are washed in the falling stream, making it difficult for someone to wash his own feet. 13:5 … “Began to wash.” Implying that He had washed some of the feet before He came to Peter. No doubt washing them in order, as they reclined on their couches at the low table, their bare feet stretched outward, away from the table; and so He continued until reaching Peter.

The disciples sat down to the meal without washing their feet, after a hot and dusty walk. There was no servant to perform the menial act for them; and no one would volunteer to do it for the rest. (Abbott) Christ had already lain down; as they had no servants, the feetwashing should have been done by one of the disciples; the things necessary for it are at hand. The disciples are still disputing who shall undertake to do it. Jesus then rises Himself to perform this duty of a servant. (Tholuck)9 13:5 … “The disciples’ feet.” As sandals were ineffectual against the dust and heat of an Eastern climate, washing the feet on entering a house was an act both of respect to the company and of refreshment to the traveler. The sandals of one coming in were always taken from the feet at the door. (Lange) This feet-washing should have been done by one of the disciples; the things necessary for it are at hand. The disciples are still disputing who shall undertake to do it. Jesus then rises himself to perform this duty of a servant. (Tholuck) 13:5 … “And to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.” How plainly do all these details mark the narrative as that of an eye-witness. A year before this, on their way from the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples had similarly quarreled about precedence, and Christ had then rebuked them by another acted parable, placing a little child in their midst, and bidding them become like little children if they would enter His kingdom and share its glories.10 We have here a principle laid down; the same that the Romans referred to in the proverb, Servire est regnare. To serve is indeed to reign. Is a mother ever greater than when she ministers to her children? Is a king ever more sovereign than when he seeks the welfare of his humblest subjects? Where will you find a nobler legend than that on the escutcheon of the Prince of Wales? “I serve!” (Burrell) Christ had full knowledge of his glory and dignity and in spite of that – nay, because of that – he emptied himself of his glory and took upon himself the form of a servant. The nearer the end, the more Christ was conscious of his glory, and the more clearly did he show that it was the glory of perfect sacrifice. What is the meaning of this to us? It means that here in this self-humiliation we have a revelation of what God is. It means that here we have a sample of the divine life, and therefore a standard for all human life. (Black)

“Service – that is the key-word for life, for Christ, and for all his followers. And mark, further, that it is service in order to cleanse” (Maclaren). Who is not able to picture the scene – the faces of John, and James, and Peter; the intense silence, in which each movement of Jesus was painfully audible; the self-reproach as they perceived what it meant; the bitter humiliation and the burning shame! The way John recites each detail tells how that scene had scorched itself on his soul. (Elmslie) Regarding this verse, Coffman wrote: The background of this moving incident includes the jealousy of the Twelve among themselves as to who was "greatest," a jealousy that had been aggravated by the request of Zebedee's wife that James and John should have the chief seats in the new kingdom. The disciples' concern over questions like this could have been the reason that none of them volunteered to perform the menial task of washing feet. No one made a move; and, apparently, the supper had actually begun without the customary foot-washing having taken place. This was not a ceremonial act at all, but a necessity due to the type of sandals worn and the dusty condition of all roads in those days. It would have been uncomfortable for them to have continued without washing their feet; but, since the task was usually performed by servants, and none of those disciples jockeying for position as "head man" in the kingdom would touch so menial a task, the Lord did it! In this act he truly took upon him the form of a servant (Phil. 2:1-9).

Scripture Reading: John 13:6-11 (KJV) Peter, Slow to Understand Christ’s Humility 13:6 … “So he cometh to Simon Peter.” Something notable always happens when the narrative reaches this forthright apostle. Shame and astonishment shut the mouths of the disciples, and not a sound broke the stillness of the room but the tinkle and plash of the water in the basin as Jesus went from couch to couch. But the silence was broken when he came to Peter. (Dods) 13:6 … “Lord, dost thou wash my feet?” It was characteristic of Peter to be first to protest against Christ’s act – and doubtless to be proud that he was the first to protest! “The two pronouns, thou, my, stand together at the beginning of the sentence in emphatic contrast: ‘Dost thou of me wash the feet?’“ (Vincent). Ellicott points out that “the emphasis lies first on thou, and then, a little slighter,

on my. The word thou is to be strongly emphasized, but the common error of reading the word my as an emphatic word is to be avoided” “Dost thou, my Lord and Master, act as my menial? ‘With those hands’ he sayeth, ‘with which thou hast opened eyes, and cleansed lepers, and raised the dead!” (Chrysostom). The other disciples seemed to have allowed Jesus to wash their feet in silent shame, but Peter burst out in an indignant exposition of protest. The collocation of the words is unusual and explosive: “Thou, my feet dost wash?” To such a man as Peter there was a world of separation between those two pronouns. He recoiled with unutterable sense of shame, with his face all aglow with burning astonishment. (Robinson) 13:7 … “Jesus answered [to prepare Peter to accept and ponder the lesson] and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now.” In other words, you do not comprehend its meaning, you do not see how it is but a visible expression of My whole mission, in which I laid aside My glory with the Father, and took upon Myself the form of a servant. The truths taught here, i.e., Jesus’ application of His act to the consciences of His disciples, are still needed everywhere. Young and old alike should be trained and taught by example, as well as by word, to not seek for personal honor, but rather how they can serve the humblest of God’s children. All of us should at all times look out for those among us who are neglected. Illustration A newspaper reporter dressed up as a respectable working man – clean and neat clothing, but threadbare and faded. He visited a number of leading churches in a large city, and reported his treatment church by church. He summed up his article in this way, Several churches paid no attention to me at all and did not offer even a hymn-book (I later returned to these same churches in good clothes and received exemplary treatment). Some of the churches treated me coldly. There was only one church that cordially received me and treated me as any Christian gentleman should be. Regarding the statement, “What I do,” Alford wrote: (1) This washing itself, as a lesson of humility and love – v. 14. (2) Its symbolical meaning – vs. 9, 10. (3) The great act of love, the laying aside my glory and becoming in the form of a servant, that the washing of the Holy Spirit may cleanse men. Here both pronouns are emphatic, and convey a rebuke to Peter. His words had almost implied that the Lord’s act was wholly out of place, like one who did not know what he was doing. The opposite was actually the case. “What I do thou knowest not now.”

Peter, the first of the disciples to recognize and assert the Messiahship of Jesus, was yet far from understanding His real nature and the vastness of His mission and the work for the world; therefore Peter could not yet enter into the full meaning of this act of lowly serviced, typifying the infinite condescension of God in entering humanity and suffering death for our sins. 13:7 … “But thou shalt know [R.V., “understand”] hereafter.” Our Lord says, “I will explain presently”; and after all the feet were washed, He does explain (vs. 12-17). “It is true of all symbols, that we can know little of them at first. The experience of life interprets them” (Maurice). This deed gives us “the full substance of the gospel concentrated into a single lesson, the whole of practical Christianity in a single symbolic act” (Fisher). “These words apply to all our mortal life, in which the lamp of faith can alone fling a little ring of illumination amid the encircling gloom” (Farrar). Peter was soon taught the simpler meaning of Christ’s act, but the deepest meaning, its force as a symbol of Christ’s life and death, he did not understand until after Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection and the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. John Newton wrote: “Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan his work in vain; God is his own interpreter, And he will make it plain.” Illustration Much of the Bible must be interpreted to us by the experiences of our lives, as “Dr. Duff found the key to the vindication of what are called ‘the imprecatory psalms’ in the horrors of the Indian Mutiny” (Taylor). Peter’s epistles show how fully he later entered into the meaning of Christ’s lowliness and sacrifice.11 1. Jesus explained the meaning to Peter after the work was completed. 2. As he advanced in knowledge of Christ’s kingdom, its spirit, and its work; as his own character developed, Peter would be able to comprehend how this act symbolized the whole mission of Christ, expressing the character and work of His disciples. 3. Hereafter in the heavenly world he would know more of the heights and depths of its meaning. These words spoken to Peter, “not knowing now, but hereafter,” are often spoken to us. There are things in every life that we cannot understand now – troubles, disappointments, sickness, poverty, death; but the time will come when all will be plain. The child in school cannot understand the reasons for some of his/her studies, but the experiences of later life will make them clean. None of us know at the beginning the full meaning of our life, or for what some of our experiences are training us. Robert Raikes had no vision of the millions studying the Bible, when he started the first “Sunday-school.” He only saw his present work and duty. John Bunyan, shut up in prison for the best twelve years of his life, had no conception that “Pilgrim’s Progress” would enable him to reach millions for centuries. So, in our feeble beginnings, our narrow circumstances, our trials and

disappointments, we may know that if we are faithful we shall understand later on the meaning of all, and rejoice in the way God has led us. It is in the trying circumstances of the future, in the zealous discharge of the task that shall be his, and in the ripening of Christian experience, that Peter shall “learn,” shall “perceive,” the full meaning of what he at present feels to be so incomprehensible. (Schaff) “But not in its full depth of meaning until he should be in the eternal world, where we know as we are known” (Clark). 13:8 … “Peter said unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.” “Literally, ‘thou shalt by no means wash my feet as long as the world stands’” Vincent). Peter, humble enough not to allow Jesus to wash his feet, is yet not humble enough to yield submissively when his Lord tells him to submit. The negative is the strongest form possible, and is translated by Weymouth, “Never while the world lasts shall you wash my feet.” This disciple did not hesitate to command his Lord. Once when Jesus had foretold His coming death on the cross, “Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee” (Matt. 16:21-23). Jesus approached him again; Peter sprang from the touch, and violently exclaimed, with an extravagance of refusal almost unparalleled: “Not to all eternity shalt thou wash my feet!” Chrysostom said, “It seems as if one might have seen in those delicate fingers around the napkin all Jesus’ miracles:” “No! not with hands that opened eyes, and cleansed lepers, and raised the dead!” (Robinson). Peter has not yet learned his lesson. To refuse was the sign of neither humility nor obedience, but of pride and unbelief, for it showed that he himself would not have condescended to do what Jesus did, and that he did not fully trust the strange words of Jesus. Abbott wrote: “He thought the act, which was a manifestation of the true glory of the Lord, dishonored him.” 13:8 … “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” Cannot share My kingdom, My character, My work; must be prepared to leave the room, and the company of disciples. This might mean that Peter should be shut out of the coming meal, but doubtless Christ meant to imply an exclusion from his fellowship, and so Peter understands it. The washing of Christ’s deeper thought was that spiritual washing which is absolutely necessary in order to have any part in him (Rom. 8:9). That the outward washing only is not here meant is plain from the fact that Judas was washed, but yet had no part in Jesus. (Alford) Illustration The ancients sometimes, when they offered to Jupiter a victim which was not quite white, would chalk over its colored spots, and

so try to pass it off as white, and, as it were, cheat their gods into an acceptance of that which was imperfect. But think you that the All-seeing God will thus be cheated into the acceptance of a soul of which the voluntary, the self-contracted stains are but smeared over and hidden under the white chalk of self-deception, of hypocrisy? (Farrar) Why would Peter have “no part” with Christ, unless Jesus washed his feet? 1. Because the first condition of discipleship was submission to Christ, even when he could not understand all the reasons for the command. 2. Because this washing was symbolical of spiritual cleansing, and Peter himself understood it so (v 9). 3. He must enter into the spirit of Christ’s sacrifice and humility, or he could not do the work of Christ – the work Christ would do through him in the world. In other words, unless Peter enters into the spirit of that self-sacrificing work of love that Jesus performs, makes that spirit his own spirit, sees the beauty and owns the glory of the Master becoming the servant for His people’s sake12 and becomes in like manner ready to sacrifice himself if he may thereby help the humblest member of the flock of Christ, than he is going his own way, not the way of Jesus; he is choosing his own portion, not the portion of his Lord; he must be content to separate from One whom he loved with all his heart, and to have no more a part with Him either in His sufferings or His reward. It is this thought, even though it may be as yet imperfectly apprehended by the apostle that leads to the sudden revulsion of feeling in the following verse. Smith wrote: “I venture to think that he who puts from him ‘the basin and the towel’ is very ill prepared to take the bread, and ‘the cup of blessing.’” When we have become defiled we must run away to Jesus and humbly put the defiled feet in his pierced hand. But when that has been done faith says, “Now I am cleansed.” (Scofield) 13:9 … “Simon Peter saith unto him [He speaks with the impetuosity that marks all his appearances in the first three Gospels also] Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head” (or face). If the washing meant being with Jesus, having a part in the work and character of Jesus, he could not have enough of a cleansing so precious. This is surely implied in this answer an incipient apprehension of the meaning of our Lord’s words. The expression, “if I wash thee not,” has awakened in him, as the Lord’s presence did (Luke 5:8), a feeling of his own want of cleansing, his entire pollution. (Alford) His error was twofold. (1) He did not realize that enlarging the symbol does not increase that which is symbolized. (2) He still had too much self-sufficiency, and was dictating to his Lord the method of His procedure. However, in spite of his errors, his heart glowed with love to his Teacher. He had learned his lesson.

Jesus must have welcomed this outburst of passionate enthusiasm, even though He must show that Peter’s expression of it was unnecessary. 13:10 … “Jesus saith to him [Our Lord no doubt spoke with an understanding and forgiving smile for his blundering but true-hearted disciple], He that is washed” (R.V., “bathed”13). “Washed” here means to bathe all over, as in taking a bath. It typifies conversion and regeneration, the acceptance of Christ as our Savior and entrance into the new life with Him. It is a different word from “to wash” that follows, which means to wash a part, such as the hands or feet—here it means to bathe the whole person. “A moment ago he told his master he was doing too much: now he tells him he is doing too little. Self-will gives place slowly. Yet this was the unmistakable expression of devotion” (Expositor’s Greek Testament). To have no part with Christ – that was more than he could bear. It is as though he would say, “A great part in thee!” First of all, he had wished to differ from the others in not being washed at all. Now that he must be washed, he would be the most washed of all. Ah, the subtle danger of wanting to be first, even in goodness! (Elmslie) 13:10 … “needeth not save to wash his feet.” Dods wrote: “The daily use of the bath rendered it needless to wash more than the feet which were soiled with walking from the bath to the supper table.” A man who has bather does not need to bathe again when he reaches home, but only to wash the dust off his feet, then he is wholly clean. So also in the spiritual life, a man whose moral nature has once been thoroughly purified need not think that this has been all undone if in the walk through life he contracts some stains; these must be washed away, and then he is once more wholly clean. Peter, conscious of his own imperfections, in Luke 5:8, and possibly here, rushes to the conclusion that he is utterly unclean. (Cambridge Bible) This foot-washing represented to them, besides its lesson of humility and brotherly love, their daily omissions, these daily contaminations and contacts with the world, make repentance and forgiveness the daily need of the Christian. (Vaughan) If I try to live merely on the strength of grace given me long ago, I shall certainly fall. A daily cleansing I must have for daily sin; and daily grace is as needful to me as daily bread. (Knight) One who has just bathed, and goes straight home, will not on returning there need to be bathed again, for his body just cleansed has not yet had time to contract fresh soils. There is, however, one exception – the feet, left partially unprotected by the open sandals

from dust or mire on the way home, may need a fresh cleansing. But this is all. (Thorold) The heart, the inward being of the disciples – these were already washed, were cleansed, were sanctified; but the feet, soiled with the clinging dust of the daily walk, these must be ever cleansed in daily renovation. (Farrar) Alford points out that This bathing represents the bath of the new birth, and this footwashing represented to them, besides its lesson of humility and brotherly love, their daily need of cleansing from daily pollution, even after spiritual regeneration, at the hands of their Divine Master.14 13:10 … “And ye are clean, but not all.” The feet of all the disciples had been washed, including Judas; but Judas had not been in the bath. By this Jesus meant that the other disciples could easily be cleansed of their fits of temper, their jealousy, their foolish ambitions, even of the temporary weakness that was soon to lead Peter to deny his Lord; but the sin of Judas was far deeper. He had not received the spirit of the Savior, which the rest had received; he was foul through and through. “He calls them ‘clean’ because their faith in him had not failed; but they had continued with him in all his temptations, and loved him better than any other service” (Arnold of Rugby). He knew that at bottom they were good men; he knew that with one exception they loved him and loved one another; he knew that as a whole they were clean, and that this vicious temper in which they at present had entered the room was but the soil contracted for the hour. But none the less it must be washed off. And he did effectually wash it off by washing their feet . . . From a group of angry, proud, resentful men they were in five minutes changed into a company of humbled, meek, loving disciples of the Lord. They were effectually cleansed from the stain they had contracted. (Dods) Jesus recognized that Judas did not have the clean nature represented by bathing. Before this, Christ had indicated His knowledge of the evil heart of Judas (John 6:70). Soon after this He spoke the terrible truth plainly (vs. 18, 21, 26, and 27). 13:11 … “For he knew him that should betray him [compare John 6:70; 13:18, 21, 26]; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.” “John evidently feels that he can speak with confidence on this point” (Century Bible). Christ Himself had confided the knowledge to John especially (see John 13:22-30). This verse shows that Jesus was referring to moral cleansing. Jesus knows that His children who are cleansed by the new heart, who are His sincere followers,

are yet often soiled by walking through the dusty ways of life, and that they need daily to pray “Forgive us our trespasses.” How could He, foreknowing all that would happen, deliberately employ this man in His service, entrust him with all His teachings and confidences, and even send him out to preach, heal the sick, and cast out devils? The explanation will probably be found in the thought that Jesus from the first saw in this man certain evil tendencies that might develop into such enormity as that which they did reach at last, but that He saw better qualities that might possibly under His training overcome the baser things. The fight between the spirits of darkness and light in the man was going on continuously, not unobserved by the Master, Who was desiring and hoping and praying and doing all that was possible to secure the victory for the nobler side. (Greenhough)

Scripture Reading: John 13:12-17 (KJV) Following Christ’s Example of Humility 13:12 … “So when he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and sat down again” meaning that the Lord reclined again on the table-couch. “The guest reclined on couches, lying on the left side and leaning on the left hand. The table was in the hollow square or oblong formed on three sides by the couches” (Vincent). Can you not imagine the disciples watching his every action? Can you not imagine the sudden pang of self-reproach as they saw what it meant? Can you not imagine how ugly and hateful, and utterly loathsome, their own pride must have appeared to them, as they watched their Lord go from one to another with the basin and the towel? Why, if you will believe me, there was not a disciple among them who was not ready to bite off his tongue for very shame . . . When Jesus took his garments and sat down again at the table it was a group of abased and humbled disciples he had about him – each ready, with shame, to take the lowest place. (Jones) 13:12 … “He said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?” In other words, do you know the meaning of this acted parable? Do ye perceive the meaning of this action? By washing their feet he had washed their hearts. By stooping to this menial service he had made them all ashamed of declining it. By this simple action he had turned a company of wrangling, angry, jealous men into a company of humbled and united disciples. (Expositor’s Greek Testament)

The question is asked, not to be answered, but to direct their attention to what he had done, and to the interpretation which follows; “Do ye perceive what I have done? This is the meaning of it” (Clark). 13:12 … “Ye call me Master [Teacher, with the definite article, the Teacher], and Lord [one who has authority over you]; and ye say well; for so I am.” This Divine authority Christ never abdicated: He never lost His Divine consciousness. This saying is especially striking, coming as it does after Christ’s conspicuous proof of His humility. “They called him Teacher, and, Lord, and he was; and the Teacher and Lord was washing their feet. They could never forget that; service was the crown of sonship; the way to get up was to get down; one must stoop to conquer; belief in God’s Fatherhood involved belief in God’s brotherhood. Nothing that he could have said about it could have cut that truth so deep in their hearts as the feeling of the Lord’s hands on their feet. (McClelland) 13:14 … “If I then, your Lord and Master washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” The “I” is emphatic. Christ fulfilled promptly His promise to Peter of an explanation. This explanation is in two parts: 1. It was a statement of His own supremacy, that He was Master and Lord. “One of you calls me the Teacher; another, the Lord” (Middleton). “Corresponding to which the followers were disciples or servants” (Vincent). “There was no title so lofty, no honor so exalted, no devotion so absolute, that Christ rejected it at the hands of men” (Smith). 2. It was an explanation that Christ’s deed was given as an example (next verse). It was saying in the language of action that the Son of man came not to be ministered unto but to minister, and that the law of his kingdom was the law of helpfulness (Mark 10:43-45). Certainly no one of them would claim to be greater than Christ. They were servants, He was their confessed Lord. They were apostles, “men sent” (v. 16); He was the Sovereign that sent them forth. Surely, therefore, if He had washed their feet, they also ought to wash one another’s feet. “By this great object lesson Christ taught the apostles, and his disciples throughout all time, that the noblest end of man’s endeavor is loving service” (Davis). “Now let man blush to be proud, for whom God is become humble” (St. Augustine). Did Christ intend His commandment to be taken literally? Yes, when necessary. But, now that shoes have taken the place of sandals, it is to be observed in the spirit rather than the letter. Christ did not institute a rite, such as that celebrated in Rome on Thursday in Holy Week, when the Pope “washes the feet of a few aged paupers, after due private preparation, in the presence of the proudest rank.” “It used to be practiced by English sovereigns on Maundy Thursday, James II being the last who did so” (Century Bible). How is the spirit of the commandment to be observed?

1. By the performance of lowly and disagreeable physical service for others, when necessary. Those that nurse the sick, care for the aged and helpless, or work among the degraded or the very poor are often called to deeds like feetwashing. Illustrations The wife of President Hayes, when her husband was governor of Ohio, was driving one day when she saw a repulsive drunken woman sitting on the curbstone, a jeering crowd around her. At once she stopped, helped her into her own vehicle, and drove off with her. A policeman in Glasgow, Scotland watched a poor woman picking up something, again and again, and putting something in her apron. Roughly and suspiciously he demanded to see what it was. Trembling, she showed him some bits of broken glass; and pointing to the barefooted children playing, she said, “I thought I would take them out of the way of the baby’s feet.” A young city doctor was visited by his father from the country. “How are you getting on?” asked the father. “Not at all,” was the discouraged reply; “I am not doing anything.” Later the father watched his son in the free dispensary, where he had an unsalaried position. For an hour or more the young man helped some twenty-five people, who came to him with various ailments; and at the end the old man thundered: “Not doing anything! Why, if I had helped twenty-five people in a month as much as you have in one morning, I would thank God that my life counted for something. I’ll go back to the farm, and gladly earn enough to support you as long as I live.” 2. “The noblest form of help is to help men to get rid of their sin” (Maclaren). That is the cleansing we all need most. To wash one another’s feet is, in the deeper meaning of the thing, to help one another out of the evil that is in the world, to aid one another in the keeping of a pure conscience and of a wholesome and holy life. (Lang) We sometimes talk of the language of the hands; sometimes of the language of the eyes. But, there is also a language of the feet, and the whole Gospel can be translated into it. Think of it this way: first comes Jesus (when we are bowed with sin), and He says: “Son of man, stand upon thy feet.” And then comes Jesus (when we wish to serve Him), and He says: “Wash one another’s feet.” And then in the morning, when we are His forever, it is at His feet that we shall cast our sorrows. Obviously Christ’s words are symbolic; not intended as a command for us in a time of shoes and shocks and hard pavements. When the world says, “Compete with men,” Christ says “Serve them.” He bids us enter on a course of discipline that we may find irksome and even hard, but which is our only safeguard against pride and a condition of true self-respect.

13:15 … “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” They were to follow, not necessarily the example of the deed itself, unless that was needed, but the example of the spirit back of the deed, the spirit of humility and of loving, eager service. The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas à Kempis, was at one time the most popular book in the world next to the Bible. Another very popular book was Sheldon’s, In His Steps, or What Would Jesus Do? Stead wrote, If Jesus Christ Came to Chicago, etc. Until we ask not only what did Jesus do thousands of years ago, under circumstances wholly differing from our own, but also what would Jesus do if He were here in my place today, we are not even within sight of a right interpretation or application of His life. “It is not the remembrance of what Jesus has once done to me, but the living experience of what He is now to me, that will give me the power to act like Him” Murray). Illustration We cannot copy the great work which Christ did for the world, but we may copy His spirit. The smallest trickle of water down a city gutter will carve out of the mud at its side little banks and cliffs, and exhibit all the phenomena of erosion on the largest scale, as the Mississippi does over have a continent, and the tiniest little wave in a basin will fall into the same curves as the billows of mid-ocean. (Maclaren) There are two ways of imitating the example of another person. One is to imitate the form of his example, the other to imitate his spirit. One may do exactly, in other circumstances, what another has done, and yet entirely fail in imitating his example, because all that made it of value is left out. It was a dead body without the soul. To go through a ceremonial of washing the feet of others, is not doing as Christ did at this time. He that serves others; he that does the humblest service in order to relieve their wants, or cleanse their souls from sin; he that forgets self and seeks no honor, no high place, but only to serve and to help, and seeks out the poor, the sick, the obscure, the unpopular, in order to be their friend and help – he does to them as Christ did to the disciples. We should never lose sight of the fact that Christ is our pattern. We are called to imitate him. Someone has said, “If you would become a painter, take the pencil and study Raphael; if you would become a sculptor, take the chisel and study Phidias; if you would become a poet take the pen and study Homer; but if you would become a Christian, take the New Testament and study Christ. Contemplate him until you can call riches dust, worldly splendors toys, and until you can feel that true glory is to be like him, meek and lowly of heart. (Gregg) “He makes us an example, and binds us down to that, only that by the closeness of our servitude our souls may expand” (Clark).

It is not the act itself, but its moral essence, following His example, that He enjoins on us to exercise. However, v. 10 proves that this moral essence consists in ministering love that in all self-denial and humility is active for the moral purification and cleansing of others (Meyer). 13:16 … “The servant is not greater than his lord.” If Jesus their Lord did much humble service for others, and spent his life in ministering to others, not in being ministered unto, every one of His disciples to the end of time should do the same, and not expect to avoid this duty and privilege. This is the royal road, and there is no other by which we can aid His kingdom to come. The great danger of the church, in this as in every age, is pride, self-seeking, and failing to imitate its Master in this humble service for others. 13:17 … “If ye know these things [implying that some must learn them in more ways than merely by hearing; but they must be known before they can be practiced and it is sometimes difficult for us to perceive our duty in this regard], happy [blessed] are ye if ye do them.” Blessed indeed they are the royal road to true blessedness; because the blessedness can come only to those who do was well as know. It is the blessedness of doing good, of humility, of likeness to God, of a part in the redemption of the world. Clark points out that “duties involving humiliations, though seemingly repulsive, are found in the doing to be attended with the highest blessedness (Matt. 7:24; Luke 11:28).” The happiness here promised is not merely the inward complacency that accompanies every act of voluntary abasement, but a really superior position in God’s sight; we are greater in His eyes and nearer to Him in proportion as we humble ourselves to serve our brethren. (Godet) It was at this time that Jesus spoke the words recorded in Luke 22:24-30, in reference to this same strife as to who should be greatest. The Greek implies less assurance as to their doing them than as to their knowing them. This is the blessing with a double if. “If ye know” – this is the knowledge which Christ gives to faith. “If ye do” – this is the obedience which faith gives to Christ. Knowing and Doing – these are the twin pillars, Jachin and Boaz, on which the house of happiness is built. Lower service This is the grandeur of Christianity, that it practices human brotherhood. By this it proves its superiority to all other religions. Illustration Many years ago, when Chinese Commissioners visited Chicago the newspapers pointed out that they were shown its railways, warehouses, factories, hospitals, Hull House and the Young Men’s Christian Association. “What impressed you

most?” someone asked them. “The hospitals, Hull House and the Young Men’s Christian Association,” was the answer. To know that we are brothers to all men, since God is the Father of us all, is not enough; we must act on that knowledge. Between the knowing and the doing there is a deep gulf. Into that abyss the happiness of many a man slips, and is lost. There is no peace, no real and lasting felicity for a human life until the gulf is closed, and the continent of conduct meets the continent of creed, edge to edge, lip to lip, firmly joined forever. (Dyke) “A soul occupied with great ideas best performs small duties” (Martineau). Illustration Someone said to a preacher, “Is the sermon over so soon?” “No;” was the reply, “It is said, and you must now go and do it.”

Practical Thoughts Christians as rulers and servants This incident is scarcely excelled by any in the Bible in its richness of instruction for modern life. The Lessons for Rulers: Christians are often placed in authority over others – as parents, teachers, employers, and officers of the church, public officials. The ruling nations of the world are Christian nations, having authority over many dependent peoples. This power should be accepted frankly, and acknowledged as a gift from God. The Christian need not, any more than his Lord, be unconscious of his superiority. But conscious power should be used humbly. Granted that you are superior to me in something or other. Well, what does that matter? One molehill is a little higher than another; they are all about the same distance from the sun. I remember a friend of mine who, when a child, being told that the sun was ninety-five million miles away, asked whether it was from the upstairs window or the downstairs. And that is about the difference between men, if they will bring themselves into comparison with the only true standard. (Maclaren) Those that are superior in one way or another should remember that everyone may be superior in some way. Each can help the other and teach the other. The Lessons for Servants: Many Christians are rulers, but all Christians are servants. The minister of a church is the one who ministers to its needs. The President is the chief servant of the people. “Ich dien” – “I serve,” the motto of the Prince of Wales, should be the motto of every Christian, no matter his station in

life. Let us take pride in our service, that it be performed in a masterly fashion. Westcott wrote: “When Christ serves, He serves perfectly.” Let us not be satisfied with our service till it springs from love, and not merely from a sense of duty. Humility must know itself to be humble, must be unconscious. Someone reminded a certain minister of an act of goodness he had performed. The preacher said, “Any good I have ever been able to do is of the unearned mercy of God.” How true and humble. We feel that the merit is not ours, but God’s. True service goes where it is needed, and often our enemies need us far more than our friends. Lessons in humble service 1. The danger of the church is in self-seeking, in strife for the highest places, and in neglect of humbler service to the poor and needy. 2. Jesus corrects this danger by His example, not only on this occasion, but throughout His whole life. 3. Jesus performed this service even to the most unworthy, and to him who at the moment was traitorously plotting His death. 4. Christian humility is not abjectness of spirit, or pusillanimity, but is the child of self-sacrificing, helpful, heroic love. 5. Through present obedience we will come to a knowledge of those mysteries of Providence that perplex us. 6. Unless we are cleansed from this imperfection of self-seeking, we have no part with Jesus in His character, His work, His kingdom, His heaven. 7. The usefulness, the power, the success of the church depends on it following the Master, in welcoming the poor, in ministering to the wants of the needy. 8. To this day, even in the Christian world, one of the subtlest and the most common of the temptations with which we are assailed is the same that tried the disciples – the desire to be accounted the greater. Base jealousy of others, because of their superior riches, talents, honors, or social position, often sadly mars what are otherwise lovely Christian characters. 9. The young should be trained by precept and example to seek out the neglected and the poor, in church and in social life, even seeking to help those who need help, and not getting in sets and cliques. 10. Love transfigures the humblest service, and makes it worthy of the highest beings. 11. We should do the smallest duties with the highest motives. 12. “Vain is all strife for superiority, where the only strife should be, which should oblige each other the most; and the only power, lodged in any person, should be a power of doing good. Never strive to gain an absolute sway over anything but your own passions” (Seed).
Footnotes: 1 See Matthew 24:1-26; Mark 13:1-14, 17; Luke 21:5-22, 30; John 12:37-50. 2 John 2:4; 7:6; 12:23, 27; 17:1. 3 See John 2:4; 7:6, 30; 8:20; 11:9. 4 See John 1:11, 12; 10:27-29; 17:6-12, etc. 5 Compare John 12:4-7 with Matthew 26:14-16.


Additional thoughts on Judas Iscariot: Named one of the Twelve by Jesus and, along with the others, Judas was commissioned to "heal the sick and raise the dead" (Matt. 10:7); and it must therefore be inferred that at the time of his call Judas was not evil. However, by the time of the great defection recorded in John 6, Judas had fallen. "One of you is a devil" (John 6:70), Jesus said, which is sometimes amended to read, "a devil from the beginning," which of course is not true. A deduction from the events recorded in John 6 indicates that Judas, like so many of his countrymen, expected a temporal Messiah; and the knowledge that Jesus would never be that kind of Messiah turned his heart away from the Lord. In any case, he became unsympathetic to the ideals of the Master, used the common treasury, which he carried, for his own purposes, and drifted more and more into rebellion and defiance, even betraying the Lord, at last, for thirty pieces of silver. Judas, like all people, had freedom of the will and might have elected a more honorable course, but chose instead to betray the Lord. The thesis so often advocated that people "are not responsible for what they do," and that society is to blame for the vicious acts of criminals is negated by the record of Judas. Wherein did Jesus fail the traitor? That Judas was truly an apostle at first is verified by the sacred record that he "by transgression fell" (Acts 1:25 KJV). It is axiomatic that one cannot fall from an eminence that he does not have. Some have sought to extenuate Judas' sin on the grounds that he probably expected Jesus to extricate himself by some supernatural act, or upon the theory that he "atoned" for his misdeed by returning the money and committing suicide. All sins can be rationalized, and Judas might indeed have rationalized the betrayal; but all such rationalizations of criminal behavior are futile. The deed of betrayal itself was one of unique shame and ugliness. 7 For more information on Jesus Christ, see God the Son in A Religion Library section of 8 Jesus “girded himself,” like a servant. See Luke 12:37; 1 Peter 5:5. 9 This was a needful duty. Where sandals are worn, the dust will gather on the feet quickly; so that one coming from the public bath to his house might need to have his feet washed upon entering his home. Even where shoes or high boots are worn, there is still need of frequent feet-washing, both from the penetrating character of the dust, and from the heat of the climate. It is a requirement of hospitality to offer water for the washing of the feet to any guest entering one’s home. In other words, this duty was not performed for show or mere illustration, but actually provided a service; a duty commonly performed by a servant. However, this duty should have been done by the disciples, but they refused to do. So, since they refused to do so, Jesus therefore did as a present duty. It is only by remembering this fact that we can truly understand the lesson Jesus is teaching. No words, no description could set out the truth of humble service as clearly and forcibly as this action of Jesus. 10 See Matthew 18:1-4; 20:20-28; 23:1-12. 11 See 1 Peter 1:8, 14, 19, 22; 2:1, etc. 12 Compare Matthew 20:28; Luke 22:24-27. 13 Compare Hebrews 10:22 and 2 Peter 2:22. 14 See 2 Corinthians 7:1; James 1:21; Acts 15:8, 9. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: Five great needs supplied (Jesus comforting His disciples). Golden Texts: “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” (John 14:2) “Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1) Lesson Plan: Introduction Comfort through Faith in the Son of God (v. 1) The Need of Peace (v. 1) Comfort Through Faith in a Heavenly Home (vs. 2, 3) The Need of Knowledge of the Hereafter (vs. 2-4) Comfort in Christ as the Way (vs. 4-11) Comfort from the Divine Power Working through Him (v. 12) Comfort Through the Promise to Answer Prayer (vs. 13, 14) Practical Thoughts Setting of the Lesson: Time: Thursday evening, April 6, A.D. 30; just after the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Place: An upper room in Jerusalem. Place in the Life of Christ: His farewell discourse with His disciples, spoken the evening before His crucifixion. Place in the Other Gospels: In Matthew, 26th chapter, between vs. 29 and 30; In Mark, 14th chapter, between vs. 25 and 26; In Luke, 23rd chapter, between vs. 38 and 39. The Connection: The account of the instituting of the Lord’s Supper1 is not given in the fourth Gospel, because it was given in the other three. This most precious legacy of our Lord was given the world in the course of that final meal in the upper room with His disciples (refer to last lesson: “Jesus the Servant of All”). Though we are not given direct commandments regarding how often to celebrate it, we are informed by example that it was celebrated on Sunday, the implication of Scripture being every first day of the week, using unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, i.e., wine or grape juice. The spirit of the Lord’s Supper is certainly emphasized in Scripture. It is (1) communion with Christ, (2) communion with Christ’s followers,

and (3) a confirming and reiteration of our faith in the New Covenant, the atonement for our sins which Christ’s death accomplished. The establishing of this sacrament was followed by our Lord’s last discourse with His disciples, recorded in John 13:13-16:33, and His intercessory prayer, John 17. The preservation of these priceless words is the chief glory of the fourth Gospel. Inductive Study of the Lesson: 1. Read the accounts of the instituting of the Lord’s Supper, Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:19, 20; also 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17; 11:23-29. 2. Read the entire discourse, John 14-17, marking the verses that illustrate our immediate lesson. 3. Make a Bible study of peace: Exodus 33:14; Nehemiah 8:10; Job 22:21; 34:29; Psalm 5:11; 34:8; Isaiah 12:2; Nahum 1:15; John 14:27; 16:33; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14; Philippians 4:7. 4. Make a Bible study of heaven: 1 Chronicles 16:27; Psalm 16:11; 17:15; Daniel 12:3; Matthew 5:12; 6:20; 8:11; Romans 8:18; 1 Corinthians 2:9; 13:12; 2 Corinthians 5:1; Hebrews 11:16; 12:22-24; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 7:9-17; 21; 22. 5. Study the character of Thomas: John 11:16; 20:24, 25. 6. Study the character of Philip: John 1:43-46; 6:5-7; 12:21, 22. 7. Study the miracles wrought by the apostles after Christ’s ascension: Acts 5:510, 15; 13:11; 19:12, etc.

Introduction The world, and everything in it, is a bundle of needs. Everything is hungry. The ground greedily drinks in the rain and sun. The tree stretches its hungry roots into the soil and its hungry leaves into the air. Your house is a focus for incoming supplies: electricity, food, and various luxuries. Every person is hungry for bread, air, knowledge, and love. Whitney wrote: Beggars, beggars, all of us! Expectants from our youth; With hands outstretched, and asking alms Of Hope and Love and Truth. This sense of need in man is a good thing. Without it, there could be no life, no growth. When a child is not hungry, parents justly begin to fear for its health. When the soul does not see its needs, it is in a sad condition. Illustration A father saw his little girl playing blindman’s buff on the side of an upper balcony where half the iron railing had fallen. In agony he cried, “Take off that

handkerchief!” When the little girl at last obeyed, she was less than an inch from the edge. Then she saw the need. Many of us go blindfolded through life, and no one does greater service to us than the one who awakens in us a sense of need and an eager desire for better things. This lesson has through the ages brought comfort to those who are conscious of needs and long to have them supplied. It shows us that God is as eager to grant our desires as we are to present them. At the same table where He had been eating the Passover with His disciples, Jesus instituted, “The Lord’s Supper.”1 Then He spoke the words contained in the 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th chapters of John, which Olshausen calls the Holy of Holies of the history of Christ. They are the revelation of His inmost heart. Mark the circumstances Christ is about to depart from His disciples; the cloud of the coming trouble casts its shadow on their hearts; He sees clearly, they feel vaguely, the impending tragedy. They are to behold their Master spit upon, abused, execrated; they are to see Him suffering the tortures of a lingering death on the cross; they are to be utterly unable to interfere for His succor or even for His relief; they are to see all the hopes which they had built on Him extinguished in His death. It is that He may prepare them for this experience, that He may prepare His disciples throughout all time (John 17:20) for similar experiences of world-sorrow (John 16:33), and that He may point out to them and to the Church the source of their hope, their peace, their joy, and their life – moral and spiritual – that He speaks to the twelve, and through them to His discipleship in all ages, in these chapters. His discourse sets forth the source of all comfort, strength, guidance, and spiritual well-being in the truth of the direct personal presence of a seemingly absent but really present, a seemingly slain but really living, a seemingly defeated but really victorious, Lord and Master. (Abbott)

Scripture Reading: John 14:1 (KJV) [see also v. 27 & ch. 16] Comfort through Faith in the Son of God 14:1 … “Let not your heart be troubled.” Jesus saw that His disciples were troubled (1) by the treachery of one of their number; (2) by the foretold fall of another; (3) by the number and intense hatred of their enemies; (4) by the knowledge that soon their Master would be taken away; (5) by their disappointment that the kingdom of God was not set up in the open and glorious way they expected; (6) by their dread of the unknown future. This shows how they can keep their hearts from being troubled.

14:1 … “Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” As the disciples already believed, the exhortation must have reference not to the formation, but to the deepening and constant exercise of that faith, the object of which is only One – God in Jesus Christ. Comfort comes through believing in God Believing (1) that God is stronger than all enemies can be; (2) that God controls all the forces of the universe; so that (3) He can make all things work together for good; (4) that He loves us even as He loves His only begotten Son (John 17:23); and there will let nothing but good come to His children. Those who thus truly believe can find comfort in the darkest hour. In the dark hour that was coming they were to look up in stronger confidence to this good and mighty God. Therefore, they should believe in Jesus (1) as the representative of God on earth, and therefore they should trust His promises and sayings as they would those of God; (2) they should believe that the promises of God would be fulfilled in His case, and though they might not see Him longer, yet they should believe that God would raise Him up, and place Him on the right hand of His own power and glory; (3) they should believe in Him as the Savior sent from God, the promised Messiah. Therefore, faith in the Divine Redeemer2 would bring comfort in this hour of darkness, for such a Savior would be able to triumph over every enemy, to bring light out of darkness and good out of evil. The Need of Peace Why were the disciples’ hearts troubled? “There had been much to cause anxiety and alarm; the denouncing of the traitor, the declaration of Christ’s approaching departure, the prediction of Peter’s denial” (Cambridge Bible). The washing of their feet by Christ3 had shown them their pride and selfishness. The solemn sacrament of the Lord’s Supper had caused heart-searchings. How different from the hosannas of an hour before. No wonder there hearts were troubled, or, as the Greek means, “tossed and agitated like water driven by winds” (Expos. Greek Test.). What was Christ’s comfort for this unrest? The command to trust in God and in Himself – believe may be an imperative or an indicative in both clauses, for the Greek form is the same; but to translate both as imperative fits the occasion best. Why did Christ couple together the two beliefs, in God and in Himself? 1. Because He was God, made plain to men’s eyes. 2. Because they could not really know God except through knowing Christ. “Any man in Christendom who does not believe in Jesus cannot believe thoroughly in God” (Deems). 3. Because Christ showed them a God so loving, wise, and mighty that they could not help believing in Him and trusting Him. How does belief in Christ bring peace to any troubled soul?

1. It does not bring peace, as the world understands peace (v. 27; John 16:33). Trust in Christ and obedience to Him often lead to self-denial, hardships, persecution, loneliness, and poverty. “The peace of Jesus is a peace contemporaneous with pain” (Matheson). 2. But Christ overcomes all these things for us. He even transmutes them into strength and joy, as a tree becomes strong and flourishing because of the storms that beat against it. 3. This is because belief in Christ opens the door of our hearts to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.4 “Only a Spirit, to abide forever with them; a Paraclete to whom they could have recourse when fightings were most terrible without; one who could unite them to each other, because He united them to the Father – only such a Spirit could be the gift of peace which Christ bestowed” (Maurice).

Scripture Reading: John 14:2-4 (KJV) [also vs. 18, 19, 21-23; and 17:24] Comfort through Faith in a Heavenly Home Perhaps the chief cause of the disciples’ trouble was Christ’s predicted departure into the Great Unknown.5 All that have seen their dear ones slipping from sight understand that one of the principal human needs and desires is to know where they have gone, and if there is to be a reunion. 14:2 … “In my Father’s house.” Heaven, His home, where He dwells, where He shows His peculiar goodness and love; where all the qualities of a home exist, the place from which the only begotten Son came to this earth. Heaven is not only a state, but a place. 14:2 … “Are many mansions.” “Dwelling-places, room enough for all” (Alford). “Various provisions for various natures, something adapted to each person’s needs” (Abbott). The term “mansions” is derived from the Greek verb meaning to abide, and hence implies the idea of abode, rest, stability, home. But the full force and beauty of the words are only understood when we look at them in a light different from that in which they are generally regarded. For “my Father’s house” does not mean heaven as distinguished from earth, nor are the “abiding-places” confined to the world to come. Earth as well as heaven is to the eye of faith a part of that “house”; “abiding-places” are here as well as there. In short, the universe is presented to us by our Lord as one “house” over which the Father rules, having “many” apartments, some on this side, others on the other side, the grave. In one of these the true believer dwells now, and the Father and Son come to him, making their abode with him (v. 23); in another of them he will dwell hereafter. Therefore, when Jesus “goes away,” it is not to a strange land; it is only to another chamber of the one house of the

Father. The main thought is that wherever Jesus is, wherever we are, we are all in the Father’s house; surely such separation is no real separation. (Schaff) Speculations regarding the "many mansions" are fruitless. It is enough for us to know that they are indeed a reality, despite their existence beyond the perimeter of mortal vision. The souls which are of the faith of Jesus Christ shall truly inherit the upper and better habitations, and the Lord is even now preparing for the reception of the redeemed in the eternal world. Here in these beautiful words of Jesus lies the secret of the Christian's triumph over every mortal disaster. (Coffman) 14:2 … “If it were not so, I would have told you.” If our separation was to be an eternal one, I would have fore-warned you; I would not have waited for this last moment to declare it unto you (Godet). His teaching would have been entirely different from what it had been (Schaff). He would not have invited them to a place where there was not room and a home for all. 14:2 … “I go to prepare a place for you.” There is prepared a place not merely for all, but for you, a personal preparation in glory for each child as by grace in each child; a room, a house, for each nature adapted to its needs (Abbott). How did He prepare a place for us? 1. By His atonement He opened heaven to us; 2. “Redemption did not end with Christ’s death; He is still carrying on His work of redeeming love for us as well as in us.” He is some way is preparing places adapted to us, as one by one we are taken home. 3. He also prepares us for the place. When things on earth have issued in their superlative worst; when even life itself ebbs and the soul contemplates that ultimate terminus in the grave, then let the worshiper lift his eyes to see the City Foursquare coming down out of heaven from God. Such a refuge only Zion's children know. (Coffman) 14:3 … “And if” (since). “If” does not imply doubt; this is not a statement of uncertainty but an argument that as certainly as the Lord shall go, that certainly He will return and receive His own. 14:3 … “I will come again, and [the effect will be to] receive you unto myself.” This coming is (1) His return to the earthly living by His resurrection; (2) the beginning of His kingdom on the Day of Pentecost, when He came through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; (3) “the words refer to His constant spiritual presence in their midst; whereas the reception of them to Himself is to be understood of the complete union which will accompany that spiritual presence” (Ellicott). (4) To the day of our death, when Christ comes to take our souls to His own home; (5) to the final coming of Christ, when all His people will be received unto Himself in the glorious manifestations of His kingdom. The promise must be

limited to that one “coming.” Christ is in fact from the moment of His resurrection ever coming to the world and to the Church, and to men as the risen Lord (Westcott). The coming again of the Lord is not one single act – as His resurrection, or the descent of the Spirit, or His second coming, or the final day of judgment – but the combination of all these, the result of which shall be Him taking His people to Himself to be where He is. This coming is begun (v. 18) in His resurrection; carried on (v. 23) in the spiritual life6, making them ready for the place prepared; further advanced when each by death is fetched away to be with Him (Phil. 1:23); fully completed at His coming in glory, when they shall be forever with Him (1 Thess. 4:17) in the perfected resurrection state (Alford). The second coming of Jesus is dogmatically affirmed here and throughout the New Testament. Dorris wrote: Some refer this to the resurrection of Christ, others to the death of a believer as in the case of Stephen, and still others to the coming of the Holy Spirit. We think these positions inadmissible. The reference is not to Christ's return from the grave, but to his return from heaven, the second coming of the Lord, which is a part of the Christian faith. Regarding the Second Advent Coffman points out the following: Not only here but in Acts 1:11; 3:21; 2 Thessalonians 4:13-17, etc., the doctrine of the second coming of Christ is emphatically taught; it is one of the foundational teachings of Christianity. What Christ will not do when He returns? 1. He will not offer Himself a second time for the sins of the world (Heb. 9:26, 28). 2. He will not restore any phase of fleshly or national Israel. Holy Scripture makes it absolutely clear that in Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek” (Gal. 3:27-29). 3. He will not set up a kingdom, having already done that, the church being His kingdom. It has existed continuously since the first Pentecost after the resurrection, and wherever the Lord's Supper is, there is the kingdom (Luke 22:30). 4. He will not extend a second chance for unbelievers to repent (Heb. 9:27). What Christ will do when He returns? 1. All the dead shall be raised to life (John 5:24-29). 2. The judgment will occur (John 5:24-29; Matt. 25:31-36). 3. The wicked shall be destroyed and the righteous rewarded (2 Thess. 1:7-10). 4. The crown of life shall be given to the faithful (2 Tim. 4:7, 8). 5. Christ will stop reigning, delivering up the kingdom to God (1 Cor. 15:28). What Christ is doing now: 1. He is reigning until all of his enemies have been put under foot (1 Cor. 15:25f). 2. He is interceding for the redeemed (Heb. 7:25). 3. He is administering all authority in heaven and upon earth (Matt. 28:18-20).

4. He is providentially overseeing the fortunes of his church on earth (Matt. 28:19, 20). 5. He is preparing a home for the faithful (John 14:3). 14:3 … “That where I am, ye may be also.” Being with Jesus, they would enjoy His beautiful home, His heavenly Father, His perfect love, communion and friendship with Him. The Need of Knowledge of the Hereafter Perhaps the chief cause of the disciple’s trouble was Christ’s predicted departure into the Great Unknown.7 All that have seen their dear ones slipping from sight understand that one of the principal human needs and desires is to know whether they have gone, and if there is to be a reunion. How did Christ answer that question, for them and for us? 1. By revealing heaven as a place, His “Father’s house.” No Christian may think of heaven as “Somewhere – in desolate wind-swept space – In twilight-land – in no-man’s land” (Aldrich). It is a homelike place, familiar and dear, perhaps with lights shining for us in the windows, and the Father waiting for us at the open door. 2. By revealing heaven as a place of private, personal abodes, not a vast caravansary. In it are “many mansions;” in other words, “abiding places,” “mansion” coming from manere, to remain. These are permanent homes, not transient abodes like ours on earth. Illustration There is an inscription on the tomb of Dean Alford at Canterbury in England that reads: “The Inn of a traveler on his way home.” Illustration “The image is derived from those vast oriental places, in which there is an abode not only for the sovereign and the heir to the throne, but also for all the sons of the kind, however numerous they may be” (Godet). Thus Homer describes Priam’s palace, Ilian, VI, 242-250. 3. By revealing heaven as a large place, with many mansions – room for all. Heaven will contain immense throngs without being crowded. Its children will be as the grains of sand that bar the ocean’s waves, or the stars that begin the vault of night. Yet there is room! The many mansions are not all tenanted. (Meyer) But, there are conditions of entrance. Illustration D. L. Moody, at one time, was settled nicely in a crowded hotel when he met a fellow-passenger who exclaimed, “Oh, how did you ever manage to get a room? They tell me the rooms are all taken.” “Easily enough,” Moody replied; “I just

telegraphed ahead.” We must “telegraph ahead,” and get our names entered in the Book of Life, if we want room in heaven. 4. By revealing heaven as a practical place; prepared by the One best able to make it delightful, since He is the Creator of all delightful things on earth, and thoroughly knows our tastes and desires. Illustration When we expect a guest we love, we take pleasure in preparing for his reception – we hang in his room the picture he likes; we wheel in the easiest chair; we gather the flowers he admires and set them on his table; we go back and back to see if nothing else will suggest itself to us. Christ is similarly occupied. (Expositor’s Bible) 5. By revealing heaven as the place of communion with Christ. This was the purpose of His going, which saddened His disciples – to make ready a place to which He could bring them for a fellowship without any more parting. 6. By insisting that what was left unrevealed concerning the hereafter is to be thought of as joyful and not grievous. “If it were not so,” if heaven were not this warm, loving, homelike, beautiful place, “I would have told you,” would have warned you and prepared you. When does Christ come again, to take us to this heavenly abode? He comes at the death of believers, He will come at the end of the world, He is coming all the time in His Holy Spirit, preparing souls for heaven. Illustration When the North Bridge of Edinburgh, Scotland, was widened, they found in the arched vaults under the roadway the most wonderful caves of snow-white stalactites. The rain, percolating through the roof, carried with it the lime with which the stones were cemented, and transformed the gloomy vaults into a glorious scene. Thus we are fashioning our eternal mansions unconsciously out of the hard materials of our common ways on earth. Why did Christ say that the disciples knew the way He was going? “This is half a rebuke, implying that they ought to know more than they did know; they had heard, but not heeded (John 10:7, 9; 11:25)” (Cambridge Bible). Much infidelity regarding heaven is likewise due to careless or willful ignorance of what Christ has told us.

Scripture Reading: John 14:4-11 (KJV) Comfort in Christ as the Way 14:4 … “Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”

They knew both the way and the goal, if they would but recall what they had heard their Master say both in public and in private; they knew the way, but they did not know that they knew it. (St. Augustine) 14:5 … “Thomas saith unto him.” The one naturally who would be the last to see clearly what Jesus was teaching. He was the exponent of doubt and discouragement. 14:5 … “Lord, we know not,” etc. The truth was not clear and definite to him. He did not know to which of the many mansions Jesus was going, nor what it was to be with the Father. He did not see how the kingdom of God was coming through the death of his Lord. Everything was dim and misty, covered with clouds and darkness. 14:6 … “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way.” The pronoun is emphatic; I need no other: Ego sum Via, Veritas, Vita” (Cambridge Bible). The way where? To the Father, as explained in the last clause. But where the Father is, there is all good – heaven, happiness, character, salvation, love, forgiveness. Christ the Way 1. Because He is the express image of the Father, and therefore when we know Christ, we know the Father. 2. Because He reveals the Father by His works. Only He has seen the Father, and He is declaring the Father, so that we know what He is. 3. He has made atonement for our sins, and opened the way for us to be reconciled to God, and to come to Him. 4. He imparts the new Divine life, by which alone we are able to see the Father, because we thus become like Him. Note that this is one of the chief peculiarities of the religion of Jesus Christ, distinguishing it from and giving it power over all others. They are pictures of what we ought to be. Christ is the way to it. They give advice to be good. Christ is the way to be good. 14:6 … “And the truth.” Christ is more than the great expounder of truth, more than a truth-speaking man; He is the complete revelation of God, and hence the sum and substance of all truth, “in whom are hid all the treasurers of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). 14:6 … “And the life.” The source of life spiritual, as He was the Creator of natural life. Because He imparts life, He is the way. To make one comprehend a spiritual God, there must be given spiritual life. 14:6 … “No man cometh unto the Father.” He now says, “to the Father,” not to the Father’s house. “It is not in heaven that we are to find God, but in God that we are to find heaven” (Abbott).

14:6 … “But by me.” Because there is no other way of seeing the Father but by His express image, nor of fully knowing the Father save by Jesus’ revelation of Him; no way of coming into loving communion except through the atonement; no way of knowing the Father except through the new life Jesus imparts. The Need of Guidance (more on vs. 5, 6) But Thomas raised a question of fact: They did not clearly and definitely know where Jesus was going; how could they know the way? How was this question characteristic of Thomas? He was the doubter among the apostles. “Very slowly would this man make up his mind, and very severely would he try all the evidence, but where he took his stand, he would stand, and there also he would die” (Maclaren). Greenhough pointed out that what satisfied him should be enough for all. In other words, Thomas doubted, so that the church throughout the ages might have no reason to doubt. In actual fact, the forthright confession that Jesus was deity, other than from Jesus Himself, came only after His resurrection, when “doubting” Thomas saw the scarred body of Jesus and said, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). The climax had arrived. The resurrection victory was decisive. The full identity of Jesus was now affirmed. Jesus is God (deity)! This was, as some might say, only one man’s confession. This is true, but in God’s revelation of Himself to humanity it was the historic, pivotal turning point in man’s ability to perceive and confess the significance of that revelation. How did Christ answer Thomas’s question? By pointing to Himself, in the great sentence: I – in the Greek the pronoun is very emphatic. AM THE WAY – from earth to heaven, from man to God, from doubt to certainty; AND THE TRUTH – the truth about God, the way from God to man, the unseen Father revealing Himself; the truth about heaven also, and all essential truth about the life on earth. AND THE LIFE – the vital principle and the energy that enables one to walk along this road stretching between God and man; the life that would be victorious even over the dreaded death that the disciples saw approaching. NO ONE COMETH UNTO THE FATHER, BUT BY ME – for Christ is not merely a way to God, but the only way; not merely a revelation of God, but the only revelation; not merely a life of spiritual power, but the only life one can live in common with God is through communion with Christ. Illustration

“One of the wonders of the old Roman people was the roads they made from end to end of Europe. The Roman cities are in ruins now, but men are still walking on the Roman ways. So Jesus, our Redeemer, is still the Way” (Morrison). Illustration “Quid est veritas? (“What is truth?”) was Pilate’s question. The answer is in the same letters, rearranged: Est vir qui adest, “Truth is the Man who stands before you.” Christ is the one thing in the Christian life. No picture of the sun can illumine a landscape; no richly colored wax or folded paper can make a flower bed. (Burr) So no substitute can take the place of Christ. Christ is better than guidance, He is the Guide. He alone can lead to heaven, because He alone has come from heaven to earth (John 3:13). “Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6, NKJV). Thou are the Way – to Thee alone From sin and death we flee; And he who would the Father seek Must seek Him, Lord! By Thee. Thou are the Truth – Thy word alone True wisdom can impart; Thou only can instruct the mind And purify the heart. Thou are the Life – the rending tomb Proclaims Thy conquering arm; And those who put their trust in Thee Nor death nor hell shall harm. Thou art the Way, the Truth, the Life; Grant us that Way to know, That Truth to keep, that Life to win, Whose joys eternal flow.
(W.H. Tyner)

14:7 … “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.” The English word “known” represents two Greek words in the better text that are not identical in meaning. The former means to know by observation, the latter to know by reflection. It is the difference between connaître and savoir; between kennen (ken, k[e]now), and wissen (wit, wisdom). (Ellicott) 14:7 … “And have seen him.” Because Jesus is God, and expressed to them what God is. The practical lesson for us clearly is that the way to come to a true spiritual knowledge of the Father is by a study of the life and character of Christ

and above all by a sympathetic and personal spiritual acquaintance with Him (Abbott). Hitherto the disciples had not understood the full and true nature of Jesus. But from the time of His death, and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they had a new comprehension of His nature and work. 14:8 … “Philip saith unto him.” Even yet they did not understand. He wants to see Him with his bodily eyes, or in a vision of His glory, as Moses saw Him on Horeb. Who has not longed for a sight of God, and a view of heaven? 14:9 … “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me.” My true character, and nature, and relations to God. There is a possibility that men should be in the closest apparent nearness to Christ, and yet have never learned the meaning of the words they constantly hear and utter; and have never truly known the purpose of Christ’s life (Ellicott). 14:9 … “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Not seen the outward form, but the true character and nature. He that had seen Christ’s motives had seen the Father’s motives. He that had seen Christ’s love had seen the Father’s love. He that had seen Christ’s feelings has seen the Father’s feelings. He that had seen Christ’s desire for the salvation of men, His character, His hatred of sin, His love of goodness, had seen the Father in these same respects. 14:10 … “Believest thou not that I am in the Father and Father in me?” The relation existing between the Father and the Son was of so close and vital a nature that the Father could not be revealed apart from the Son. The relation was one of mutual indwelling so intimate and continuous that the words and works of the Son must be considered as proceeding also from the Father (Clark). 14:10 … “Words … works.” These are taken as correlative and coextensive here, all the working of the Lord Jesus being a speaking, a revelation, of the Father (Alford). The words and the works of Christ are pointed out as the two proofs of His union with the Father, the former appealing to the spiritual consciousness, the latter to the intellect. The former were a revelation of character, the later primarily of power (Westcott). 14:11 … “Believe me.” Spoken to all, for the word is plural in the original. 1. They should believe in His union with the Father, because He had told them, and His whole character and teaching proved it. He was His own best witness. 2. “Or else believe me for the very works’ sake.” His works, not His miracles alone, but all He had done for men, proved that He was in intimate union with the Father. The Need of a Knowledge of God (see vs. 7-11; also vs. 20, 24, 28, 30, 31; John 15:24; 16:28). It is not enough to know the truth about God, or be in the way to God, or even to have the divine life in us; the human soul longs after God Himself.8

How did our Lord meet this need? By disclosing the final, supreme truth, that He was God: “If ye had known me” – recognized My true nature – “Ye should have known my Father also.” Christ was the complete image of the Father.9 But, as we have seen, this answer did not satisfy Philip, who wanted some marvelous vision of God such as Moses saw on Horeb. How was this characteristic of Philip? “Perhaps of all the disciples Philip was the least receptive and the slowest to comprehend the thoughts and spiritual beauty of the Master. He was the materialist of the company” (Greenhough). Philip was the very type of plain downright common sense . . . It was he who calculated how [much] bread it would take to feed the multitude, and who met Nathanael’s difficulties about Jesus with an abrupt “Come and See.” (Maclaren) How did Christ emphasize the great truth, His oneness with the Father? 1. By reminding Philip of the “long time” he had been with Christ – for he had been among the first disciples – and of all the evidence he had seen of Christ’s divinity. 2. By specifying these evidences, beginning with “the words” He had spoken, the wonderful parables, the beatitudes, the model prayer, the sermons, the private conversations – words so gracious, wise, and powerful that they must come from God. 3. By naming also “the works” He had done, the long series of convincing miracles, showing such a mastery of nature, disease, and death as only God could possibly possess. 4. By a personal appeal: “Believe me” when “I” tell you “that I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” Christ here turns to all the disciples, for “believe” is in the plural, and urges them to consider His credibility. Was He the kind of man to lie? – to indulge in empty boasts? – to be guilty of what, if false, would be a horrible blasphemy? The character of Christ, even more strongly than His miracles, proves the truth of His claim to divinity. 5. By a warning (v. 28) that they were not to expect to see in the Man Christ the awful and splendid majesty of Jehovah. In Christ’s human body, to be sure, dwelt “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9); but its outward manifestation was clogged by fleshly limitations, by our human infirmities which Christ took upon Him, so that Christ must say, while in the flesh, “My Father is greater than I.” This was the answer to Philip’s difficulty.

Scripture Reading: John 14:12 (KJV) Comfort from the Divine Power Working Through Him

14:12 … “He that believeth on me.” This is the condition and limit to the promise that follows. It is given to those who are united to Him by faith, so that the Divine power can flow through them from Him. To do those works through others would be not only contrary to nature, but would work against God, and against His salvation for men. 14:12 … “The works that I do.” Works of healing, of teaching, of turning men from sin, of bringing in the kingdom of God; His whole beneficent activity, including His miracles. 14:12 … “Shall ye do also; and greater works than these shall he do.” This has been fulfilled, not in greater miracles of healing but (1) in the spiritual works, marvels of conversion, which are greater than any physical miracles. (2) In the wondrous progress of the Gospel among men. More were converted in one day at Pentecost than during all Christ’s ministry of three years; and nation after nation has since been converted to God. (3) Christianity has done more for the healing of the sick, and giving sight to the blind, and for the physical comfort and relief of men, than all the miracles Jesus did when on earth. Under His divine power new skill has come. A new benevolence has arisen, building hospitals and inventing means and methods to help mankind. Thus Jesus is every year doing greater works through His disciples than He did when on earth. 14:12 … “Because I go unto my Father.” (1) Schaff points out that they are the organs not only of a humbled, but of an ascended, Lord; and through what He is at the right hand of the Father, they shall do “greater works” than He did in the world. (2) Because of His departure, His work was no longer limited to time and place, but was present with His disciples all over the world – all the time. (3) By His departure through the cross, He was exalted so as to touch the hearts of men, and draw all nations to Him in love, and thus fit them to be His instruments for doing these works. (4) His disciples were better fitted for their work, more confident and manly, better trained in every good work, by an invisible but everpresent Lord. Greater works would then relate to the wider opportunities which the disciples would have when Jesus returned to the Father. It would then be possible for Jesus to work through his people. The book of Acts is a commentary on this promise. (Guthrie) During the life of Jesus on earth, his work was restricted to the limitations of his physical presence; but, after he ascended to the Father and the Holy Spirit came in his name, a greater and more extended work would be done by the fuller inspiration of the apostles, and the more extended mission they would fill. (Lipscomb) According to this great saying of our Lord, the greater works are the spiritual works . . . Does Jesus, by this means of comparison, which places the spiritual so far above the physical, hint that miracles in

the physical sphere would gradually disappear when they would no longer be necessary? (Hendriksen) It is difficult to know exactly what Jesus meant by this, for no miracle could be greater than raising Lazarus from the dead, and no work could be greater than that of the enabling act of redemption on the cross. The very nature of Jesus' appearance on earth required miraculous manifestations of his power; but those miracles, wonderful as they were, had an inherent limitation. Jesus' miracle of feeding the five thousand was as nothing compared to the feeding of all the populations of earth throughout history through the operation of God's natural laws. Similarly, the miracle of creating Adam and Eve was as nothing compared to the perpetuation of humanity through the ages by means of the natural laws of procreation. Just so, the miracles attending the establishment of the church, or kingdom of heaven, on earth, and even including the miracles wrought by Jesus, are as nothing compared to the salvation of countless millions of men through the operation of God's spiritual laws which were set in motion by Jesus. The superiority of the spiritual over the physical is evidenced by Jesus' words here. Three thousand souls were converted from death to life on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, a feat far surpassing anything that was possible before Jesus returned to the Father. (Coffman)

Scripture Reading: John 14:13, 14 (KJV) Comfort Through the Promise to Answer Prayer 14:13 … “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.”10 A comparison of the passages in footnote10 shows clearly that God does not give an unconditional promise of affirmative answer to every prayer. This would be to place omnipotence at the command of ignorance and selfishness; it would be a curse, not a blessing. The condition here is embodied in the words, “in my name”; the promise is only to those petitions asked in the name of Jesus Christ. To ask in the name of Christ is not to introduce His name into the petition, as in the familiar phrase, “In the name of Jesus Christ,” or “For Christ’s sake”; nor is it merely to approach the Father through the mediatorship of Jesus; this, but much more than this, is included. “In the name” of any one, as generally, if not always, used in the New Testament signifies representing Him, standing in His stead, fulfilling His purposes, manifesting His will – imbued with and showing forth His life and glory. With John it always has this signification. Here, then, the declaration is that whatsoever we ask, speaking for Christ, seeking His will, representing Him and His interests, and His kingdom, not merely our own special and personal interest (Phil.2:21), will be granted. So, in Matthew 6:9, the Lord makes the petition, “Hallowed be thy name” the portico to every prayer, teaching

us that in every prayer desire for the glory of God should be supreme, and carrying with it the petition, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” 14:13 … “That the Father may be glorified in the Son.” He would answer these prayers in the name of Christ, and for the coming of His kingdom, because all the works, the conversions, the redeeming from evil, the triumphs of the Son, honored the Father who sent Him, and worked in Him. 14:14 … “If ye shall ask any thing in my name.” This is an emphatic repetition of the width of the promise and of its condition, so that there need be no mistake. We can ask everything, bring all things to Him in prayer; and if it be in His name, as above mentioned, it will be granted. Many manuscripts insert “me” into this verse: “If ye shall ask (me) anything in my name, that will I do”, thus suggesting that prayers might be offered directly to Jesus, as well as addressed to the Father in Jesus' name. Note the prayer of Stephen (Acts 7:59). Dummelow cited Acts 9:14, 21 and 1 Corinthians 1:2, where "calling upon the name of the Lord" was construed by him as examples of the same thing. 14:14 … “I will do it.” “This ‘I’ already indicates the glory” (Bengel), the glory of Him who is One with the Father. The Need of Answers to Prayer (see vs. 12-14; also John 15:7, 16; 16:23, 24) Thus far in this wonderful discourse, Christ had met the passive needs, the need of peace, of guidance, of knowledge. But when we have these, we become eager to apply them, to use our knowledge, to set out with out guide; our great need then is for power. How did Christ meet this need? First, by a prophecy; then by a promise. THE PROPHECY: That His disciples should be able to do works equal to His; yes, even greater, because He was going to His Father. What did He mean by that last clause? “His returning to the Father was to be the crisis and commencement of a new life to the world” (Maurice). “The believers would then be Christ’s representatives on earth, as he would be their representative in heaven” (Ellicott). His going meant (John 16:7) the coming of the Holy Spirit,11 who could accomplish more through them than Christ could. What were the greater works that the disciples would do? 1. They are held by some writers to be greater even in the physical realm. MacArthur pointed out that “our Lord wrought miracles for three years and a little over, in a limited territory; but the disciples wrought miracles for a generation, in widely separated countries.” 2. But still more remarkable were the triumphs of the apostles in the spiritual realm. At length, Christ had at His death 620 disciples, as far as we are told;

Peter won 3,000 to Christ by a single sermon. Soon the Roman Empire, which crucified Christ, was submissive to the power of the cross. The existence of the church is really the most wonderful of miracles . . . The conversion of a soul is a still greater miracle than the healing of a body . . . Evermore the harvest time must be greater than the seed time. (MacArthur) 3. These greater works are no disparagement of Christ, but His glory, since they are all done by Him. The gospels are the record of what Christ “began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1); later history is a continuation. 4. “Never were the opportunities so great as now for doing great things for God and man. The whole earth is a whispering gallery making known the name of Jesus Christ . . . Doors are opening into every nation . . . Oh, that God would arouse His church to do these greater works!” (MacArthur). THE PROMISE with which Christ met this need of power was the great promise of answers to prayer: “If ye shall ask anything . . . I will do it.” What are the conditions of this promise? 1. Belief on Christ (v. 12). 2. The prayer must be offered in Christ’s name (vs. 13, 14). 3. The end must be the glory of God in Christ (v. 13). This is a complete guide to the prayer country. What is meant by believing on Christ? (v. 12) It is more than the “believe me” of v. 11. To believe in, or on, is more than the mere acceptance of a statement. It is accepting a statement or a person in such a way as to rest on them, to trust them. To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is not merely to believe the facts of His historic life or His saving energy as fact, but to rest the soul on Him for eternal salvation, adopting His precepts and example as binding on life. When is prayer offered in Christ’s name? 1. When the disciple lovingly links Christ’s name with the petition, not going in the name of the Virgin Mary or some other saint. But there is no talismanic virtue in the mere words, “For Jesus’ sake.” 2. “Name,” throughout the Bible, stands for one’s character. Prayer in the name of Christ is therefore prayer in His character, His spirit; prayer in accord with His will. 3. The Expositor’s Greek Testament states: “The name of a person can only be used when we seek to further his interests. A successful prayer must be for the furtherance of Christ’s kingdom.” Are prayers offered in His name and to God’s glory always answered? Infallibly. However, God will not give us curses, but blessings. Often the literal granting of our prayers would be the greatest misfortune. When we pray about earthly matters, such as more attendance or contribution; or health, prolonged life and money, we must always be willing for our prayers to be denied, if, in

God’s omniscience, He determines that it is best for us. But, when we pray for undoubted good, such as a pure heart or spiritual peace, we may be sure that God will grant our petitions literally. Our real prayer is always for happiness and good; and that is always granted, if we pray for the right reason.

Practical Thoughts Sources of Comfort 1. Faith in God as good, wise, loving, true. 2. Faith in Christ as the Son of God, the atoning Savior, our Teacher, our everpresent Friend. 3. The assurance of a home in heaven. 4. A heaven large enough for all. 5. A heaven specially prepared for each one, to meet varied tastes and needs. 6. A Savior in this heaven whom we have loved and known on earth. 7. A way opened to that heaven. 8. A Savior who will come for us when it is time for us to go home. 9. A vision of God, His goodness, His love, His works, in the life of Jesus Christ. 10. An ever-present Savior working in and through us, to do the great and blessed works needed by men, and for the up-building of God’s kingdom. 11. The assurance of the answer to our prayers. Conditions 1. If we would have comfort, we must believe – trust in Jesus Christ. 2. If we would dwell in Christ’s heaven, we must belong to Him here. 3. If we would go to God and His home, we must go in Jesus Christ. 4. If we would know the Father, we must know Jesus. 5. If we would do great works for Jesus, we must be joined to Him by true faith. 6. If we would receive answers to our prayers, we must pray in the name of Jesus.
Footnotes: 1 For more information on salvation, see God’s Salvation in A Religion Library section of 2 For more information on the Lord’s Supper, see Remembering Jesus in Additional Resources section of 3 This washing is considered in our last lesson, Jesus the Servant of All in Jesus Christ in the Writings of John section of 4 For more information on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of 5 See John 13:36. 6 See also John 16:22, etc. 7 See John 13:36. 8 For more information on God, see God the Father in A Religion Library section of 9 For more information on Christ as the image of the Father, see God the Son in A Religion Library section of


For analogous promises of answers to prayer, see Exodus 22:27; Deuteronomy 4:29; Psalm 34:15; 37:4, 5; Jeremiah 29:12, 13; Joel 2:32; Matthew 7:7,8; Mark 11:24; John 15:16; 16:23; James 1:5; 1 John 3:22; 5:14, 15. 11 For more on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

Previous / Next / Index presents Jesus Christ in the Writings of John THE COMFORTER PROMISED
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Subject: The Work of the Holy Spirit Golden Text: “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter.” (John 14:16) Light from Other Scriptures John 16:7-14; Acts 2:1-47; Romans 8:14-16; Hebrews 10:15, 16; 1 John 3:24; Ephesians 4:30; Luke 11:13; Galatians 5:22-25. Other Lessons For an In-depth, graduate level study pertaining to the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of Lesson Plan: Introduction The Condition (v. 15) The Comforter (v. 16) The Work The Spirit of Truth (vs. 17-20) Dwelling in Disciples (vs. 21-24) The Teacher (vs. 25, 26) Peace Bestowed (v. 27) Setting of the Lesson: Time: Thursday evening, April 6, A.D. 30; the evening before the crucifixion. Place: At the supper table in an upper room in Jerusalem. Place in the Life of Christ: Address at the institution of the Lord’s Supper1

Introduction The Circumstances We can understand this lesson better, and the great truth it reveals, if we vividly realize the circumstances. Jesus had announced that He was going away, leaving them in this world. He had promised to His disciples that they would do even greater works than He had done, and that for His work and kingdom He would give them whatever they asked in His name. But they did not even know

what to ask for. They were in a world of trouble and danger and opposition, like lambs surrounded by wolves. They had a mighty kingdom to establish, but were ignorant as to its nature and the way to establish it, and were without material, without power, without means, and without a leader. They could as easily remove mountains or dethrone Caesar. Christ now comes to them with all they need. He Himself will still be their leader. The Holy Spirit will come and bring them all they need – power over men, truth, guidance, strength, inspiration, courage, and the peace of victory. The work of the Spirit is the final and great subject of this last discourse, connected with the completion of Christ’s mission, without which His work would have failed.

Scripture Reading: John 14:15 (KJV) The Condition 14:15 … “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” The R.V. uses the future tense, according to a better reading, “ye will keep my commandments.” The word for “keep” means to keep as a treasure by guarding and watching against all enemies that would take it away. It implies not only watching, but successful watching. The commandments are kept by obeying them. Love is the source of obedience, as a fountain is the source of a river. If there is love in the heart, it will manifest itself in this way as naturally as a fruit tree will show its nature by its fruit or a rose-bush by its flowers. No kind or degree of emotion can be a substitute for obedience. Note that vs. 21 and 23 take up the same condition, in the form of a test of love, so that between these verses and v. 15 is enclosed this great promise of the Holy Spirit. “So carefully has He marked the appropriation of the gift to those only who are capable of receiving it” (Bernard), and who would use it rightly. Only the loving and obedient disciples can truly build up the kingdom of God. “Think of God trying to communicate His will and Word through Ahab, and Jezebel, and Herod, and Pilate, and Judas” (Warren). Love is a Passion Murray wrote: The strongest and most unconquerable forces in human nature are the passions. Like rivers in springtime, when the snows are melting on the mountains, and the clouds, driven by south winds, are emptying their waters upon the earth, they rise and swell, and overflow, submerging the whole nature . . . Love is the force out of which all obedience comes, just as we say, ‘That man’s fortune is in

his brains.’ Not that it is in dollars and cents actually there; but that within his brain are the forces that shall win his fortune. Christ calls for this power of love everywhere, the engine power in man tested and controlled by being translated into life, into obedience.

Scripture Reading: John 14:16 (KJV) The Comforter 14:16 … “And I will pray the Father [The source of every good and perfect gift; the Spirit is thus from the Father and the Son]. And he shall give you another Comforter.” Taking the place of Jesus “Another”, not “a different sort of,” than Christ, Who had been their Comforter up to this time. After the crucifixion, the Holy Spirit was to the disciples exactly what Jesus had been to them while alive. He was the coming again of Jesus, so that the Acts is the record of what Jesus did on earth after His death, as the Gospels are the record of what He did while in the body. The operation of the Spirit is wholly in the line of Christ’s work on earth; it belongs to the same sphere and contemplates the same ends. It represents a stage of the redemptive process that lies beyond the historic work of Christ; it is the continued operation of God’s saving, redeeming love, interpreting, applying, and perfecting the work of the Savior. (Stevens’ Johannine Theology) The Holy Spirit as Advocate The word “comforter” expresses only side of the meaning of this word. It is derived from two Greek words meaning “to call to one’s side,” signifying one who is called to aid another. The word is used in classical Greek, and a word of similar etymology, from which our word “advocate” (ad vocatus, called to another), is derived, is used in classical Latin to denote a person who patronizes another in a judicial cause, and who appears in support of him. It was the custom, before the ancient tribunals, for the parties to appear in court, attended by one or more of their most powerful and influential friends, who were called “paracletes” – the Greek; or “advocates” – the Latin term. They were not advocates in our sense of the term – lead counsel; they were persons who, prompted by affection, were disposed to stand by their friend; and persons in whose knowledge, wisdom, and truth the individual having the cause had confidence. These paracletes, or advocates, gave their friends – “prospelates,” or “clients,” as they were called –

the advantage of their character and station in society, and the aid of their counsel. They stood by them in the court, giving them advice, and speaking in their behalf when it was necessary. Jesus had been the paraclete of His disciples while He was with them. (Brown) Jesus is called “advocate” (the same word here translated “comforter”) in 1 John 2:1. He, the Son of God, Who created the world – all wise, all powerful, had stood with them, advising and defending them. This work of “advocate” with God and man was now to be done by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, some translate “advocate” here instead of “comforter.” The Holy Spirit as Comforter, a Helper But the actual work done by the Holy Spirit is much wider than our word “advocate” denotes, whatever it may mean in classic Greek. It is as much too narrow in one direction as “comforter” is in another. Many are the emergencies of human life, and many are the forms of help which they require, and all are included in this great comprehensive name. We may range them in two divisions, the advocacy of our cause before others, the support of companionship to ourselves. When we think of one office we speak of an advocate; when of the other, of a comforter. But the same person will fulfill either office as need requires. (Benard) Illustrations The word here rendered “comforted” is used throughout the New Testament to signify “strengthened.” A shivering man may be wrapped in blankets, brought to the fire, and so warmed for a time. That is our conception of “comforting.” His vital forces may be stimulated and increased till they drive away the chill and conquer the cold. That is the New Testament idea of “comforting.” Few words in the Bible have been more misunderstood than this. By it we mean “soothing.” One to whom the language of the New Testament was a mother tongue would mean by it the opposite of “soothing.” To us the word suggests lullabies; to him it would suggest war cries. (Wright) Thus Peter wrote: “I exhort (lit. comfort) you feed the flock of God” (1 Pet. 5:1, 2; emphasis added). So, on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comforted the disciples, by making them strong, courageous, and wise. “Helper”, in the R.V. margin, is a good translation of the word. From a practical point of view, we receive this comfort that we “may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor. 1:4). 14:16 … “That he may abide with you forever.” Not leave them, as their present Comforter, Jesus Christ, was about to do.

The Work Let us now consider the work of the Holy Spirit from a general point of view; in three divisions. The relation of the Spirit to the historical work of Christ The Spirit is sent in the name of Jesus (John 14:26), i.e., to carry out the purposes and work of Jesus, to guide into truth (v. 17; John 16:13), to work in and through the disciples (v. 17) for the redemption of men. All that is comprehended in the other two divisions is the means to this end (compare the record of what the Spirit actually did in Acts). The work of the Spirit in true believers 1. Teaching (John 14:26) 2. Guiding into all truth (v. 17; John 16:13, 1 Cor. 12:8, 10) 3. Bearing witness (John 15:26; Acts 5:32) 4. Giving life (Rom. 8:11) 5. Bestowing the living water (John 4:14; 7:38) 6. Bestowing gifts, such as teaching, tongues, etc. (1 Cor. 12:7-11) 7. Shedding the love of God abroad in them (Rom. 5:5) 8. Producing goodness and high morality (Gal. 5:22; 23; Acts 1:24) 9. Bestowing power (Acts 1:8; Rom. 15:19) 10. Bestowing wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8; Eph. 1:17) (Compare the change in the apostles, as recorded in Acts.) The work of the Spirit in the unbelieving world This is fully set forth in John 16:8-11. He would convince the world concerning sin, that they had sinned in rejecting their Messiah; concerning righteousness, the righteousness of Christ and His kingdom, a new conception of right; and concerning judgment, that the Prince of this world, and those who take his side, must be condemned. All these things awakened the conscience and urged and inspired to a new life (compare the man conversions recorded in Acts, including that of Paul). Illustration One may as well try to remove the snow from our fields, or the ice from our lakes, with shovels and carts, without the aid of the shining sun in spring, as to take away sin from the human heart, and cause the plants of righteousness to flourish therein, without the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture Reading: John 14:17-20 (KJV) The Spirit of Truth

14:17 … “Even the Spirit of truth.” The Holy Spirit is so called because (1) His nature is true and sincere. All falsehood is foreign and abhorrent to Him. (2) He knows all truth, even as God knows it. (3) He imparts His truth-loving nature to those He influences. (4) The truth is the instrument by which He does His work in the souls of men. He convicts and converts by means of truth. He shows men the truth about themselves, their character, their needs, and danger; and also the truth of God’s love and promises. (5) He teaches the truth, guiding men into all truth; He reveals the truth of God by inspiring those who are to teach. (6) He guides our daily conduct, our judgment, so that we may walk in the truth. (7) As Bengel says, “The truth makes all our virtues true. Otherwise there is a kind of false knowledge, false faith, false hope, and false love; but there is no such thing as false truth.” 14:17 … “Whom the world cannot receive.” Because they have been unwilling to undergo the spiritual training that is absolutely necessary to receiving Him. They shut their hearts to Him; refusing to do His will. Only by His qualities, by faith, love, humility, spiritual life, can He be known. 14:17 … “But ye know him; for he dwelleth with you.” He has been working in your hearts all these years. 14:17 … “And shall be in you”, “indicating the progressive development of the Christian life” (Abbott). Vincent points out the three prepositions used in vs. 16 and 17 to describe the Spirit’s relation to the true believer: “with” you in fellowship; “by” you – dwelling with or by you in His personal presence; and “in” you – as an indwelling personal energy, at the springs of life. 14:18 … “I will not leave you comfortless [orphans, bereft of a father, or of a teacher, desolate, uncared for]; I will come.” I come, I am coming; present tense, as in v. 3. 14:19 … “The world seeth me no more.” Not with their bodily eyes after the resurrection, not with their spiritual eyes, because they were too dull, too sinful to recognize Him. 14:19 … “But ye see me.” They saw Him after the resurrection on occasions for forty days. But with their spiritual eyes they recognized His presence and His works in the Holy Spirit. He was as real to them, as actually present, as if they could see Him in His bodily presence. 14:19 … “Because I live, ye shall live also.” Jesus is the fountain and source of life and from His life gives life to His followers. If Jesus perished when He was crucified, then there was no hope of resurrection or eternal life for His followers. 14:20 … “At that day.” The day when He comes – by His resurrection – by His Spirit – by His presence in their hearts.

14:20 … “Ye shall know.” They had little knowledge of Jesus, while with Him in His bodily presence, compared with their understanding of His nature and work after the resurrection and Pentecost, and their life-long experience of His presence in their work for His kingdom. They seemed suddenly to come out of a dark room into the sunlight. 14:20 … “That I am in my Father.” One with Him in essence and in power – in purpose and in glory. 14:20 … Ye in me, and I in you.” Hovey wrote: “Ye sharing my purpose, and seeking my honor, and I sympathizing with your infirmity, and strengthening your hope.”

Scripture Reading: John 14:21-24 (KJV) Dwelling in Disciples 14:21 … “He that hath”, etc. As in vs. 17, 23, 24, this condition is insisted upon, showing how absolute and how the connection between love and obedience is fixed in the eternal laws of being, and between these and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. First To those who love and obey comes the love of the Father and of the Son. 14:21 … “Shall be loved of my Father.” Not only with the love of compassion that He feels toward all men (John 3:16), but the love of friendship and delight, the closest union that can exist between souls; a communion full of the highest, most uplifting, most heavenly joy that can be conceived. No one can give a more precious gift to another than personal friendship. Second 14:21 … “I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” I will make Myself as clearly present as if I were to continue in My bodily presence. Those who love Him would recognize His presence, feel His personal love, receive His teachings, find His comfort and help, and serve Him as devotedly, as if they could see Him in His kingdom on the earth. The death of Jesus would take nothing from them. Third The Father and Son will abide, dwell, in true believers. 14:22 … “Judas.” Probably Jude the write of the epistle; perhaps the same as Lebbeus of Matthew 10:3. 14:22 … “How is it?” R.V., “What has come to pass that?” What change has been made that You, who have been manifesting Yourself to the world, should

now reveal yourself to the disciples alone? As if Jesus were going to take them apart from the world into a desert. “Judas supposes, with the rest of his countrymen, that the manifestation of the Messiah means a bodily appearance in glory before the whole world, to judge the Gentiles and restore the kingdom to the Jews” (Cambridge Bible). In a word, he is trying to bring his Lord’s language into harmony with his own Jewish idea of the Messiah’s reign. And the best he can do is to suppose that something of which he is ignorant has occurred, which has led Jesus to decide against presenting Himself any more to the people. (Hovey) 14:23 … “If a man.” Jesus again repeats the condition and then shows how it can be accomplished. 14:23 … “We will … make our abode with him.” Thus manifesting Himself to them, but in a way not possible to those who refuse to obey and love Him, as in 14:24 … “The word … is not mine” (see 7:16), of My own devising or commanding, in which case it might have been rejected with impunity, 14:24 … “but the Father’s which sent me” (see 12:49) – in other words, to reject the word of Jesus is the same as rejecting the Father’s. Illustration It would not be safe to entrust this Divine power to any but those who, like a live engine, were on the two tracks of obedience and love. The fire in a train’s engine off the track brings ruin instead of progress. Compare Acts 2, where the Holy Spirit came upon only those who had been preparing in the upper room, by long-continued prayer, and only through them upon the outside world. The Abiding Jesus Jesus promised To be in them – a Spirit in their spirits, illuminating, quickening, encouraging, by a most immediate, though mysterious, action on mind, heart, and will, taking and presenting to them the things of Christ with such clearness that Christ’s glory would be seen by them more perfectly than it had ever been seen while He was walking beside them in bodily form. (Hovey) Illustrations Jesus in the heart is like the Ark in the house of Obed Edom, full of blessing (2 Sam. 6:11). Jesus is the light and the presence that makes the hearts where He dwells temples of the Holy Spirit; like the city of God, come down from heaven.

Gladden with Thy presence the souls that seek Thee. Arrange the habitation, that it may be worthy of the inhabitant; adorn Thy bridal chamber, and surround the place of Thy rest with every choice virtue; spread the pavement with colored ornaments; let Thy mansion shine with the brightness of carbuncles and precious stones; and let the odors of all Thy graces and gifts breathe within; let Thy fragrant balsam abundantly perfume Thy inner chamber; and, removing far away every noisome seed of corruption, do Thou establish our joy and perfect the renovation of Thy new creature forever in beauty, that fadeth not away. (Cyprian)

Scripture Reading: John 14:25, 26 (KJV) The Teacher 14:25 … “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.” Abbott wrote: “That is, as far as this I am able to carry my instructions, but no farther; the Spirit shall complete them.” 14:26 … “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost.” The word “Ghost” is old English for “Spirit.” The Spirit is holy, and works is to make others holy. By what follows, we see that “Comforter” includes much more than “Advocate” (see v. 16.) 14:26 … “He shall teach you all things,” etc. The whole Christian system was enfolded in the words of Christ, as the tree with its fruits lies within the tender shoot. The Holy Spirit guided its unfolding, and directed its growth. This is the promise of inspiration that was fulfilled in the Acts and Epistles, and is the guaranty of their substantial accuracy. It is also a promise of the same guidance all through the ages to those who, by obedience and love, can receive it.2 14:26 … “And being all things to your remembrance,” etc. Many things they did not remember because at the time they could not understand them. Thus, after His resurrection, they recalled and understood what He had foretold concerning it. The difficult questions that arose in the early church were settled by the application of principles Jesus had taught, as in the footnote above. Practical thoughts 1. The Holy Spirit is the foundation of intelligence and truth. He not only changes the heart, but enlightens the mind. 2. God guides His children into truth by His Holy Spirit, through the needs of the times, through a clearer understanding of the Scriptures, and through free and loving discussion.

Scripture Reading: John 14:27 (KJV) Peace Bestowed 14:27 … “Peace I leave with you [Not merely the customary salutation, but a real gift of peace]. My peace I give [The same kind of peace as Jesus Himself had]. Not as the world giveth.” Not in kind or degree or method. 1. Not merely in promise, but in reality. 2. Not external, in outward comfort and ease and plenty, but inward. 3. Not depending on circumstances, but enduring under all circumstances. 4. Not for a brief time, but forever. 5. Not the best at first, but growing better. 6. Not in meager measures, but in overflowing abundance. 7. Not by yielding to sin, but by victory over it. 14:27 … “Let not your heart be troubled.” (see notes on 14:1 in last lesson) 3 Peace 1. It was peace with God, sins forgiven, hearts of love, working with God, in sympathy with God, submission to God. 2. It was the peace of righteousness, peace with the law of God. This peace was given only to those who loved and obeyed (vs. 17, 21, and 23). It is only when righteousness is “as the waves of the sea” that “peace can flow like a river.” 3. Peace with providence, carrying out the Divine plan, and trusting to do our part although we cannot see how it harmonizes with other parts. Illustration In spite of the mystery and the fragmentariness of life, where the good seem to suffer and the bad to be prosperous, yet “the devil is not the god of this world, nor humanity the god of this world, nor furies, nor a god of fury, but infinite and eternal love is working out the web of human destiny. Have you ever seen how the old weaving factories operated? – curious and busy fingers picking up the threads one after the other as needed; together with the machinery working out the plan that wisdom and skill devised beforehand. So life is like a great factory, and the forces that we call forces of nature and life are these busy fingers; but they are doing the work that wisdom and love ordained beforehand they should do, and are working out a pattern that by and by will be completed in the eternal world” (Abbott). 4. It is peace with other disciples and with all other men so far as they are willing. Illustration All Christians are like the different voices in a choir, and instruments in an orchestra, made to be in harmony, although differing so much in tone, in quality, in pitch.

5. It is peace in one’s own soul. All the parts of the soul are in harmony; like the different stops of an organ, our will, our purposes, our conscience, our tastes and desires, our love, are all one beautiful harmony. 6. It is the peace of victory. There are two roads to peace, we may be conquered or we may conquer. Peace for a time may come by yielding to wrong, but true and permanent peace must come from overcoming all evil, and comes through conflict. 7. It is the peace of trust, as Christ was at peace in the storm on the lake.
Footnotes: 1 See Remembering Jesus in Additional Resources section of 2 Compare the actual results as recorded in the Acts, noting the change in the apostles, their new understanding of the Scriptures, their wisdom in settling difficult questions, such as about deacons and the reception of the Gentiles. Also compare the truths taught in the epistles with the teachings of Christ, unfolded and developed by the Spirit, as the occasions permitted or required. 3 Compare the fulfillment of this promise in the Acts, Peter rejoicing in prison; Paul and Silas singing praise in the jail at Philippi; Paul’s good cheer on the wrecked ship, “rejoicing evermore. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

Previous / Next / Index presents Jesus Christ in the Writings of John JESUS THE TRUE VINE
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Subject: Jesus Teaches How His Disciples May Bear Fruit Golden Texts: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” (John 15:8) “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” (John 15:5) Light from Other Scriptures The illustration of the vine: Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 19:10; Psalm 80:8-10; Hosea 10:1; Matthew 21:33. The tree and its fruits: Matthew 7:16-20; Luke 13:6-9; Galatians 5:19-23. Lesson Plan: Introduction The Source of the Fruitful Life (vs. 1-4) The Fruit of a Christian Life (vs. 5-8) Perseverance in Fruit-bearing (vs. 9-16) Setting of the Lesson: Time: Late Thursday evening; the last evening of Christ with His disciples. Place: Christ and the disciples had risen from the supper table (John 14:31), and the rest of the conversation took place perhaps in the upper room or in the courtyard of the house, before they went out of the city to Gethsemane. Some think it took place in the court of the temple; others, on the way to Gethsemane while they were passing through some vineyards. Place in the Life of Christ: The evening before His betrayal and crucifixion. Circumstances: The group had risen to their feet, and prepared to leave the room. In chapter 18:1, after the prayer, it is said that they “went forth,” i.e. out of the room. So that the remainder of the discourse, and the prayer, occupying but a few moments, was probably spoken while they were standing, ready to leave the house. Jesus was full of thoughts and instruction He longed to utter before the final separation, and the disciples were reluctant to depart from their last meeting with their Teacher. Some think that at the close of the 14th chapter, they went out of the room into some other place, perhaps, as mentioned above, the courts of the temple, or some garden, and there Jesus spoke these words. Inductive Study of the Lesson

First, a study of the relation between Christ and His true disciples will help us to realize the importance of the subject, and the many points of view, each of which throw light upon it, like the seven colors of the sun’s spectrum. There are seven forms of figures in the New Testament that set forth this union of Christ with the true believer, and they run through the whole range of possible figures of speech. 1. One is drawn from the purely animal kingdom – the sheep and the shepherd (John 10). 2. One is drawn from the vegetable kingdom – the vine and the branches (John 15). 3. One is drawn from the mineral kingdom – the building and living stone (Eph. 2). 4. One is drawn from the human form – the body and its members (Eph. 4). 5. One is drawn from the family relation – the family and its members, or the State or commonwealth and its citizens (Eph. 2, 3). 6. One is drawn from the marriage relationship – the bride and the bridegroom (Eph. 5). 7. The climax is reached in 1 Corinthians 6:17, “He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit,” and in Romans 8:35, “who shall separate us from the love of God?” Second, a study of the use in the Bible of the symbol of the vine and its branches, familiar to the disciples, will help us to understand the full meaning of this allegory as Jesus used it. Write down what truth or symbol each of the following references puts into the picture 1. Presented by the vine: Psalm 80:8-16; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21, 22; 12:10; Ezekiel 17:6-10; Hosea 10:1; Matthew 20:1; Mark 12:1-9; John 15:1-12. 2. Cleansing the vine: Song of Solomon 2:15; Amos 4:9; Joel 1:7. Third, the tree and its fruit – Matthew 7:16-20; Luke 13:6-9; Galatians 5:19-23. For Further Study The circumstances in which the lesson was spoken. The vine: those things in it which are a good vehicle of spiritual truth. The vine as an object lesson. The fruit. Pruning. Abiding in Christ. How “much fruit” glorifies God. Christ’s joy in us.

Introduction At the close of the last chapter, the whole company rose, and prepared to leave the room. “But Jesus, full of thoughts which He longed even yet to utter, before His ever-nearer separation, stood, as it were, fixed to the spot by His love to

them, and once more began to speak” (Geikie). They stood during the discourse recorded in the next two chapters, and during the intercessory prayer (ch. 17). In the previous chapter the words of Jesus were chiefly intended to calm and comfort the timid and troubled disciples. Clark points out that now He proceeds to give instruction rather than consolation, and to press on their attention certain great truths that He would have them especially remember when He is gone. The place As already pointed out, it is uncertain where this chapter, as well as chapters 16 and 17, was spoken. Chapter 14 closes with Christ’s words, “Arise, let us go hence,” and in 18:1 it is said that “they went forth.” It is probable that at the close of chapter 14 they arose from the table and prepared to leave, but before they actually went out of the room, and while standing, the remainder of the discourse was spoken. Others think that it was spoken somewhere on the way to Gethsemane. There was no need of anything outward to suggest the figure or metaphor of the vine and its branches. The comparison was familiar to every reader of the Old Testament; and the natural vine and its branches were an almost daily sight in a country where the vine is cultivated as abundantly as now in Italy or Southern France. What may have suggested the comparison But if it were suggested by any external object, it may have been: 1. The cup of which they had just partaken (suggested by the “fruit of the vine” they had just used in “the last supper”); 2. The vines climbing over the side of the house, and the window; or 3. The vineyards outside in the light of the moon (probably Jesus simply used a familiar illustration from the vines abounding everywhere in Palestine, and often employed in the Old Testament, because it so perfectly expressed the idea He wished to teach). 4. Those who assign the discourses to the walk to the Mount of Olives, down to Kedron through the vineyards, draw the figure from the vineyards, and the fires burning along the sides of the Kedron valley in order to consume the vine-cuttings, or 5. It was suggested by the great golden vine over the golden gate of the Temple, which Josephus says was so large that it “had clusters as long as a man.” According to Gorion, its “leaves and buds were wrought of gleaming reddish gold, but its clusters of yellow gold, and its grape-stones of precious stones.” There was such a vine over the throne of the king of Persia that was greatly admired by Alexander the Great. This vine must have been often seen by the disciples. According to Jewish authorities, this vine kept growing by means of offerings of a leaf, or a cluster, or even of a branch. Illustration The Land of Promise was a land of vineyards. Hebron, according to Jewish tradition, is supposed to be the spot where the vine was created. A vineyard on a hill was the natural emblem of the kingdom of Judah; and this heraldic symbol was engraved on the

coins of the Maccabees, on the ornaments of the temple, and on the tombstones of the Jews. (Foulkes)

Scripture Reading: John 15:1-4 (KJV) The Source of the Fruitful Life Jesus Teaches How His Disciples May Bear Fruit Jesus had been talking about His death, and the disciples were full of anxiety, so that He had repeatedly urged them, “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1, 18, 26, 27). Now He goes on to assure them, under a beautiful and comforting figure, that though He will seem to leave them, they will still be joined to Him. 15:1 … “I am the true vine.” “The word ’true’ here is the ideal, genuine, perennial” (Giesy), the perfect vine. In the Hebrew Bible, the Jewish people are often compared to a vine (Ps. 80:8-19; Is. 5:1-7; Jer. 2:21; Hosea 10:1, etc.). But, Christ is the one who can fulfill in spiritual things the relation between a vine and its branches; “in contrast to Israel the stock which God had planted to bring forth fruit to Him (Exp. Greek Test.). Israel was not the true vine, but was false to the Husbandman, a barren and disappointing vine. Edersheim points out that when Jesus said He was the “true vine,” He meant that He, the Father, and the disciples, stood in exactly the same relationship as the vine, the husbandman, and the branches. This true vine is Christ1; not the man Christ Jesus, but the living, abiding Christ, the Christ Who is with His people always, even unto the end of the world (Matt. 28:20), Who reproduces Himself in every true disciple, since only those in whom the spirit of Christ dwells are truly His (Rom. 8:9), and Who is thus far more widely and potently in the earth today than He ever was or could be in the flesh. It is this ever-living Christ, reproduced in all His members, and spreading over the whole earth, that is the true vine, in contrast with the Old Israel, which proved not to be a true vine. This comparison may have been suggested by the wine of the last supper, or by a vine. In the East the main trunk “is generally allowed to grow to the height of six or eight feet” (Tristram), and then the branches are trained laterally. Some of the vines are said to be three hundred years old. Christ, the true vine, is not merely this trunk, but the whole vine, whose life “is reproduced in all His members, and is spreading over the whole earth.” Note: as the vine supports the branches, and its life flows through them all and is their life, so Jesus is the sustaining power of the Christian kingdom and the source of the life in all His disciples. They are all born from above by the Spirit.2 They all live in and through Him. “To live is Christ.” Take Christ away from the

Church of our Lord3, and it is dead, a separated branch, a house without a foundation, a limb amputated from a man. William Harrison wrote: The Vine since then has grown Until its green leaves gladden half the world, And from its countless clusters rivers flow For healing of the nations, and its boughs Innumerable stretch through all the earth, Ever increasing, ever each entwined With each, all living from the Central Heart, And you and I, my brethren, live and grow Branches of that immortal human stem 15:1 … “My Father is the husbandman.” Literally, the earth-worker. Clark points out that it is not the hired laborer, the vine-dresser, but the owner of the vineyard, the original planter, possessor, and cultivator of the vine. The Savior speaks of Himself as the subject of His Father’s care and cultivation. “God was husbandman of the whole vine; Christ Himself was pruned to the quick by the knife of affliction which the Father bore for Him as well as for other” (Trench). Illustration Foulkes pointed out that “never did a connoisseur plant a rare rose in his private garden, watch, water, train and guard it with half the care and joy with which the divine Husbandman planted and perfected the ‘true vine,’ in His earthly garden.” The Father owns the vineyard; He is the One who planted and cared for the vine. The teaching, the redemption, the religion of Jesus had its source in God, and He would protect it. He cares for the vine, “the choicest vine,” plans for it, nourishes it, “in a very fruitful hill,” gives it the sunshine of His love, and the gentle rain of His grace, He prunes it, He cleanses it, He does all He can that it may bring forth fruit. He well says of each of His children what He said of Israel, His vineyard, in Isaiah 5:1-7: “What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it?” It was no mere human device. The whole scheme of redemption had its source in the love and wisdom of the Godhead.4 All the wisdom, love, and power of God still protect and cherish His vineyard. The vine was the recognized symbol of the Messiah.5 Their helplessness and trouble appeal to Him, and He encourages them by reminding them that although left to do His work in the world, they will still be united to Him as the branches to the vine. 15:2 … “Every branch in Me.” The branch is the shoot put out by the vine every year. The branch in Christ is any one who, as a child in a Christian home or a member of the Lord’s church, brings forth the fruit that Christ expects. Who are the branches? His disciples (v. 5), all who follow Him, who are filled with His spirit. The source of whose life is from Him, a branch growing on the Tree of Life. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I

now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). We clearly see by this picture of a great vine or tree what is the real unity of the church. Each twig and branch has its individuality, is really a miniature vine. No two are alike. They are of different sizes and shadings, in different positions, some higher and some lower, some bear larger clusters than others. Each twig is joined with others, forming a bough, and there are many of these boughs formed into a number of larger branches – individuals who are all separate, and yet one in Christ, the True Vine; one because we belong to Christ; one because the same spirit, life, loyalty, and love runs through each individual child of God; one because each Christian is bearing the same heavenly fruit. Some are more exposed to destructive insects, to frost and storm, than others; some are old and some young, but all are part of the same vine, all have a family likeness and bear the same kind of fruit, with an emphasis on different qualities. Illustration From all this we see how the dead are still part of the church on earth. Their lives have helped to build up the branches that uphold the new branches. From each leaf a fiber goes to the root. The larger branches are the sum of all the smaller branches, as a river is the sum of all the streams flowing into it. This allegory gives fresh meaning to Christ’s “Believe in Me,” and “Come unto Me,” and to the communion cup. From time immemorial men have covenanted with one another by drinking together from a common cup, of the blood of the grape, or the fruit of the vine. The fruit of the vine is more than wine; it is the symbol of outpoured life. We are partakers of the very life of Christ, and that unites us to Him. 15:2 … “That beareth not fruit.” Jacobus points out that these are the external professors; the merely baptized members, who have no life and never had; though they belong to the outward connection. It includes those who are joined to Christ by intellectual conviction, who accept Him and His teachings with their minds, but do not obey or love Him. The fruits of the spirit are the fruits that naturally come from the spirit of Christ. Too many of us are like the Pharisees, who were externally children of Abraham, but not real children, because they did not have the spirit of Abraham (John 8:3740). Such are those who attend church, but have none of its life; who go under the name of Christians, but are without Christ; who have intellectual convictions, but do not live up to them. Judas, Ananias, Sapphira, and Simon Magus are examples. The fruit of the Christian life is deeds born of the spirit of Christ; not merely good deeds, but good deeds filled with the love of God and men. In Christian work a great mistake is often made. The difference between work and fruit is overlooked. Under a sense of duty or

from an inborn love of work, a Christian may be very diligent in doing his work for God, and yet find little blessing in it . . . If work is to be acceptable and effectual it must come as fruit; it must be the spontaneous outgrowth of a healthy, vigorous life. (Murray) Illustration Macmillan expressed it this way: What a beautiful and appropriate type does the vine afford of the mystical body of Christ. Each member has his own personality, his own individual existence; and yet, living or dead, he is regarded as a scion, or branch, of one common stock – a component and integral part of one tree. The same bond unites each to all; the same sap pervades all; the same life animates them all. Christ is not the trunk, nor the branches, but the whole vine; they are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. 15:2 … “He taketh away.” There are trees that may be turned to secondary uses, if they fail to fulfill their primary. Not so the vine. As timber it is utterly valueless. We should always keep in mind the only test for the judgment day – fruit. Why take them away? They are taken away because there presence injures the other branches; and what remains is of no benefit. As long as there is hope of their bearing fruit, they are permitted to remain, are pruned and cared for.6 However, if this is of no avail, they are taken away by: 1. The natural withering away of those who draw no nourishment from the true vine. They lose their interest, and practically sever their connection with Christ and His church. 2. Excommunication, the outward expression of their severance from Christ the true vine. 3. Persecution and trials; by demands on their money, or time, and calls to selfdenying service. 4. The separation from God’s people by death and the judgment.7 Illustration The forces of nature, the energies of God in action are forever working to the removal by decay, of whatever is dead – a dead branch, a dead arm, a dead plant. The rain and sunshine that make it flourish when alive, destroy it when dead. Applications This applies to a local church of our Lord, as well as to individuals. God does not desire to have fruitless churches, even though they may be large and prosperous to the human eye. He lets them wither away. The churches of our Lord that keep nearest to Christ will grow spiritually. The Christian who neglects union with Christ will find his religious and moral life withering away, little by little.

15:2 … “And every branch that beareth fruit.” Every disciple is a branch; every local congregation of the church of our Lord is a branch. There are many branches, but there is one life flowing through them all, and they are all parts of one vine. The fruit is faith, love, and obedience. It includes all the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, long-suffering, etc. (Gal. 5:22, 23). It is not measured by the results, the amounts of money given, the number of souls saved, as we are too often inclined to measure fruits; but by the love, obedience, graces, devotion, which lead to these outward results. 15:2 … “He purgeth.” In other words, “He cleanseth,” for the verb has the same root as “clean” in the next verse, the result of this cleansing. “Everything is removed from the branch which tends to divert the vital power from the production of fruit” (Westcott); such as dead twigs and leaves, insects, dirt, and even superfluous growths. The very fruit itself must often be thinned out in order that larger fruit of better quality may be produced. Christ cleanses the soul by: 1. The operation of the law that right doing develops right feeling, and opens the heart to higher influences (John 7:17); 2. The sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, given to each soul in the measure each proves itself worthy of and willing to receive; and by 3. The discipline of life, the manifestation of God’s special love to the soul (Heb. 12:6). Some teach that God does not prune the branches of His vine, that He does not afflict or discipline His children. They rob His love of its flaming holiness and make it a maudlin emotion, without moral fiber or backbone. Jesus might have waved aside His Gethsemane and His Calvary with a sweep of the hand if He had followed such sophistry. (Foulkes) Andrew Murray wrote that “the great hindrance in the vine to fruit-bearing is wood-bearing.” Wood-bearing is selfish occupation with worldly interests, neglecting the great work of Christ’s kingdom, the helping and saving of others. The Christian is pruned by disappointment, by sickness, by failure, by sorrow, by poverty, and by many other forms of discipline, all of which tend to center the mind on spiritual things. Illustration Andrew Murray lived in South America and abounded in grape-vines. He said of them: There is no other plant whose fruit and juice are so full of spirit, so quickening and stimulating. But there is also none of which the natural tendency is so entirely evil, none where the growth is so ready to run into wood that is utterly worthless except for the fire. Of all plants, not one needs the pruning knife so unsparingly and so unceasingly. None is so dependent on cultivation and training, but with this none yields a richer reward to the husbandman.

There is a similarity of sound between the Greek word for “taketh away” (hairei) of the fruitless branch and the purging (kathairei) of the fruitful branch (Cambridge Bible). “In the East dressers wash the leaves and shoots and tendrils and clusters, each by itself in turn, so as to clear off the dust and mold” (Robinson). But the principal method of purging is by pruning (“purge” is used to express pruning in Old English books on husbandry). There is no tree that requires so much pruning as the vine. In the fall nearly all the branches are cut off, either close to the stem , or to the main branches, and during the summer the luxuriant growths are continually taken away so as to throw all the life and strength into the vine and into the fruit. Young vines are not allowed to bear fruit for three years. The fruit is thinned out so as to leave the rest to grow into perfection. “Never prop a fruit tree” is sound advice; let it bear only as much as can thriftily grow. Excessive bearing injures the vine. The poorer clusters are removed. The object of all this redemptive work, is in order that the soul 15:2 … “may bring forth more fruit.” Westcott pointed out that everything is removed from the branch that tends to divert the vital power from the production of fruit. This pruning explains the reason for many loses and trials we experience. Practical application 1. Vines are pruned because they are of value, and have greater possibilities than they have realized. Illustrations The artist sees greater perfection possible to his best picture. The metallurgist sees greater purity for gold, greater strength in steel, where the common observer sees perfection. It fares exactly so with God and some of His servants. Men seeing their graces, which so far exceed the graces of common men, wonder sometimes why they should suffer still, why they seem to be ever falling, form one trial to another. But He sees in them – what no other eye can perceive – the grace which is capable of becoming more gracious still; and in His far-looking love for His own, who shall praise Him not for a day, but for an eternity, He will not suffer them to stop short of the best whereof they are capable. They are fruit-bearing branches, and just because they are so He prunes them, that they may bring forth more fruit. (Trench) In a large greenhouse where they raise the best roses I ever saw, often in the winter worth their weight in gold, I asked the florist why his roses were so much better than others. His reply was, “I love them so.” But every one could see that he showed his love by great richness of soil, and close pruning. His whole object was to obtain not the most luxuriant vines, but the most and the best roses. (William Harrison)

2. Thinning fruit aids perfection of fruit. Men sometimes try to bear more kinds of fruit than they are able to bear, and are tempted to prop the tree with tonics. They are overworked, overburdened, overtaxed. They try to do too many things, and so nothing well. The best way to shake the tree, and free it of the extra fruit is to prune, clip, cut, pluck, and reduce the fruit till it becomes manageable, and until the tree can support its burden, and then let every branch be loaded with fruit that comes to perfection, but not overloaded with fruit which never will reach its full development. (Hastings) 3. The cleansing and pruning are the work of the Holy Spirit, through the discipline of life, through the limitations of life by the Divine providence, through the Word of God. 4. All the discipline of life is a pruning of the exuberant growth of the will, the feelings, the passions, the desires, and all the motive forces of our natures. 15:3 … “Now ye are clean.” Cleansed, as described in verse 2 – The result of the purging. “Clean” here means properly pruned, “in a condition to bear fruit” (Expositor’s Greek Testament). Perhaps Christ had some thought of His words in John 13:10, after the feet-washing. In other words, as Clark pointed out, they are clean, yet (v. 2) need to be cleansed. They need daily purging in order to bear fruit, with a birth to which no uncleanness attaches (1 Pet. 1:23; Jas. 1:18), and, therefore, in regard to their standing before God, they are absolutely clean. 15:3 … “Through [R.V., “Because of”] the word which I have spoken unto you” i.e., the whole course of Christ’s teaching, which had purified their hearts and lives, and cut off their evil ways. “You are already cleansed from past sin through your acceptance of and obedience to My word” (Abbott). Conscious of their imperfections, their late strife, and their weakness, they might fear that they were not branches of the true vine. Jesus comforts them with the assurance that they are cleansed, that they are bearing fruit, though they may need further cleansing in order that they may bring forth more fruit. All Jesus’ teaching and training for three years had been cleansing and pruning the disciples. Imperfect as they were, they were bearing good fruit and were prepared to bring forth a great deal more and a great deal better fruit, as we see in the Book of Acts. 15:4 … “Abide in me.” They were clean now, but the only way to keep clean was by abiding in Christ – fixing on Him their faith, hope, and their love, communing with Him in the Spirit even after He leaves them to return to His Father. This is not a direction and a promise, equivalent to, if you abide in Me, I will abide in you; it is a twofold direction – abide in me; see to it that I abide in you. Abbott

points out that it implies that “Christ’s indwelling in us is dependent on ourselves.” Thus, the Lord recognizes the moral freedom of His disciples. Meyer proposes that instead of “abide,” we use a word more closely allied in meaning and in sound to the Greek, “Remain in Me and I in you,” i.e., and I will abide in you. Dobs suggested this: “Maintain your belief in Me, your attachment to Me, your derivation of hope, aim, and motive from Me, and I will abide in you, filling you with all the life you need to represent Me on earth.” Ryle pointed out that to abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant and close communion with Him – to always be leaning on Him, resting on Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our fountain of life and strength. Souls grow by contact with other souls. The larger and fuller the Spirit with whom we come into touch, and the more the points of conduct, the more free and strong is our growth. Life kindles life, love awakens love, courage arouses courage, self-devotion inspires self-devotion; thought quickens thought; so that there is nothing in the universe like abiding in Christ to promote the growth of our souls in every good. How may we abide in Him? 1. By faith 2. By communion with Him 3. By doing His will 4. By doing all with right motives for His sake 5. By loving Him 6. By the means of grace, the Word of God, prayer, the Lord’s Day How may we have Him abide with us? 1. By opening the door of our hearts 2. By receiving the Holy Spirit 3. By putting away all that is repulsive to Him 4. By yielding to His impulses The Lord is saying to His disciples continue your connection with Me by trusting, loving, and obeying Me. After I am gone still continue in Me as you have done so far. As pointed out above, the larger and fuller the spirit with whom we come into touch, and the more the points of contact, the more free and strong is our growth. Illustrations The orator is conscious of the presence and appreciation of his audience, even when his intellect is most busily engaged in furnishing the thought which is always on the alert for the cry of her babe. So we may be fully occupied in thought and act, and yet our heart may be abiding in holy and blessed communion with out Lord. (Meyer) Phillips Brooks illustrates abiding in Christ by a child’s dependence on his father and a soldier’s complete submission to his general. “Christ is at once our Father and our Captain.”

15:4 … “And I in you.” If the disciples thus directed their faith and love toward Christ, He would direct toward them His power, wisdom, comfort, and courage. If they talked with Him, He would answer them. In other words, My power, knowledge, guidance, will flow through you and produce the fruit you are to bear in building up the kingdom of God. How? By the Holy Spirit, who guides into all truth, and by His Word abiding in you – all His teachings and promises. In that deep abiding in the vine on which our life depends, it is given us to hold fellowship both with the root that twines itself about the cross, and with the tendrils that stretch upward into glory. (Gordon) Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote: Abide in me; there have been moments pure, When I have seen thy face and felt its power; Then evil lost its grasp, and, passion hushed, Owed the divine enchantment of the hour. These were but seasons beautiful and rare; Abide in me – and they shall ever be; I pray thee now fulfill my earnest prayer, Come and abide in me, and I in thee. 15:4 … “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself [when it is cut off from the vine, and lies on the ground], except it abide in the vine; no more [R.V., “so neither”] can ye, except ye abide in me.” A Hindu fakir might make a branch seem to “bear fruit of itself,” but it would be only seeming. The Creator Himself never made branches that would bear fruit unless they were vitally united to the vine. So long as I think of myself as a source of power and not a channel of power, I am hopelessly deceived. (Foulkes) The union between the branch of a vine and the main stem is the closest that can be conceived. Fyle pointed out that it is the whole secret of the branch’s life, strength, vigor, beauty, and fertility. We see by our Lord’s familiar illustration that since our life flows from Jesus, we cannot live spiritually apart from Him. All true spiritual fruit is the effect of His life flowing in us.

Scripture Reading: John 15:5-8 (KJV) The Fruit of a Christian Life The Bible appears to exhaust all available figures in describing the intimate relationship that exists between the Lord and His own. The

exquisite fitness of the one to the other is suggested by such relationships as hunger and bread, thirst and water, and the intimacy of their united lives is unveiled in the figures of the vine and its branches, the head and its members, the bridegroom and the bride. (Jowett) 15:5 … “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” Jowett further states: Christ can only express Himself through union with man. He wants to reveal to your family what gracious fruit is matured in the life that abides in Him. But He has no branches! He longs to express Himself in civic life. But does He always find the branch? 15:5 ... “He that abideth in me … bringeth forth much fruit.” This saying is true of individuals, teachers, ministers, and local churches of our Lord. To be fruitful, to really make this world better, and do of it what Christ began on earth, we must abide in Him. No Christ-less church can truly be successful. Teach Christ, live Christ, abide in Christ, and the fruit is sure. No man can make things grow. He can get them to grow by arranging all the circumstances and fulfilling all the conditions, but the growing is the work of God . . . what man can do is to place himself in the midst of a chain of sequences. While man prays in faith, God acts by law. (Drummond) The free flow of sap, the nature of the soil, the wealth of sunshine, the carefulness of the culture, all have to do with the quantity and quality of the fruit. 15:5 … “Without Me [R.V., “apart from Me,” not simply without My help, but separated from Me as a branch cut off is separated from the vine] ye can do nothing” – nothing that is which is worthy to be called fruit-bearing; nothing pleasing to the Father. Without Him what is called success is a shadow. In other words, there will be no true good works, no true success. We may gather riches, reputation, power, but standing alone, apart from Him, we cannot turn these into eternal blessings for ourselves or for others. (Westcott) But with Christ strengthening us, as Paul said in Philippians 4:13, we can do all things. Illustrations Once a mother had her little daughter pick a beautiful lily and bring it to her. “Now,” her mother said, “lay it on the front step in the sun for a few minutes.” Later she sent the little girl for the lily, and she came back grieved because the lily was withered and spoiled. “That, my dear,” said the mother, “is what you would be if God were not with you every minute (condensed from Bibbs’s Polished Stones).

In the Hebrew allegory, the fallen angels of Love regained the celestial light, because they confused their weakness, and crept back through the dark, dependently begging to find again what they had lost. But the fallen angels of Knowledge, confident in their vain boast of self-emanating luster, plunged obstinately on, until they sank into the pit, obscure and lost forever. (Huntington) The famous grape-vine of England’s Hampton Court is probably the largest in the world. As the keeper was telling how many thousand clusters it bore, someone said to him, “The grapes seem very small for Black Hamburgs.” “Yes,” he said, “an old vine cannot bear grapes or clusters as large as a younger one; but the grapes are sweeter and of finer flavor. They are kept for the queen’s use.” It is truly a comfort to know that though in lesser quantities, old age can still bear fruit for the Lord – fruit whose qualities are better and the flavor more heavenly. One who imagines that he or she can get these things because of knowing how to get them, is about the same as trying to feed on a cookery book. 15:6 … “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch” – cast out of the vineyard; cut off and thrown outside the vineyard into the brush-heaps for burning, hopelessly rejected.8 15:6 … “And is withered;” Loses its power of bearing fruit; in time loses even the appearance of life; so that it cannot possibly bear any fruit. This is true of individuals and of churches. Their life is lost apart from Christ; they wither away. An unfruitful branch is not “withered” immediately when broken off from its parent stock and stem; on the contrary, it remains a deceitful greenness and freshness for a little while; deceitful, because on all this the sentence of death has irrevocably passed. Local churches of our Lord through abandonment of the true faith and individuals who by unbelief and sin that springs up from unbelief have separated themselves from Christ their head. They both may, for a while, keep the show and semblance of life; but little by little, sooner or later, they come to an end of all they took with them (Trench). 15:6 … “And men [R.V. “they”] gather them and cast them into the fire.” Some commentators think that Jesus, leading His disciples through the Kedron vineyards to Gethsemane, saw men burning heaps of dead branches cut from the vines. 15:6 … “And they are burned.” As dead branches of a vine are burned; destroyed – no longer a part of the vineyard; separated from the fruit-bearing branches. “The essential truth that underlies the metaphor is simply this that the soul separated from Christ is separated from the source of spiritual life, and withers away; eventually destroyed” (Abbott). By a wonderful succession of terrible verbs, Christ pictures the fate of those that are separated from Him: taken away (v. 2), cast forth, withered, gathered, cast into the fire, and burned. What a warning for the disciples – and for us.

[The barren branch] is cast forth in order to preserve the integrity of the vine. It is withered in order to show the judgment of barrenness in its very self. It is gathered, as the judgment of society upon fruitlessness. It is cast into the fire, which is the judgment of the husbandman. (Foulkes) 15:7 … “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you.” Ryle pointed out that “to have His word abiding in us is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our minds and memories, and to make them guide our actions and rule our daily conduct and behavior.” “My words” here are equivalent to “I” of verse 4; Christ identifies Himself with His teaching; we are His friends if we do His commandments (v. 14). We are to “hold His words close to our own living, loving heart; study their significance; absorb their living force; breathe their spirit; conform our voluntary activities everymore to their demands” (Cowles). Illustrations There seems to be here a sort of faintly sketched picture of a solemn council-room in the heart of the true Christian, around which sit in beautiful and holy chairs the judges of our lives – the words of Jesus. Every act that the true Christian does is compelled to pass upon its way from conception to execution through that council-room, and every word of Jesus sitting in its place must give its sanction to every act. (Brooks) A visitor in a family where the man prayed fervently for the good and happiness of others, and his own holiness, but who went out and was cross to his workmen, and disagreeable to all, said to him, “I should think you must be a very disappointed man.” “Why?” “Because your morning prayer was so completely unanswered. v. 7 helps us to understand the meaning, “And My words abide in you.” If you remember My teachings, if you live according to them, if you make them the guide of your lives, if My principles are your principles, My hopes your hopes, My aims your aims, then you abide in Me. There are many analogies The sun says to the Earth, “Abide in my rays, and then my rays will abide in you, through the flowers and fruits, animal and vegetable life, coal measures, through life and warmth and light.” The artist says to the student, “Stay with me, share my home, saturate yourself with my ideas and methods of expression, and I will give you my best self in return.” Souls grow by contact with other souls. The larger and fuller the Spirit with whom we come into touch, and the more the points of contact, the more free and strong is our growth. Life kindles life, love awakens love, courage arouses courage, selfdevotion inspires self-devotion; thought quickens thoughts. There is nothing in

the universe like abiding in Christ to promote the growth of our souls in every good. Illustrations First, the story of Rappacini’s daughter in Hawthorne’s Mosses from an Old Manse. Second, the scented clay (A Persian fable): One day as I was in the bath, a friend of mine put in my hand a piece of scented clay. I took it, and said to it, ‘Art thou musk or ambergris? For I am charmed with thy perfume.’ It answered, ‘I was a despicable piece of clay, but I was some time in the company of the rose, and the sweet quality of my companion was communicated to me. 15:7 … “Ye shall ask what ye will” R.V.: “ask whatever ye will.” It will be Christ’s will as well as yours, since Christ is dwelling in you, influencing your desires. Because what we ask for is so imbued with God’s will that we will only ask what is God’s will to give; what will bring Him glory; that which is in submission to His wisdom and love. 15:7 … “And it shall be done unto you.” Of course, God answer a Christian’s prayer virtually as though it was prayer by His well-beloved Son. Francis Wayland believed that “if a man love and serve God, his prayers will infallibly prevail.” While that is true, still one must never forget that even though God’s well-beloved Son Himself prayed in Gethsemane that the cup before Him be taken away, still, He suffered and died on Calvary. It is chiefly by prayer that this abiding is to be maintained and kept alive. “What richer promise could the wanting-soul frame for itself? What more should the children of poverty and need desire than the privilege of asking what one will, to be granted him” (Cowles)? People often lament, and sometimes even complain, that their prayers are not answered. Are they anxiously maintaining this union and this usefulness (v. 16)? Broadus asked, “Do they wish God to answer a prayer that is not ‘according to His will’”? No promise could be more adapted to the wants of this little band going forth like sheep among wolves, amid unknown dangers and trials, to bring in the greatest kingdom ever known, to conquer the invincible Roman Empire, and the human heart – the most difficult of all to conquer. Illustration A great bell was once made to vibrate by a slender flute. The bell was not influenced by the flute except when a certain note was sounded, and then it at once responded. So when our prayers are in harmony with God’s will, they at once elicit a Divine response. (Judson)

15:8 … “Herein [in the abundance of the fruit they bear] is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” In the fruitfulness of the vine lies the joy and glory of the husbandman (Westcott). Christians are God’s representatives on earth, and therefore the greater their virtues, the more good they do; the larger and more perfect their success in saving men from sin, the more God is honored. Our fruit-bearing is to God’s glory because it comes through God’s grace and power poured out on us as through His Son, Jesus Christ. As Christians, we know that our good deeds are not to our credit, but to Christ’s. Illustration It is told of the old preacher Franklin that he chose for his signet-ring a tree, and a verse from the first psalm for the motto. And when near his end, being asked by his son for some word of condensed wisdom to be treasured in remembrance of him, and ever to serve as a prompter to duty, he whispered to him only this, “Fruitful” (Robinson). 15:8 … “So [R.V.: “and so”] shall ye be [become] my disciples.” Literally, “Ye shall become My disciples.” Westcott pointed out that “a Christian never ‘is,’ but always ‘is becoming’ a Christian. And it is by his fruitfulness that he indicates his claim to the name.” We are learners in the school of Christ, followers of His teaching. Illustration Two friends were walking through a garden and one asked the name of a particular tree. The answer came, “It’s an apple-tree.” “But,” he said, “I see no fruit.” “No,” came the reply, “it never bears any fruit, but it is very ornamental.” There are too many so-called Christians like that tree. Much fruit shows 1. That they are like Christ, who bore much fruit. 2. It shows that they abide in Him, or they could not bear such fruit. 3. It shows that they have learned of Him. 4. It shows that they obey Him. By the much fruit men would take knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus, and they would have assurance in themselves that they were His disciples, and were becoming more and more completely His. Observe 1. Every true Christian will aim at great things, and should ask for great things, and expect great things. 2. Our principle of conduct should not be to do as little as we can, but to do as much as we possibly can (Jacobus).

Scripture Reading: John 15:9-16 (KJV)

Perseverance in Fruit-Bearing 15:9 … “As [R.V.: “Even as”] the Father hath loved me [God’s love alone made it possible for Christ to do what He did for us], so have I loved you:” R.V.: “I also have loved you.” This is a marvelous statement of the measure and quality of Christ’s love for us. It is true, warm, personal, seeking our best good, unfailing. When we wish to know how much Jesus loves us, let us remember how much the Father loves His only begotten Son. 15:9 … “Continue ye in my love.” “Continue” or “abide” is the same Greek word used so often in these verses – three times in v. 4, twice each in vs. 7, 10, and once each in vs. 5, 6, 9, and 16. It is variously translated in the common version, but always “abide” in the Revised. As Christ was leaving His disciples, He had no greater anxiety than that they should persevere in the work He had set for them to do, continuing His own work for men. As God’s love was Christ’s motive power, so Christ’s love was to be their motive power, insuring their perseverance if they would only continue to love Christ. “My love” means both Christ’s love for the disciples and their love for Him. “My love” is Christ’s love for us, not ours to Him. To abide in His love is to rest our souls continually on it, being assured that it is exercised toward us – as G. W. Clark stated: “to live and labor under a constant sense of it, being fully persuaded that nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ” (Rom. 8:35-39). 15:10 … “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.” This is the way to “abide in” His “love,” and the proof that we are abiding in it. The natural and necessary effect of abiding in His love is to keep His commandments. Christ implies that if He yielded Himself to God’s commandments, they should not hesitate to yield to Christ’s commandments; and if Christ found that the result of obedience to God was that He continued to 15:10 … “Even as I have kept my Father’s commandments.” A complete adoption of the Father’s will by the Son, and of the Son’s will by us; and this is not spoken of as a proof of love, “but as the condition which makes continued love possible” (Schaff). Jesus does not ask His disciples to do what He Himself does not do. And His example proves that there is no other way for them. 15:10 … “Abide in his love,” they might confidently expect the same result to come from obedience to Christ’s commandments. 15:11 … “These things have I spoken [by comparing vs. 17; 16:25, 33 we see that this verse forma a conclusion to the allegory of the vine] unto you that my joy might remain in you.” R.V.: “may be in you”. Christ’s joy was in doing His Father’s will (John 4:34), obeying God’s commandments; and His joy would enter their lives and remain there on the same terms. “The joy of Christ, like the peace of Christ, is something strangely unlike that which commonly bears the name. His

peace was maintained in the very shock of conflict; His joy was felt in the very depth of sorrow” (Westcott). If they obeyed them, then the purpose and effect of His teachings would be a joy in them like the joy He felt. “‘My joy’ is the joy which He Himself experiences in feeling Himself the object of His Father’s love. Joy, like His, having the same source in God, and the same quality, enduring and invincible” (Godet). 15:11 … “And that your joy might be full.” Or fulfilled; grow more perfect; have every quality of true joy; increase in quality and abundance, till you are full of joy, having all your nature can contain. The joy of Christ 1. This joy is the joy of a free activity in doing right, like the joy of motion in health, like the song of a bird in the morning. 2. This joy is the joy of entire consecration and submission to God. 3. This joy is the joy of doing good, of self-denial for others. 4. This joy is the joy of perfect faith in a wise and loving God, committing everything to His care. 5. This joy is joy in the conscious love of God to us, communion and friendship with Him. 6. This joy is the joy of loving others. 7. This joy is the joy of seeing others saved. 8. This joy is the joy of victory. 9. In the end, outward delights and pleasures to correspond with the inward joy. This answers many of the objections made to religion 1. One says that religion is sour and gloomy, driving men out of every temple of pleasure with a whip of small cords, and posting “no trespassing here” against every field of delight. The answer is, “My joy in you, and your joy full.” 2. Another says, “You are continually talking of the happiness of religion. It is merely another form of selfishness.” The answer is, “Christ’s joy in us.” 3. Others say, “Your joy is wonderful, but it does not endure – a mere passing cloud, or morning dew.” The answer is, “Christ’s joy, which endures forever, and which remains in His disciples.” 15:12 … “This is my commandment.” “Perhaps they expected minute, detailed instructions such as they had received when first sent out (Matt. 10). Instead of this, love was to be their sufficient guide” (Expositor’s Greek Testament). This is the great universal law of His kingdom. 15:12 … “That ye love one another.” “Like as every lord gives a livery to his servants, whereby they may be known that they pertain unto him, so our Lord would have His servants known by their liveries and badge, which badge is love alone” (Hugh Latimer, martyred in 1555). Bring all branches of the same vine, the same life flows through all; all have a similar nature, and that nature like Christ’s, which both loves and attracts love.

15:12 … “As [R.V.: “even as”] I have loved you.” “His love was at once the source and the measure of theirs” (Expositor’s Greek Testament). With the same unselfish, warm, and personal devoted love as He feels toward them. This is the measure of their love to one another. Where this is the law, there the church of our Lord has peace, works together, draws many to the Christ they love. “This is at once the standard, or measure, and also the motive of this command” (Cowles). It has been called “the eleventh commandment.” Love sums up our relation to Christ and to our fellow-men. How had Christ loved them? v. 13 is the answer. 15:13 … “Greater love hath no man than this [Christ would have His disciples understand something of His love for them, which was to be the inspiration of their love for Him], that a man lay down his life [like a cast-off garment] for his friends.” But Christ’s love was greater than man’s love, for He laid down His life for His foes (Rom. 5:6-10). No man can show greater love to his friends. It does not say that this is the highest manifestation of love. For that is in giving His life for His enemies (Rom. 5:6-8). Beware of reading into “that a man lay down his life for his friends” as though laying down the life was equivalent to dying. To die for a friend is not the greatest manifestation of love; to live for him by consecrating the whole life to him, is far greater. As Christ consecrates not only His earthly life, but, in His intercession with us and for us, His eternal life, to His friends, so, if we are His friends, we shall lay down our lives for Him, not necessarily by dying for Him, but by doing whatsoever He commands us; that is, by living for Him (Abbott). But it implies that we will die for Him and for one another, if necessary. Who are His friends? v. 14 is the answer. 15:14 … “Ye are my friends.” The disciples had this assurance to comfort them through all the trials that Christ foresaw coming on them. Christ was their Friend, and He would see them through. I look upon you as friends for whom I die; but ye too must prove yourselves My friends by doing My commandments, i.e., loving one another according to the degree set forth by My sacrificial love, in so far as that is designed as a patter for you. (Lange) 15:14 … “If ye do whatsoever I command you.” R.V.: not so strong, “the things which I command you.” Christ said this, not to discourage the disciples, but to hearten them. Their trials would come as they obeyed His commandments, and He assured them that this obedience made His friendship certain. “The measure of your love to Christ will be found in the measure in which you overcome easily besetting sins” (Beecher).

Obedience is the test and the expression of true friendship of disciples toward their Lord and Teacher. 15:15 … “Henceforth, I call you not servants” (literally, “slaves”). Christ had never called the disciples that, but they had called Him their Lord and Master [John 13:13], which amounted to the same thing); He receives his allotted task but is not made acquainted with the ends his master wishes to serve by his toil. He is animated by no sympathy with his master’s purpose nor by any personal interest in what he is doing. (Expositor’s Greek Testament) They are to serve Him, as these chapters and verses point out: 13:13; 14:15, 23; and 15:10. But, it is not a service to be performed in a servile way. It is not service in a blind, unquestioning obedience to an unknown authority – merely from a sense of duty. 15:15 … “For the servant [slave] knoweth not what his lord doeth.” A servant does not know all his master’s will; he is expected simply to execute his commands without knowing the reason why they are given. 15:15 … “But I have called you friends.” As God called Abraham His friend (Is. 41:8); as Christ bestowed the same loving name on Lazarus (John 11:11). “You” is emphatic, I take you into My counsels, I reveal to you My plans, and you serve Me, because you love Me, and carry out My plans. The highest service in the world is that of friendship and love. And this is the high privilege of all Christ’s disciples. Illustration Xenophon tells us that when Cyrus gave Artabazus, one of his courtiers, a cup of gold, he gave Chryanthus, his favorite, nothing but a kiss, which occasioned this speech from Artabazus to Cyrus: “Sir, the cup you gave me was not so good gold as the kiss you gave Chrysanthus.” There is no gift in the universe so rich and precious as the friendship of Jesus Christ. (Banks) 15:15 … “For all things that I have heard of my Father [especially the greatest of all things, Christ’s mission to this world for the saving of men9], I have made known unto you.” All of Christ’s teachings were not His own, as He clearly said in John 8:28, but were taught Him by His Father. Illustration James I. Robertson wrote that Robert E. Lee’s confidence rested on history. In one of Lee’s letters to a wartime aide, he wrote: The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, [and]

that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches each of us to hope. 15:16 … “Ye have not chosen me.” R.V.: “Ye did not choose me.” If they had, they might easily become discouraged, distrusting their own wisdom in the choice, fearing they had made a mistake. 15:16 … “But I have chosen you.” Knowing all your weakness and failings, foreseeing what tests you will be exposed to, and yet selecting you as followers who can be depended on. “A sense of being personally chosen of God is the best support of personal courage” (Richards). Pupils among the Jews at this time generally selected their own rabbi or teacher; Jesus reverses the order, and calls His disciples (Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 2:14). Their appointment to this high office was purely of grace. As G. W. Clark pointed out, “They were not His champions, noble of birth, powerful in influence, or of great wealth, but chosen vessels to whom He was pleased to commit the great treasurers of the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:7).” However, some may have place a wrong emphasis on this truth, or made it narrower than the Gospel does, yet the truth itself has always had mighty power over the hearts of men. To believe that we are in the place ordained for us by the wisdom of God; that God cared so much for us that from all eternity He planned out our lives for us; that not chance, that not short-sighted human beings, not demons, but the ever-wise, ever-loving God is always near to help and, if we allow Him, to plan our lives, is a source of great comfort and power. 15:16 … “And ordained [R.V.: “appointed”] you [as a general selects his soldiers or a President his cabinet10], that ye should go [on the missions that He shall send you] and bring forth fruit.” Here Christ returns to the original comparison. This it is to which He ordained, or placed, appointed them. The fruit is good works, souls converted, a kingdom founded. As in adoring faith I see my personal life embraced in God’s eternal purpose in Christ, as the heavenly truth possesses me that I have been appointed to bear fruit, not in virtue of my fitness or my having offered myself for it, but because God and Christ saw fit to choose me for it, the call to give myself up to live alone for this comes with irresistible urgency, and the confidence is begotten that I can bear just as much fruit as God would have me do. (Murray) 15:16 … “And that your fruit should remain.” Your work shall endure. The kingdom you found shall never end. Illustrations Robertson further wrote regarding Lee that few college presidents ever worked harder for the religious good of the students. To one local minister, Lee said: “I shall fail in the leading object that brought me here, unless these young men become real Christians.” To another minister, Lee repeated similar thoughts: “I

dread the thought of any student going away from the college without becoming a sincere Christian.” 15:16 … “That whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name.” To pray in Christ’s name is not to use His name as a charm or talisman simply, as though the bare repetition of it were all that is required to open the treasures of infinite grace. Let us not degrade this dearest promise of our Lord into such a superstition as that. The Jewish cabalists believed that the pronunciation of certain magical words engraved on the seal of Solomon would perform miracles. That was incantation. And we in like manner make Christian incantation of this sublimest privilege of the Gospel if we put such an interpretation as this upon Christ’s words. The name of Christ stands for Christ Himself. And to pray in the name of Christ is to pray in Christ, in the mind and spirit and will of Christ. (Gordon) 15:16 … “He shall give it you.” So, their power to bring forth fruit will be assured. This is the culminating point of the climax. This is the result of their service as friends, and of their bringing forth fruit. Whatsoever they may need in this service, let them go to the Father, and He will grant it to them. “This high privilege was conditioned in v. 7 on permanent union with Christ, and is here conditioned on permanent usefulness in His service” (Broadus). Illustration The Empress Josephine said that the happiest day in her life was when she found a poor woman in tears, and asked how she might help her. “Oh, no one could help me,” the woman answered. “It is impossible. It would require four hundred francs to save our vineyard and our goats.” Josephine at once counted out the money, and the woman’s gratitude made that the happiest day in the Empress’s life. “But all God’s life is filled with days like that. His name is Love. He delights to hear our prayer, to answer it, to relieve and to enrich us” (Burrell). Wm Harrison: Jesus, immutably the same, Thou true and living Vine, Around Thy all-supporting stem My feeble arms I twine. Quickened by Thee and kept alive I flourish and bear fruit; My life I from Thy sap derive, My vigor from Thy root. Illustration A young Bible school student’s conception of joy was that it was a thing made in lumps and kept somewhere in heaven, and that when people prayed for it, pieces were somehow let down and fitted into their souls. In reality joy is as much a

matter of cause and effect as pain. No one can get joy by merely asking for it. It cannot be gained by a conjuring trick, or tying it on, like grapes to a vine, or fruit to a tree. It is one of the ripest fruits of the Christian life, and, like all fruits, must be grown. So, here it is: Fruit first, joy next – Fruit-bearing is the necessary antecedent.
Footnotes: 1 For more information on Jesus Christ, see God the Son in A Religion Library section of 2 For more information on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of 3 For more information on the Church, see God’s Church, in A Religion Library section of 4 For more information on the Godhead, see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of 5 See Delitzsch in “Expositor,” Third Series, iii., p. 68; and in his “Iris,” pp. 180-190. The discovery of “Teaching of the Apostles” shows how frequently “the vine of David” was used as a metaphor for Christ the son of David. 6 See Luke 13:6-9. 7 See v. 6, as well as Matthew 21:19, 20. 8 See Isaiah 27:11; Ezekiel 15:5. 9 See Matthew 11:27. 10 See 1 Corinthians 12:28; Acts 20:28, etc. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

Previous / Next / Index presents Jesus Christ in the Writings of John THE MISSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (John 15:26 - 16:20)
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Subject: The Holy Spirit, Witness, Judge, Guide, Teacher Golden Texts: “He shall teach you all things.” (John 14:26) “He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13) Lesson Plan: Introduction The Holy Spirit Bearing Witness of Jesus (vs. 26, 27) The Holy Spirit as Comforter (vs. 1-7) The Holy Spirit as Judge (vs. 8-11) The Holy Spirit as Guide and Teacher (vs. 12-14) Practical Suggestions Setting of the Lesson: Time: Late Thursday evening; the last evening of Christ with His disciples; during the last supper, after Judas had gone out; just before the trial and crucifixion. Place: The upper room in Jerusalem in which Christ celebrated the last supper with His disciples. Place in the Life of Christ: The evening before His betrayal and crucifixion. Circumstances: In this lesson our Lord continues, without interruption of thought, the discourse we studied in the last lesson. He was standing with His disciples in the upper room in Jerusalem, on the point of departure to the garden of Gethsemane. Inductive Study of the Lesson 1. The doctrine of the Trinity.1 2. Christ’s testimony to the Holy Spirit.2 3. The Holy Spirit’s testimony to Christ. 4. Paul’s teachings regarding the Holy Spirit. 5. Our era: that of the Holy Spirit. 6. The practical influence of the Spirit in our lives. 7. Some Spirit-filled men.


As mentioned above, this lesson is a continuation of the discourses considered in the last lesson. Jesus has told His disciples that He Himself was soon to die; and now, in verses 26 and 27 of the 15th chapter of John, and in the first verses of the 16th chapter, He tells them of the persecutions they would suffer for His sake. He does this so that when these events happen, they will not lose confidence in Him. Especially does He show in this lesson that His death is not a sign of the enemy’s power, but is essential to the institution and progress of His kingdom.

Scripture Reading: John 15:26, 27 (KJV) The Holy Spirit Bearing Witness of Jesus In the preceding verse of John 15, our Lord has been opening the future to His followers. The prospect was a gloomy one. The world would be arrayed in hatred against them. They, a little band, insignificant, feeble, unlearned, with no advantages and no authority, would have to resist it. How could they hope to stand their ground, to say nothing of establishing their Master’s kingdom and propagating His views? This lesson is the answer. (Calthrop) 15:26 … “But when the Comforter is come.” The word translated “Comforter” is literally, “Paraclete.” It comes from two Greek words meaning “one called to another’s side to aid him, as an advocate in a court of justice” (Marvin R. Vincent). The Holy Spirit is therefore our Advocate or Counsel, suggesting true reasoning to our minds, and true courses of action for our lives; convicting our adversary, the world, of wrong, and pleading our cause before God our Father. Jesus Himself is an Advocate (1 John 2:1), and the Holy Spirit is another Advocate (John 14:16). Such an Advocate is indeed a Comforter, giving us just the aid and solace we need the most. “The wider significance of ‘Helper’ is preferable” (Forbes). 15:26 … “Whom I will send unto you from the Father.” “The ‘I’ is emphatic. At every opportunity, Jesus insists on the truth that the Spirit is His own continued influence” (Westminister New Testament). Here it is the Son who sends the Paraclete from the Father. In John 14:16 the Father sends in answer to the Son’s prayer. In John 14:26 the Father sends in the Son’s name. These are three ways of expressing that the mission of the Paraclete is the act both of the Father and of the Son, who are one. (Cambridge Bible) “By the mere juxtaposition of such texts the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is built up” (Reith).

The Doctrine of the Trinity “If it be clear that Christ taught the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, it is equally clear that He believed that there is only one God” (Burrell). “I have come to believe that the most fundamental and practical of all the doctrines of Christianity is the doctrine of the Holy Spirit” (Amory H. Bradford). The doctrine of the Holy Trinity makes a real knowledge of God, a real fellowship with God, possible. The Son in His human life gave a perfect revelation of the Father to men. The Spirit in the progress of the ages brings home that revelation of the society and to the believer. Our belief in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, forms the golden stair from earth to heaven. (Westcott) 15:26 … “Even the Spirit of truth.” The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth because He brings truth home to the hearts of men, especially the truth regarding Jesus Christ, Who is The Truth. 15:26 … “Which proceedeth from the Father.” Because this affirmation is not, in so many words, made with regard to the Son, the Eastern or Greek Church maintains a separate communion, protesting against the creed of the Western Church. The emphatic claim Jesus makes, ‘Whom I will send,’ is an argument on the other side (Reith). 15:26 … “He shall testify [R.V.: “bear witness”] of me.” “The Holy Spirit never puts Himself forward or makes men conscious of Himself, but makes men conscious of Christ. He is like the sun, revealing by degrees the beauties of the landscape (Calthrop). 15:27 … “And ye also [R.V.: omits “shall”] bear witness.” This may be a command, “Do ye also bear witness,” or, as many scholars regard it, a statement of fact, “Ye also are bearing witness.” The disciples had already begun the witness-bearing, the difficult continuance of which Christ had been teaching. It is as true of us as of the first disciples that Christ is to be revealed by us to the world around us, and we in turn are to learn of Christ from our brother Christians. The poor man, and even the child, can testify of Christ as well as the richest and the oldest. The sick sufferer can glorify Him by practice and hopefulness, the reproduction of Christ’s meek temper. You who are in trade, witness to Christ by your strict integrity. (Odenheimer) Illustration When Commodore Foote was in Siam, he once had the king upon his vessel as a guest, and did not hesitate to ask a blessing at the table. “Why, that is just as the missionaries do,” said the surprised king. “Yes,” said Foote, “and I am a missionary, too. (Bibb)

15:27 … “Because ye have been with me from the beginning.” That is, from the beginning of Christ’s Ministry, and so they could tell men about the whole course of it. The more intimate our acquaintance with men, the clearer our perception of their imperfections and shortcomings. But association with Jesus had revealed nothing but beauty and glory. There was nothing that they had seen that they could not report. (Speer) The witness of the Holy Spirit The great work of the Holy Spirit is to bear witness to Christ. He did not come to speak of Himself; He came to speak of Jesus. A good deal of our confusion as to the character and work of the Holy Spirit would be avoided if we would remember this (Speer). All nations have legends of the gods fighting at the head of their armies, and through the dust of battle, the white horses and the shining armor of the celestial champions have been seen. The childish dream is a historical reality. It is not we that fight; it is the Spirit of God that fighteth in us (Maclaren).

Scripture Reading: John 16:1-7 (KJV) The Holy Spirit as Comforter 16:1 … “These things [the warnings and encouragements given in the preceding chapter] have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.” R.V.: “made to stumble.” Both the dangers and evils to which they would be exposed, hatred, and persecution from the world (v. 2; and 15:18-20); and also the way of safety and help through the Holy Spirit, and by love, obedience, prayer and hope. “Being prepared for persecution, they would not be so likely to be staggered by it when it came” (Century Bible). The stumbling would be falling away from Jesus, as Judas had already done. The Greek verb used here has been translated into English in our word, “scandalize.” It comes from a Greek noun that means, “The stick in a trap on which the bait is placed, and which springs up and shuts the trap at the touch of an animal. Hence generally a snare, a stumbling-block” (Vincent). How His words would prevent them from stumbling is shown in v. 4. He returns to some of the things that would tend to make them stumble. Not only would the wicked world hate and persecute them, but even those who represented God’s people, the earnest, religious people of the day, would join in the persecution. 16:2 … “They shall put you out of the synagogues.” This involved not only excommunication from the house of God, for a time or perpetually, but also

expulsion from society. A person “put out of the synagogue” was a virtual exile from his friends and acquaintances, being shut out from religious and social privileges and regarded as the off-scouring of the world. 16:2 … “Yea, the time [R.V.: “hour”] cometh.” Vincent points out: “the hour cometh that. Literally, ‘there cometh an hour in order that.’ The hour is ordained with that end in view: it comes fraught with the fulfillment of a Divine purpose.” 16:2 … “That whosoever killeth you shall think that he doeth God service.” R.V.: “offereth service unto God,” a phrase implying the worship of God, as we speak of church “services.” This prophecy was fulfilled numberless times, notably in the case of Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor (Acts 25:9; 26:9-11); and by the proverb found in the Rabbinical books, “Whoever sheds the blood of the impious does the same as if he had offered a sacrifice” (Abbott). The reason for this opinion was that to the minds of the persecutors the disciples were propagating a false religion which would bring ruin to the synagogues, to their own position, and to the people. Such pestilent influence must be stamped out at any cost. God and heaven and native land all demanded it, as they would demand the destruction of wild beasts, or a band of robbers. It is by such reasoning that good men have sometimes become persecutors; but their goodness was very imperfect – a head of gold with feet of clay. “Christ never promised worldly pleasure or prosperity as the meed of His service. They might incidentally come in His service, but never as the reward of it” (Richardson). Illustrations If one may believe in God and seek to please Him and yet be a murderer, it is evidence that a faith in God is not enough. The Moslems are earnest theists and their religion has no prayers for women and provides for polygamy. A belief in God does not save them from such immorality. All depends on what kind of a God men believe in. (Speer) This hatred of the world for God’s people has characterized every age. Abel is slain by Cain, who was of the evil one, and slew his brother. Joseph is put into a pit by his brethren, and into a prison by his master’s wife; the Hebrew is smitten by the Egyptian; David is hunted by Saul as a partridge on the mountains; Micaiah is hated by Ahab because he always testifies against him; Jeremiah lives a very suffering stricken life, until he is slain in Egypt for remonstrating against a policy he could not alter; each of the little company then listening to Christ is forecast for a martyr’s death, with, perhaps, the exception of John himself, whose life was martyrdom enough; Stephen sheds the blood of his pure and noble nature; and from that day to this the blood of the saints has poured in streams, until the last harrowing records of the indescribable tortures and death of Armenian martyrs. (Meyer) 16:3 … “And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” Compare John 15:21. This is a good word for

average humanity, implying that men will become good and kind, as Saul did, as soon as they are really brought to understand God’s love as shown in Jesus Christ. Compare Christ’s prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The verb implies that “they had the opportunity of knowing, but they had failed to see that God is Love, and that Jesus came not to shut out, but to bring in; not to destroy, but to save” (Cambridge Bible). They were ignorant of the love, pity, mercy, longsuffering of God. They did not understand His spirit or His methods of working. In their very service to God they were displaying ignorance of God; not a mere mental ignorance, but an ignorance that implied a different moral state. There are those still today who reject Christ because they do not know Him. They have seen Him in caricature; they have seen misrepresentations of Him in the lives and teachings of His professed followers. Not a few unbelievers have been made in this way, and we must distinguish between such and that larger number who has not known Him because they would not look at Him, because they did not wish to know or obey Him. There was comfort in this verse for the disciples, because it implied that the persecutions did not arise from any wrong in themselves. 16:4 … “But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.” Remembering Christ’s prophecy, they would know that He had foreseen their trials and provided for them all necessary strength and comfort. Brooks compared this with the fitting out in a tropical harbor of a ship destined for the arctic. The stores of food and clothing will be taken from ship-storage months afterward, when they are needed. For “these things,” see v. 1. There was no little danger that the disciples would be utterly cast down in discouragement if not in despair when they saw their Master on a cross instead of a throne, and found themselves hated and persecuted instead of prime ministers in a glorious kingdom. “Might not poor Galileans, conscious of folly and sin, often say to themselves, ‘We must be wrong; the rulers of the land must be wiser than we are; should we turn the world upside down for an opinion of ours? (Maurice) They might feel what Pliable, in the Slough of Despond, said to Christians, “Is this the blessedness of which you have been speaking?” and be tempted like him to turn back from the heavenly city. Jesus gave them help and strength by forewarning 1. He guarded them against sudden temptation and unexpected evils. They could be fully prepared to meet them. 2. These very things would show that they were in the right way. They were signs of the true path, blazes on the trees in the forest. 3. The fulfillment of these predictions would prove to them that the promises of comfort, help, and success would also come true; as the Rabbi looking at the ruins of Jerusalem, found in them the assurance that as the threatening had come to pass, so the promise of restoration and glory would also be fulfilled. Out of the very darkness came a light.

4. They would find comfort in the coming of the Holy Spirit, whose coming Jesus had promised. 16:4 … “And these things I said not unto you at [R.V.: “from”] the beginning.” He had foretold their persecution (Matt. 10:16-39; Luke 6:22), but He had not told them of His departure, of the coming of the Spirit, and of the triumphs into which the Spirit world lead them. The solemn nearness of His death would make them more ready to apprehend these great truths (Matt. 9:15). There was no need to explain this till the time came for them to use it. Nor would they have been capable of receiving it before. 16:4 … “Because I was with you.” The Expositor’s Greek Testament states: “While He was with them they leaned upon Him and could not apprehend a time of weakness and persecution. See Matthew 9:15.” 16:5 … “But now I go my way [NKJV: “away”] to him that sent me.” In other words, the Father, whose mission to the world I have accomplished and whose message to you I have delivered (Whitelaw) – having completed the work He sent Me to do; the going of the Savior was as blessed as His coming. It is but an hour or two before His betrayal. 16:5 … “And none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?” This very question had been asked by Peter (John 13:36; compare 14:5), but not in the right sense or the proper spirit. When He put the question Peter had no conception of the higher and more glorious state of being on which Jesus was about to enter. His mind was filled with the thought of separation and of the consequent state of desolation in which He and His fellow disciples would be left. Hence unmixed sorrow had filled their hearts (Century Bible). In other words, earlier in the evening, in the same words, Peter had asked the question, but in a different spirit, and with a different aim, without special thought of the place where Jesus was going. This was practically a different question expressed in the same words. But a better explanation is, that Jesus had no reference to what had been said under other circumstances, but at this time, in view of what He was now saying, none asked Him where He was going. They were thinking of the present darkness and trouble, and not looking at the light, the glory, the kingdom beyond. Hence the Lord says that sorrow has filled their heart. 16:6 … “But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.” So much sorry “that there is no room for thoughts of My glory and your future consolation” (Cambridge Bible). The thought of their own separation from Him, and of the dark future that lay before them, so filled their hearts that it left room for no thoughts of Him, and the brightness of the glory to which He was returning (Clark). Here is a practical lesson to every mourner, as in chapter 14:28: do not allow a selfish sorrow to fill your heart so completely that you cannot follow in His thoughts the loved one to his/her heavenly home. Stier reminds us that “these are the same disciples who, when their risen Lord had

ascended to heaven, without any pang at parting with Him, returned with great joy to Jerusalem (Luke 24:52).” 16:7 … “Nevertheless I tell you the truth.” Christ emphasizes the important statement that is coming next. Although you are filled with sorrow at the thought of My departure, yet it is true that 16:7 … “It is expedient for you that I go away.” It would not have been expedient for Christ to go away unless He was Divine, and could be present, and unless the Comforter would come, Who carries on the work of Christ on earth. Of course, it was better for Christ Himself to return to His heavenly home, but His disciples should comfort themselves with the knowledge that the risen Christ, through the Holy Spirit, could do more for them than the man-Christ living with them could do.3 Illustration The young wife whose husband is called from her may believe that it is better for him to be with Christ. He is doing more exalted service. He sees the Lord’s face. His wife, who stays behind, has to meet life’s tasks and responsibilities alone, and misses the joy of companionship. But she, too, has her gain. The finer possibilities of life are brought out in her. Burden-bearing develops her womanly strength. (Miller) Why Jesus must go away in order that the Comforter might come 1. There may have been reasons in the counsel of God, wholly unknown to us. Whether we know them or not, God always has the best reasons for whatever He does. But we can see 2. That the Comforter could not do the great work He was to do in the new dispensation till the atonement was made, by which He leads men to Christ; nor till the resurrection and the ascension, which were proofs He was to use in convincing men; nor till Christ was glorified, and so made to appear the Divine, all-powerful Savior He is. 3. “The withdrawal of His limited bodily presence necessarily prepared the way for the recognition of a universal presence” (Westcott). The disciples would not feel the need of the Spirit if the Savior remained visible to them. Why it was expedient for Jesus to go away 1. Because, as we have just seen, His going prepared the way for the coming of the Comforter. 2. Because only away, glorified in heaven, would they see Him as He really was. Distance leads not only enchantment, but oftentimes reality to the view. One must stand at a distance to see a cloud or a mountain in its grandeur and glory. “Death must dissolve the illusion of familiarity, and gather around the man of Nazareth the mystery and awe of the world unseen, before they could rise to the apprehension of His awful greatness, and see in Him at once the Son of Man and Son of God” (Caird).

3. In His bodily presence He could be with only a few, such as His near and personal friends; while now He is equally near to all, and present everywhere to help. 4. Because in His bodily presence they lived by sight, rather than by faith; they could go to Him in every emergency, and consult Him as to every difficulty. They needed to be taught to live by faith, to be self-reliant and manly, to gain all that strengthening of character which flows from working ourselves rather than having work done for us by another. And we see a marvelous change in their character after the Day of Pentecost. They were suddenly developed from children into men. 5. Only by going away could He make the atonement on the cross. 6. By going away He became a great King, with power and glory, to Whom all can be loyal, Whom all can worship and love, and without any of the dangers and evils that would flow from worldly magnificence and a royal court. 16:7 … “For if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.” “The withdrawal of the bodily presence of Christ was the essential condition of His universal spiritual presence” (Expositor’s Greek Testament). “The text must be completed before the sermon can be preached” (Meyer). “What the disciples would soon spell in terms of defeat, despite the Master’s assurance and explanation, He was teaching them to spell in letters of victory. If the Master withholds from me from day to day a single coveted blessing, it is only in order that He may give larger blessings (Foulkes). No one word expresses the idea of the original. He is the Comforter, consoler. The idea of pleading, arguing, convincing, instructing, convicting, is prominent in every instance in the Gospel, as we see in v. 8. 16:7 … “But if I depart [R.V.: “go”], I will send him unto you.” vs. 5, 7 have three different words for leaving; this one means to “go for a purpose,” the purpose being to send the Spirit. There were influences of the Spirit upon the earth before this. The difference between former times and the new dispensation of the Spirit was in the power of His influences; their universality, being given to all, and not to a few; the instrumentalities He had to work with; and perhaps Alford is right in saying that “the gift of the Spirit at and since Pentecost was and is something totally distinct from anything before that time.”

Scripture Reading: John 16:8-11 (KJV) The Holy Spirit as Judge By His revelation of Christ the Holy Spirit creates three convictions. Each of these is necessary to the regeneration of man. There must be the sense of sin, or he will not seek the Savior. There must be a

belief that righteousness is possible, or the converted sinner will die of despair. There must be the assurance that sin is doomed, and shall be finally vanquished, or the baffled warrior will give up the long conflict as hopeless. (Meyer) 16:8 … “And when he is come.” The advent of the spirit to the heart of the Church on the Day of Pentecost was as distinct and marked an event as the advent of the Son of God Himself to the manger-bed of Bethlehem. Let every reader of these words be sure of having taken the full advantage of His presence, just as we would wish to have availed ourselves to the uttermost of the physical presence of Christ, had out lot so befallen. (Meyer) 16:8 … “He will reprove the world.” The word here translated “reprove,” and “convict” in the Revised Version, properly signifies, “to convince one of truth in such a way as to convict him of wrong-doing. It implies that answer of conscience to the reproving, convincing voice, by which a man condemns himself (John 3:20; 8:26). The Greek word includes all three meanings, reprove, convince, convict” (Abbott). The world is the great mass of humanity, and here we have a description of the moral victory to be gained over the world by the Holy Spirit. Godet points out that “the preaching of Peter on the Day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, and its results are the best commentary on this promise.” 16:8 … “Of sin [R.V.: “convict the world in respect of sin”], and of righteousness, and of judgment.” The Holy Spirit, when He came, was to show the world new truth, convicting and shaming truth, concerning these three great matters. Foulkes pointed out that “He is a convicting as well as a comforting Spirit. Like the pillar of fire that turned its darkness toward the pursuing Egyptians, so the Holy Spirit turns a convicting face toward sin and unbelief.” On this subject, Whitefield stated: “He may well be termed a Comforter even in this work, because it is the only way to true comfort.” “Sin means absence of righteousness, and liability to judgment. Sin is the world’s state as it is; righteousness as it out to be; judgment as it must and shall be that righteousness may obtain” (Reith). 16:9 … “Of sin.” What is it? To convince the world of sin, to produce a living and lively conviction of it, to teach mankind what sin is; to show it to man, not merely as it flashes forth every anon in the overt actions of his neighbors, but as it lies smoldering inextinguishably within his own bosom; to give him a touch where-with he may explore – to convince a man of sin in this way, by proving to him that it lies at the bottom of all his feelings; to convince the world of sin, by

showing it how sin has tainted its heart and flows through all its veins – this is the work of the Spirit. (Hare) What does it mean to convict sin? It is to produce such a consciousness of the fact of sin, of its extent and pervasiveness, of its vileness, its guilt and its danger, that men will hate and forsake their sin. It is conviction of sin rather than of sins. It is a conviction of sin rather than of punishment for sin. It imparts a hatred of sin more than a fear of its consequences, though the latter often leads to the former. Its necessity No one will seek earnestly to be saved from sin unless there is a feeling of the greatness and danger of personal sin. No power but the Holy Spirit can produce this conviction. The means 16:9 … “Because they believe not on me.” The lack of belief in Christ, when He is made known, lies at the root of all sin, revealing its nature. Christ is thus the touchstone of character (Westcott). 1. Christ being the sum of all goodness, to reject Him is to reject goodness itself. Most men approve and love some forms of virtue, and imagine that, therefore, they have divine goodness. 2. To reject Christ is to reject God, Who sent Him, and to refuse to surrender ourselves wholly to Him is the soul of sin. 3. That heart not touched by the love of God in Christ is certainly dead in sin. 4. Christ is presented to us as a definite object of choice, so that not to believe Him is to choose freely not to obey God and leave all sin. 5. Christ’s perfect character is a mirror in which we may see how imperfect we are; a standard by which we may measure how defective we are. The light makes the darkness visible. The Holy Spirit is to teach the world that the essence of sin is unbelief in Christ.4 He is to convict the world of this central sin, which branches out into all sinfulness. Illustrations England’s Sir W. Robertson Nicoll tells of a pleasure-seeker who mocked at the efforts of a saintly man for his reformation. “I see,” said the saint gravely, “that I must deal with you in earnest.” He made the young man place his head on his knee, whereupon the saint merely prayed for some moments in silence. The young sinner left without a word, but from that moment was a changed man. As he bent at the saint’s knee he had beheld all the torments of hell. Robert E. Lee was able to touch the heart of young men in a similar way. In later years, he served as President of Washington College. Robertson wrote: Lee’s discipline of “my boys” (as he called his students) consisted of a fatherly talk rather than a customary paddling. A student called

before Lee for misconduct later confessed: “I wish he had whipped me. I could have stood it better. But he talked to me so kindly, and so tenderly, about my mother, and the sacrifices which she, a widow, is making to send me to college, and of how I ought to appreciate her love . . . that the first thing I knew I was blubbering like a baby. 16:10 … “Of righteousness.” Of God’s righteousness, and the righteousness we should have, and which Christ came to implant within us. Its nature The word translated righteousness means “righteousness in general, including the whole range of that conception, without reference to any particular form of its embodiment” (Cremer’s Lexicon). It includes both outward perfection of action and inward perfection of motive. The need of conviction of righteousness 1. That we may realize the absolute goodness and love of God our Master, and that He must love good and hate sin with all His infinite nature, so that we may be impelled to righteousness both by fear and love. 2. We need to see the perfect standard in order to realize how far short we are, and how great our need of the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. 3. We need to be made to feel that righteousness is possible to us through Jesus, and therefore it is our duty to possess it. The method of conviction 16:10 … “Because I go to my [R.V.: “the”] Father.” His going to His Father was the means by which the Spirit convicts men of righteousness. 1. Christ could not be comprehended while He still lived in the flesh among men. 2. Christ’s going away was by His death on the cross. He died in obedience to His Father, and in love to men, which is the highest of all righteousness. This high ideal, this perfect example, could thus be used by the Spirit to convince men of the reality of righteousness, and their duty to have it. 3. Christ’s death showed how much He valued our righteousness, and how great is the evil of sin; for He world not have gone to such expense to save from any small evil, or to gain us any small benefit. 4. By going away He sent the Spirit to us, Who alone could make men feel their need of righteousness, and implant in them the new life which would produce it. The resurrection and ascension of Christ would prove our Lord’s righteousness, and the world would henceforth have in Him a new and perfect standard of character and conduct. “The law of Eden is to the law of the Sermon on the Mount as a jewsharp to an organ” (Bushnell). 16:10 … “And ye see me no more.” The disciples were grieved because they were to see their beloved Master no longer; He shows them that His departure from their sight means His vastly larger influence over the world.

16:11 … “Of judgment.” Judgment here is, on the one hand, the world’s judgment or estimate or discrimination of things (as in relation to Christ, His death, His kingdom, His success, His righteousness), and on the other side, God’s judgment to which it is opposed (Alford). The Spirit will convince men that the world’s judgment is false, and that God will condemn all sin, and will punish all who remain in sin, and will not seek the righteousness of which He has convinced them. 16:11 … “Because the prince of this world.” Satan, who controls, and uses the worldly forces in opposition to God’s influences (12:31). 16:11 … “Is [R.V.: “hath been”] judged.” The prince of this world, the incarnation of worldliness, crucified, the world’s Savor. That one face was the final and everlasting condemnation of worldliness. “To adhere to this worldliness rather than to Christ’s is to cling to a doomed cause, a sinking ship” (Expositor’s Greek Testament). “The Master is sure of one thing. His enemy is a convicted and condemned criminal. He may still plot mischief within the confines of his prison cell, but his doom is sealed” (Foulkes). “Our great adversary has a mortal wound. We may easily overcome him if we fight in the right way” (Chapman). In the history of the race, the methods, principles, and policies of the world, and its prince are being perpetually tried and perpetually proved false by their results. The crucifixion of Christ, the consummate work of the Evil One, was at once his apparent victory and his real defeat. In the crucifixion he pre-eminently had his own way, and by the crucifixion he is defeated throughout the ages. “Thus it is in and by the cross that he is pre-eminently judged” (Abbott). The world, seeing the punishment and misery of their prince, will be convinced that God’s judgment will smite them if they continue in sin. If Satan, the prince, cannot escape, who can? This convincing of judgment is not for the pleasure of seeing men condemned, but for the purpose of convicting men of sin, putting a Cain mark upon sin, opening their eyes to see its terrible nature, in order that they may hate and forsake it, and turn to righteousness of the reality and blessedness of which they are convinced. It is the Holy Spirit that convinces. Men may mentally know the truth about these things, while little impression is made upon the conscience and the will. To make this impression, to awaken and move men, is the work of the Spirit. A day is coming when the world will be compelled to acknowledge a different standard of judgment: when it will discover, with terror and dismay that its past standard has been completely false; that what it approved was passing away; that what it despised is abiding forever. Then the world will see that its very prince has been judged in a manner against which there was no appeal, and that, instead of being the conqueror, he had throughout been the conquered. (Schaff) And those abiding voluntarily under the dominion of the prince of this world are judged in his judgment, the visible consummation of

which will be at the great day. But to those who truly believe, He brings the sense of emancipation from the fetters of Satan whose judgment brings to men liberty to be holy, and transformation out of servants of the devil into sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. (Brown)

Scripture Reading: John 16:12-15 (KJV) The Holy Spirit as Guide and Teacher “God the Holy Spirit can teach any one, however illiterate, however uninstructed” (Spurgeon). 16:12 … “I have yet many things to say unto you.” The Expositor’s Greek Testament states: “There is, then, much truth which it is desirable that Christians know and which yet was not uttered by Christ Himself. His words are not the sole embodiment of truth, though they may be its sole criterion.” “The things referred to were doubtless higher, fuller, and deeper views of Himself and His kingdom” (Clark). Christians should have no fear of the doctrine of development. The Spirit was to develop, that is, to unfold, the person and the doctrine of the Savior for them. But only that which is infolded can be unfolded. What is not within cannot be taken out. Let us thank God that in the church and in all life and in the history of the world, the unfolding is done by the same Divine hand that did the infolding. (Speer) 16:12 … “But ye cannot bear them now.” The Greek verb means to take up, carry, and is used of the Jews taking up stones to throw at Jesus and of Judas bearing the money bag (John 10:31; 12:6). “The metaphor is that of some weight – it may be gold, but still it is a weight – laid upon a man whose muscles are not strong enough to sustain it. It crushes rather than gladdens” (Maclaren). No one can understand trigonometry till he has studied algebra and geometry. For the reception of the higher truths we must be prepared by the reception of the lower truths. The disciples learned much in the days of the crucifixion, the resurrection, and Pentecost, and became able to receive still more from the Holy Spirit. They were too blinded with their sorrow at His departure to clearly see some truths. Others they could not possibly understand till after His resurrection. They needed training and experience first. They must stand on some truths before they could see others. Had Jesus told them about the atonement, about the coming in of the Gentiles, about the relation of the new kingdom to the Jewish church, as unfolded in their later history, they could not possibly have caught His meaning, and their misunderstanding would have crushed them in blind despair.

16:13 … “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come.” Literally, “the Spirit of the truth,” of the Christian truth, teacher of knowledge of Christ Who is the Truth. “A most exquisite title” (Bengel). The Spirit that knows the truth, that is entirely truthful in His nature, whose work is to reveal truth. 16:13 … “He will [R.V.: “shall”] guide you into all truth.” R.V.: “all the truth.” It is not to be a sudden revelation of truth, but a gradual disclosure, as a guide leads one step by step into a new country. It is not to be a partial, grudging introduction to truth, with much of it jealously shut away from us, but “all truth” is gloriously open before God’s children. The term guide (to show the road) presents the Spirit under the image of a guide conducting a traveler in an unknown country. This country is truth, all the truth, the truth in its entirety. It is not omniscience or any kind of speculative or scientific truth which is promised, but the full knowledge of living, practical truth as it is in Christ, and as it relates to our soul’s salvation. (Schaff) What Christ taught the disciples we now have in the four Gospels; what He left unsaid, the additional teaching of the Spirit, we have in the books that follow.5 The Gospels, as well as the Acts and Epistles, come to us through the agency of the Spirit. (Clark) Its complete fulfillment was in the giving of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.6 Moreover, this guidance is given to the church of our Lord throughout all ages, opening to them the mystery of God, and of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:2, 3). 16:13 … “For he shall not speak of [R.V.: “from”] himself.” “As distinct from what proceeds from the Father” (Cambridge Bible). Hence there will be a perfect unity in the teaching, and the same truths Christ taught will still be taught by the Spirit, but unfolded as the disciples are able to receive them. Hence, too, we may be sure that His guidance is reliable, being from God. What Christ humbly said of His own teaching (John 7:17); 14:10), He also says of that of the Holy Spirit. 16:13 … “But whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak [Moffatt translates: “He will say whatever He is told”]: and he will shew [“show”] you [R.V.: “declare unto you”] things to come” R.V.: “the things that are to come.” Such a revelation John himself received (Rev. 1:10, etc.), and the leaders of the church were guided by the Holy Spirit in forming the church of our Lord, whose pattern has lasted through many centuries. “He will always be showing us things that are coming; giving us an apprehension of truths that we have not yet reached, though they be truths that are the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Maurice). Not new revelations, but new applications of what had already been revealed – made new by the teaching of Christian experience.

16:14 … “He shall glorify me.” Thus Peter, John, Paul, and the other leaders of the church, being led by the Holy Spirit, spent their time in preaching, not the Holy Spirit, but Christ. The work of the Spirit glorifies Christ by always confirming and unfolding His Word; by making men see His character and work; by confirming His authority; by converting men and leading them to acknowledge Him as Lord of lords and King of kings. 16:14 … “For he shall receive [R.V.: “take”] of mine.” Moffatt translates: “draw upon what is Mine.” Christ’s words, Christ’s acts, and the spirit of Christ’s mission – these are the reservoirs from which the Holy Spirit draws as He pours out His inspiration upon men. That is, what He teaches will be Christ’s words, and not a new Gospel. It is by this test that we can test any professed revelation. That which is contrary to Christ’s words and spirit cannot be the work of the Spirit. 16:14 … “And shall shew [“show”] it [R.V.: “declare it”] unto you.” Foulkes pointed out that “we may know how near the Spirit is to us by finding how dear Christ is to us. The dearer the Savior, the nearer the Spirit!” Illustration Meyer imagines children in school on a hot day growing weary over the hard names and the heavy classifications of botany. “Shut up your books,” some one may say, “and come with me.” He leads them out among the flowers of the meadows and woods, and they learn more of botany by an hour of contact with the plants themselves than they would by three hours of poring over books. Thus the Spirit teaches. There is no need of a new revelation. Christ has already taught the world enough about love and sacrifice, purity and prayer. The Spirit does all that is necessary, He takes us and brings us face to face with the words and deeds of the great Teacher. The Holy Spirit in our lives The following fits the beginning of the 21st Century so well, yet it was written many years ago: This is especially the age of the Holy Spirit. There can be no waning of His grace and power. The pot of oil is in the church of our Lord, but she has ceased to bring her empty vessels. The mine is beneath our feet, but we do not work it as before. The electric current is vibrating around, but we have lost the art of switching ourselves on to its flow. (Meyer) We contemplate, the Spirit reveals. We meditate, the Spirit explains. Then we answer with new dedication, and the Spirit transforms us into the realization of the truth revealed. So life grows into the likeness of Jesus Christ. (Morgan)

“Never has a heavenly communication been so given as to render superfluous thought and inquiry. The Guide is infallible, but the creature is not” (Lorimer). Illustrations The Holy Spirit is the sunlight which falls upon the darkness of eternity past: He is the searchlight which tracks out its path from human need to the Divine supply in the righteousness of God in Christ. He is the telescope to bring from afar the heavenly glories of the ascended Christ and to show them unto me. He is the microscope to bring the righteousness of God that is hidden in the letter of the written Word of God and make it transcendent in the face of Jesus the incarnate Word. He is the kaleidoscope to bring forth, to the eyes of faith, in a million forms, the many-sided righteousness of God in the Beloved. He is the spectroscope to reveal the presence and the perfect blending of all the attributes of God and man in Christ. (Foulkes) Oh, blessed news, that God Himself is the Comforter. Blessed news, that He who strikes will also heal: that He who gives the cup of sorrow will also give the strength to drink it. Blessed news, that our Comforter is the Spirit who comforted Christ Himself. (Kingsley) 16:15 … “All things that the Father hath are mine.” Hovey pointed out that “all the Father’s purposes and deeds of grace, accomplished, or yet to be accomplished, by the Savior in His mediatorial office.” Jesus would show His disciples that both His word and His work were Divine. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were One God, with one purpose. 16:16 … “A little while, and ye shall not see [“behold”] me [because in a very short time death would remove Him from their sight]: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me.” In the original, the word “see” (“behold”) in the former clause is different from the “see” in this clause: the first referring merely to physical, the second also to spiritual, sight. The “beholding” implies the long, constant, usual sight of Him which they then had in the flesh; the “seeing” the glimpses obtained by occasional appearances and visions, and the dimmer and more interrupted spiritual sight gained by faith. Alford points out that the promise of seeing Him after a little while began to be fulfilled at the resurrection, then received its main fulfillment on the Day of Pentecost, and shall have its final completion at the great return of the Lord. 16:17 … “What is this that he saith.” They were perplexed by the difficulties of realizing how what He said could be accomplished. Nothing but the actual experience could make it plain. Till then it was an enigma. Besides, how could His going to His Father have any connection with His return? 16:18 … “They said therefore.” They spoke it whisperingly among themselves, and were too much in awe of Jesus for the explanation.

16:19 … “Now Jesus knew.” He understood their difficulty, and proceeded to assert still more plainly that He was not going out of existence, but only going to the Father, and there sorrow would be turned into joy. 16:20 … “Ye shall weep [when ye see Me dying on the cross], but the world shall rejoice [thinking they have destroyed one who condemned their ways, and interfered with their sinful habits and pleasures]: … but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.” Not merely changed for joy, but “changed into” so as itself to become, so that the very matter of grief shall become matter of joy (Gal. 6:14). They would see Him again. They would know the value of His atoning death as the source of salvation and joy. They would see too the blessedness of the gift of the Holy Spirit, who came from Him after His departure. Other works of the Holy Spirit He is a comforter, helper, advocate (John 14:16; Acts 9:31; Rom. 8:26). He bears witness with our spirits (Rom. 8:16; 1 John3:24). He is the source of abundant Christian life (Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:15, 16). He is the source of Christian power (Rom. 15:19; Acts 1:8; 2:4; 1 Cor. 12:4, 11). He is the source of holiness (Rom. 8:1; Gal. 5:16, 22, 23; Acts 11:24; Eph. 5:9).

Practical Suggestions 1. v. 1: Jesus clearly shows the dangers and difficulties of the Christian life, so that they (and we) may not come unexpectedly and then fail. 2. v. 2: Bad things are sometimes done with a good purpose. But all truly good things are both good in themselves and done with a good motive. 3. v. 3: All misunderstandings and misrepresentations of God’s character lead to wrong actions. 4. vs. 6, 7: One can never understand his heaviest disciplines unless he considers the balances that God’s love supplies in mitigation of them (Robinson). 5. v. 7: But the sorrows God sends are expedient for us, because only through them will come the fullness and perfectness of joy. 6. It is better for us to walk by faith than by sight. 7. We may have the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Guide. 8. v. 9: One great need of the world is to know and feel its sin. 9. v. 10: Then it needs to believe in the reality of righteousness, and that it is possible to attain it through the Spirit. 10. v. 11: Then it needs to be convinced that God will judge it if it does not forsake its sins and seek righteousness. 11. v. 12: We gradually grow into the power to learn more. Each truth is a stepping-stone to higher truths. 12. v. 13: In all times of ignorance or doubt, we have a sure guide Who will lead us into all truth.

13. In this promise we see the assurance of the inspiration of the New Testament. 14. We have here a test regarding whether any influence is from the Holy Spirit; for if it is, it will agree with the teaching of Christ. 15. v. 20: The world rejoices in the seeming overthrow of good because it has reproved them. 16. That at which we rejoice is a test of our character. 17. Sibbs points out that “glory follows afflictions; not as the day follows the night, but as the spring follows winter. Winter prepares the earth for spring; and afflictions, when sanctified, prepare the soul for glory (John 15:2; Heb. 12:11).” 18. “If once we gain the conception that the Holy Spirit is our truest, our nearest, our tenderest, our most sympathetic, and our most loving Friend, we shall have a better understanding of the Holy Spirit’s relations to us than most of the disciples of Jesus are accustomed to bear in mind” (Times). 19. We should study the work of the Holy Spirit more, and seek more earnestly for His presence in our hearts, our homes, our Bible class, and in the church of our Lord.
Footnotes: 1 For more information on the Trinity, see God’s Fullness in A Religion Library section of 2 For more information on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of 3 See John 14:16, 17; and compare John 11:50. 4 See John 3:18, 19, 36; 15:22. 5 For more information about the work of the Spirit in developing the Bible, see God’s Word in A Religion Library section of 6 See Revelation 1:10; 22:16, 17. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: What Christ Desires for His Disciples Golden Texts: “He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25) “I pray for them.” (John 17:9) Lesson Plan: Introduction His Prayer That God and His Son Should Be Glorified (vs. 1-2) His Prayer That His Disciples May Have Eternal Life (vs. 3-5) His Prayer That They May Know and Believe the Truth (vs. 6-8) His Prayer That God Would Keep Those He Gave Him (vs. 9-12) His Prayer That They May Have a Joyful Light in Darkest Times (vs. 13, 14) His Prayer That They May Be Kept from the Evil (vs. 15, 16) His Prayer That They May Be Made Holy & Fulfill Their Mission (vs. 17-19) His Prayer That They May All Be One (vs. 20-23) His Prayer That They May Partake of His Glory (vs. 24-26) Practical Suggestions Setting of the Lesson: Time: Late Thursday evening; the last evening of Christ with His disciples; a few hours before the crucifixion. Place: Probably in an upper room in Jerusalem; possibly on the way to Gethsemane. Place in the Life of Christ: His last words; His last prayer with His disciples before His crucifixion. Circumstances: On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus had eaten the Passover with His disciples, and instituted His Memorial Supper.1 Inductive Study of the Lesson A most interesting study of this lesson can be made by comparing the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew, where Jesus teaches His disciples for what they should pray for themselves, with the Lord’s Prayer in John, where is recorded what Jesus desired for them. Take each phrase and petition in the Lord’s Prayer, and find its correlative in this chapter. For instance: OUR FATHER – In verses 1, 5, 11, 21, 24, 25; noting the words “Holy” and “Righteous” applied by Jesus to the Father; and why?

HALLOWED BE THY NAME – In John the thought is expressed by the terms glorify, glorified, and sanctify, vs. 17, 19. What is the difference and the flavor of the thought in each of the three terms – hallow, glorify, sanctify. And so on through the two prayers. Further Study The circumstances The prayer in v. 15 Sanctifying by the truth Christian unity Consider the beautiful picture of Christ, in the circumstances in which the lesson was spoken The power of their Savior The fact that Christ prayed for them. His prayer for them to be kept from evil. How much God loves us A knowledge of our Father

Introduction Christ’s Farewell Discourse to His disciples was ended. It closed with the triumphant words, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” There is but one more thing to do; He will express in prayer His desires and longings for them, as in a vision He sees the storm and stress they are soon to enter. Imminent upon the departure of Jesus was the danger of defection in the body of His disciples, the break-down of faith in Him, and of hope for the Messianic kingdom, which His death was calculated to bring about. He foresaw His disciples like sheep in the midst of wolves, like men stumbling in the valley of the shadow of death, assailed by all the fiery darts of the Adversary; perils, terrors, seductions, persecutions, crises, darkness. He looked down the ages, and saw these same dangers repeated again and again. Then He prayed for them and with them, what may well be called, “The Lord’s Prayer.” Out of Christ’s divinely rich prayer-life there emerge, as from an ocean, the pearls of those single prayers of His that are preserved to us. In the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6), Christ sets forth what His disciples should desire for themselves. In this prayer He indicates what He desires for them. It is interesting to study the forms in which the ideas of the Lord’s Pray are reproduced and developed in this. (Vincent) Note the things which Jesus prays for in our behalf are the most desired in life – things to be most earnestly sought after.

Scripture Reading: John 17:1-2 (KJV) His Prayer That God and His Son Should Be Glorified The Lord’s Prayer for Us Christ’s farewell discourse to His disciples was ended. It closed with the triumphant words, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” There is but one more thing to do; He will express in prayer His desires and longings for them, as in a vision He sees the storm and stress they are soon to enter. Imminent upon the departure of Jesus was the danger of defection in the body of His disciples, the breakdown of faith in Himself, and of hope for the Messianic kingdom, which His death, under the circumstances, was calculated to bring about. (Vincent) He foresaw His disciples like sheep in the midst of wolves, like men stumbling in the valley of the shadow of death, assailed by all the fiery darts of the Adversary: perils, terrors, seductions, persecutions, crises, and darkness. He looked down the ages, and saw these same dangers repeated again and again. Then He prayer for them and with them, what may be called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Out of Christ’s divinely rich prayer-life there emerge, as from an ocean, the pearls of those single prayers of His that are preserved to us. . . . In the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6) Christ sets forth what His disciples should desire for themselves. In this prayer He indicates what He desires for them. It is interesting to study the forms in which the ideas of the Lord’s Prayer are reproduced and developed in this. (Vincent) Note the things which Jesus prays for in our behalf are, therefore, the things most desirable in life, and to be most earnestly sought after by us. 17:1 … “These words (recorded in the previous chapter) spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven.” In calm confidence and in the assurance of victory (16:33). Cambridge Bible points out that “the attitude is in marked contrast His falling on His face in the garden (Matt. 26:39).” This attitude expressed reverence, faith, and acknowledgment of the source from which the answer must come. 17:1 … “And said, Father, the hour is come.” The hour of His passion, the central point, the culmination of His redeeming work, to which all the types and prophecies had pointed, and from which would radiate the power that was to redeem mankind. Not our Father, for Christ never identifies Himself with His disciples; nor my Father, for that would too strongly emphasize the separation

between Him and them; without identifying Himself with His disciples, He yet used language on which their spirits, too, can ascend towards God. (Abbott) 17:1 … “Glorify thy Son.” Westcott points out that “the ‘glorifying’ of the Son is the fuller manifestation of His true nature.” In other words, withdraw the veil that has obscured the glory belonging to the Son. This glory was manifested in the love shown by the atonement on the cross, in the resurrection and ascension, in the gift of the Holy Spirit, in the conversion of men, and the redeeming of the world, in His exaltation in heaven to His former place with God, and His exaltation to be the King of men. This verse is explained more in v.5. 17:1 … “That thy Son also may glorify thee.” Jesus being divine, all the manifestations of His glory also manifested the Father’s glory, i.e., His goodness and love and wisdom that shone in the cross of Christ (1 Cor. 1:24). There are many ways in which God is glorified, i.e., in which His glory is manifested; but the glory, as shown in Jesus, is the manifestation of His love and goodness and character, which was soon to be revealed in its greatness in the cross, as the highest expression of love, and as the means of salvation (v. 4); but its rays shine brighter and brighter as the world becomes more and more Christianized, and the complete brightness of His glory will be seen by angels and men, by heaven and earth, when the faithful are brought into the kingdom of heaven, and join in the song of Moses and the Lamb. Then shall Jesus be seen as King of kings and Lord of lords. Note this prayer, like the prayer Jesus taught His disciples, begins with petitions for the honor and glory of God. God is first. Note this revelation of glory is not for His own sake, but that by seeing Jesus as He is, the disciples might be encouraged, strengthened, exalted in character, and thus aided in the salvation of men. Note v. 2 is clearly connected with v. 1. It unfolds the means by which the glorifying of the Father is to be accomplished: and the first clause corresponds to “glorify” thy Son by giving Him power; the second to “that the son may glorify thee” by giving eternal life. 17:2 … “As thou hast given him power.” In the R.V. power is translated “authority.” The Greek word implies both authority and power. The common version gives one view, the R.V. gives the other. We should keep both in mind. This verse shows how the Son was to be glorified, how Father and Son were glorified, by making His mission successful for the salvation of men. All the suns and stars in the universe, shining with infinite and everlasting brightness, cannot show the glory of God, as does the redemption of sinful man, revealing Divine wisdom and power and love. 17:2 … “Over all flesh.” Power implying authority over all flesh, all mankind, not over the Jews only. His religion is universal.

17:2 … “That he should give eternal life.” Not merely life in heaven, but life in Christ here that shall continue in joy and glory forever. It is true spiritual life, such as the saints and angels in heaven live. 17:2 … “To as many as thou hast given him.” Those who believe in the faith of Jesus Christ;2 who have accepted eternal life. These words express the Divine side of our salvation. To the all which, the whole body of true believers. “Christ speaks of the all (neuter singular) as given to Him in a body by the Father, but of each one as receiving individually (masculine plural) the special, personal gift of eternal life” (Abbott). (This thought continued in v.6)

Scripture Reading: John 17:3-5 (KJV) His Prayer That His Disciples May Have Eternal Life 17:3 … “And this is life eternal [referred to in v. 2], that they might [should] know thee.” “The present tense marks a continuance; a progressive perception of God in Christ” (Vincent). This knowledge is no mere intellectual knowledge, but the knowledge that comes from experience of the divine life and from partaking of God’s nature. Those that know God must live a spiritual life like God’s, in love, goodness, purity, and this is eternal life. In other words, eternal life is that life of the soul that endures, which nothing in this world or the world to come can destroy, because it is the life of God, the life of heaven, the life all were made to live. 17:3 … “And Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” To be the revelation to men of the character and love of God. If we know and love one, we must know and love the other. 17:4 …” I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished,” etc. better as R.V., having accomplished, or having finished. The Father was glorified by Jesus going on faithfully to the end, and completing the work of redemption. He was yet to suffer, but practically the battle was won, the work accomplished. 17:5 … “O Father, glorify thou me.” Show forth My glory. 17:5 … “With thine own self.” Their work was one, and their glory was one. Jesus would have this fact manifested. 17:5 … “With the glory which I had [possessed] with thee before the world was.” Let the world now see that this human friend is Divine, with the character, power, and love of God. Let them henceforth see Him on the right hand of God, “reinstated in glory with his human nature.” Jesus was the brightness of the Father’s glory, the express image of His person (Heb. 1:3).

Scripture Reading: John 17:6-8 (KJV) His Prayer That They May Know and Believe the Truth In other words, that they may accept Christ’s word as the Word of God, a revelation from heaven, the guide of their lives, the assurance that Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God. This is essential to the life, the work, and the continuance of the church.3 17:6 …”I have manifested thy name.” The name signifies all there is in God, His nature and character. Jesus revealed God to them by His teachings, and by His life and works. He revealed God to men by the name FATHER,4 unfolding to them the nature of God as the ideal father full of tenderness to His children. 17:6 … “Unto the men which [whom] thou gavest me out of the world,” of which they once were a part in character, life, and destiny. God had taken them out of the world and gave them to Christ to be His disciples, the builders of His kingdom. 17:6 … “Thin they were,” by creation, by providential care, by redemption. They were God’s children; they belonged to His kingdom. They were His by every possible bond that could give possession. 17:6 … “And thou gavest them me,” as above. The Divine side of salvation is expressed here, and there is great comfort in it, if rightly viewed. Everyone of us who has looked at his/her life knows (1) that there are many things entirely beyond our own control; as the nature with which we were endowed, the circumstances which surround us, the accidents that befall us, the opportunities that open their doors to us; (2) that we have a perfectly free will and choice in the use we make of these things. Now the comfort and hope of life is that all things beyond our control are under God’s control; that not chance, not men, not demons, but a wise and loving God guides all things for the good of those who love Him. 17:6 … “They have kept thy word.” Abbott pointed out that “to keep is to guard watchfully, as one guards a prisoner; it therefore includes the idea both of watchful attention to the Word and solicitude to preserve it by obedience in the life and heart.” 17:7 … “Now [assuredly] they have known [learned to know] that all things,” etc. That whatever Jesus had taught them was a Divine message. 17:8 … “For I have given unto them,” etc. I have delivered the message You gave Me. I have fulfilled My mission.

17:8 … “And they have received them [here the human side of salvation, the free choice, is recognized] … and they have believed,” and proved their belief by obedience and readiness to accept Jesus as their Savior and Teacher.

Scripture Reading: John 17:9-12 (KJV) His Prayer That God Would Keep Those He Gave Him 17:9 … “I pray for them,” i.e., in this prayer; now I am praying only for them. 17:9 … “I pray not [now] for the world.” Of course, this verse does not mean that Christ never prays for unbelievers; v. 23 and Luke 23:34 prove the contrary; but it is for the chosen few, in return for their allegiance, that He is now praying (Cambridge Bible; see also Acts 7:59; 1 Tim. 2:1). All this time the disciples greatly needed prayer, and praying for them, and the answer in them, was really the best prayer that could be offered for the world, who would be saved by the renewed and inspired disciples. 17:10 … “And all mine are thine.” This declares the perfect union of Father and Son. What honors one, honors the other. “These words in the mouth of any mere creature would be blasphemy” (Sadler). 17:10 … “I am glorified in them.” As the vine is glorified in its branches and fruit. They are the vehicles and monuments of the glory. Compare 1 Thessalonians 2:20. 17:11 … “These are in the world.” To carry on the work Jesus began, and enlarge the kingdom He inaugurated; exposed to dangers, assaulted by temptations, liable to make mistakes and fall, and their Master taken from them. Great was their need of being kept. 17:11 … “Kept through [in] thine own name.” To keep is to guard with watchful care. In is instrumental; as the life of the flower is preserved in the sunshine, so the life of the soul is in the name of the Father, in whom we live and move and have our being. The name stands here, as above in v. 6, for all which that name represents (Abbott). 17:11 … “Those whom thou has given me.” The R.V. reads, keep them in thy name which (name) thou hast given me. The qualities that belong to God belong also to the Messiah. They have the same name, God, implying the same nature. This was given to Jesus as the Messiah. 17:11 … “That they may be one as we are.” One in a common nature, one in spirit and purpose, one in harmony of will and love. Unity of Christians

This unity is not referring to outward, man-made, organized religions. Such unity is not possible, and would not be good now if it were possible. The unity for which the Savior prays is oneness of His teachings, oneness of principle, not based on uniformity of manifestations. In other words, to be one in matters of spiritual truth means accepting God’s Holy Word as our only creed, rejecting man’s doctrines and dogmas; in matters of opinion being gracious and understanding toward all. It is the unity of nature, of the same spiritual life in all; the unity of one great Master and head of all; the unity of love and sympathy; the unity of aim and purpose; the unity of one kingdom, with one law and one Gospel; one government under one Invisible King; accepting only the Divine Word of God as the foundational basis for unity in Christ.5 Even though it is the unity of an anthem, with several parts, many notes, many voices, an infinite variety of sound-waves; still we are to be in perfect harmony, under one leader, with one purpose. It is the unity of an army, with one leader, one Master, one Teacher; loyal to one cause, and one belief. It is the unity of one body, though with many parts, yet with one soul, one person, and one life. Importance of unity 1. Christian unity shows the power of the Christian religion. Only a mighty power could effect such a result from the variety of human beings who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Master of their lives. 2. It shows the divine nature of true religion, in that it produces the same characteristics in all. 3. Only when the church of our Lord is one can it receive the Holy Spirit6 in His fullness and power. Therefore, 4. Christian union is the condition of the highest usefulness. 5. It is the condition of the highest Christian experience, “that they may be perfect in one.” 6. It is the condition of leading the world to believe and obey Jesus Christ; it is necessary to success in fighting the Lord’s battles and doing His works. 7. A united band is far more effective in overcoming the world and conquering evil. Application This unity is growing among believers who have followed denominational organizations for years, but who are now growing nearer to one another in doctrine, because of serious Bible study; not accepting man’s teachings and creeds simply because it is offered. They are instead beginning to learn that serving Jesus Christ can only be approved of God when it is done by Divine methods of doing so as laid out by the Holy Spirit through inspired writings, i.e., the Word of God. 17:12 … “While I was with them in the world, I kept them.” Imperfect tense, “I continued to keep.” He watched over and taught them, preserved them from falling. Now He committed them to unseen guidance. 17:12 … “In thy name,” etc. See R.V., as in the last verse.

17:12 … “I have kept.” Guarded, a different word from the other kept, preserved. “I guarded them as a means of their preservation” (Vincent’s Word Studies). 17:12 … “And none of them is lost, but the son of perdition.” A play of words, in the original. “None of them perished, but the son of perishing” (Westcott). “The thought is not that only one, but rather not one, perished. One, Judas, not of them, but officially associated with them, perished (10:28, 29). He was thus shown to have been not of the given” (Clark). 17:12 … “That the scripture might be fulfilled.” Of course, it is not meant that Judas fell just in order to fulfill the Scripture. But when he fell, “it was seen to be in exact fulfillment of the prediction long before uttered” (Jacobus). According to Westcott, the reference is to Psalm 41:9 (John 13:18) rather than to Psalm 109:8 (Acts 1:20). “Judas freely played the part which prophecy had beforehand marked out” (Godet).

Scripture Reading: John 17:13, 14 (KJV) His Prayer That They May Have a Joyful Light in Darkest Times Jesus keeps in view the dangers to which His disciples will be exposed, and the thick clouds of discouragement that will envelop them and shut out the sun.7 The coming of the kingdom was so obscure, so silent, “without observation,” the opposition so great, the powers so vast and strong – powers that must be overcome by unlearned, unarmed men, with their leader crucified as a felon. Yes, the triumph of Christianity and Christ must have seemed an absurd impossibility. Neither reason nor experience provided hope. Therefore, Jesus prays that His disciples may have His joy, the joy of faith in God and in His Son, the joy of assured hope of triumph for their cause, the joy of personal salvation,8 the joy of success in their work, the joy of bringing men to righteousness and heaven. They see the victory through the battle smoke, they see the silver lining to every cloud, they see the vision of the future; and they rejoice to lay down their lives for such a cause and such a King.9 In all the Book of Psalms there is only one (the 88th) that does not have a note of joy and hope. All the prophets, amid their denunciations of sin and threats of punishment, have in them a song of deliverance and hope. So it is with the whole Bible; the joy and hope growing brighter as the history slowly moves toward the light, a sudden burst of light and joy echoed in the angel’s song at the birth of Christ, and the whole ending with the new heavens and new earth. 17:13 … “These things.” The whole course of instruction at this supper. 17:13 … “My joy fulfilled [grow more perfect] in themselves.” As in John 15:11, i.e., have every quality of true joy; increase in quality and abundance, till you are full of joy, having all your nature can contain.

The joy of Christ 1. The joy of a free activity in doing right, like the joy of motion in health, like the song of a bird in the morning. 2. The joy of entire consecration and submission to God. 3. The joy of doing good, of self-denial for others. 4. The joy of perfect faith in a wise and loving God, committing everything to His care. 5. Joy in the conscious love of God to us, communion and friendship with Him. 6. The joy of loving others. 7. The joy of seeing others saved. 8. The joy of victory. 9. In the end, outward delights and pleasures to correspond with the inward joy. This answer many objections to religion 1. One says that religion is sour and gloomy, driving people out of every temple of pleasure with a whip of small cords, and posting “no trespassing” again every field of delight. 2. Another says, “You are continually talking of the happiness of religion. It is merely another form of selfishness.” The answer is, “Christ’s joy in us.” 3. Others say, “Your joy is wonderful, but it does not endure – a mere passing cloud, or morning dew.” The answer is, “Christ’s joy, which endures forever, and which remains in His disciples.” 17:14 … “I have given them thy word.” Entrusted it to them to keep, to teach, and proclaim. 17:14 … “And the world hath hated them.” Just as they hated Christ Himself, and for the same reasons. Their principles and teaching were opposed to the life, the customs, the principles of the world, and were active in overthrowing the world’s wrongs by the Word of Christ. Therefore the world, which did not wish to be interfered with, hated them, and would treat them as they treated Christ Himself.

Scripture Reading: John 17:15, 16 (KJV) His Prayer That They May Be Kept from the Evil 17:15 … “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world.” He would not have them with Him yet, nor would He have them escape from the active, tempting world; for (1) they were to be His representatives on earth, to reflect His character and teachings. They were “to be the world’s Bible,” to make Christ’s light shine over the entire world like the glass reflectors in the Fresnal light of lighthouses. (2) They were needed in the world to do Christ’s work, to carry His kingdom to success. (3) They needed to remain in the world for their own discipline and growth of character. (4) They were perfectly safe in the world,

as long as they were kept from the evil. (5) Jesus now does not wish His disciples to keep out of the active world, as if hermits’ huts, and lonely convents, and life retired from business were the best places for Christians. God’s saints are often found in the turmoil of business, the burdens and anxieties of life; amid crowded family cares, in active service toward others. Illustration A ship is safe in the ocean, as long as the ocean is not in the ship, and that is the only way it can be safe. A Christian is safe in the world, as long as the world is not in the Christian, and that is the only way to keep the soul safe. Storms are less dangerous than the decay of idleness. 17:15 … “But that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Regarding the word “from,” Coffman points out that it is from the Greek term meaning “out of,” and the obvious reason Jesus did not wish the disciples to be taken out of the world was that such a thing would have made impossible the conversion of the world. That the disciples should be kept "out of" the devil was the important thing. The whole concept underlying asceticism which arose in post-apostolic times was based on a failure to appreciate the meaning of these words. It was Christ's desire that the apostles should remain in the world, in contact with its populations, exposed to its culture, and in direct confrontation with its evil. Only this could enable them to convert the world. In this verse also appears the Savior’s concern for the whole of humanity, the only hope of which was dependent on the apostles' proclamation of the truth. Regarding addition of “the evil one,” the MacArthur Study Bible states: The reference here refers to protection from Satan and all the wicked forces following him (Matt. 6:13; 1 John 2:13, 14; 3:12; 5:18, 19). Though Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was the defeat of Satan, he is still loose and orchestrating his evil system against believers. He seeks to destroy believers (1 Pet. 5:8), as with Job and Peter (Luke 22:31, 32), and in general (Eph. 6:12), but God is their strong protector (12:31; 16:11; cf. Ps. 27:1-3; 2 Cor. 4:4; Jude 24:25). Even the New King James Version translates this verse: “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.” However, several scholars believe the original King James Version to be accurate. For instance, Godet states: The evil must certainly be taken in the neuter sense of from evil, and not from the evil one, as in R.V. (Note that “one” is in italics, and, therefore, not in the original. This is shown by the preposition ek, “out of,” which relates to a realm out of which one is taken, rather than to an individual.

Alford and many others agree with the R.V., here as in the Lord’s Prayer. The Greek may be either masculine or neuter. Either translation is correct in form. But “the evil one” is too narrow a meaning to meet our needs. We want to be delivered not only from the evil one, but from all evil, of every kind. “The evil” includes “not only all evil conduct, but all evil influences, and all evil ones.” And it does not seem possible that our Lord, either here or in the prayer He taught His disciples, could have restricted His meaning to the narrow sense when every heart desires the wider deliverance. In his book, Here and There in the Greek New Testament, “Does the Lord’s Prayer Mention the Devil?” Potwin makes it almost certain that the true sense is “the evil.” The evil is not chiefly sorrow, or reproach, or poverty, or misfortune, or persecution, or death, but is sin and the wretchedness it causes to pervade all these things. The disciples were not kept from all these, but from the bitterness of them, and all were made to work out good in keeping them from the evil, sin. Multitudes have found that what is often accounted evil, outward evil, has been the means of keeping them from the evil, sin. How are disciples kept from “the evil”? 1. By His Word, the Truth (v. 17), which, filling the soul, keeps away the desire of evil and the power of evil. 2. By His Holy Spirit dwelling in them. 3. By the discipline of remaining in this evil world and overcoming it. 4. By earnest work for Christ. Christians are safe in the worst places as long as they are seeking to redeem others. Illustration A top stands as long as it is spinning. Ceasing to go, it falls. The Christian is kept by Christ through active service to Christ. When we cease Christian activity, we fall. 5. By the joy of the Christian life and work, by the superior attraction of Christ, as Orpheus overcame the songs of the Sirens by sweeter music. Illustration In ancient mythology we find two famous characters who sought to pass safely by the isle of the Sirens, whose song was so entrancing that the sailors who came within its sound were led to steer straight for their shore, where they were wrecked. Ulysses stuffed wax in the sailor’s ears, and then had himself bound to the mast, while he sailed within sound of the bewitching strains. He then longed to rush to the shore of the tempters, but he was bound, and he could not make the sailors hear his cries. On the other hand, Orpheus took his lyre, and made sweeter music, and sang more delightful songs, and thus overcame the song of the tempters, as the rising sun makes the stars fade away. 6. By their living in a higher and better kingdom.

17:16 … “They are not of the world.” This statement is so important that it is repeated (v. 14). There principles and teaching were opposed to the life, customs, principles of the world, and were active in overthrowing the world’s wrongs by the Word of Christ. 17:16 … “Even as I am not of the world.” Their position was like His, and His relation to the world would enable them to understand theirs. They were in the world as the sun shines in the darkness, but is not of it. We saw in v. 14 how disciples are kept from the evil.

Scripture Reading: John 17:17-19 (KJV) His Prayer That They May Be Made Holy & Fulfill Their Mission 17:17 … “Sanctify them.” In order that His former petitions may be answered, another step must be taken. To be kept from the evil is a negative blessing when alone, and cannot be permanent, unless in addition there is positive holiness. Sanctify First, the idea at the root of the word rendered “sanctify,” is separation – set apart from all sinful use, consecrated as representatives of Christ and to His work. We are sanctified when we have given ourselves to God, to think, feel, act, speak, love and strive and spend ourselves, throughout life, for the glory of God in the uplifting to God of others. Ellicott points out that “it is opposed not to what is impure, but to what is common, and is constantly used in the Greek of the Old Testament for the consecration of persons and things to the service of God.” “Therefore he solicits for them a heart entirely devoted to the task they will have to fulfill in the world” (Godet). Second, it comes to mean holy, freed from all impurity, all sin, and fully and freely devoted to God in active holiness like God’s holiness. As stated above, “keep them from the evil” was the negative side of holiness. G.W. Clark pointed out that “now He prays positively, sanctify them; separate them more and more from the world, from sin and sinners, by making them more and more holy in body, soul, and spirit, more like Thyself and Myself (1 Thess. 5:23). 17:17 … “Through thy truth [or “in the truth,” as in R.V.]: thy word is truth.” Westcott pointed out that “the ‘truth,’ the sum of the Christian revelation, ‘the word of God,’ at once embodied in Christ and spoken by Him, is (as it were) the element into which the believer is introduced, and by which he is changed.” Meyer stated that What the Eleven needed above all things was a profounder apprehension of Christian truth, and a holier character; “the equipment with Divine illumination, power, courage, joyfulness, love, inspiration, etc., for their official activity (v. 18) which should

ensure, and did ensue, by means of the Holy Spirit (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:7). “They who are true disciples of Christ live and move in the word of truth as their element. They breathe it. This element, like all means of grace, has a sanctifying tendency” (Schauffer). The means or instrument of sanctification is through the truth, and unto the truth, serving the cause of truth. 17:18 … “As thou hast sent me into the world [to save it from sin, and build up a kingdom of holiness], even so have I also sent them into the world.” To fulfill the same mission; to carry on the same work; to preach the truth; to help the poor; to relieve suffering; to lead others to God. How could He send them into the world, when they were already in the world? Godet answered this way: “Because He had raised them to a sphere above the life of the world, and it was thence that He sent them into the world, as He had Himself been sent from heaven.” 17:19 … “And for their sakes I sanctify myself.” In the first sense of the word, separating Himself, consecrating Himself to the work of saving men (see v. 17), and especially at this hour He was consecrating Himself by being obedient to death on the cross. In other words, I do what I ask for them, both as a means, an example, and a motive. 17:19 … “That they also might be sanctified through [or in] the truth.” (1) He would not ask them to do what He was unwilling to do Himself. By His sanctification He set them a true example. (3) By His sanctification, which led to atonement on the cross, He presented every motive for their sanctification, and gave them new spiritual life. “When a believer in Christ dedicates his whole heart, strength, and life to promote the glory of God in the salvation of men, he realizes the highest idea of Christian holiness” (Clark).

Scripture Reading: John 17:20-23 (KJV) His Prayer That They May All Be One 17:20 … “For them also which shall believe on me.” Christ intercedes not only for eminent believers, but for the meanest and weakest; even those that in the eye of the world are inconsiderable. “As Divine providence extends itself to the meanest creature, so Divine grace to the meanest Christian” (Henry). We may justly write this comfortable text in letters of gold, because it relates to all of us. Luther pointed out that “it is our glory and consolation, our treasure and pearl; so that for us Gentiles the whole Scriptures do not afford a more comfortable saying than this (Is. 54:6-14).”

Their mission would cause many to believe on Him. He sees these “ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands” of disciples as in a vision. He knew that “the extension of the church imperils its unity” (Exp. Greek Test.). Therefore, He prays for the whole church for all time, in all places, 17:20 … “Through their word.” Those who come to believe through the word of Christians; this is God’s instrumentality for the conversion of the world. 17:21 … “That they may be one.” He now prays as He had prayed for the twelve, that they might be one (v. 11). “This unity is infinitely more than mere unanimity, since it rests upon spirit and life” (Tholuck). 17:21 … “As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.” “Not a merely moral unity of disposition and purpose, but a vital unity in which the members share the life of one and the same organization (see Rom. 12:4, 5). A mere agreement in opinion and aim would not convince the world” (Cambridge Bible). Naturally, from this unity flows a unity of purpose, work, love, spirit, and character. 17:21 … “That the world may believe.” The unity of the church in the spirit of Christ will quickly send the Gospel to every creature. The unity will be a proof to men of the religion of Christ. It will create an atmosphere that will move men to believe; beautifully demonstrating the Christian ideal so attractively that it will draw men to Jesus Christ. (see v. 3) 17:21 … “That thou hast sent me.” Therefore, He brings salvation from God, and teaches the Truth of God. (see Importance of unity in v. 11) 17:22 … “The glory which thou gavest me [the glory of His work, the manifestation of His love, the success of His mission, v. 24] I have given them; That they may be one.” One in glory as in work and character. They are to be joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). The oneness will thus be complete. 17:23 … “I in them, and thou in me [the unity of the vine and its branches] … that the world may know.” Recognize more fully than when they “believed” (v. 21), since now the unity was to be perfect, and therefore its results more powerful. Christian unity The Christian unity, for which Jesus so earnestly prayed, is absolutely essential to the full success of the church. 1. The only unity either desirable or possible is the kind of unity Christ prayed for, the unity in Him, the unity of character, spirit, purpose, of love for Christ and His cause, the unity of heaven. 2. It is not a unity of opinion.

Only as far as these grow out of a spiritual unity, and are not attempts to force an outward and formal unity. In other words, real Christian unity can only come

when Christ is the head, and no one person, group, society, committee or organization assumes headship or control. 3. Unity and organization. Organization of those who are seeking the same purposes, i.e., trusting in, obeying, and following only the Word of God, and including only those purposes, is of vast importance and power. But the moment they undertake to force an outward unity, or any unity that goes beyond or falls short of the Word of God, the forced unity of organization destroys real unity. Any effort to organize into one gathering, under one chief committee, simply for the sake of organization for larger numbers or budgets, without a firm standing on a “thus saith the Lord” – the Gospel of Christ and the principles, examples, and commands of God’s Holy Word, will destroy not only our freedom and harmony in Christ, but the Gospel message itself will be hindered. Illustrations It has been said in poetry that there is a certain point in the upper air, in which all the discordant sounds of the earth – the rattle of wheels, the chime of bells, the roll of drums, the laughter of children – meet and blend in perfect harmony. Surely it is more than a pleasant conceit, that when once lifted up in fellowship in Christ Jesus, we meet in a high and heavenly place where all things are gathered together in one. (Adams) The sweetening of the ship by Kipling in his Day’s Work. The harmonizing of the fifty-eight different pieces (seventy-two others say), of a violin, described in the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. It requires many years to accomplish this result, and that is the reason why a violin increases in value with age.

Scripture Reading: John 17:24-26 (KJV) His Prayer That They May Partake of His Glory 17:24 … “I will [not, now “I pray”] … be with me where I am [share His destiny. “If children then heirs”] … behold my glory,” because they will thus be near Him, and being His disciples, will share in the glory according to their capacity. And further, Jesus prays that His disciples may be with Him in His glory, see it and partake of it; that those who walk with Him in the way of the cross may wear the crown with Him; that those who suffer and work with Him may reap the reward with Him, have part in the triumph, and enjoy the blessedness of the onlybegotten Son of the Father.

Note these being the things which Jesus prays for in our behalf, they are therefore the things most desirable in life, and to be more earnestly sought after. 17:25 … “O righteous Father, the world knew thee not, but I knew thee; and these knew that thou didst send me.” Coffman points out that this is reminiscent of John 1:10 and the whole prologue. Jesus' identification of the apostles before the throne of God as persons who "knew that thou didst send me" is proof of the importance of such knowledge. In actual fact, to know the origin of Christ in God is to find salvation possible. This is not a knowledge that can be objectively proven or demonstrated; but it is the kind of knowledge that follows obedient faith in Christ, as when Peter said, "We believe and know" (John 6:69). The MacArthur Study Bible further points out that vs. 25, 26 summarize the prayer of this chapter, promising the continuing indwelling Christ and His love (Cf. Rom. 5:5). 17:26 … “I have declared [R.V., “made known”] … and will declare it.” R.V., “make it known.” “The knowledge and the love which imparts it being alike inexhaustible, there is room for perpetual instruction through all time” (Cambridge Bible). 17:26 … “Thy name.” “This phrase covers all that can be known, thought, or spoken about Him” (Taylor). It stands for Himself, His attributes, character, nature, power, authority. 17:26 … “The love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them.” This is the end and crown of it all. God’s love for Christ rests in the same way upon His disciples, for they have the spirit of Christ, are doing the work of Christ, are children of God, His younger brothers. This love should be in them, manifested in all they do, guiding, inspiring, uplifting, and transforming.

Practical Suggestions 1. How inspiring the thought that the same intercession goes on above, and never ceases, for the church which still is so feeble in faith, for the disciples of our own day, whose love is so languid, whose fears are so great, whose needs so many (Storris). 2. We learn what things we should earnestly seek for, by noting the things Jesus prayed for in our behalf. 3. v. 3: The best of all knowledge is the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ. 4. And this is the first condition of the Christian life, that we should know Jesus Christ, by sympathy, by love, by imbibing His spirit, by working with Him. 5. v. 11: Power, usefulness, and holiness of the church depend on the true unity of Christians. 6. We should in every way seek to realize Christ’s prayer for the unity of all Christians.

7. There is more oneness among Christians than appears on the surface. 8. v. 15: The place of the Christian is in the active, tempting world. 9. But his safety lies in his being kept from the evil of the world. 10. He can be kept from the evil only when consecrated to the service of God in redeeming the world. 11. v. 17: Since we are sanctified by the truth, we should seriously study the Word of God by which we are sanctified. 12. v. 18: Christians are representatives of Christ in the world, to carry on His work. 13. v. 21: We should in every way seek to realize Christ’s prayer for the unity of all Christians. 14. v. 24: Those who work with Christ, suffer with Him, and are sanctified by Him, will also partake of His ineffable glory.
Footnotes: 1 For more information on The Lord’s Supper, see Remembering Jesus in Additional Resources section of 2 By understanding Paul’s long sentence in Romans 3:21-26, we understand the Gospel, all of Romans and the Bible. The 1885 English Revised Version changed “the faith of Christ” to “faith in Christ” in Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16, 2:20, 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; and Philippians 3:9. In his book, “Commentaries on the Old and New Testament,” James Burton Coffman concludes that the KJV is a correct translation of all these verses, a fact confirmed by the total agreement of the Emphatic Diaglott in each case. James Macknight, Adam Clarke, as well as other older commentators, also agree with the KJV translation of these verses – “the faith of Christ,” like the “faith of Abraham” in Romans 4:16. We asked a full-time minister serving a large church, about whether he believed that to be saved one had to believe in the “faith of Jesus Christ” to which he wrote: “God provides righteousness to those who believe. If through the faith of Jesus – everybody would be saved.” We asked the same question to a university Bible professor, who expressed a view of modern translations held by many today. He wrote: “Both ideas . . . are biblical . . .” However, we also presented the question to an elder of the church, who wrote: “The believer’s faith causes him to respond to that perfect justification which is and was brought by Christ in His obedience to God’s will of offering His son as the perfect atonement for all mankind (sins).” We concur with the elder and older commentators, as well as Coffman, whose commentary on this verse is a scathing rebuke of many modern-day professors and preachers. Coffman points out that we should stay with the KJV in this verse, because changing it represents the same tampering with the Word of God which resulted in the monstrosity of changing “the righteousness of God” to “a righteousness” (Rom. 3:21 & Rom. 1:17). He writes: “the true Scriptural justification by faith has absolutely no reference to the faith of stinking sinners, but to the faith of the Son of God. The only end served by this change was to bolster the faith only theory of justification.” He further writes: “the true grounds of justification cannot ever be in a million years the faith of fallible, sinful people, would appear to be axiomatic. How could it be? The very notion that God could impute justification to an evil man, merely upon the basis of anything that such a foul soul might either believe or do, is a delusion. Justification in any true sense requires that the justified be accounted as righteous and undeserving of any penalty whatever; and no man’s faith is sufficient grounds for such an imputation. On the other hand, the faith of Jesus Christ is a legitimate ground of justification, because Christ's faith was perfect.” In the absolute sense, only Christ is faithful – “Faithful is he that calleth you” (1 Thess. 5:24). Only He is called “the faithful and true witness” (Rev. 3:14). The faith of Christ was also obedient; a perfect and complete obedience, lacking nothing. Therefore, we conclude that the sinless, holy, obedient faith of the Son of God is the only ground of justification of a human being – Christ only is righteously justified in God’s sight. How then are we saved? We are saved “in Christ,” having been incorporated into Him – justified as a part of Him. Our study prompts agreement with Coffman’s conclusion that faith is not the ground of our justification; it is not the righteousness which makes us righteous before God. The “faith of the Son of God” is the

only basis for our justification, and that faith is definitely included in the “righteousness of God” mentioned in this verse. Even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ shows the principal constituent of God’s righteousness. In conclusion, God’s righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus Christ – His absolute, intrinsic, unalloyed righteousness – implicit in His perfect faith (mentioned here) and His perfect obedience (implied). The contrary notion that God’s righteousness is some imputation accomplished by the sinner's faith is unfounded. Any righteousness that could commend itself to the Father and become the ground of anything truly worthwhile would, by definition, have to be a true and genuine righteousness. That righteousness was provided by the sinless life of the Christ, summarized in this verse as “through faith of Jesus Christ,” the idea being much clearer in the KJV, “The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” We concur with Coffman on this subject, including his final conclusion, “. . . the word believe in this verse refers to sinners’ faith (believer’s faith) which is no part of God’s righteousness at all, but, like baptism, is but a mere condition of salvation – being neither more nor less important than baptism.” 3 For more information on the church, see God’s Church in A Religion Library section of 4 For more on the Father, see God the Father in A Religion Library section of 5 seeks the unity of all believers by one common purpose and plea: Jesus Christ and the Bible. Like the 20th Century, the 21st has sadly begun with a divided religious world. But there is hope, because God's Holy Word and Beloved Son are the common denominators upon which most, if not all, God-fearing people everywhere can unite. Jesus Christ Himself prayed for unity: "I . . . pray . . . that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me . . . that they may be one just as We are One" (John 17:20-22, NKJV). Our Lord and Savior wants us to be one, therefore this site is dedicated to the unity of all believers. What is the 21st Century appeal? A "Thus saith the Lord" in everything done religiously. What is the objective? Lifting up Jesus Christ; sharing with others the greatest love story ever told. The plea is that nothing should be bound on a believer that is not as old as the New Testament. The goal is a richer, fuller, deeper understanding and focus on the Bible and God's Beloved Son, Jesus Christ; always keeping in mind that each of us has the responsibility of personally seeking out God's truth as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. The Bible says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:12, 13 NKJV), remembering that "God shows no partiality" (Acts 10:34 NKJV). This site was developed because Jesus "commanded us . . . to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and dead" (Acts 10:42 NKJV). Serious study of the Bible requires dedication, self-control, patience, and a spirit of humility. No wonder we are admonished by Holy Scripture to "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15, NKJV). All material presented on this site originates from a firm belief in the infallibility and authoritativeness of the Bible; inspired and Divine; the eternal Holy Word of God. Therefore, everything on this site is built on two basic foundations: (1) Any pronouncement herein from the Bible is considered God's final word; (2) Christ is accepted as the only begotten Son of God, uniting in His person perfect divinity and perfect manhood. The aim and hope of is to assist all who diligently seek God's approval; who want to know and better appreciate the love, mercy, grace and saving power of Jesus Christ. is only a small beginning; a little seed in an ocean of religious division. We fervently pray this concept is a proper and solid basis upon which all believers in Christ can unite. And, by seeking to walk with Jesus Christ, doing only what God has lovingly commanded through the Bible, adding or deleting nothing, we can know that our salvation is certain. Let's join together in a return to the Bible and Jesus Christ. Come, let us study and reason together. 6 For more information on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of 7 Compare the thick cloud in Exodus 19. 8 For more on salvation, see God’s Salvation in A Religion Library section of 9 Compare Peter and John rejoicing in their tribulation; and Paul and Silas singing in their torture and prison. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

Previous / Next / Index presents Jesus Christ in the Writings of John WALKING IN THE LIGHT
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Subject: Walking in the Light of God Golden Text: “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Lesson Plan: Introduction The Message from Heaven – God is Light (v. 5) Fellowship with God – in the Light (v. 6) Fellowship with Christians – in the Light (v. 7) Cleansing from Sin (vs. 7-10) The Savior Who Enables Us to Walk in the Light (vs. 1, 2) The Test Whether We Are Walking in the Light (vs. 3-6) Practical Suggestions Setting of the Lesson: Time: This Epistle was written somewhere between A.D. 70 and 96. It was after the destruction of Jerusalem, not far from the same time the Gospel of John was written; probably toward the close of John’s life, A.D. 90. Place: Ancient tradition places the writing both of the Gospel and the Epistle at Ephesus. Rulers: Domitian, last of the 12 Cesar’s, emperor of Rome, A.D. 81-96; Argicola, governor of Great Britain. Author: The apostle John, the beloved disciple, author also of the Gospel and Revelation. He died probably about A.D. 98-100. For Whom Written: Not to any particular church, but to a circle of churches, composed of Gentile Christians, in immediate connection with John. Character: This Epistle is the most perfect example in the New Testament of the indissoluble connection between doctrine and duty; the doctrine always underlying the duty; doctrine and duty being exhibited together; duty being the end and consummation of doctrine (Schaff). The subject of the Gospel of John is the Son of God; the subject of the Epistle of John is the sons of God. The whole Epistle is divided into two parts: the first (chs. 1, 2) shows us the family with their Father; the second (chs. 3-5) gives us the family in their life in the world (William Lincoln).

Introduction The first four verses of this Epistle are an exordium or introduction. As Ellicott points out, “it contains (1) object and purpose of the apostolic preaching – the setting forth of the historical Christ for the spread of human fellowship with the Father and the Son (vs. 1-3); (2) design of the Epistle – fullness of joy for those who should read it (v. 4).”

Scripture Reading: 1 John 1:5 (KJV) The Message from Heaven – God is Light 1:5 … “This then is the message.” Ellicott points out that “the attention is aroused, as by the silence before the thunderstorm, to expect a central and fundamental notion of the utmost importance.” 1:5 … “Which we have heard of him.” From Him, that is, from Jesus Christ. When? During His three and a half years on earth (John 1:4, 9; 8:12). Perhaps also at times not recorded and by later revelation through the Spirit.1 The thought grew clearer and clearer to the apostles as they rose to the loftier heights of Christian experience and insight. John heard this from Christ, not only in express words, but in His acted words, viz., and His whole manifestation in the flesh as “the brightness of the Father’s glory.” Christ Himself was the embodiment of “the message,” representing fully in all His sayings, doings, and sufferings – Him who is Light. 1:5 … “And declare [announce] unto you.” Note the apostle’s intense conviction that the message which he has to deliver is received from the lips of Christ; that it is not the conclusion of an argument, but a revelation; and that its delivery implies a commission. Cook points out that “we announce” implies grandeur and importance in the message, earnestness and commission in the messenger. 1:5 … “That God is light.” Not, as Luther, “a light.” Light is purely predicative, indicating the essence of God, just as when it is said in 1 John 4:8, “God is love.” There, it is true; the predicative is purely ethical, and thus literal, when used of God Who is Spirit, whereas here, light being a material, not an ethical object, some amount of figurative meaning must be conceded. But of all material objects, light is that which most easily passes into an ethical predicative without even the process, in our thought, of interpretation. It unites in itself purity, cleanness, beauty and glory, as no other material object does – it is the condition of all material life, growth and joy. And the application to God of such a predicative requires no transference. He is light, and the fountain of light material and light

ethical. In the one world, darkness is the absence of light; in the other, darkness, untruthfulness, deceit, falsehood, is the absence of God. (Alford) 1:5 … “And in him is no darkness at all.” Strong negative. Greek, “No, not even one speck of darkness,” no ignorance, error, untruthfulness, sin or death. God is Light 1. Light is the best symbol of God we can have. Light is immaterial, mysterious in nature, ineffably bright and glorious, everywhere present, swift-winged, undefiled, and undefilable. Light is the source of life, beauty, manifested reality, warmth, comfort, joy, health, and power. No plant or animal can live in health without sunlight; no power is so destructive of disease-germs. Every tree, plant, and flower grows and flourishes by the grace and bounty of the sun. Leaving out of account the eruptions of volcanoes and the ebb and flow of the tides, every mechanical action on the earth’s surface, every manifestation of power, organic and inorganic, vital and physical, is produced by the sun. Every fire that burns, and every flame that glows, dispenses light and heat which originally belonged to the sun. The sun digs the ore from our mines; he rolls the iron, rivets the plates, boils the water, and [drove the steam-locomotive]. Thunder and lightning are also his transmuted strength. And remember this is not poetry, but rigid, mechanical truth. Look at the integrated energies of our world. What are they? They are all generated by a portion of the sun’s energy, which does not amount to one two-thousand-threehundred-millionth of the whole. (Tyndall) 2. God is our intellectual light. Everything is clear and plain to Him; nothing is hidden from Him. In His mind are the ideals after which all things strive. He is the source to us of knowledge, wisdom, clear views, broad views, of the truths we should know, of the way we should go. 3. God is our moral light. He is to our spirits what the natural light is to the world. He is the source of life, truth, activity, power, purity, comfort and joy of holiness, of spiritual beauty and glory.

Scripture Reading: 1 John 1:6 (KJV) Fellowship with God – in the Light 1:6 … “If we say that we have fellowship with him.” If we reckon ourselves among His friends, or, in other words, if we profess to be like Him; for “a profession of religion involves the idea of having fellowship with God” (Barnes). “Communion with God is the very innermost essence of all true Christian life”

(Luther). Fellowship is the abiding in God, and God in us, which makes us one with Him in feeling, work, sympathy, love, nature, and finally in His glory and home. 1:6 … “And walk [live, act, move, have our being and sphere of action] in darkness.” The exact opposite of the light in which God is. It is sin, error, falseness, insincerity – all the deeds of darkness, if we are unacquainted with the new life from God. 1:6 … “We lie.” We say what is entirely false, for it is not possible to have fellowship with God, and yet continue to do the deeds of darkness. We cannot be in midnight and noonday at the same time. We cannot be in love with sin, in sympathy with evil, vicious, selfish, and yet be in fellowship with God. 1:6 … “And do not the truth.” Alford pointed out that “not a mere repetition of ‘we lie,’ but an independent proposition, answering to ‘walk in darkness,’ and asserting that all such walking in darkness is a not-doing of the truth.” The truth is conformity with the nature and law of God – righteousness, holiness, heavenliness.

Scripture Reading: John 1:7 (KJV) Fellowship with Christians – in the Light 1:7 … “But if we walk in the light.” Walking in the light may include the three following things: 1. Leading lives of holiness and purity; 2. Walking in the truth, that is, embracing the truth in opposition to all error of unbelief and infidelity, and having clear, spiritual views of truth, such as the unrenewed never have (see 2 Cor. 4:6; 1 Cor. 2:9-15; Eph. 1:18); 3. Enjoying the comforts of religion, that is, as Barnes pointed out, “having the joy which religion is fitted to impart, and which it does impart to its true friends (Ps. 94:19; 2 Cor. 1:3; 13:11).” God is in the light eternally, perfectly; we walk in the light, moving onward toward perfection. Notice that this is no mere imitation of God, but is an identity in the essential element of God’s eternal being. (Alford) Illustration Spiritual life declines by not keeping in fellowship with God. When visiting a gentleman in England, I observed a fine canary. Admiring his beauty, the gentleman replied, “Yes, he is beautiful, but he has lost his voice. He used to be a fine singer; but I was in

the habit of hanging his cage out of the window; the sparrows came around him with incessant chirping; gradually he ceased to sing and learned their twitter, and now all that he can do is to twitter, twitter. (Moody) On the other hand, a canary was taught to sing “Home, Sweet Home,” by hearing only that tune. We become like those in whose presence we continually are, and with whom we sympathize. 1:7 … “We have fellowship one with another.” Since we all partake of God’s nature and feelings, live for the same ends, enjoy the same joys, love the same things, we must have fellowship with one another, being one in sympathy, love, character, purposes. This truth is an application of the mathematical axiom, “things which are equal to the same thing are equal to one another.” There is no other way in which we can have fellowship with Christians, and therefore it is true that we may know that we love God because we love the brethren.

Scripture Reading: 1 John 1:7-10 (KJV) Cleansing from Sin The next fruit of walking in the light of God is salvation from sin. 1:7 … “And the blood of Jesus.” The sufferings and death of Jesus making atonement for us. The blood of Jesus expresses the love of God and of His Son for us, since suffering is the visible measure of love. Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to suffer and die for us to save us from sin. 1:7 … “Cleanseth [purifying] us from all sin.” The purification thus effected is twofold. It implies (1) justification, by which we are brought back into communion with God; (2) sanctification, by which the power of sin is gradually abolished. “The red rose of pardon and the white rose of purity (if we may venture to use such language as mystics have loved) grow upon one stem and spring from one root” (Alexander). “The Son will bring about that whatever sins we may still be betrayed into by the infirmity of our nature and the malice of the devil, from them the blood of Jesus purifies us day by day” (Alford). 1:7 … “Cleanseth us from all sin.” “By keeping us from known sins, and by atoning for sins of ignorance” (Binney). And by taking away the disposition to sin, removing the old nature, and replacing it with the new. Nothing will do for a Gospel that leaves any trouble incurable, any sorrow uncomforted, and any sin beyond forgiveness. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin, all its kind, and all its degrees. (Huntington)

The blood of Jesus is the only instrumentality ever discovered by which there can be a free offer of forgiveness and yet not increase the amount of sin. Wherever it is easy to escape from sin, where no heavy penalties are laid on it, wherever a people can sin and yet be received into respect and honor, there sin always multiplies. But the blood of Jesus, while offering free forgiveness, and a welcome into heaven, yet at the same time cleanses from the sin itself. How? (1) A new life is imparted; a new nature is given.2 (2) In that blood is found every motive for a holy life. (3) Through that blood comes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (4) It shows the terrible evil of sin while it forgives. (5) It cleanses from the tendency to sin. 1:8 … “If we say we have no sin.” In other words, if we say that we are absolutely sinless, and need not the application of Christ’s cleansing blood (Biblical Museum). John is writing to people whose sins have been forgiven; and therefore, necessarily, the present tense (we have) refers not to any previous state of sinful life before conversion, but to their now existing state and the sins to which they are liable in that state. And in referring in this way, it takes up the conclusion of the last verse, in which the onward cleansing power of the sanctifying blood of Christ was asserted: as if it were said, “this state of needing cleansing from all present sin is veritably that of all of us, and the recognition and confession of it is the very first essential of walking in the light” (Alford). Illustration A young girl was sweeping a hotel room, when she went to the window and hastily pulled the curtain. She was heard to say, “It makes the room so dusty to have sunshine coming in.” Tyndall found by a ray of light through a glass tube, that air, which was supposed to be perfectly free from all life-germs, still possessed them. The beam of light was the most perfect test. So God’s light will show us sin in our hearts where we had not supposed any to exist. 1:8 … “We deceive ourselves.” Not God, Who knows our innermost hearts, but ourselves. We have measured ourselves by a wrong standard. No man knows himself who supposes that in all respects he is perfectly pure. Dreams of perfection in the flesh would be little entertained if men kept clearly in view the distinction between what we are in Christ and what we are in ourselves. To be in Him is to be saved at once and forever from the condemnation of sin, but, as the lives of the highest and the lowest saints alike testify, not immediately from the presence and in-working of sin. “Christ had sin on Him, though He had no sin in Him. And just in proportion to the completeness of our abiding in Him by communion and obedience will we be free from sin within, as He is from sin on Him” (Gordon). 1:8 … “And the truth is not in us.” That truth respecting God’s holiness and our own sinfulness, “which is the very first spark of light within, has no place in us at all” (Alford). If it is asked what then is the difference between a Christian and a sinner, the answer is:

1. That the Christian repents, and the sinner does not; 2. The Christian is forgiven, the sinner is not; 3. The Christian has a new life in him, which is conquering the evil, the sinner has not; 4. The Christian sometimes falls into sin, but hates it, and strives, and prays against it, the sinner’s main life is without God, and he chooses not all sins, but some sins. Sin in the sinner is the main current of his life; sin in the Christian is an eddy contrary to the main current. 5. The Christian feels himself more sinful than the sinner, because he measures himself by a higher standard. 1:9 … “If we confess our sins.” To God, with words, but such as spring from true repentance in the heart; involving also confession to our fellow-men of offences committed against them. The mere confession in abstracto that we have sin, would be without truth and value unless it be attended by the perception and acknowledgment of concrete particular sins. “It is much easier to make pious speeches concerning repentance and the greatness of the misery engendered by sin, than in a specific case of sin to see one’s wrong, admit and repent it: John requires the latter” (Mombert). 1:9 … “He is faithful and just.” Faithful to His promises, to His holy nature that loves men; and just, because in forgiving men for Christ’s sake, God’s justice and righteousness are satisfied so that God may be just, and yet the Justifier of all who believe in Jesus. God is just as well as merciful even in forgiving men. 1:9 … “And to cleanse us.” He would not be just if He forgave without purifying us from sin. Now He is just in making us also just. He forgives in such a way as to meet His own sense of justice, and create justice in us. 1:10 … “If we say that we have not sinned.” “Not a mere repetition, but a confirmation and intensification of v. 8; this verse is related to v. 9, as v. 8 is to v. 7. The perfect tense, so far from removing the time to that before conversion, brings it down to the present” (Alford). 1:10 … “We make him a liar [because it contradicts His Word and His mission to sinners through His Son Jesus, Who came to save us from sin], and his word is not in us.” “His word” is “the truth” (v. 8). Our rejection of “his word,” in respect to our being sinners, implies as the consequence our rejection of His Word and will, revealed in the Law and Gospel as a whole; for throughout these rest on the fact that we have sinned and have sin.

Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:1, 2 (KJV) The Savior Who Enables Us to Walk in the Light

In this verse, John seems definitely to have had in mind the possible perversion of the teachings he had just written. “If we can never in this life be done with sin, why strive after holiness?” and “If escape is so easy, why dread falling into sin?” The promise of forgiveness of sins (1 John 1:9) and the mention of its universality (1 John 1:8, 10) might indeed, on the surface, be thought to encourage a light view of sin. As Orr said, “Some might say, ‘I may as well commit sin; everyone else does; God will forgive me; what else is he for?” John contradicted all such false views. Furthermore, the force of this passage may not be diminished by the interpretation that “sin” in this passage means “a life of sin.” “Both verbs are aorists; acts of sin, rather than a sinful course of life, are in view.” (Coffman) 2:1 … “My little children.” John was aged and experienced, and those to whom he wrote were far younger in Christian experience and knowledge, if not in years. Commentators are sharply divided on the meaning of this expression in this chapter. While it is generally admitted that John here used "little children" as a designation of the whole congregation, the repeated use of the word, especially the use of two different words for children (paidia and teknia) seems to suggest a different meaning later in the chapter. Paidia is the word used in 1 John 2:13 and 1 John 2:18. The other word is used in 1 John 2:12, 28; 1 John 3:7, 18; 1 John 4:4, and 1 John 5:21. By John's use of "little children" as a reference to the whole church, some have concluded that John was an old man when he wrote this. (Coffman) 2:1 … “These things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” This is the great and blessed end – sinlessness, like that of the sinless One.” “This,” Calvin says, “is not only a summing-up of what goes before, but, so to speak, a recapitulation of the whole Gospel; that we should cease from sin.” This agrees with what he said in 1 John 1:4, i.e., that he wrote these things that their joy may be full; for only as we are free from sin can we be full of joy. Despite the fact that John had just admitted that no one was able to be sinless, he nevertheless stated without equivocation that, "The hallmark of the Christian life is the absence of sin." 2:1 … “And if any man sin.” If anyone fails and slips in his efforts to be without sin, if he is wounded in the battle, if he is conscious of his imperfections and errors. 2:1 … “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The word here translated Advocate was translated Comforter in John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7. Of course, in those passages, the Comforter refers to the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to send to be "with the Christians," especially the apostles; but here the Comforter is the Christ who is "with the Father." Some critics have tried to make a big issue out of this so-called difference; but, as Coffman points out, “there is no difference at all. In both cases, the Comforter is

for the advantage and encouragement of Christians, Christ with the Father, and the Holy Spirit with Christians. Furthermore, did not Christ Himself make this perfectly plain when He said, "He shall give you another Comforter" (John 14:16)? Even in that passage, it is clear that Christ Himself is the other One. It sometimes means one who takes up his client’s cause to carry it through by pleadings and acts – an advocate; sometimes one who goes forth to make peace between two parties, beseeching for an offender – an intercessor; sometimes one who stands by the sinking sufferer, uttering words of consolation and strength – a comforter. “All these offices concur in Jesus Christ, Who is our Advocate to urge our cause, an Intercessor to make our peace, our Comforter to fill us with joy” (Alexander). 2:2 … “And he is the propitiation for our sins,” i.e., the Propitiatory – one who makes propitiation;3 who propitiates in the sense of making pardon possible by a righteous God, consistently with due regard to the law which sin has broken, and the sacredness of the penalty which the transgressor has incurred. “The way being thus opened, the infinite love of God flows out naturally and mightily in the freest forgiveness of the penitent who accepts for himself the atonement made by Jesus” (Cowles). This rendition is to be preferred to "expiation" in subsequent versions. Although it is true that expiation is a synonym of propitiation, the latter meaning is a little different. Although this word appears frequently in the Septuagint (LXX), it is found only here and in 1 John 4:10 in the whole New Testament. The objection to "propitiation" is purely "theological." It is said to conjure up ideas of vengeful and vindictive pagan deities who had to be "appeased" by offerings and bribes, ideas which, of course, are foreign to any true ideas of God. Nevertheless, despite the scholars' support of their preference with "linguistic arguments," there is a sense in which the anger and wrath of Almighty God were indeed turned away by the sufferings of Christ. The Greek word to be translated by one of these words (propitiation, or expiation) is hilasmos, the primary meaning being “the removal of wrath.” It is this element of the meaning which some would like to get rid of. However, there is a divine wrath against every form of sin (Rom. 1:18), and God's forgiveness is not merely the ignoring of this wrath. "Expiation" carries the meaning that Christ's blood indeed procured for people the forgiveness of sins, but it leaves out the connection with God's wrath. Full agreement here is felt with Stott, Morris, and others who preferred "propitiation." There are implications in the atonement wrought by the death of Christ that are completely beyond any total understanding by finite intelligence. "Propitiation" means the "removal of wrath," and "expiation" means the "removal of guilt"; but in view of the fact of God's wrath being a reality mentioned countless times in the New Testament, it would appear to be far better to retain the word that includes "removal of wrath" in its meaning. (Coffman)

2:2 … “But also the sins of the whole world.” (1) The atonement is large enough to take in all men in all ages. Its nature is such that what is enough for one is enough for all. The way is prepared, and the entire world can walk in it if they will. (2) He is the only propitiation for the world. There is no other way of salvation provided, and any who are saved must be saved by this Savior. (3) Therefore, this Savior should be preached to the whole world. (4) Salvation is dearer to every Christian, because it is not narrow, but broad; not for a few, but available to all. Inherent in a statement like [the "sins of the whole world"] is the fact that the same basis for forgiving one sin is also the basis for forgiving all sins. There was no limit whatever to the satisfaction that Christ provided as the basis for forgiving sins. Of course, it is not implied here that sins are forgiven unconditionally, either those of persons now saved or of the whole world in general. We must therefore reject such a notion as this: "Multitudes may be saved through this redemption who never heard of Christ." Universalism is an attractive thesis for many, but there is no hint of such a thing in the New Testament. (Coffman)

Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:3-6 (KJV) The Test Whether We Are Walking in the Light 2:3 … “Hereby we do know that we know him.” With the experimental knowledge of love and fellowship, the knowledge that comes from abiding in Him and He in us. He now gives us an infallible test. Hereby we know – similar words are used several times in this letter to introduce "tests" by which the validity of one's faith might be tested (1 John 2:5, 29; 1 John 3:19, 24; 1 John 4:2, 6, 13, and 1 John 5:2). In other words, it is keeping the commandments of the Lord, walking in the light, doing the truth, obeying the word, etc., all of which are the final determination regarding whether one is saved or lost. 2:3 … “If we keep his commandments.” Which commandments are meant? All of them; there is no way to limit these to the ethical or moral commandments; those relating to the worship of God are likewise included. To keep God's commandments is equivalent to keeping his word, "And this means the truth of God as it is in Christ." The obligation extends to the entirety of the New Testament revelation. Contrary to the criterion accepted by some in determining if they are saved, this denies that a person's "feelings" in such a question can be trusted. It is too easy to fall into illusions about ourselves, especially if we make too much of our

religious feelings. Keeping the commandments of God is the prerequisite; the test either of loving God (John 14:15) or knowing God. Coffman points out that “Macknight supposed that John was teaching against "the Nicolaitans and Gnostics who affirmed that the only thing necessary to eternal life was the knowledge of the true God." “To keep preserves its peculiar meaning of watching, guarding, as some precious thing” (Alford). The natural outflow of a knowledge of God that comes from being like Him is the same kind of action as God’s, which is expressed in His commandments. Therefore, obedience is the proof of this knowledge, as the shining of the rays is the proof that the lamp is lighted. If it is lighted, it must shine. 2:4 … “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar.” He declares what is not true, and what cannot be true. The outflow from the heart proves what is in the heart. If the plant bears thistle-blooms or bramblebriars, it cannot be a grape-vine. This verse is the negative of the same teaching in 1 John 2:3. Here, John's converse statement of the same principle is blunt, powerful, and incapable of being misunderstood. It reminds us of Jesus' saying, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). All talk of knowing God, loving God, or even of "believing" or "having faith" is meaningless in the mouths of people who dishonor the commandments of the Lord through disobedience and failure to do the "work of faith." It is even more than meaningless; it is falsehood. (Coffman) 2:5 … “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.” This is identical in meaning with "if we keep his commandments" (1 John 2:3). The commandments of God are the expression of perfect love, what perfected love would naturally do. Therefore, when our lives, in thought and word and deed, are in perfect accordance with God’s Word, we know that our love to God is perfect; complete. We cannot claim perfect love till we have a perfect life in every respect conformed to God’s Word. Then, too, God’s love to us has perfected its work in us. 2:5 … “The love of God has been perfected.” “The love of God” is objective, referring not to God's love of us, but to our love to God." Here is another glimpse of that absolute perfection that is the goal, or should be the goal, of our Christian living (mentioned by Jesus in Matt. 5:48, and referred to by all the New Testament writers). Although unattainable by humans in their own strength, it can nevertheless be achieved in us and for us by means of our being "in Christ" and thereby partaking of the absolute perfection of the Savior Himself (Col. 1:28). Significantly, the necessity of being in Christ is the concluding thought of this verse.

2:5 … “Hereby we know that we are in him.” Although the grammatical structure makes "God" the antecedent of "in him," still the meaning is "in Christ." Being "in God" and "in Christ" are one and the same. This thought comes to the foreground a number of times in this letter. John placed the same importance; the same priority on this conception that is given to it in the writings of the Apostle Paul who used the expression "in Christ," or its equivalent, some 169 times. The idea of the corporate body of Christ was never developed by either Paul or John, but is derived from the Lord Himself, Who gave the foundation of it in such teaching as that of the vine, the apostles being the branches, and all Christians abiding "in him," "in the true vine" (John 15). (Coffman) We are in Christ not by spiritual enjoyments, not by ecstatic absorption into the divine abyss, such as later and degenerate mysticism delighted to describe, but by the power to do His holy will in absolute self-surrender and consecration, do we know that we have union with God. (Pope) 2:6 … “In him.” At first glance, these words seem to refer to being "in God;" but as Morris noted: “The reference to walking in this verse shows that ‘in him’ means Jesus Christ. In any case John regularly associates the two in the closest possible fashion, and it is often difficult to be quite sure which is meant.” 2:6 … “Ought himself also so to walk even as he walked.” Christ is not only the principle of holiness, but also the pattern of holiness to His people. “They that say they abide in Him must walk as He walked” (Caryl). How did He walk? The answer is written at large in the Gospels (Cook). Claiming to be "in Christ" carries the obligation of the claimant to exhibit the true likeness of Christ in his behavior. Obedience, not feelings, is the true test of union; and the Christian who is really such has least to tell of experiences and special visitations. (Coffman)

Practical Suggestions 1. v. 5: God is light and love, the two most beautiful and desirable things in existence. 2. God’s power is like light, so gentle that the most delicate insect floats delightedly in its rays, yet so mighty that it is the source of nearly all the known power in the world. 3. Sin is darkness; it tends to ignorance, error, every form of evil, sorrow, death. 4. v. 6: He that has fellowship with God is necessarily in the light; he that walks in the light enters into fellowship with God.

5. v. 7: Christians are like one another so far as they are like God; are near to one another when near to God. 6. The qualities symbolized by light have a natural tendency to unite those who possess them in love, in action, in sympathy. 7. Fellowship brings with it great blessings, comfort, mutual help, love, sympathy, higher lives, broader knowledge, more successful work, fullness of joy. 8. Two great needs of men – forgiveness and cleansing. 9. v. 8: The more fully we come into the light of God, the more conscious we are of our impurity and imperfection, as a great artist or musician sees defects in his work unnoticed by amateurs, or even imagined to be virtues. 10. vs. 1, 2: The object of the Bible is to deliver us from sin. 11. The Gospel salvation is large enough for the whole world. 12. The test of perfect love is a life perfectly conformed to God’s Word.
Footnotes: 1 For more information on the Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of 2 For more information on salvation, see God’s Salvation in A Religion Library section of 3 For more detailed information on propitiation, see God’s Salvation in A Religion Library section of "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: The Gift of the Savior Golden Text: “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:11) Devotional Reading: John 15:12-17 Lesson Plan: Introduction God’s Love and God’s Son (vs. 7-10) God’s Love and Our Love (vs. 11-14) Abiding in Love (vs. 15-19) Setting of the Lesson: Time: It is the tradition that John died in the time of the Emperor Trajan, about A.D. 98. It is likely that his first Epistle was written not long before that year. Place: In that case, it was probably written at Ephesus, where John was a leader in the church.

Introduction John’s First Epistle It is almost certain that this Epistle was written by the author of the Fourth Gospel, the same peculiar style and special ideas appearing most conspicuously in both. Though the author nowhere designates himself an apostle, he claims to be eyewitness of the Gospel events and a personal disciple of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:1-3); and he writes with authority and fatherly affection for his readers. Very early testimony connects the work with John the son of Zebedee, and there is no ancient witness for any other authorship. The Epistle was known to Polycarp and Papias. Irenaeus is the first to cite it by name. It is in the Muratorian Fragment. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Tertullian referred it to John. We have here some of the most precious teaching of the New Testament, e.g., concerning the love of God, brotherly love, Christ’s propitiation for

sin, eternal life. 1 John was written in time of peace, as it contains no allusion to persecution. Avoiding the Domitian persecution, we must assign it either to an earlier period, or more probably to the time after that persecution was over. It gives no hint of any locality where it was written. Probably it came from Ephesus, since John lived there. (Adeney) The letter is not written to those at a distance, but, rather, to those who were living in the writer’s own location. John was so old that all in the church, fathers and sons alike, seemed to him to be little children. To them all, he wrote these words of instruction and advice. They were the final formulation of his faith. They were his seal set upon the testimony of his life teaching. They summarized all he had said. These younger generations might read these words and recall his voice as they had heard him utter them. They might read these words and know the highest reach of apostolic revelation. This little book would be the last will and testament of the last of the apostles to the Christian church. It would appeal to the Christians of all generations as directly and as intimately as to those of John’s own day. (Hayes) This epistle is a discourse upon the principles of Christianity, in doctrine and practice. The design appears to be, to refute and guard against erroneous and unholy tenets, principles, and practices, especially such as would lower the Godhead of Christ, and the reality and power of his sufferings and death, as an atoning sacrifice; and against the assertion that believers being saved by grace, are not required to obey the commandments. This epistle also stirs up all who profess to know God, to have communion with him, and to believe in him, and that they walk in holiness, not in sin, showing that a mere outward profession is nothing, without the evidence of a holy life and conduct. It also helps forward and excites real Christians to communion with God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to constancy in the true faith, and to purity of life. (Henry) The beautiful prologue in 1 John 1:1-4, like the one in John's Gospel, has a profound dimension and embryonically states the theme as: "God manifested in Jesus Christ, that man may have fellowship with the Father through the Son." The remaining six verses are part of a complicated paragraph running through 1 John 2:28, beginning with "God is light" (1 John 1:5), the first of three epic statements about God which are usually considered as roughly marking the three major divisions of 1 John. The other two are: "God is righteous" (1 John 2:29) and the third portion, of which our lesson is a part, treats the still more exalted theme, “God is love.” These are John’s basic subjects in all his writings.

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:7-10 (KJV)

God’s Love and God’s Son 4:7 … “Beloved.” In his Against Heresies, Irenaeus twice in the same section represents John as residing in Ephesus during the latter days of his life. In the first place he calls him “the disciple of the Lord,” and in the second he refers to him in the following way: “Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the time of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.” It seems as if John had taken over, not only the Church of Ephesus, but also Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphis, and Laodicea (Rev. 2 and 3). John would visit the neighboring districts of the Gentiles, appoint overseers, and organize new Churches. What is more natural than to suppose that the First Epistle is directed to these believers? (Thiessen) In the portions of the letter treating the subject of love he commonly addresses them as “beloved.” 4:7 … “Let us love one another.” John has been warning his people against the spirit of antichrist, which is the very opposite of the spirit of love, being the spirit of dissension and hatred. They are to show to one another1 the spirit of love. In John’s extreme old age, with every faculty becoming numb, when he could no longer walk to the place of Christian assembly, he caused himself to be borne thither, that he might address the brethren; and this was his whole address: “Little children, love one another.” The disciples and brethren, hearing nothing but this from him, asked him why he always spoke the same thing to them, and nothing else; to which he replied that it was the command of the Lord, and if this only were done, enough was done. The story is not unworthy the name of Him who reported the charge of Jesus, “As I have taught you, that ye also love one another.” (Culross) 4:7 … “For love is of God.” True love has its source in God and nowhere else, though many seek to find it elsewhere. This paragraph is a worthy complement to the matchless ‘hymns of love’ sung by Paul in the thirteenth chapter of his First Epistle to the Corinthians, for it gives to the virtue which Paul praises its mighty motive, and finds it’s birth in the being of God. (Erdman) 4:7 … “And every one that loveth.” “Is in the habit of loving; has love for the guiding principle and ruling force of his life” (Bennett). 4:7 … Is begotten of God.” Is a child of God, as far as he has love in his soul. “Of ‘every one that loveth’ is this true, whether he be unbeliever or Christian:

there is no limitation. If a Socrates or an Aurelius loves his fellow-man, it is by the grace of God that he does so” (Plummer). In his Commentary on 1 John, Coffman states: Here, of course, is another test, i.e., the love of "one another," such love being of God himself. One stands in amazement at a comment on this like that of Russell: “’Everyone’ here includes all the human beings in whose nature love is or ever has been, whether they ever heard of God or Christ or not.” Such a comment is typical of much of the nonsense that has been written on this section of John's letter. "Love one another" is neither sexual love (eros) nor animal affection (fileo), but Christian love (agape). This is a love known only "in Christ," being the gift of God himself, having no connection whatever with mere humanism. John's repeated stress of such Christian love in this epistle might have been due to the fact, as supposed by Macknight, that "some of the Jewish converts, retaining their ancient prejudices, still considered it their duty to hate the heathen," even those who had accepted Christianity. 4:7 … “And knoweth God.” We can know God through being like Him, even as we can know an earthly friend through possessing the same qualities. And there is no other way. 4:8 … “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” This is the opposite of the preceding maxim, but it is more than a mere opposite, it is a most earnest warning. If we have not love in our life, we may be sure that we have not God in it. Love is the plummet and level by which the walls of our spiritual house are judged. Love is yardstick by which our deeds as Christians in relation to other Christians are measured. It is the warp and woof in the garment of our righteousness. Some years ago I observed in Florida, in the packing houses where the oranges were prepared for shipment that they had a long trough with holes of varying sizes cut in its bottom. This trough was elevated at an incline sufficiently to permit the oranges to run down its slope. As they ran down the trough, they dropped through the holes, each separated from its fellows, according to its size and value. I have conceived of life as a trough by which our deeds are measured, and the hole sizing them is the love we give our fellow. Our deeds are small or large or indifferent as measured by the love they embody. (Massee) “God is love” This beautiful and encouraging statement about the Father is surely one of the grandest in all Scripture. Wesley said, "Love is God's reigning attribute that sheds an amiable glory upon all of his other perfections." Barclay called this, "probably the single greatest statement about God in the whole Bible. . . . It is amazing how many doors that single statement unlocks and how many questions

it answers." However, Wilder cautioned that, "God's nature is not exhausted by the quality of love." God is light (1 John 1:5), and Spirit (John 4:24), and (considering the oneness of the Father with the Son) He is life, and Truth (John 14:6). Also, "Our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29). We make a mistake by failing to recognize that no single word is capable of describing the ineffable God, leading to a gross perversion of this wonderful text. Some laud this verse, as if it said, "Love is God; and here is a God we can all handle; bring on the love!" Too many of us who read these precious words of John do not seem to be aware of the holy and self-sacrificing love John wrote about. God's love for mankind and His glorious attribute of love do not alter or negate the revelation that "the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" (Rom. 1:18), nor the revelation concerning God that He "will judge the world in righteousness" (Acts 17:31) – there is no conflict between John and Paul on this point. John's description of the final judgment in Revelation 6:15-17 is a soul-shaking view of the wrath of God in judgment; just as much so as any in the whole Bible. A proper view of God's love is one that is big enough to take in His final judgment and overthrow of wickedness, understanding that, in itself, it is a mark of eternal love. Such thoughts should not detract from the unique glory of this text. No one in the whole world ever knew that God is love until it was revealed from heaven and written in the New Testament. As Ironside wrote, "It is here, and nowhere else; it is not found in all the literature of mankind." 4:9 … “Herein was the love of God manifested in us.” “The love of God” here means God’s love of men, not men’s love of God. John has just written about one sphere of manifestation of Divine love: our love of one another. Now he writes of a second sphere in which love is manifested, the sphere greatest of all: God’s love shown in His Son. This also is manifested through humanity. "In our case" rather than "in us" is the true meaning – the manifestation spoken of is God sending His Son to die for the sins of the whole world. In other words, it is not something "in us" but "in our case," or on our behalf. 4:9 … “That God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world [there is only one Christ], that we might live through him.” The Christian’s spiritual life is the result of the incarnation – the continuation of Christ’s life. If Christ had not come into the world to show us the Father and to die for our sins, we would have died in our sins, never entering into eternal life. “His only begotten Son” “This is a better rendition than that of making it read merely ‘only Son,’ because it is admitted by all scholars that ‘uniqueness’ is an essential quality of meaning in this word” (Roberts). "Only Son" would therefore mean that God has no other sons; yet all Christians are "sons of God." "Only begotten" conveys that essential meaning of "uniqueness," exactly in the sense of the word (monogenes) as translated in Heb. 11:17 where Isaac is called Abraham's "only begotten son," there being a uniqueness in Isaac's sonship not found in Abraham's many other sons. Therefore the translation "only begotten Son" is appropriate

Coffman points out further, that the same word (monogenes) was used of a man's son (Luke 9:38), of Jairus' daughter (Luke 8:42), and of the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12). Roberts also said, "It could hardly mean only begotten in that case (Luke 7:12), since begetting is a function of the male rather khan the female," apparently overlooking the fact that nothing is said about the widow having done the begetting. Her son was the "only begotten" of whoever begot him, just as Jesus was Mary's son, despite having been the "only begotten of the Father." Coffman and others agree that this is a disputed translation; but we affirm appreciation and preference for the one that has come down through the ages. We simply do not believe that the modern scholars have any more information regarding this than did the translators of KJV and ASV, nor that the recent ones are any more competent. 4:10 … “Herein is love [in what follows], not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” Our love, at best, is imperfect, but God’s is perfect. Our love is secondary, flowing from God’s love; but God’s is primary, original, the fount of love. Our love is tainted with self-seeking, but God’s love is pure self-giving. “Herein is love” This carries the thought, "notice just what love actually is." John defined it as being not merely a sentimental fondness for the human race, but a gracious, unselfish and unmerited act of divine giving of His "only begotten Son" to save people from eternal death. David Smith said: “The love which proves us children of God is not native to our hearts. It is inspired by the amazing love of God manifested in the Incarnation, the infinite Sacrifice of His Son's life and death.” 4:10 … “And sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” “Propitiation” means “atoning sacrifice,” with the thought that by means of it the wrath of the Eternal Judge is removed and He becomes gracious to the sinner, pardoning all guilt. The heart of Christian theology is in this word “propitiation.”2 Herein is God’s love to man, not that it is mere affection, however deep and true, but that it is purifying affection, restorative affection, affection that, if accepted, renders the sinner one with God through all eternity. What truth can be greater than this, more vitalizing, more blessed?

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:11-14 (KJV) God’s Love and Our Love After this moving consideration of the wonderful love God in Christ has shown to men, John passes to the statement of the result that love should produce in those receiving it. 4:11 … “Beloved [once more the affectionate address, so appropriate to the apostle’s theme], if God so loved us.” Since God has so greatly loved us.

Compare the use of “if” in the sense of “since” by Jacob at Bethel (Gen. 28:20), and especially by our Lord Himself at the Last Supper (John 13:14). 4:11 … “We also ought to love one another.” An ordinary writer would give us his conclusion, “then we also ought to love God.” But this is not the result to which God is aiming. Of course, God wants our love, and of course we shall return His love as soon as we realize it; but to look no farther than that would be for God to imitate our human self-seeking. He loves us that we may pass His love on to other men, and thus His love shall be magnified, and made to bear ever more and more fruit in the earth. What an insight John had into the heart of the Infinite Lover. In this verse, Christians' loving each other is motivated by the overwhelming majesty of the love of God Himself. “One another” here does not mean "everybody on earth." Though the love of every Christian certainly reaches out to the ends of the world, it is not reflected in the intensity commanded here. 4:12 … “No man hath beheld God at any time.” To be sure, John reported to us in his Gospel (14:9) that whoever had seen Christ had seen the Father; but Christ was God incarnate in man, God’s glory so veiled by the flesh that Christ Himself said, “The Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). Of the Infinite Being in His full splendor it is true that “no man hath seen God at any time” (John 1:18); He is the One “dwelling in light unapproachable; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). Blaney was probably correct in seeing this as a warning to Christians against "trying to know God in any other way than the one he is describing." Some have sought, outside of Christianity, to know more about God, hoping for a clearer perception; but this apostolic warning declares all such attempts to be futile. However, Morris pointed out that "John is not here discounting the visions of God reported in the Old Testament, but meaning that those visions were partial and incomplete. It is in Christ that we see God (John 14:9)." 4:12 … “If we love one another.” Primary meaning: love of the brethren. The humanistic philosophy that reads this "love of all mankind" is an inadequate conception. Plummer wrote, "Our love toward God is perfected and brought to maturity by the exercise of love towards our brethren in him (Christ)." Such things as astrology, spiritism, witchcraft and Satanism are basically ways of finding a so-called "reality" apart from Biblical revelation. John’s injunction states unequivocally that there is nothing out there which might enlighten or bless people. The true revelation – "the way, the truth, and the life" has already been given. 4:12 … “God abideth in us.” Why make excursions into deserts, dark rooms, or explore the mysteries of esoteric cults, or plunge into the abyss through drugs or alcohol? when God Himself will take up residence in the soul of one who, through loving, will open up room for Him who is love. 4:12 … “His love is perfected in us.” “Though we may not see God with these outward eyes, yet if we thus love, God is in us as really as if we saw Him. He is where His love is, for love, as a divine principle, is part of Himself” (Sawtelle). Thus through love not only do we see God, but others come to see Him through

our love. The only Bible we can really get others to read is the one written in our own conduct, disposition, and character. People must see God’s love in us. When one goes to Paris to begin mission work, he may know only a few words of French. But even though he might learn to say, “God loves you, and I love you,” his message will not be listened to if others cannot see the love of Christ in the preacher. In other words, the love of God is interpreted to others through us (Miller). 4:13 … “Hereby we know that we abide in him and he is us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” “John does not say, ‘He has given us His Spirit,’ but ‘of His Spirit.’ It is impossible for us to receive more than a portion; the fullness of the Spirit is possessed by Christ alone” (The Pulpit Commentary). “The argument is that god would not have granted us this priceless gift if He were not in intimate relation with us and had not a steadfast purpose of grace toward us” (Smith). In 1 John 4:12-16, the indwelling God is mentioned three times, and the reciprocal nature of it (He in us, we in Him) is stressed twice. The evidence of God's indwelling is differently stated as follows: (1) 1 John 4:13: He hath given us his Spirit; (2) 1 John 4:15: Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God; and (3) 1 John 4:16: He that dwelleth in love. “Because he hath given us of his Spirit” It should be carefully noted that the Christian's possession of the Spirit of God is an "evidence of," not an "antecedent cause" of God's indwelling our hearts. Also, as Coffman points out, “it is a mistake to suppose that there is even any microscopic difference between God's indwelling and the Spirit's indwelling.” There are eight different New Testament designations of that inner presence which differentiates Christians from the world, as set forth in Paul's writings; and John in this letter added to that list the fact that God's love abides in Christians,3 and Christians abide in God's love. This verse is virtually a repetition of 1 John 3:24. As we have seen, John follows no classical outline in his writing. Roberts offers another thought on 1 John, that when used in a little wider sense, is applicable to all the New Testament books. He wrote: “John's thought pattern continues to retrace ideas and to pick them up like an orchestra does the strains of a melody in order to develop them more fully.” 4:14 … “And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” We have seen with adorning wonder; the impression of the sight abides with us, and bears witness; that the Father hath sent the Son as the Savior of the world – one of the numerous loops that bind the Epistle to the Gospel. It is the phrase of the Samaritans, who have been convinced, not only by the woman’s witness, but by their own hearing, in John’s Gospel (4:42). The language here is

certainly such as would be inappropriate in any but an eyewitness. (Alexander) Reference to the Father hath sent the Son reduces the entire Bible story, from Genesis to Revelation, to one line.

Scripture Reading: 1 John 4:15-19 (KJV) Abiding in Love “Abide” is a word constantly reappearing in John’s writings. He perceived clearly, taught by His Lord, that Christian graces are of little value if they are temporary. What counts in character and achievement must be permanent. “Abide in me, and I in you,” said the Master. Read His last discourse in the upper room (John 14-17), and see how often this thought recurs. 4:15 … “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God.” The false prophets about who John just been writing (1 John 4:1-3) did not so confess; they had the spirit of the antichrist. The deity of Jesus Christ is a foundation doctrine of Christianity, reaching further, deeper, and higher than any other Bible Truth. Until it becomes a vital part of life, one cannot really know what Christianity is and does. Coffman points out that there are two possible meanings of John's words here, and both of them may be correct. 1. John refers to the Christian's confession of faith in Christ, which is, of course, a prominent part of conversion. If this is what was in the apostle's mind, the meaning of it is almost identical with Peter's words on Pentecost (Acts 2:38f), Peter's "gift of the Holy Spirit" meaning exactly the same thing in that passage that John meant by "God abideth in him" here. Obviously, there is no difference in these. 2 If, as Roberts thought, John was speaking of a time in the lives of Christians long after their conversion, then he may be "saying that if this confession can be sincerely repeated by the believer, that God abides in him, and he in God." In either of the above views, it is conversion itself, and primary obedience of the Gospel, to which this verse undoubtedly refers. This fairly sudden mention by John of initial Christian obedience, after all he has been saying and continues to say about "love," reminds us that: With John, love always includes obedience to all God's commandments; and where obedience is not manifested, love is not. Even with God, love was not mere sympathy, but sending his Son to be the propitiation. (Hurte)

4:15 … “God abideth in him, and he in God.” Herein is the permanent dwelling with God, to see and know God in Jesus Christ. This is because God has chosen to manifest Himself in Christ, the Savior is God’s mode of approach to men, and if we wish to find God we must seek Him where He is. Note the word “whosoever” – it is all-inclusive. Sinclair points out that “the noble width of this declaration is most remarkable, in opposition to human inventions of narrow and sectarian communions.” 4:16 … “And we know and have believed the love which God hath in us.” Or, “in our case,” as the margin gives it. Knowledge and belief are the two elements in faith. Ours is to be an intelligent religion, and we are always to be able to give a reason for our hope in Christ (1 Pet. 3:15). Regarding the phrase, “Know and have believed the love which God hath in us,” Morris declared, "Believing and knowing the love is certainly a very unusual expression." It is more than likely John's way of referring to us knowing and believing the whole thesis and system of Christianity, which can easily be summed up as "knowing and believing the love of God." What a beautiful way to express it. “This was the blessing, this was the privilege. The infinite misery of the denying world was that it did not know and believe the love that God had to it; that it believed Him to have no love in it; that it refused all communion with love” (Maurice). 4:16 … “God is love.” Again the great assertion of v. 8: love is the essence of God; love is the fullness of God; love is the being and action of God; know love you know Him. 4:16 … “And he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.” A mutual and reciprocal indwelling, as the wave abides in the ocean and the ocean in the wave. God’s love is like His sunlight, diffused throughout the heaven, catching the heights of the hills and crowning them with ruddy gold and clothing them in purple. So it seems to us an easy and a natural thing for God to love some people; outstanding men and women whose goodness might make them dear to Him. But this is not all that the sun does. It climbs higher that it may creep lower – down the hillsides further and further, until it lifts the mists of the valley and covers the meadows with its glory, and kisses the daisy and fills its cup with gold and puts energy and strength into its very heart. God loves the good, the true, the pure, but His love rises higher that it may come down lower; and He loves me – me. I can wrap this love of His about me and claim it all as my own. (Pearse) 4:17 … “Herein is love made perfect with us.” “Herein,” that is, by God’s dwelling with us in love. This loving communion of man with God develops and completes the quality of man’s love, making it more and more like God’s blessed love – a most inspiring and hopeful promise.

4:17 …”That we may have boldness in the day of judgment.” “The confidence which we shall have in that day, and which we have even now by anticipation of that day, is the perfection of our love” (Alford). “Have boldness” “One grand dividend received from a love-oriented and love-motivated life is a dramatic diminution of fear, both with reference to earthly fears and those regarding the ultimate summons of all people to the judgment of God” (Coffman). “In the day of judgment” Like the Lord Jesus, John spoke of only one judgment. There are literally dozens of places in which the New Testament makes reference to the final judgment; and each time, the reference is in the singular: “the day of judgment.” 4:17 … “Because as he is, even so are we in this world.” “Not absolutely, but according to our measure, as men in this world” (Vincent). The more like Christ we become, the less fear we shall have in approaching the final tribunal where Christ Himself is to be our Judge; and the way to become like Christ is to love. “As he is, even so are we” It is Christ whom Christians resemble, and therefore He is the One referred to here. Since all Christians are in the business of being like Christ, to the extent of denying self and seeking total identity with Him "in Christ" and "as Christ." Coffman pointed out that “to the extent that this is achieved, through having love like him, it becomes also a pledge of our likeness to him in glory, the same being the firm ground of overcoming fear.” 4:18 … “there is no fear in love.” “Fear, which is essentially self-centered, has no place in love, which in its perfection involves complete self-surrender. The two cannot exist side by side. The presence of fear is a sign that love is not yet perfect” (Brooke). 4:18 … “But perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment.” Fear is punishment in itself and looks forward to punishment in the future; but we fear no punishment from those that we love and who love us. Fear is the deadliest foe of human peace. It has been well said that all unchristian religions are founded on fear, are modes of appeasing the wrath of angry gods and demons. Christianity alone is happily based on the confidence of love. One after another, John presents "all but impossible levels of Christian attainment" (Wilder): 1. The love of all people with a self-sacrificing love like that of Christ; 2. The living of a life free from every sin; 3. Confidence in the hour of the final judgment when people are pleading for the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them; and 4. The banishment of all fear. Notice the last phrase in this verse stated below: “made perfect in love.” Is this not the total God-like perfection enjoined by Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:48? It is not the same thing exhibited by James, as

God's basic requirement of all who would be saved? One may say, “That is impossible for human beings.” Yes, it certainly is; except in the manner revealed in Christ. To those who are "in Christ," abiding in Him, loving Him, following Him, obeying Him to the fullest extent of human ability – shall be given the blessings in view here. Therefore, only "in Christ" may we attain the unattainable. 4:18 … And he that feareth is not made perfect in love.” Therefore, we are to look upon any worry or anxiety or dread as a warning: it demonstrates a lack of love for God, a serious defect in our religious life. To be sure, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Ps. 111:10); but it is only the beginning: assured peace based on the love of the Lord is the end of wisdom. Therefore, Paul wrote to the Christians of Rome, “Ye received not the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). 4:19 … “We love, because he first loved us.” Herein is the humility of Christian love. Let no man have confidence in his own love to God or man, for it is derived and partial; but let him have all confidence in God’s love, which is the perfect source of our imperfect human love. “Ye did not choose me,” said Christ to His closest friends and apostles, including John himself, “but I chose you” (John 15:16). In the words of this verse is the romance (if we may dare to call it so) of the Divine love-tale. Under its influence the face once hard and narrow often becomes radiant and softened; it smiles, or is tearful, in the light of the love of His face who first loved. It is this principle of John which is ever at work in Christian lands. In hospitals it tells us that Christ is ever passing down the wards; that He will have no stinted service; that He must have more for His sick, more devotion, a gentler touch, a finer sympathy; that where His hand has broken and blessed, every particle is a sacred thing, and must be treated reverently. (Alexander) To know that God loves, and to love again – there is a little pocket encyclopedia in two volumes, which contains the melted-down essence of all theology and all morality. . . . So, Augustine’s paradox, rightly understood, is a magnificent truth, ‘Love! and do what you will.’ For then you will be sure to will what God wills, and you ought. (Maclaren) We may say of the full-orbed moon that she shines in soft beauty because she reelects the glory of the far-absent sun. But of the sun we can only say that it shines because it shines. We know of no external sources from which it draws its glory. So it is with the great heart of God. He loves, because He loves – “He first loved us. (Burroughs)

Christ was not crucified in order to persuade God to love people, but because God already loved mankind. God’s love preceding redemption, and existed in His heart even before the world was. One great purpose of the cross was the persuading of people to receive the salvation God so willingly gave. Another important truth is that, "Our love (whether of God or man) is our plain duty, since God first loved us” (Roberts). Coffman pointed out that “the very fact of God's loving sinful and fallen humanity provides a powerful incentive for all perceptive souls to do likewise.” Why does God love us, even in our sinful state? Because we have been designed and created in the image of the Father; and through God's provident mercy, all of the moral and eternal consequences of our sins are potentially removable, through the means God has revealed. Also, the disaster which fell upon humanity was actually brought upon us by the seduction and skillful cunning of our inveterate enemy, Satan. God pitied us because we were so heartlessly betrayed and ruined by the sadistic moral destruction of Adam and Eve’s innocence in Eden; and pity is never very far from love. Should not similar considerations lead us toward loving others? Who like us are victims of sin, yet potential heirs of eternal glory because of the blood of Christ? "Such love flows from the nature of the lover, and not from the worthiness of the one loved" (Morris). Therefore, since the great redemptive purpose of God in Christ is to make His children like Himself, not to love negates our own redemption. "After God's love in giving his Son for us, it would be monstrous not to love" (Plummer).
Footnotes: 1 See One Another in Additional Resources section of 2 For more on propitiation, see God’s Salvation in A Religion Library section of Coffman provides additional considerations: “Although it is true that expiation is a synonym of propitiation, the latter meaning is a little different. This word appears frequently in the Septuagint (LXX). However, in the whole New Testament it is found only here and in 1 John 2:2. The objection to ‘propitiation’ is purely ‘theological.’ It is said to conjure up ideas of vengeful and vindictive pagan deities who had to be ‘appeased’ by offerings and bribes, ideas which, of course, are foreign to any true ideas of God. Nevertheless, despite the scholars' support of their preference with ‘linguistic arguments,’ there is a sense in which the anger and wrath of Almighty God were indeed turned away by the sufferings of Christ. The Greek word to be translated by one of these words (propitiation, or expiation) is [hilasmos], the primary meaning being ‘the removal of wrath.’ It is this element of the meaning which some would like to get rid of. However, there is a divine wrath against every form of sin (Rom. 1:18), and God's forgiveness is not merely the ignoring of this wrath. ‘Expiation’ carries the meaning that Christ's blood indeed procured for people the forgiveness of sins, but it leaves out the connection with God's wrath. Full agreement here is felt with Stott, Morris, and others who preferred ‘propitiation.’ There are implications in the atonement wrought by the death of Christ that are completely beyond any total understanding by finite intelligence. ‘Propitiation’ means the ‘removal of wrath,’ and ‘expiation’ means the ‘removal of guilt’; but in view of the fact of God's wrath being a reality mentioned countless times in the New Testament, it would appear to be far better to retain the word that includes ‘removal of wrath’ in its meaning. The objection that ‘propitiation’ leaves out of view the love of God is not well taken. ‘So far from finding any kind of contrast between love and propitiation, the apostle can convey no idea of love to anyone, except by pointing to the propitiation’ (James Denney, The Death of Christ)”


For more information on how to become a Christian, see God’s Salvation in A Religion Library section of "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Subject: Description of the Ever-living Christ Golden Text: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive forevermore.” (Rev. 1:18) Lesson Plan: Introduction Invocation of Grace from the Triune God (vs. 4-5) An Ascription of Praise to Jesus for His Threefold Blessings (vs. 5, 6) The Assurance of His Coming (vs. 7, 8) The Voice of Jesus (vs. 9-11) The Vision of Jesus the Christ (vs. 12-20) Practical Suggestions Setting of the Lesson: Time: The Book of Revelation was probably written A.D. 95, or 96, at the close of the reign of Domitian. Place: It was written either on the island of Patmos, in the Ægean Sea, where the visions were seen by John; or in the city of Ephesus after John’s return from exile.

Introduction The Book of Revelation

It is mainly prophetic, the exhibition to God’s servants of the things which must shortly begin to come to pass. The practical tendency of the epistles to the seven churches is never lost sight of throughout; so that its object is not only to prophesy of the future, but also by such prophecy to rebuke, exhort, and console the Church of our Lord.1 The book is written with the object of conveying to the church revelations from God respecting certain portions of her course even up to the time of the end. By failing to know and understand the Book of Revelation; if we neglect this book, we will: Miss the blessing promised by Jesus (1:3). [We] will miss an opportunity to learn more about Jesus – Christ is central to every section of the book. [We] will miss the climax of the Bible – The other sixty-five book lead up to this one. [We] will miss instruction that can help [us] make sense of life – though appearances may be to the contrary, God is still in control. [We] will miss encouragement that can help [us] survive times of difficulty – God will make everything come out right. [We] will remain incapable of helping those who are mired in the bogs of wild speculation that abounds today concerning the Book of Revelation. [We] will leave [ourselves] vulnerable to that speculation – speculation that can disrupt the church, speculation that has caused Christians to fall away. (Roper) Palmer said that the Book of Revelation is not only “a hard book to understand; it is also a hard book to put down.” It can richly bless our lives if we are willing to put forth the effort to understand it; but it does not surrender its treasures easily. Four schools of interpreters 1. The Preterists – those who hold that the whole, or by far the greater part, of the prophecy has been fulfilled. 2. The Historical – those who hold that the prophecy embraces the whole history of the church and its foes, from the time of its writing to the end of the world. 3. The Futurists – those who maintain that the prophecy relates entirely to events that are to take place at or near the coming of the Lord. “To me it seems indisputable, that the book does speak of things past, present, and future; that some of its prophecies are already fulfilled, some are now fulfilling, and others await their fulfillment in the yet unknown future” (Alford). 4. The Pictorial Unfolding – those who view the Apocalypse as the pictorial unfolding of great principles in constant conflict, though under various forms. The Preterist may, then, be right in finding early fulfillments, and the Futurist in expecting undeveloped ones, and the Historical Interpreter is unquestionably right in looking for them along the whole line of history; for the words of God mean more than one man, or one school of thought, can compass. The visions of the book find counterparts in the occurrences of human history; they have had these, and they yet will have these fulfillments; and these fulfillments belong neither wholly to the past, nor wholly to the future; the prophecies of God are written in a language that can be read by

more than one generation; what was read here helped the early Christian to whom imperial Rome was the great Babylon of the world, to whom the emperor may have seemed as a wild beast, savage and relentless, rising out of the tumults of peoples and nations, fickle and ruthless as the sea. No less have the visions of this book consoled the metropolis of worldliness when “The Prince of the New Pharisees” was seated in Peter’s chair, and when out of a professedly Christianized society had arisen a power aspiring to some religious culture, but fierce, wild, and wanton as the wild beast of ancient days. Jerusalem stands as the type of the good cause, Babylon as the type of the metropolis of the world-power; Jerusalem is thus the Church of Christ (this symbolism is in complete harmony with Paul and other apostolic writers.2 Babylon is the emblem of Pagan Rome, but not only of Pagan Rome, for the Babylon type remains to this day; there are inspiring powers on the side of the heavenly Jerusalem; God is with her; she shall not be moved; the metropolis of evil has the assistance of evil powers; the dragon, the wild beast, and the false prophet are for a time with her. This principle of interpretation (Pictorial Unfolding) is illustrated by the coming of the Lord. There are many comings of Christ. Christ came in the flesh as a mediatorial presence; Christ came at the destruction of Jerusalem; Christ came a spiritual presence, when the Holy Spirit was given. Christ comes now in every signal manifestation of redeeming power. Any great reformation of morals and religion is a coming of Christ. It is thus that the sacred writers speak as of Christ’s coming always at hand: Lord speaks, “I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” Thus, viewed from one aspect, the “coming of Christ” has various applications; but viewed from another aspect, it will be seen to be a phrase expressive of a simple thought, and free from all perplexing ambiguity. The coming of Christ, viewed from the Divine side, is as a single act, in which all subordinate applications are included, and will be seen to have been earnests of the fullness of His coming. Illustration The interpreters are as men who stand on a plain to watch the sunrise. When the first veil of night is withdrawn, and the starlight is somewhat paled, the more ardent will cry, “The dawn,” but the rest answer, “Not yet.” Then, when the mountain-peaks begin to flame, another will cry, “The dawn,” and the rest will still reply, “Not yet.” And when the landscape around catches its true colors, another will cry, “The dawn,” but only when the great and glorious orb leaps into view will all be one in crying, “The dawn,” “The dawn!” So is the coming of Christ. Some look upon the faint lightening in the moral atmosphere, and say, “Christ comes.” Others look to the reflected lights of truth proclaimed in the high places of the world, and say, “Christ comes.” Others look to the general diffusion of knowledge, and say, “Christ comes.” They are right, and they are wrong; right, for it is indeed Christ who is enlightening the world; they are wrong, because there is a coming greater than these, when He will in fuller manifestation of Himself, tabernacle with His people as their everlasting Light (Carpenter). Roper suggests two other approaches of interpretations: The Symbolic Approach (speaks symbolically about the conflict between good and evil in every age, in

which good will ultimately triumph); and The “Select-Wisely” Approach (each basic approach has its strengths and weaknesses). Design In other respects opinions vary; but in one respect there is agreement: the Revelation aims at assuring the church of the advent of her Lord; it is the book of the Coming One. Most every school of interpretation admits this. It is to encourage and strengthen the church during the period which was to elapse between the close of direct revelation and the second coming of her Lord. That period had been described by Jesus Himself, especially in His last discourses, as one of great difficulty and trial to His people. They would have to contend both with outward persecution and with inward degeneracy and apostasy. Men’s hearts would faint for fear, and for expectation of the things that were coming on the earth. The very powers of heaven would be shaken. The Book of Revelation, then, was designed to cheer and animate the church through these days of darkness, and to point out to her more clearly than had yet been done, the nature of the position she was to maintain, of the contest she was to wage, of the sufferings she was to endure, of the triumphs she was to win, and of the glorious inheritance that she was to be bestowed on her at the last. It was to let her know that she had not been launched upon an ocean of unanticipated trials, but that “all had been foreseen by her Divine and watchful Guardian, and that she might rest in the assurance that, followed by the eye of Him who holdeth the winds in the hollow of His hand, she would in due time be brought into her desired haven” (Milligan).

Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:4-5 (KJV) Invocation of Grace from the Triune God 1:4 … “John to the seven churches which are in Asia.” The seven named in v. 11. Asia was not the continent Asia, nor all of Asia Minor, but the Roman province at the western extremity of what is now known as Asia Minor. Of this province Ephesus was the capital, and few early traditions of the Church seem more worthy of reliance than those which inform us that at Ephesus, John spent the latter years of his life. “The churches of that neighborhood would naturally be of interest to him, and he would be more intimately acquainted with their condition than with that of others” (Milligan). These were not all the churches in Asia Minor, but seven leading churches, as the number symbolizing completeness, were chosen to symbolize the whole church of our Lord, but without at all suppressing their historical reality. 1:4 … “Grace be unto you [God’s favor and love, and all the blessings which flow therefrom], and peace [the perfect peace of God which passeth all understanding, unmarred by sin, doubt, or fear], from him which is, and which was, and which is to come.” That is, the eternal, self-existing, unchangeable Father. Randell states: “The Greek words from which this is translated are

literally, The BEING and the WAS and the COMING.” In English this is not grammatical, nor is it grammatical in the Greek; but "[This is] a deliberate violation of grammar to preserve the immutability and absoluteness of the divine name" (Moffatt). There are several examples of such awkward grammar in this prophecy; but "[They] are not due to ignorance of Greek construction, as shown by the predominantly correct uses in the book" (Beckwith). Coffman points out that “this title of God is essentially that of Exodus 3:14, ‘I AM who I AM.’ Christ also used this title of Himself in Mark 6:50; Mark 13:6; Mark 14:62; John 6:35; John 8:12; John 10:7; John 11:25 and John 14:6.” 1:4 … “And from the seven Spirits which are before [in the presence of] his throne.” Isaiah 11:2 has this: “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Coffman points out that “there are seven titles of the Holy Spirit in this passage from Isaiah, and from very early times this reference in Revelation has been associated with it.” “It denotes the Holy Spirit in the plenitude of his grace and power" (Bruce). The reason for this interpretation: "It is used in the salutation in direct association with God and Christ, and a blessing is invoked from the three" (Hinds). The Holy Spirit3 in His sevenfold (i.e., perfect, complete, universal) energy, corresponding to the seven churches – sevenfold in His operations; that doth his sevenfold gifts impart. He is regarded here not so much in His personal unity as in His manifold energies; just as light, being one, does yet in the prism separate itself into its seven colors; for “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:4). The manifold gifts, operations, energies of the Holy Spirit are here represented under the number seven, being, as it is, the number of completeness in the church. (Butler) 1:5 … “And from Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness. There is a powerful New Testament emphasis on the faith of Jesus Christ,4 as in Paul's writings, especially in Galatians 2:16, 20; 3:22; Romans 3:22, 26; Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:9; etc. Coffman points out that “there is a false impression that since Christ was deity incarnate He did not need to have faith; but in our Lord's humiliation as a man, faith in the Father was His predominate characteristic. All hope of salvation rests ultimately in the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the faithful witness in the sense of delivering accurately to mankind the word and the commandment which the Father gave Him on behalf of humanity.” 1:5 … “The faithful witness.” (1) Because all things that He heard of the Father, He faithfully made known to His disciples. (2) Because He taught the way of God in truth and regarded the persons of men. (3) Because the truth that He taught in words, He confirmed by miracles. (4) Because He will give true testimony of the works of good and bad at the Day of Judgment. 1:5 … “Firstbegotten [first born] of the dead.” The New Testament records the resurrection of Dorcas, the daughter of Jairus, Eutychus, the widow's son at

Nain, and that of Lazarus in addition to the resurrection of Christ. In addition, there were "many of the saints" who came out of their graves following the resurrection of Christ (seven resurrections). In what sense, then, is Christ the firstborn from the dead? He alone came back from death never to die again; and besides this, there is the inherent significance of His being the first of many to triumph over death. "The language implies the future resurrection of the saints" (Beckwith). Christ was the first fruits and proof of that glorious promise of resurrection that will be fulfilled in all His true disciples. 1:5 … “And the prince of the kings of the earth.”5 That which the tempter held forth to Jesus (Matt. 4:8) on condition of worshipping him, He has now attained by way of His humiliation unto death; viz., victory over the world (John 16:33). “Above all emperors and kings, above all armies and multitudes, He thought of the crucified as ruling and directing the course of history, and certain in His own due time to manifest His sovereignty” (Plumpte). “What are we to see in the simple Anno Domini of our dates and superscriptions, but that for some reason the great world-history has been bending itself to the lowly person of Jesus” (Bushnell).

Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:5, 6 (KJV) An Ascription of Praise to Jesus for His Threefold Blessings 1: 5 … “Unto him that loved us, and washed [loosed] us from our sins in his own blood” He proved that love by coming from heaven to teach and to save us, and by giving His life for us that we might have eternal life. Coffman points out that the past tense “washed” (loosed), shows that the redemption mentioned is a past accomplishment, stating: Since it is an undeniable truth that Christ keeps on saving the saved until at last they are saved eternally in heaven, it is evident that the initial salvation in conversion is the redemption that John had in view here; therefore, the KJV rendition of this as ‘washed us’ is correct. On what the scholars consider sufficient textual evidence, this was changed to “loosed us” in subsequent versions. The Greek words for these two expressions are almost identical in appearance; and, furthermore, it is immaterial exactly which is the original reading. Hinds said: “Both words state true fact. That Christ washes us and cleanses us, through the merits of His blood is unquestionably true, as stated in Revelation 7:14. But by Christ's blood we are loosed from our sins also.” The passage in Revelation 7:14, as well as the overtones of the whole context, incline us to accept the following: "The general tone of thought would lead us to prefer ‘washed’ as the true reading" (Carpenter).

1:6 … “And hath made us kings.” The R. V. has it, “He made us to be a kingdom.” However, as Coffman points out, “the first step in understanding this passage is to get rid of the two verbs in the future tense that have been added to the passage by translators.” There is a world of difference in the statements, "God made us a kingdom" and "God made us to be a kingdom." John was not writing about what Christians were to be, but what they already were. Beckwith, like many others, applied these words to the future, saying that, "The reference is not to the saints as forming the kingdom which Christ now rules." The teaching of the entire New Testament makes it absolutely certain that Christians are now in Christ's kingdom (Col. 1:13), the precise terminology of this verse being found in Paul's words there. This passage reflects Exodus 19:6, where it is revealed that God's purpose for Israel was that, "Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests." 1 Peter 2:9 is also parallel to this. Therefore, our text means that, "Christ has made us a kingdom, each member of which is a priest unto god" (Charles). As Earle said, "This is not only a great privilege, but a great responsibility." All the members of Christ's kingdom, which as far as we are concerned is synonymous with His church, should be constantly engaged in offering up the spiritual sacrifices appropriate for a kingdom of priests. Christians and kings Not unto themselves, but unto God. 1. They are made kings over the earth; the best this world can give ministers to God’s people. 2. The principles and hopes of the Christian shall prevail in the earth. 3. They are kings over all forces and powers; everything shall be made subservient to the cause they love. 4. They are kings, in the sense of leaders and examples. 5. As in all true kingship they are kings not to be ministered unto, but to minister, to serve men, and help men, not to rule over men for their own advantage. 1:6 … “And priests.” (1) As teachers of Divine truth to men; (2) to sacrifice for men; (3) to lead men to God; (4) to be helpers, especially of the poor, the sick, the needy. 1:6 … “To him [who has done all these things for us] be glory [the honor, the reverence due His name, for He is the source of all this good] and dominion.” John here breaks into a noble doxology, using words which imply the present and eternal dominion of the Son of God. The New Testament doxologies invariably ascribe God’s power, honor, and glory to His Son, Jesus Christ (See Rev. 5:12, 13; 7:10; 2 Tim. 4:18; Heb. 13:21; 1 Pet. 4:11; 2 Pet. 3:18; and Jude 1:24).

Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:7, 8 (KJV)

The Assurance of His Coming This is the topic-sentence of Revelation [v. 7], a great deal of which relates to the final judgment, an event mentioned at least seven times in the prophecy; and these are not seven different kinds or occasions of judgment, there being only one judgment day, the final and awesome event that shall conclude the dispensation of grace, see the resurrection of the dead and the assignment of every man's destiny, and bring the redeemed into their eternal habitations. It will occur at the Second Advent of Jesus Christ our Lord. (Coffman) 1:7 … “Behold, he cometh with clouds.” These words apply to the Second Advent, as in Matthew 24:30; Mark 14:62; Acts 1:9-11; and Mark 13:24. “He” is the Savior spoken of in the last verses. His coming is certain. The clouds (Mark 14:62) refer either to symbols of majesty, reflecting God’s glory and hiding His power, or clouds of attendants. “The clouds are the emblem of the saints of the Church, which is His body, who spread as a vast fertilizing cloud over the whole world” (Augustine). 1:7 … “And every eye shall see him [His coming will not be in a corner, but manifest to all men], and they also which pierced him.” The very ones who crucified Him, as well as all opposers who have crucified Him afresh in the persons of His disciples, and all sinners whose sins pierce His heart. Coffman offers the following two striking paragraphs on this verse: There is no connection between this and the passage in Zechariah, except that the terminology is similar, the great difference being that in the Old Testament their looking upon the one who was pierced, and mourning, was grief for the pierced one, not grief for themselves, as is clearly indicated here and in Matthew 24:30, which words John probably had in mind when this was written. To understand exactly the object of the mourning here, one should read Revelation 6:15-17. See Zechariah 12:10 through 13:1. The atheist will suddenly know that God is a reality. The proud, the arrogant, the thoughtless, the sensualist, the materialist, and all who have lived as if there were no God shall be summoned to a judgment which they have never allowed as even possible. The mourning of people in that circumstance will surpass any possible description of it. And the mourning will not be "over Christ" in the sense of their grieving for what was done nearly two thousand years ago TO HIM (how could people even imagine such an interpretation?). No, their grief will be for themselves. The Second Advent will be bad news indeed to the vast majority of mankind. 1:7 … “And all kindreds of the earth [of the earth as opposed to heaven, as the scene of worldliness and evil] shall wail because of him.” Why? Because of the way they treated Him, because they are defeated and overthrown, and will be punished for their sins.

1:7 … “Even so [the testimony of the Lord], Amen.” The answer of believers; all approve of the coming of Jesus to overthrow His adversaries and to complete His triumph. This conclusion is strengthened by the words of the eighth verse, in which the emphasis lies on “the Almighty,” thus bringing into prominence that allpowerful might in which Jesus goes forth to be victorious over His enemies (Schaff). 1:8 … “I am [i.e., Jesus, the Son of God, as asserted in vs. 11-13] Alpha and Omega.” The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet; here used figuratively to stand for the entirety of anything. Such a comparison seems to have existed for ages. The Hebrews said of Abraham that, "he kept the law from Aleph to Tav” (first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet). Plummer pointed out that the use of this figure is progressively expanded in Revelation, i.e., Alpha and Omega (1:8); The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (21:6); The Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end (22:13).

1:8 … “The beginning and the ending.” (omitted in the R.V.) Jesus is before all things, and the origin of all things (John 1:1-3), and all things even to the end are controlled by Him, and will work out His will. He always has existed, and always will exist. 1:8 … “Saith the Lord.” Jesus. Some authorities add God. But the two words Lord God are not to be read together, but God is another description of Jesus. He is Alpha and Omega. He is God. 1:8 … “Which is, and which was, and which is to come [that is, eternal, selfexisting], the Almighty.” The title of God applied to Jesus. Scholars make a big point out of this word's being one of the "the Septuagint's renditions of Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts" (Caird), but there is no reason for not applying it also to Christ who was prophetically designated as "The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father" (Is. 9:6). That this is indeed a proper and appropriate title of Jesus Christ will vividly appear in subsequent chapters of this magnificent prophecy. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is often referred to as God. Furthermore, He Himself used the Old Testament "I AM" no less than eight times. Also, of those eight New Testament usages of the "I AM" title for Jesus Christ, five of them are in the Gospel of John; and the appearance of two more such usages here in the first chapter of Revelation emphasizes the close correspondence between it and the other Johannine6 works. The same mind lies behind all of them. (Coffman)

Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:9-11 (KJV) The Voice of Jesus 1:9 … “Companion [fellow-partaker] in tribulation.” A word derived from the threshing of wheat – hard blows of sorrow and persecution to separate the chaff from the wheat. John was at this time an exile for Jesus’ sake, and had all the reasons other persecuted Christians had for being discouraged. 1:9 … “And in the kingdom.” He was a member of the kingdom of God, now seemingly at the mercy of its enemies, but in time to triumph. “These are a present experience and possession” (Beasley-Murray) of John and his readers. “We (Christians) are the kingdom, in it, partakers of it, lifted to royalty in it!” (Lenski). “All theories that deny the present existence of the kingdom of Christ are contrary to the New Testament” (Coffman). 1:9 … “And patience [patient endurance, and waiting for the brighter day to dawn] of Jesus Christ [it was a patience which draws its life and energy of endurance from Him], was in the isle that is called Patmos.” Patmos “is an island of the Dodecanese group, Greece, in the Aegean sea about 28 miles south-southwest of Samos (37 degrees 20 minutes north latitude and 26 degrees 35 minutes east longitude). It is volcanic, bare and rocky, rising to an altitude of 800 feet with a deeply indented coast" (Encyclopedia Britannica). The recorded population of Patmos in 1951 was 2,613; but in John's day it is thought to have been a rock quarry, used as a place of banishment for certain types of offenders. In ancient days it was called Sporades. It is now called Patino or Patmosa. It is some six or eight miles in length, and not more than a mile in breadth, being about fifteen miles in circumference. It has neither trees nor rivers; nor does it have any land for cultivation, except some little nooks among the ledges of rocks. Though Patmos is deficient in trees, it abounds in flowery plants and shrubs. About half way up the mountain there is shown a natural grotto in a rock, where John is said to have seen his visions and to have written his book (Kitto’s Cyclopedia). Banished to Patmos? Regarding the theory that John was banished to Patmos by Domitian, emperor of Rome, the New Testament offers no hint of any such thing. However, the mention of tribulation in the same verse at least does not oppose the tradition. “If indeed John was an exile, it would be in keeping with the experience of some of God's other great prophets” (Coffman). When Jacob saw God at Bethel, when Moses saw God in the burning bush, when Elijah heard the still small voice, when Ezekiel saw the glory of the Lord by the river Chebar, and when Daniel saw the ancient of days in Babylon, all of them were exiles. Some scholars believe that John was not an exile, but that his reason for being in Patmos was no other than to receive the Revelation. Biblically, there is no way to be certain.

1:9 … “For the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” As we have seen, some believe the theory that because John was faithful in obeying and teaching the Word of God and testifying about Jesus, he was banished to Patmos. Coffman points out that the language here could mean one of three things: (1) that he was in Patmos to preach the Gospel; (2) that he was there for the purpose of receiving the Revelation; or (3) he had been banished to Patmos as punishment for his loyalty in proclaiming the Word of the Lord. There is no way to know exactly which understanding of the words is correct. 1:10 … “I was in the Spirit.” Alford pointed out that this means John was “in a state of spiritual ecstasy or trance, becoming thereby receptive of the vision or revelation to follow.” Compare Acts 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4. “Connection with surrounding objects through the senses is suspended and a connection with the invisible world takes place” (Ebrard). “Ecstasy or spiritual rapture was the supreme characteristic of prophets” (Exp. Gk. Test.). However, little is known about being "in the Spirit." Evidently, all of the Scripture writers were in such a state when receiving their Divine revelation. Jesus said of David, "How then doth David in the Spirit call him Lord?" (Matt. 22:43). 1:10 … “On the Lord’s day.” This is the only place in the New Testament where this expression is found and, as Randell pointed out, “beyond all reasonable doubt it means on Sunday.” Here, "Lord’s day" is a similar construction to "Lord's supper" (1 Cor. 11:20). Earle pointed out that "it means ‘belonging to the Lord,’ or ‘consecrated to the Lord.’” Coffman states that “it is preposterous to suppose that ‘the Lord’s day’ is a reference to the Jewish Sabbath.” Jesus spent the entire twenty-four hours of Saturday in the tomb. On the other hand, Sunday was the day Jesus rose from the dead, the very same day the apostles met Him in the upper room, and a week later, on another Sunday, the Lord again appeared to His assembled apostles. The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost Sunday; it was the day the disciples came together to break bread (Acts 20:7); it was the day the collection was taken up (1 Cor. 16:2); and Coffman goes on to say that Added to all this, the invariable Christian tradition of more than nineteen centuries makes Sunday the day of Christian assemblies, a custom still observed all over the world. ‘The Lord’s day’ is thus an exceedingly appropriate title for the day. 1:10 … “A great voice, as of a trumpet.” Loud, clear, distinct. "This voice was presumably that of the Son of man" (Beasley-Murray). Finis Jennings Dake counted over sixty usages of the word "great" in the Book of Revelation. However, Bruce expressed unbelief that the great trumpet-like voice mentioned here was that of the Lord, basing his opinion on the fact that the Lord's voice is said to be like the sound of many waters (Rev. 1:15). He viewed it as a heraldlike prelude to the appearance of the Great Conqueror. 1:11 … “I am Alpha and Omega.” As in v. 8. Note: Am. R. omits this phrase. 1:11 … “What thou seest, write in a book.” A parchment roll.

1:11 … “The seven churches which are in Asia.” See under v. 4. These seven churches were leading churches in the vicinity of Ephesus, John’s home. Beasley-Murray wrote: "It is difficult not to feel that seven churches are chosen because of the sacred nature of that number." There is a sense in which the seven here selected represent a diversity of conditions prevailing in congregations throughout history. While we do not hold to the view that these seven churches stand for seven successive periods of the history of the church throughout the current dispensation; still, it is true that in any given age there may be congregations exhibiting the same characteristics as those found in any one, or all of the seven churches mentioned here. This very day, there are "Philadelphia churches," and "Laodicean churches," and even "Sardis churches." All seven churches lay relatively close to each other in western Asia Minor; and have the same sequence in Revelation that would normally be followed by a person visiting all seven. (Coffman)

Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:12-20 (KJV) The Vision of Jesus the Christ 1:12 … “And I turned to see the voice.” “The voice” is used to signify the person speaking. As in Genesis 3:8, the voice is put for the speaker. “One of the big things in Revelation is the voice so frequently mentioned. The voice from heaven is one of the principal focal points in the whole book” (Coffman). 1:12 … “I saw seven golden candlesticks.” “Lamp-stands,” each one with a separate lamp, or the candlesticks may be each like the seven branched candlesticks of the Temple; made of gold tried in the fire, beautiful, pure, and precious.

It is the providence of the church of our Lord to give light, as a lighthouse, sending far and wide the light of truth, the light of good works, of all the fruits of the spirit. The light is kindled by the Holy Spirit. “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). These typified the seven churches already mentioned, and are not joined in one corporate unity, as with the above Jewish candlestick, familiar to many as depicted on the above Arch of Titus (see v. 20). Consider Caird’s perception of this: Once again John is asserting that the church is the new Israel, the true people of God, but with this difference: whereas Israel was represented by a single candelabra with seven lamps, the churches are represented by seven separate standing lamps; for, according to the teaching of the New Testament, each local congregation of Christians is the church universal in all its fullness. The candlestick is not light, but the bearer of light, holding it forth to give light around. The light is the Lord’s, not the Church’s; from Him she receives it. “Golden” symbolizes at once the greatest preciousness and sacredness. The vision of the glorified Jesus In studying this vision let us keep in mind the face, emphasized by Moulton, that the figurative expressions are symbols, and not images. They cannot be presented in pictorial form. Each particular symbol is an echo from the Old Testament, and is, as it were, the text for the presentation of one characteristic, and it is the characteristic, not the symbol, that forms the picture. We have a fine instance in The Song of Solomon where his beloved is described: Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armory; Thine eyes are as the pools in Heshbon which looketh toward Damascus; Thy nose is like the tower of Lebannon; Thy hair is like a flock of goats. No one could make a picture of the Beloved from this description, but the symbols present her in her attractive beauty. 1:13 … “In the midst.” To indicate the perpetual presence of Christ among His churches, with His people. This is one of the truly great messages of the whole prophecy. Christ is with His congregations. He is fulfilling the promise of Matthew 18:20; 20:28. 1:13 … “One like unto the Son of Man.” “One like to a son of man, i.e., one having a human form, like that of man” (Stuart). Am. R., “a son of man.” Like a human being, as Jesus was. “Who is He? He is a Being of surpassing glory, and yet He has “a human air,” He is “one like unto a son of man,” aye, like unto the Son of Man. He is transfigured in

celestial light, as in that great day on the Mount; but the heart which throbs beneath that breast, the spirit which flames from out those eyes, the soul which utters itself in that voice, is the same as in the happy days of long ago. (Gibson) 1:13 … “Clothed with a garment down to the foot.” “A long, full, flowing robe, which was worn by kings, nobles, and priests” (Stuart). “The form of the Son of man is seen arrayed, not as in the days of His ministry, in peasant, but in the long robe reaching to the feet, that had been the special garment of the high priest” (Plumptre). “An Oriental mark of dignity, denoting high rank or office, such as that of Parthian kings” (Exp. Gk. Test.). “The long loose robe worn by the high priest, ‘for glory and beauty,’ belonging to royalty as well as priesthood. See Daniel 10:5” (Tait). Most commentators see these things as symbols of the high priesthood of Jesus Christ; but, as Beckwith said, "That office of his is not mentioned in our book." It seems to us that Christ is here presented as the Judge of all people. Why do we say that? Because the sword in His mouth a moment later in the text is no part of the trappings of a priest. “The garment down to the foot and the golden girdle are marks of rank and dignity” (Coffman). "Neither shows Christ to be represented here in his priestly character, as many commentators interpret” (Beckwith). 1:13 … “Girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” “A golden girdle” worn by priests and kings, and symbol of power, strength, and free activity (Is. 11:5; Eph. 6:14). He is girded with a golden girdle, not as one who toils and runs, around the loins (compare Luke 12:35), but as one who had passed into the repose of sovereignty, around the breast. That the girdle should be of gold, as the symbol of that sovereignty was almost a necessary consequence. “In this combination of the received emblems of the two forms of rule, there was set forth, in its simplest symbolism, the union of the kingly and the priestly offices” (Plumptre). 1:14 … “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow.” Like the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:8; 10:6. This is a symbol of eternal existence, the mighty center of two eternities; the wisdom of age and the purity and splendor of eternal youth. “The whiteness signifies purity and glory” (Alford). White designates pure, white splendor. The purest splendor, like that of the lightning (so it is expressly described in Dan. 10:6), or like that of metals heated to the highest point, is intended by the writer (Stuart). “Like snow in the sunshine. The white head is never in public sentiment other than the venerable sign of ripe knowledge, mature judgment, and solid wisdom, and the authority which they give” (Ellicott). This description of the white hair is a "deliberate reminiscence of Daniel 7:9, where it belongs to the Ancient of Days" (Beasley-Murray). “This application to Jesus Christ of the attributes of deity is a recurring phenomenon in Revelation. There are also a number of other reflections of the Book of Daniel, not only in this passage, but throughout the book” (Coffman). 1:14 … “His eyes were as a flame of fire.” This indicates the omniscience of Christ, the ability to penetrate all disguises and to judge things as they are, not as they might pretend to be. “Light, brilliancy, energy, thrilling power, all combined,

can be set forth by no more pertinent symbol than this – a flame of fire” (Cowles). The words do not say merely that nothing can escape His searching, penetrative glance; they express the indignation of the Holy One at the discoveries of evil; looking into the very souls of men, into the deepest mystery and the most distant future. Nothing escapes these “eyes of fire.” “These eyes of fire do not merely look through the hypocrite and the sinner, but consume him and his sins together – unless he will allow them to consume his sins, so that he may live” (Stone). Coffman points out that “this indicates the omniscience of Christ, the ability to penetrate all disguises and to judge things as they are, not as they might pretend to be.” “Like Homer of Agamemnon in a rage: ‘His eyes were like shining fire’ (Iliad I:104)” [Vincent]. 1:15 … “And his feet like fine brass [polished or burnished brass; which in the furnace has attained what is called white heat], as if they burned [or had been refined] in a furnace.” “These lightning figures represent the feet as moving with inconceivable swiftness” (Fuller). “They indicate the purity and fervor of the Lord’s activities among His people” (Riddle). They symbolize the Lord’s Omnipresence; He is able, against all obstacles, to go wherever He is needed, to overcome all enemies, and bring swift deliverance to His own people. They resemble not only that splendid metal, “but the metal when subjected to a vehement heat, in which case its radiance is greatly increased” (Stuart). “This grand and terrible image reveals to us Christ in His power to tread down His enemies; at once to tread down and consume them” (Trench). The sense is that the feet of Jesus resembled gold-bronze, not as this is when it is cold, but as it appears when it is glowing in the intense heat of a furnace. Where such feet tread they utterly blast and instantly turn to ashes everything they touch, or even approach. (Lenski) “Here again, we have a figure that is utterly incompatible with the priestly function of our blessed Lord. It is in His character as Judge that He appears in this introductory vision and throughout the book of Revelation” (Coffman). 1:15 … “And his voice as the sound of many waters.” “Resounding, powerful, musical, and one that can be heard afar. His voice deep, grand, majestic, as the roar of the sea. It was the voice that woke the dead at the gates of Nain, or brought back Lazarus from his tomb” (Tait). It was the symbol of God’s voice through the Spirit, through providence, through conscience, through His Word – a voice that must be obeyed, even when “he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked” (Is. 11:4). It is a voice manifold as many waters, speaking in many ways. It is far-reaching, heard round the world. It is pleasant and musical to those who desire to obey, but terrible to the obstinately wicked, as the sound of the breakers on a lee shore to a tempest-tossed vessel. From the personal appearance of the Redeemer, the seer now passes to His equipment for His work, and that in three particulars.

1:16 … “And he had in his right hand seven stars.” The stars are explained later in v. 20 as emblems of the angels (the ministers, or representatives) of the seven churches. They are described as stars in His right hand; “they perhaps appeared as a wreath, or as a royal and star-adorned diadem in His hand” (Carpenter). De Wette pointed out that “He appears as their guardian, their provider, their nourisher.” And “we may add, their possessor, who brings them out and puts them forth to be seen when He pleases” (Alford). 1:16 … “Out of his mouth a sharp two-edged sword.” This figure expresses the fact that Christ overcomes the world with His Word, as with a two-edged sword. Christ’s simple Word is intended here; hence “there is also a reference to the power of that Word, in so far as it is contained in the preaching of His servants” (Lange). “By His Word He acts, He creates, He overcomes, and He destroys” (Craven). Its two edges (back and front) may allude to its double efficacy – condemning some, converting others. A sword standing for Divine justice, i.e., Jesus Christ was, and is now, the executor of righteous judgment and justice, presents an unlikely symbol of any priestly function. Coffman points out that the mouth is an “abnormal place from which a sword might appear; the symbolism, therefore, includes the meaning that the Gospel which came from the mouth of Jesus is the two-edged sword.” Why two-edged? "It proclaims grace to those who repent and put their faith in God, with the corollary of judgment upon the impenitent and disobedient" (Bruce). Here is the symbol of the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12). It is the weapon by which sin is to be vanquished, and the world is to be overcome, so that its people shall be transformed into citizens of the kingdom of God. 1:16 … “His countenance as the sun in his strength.” At His brightest and clearest; no veil, no mist, no cloud, obscuring His brightness. “No doubt, if there had been anything brighter than the sun, the seer would have chosen it to set forth the transcendent and intolerable brightness of that countenance which he now beheld” (Trench). It is the luster of holiness and righteousness signified here. In this symbolic mystery, Christ sets forth to all ages the relation that He holds to His church, as one whole, composed of many branches; exhibiting Himself as the source and upholder of its ministry, the source and dispenser of its light; its centrally supreme and governing head, directing its movements in the divinely merciful work of slaying sin, and spreading both the light of truth and the garment of holiness over all the earth. Until finally, what was represented to the lesser Asia by the mystic circle of the seven golden candlesticks, with their accompanying seven shining stars, shall have widened and thrown its circumference around the globe; “becoming the Church of our Lord in all lands, and, with its numberless stellar angels, making universal the light both of the knowledge and the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Stone). Here is a reflection of the imagery of Malachi regarding the “sun of righteousness” that shall rise with healing in his wings. Christ as the light of the world; Christ as the center around which everything else revolves; Christ the Omnipresent One; and Christ the Omnipotent One – all symbolized by this glorious countenance. Martin Kiddle points out that Revelation “conveys a conception of the Messiah which is

unique, for Christ is endowed with a splendor and authority which hitherto had been ascribed only to God." Like the glory seen in the Transfiguration, and by Paul near Damascus. It was the symbol of the glorious nature of our Savior-King, eclipsing all other beings as the sun eclipses the stars; the source of light, beauty, comfort, and power; the victor over the darkness of ignorance and sin, and over the prince of the power of darkness. The overwhelming effect on John 1:17 … “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” From fear and awe. Overcome by the glory of His presence. “The brighter discoveries we have of Christ, the more shall we be humbled in the dust before Him” (Simeon). Being in the Spirit does not supersede existence in the body. Just as dreamers might express their bodily feelings by the physical act of weeping, so might John while in this ecstasy (see Acts 9:3). Coffman points out that “Paul fell at the feet of Jesus revealed to him as a supernatural person (Acts 26:14); and the phenomenon occurs frequently throughout the Bible, especially in connection with receiving visions (See Ezek. 1:28; Dan. 8:17; 10:9; and Matt. 17:6).” 1:17 … “And he laid his right hand upon me.” His all-powerful hand, in which the churches are held (v. 16). 1:17 … “Fear not.” These comforting words represent the character of Jesus to the terrified apostle. Jesus had comforted His apostles with similar words that night as they struggled to navigate Galilee, and the night of his betrayal. He said: "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." This is the message that heaven has often shouted to earth, but we have a perpetual need to hear it. Remember the night the shepherds beheld the angelic band? They spoke of "Good tidings which shall be to all people;" beginning their message with, "Fear not." 1:17 … “I am the first and the last.” The eternal God – that Holy Being who is, was, and forever shall be (see v. 8). The same divine Jesus whom He had known on earth, the One he had seen crucified and risen from the dead. 1:18 … “I am he that liveth.” The living One, possessing absolute life in Himself, an essential attribute of God. This statement is of particular interest because it is a title of God Himself. Undoubtedly, this is the most important title in the verse, because it is as the Living One that Christ holds the keys of death and the grave. Like the Father, Christ possesses life in His nature. "As the Father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son to have life in himself' (John 5:26). 1:18 … “And was dead.” Yet He became man, subject to death, and died as man dies. This shows that it was Jesus the Messiah who was speaking. 1:18 … “And, behold, I am alive for everyone [He is still the eternal God, able to confer life through death on everyone], Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Hell here is not Gehenna, but Hades. “The word Hades signifies

indefinitely the state of separation, whether blessed or accursed; it means only ‘the invisible place,’ whither whoso descends shall be no more seen. Paradisus and ghenna are the distinct states of hades” (Taylor). The keys signify power over. He who holds the key has power to say who shall go in or shall be kept out. 1:19 … “Write the things which thou hast seen.” The vision of Jesus as He is, the messages to the churches, the visions that follow. 1:19 … “And the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter.” The three things John was to write are often thought of as being an outline of Revelation, i.e., things he saw (Rev. 1), things pertaining to Revelation 2 and 3, and things "hereafter," referring to the balance of the prophecy. However, as Smith said, "This classification does not help much in interpretation." Therefore, since the word "hereafter" is used eight other times (Rev. 4:1; 7:1; 7:9; 9:12; 15:5; 18:1; 19:1; 20:3), it is difficult to reconcile its repeated use with the theory that everything in the book was fulfilled "shortly" after it was written. Erdman also strongly objected to the view that this verse gives us a three-fold outline of Revelation. And Caird thought that, "It is better to take the words ‘things which thou hast seen’ to mean the whole of John's vision." We conclude that in each of the cycles covered by the prophecy there are things past, present, and future in all of them. For example, the judgment mentioned no less than seven times, is a future event; though each mention of it comes in a different section of the book. 1:20 … “The mystery of the seven stars.” The hidden sense conveyed by the symbols. The Revelation to them and to us The glorious Savior here revealed is the one comfort and hope of the church all through the ages. In the greatest darkness of persecution, when all things good seem to be going to ruin, here is our star of hope. Amid the worldliness and temptations of the present day, each attribute revealed in the above description brings help and courage and victory. The more the church of our Lord recognizes this being as their Savior, the greater will be its victories. Yes, this Son of man, with eyes like a flame of fire, and a voice like the sound of many waters, and His face like the sun shining in His strength, is the very same at heart – as tender, as gentle, as compassionate – as in the old days when, with eyes like ours, and a voice like ours, and a face like ours, He went in and out among the people, and ate with publicans and sinners, and poured out His soul unto death upon the cruel cross. (Gibson) 1:20 … “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” Some desire to identify these "angels" of the seven churches as a ruling bishop, the pastor, the chief elder, or other human representative of the church. However, not everyone agrees: “Whatever may be the exact conception, ‘the angel’ is identified with and made responsible for the church to a degree wholly unsuited to any human officer . . . he is punished with it; he is rewarded with it” (Plummer). Coffman, Erdman, Earle, Plummer, and many other scholars have understood

the angel to be a personification of the church itself; but two of the best explanations we have thus far uncovered are: The angels are the symbolical representatives of the churches . . . in toto. The angels then are all those members of the church who are actively engaged in carrying out God's commands . . . in any or all congregations throughout the world. Christ holds them in the hollow of His hand and gives them the strength and protection that only He can give. (Banowsky) In spite of the seven letters being directed in each case to “the angel” of the church, it is not an angel, but the church itself which is addressed. “Hear what the Spirit saith to the churches” is the injunction repeated no less than seven times, applying in each case to the message that was written to “the angel” of the various churches. It is clearly the members of the church who are addressed; hence, the conclusion must be that in some kind of metaphorical language, the members are individually represented under the figure of an angel – that is a star, in Christ's right hand. The consideration should also be noted that, if any such thing as a metropolitan "bishop" had been intended by this, there can be no doubt whatever that the primitive church would have preserved this title for “bishop." (Coffman) 1:20 … “The seven candlesticks which thou sawest are seven churches.” We have already noted (v. 12) that in the vision these churches are not joined in one corporate unity, as with the Jewish candlestick, familiar to many as depicted on the Arch of Titus. No; they were separate and independent, indicating the autonomy and completeness of each local unit of the church. Compare this with the words of Jesus who warned that a person's religious and spiritual life should not be hidden under a bushel, under a bed, or under a vessel; but that it should be put "on a stand!" (Luke 8:16, and parallel verses). Coffman points out that “the application is that a truly spiritual life is always identified with the local congregation of the Lord's people.” Beckwith concluded that both the lampstand and the angels represent the churches, and stated: "The lampstand represents the outward organic life of the church; the star symbolizes the angel which is the invisible spiritual life of the congregation." It is characteristic of Revelation that even after it has been "explained," the mystery and uncertainty often remain. Therefore, we openly admit that the interpretation offered herein concerning the "angels" of the churches leaves many unanswered questions, even after the heavenly voice has told us what the stars in Jesus' hand represent. However, seriously studying this helps each of us to better realize the presence of Jesus, as Leader, Savior and King. He is not a mere vision, but a living reality unveiled from the unseen. He is a living Fact, One each of us can love as we would an absent friend, with whom we are in constant communication.

Practical Suggestions

1. vs. 4, 5: The one God is represented in His triune nature, that we may more fully comprehend His manifold nature and relations to us. 2. vs. 4-8: Our Savior Jesus Christ, because He is both God and man, is the revealer of God’s truth, the Lover of our souls, the Redeemer from sin, the proof of the resurrection and the life, the Prince over all world powers, the eternal and almighty God – just the Savior we need. 3. There He is coming in glory, and the triumph of His kingdom is sure. 4. All Christians are made kings and priests, and should walk worthy of the vocation wherewith they are called. 5. v. 10: We should all be in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and then the Lord will speak to us. 6. v. 12: The various congregations of the church of our Lord are the precious light-bearers of Christ, so that Christ’s life, doctrines, love and power shall shine from them upon the world. 7. v. 13: Jesus dwells among the churches – “Lo, I am with you always.” 8. Christ keeps His human feelings and sympathies even in heaven, on the throne. He is still the Son of man, to help, reprove, comfort, and save; as well as God, able to give all good things to His people. 9. vs. 14-20: In Jesus are all the qualities and powers needful to give the victory to His people over all enemies. 10. v. 16: God’s ministers are like stars held in the hand of God; shining by His light, examples and guides to the flock, controlled and guided by God, and kept by the right hand of His power.
Footnotes: 1 For more information on the church, see God’s Church in A Religion Library section of 2 Compare Galatians 4:24-31; Hebrews 12 22, 23. 3 For more information on the Holy Spirit, see God the Spirit in A Religion Library section of 4 By understanding Paul’s long sentence in Romans 3:21-26, we understand the Gospel, all of Romans and the Bible. The 1885 English Revised Version changed “the faith of Christ” to “faith in Christ” in Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16, 2:20, 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; and Philippians 3:9. In his book, “Commentaries on the Old and New Testament,” James Burton Coffman concludes that the KJV is a correct translation of all these verses, a fact confirmed by the total agreement of the Emphatic Diaglott in each case. James Macknight, Adam Clarke, as well as other older commentators, also agree with the KJV translation of these verses – “the faith of Christ,” like the “faith of Abraham” in Romans 4:16. We asked a full-time minister serving a large church, about whether he believed that to be saved one had to believe in the “faith of Jesus Christ” to which he wrote: “God provides righteousness to those who believe. If through the faith of Jesus – everybody would be saved.” We asked the same question to a university Bible professor, who expressed a view of modern translations held by many today. He wrote: “Both ideas . . . are biblical . . .” However, we also presented the question to an elder of the church, who wrote: “The believer’s faith causes him to respond to that perfect justification which is and was brought by Christ in His obedience to God’s will of offering His son as the perfect atonement for all mankind (sins).” We concur with the elder and older commentators, as well as Coffman, whose commentary on this verse is a scathing rebuke of many modern-day professors and preachers. Coffman points out that we should stay with the KJV in this verse, because changing it represents the same tampering with the Word of God which resulted in the monstrosity of changing “the righteousness of God” to “a righteousness” (Rom. 3:21 & Rom. 1:17). He writes: “the true Scriptural justification by faith has absolutely no reference to the faith of stinking sinners, but to the faith of the Son of God. The only end

served by this change was to bolster the faith only theory of justification.” He further writes: “the true grounds of justification cannot ever be in a million years the faith of fallible, sinful people, would appear to be axiomatic. How could it be? The very notion that God could impute justification to an evil man, merely upon the basis of anything that such a foul soul might either believe or do, is a delusion. Justification in any true sense requires that the justified be accounted as righteous and undeserving of any penalty whatever; and no man’s faith is sufficient grounds for such an imputation. On the other hand, the faith of Jesus Christ is a legitimate ground of justification, because Christ's faith was perfect.” In the absolute sense, only Christ is faithful – “Faithful is he that calleth you” (1 Thess. 5:24). Only He is called “the faithful and true witness” (Rev. 3:14). The faith of Christ was also obedient; a perfect and complete obedience, lacking nothing. Therefore, we conclude that the sinless, holy, obedient faith of the Son of God is the only ground of justification of a human being – Christ only is righteously justified in God’s sight. How then are we saved? We are saved “in Christ,” having been incorporated into Him – justified as a part of Him. Our study prompts agreement with Coffman’s conclusion that faith is not the ground of our justification; it is not the righteousness which makes us righteous before God. The “faith of the Son of God” is the only basis for our justification, and that faith is definitely included in the “righteousness of God” mentioned in this verse. Even the righteousness of God through faith of Jesus Christ shows the principal constituent of God’s righteousness. In conclusion, God’s righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus Christ – His absolute, intrinsic, unalloyed righteousness – implicit in His perfect faith (mentioned here) and His perfect obedience (implied). The contrary notion that God’s righteousness is some imputation accomplished by the sinner's faith is unfounded. Any righteousness that could commend itself to the Father and become the ground of anything truly worthwhile would, by definition, have to be a true and genuine righteousness. That righteousness was provided by the sinless life of the Christ, summarized in this verse as “through faith of Jesus Christ,” the idea being much clearer in the KJV, “The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ.” We concur with Coffman on this subject, including his final conclusion, “. . . the word believe in this verse refers to sinners’ faith (believer’s faith) which is no part of God’s righteousness at all, but, like baptism, is but a mere condition of salvation – being neither more nor less important than baptism.” 5 Christ is here spoken of as the possessor of all power and authority, fully in keeping with the Savior’s words, "All authority in heaven and upon earth has been given unto me" (Matt. 28:18). This authority belongs to Christ now and in perpetually. He is not planning to start ruling at some future time; He rules now! A great deal of the misunderstanding of this prophecy derives from a failure to take account of this tremendous truth. Some have difficulty believing that Christ rules now; because, as they say, the world is in such a dreadful mess. However, the world was in a dreadful condition in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, who had to eat grass with the beasts of the field for seven years to learn that "The Most High rules in the kingdom of men" (Dan. 4:25). As for the reason why God's rule permits such atrocious wickedness on earth, it is clear enough that God permits it because it is in keeping with His purpose. Serious students of the Lord's Word will find it difficult to accept a declaration like the one offered by Lindsey: "Even though Christ has the right to rule the earth, he isn't exercising this authority over kings and kingdoms at this time" (Hal Lindsey, There's a New World Coming). If Christ is not exercising His authority, then how can the church receive His promise of being with us "even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:18-20)? Yes, despite the inability of some to see and recognize it, Christ is ruling now and will continue to rule until the last enemy is destroyed (1 Cor. 15:25). 6 See Johannine Studies in Biblical Research of A Religion Library section; and Expository Study of John’s Gospel in Additional Resources section of "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ..."(Col. 3:17)

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Golden Text: “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever.” (Rev. 5:13) Lesson Plan: Introduction Vision of the Opened Heavens Vision of the Book with Seven Seals (vs. 1-4) The Lion of the Tribe of Judah (vs. 5-7) The New Song (vs. 8-10) The Worshippers (vs. 11-14) Practical Suggestions Setting of the Lesson: Time: The Book of Revelation was probably written A.D. 95 or 96, at the close of the reign of Domitian. Place: It was written either on the island of Patmos, in the Ægean Sea, where the visions were seen by John; or in the city of Ephesus after John’s return from exile.

Introduction Chapters 2 and 3 give the message of warning and encouragement to each of the seven churches, and through them to all congregations of the church.1 With chapter 4 begin the series of visions that fill most of the book. Chapters 4 and 5 are introductory to the great conflict of the church that begins with chapter 6. They are pictures of the glory of the heavenly guardians of the church, as they preside over her destinies, and the church herself, as in their strength, triumphs over all her foes. In short, having introduced the church to us in chapters 2 and 3, and having placed her on the field of actual history, the Seer would now give a representation of the victorious progress that awaits her in the conflict immediately to follow. (Schaff) Coffman pointed out that “chapter 5 is a continuation of the throne of God scene in chapter 4: the same throne, the same living creatures, the same angels, the

same 24 elders, the same solemn worship, and the same Person on the throne are present here.” The new element that comes to light in this portion of the vision is that of the Lamb of God "in the midst of the throne" with the Father. "Chapters 4 and 5 are one passage" (Plummer). Nothing in these two chapters should be interpreted as "things that shall come to pass hereafter," because obviously they describe present and eternal realities in the spiritual world. As Beckwith stated it: “These are the supreme ‘things that are’ (1:19), out of which the ‘things that are to come to pass’ must flow certainly and completely in spite of the powers of evil.”

Vision of the Opened Heavens The scene of this chapter is the same with that in chapter 4. The door of heaven was opened, a voice called him to come, and in the Spirit he went, and looked within. Here he saw symbols of heavenly things, and the powers that, above and invisible to us, watch over and control the affairs on earth.

Scripture Reading: Revelation 5:1-4 (KJV) Vision of the Book with Seven Seals 5:1 … “In the right hand of him that sat on the throne” i.e., God (4:2, 3). The right hand was open, and the book lay on the open hand; as in ch. 20. “The lying on the open hand imports that on God’s part there was no withholding of His future purposes as contained in this book” (Alford). 5:1 … “A book.” In the form of a roll, the usual form of ancient books. These rolls can be seen in any Jewish synagogue today. Our volume for a book comes from a word meaning a roll. We can assume that the book was of the scroll type familiar to the people of those times. They were made of papyrus pith sliced exceedingly thin and carefully joined together in vertical strips and reinforced by an additional layer with the strips laid horizontally, then bonded with glue and water. They were pressed flat and sandpapered for smoothness, giving a sheet of "paper" similar to ones seen today. The scroll was made by piecing many of these sheets together, side to side, to form the roll of required length. In reading, the roll was transferred from the roller in one hand to another roller in the other. Barclay tells us that a book the length of Romans would have required a roll 11 1/2 feet long. (Barclay)

5:1 … “Written within and on the back side,” i.e., on both sides of the parchment, contrary to the usual custom; but such scrolls “are mentioned by Pliny, Juvenal and Martial” (Alford). This fullness of the roll is an emblem of the completeness of the contents, an idea which is implied by the number Seven of the Seals. It indicates that the whole had been determined by God. No other might add to its contents. (Milligan) “A characteristic of the scroll was that the strips of papyrus caused a horizontal grain on one side and a vertical grain on the other, called the recto and verso” (Coffman). Usually, scrolls were written only on the side with horizontal grain, because that provided easier writing. Longer writings, however, utilized both sides. From the fact of the scroll in view here having been written "on the back," a rather extensive communication is indicated. Meaning of the scroll The fact that it was "in" or "on" the right hand of God certainly has importance, but what is it? Many different answers are available; below are a few: 1. "It contained the whole of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven" (Plummer). 2. "It is God's redemptive plan for the denouement of human history, the overthrow of evil, and the gathering of a redeemed people" (Ladd). 3. "It is the New Covenant, since the New Covenant tells how God will save the church, Israel, the world, and the universe" (Nee). 4. "This is a book of the future of the world and of mankind" (Beckwith). 5. "It is some kind of legal document relating to the destiny of mankind" (BeasleyMurray). 6. "The book is surely that which contains the world's destiny" (Morris). There is perhaps a measure of truth in them all. Certainly, there is some bearing which the book had upon the mystery of redemption, and the long-secret device by which God would achieve it in the death of his Son. Human salvation, together with God's purpose of achieving it and the mystery of how it would be done, is included in it because we cannot agree with the notion that John's weeping in (5:4) was due merely to disappointment at not seeing the future revealed. Illustration In the monastery I observed two very beautiful rolls, containing the liturgy of St. Chrysostom and that attributed by the Greeks to St. James. You begin to read by unrolling, and you continue to read and unroll, till at last you arrive at the stick to which the roll is fastened; then you turn the parchment round, and continue to read on the other side, rolling it gradually up till you complete the liturgy. It was thus written within and without. (Paxton) What was this book? “A sealed book is a fitting emblem of the future. It’s opening by Divine hand was symbolical of the making known of future events” (MacDonald). The book seems

to be still more; the Divine plan and purposes, and the opening of the book was not so much making known the future, as the unfolding of the history itself, the actual development of God’s providence in reference to the church, in its various successive periods. The mere revealing of the future, great as that is, would not be of such importance as is represented in this vision; but the providential control of all things relating to God’s people, the development of the church, the victory over all enemies, the final glorious consummation of the Gospel – this is indeed worthy of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and none else could accomplish it. 5:1 … “Sealed with seven seals.” Preventing the contents of the book from being known. If we suppose the seals to be put successively on the margin of the book or scroll as it was rolled up, each opening would extend only as far as the next seal, where the unrolling would be arrested. When the first seal was broken, the book could be unrolled until one came to a second seal; and so in succession of the rest. If these seals were put on so as to be visible at the ends of the roll, then John could have seen the seven seals if the end of the roll was towards him. (Stuart) Another view Especially im