Noted as one of the best starting places in the Bible, the Gospel of John is a first-hand account of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ from one of his most trusted friends and disciples. This book is necessary reading for the believer as it's detail and insight is beyond anything one might cross as they seek out knowledge of this good Word. For this reason, I have decided to embark on a multi-part study on the Gospel of John to give not only in-depth analysis of the entire book; but, also background on it's creation and the man that wrote it. Today we move ahead into the ministry of Jesus as it provides proof of His person.
The first person in Book of John to believe is John the Baptist. Not to be confused with the Apostle John, John the Baptist was, Jesus' second cousin born to elderly parents, Zacharias and Elizabeth. John's birth was announced by an angel and he was set apart for a special ministry. John's birth fulfilled the prophecy set out in Malachi 3:1-3. John had been waiting for a sign of Jesus' coming; which came in the dove at Jesus's baptism. The Apostle John introduces John the Baptist with the literary device called telescoping; he goes from the big picture to one particular individual and we begin now with priests who ask John who he is.
John 1:20: He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”
John the Baptist makes clear his is NOT the Messiah. John had been stirring up the people so the priests and the Levites were concerned about him making trouble.
John 1:20-23: "They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
The priests ask John the Baptist 3 questions:
Are you the Messiah? No
Are you Elijah (Malachi 4:5)? No, he was not Elijah, he was IN THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH. Not resurrected but did fulfill the prophecy
Are you the prophet? No, the prophet Moses spoke of was Jesus.
Who John was according to prophecy is key for the priests and the Levites because it would be a way to discredit him John Says he is two things:
A voice (not a popular message or not mainstream).
One who makes straight (preparing a new way).
John 1:24-25: "Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
It's made clear that the Pharisees sent the priests. When they say "who do you think you are?" (disbelief) it show that they are trying to nail John with scriptures.Unfortunately for them, he answered back with scriptures. It's important to note here that there are three responses, in life, when challenged with truth:
John 1:26-28: “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing."
John defends his right to baptize but says "If you don't like me, you are going to hate the one that comes after me."
John 1:29-34: "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.” Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
John's witness contains four elements:
Purpose of Christ's Coming (1:29)
The Character of the One to Come (1:30)
The Nature of His Ministry (1:31)
The source of His Ministry (1:32-34)
From here, we will move from the Three Strands of Narrative (John 1:1-34) to the Power of Witness (John 1:35-51). It's important to remember:
There No bible school at that time, so how did they convert people to become followers of Jesus? Through personal witness (testimony)
Definition of "witness": A person that declares as true what he has seen, heard, or knows; Greek Word - Martus/Martyr (witness truth with their death).
The apostles were chosen to be witnesses to Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.
John 1:35-37:"The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus."
This small section is about John and two converts he makes. The idea of converts is that they believe witnesses. In this passage, the converts start to follow Jesus.
John 1:38-39: "Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon."
When they went with Jesus, they asked Jesus about being the lamb of God; they were LEARNING from Him.
John 1:40-42: "Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter)."
Andrew becomes a witness to Peter who then turns to Jesus. Simon Peter is then renamed by Jesus to be just "Peter". This account provides an elementary form of witness. Witness for Jehovah is Christ. Witness for Christ is John the Baptist who brought others to witness. Witness has the power to make your own witnesses.
John 1:43- 46: " The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip."
Pattern of witnessing. Word of mouth. Each witness inviting others.
John 1:47-49: "When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”
In this, claims of Jesus are backed up by power. In a sense, He is saying "If you don't believe me, believe what I do." There has to be a decision of whether or not you believe He is who He says He is.
John 1:50-51: "Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”
"Truly Truly" or "Verily, Verily" means Jesus is saying something important. Jesus promises Nathaniel willsee miracles through Christ. You will see the divine power of Jesus.Basically, Jesus is telling him,"You ain't seen nothing yet."
Let's look at a quick breakdown here of the term "Son of Man" (Daniel 7:13-14 ):
"THE Son of Man" not "A Son of Man"
Human, like other humans, but;
The Importance of Witnessing:
Each of us received someone else's witness (all witnesses are different)
The subject of our witness is Jesus Christ
Our lifestyle confirms our witness (no moral power = no witness power)
They may not like or accept it but people EXPECT Christians to witness
As we proceed to the next few passages, I want you to think about Wedding feasts in bible times:
Legally married at betrothal or engagement
Wedding signaled beginning of conjugal life
Wedding party parade and Wedding feast 7 - 14 days (gives time for the family to arrive and all to come together for the party)
Needed good supply of food and drink
John 2:1-3: "On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
Cana in Galilee, was near Jesus' adult home of Capernaum. Jesus's mother Mary was at the wedding as friend and helper (could be a family member's wedding). Running out of wine early ruins the meal and embarrasses the family. Mary comes to Jesus and states there is a problem, suggesting he should do something about it.
John 2:4-5: “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you."
Jesus said "Do not worry about it. This is my worry and not yours." This reveals Jesus is aware and in control of the situation. The Father motivates Jesus, not anyone on earth; not even his mother. "My time has not yet come." Mary understands his response and leaves the problem in His hands; not adding a solution of her own (which is what we sometimes do).
John 2:6-8: Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so,"
Jesus only intended the miracle to happen and it was done. No mumbo-jumbo or jumping around, nothing, just simple and calm instructions.
John 2:9-10:"and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
Water turned to wine, excellent wine. The miracle not only saved the family from embarrassment, but went above and beyond to bless the groom in the eyes of his guests (an undeserved favor or blessing. Exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond). It is significant He chose wedding as place of first miracle because it shows a high regard for marriage.
The Secretiveness of the Miracle:
Not to overwhelm the wedding feast (sign of immense love)
Nature of the Miracle:
Water to wine
Whether grape juice or wine (there is an ongoing debate about this) it is still a miracle! (the debate stems from the use of the Greek word "oinos" as to whether it refers to fermented wine only or also includes grape juice in its translation).
This was the first sign as Jesus. Sign = miracle. It points to Jesus with supernatural power. The sign manifests His glory as God/Man. Disciples believe in Him because of this sign though faith is an up and down of belief and disbelief.
John 2:12: "After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days."
Jesus went home for a few days. His brothers were at the wedding but they did not see the miracle. As it goes, a prophet is not without honor except at home. Some scholars THINK Jesus lived with Peter because they both lived in Capernaum but this is unknown for sure.
John 2:13-14: "When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money."
No matter what direction you were from Jerusalem, you always went up to Jerusalem. The Jewish people gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover feast. The temple there was segregated by walls and courts, to separate priest from the people; men from women; and Jews from Gentiles. The Gentile's court was the entrance court. All nations could gather and pray together (this was the largest of all the courts). Jesus would teach in the porticoes of the temple (covered walkways). The temple area is holy and it increases in holiness as you reach the center area where the holy of the holies was situated. Eight entrances into temple area, each with their own significance. At the time this was HERROD'S TEMPLE. During Solomon's time, the area of the temple behind the veil for the holy of the holies contained the Ark of the Covenant. During this time, it was empty, however, because the Ark was said to have been destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC. Money Changers were located in the court of the Gentiles. Jesus came to run them out. Temple tax was collected from everyone 20 years and older and those coming from afar had to have money exchanged into scheckles and had to purchase animals for sacrifice during Passover. Originally, this commerce took place outside temple walls but were now allowed in the court of the Gentles, rendering the area designated from Gentile worship unclean and useless. This also defiled all of the temple.
John 2:15-17: "So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Jesus forces the merchants and their goods from the temple area, demonstrating righteous anger over what he thought was wrong as well as physical power. He was not physically weak (He was a carpenter by trade and at that time would have been a stone carpenter as there were few trees used by carpenters then), and He was not afraid of removing elements He saw as destroying the temple. This shows Jesus' humanity, in His human reaction to injustice.
John 2:18-22: "The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."
The Jews had established many customs in their religion with the disclaimer "until Elias/Elijah comes." Jesus sees their hearts, knows they do not really WANT to believe, and that no amount of proof is enough. Jesus gives them a sign to furnish undeniable proof, but one that will condemn them in the end. He prophesized about His death and resurrection (2:19-21) and the destruction of Jerusalem. Both were fulfilled with His resurrection and the destruction of Jerusalem (in 70 AD). When the Romans tore down Jerusalem stone by stone in 70 AD, Jewish historian Jasephus estimated 1,100,100 people killed and all genealogical records in the temple were destroyed.
John 2:23-25: "Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person."
Many believed His miracles but were not ready to accept His teachings. It's important to note that John does not say what miracles Jesus performed during Passover.
John 3:1-3: "Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Nicodemus comes to see Jesus after dark for he fears he might lose his position if others see him praising Jesus (he was a Pharisee). He was one of the Sanhedrin. Believed Jesus was a prophet and teacher, expressed limited faith.
Terms to Remember:
"Kingdom of God" - God's Will being pursued and carried out. Partially exists on earth, fully exists in heaven. Church is the Kingdom of heaven.
Promise of Christ - Earthly Kingdom of God will be perfected when Jesus returns and will join the heavenly kingdom. Harmony. Cannot enter into the Kingdom of God UNLESS YOU ARE REBORN! Power position, training and tradition count for nothing!
John 3:4: "Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again." “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
This is a humorous exchange. Yes, it is impossible to achieve a physical second birth. What we see here is Nicodemus humbling himself to know truth.
John 3:5: "Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit."
Jesus gives him more information about the change. Change occurs not by being a Jew/Pharisee/teacher, but by water and spirit.
Two Insights Here:
The power of regeneration is the Holy Spirit (who makes change happen).
The place of regeneration is baptism (not in your mother's womb).
Here these two ideas are brought together. Jesus and John the Baptist had taught on "repent and be baptized" to the common people. The message is the same regardless of status.
John 3:6-8: "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
Jesus continues to repeat that the power source for change to enter the Kingdom comes from God, not man. Man ON HIS OWN cannot escape condemnation.
John 3:9:“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
Nicodemus wants more answers, he wants the "how".
John 3:10-13: "You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man."
Jesus points out that it is not intelligence that is lacking in Nicodemus, its faith. Nicodemus believed in miracles, he had trouble believing in the one who made the miracles.Teaching through experience (Jesus), no faith in the teacher (Nicodemus). Nicodemus cannot believe heavenly things if he cannot believe earthly things.
Another Insight Here:
The Power of the Spirit is ignited by faith.
John 3:14-15: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
Faith connects Jesus' resurrection and the serpents sent to the Israelites in Numbers. Faith saved the people both times. The snake represented an offering for sin.
John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Motivation: God's Love; Method: Gave son; Needed: Faith in the process.
Epilogue on Nicodemus:
John 7:50 Defends Jesus in Sanhedrin (timid defense but something)
John 19:39 Buries His body