Book 4 - THE
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN
With people, places, definitions ...
In 2 Parts
Writer: The apostle John, son of Zebedee;
Date: c AD90-100. Note that the ancient Ryland's papyrus with its short extract from John's Gospel is dated to the first half of the 2nd century;
Where written: Ephesus in the west of Asia Minor, before or after John's banishment to the island of Patmos which lay off the coast in the Aegean Sea;
Readers: The whole Christian Church - Jew, Greek and Roman;
Why written: To convince his readers that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
According to Some Modern Scholarship: Still traditionally Ephesus, c AD90-110. The oral traditions and theology of the apostle John were compiled during his lifetime, and the Gospel finally published by a close companion. This might have been John the Elder, possibly after John's death, with the Elder "interpreting" John, much as John Mark "interpreted" the apostle Peter.
Part 1 of 2, chapters 1-11
THE BEGINNINGS - FROM THE BIRTH OF JESUS TO THE START OF HIS MINISTRY c 6BC-AD27
(also Mark 1:1, Luke 1:1-4)
John 1:1-5 - At the beginning God expressed himself. That personal expression, that word, was with God, and was God, and he existed with God from the beginning. All creation took place through him, and none took place without him. In him appeared life and this life was the light of mankind. The light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out.
APPEARANCE OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
(also Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:2-8; Luke 3:1-20)
John 1:6-28 - A man called John was sent by God as a witness to the light, so that any man who heard his testimony might believe in the light. This man (John the Baptist) was not himself the light: he was sent simply as a personal witness to that light (of Christ).
That was the true light which shines upon every man as he comes into the world. He (Jesus Christ) came into the world - the world he had created - and the world failed to recognise him. He came into his own creation, and his own people would not accept him. Yet wherever men did accept him he gave them the power to become sons of God. These were the men who truly believed in him, and their birth depended not on the course of nature nor on any impulse or plan of man, but on God.
So the word of God became a human being (in Jesus) and lived among us. We saw his splendour (the splendour as of a father's only son), full of grace and truth. And it was about him that John stood up and testified, exclaiming: "Here is the one I was speaking about when I said that although he would come after me he would always be in front of me; for he existed before I was born!" Indeed, every one of us has shared in his riches - there is a grace in our lives because of his grace. For while the Law was given by Moses, love and truth came through Jesus Christ. It is true that no one has ever seen God at any time. Yet the divine and only Son, who lives in the closest intimacy with the Father, has made him known.
This then is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. ....
Levites - A Hebrew word for descendants of Levi. A member of the tribe of Levi, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, especially those who were assistants to the priests of the Jewish Temple -
.... He (John the Baptist) admitted with complete candour, "I am not Christ."
So they asked him, "Who are you then? Are you Elijah?" (The great prophet of the divided kingdom of Israel c 850BC.)
"No, I am not," he replied.
"Are you the Prophet?"
"No," he replied.
"Well, then," they asked again, "who are you? We want to give an answer to the people who sent us. What would you call yourself?"
'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord' (Isaiah 40:3)
as Isaiah the prophet said."
Now some of the Pharisees had been sent to John, and they questioned him, "What is the reason, then, for your baptising people if you are not Christ and not Elijah and not the Prophet?"
To which John returned, "I do baptise - with water. But somewhere among you stands a man you do not know. He comes after me, it is true, but I am not fit to undo his shoes!" (All this happened in the Bethany on the far side of the Jordan where the baptisms of John took place.)
Bethany on the far side of the Jordan - Not to be confused with the Bethany near Jerusalem in Judea, home of Lazarus who was raised from the dead. Bethany-across-the-Jordan in the province of Perea is sometimes called Bethabara in ancient manuscripts.
BAPTISM OF JESUS
(also Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23a)
John 1:29-34 - On the following day (after John the Baptist had told the Pharisees that one greater than him was among them), John saw Jesus coming towards him and said, "Look, there is the lamb of God who will take away the sins of the world! ....
Lamb of God - One of the titles of Jesus, found twice in John's Gospel, but as the "Lamb" only through much of the Book of Revelations. The lamb was a sacrificial animal commonly used in the Jerusalem Temple, and in the annual celebration of Passover -
.... This (Jesus) is the man I meant when I said, 'A man comes after me who is always in front of me, for he existed before I was born!' It is true I have not known him, yet it was to make him known to the people of Israel that I came and baptised people with water."
Then John gave this testimony, "I have seen the Spirit come down like a dove from Heaven and rest upon him. Indeed, it is true that I did not recognise him by myself, but he who sent me to baptise with water told me this: 'The one on whom you will see the Spirit coming down and resting is the man who baptises with the Holy Spirit!' Now I have seen this happen and I declare publicly before you all that he is the Son of God.!"
HIS TRAVELS AND ACTS c AD27-30
HOW JESUS STARTS HIS MINISTRY
(also Matthew 4:12-17; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:14-15)
John 1:35-36 - On the following day (after John the Baptist had seen the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus) John was again standing with two of his disciples. He looked straight at Jesus as he walked along, and said, "There is the lamb of God!"
FIRST CALLING OF ANDREW AND ONE OTHER DISCIPLE (JOHN?), SIMON PETER, PHILIP AND NATHANAEL
Apostles - Greek for "sent away", "a messenger". The twelve disciples chosen by Jesus and sent out to heal and to preach the Gospel - the brothers Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John the sons of Zebedee, Philip, Bartholomew (or Nathanael), Matthew (or Levi), Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus (or Judas, son of James), Simon the Patriot, and Judas Iscariot (who betrayed him, and was later replaced by Matthias). The title is also applied to Paul of Tarsus, and to some other disciples at times:
John 1:37-51 - (John the Baptist is standing with two of his disciples. Seeing Jesus, he says "There is the lamb of God!" ....) The two disciples ....
Disciple - From the Latin "to learn". Those who followed Jesus of Nazareth, and eventually believed in him as the Christ. Especially one of the twelve apostles -
.... heard what he said and followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned round and when he saw them (Andrew and possibly John, son of Zebedee) following him, spoke to them. "What do you want?" he said.
"Master, where are you staying?" they replied.
"Come and see," returned Jesus.
So they went and saw where he was staying and remained with him the rest of that day. (It was then about four o'clock in the afternoon.) One of the two men who had heard what John said and had followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He went straight off and found his own brother, Simon, and told him, "We have found the Messiah!" (meaning, of course, Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked steadily at him and said, "You are Simon, the son of John. From now on your name is Cephas" - (that is, Peter, meaning "a rock").
The following day Jesus decided to go into Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me!" Philip was a man from Bethsaida (near the Sea of Galilee), the town that Andrew and Peter came from. Now Philip found Nathanael (also known as Bartholomew, from the town of Cana) and told him, "We have discovered the man whom Moses wrote about in the Law and about whom the Prophets wrote too. He is Jesus, the son of Joseph and comes from Nazareth."
"Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" retorted Nathanael.
"You come and see," replied Philip.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him and remarked, "Now here is a true man of Israel; there is no deceit in him!"
"How can you know me?" returned Nathanael.
"When you were underneath that fig-tree," replied Jesus, "before Philip called you, I saw you."
At which Nathanael exclaimed, "Master, you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel!"
"Do you believe in me," replied Jesus, "because I said I had seen you underneath that fig-tree? You are going to see something greater than that! Believe me," he added, "I tell you all that you will see Heaven wide open and God's angels ascending and descending around the Son of Man!"
Son of Man - This title is found only a few times in the Old Testament, except in the case of the apocalyptic book of Ezekiel. In the New Testament, it is frequently used in the Gospels by Jesus to describe himself, and just once or twice each by the writers of Acts, Hebrews, and Revelations -
WATER INTO WINE
John 2:1-11 - Two days later (after Nathanael, or Bartholomew, had been called by Jesus to be one of his disciples) there was a wedding in the Galilean village of Cana.
Jesus' mother (Mary) was there and he and his disciples were invited to the festivities. Then it happened that the supply of wine gave out, and Jesus' mother told him, "They have no more wine."
"Is that your concern, or mine?" replied Jesus. "My time has not come yet."
So his mother said to the servants, "Mind you do whatever he tells you."
In the room six very large stone water-jars stood on the floor (actually for the Jewish ceremonial cleansing), each holding about twenty gallons. Jesus gave instructions for these jars to be filled with water, and the servants filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, "Now draw some water out and take it to the master of ceremonies", which they did. When this man tasted the water, which had now become wine, without knowing where it came from (though naturally the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called out to the bridegroom and said to him, "Everybody I know puts his good wine on first and then when men have had plenty to drink, he brings out the poor stuff. But you have kept back your good wine till now!" Jesus gave this, the first of his signs, at Cana in Galilee (the second is healing the official's dying son later in John 4:43). He demonstrated his power and his disciples believed in him.
JESUS DRIVES THE BUYERS AND SELLERS FROM THE TEMPLE FOR THE FIRST TIME
- Commentators generally consider this a separate incident from the one reported by Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John's Gospel, it marks the start of Jesus' ministry, while in the three Synoptic Gospels it comes during Jesus' last week before his death and resurrection:
John 2:12-25 - After this incident (changing the water into wine at Cana in Galilee), Jesus, accompanied by his mother, his brothers and his disciples, went down to Capernaum (also in Galilee) and stayed there a few days. The Jewish Passover was approaching and Jesus made the journey up to Jerusalem (in Judea). In the Temple he discovered cattle and sheep dealers and pigeon-sellers, as well as money-changers sitting at their tables. So he made a rough whip out of rope and drove the whole lot of them, sheep and cattle as well, out of the Temple. He sent the coins of the money-changers flying and turned their tables upside down. Then he said to the pigeon-dealers, "Take those things out of here. Don't you dare turn my Father's house into a market!" His disciples remembered the scripture -
'Zeal for your house has eaten me up' (Psalm 69:9)
As a result of this, the Jews said to him, "What sign can you give us to justify what you are doing?"
"Destroy this temple," Jesus retorted, "and I will rebuild it in three days!"
To which the Jews replied, "This Temple took forty-six years to build, and you are going to rebuild it in three days?"
He was, in fact, speaking about the temple of his own body, and when he was raised from the dead the disciples remembered what he had said to them and that made them believe both the scripture and what Jesus had said.
While he was in Jerusalem at Passover-time, during the festivities many believed in him as they saw the signs that he gave. But Jesus, on his side, did not trust himself to them - for he knew them all. He did not need anyone to tell him what people were like: he understood human nature.
JESUS MEETS NICODEMUS THE PHARISEE - "YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN"
John 3:1-21 - One night (after Jesus had driven the buyers and sellers from the Temple in Jerusalem) Nicodemus, a leading Jew and a Pharisee, came to see Jesus.
"Master," he began, "we realise that you are a teacher who has come from God. Obviously no one could show the signs that you show unless God were with him."
"Believe me," returned Jesus, "a man cannot even see the kingdom of God without being born again."
"And how can a man who's getting old possibly be born?" replied Nicodemus. "How can he go back into his mother's womb and be born a second time?"
"I assure you," said Jesus, "that unless a man is born from water and from spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit: you must not be surprised that I told you that all of you must be born again. The wind blows where it likes, you can hear the sound of it but you have no idea where it comes from and where it goes. Nor can you tell how a man is born by the wind of the Spirit."
"How on earth can things like this happen?" replied Nicodemus.
"So you are a teacher of Israel," said Jesus, "and you do not recognise such things? I assure you that we are talking about something we really know and we are witnessing to something we have actually observed, yet men like you will not accept our evidence. Yet if I have spoken to you about things which happen on this earth and you will not believe me, what chance is there that you will believe me if I tell you about what happens in Heaven? No one has ever been up to Heaven except the Son of Man who came down from Heaven. The Son of Man (Jesus) must be lifted above the heads of men (in crucifixion) - as Moses lifted up that serpent in the desert (Numbers 21:4-9) - so that any man who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that every one who believes in him shall not be lost, but should have eternal life. You must understand that God has not sent his Son into the world to pass sentence upon it, but to save it - through him. Any man who believes in him is not judged at all. It is the one who will not believe who stands already condemned, because he will not believe in the character of God's only Son. This is the judgment - that light has entered the world and men have preferred darkness to light because their deeds are evil. Anybody who does wrong hates the light and keeps away from it, for fear his deeds may be exposed. But anybody who is living by the truth will come to the light to make it plain that all he has done has been done through God."
JOHN THE BAPTIST TESTIFIES THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST
John 3:22-36 - After this (meeting with Nicodemus) Jesus went into the country of Judea with his disciples and stayed there with them while the work of baptism was being carried on. John (the Baptist), too, was in Aenon near Salim, baptising people because there was plenty of water in that district and they were still coming to him for baptism. (John, of course, had not yet been put in prison - by Herod Antipas.)
This led to a question arising between John's disciples and one of the Jews about the whole matter of being cleansed. They approached John and said to him, "Master, look, the man (Jesus) who was with you on the other side of the Jordan, the one you testified to, is now baptising and everybody is coming to him!"
"A man can receive nothing at all," replied John, "unless it is given him from Heaven. You yourselves can witness that I said, 'I am not Christ but I have been sent as his forerunner.' It is the bridegroom who possesses the bride, yet the bridegroom's friend who merely stands and listens to him can be overjoyed to hear the bridegroom's voice. That is why my happiness is now complete. He must grow greater and greater and I less and less.
"The one who comes from above is naturally above everybody. The one who arises from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks from the earth. The one who comes from Heaven is above all others and he bears witness to what he has seen and heard - yet no one is accepting his testimony. Yet if a man does accept it, he is acknowledging the fact that God is true. For the one whom God sent speaks the authentic words of God - and there can be no measuring of the Spirit given to him! The Father loves the Son and has put everything into his hand. The man who believes in the Son has eternal life. The man who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; he lives under the anger of God."
JESUS THE LIVING WATER - HIS MEETING WITH THE SAMARITAN WOMAN AT THE WELL
John 4:1-42 - (After John the Baptist's testimony that Jesus is the Christ ......) Now when the Lord (Jesus) found that the Pharisees had heard that "Jesus is making and baptising more disciples than John" - although, in fact, it was not Jesus who did the baptising but his disciples - he left Judea and went off again to Galilee, which meant passing through Samaria. There he came to a little town called Sychar, which is near the historic plot of land that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph, and "Jacob's Spring" was there. ....
Jacob - Or Israel, grandson of the patriarch Abraham and ancestor of the 12 tribes of Israel. His son Joseph - of the "coat of many colours" - was sold into captivity in Egypt and became only second in importance to the Pharaoh during the seven year famine -
.... Jesus, tired with his journey, sat down beside it, just as he was. The time was about midday. Presently, a Samaritan woman arrived to draw some water.
"Please give me a drink," Jesus said to her, for his disciples had gone away to the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, "How can you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
"If you knew what God can give," Jesus replied, "and if you knew who it is that said to you, 'Give me a drink', I think you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water!"
"Sir," said the woman, "you have nothing to draw water with and this well is deep - where can you get your living water? Are you a greater man than our ancestor, Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank here himself with his family, and his cattle?"
Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. For my gift will become a spring in the man himself, welling up into eternal life."
The woman said, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may stop being thirsty - and not have to come here to draw water any more!"
"Go and call your husband and then come back here," said Jesus to her.
"I haven't got a husband!" the woman answered.
"You are quite right in saying, 'I haven't got a husband'," replied Jesus, "for you have had five husbands and the man you have now is not your husband at all. Yes, you spoke the simple truth when you said that."
"Sir," said the woman again, "I can see that you are a prophet! Now our ancestors worshipped on this hill-side, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship -"
"Believe me," returned Jesus, "the time is coming when worshipping the Father will not be a matter of 'on this hill-side' or 'in Jerusalem'. Nowadays you are worshipping with your eyes shut. We Jews are worshipping with our eyes open, for the salvation of mankind is to come from our race. Yet the time is coming, yes, and has already come, when true worshippers will worship in spirit and in reality. Indeed, the Father looks for men who will worship him like that. God is spirit, and those who worship him can only worship in spirit and in reality."
"Of course I know that Messiah is coming," returned the woman, "you know, the one who is called Christ. When he comes he will make everything plain to us."
"I am Christ speaking to you now," said Jesus.
At this point his disciples arrived, and were surprised to find him talking to a woman (Jesus was rejecting two strongly-held prejudices - men had little dealing with women, and Jews had no dealing with Samaritans), but none of them asked, "What do you want?" or "What are you talking to her about?" So the woman left her water-pot behind and went into the town and began to say to the people, "Come out and see the man who told me everything I've ever done! Can this be 'Christ'?" So they left the town and started to come to Jesus.
Meanwhile the disciples were begging him, "Master, do eat something."
To which Jesus replied, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."
This, of course, made the disciples ask each other, "Do you think anyone has brought him any food?"
Jesus said to them, "My food is doing the will of him who sent me and finishing the work he has given me. Don't you say, 'Four months more and then comes the harvest'? But I tell you to open your eyes and look to the field - they are gleaming white, all ready for the harvest! The reaper is already being rewarded and getting in a harvest for eternal life, so that both sower and reaper may be glad together. For in this harvest the old saying comes true, 'One man sows and another reaps.' I have sent you to reap a harvest for which you never laboured; other men have worked hard and you have reaped the results of their labours."
Many of the Samaritans who came out of that town believed in him through the woman's testimony - "He told me everything I've ever done." And when they arrived they begged him to stay with them. He did stay there two days and far more believed in him because of what he himself said. As they told the woman, "We don't believe any longer now because of what you said. We have heard him with our own ears. We know now that this must be the man who will save the world!"
- Although the Samaritans and the Jews were centuries-old enemies, this is the third occasion the Gospels have shown them in a favourable light. First the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) and then the gratitude of the healed Samaritan leper (Luke 17:11-19).
THE OFFICIALS' DYING SON
John 4:43-54 - After the two days were over (following his meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well), Jesus left and went away to Galilee. (For Jesus himself testified that a prophet enjoys no honour in his own country.) And on his arrival the people received him with open arms. For they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem during the festival, since they had themselves been present. So Jesus came again to Cana in Galilee, the place where he had made the water into wine. At Capernaum there was an official whose son was very ill. When he heard that Jesus had left Judea and had arrived in Galilee, he went off to see him and begged him to come down and heal his son, who was by this time at the point of death.
Jesus said to him, "I suppose you will never believe unless you see signs and wonders!"
"Sir," returned the official, "please come down before my boy dies!"
"You can go home," returned Jesus, "your son is alive and well."
And the man believed what Jesus had said to him and went on his way.
On the journey back his servants met him with the report, "Your son is alive and well." So he asked them at what time he had begun to recover, and they replied: "The fever left him yesterday at one o'clock in the afternoon". Then the father knew that this must have happened at the very moment when Jesus had said to him, "Your son is alive and well." And he and his whole household believed in Jesus. This, then, was the second sign that Jesus gave on his return from Judea to Galilee. (The first was changing the water into wine, also at Cana, earlier in John 2:1-11) .
THE INVALID AT THE POOL OF BETHESDA
John 5:1-15 - Some time later (after Jesus had met the woman at the well in Samaria, and then, in Cana in Galilee, saved the official's dying son) came one of the Jewish feast-days and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. There is in Jerusalem near the sheep-gate a pool surrounded by five arches, which has the Hebrew name of Bethzatha (the Pool of Bethesda). Under these arches a great many sick people were in the habit of lying; some of them were blind, some lame, and some had withered limbs. (They used to wait there for the "moving of the water", for at certain times an angel used to come down into the pool and disturb the water, and then the first person who stepped into the water after the disturbance would be healed of whatever he was suffering from - this explanation in brackets is only in some ancient manuscripts.) One particular man had been there ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there on his back - knowing that he had been like that for a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to get well again?"
"Sir," replied the sick man, "I just haven't got anybody to put me into the pool when the water is all stirred up. While I'm trying to get there somebody else gets down into it first."
"Get up," said Jesus, "pick up your bed and walk!"
At once the man recovered, picked up his bed and walked.
This happened on a Sabbath day, which made the Jews keep on telling the man who had been healed, "It's the Sabbath, you know; it's not right for you to carry your bed."
"The man who made me well," he replied, "was the one who told me, 'Pick up your bed and walk.'"
Then they asked him, "And who is the man who told you to do that?"
But the one who had been healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away in the dense crowd. Later Jesus found him in the Temple and said to him, "Look: you are a fit man now. Do not sin again or something worse might happen to you!"
Then the man went off and informed the Jews that the one who had made him well was Jesus.
THE FIRST SERIOUS OPPOSITION TO THE CLAIMS OF JESUS TO BE THE SON OF GOD
John 5:16-47 - It was because Jesus did such things (as heal the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda) on the Sabbath day that the Jews persecuted him. But Jesus' answer to them was this, "My Father is still at work and therefore I work as well."
This remark made the Jews all the more determined to kill him, because not only did he break the Sabbath but he referred to God as his own Father, so putting himself on equal terms with God.
Jesus makes his tremendous claim
Jesus said to them, "I assure you that the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. What the Son does is always modelled on what the Father does, for the Father loves the Son and shows him everything that he does himself, Yes, and he will show him even greater things than these to fill you with wonder. For just as the Father raises the dead and makes them live, so does the Son give life to any man he chooses. The Father is no man's judge: he has put judgment entirely into the Son's hands, so that all men may honour the Son equally with the Father. The man who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him. I solemnly assure you that the man who hears what I have to say and believes in the one who has sent me has eternal life. He does not have to face judgment; he has already passed from death into life. Yes, I assure you that a time is coming, in fact has already come, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and when they have heard it they will live! For just as the Father has life in himself, so by the Father's gift, the Son also has life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is Son of Man. No, do not be surprised - the time is coming when all those who are dead and buried will hear his voice and out they will come - those who have done right will rise again to life, but those who have done wrong will rise to face judgment!
"By myself I can do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is true because I do not live to please myself but to do the will of the Father who sent me. You may say that I am bearing witness about myself, that therefore what I say about myself has no value, but I would remind you that there is one who witnesses about me and I know that his witness about me is absolutely true. You sent to John (the Baptist), and he testified to the truth. Not that it is man's testimony that I accept - I only tell you this to help you to be saved. John certainly was a lamp that burned and shone, and for a time you were willing to enjoy the light that he gave. But I have a higher testimony than John's. The work that the Father gave me to complete, yes, these very actions which I do are my witness that the Father has sent me. This is how the Father who has sent me has given his own personal testimony to me.
"Now you have never at any time heard what he says or seen what he is like. Nor do you really believe his word in your hearts, for you refuse to believe the man who he has sent. You pore over the scriptures for you imagine that you will find eternal life in them. And all the time they give their testimony to me! But you are not willing to come to me to have real life! Men's approval or disapproval means nothing to me, but I can tell that you have none of the love of God in your hearts. I have come in the name of my Father and you will not accept me. Yet if another man comes simply in his own name, you will accept him. How on earth can you believe while you are for ever looking for each other's approval and not for the glory that comes from the one God? There is no need for you to think that I have come to accuse you before the Father. You already have an accuser - Moses, in whom you put all your confidence! For if you really believed Moses, you would be bound to believe me; for is was about me that he wrote. But if you do not believe what he wrote, how can you believe what I say"?
FEEDING THE FIVE THOUSAND
(also Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17)
John 6:1-15 - After this ...
- According to John's account, when Jesus was back in Galilee month's after Jesus had visited Jerusalem, healed the invalid at the Pool of Bethesda - not Bethsaida near the Sea of Galilee - and clashed with the authorities over his claim to be the Son of God:
... Jesus crossed the Lake of Galilee (or Lake Tiberias), and a great crowd followed him because they had seen signs which he gave in his dealings with the sick. But Jesus went up the hillside and sat down there with his disciples. The Passover, the Jewish festival, was near. ....
- The Passover referred to here in verse 6:4 may be the Festival reported earlier in John's Gospel in verse 5: There is some evidence the original order of John was chapters 4, 6, 5, 7, which would account for this inconsistency -
.... So Jesus, raising his eyes and seeing a great crowd on the way towards him, said to Philip, "Where can we buy food for these people to eat?" (He said this to test Philip, for he himself knew what he was going to do.)
"Ten pounds' worth of bread would not be enough for them," Philip replied, "even if they had only a little each."
Then Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, another disciple, put in, "There is a boy here who has five small barley loaves and a couple of fish, but what's the good of that for such a crowd?"
Then Jesus said, "Get the people to sit down."
There was plenty of grass there, and the men, some five thousand of them, sat down. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks for them and distributed them to the people sitting on the grass, and he distributed the fish in the same way, giving them as much as they wanted. When they had eaten enough, Jesus said to his disciples, "Collect the pieces that are left over so that nothing is wasted."
So they did as he suggested and filled twelve baskets with the broken pieces of the five barley loaves, which were left over after the people had eaten! When the men saw this sign of Jesus' power, they kept saying, "This certainly is the Prophet who was to come into the world!"
Then Jesus, realising that they were going to carry him off and make him their king, retired once more to the hill-side quite alone.
WALKING ON WATER
(also Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52)
John 6:16-21 - In the evening (after feeding the five thousand), his disciples went down to the lake, embarked on the boat and made their way across the lake to Capernaum (just around the coast from Bethsaida). Darkness had already fallen and Jesus had not returned to them. A strong wind sprang up and the water grew very rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the water, and coming towards the boat, and they were terrified. But he spoke to them, "Don't be afraid: it is I myself."
So they gladly took him aboard, and at once the boat reached the shore they were making for.
JESUS THE BREAD OF LIFE AND THE HARD REALITY OF HIS TEACHING?
Jesus teaches about the true bread
John 6:22-71 - The following day (after Jesus had fed the five thousand and walked on the water), the crowd, who had remained on the other side of the lake (the Sea of Galilee), noticed that only the one boat had been there, and that Jesus had not embarked on it with the disciples, but that they had in fact gone off by themselves. Some other small boats from Tiberias had landed quite near the place where they had eaten the food and the Lord had given thanks. When the crowd realised that neither Jesus nor the disciples were there any longer, they themselves got into the boats and went off to Capernaum to look for Jesus. When they had found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, "Master, when did you come here?"
"Believe me," replied Jesus, "you are looking for me now not because you saw my signs but because you ate that food and had all you wanted. You should not work for the food which does not last but for the food which lasts on into eternal life. This is the food the Son of Man will give you, and he is the one who bears the stamp of God the Father."
This made them ask him, "What must we do to carry out the work of God?"
"The work of God for you," replied Jesus, "is to believe in the one (Jesus) whom he has sent to you."
Then they asked him, "Then what sign can you give us that will make us believe in you? What work are you doing? Our forefathers (during the Exodus from Egypt) ate manna in the desert just as the scripture says, 'He gave them bread out of Heaven to eat.'"
To which Jesus replied, "Yes, but what matters is not that Moses gave you bread from Heaven, but that my Father is giving you the true bread from Heaven. For the bread of God which comes down from Heaven gives life to the world."
This made them say to him, "Lord, please give us this bread, always!"
Then Jesus said to them, "I myself am the bread of life. The man who comes to me will never be hungry and the man who believes in me will never again be thirsty. Yet I have told you that you have seen me and do not believe. Everything that my Father gives me will come to me and I will never refuse anyone who comes to me. For I have come down from Heaven, not to do what I want, but to do the will of him who sent me. The will of him who sent me is that I should not lose anything of what he has given me, but should raise it up when the last day comes. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son and trusts in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up when the last day comes."
At this, the Jews began grumbling at him because he said, "I am the bread which came down from Heaven", remarking "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose parents we know? How can he say that 'I have come down (as the true manna) from Heaven'?"
So Jesus answered them, "Do not grumble among yourselves. Nobody comes to me unless he is drawn to me by the Father who sent me, and I will raise him up when the last day comes. In the prophets it is written -
'And they shall all be taught by God,' (Isaiah 54:13)
and this means that everybody who has heard the Father's voice and learned from him will come to me. Not that anyone has ever seen the Father except the one who comes from God - he has seen the Father. I assure you that the man who trusts in him has eternal life already. I myself am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, and they died. This is bread that comes down from Heaven, so that a man may eat it and not die. I myself am the living bread which came down from Heaven, and if anyone eats this bread he will live for ever. The bread which I will give is my body and I shall give it for the life of the world."
This led to a fierce argument among the Jews, some of them saying, "How can this man give us his body to eat?"
So Jesus said to them, "Unless you do eat the body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you are not really living at all. The man who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up when the last day comes. For my body is real food and my blood is real drink. The man who eats my body and drinks my blood shares my life and I share his. Just as the living Father sent me and I am alive because of the Father, so the man who lives on me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from Heaven! It is not like the manna which your forefathers used to eat, and died. The man who eats this bread will live for ever."
Jesus said all these things while teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. Many of his disciples heard him say these things, and commented, "This is hard teaching indeed; who could accept that?"
Then Jesus, knowing intuitively that his disciples were complaining about what he had just said, went on, "Is this too much for you? Then what would happen if you were to see the Son of Man going up to the place where he was before? It is the Spirit which gives life. The flesh will not help you. The things which I have told you are spiritual and are life. But some of you will not believe me."
For Jesus knew from the beginning which of his followers did not trust him and who was the man who would betray him. Then he added, "This is why I said to you, 'No one can come to me unless my Father puts it into his heart to come.'"
As a consequence of this, many of his disciples withdrew and no longer followed him. So Jesus said to the twelve, "And are you too wanting to go away?"
"Lord," answered Simon Peter, "who else should we go to? Your words have the ring of eternal life! And we believe and are convinced that you are the holy one of God."
Jesus replied, "Did I not choose you twelve - and one of you has the devil in his heart?"
He was speaking of Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, one of the twelve, who was planning to betray him.
THE OPPOSITION TO JESUS CONTINUES; THE AUTHORITIES TRY TO ARREST HIM
- The first paragraph throws further light on Jesus' earlier relationship with his family, in this case his brothers:
John 7:1-53 - After this (feeding the 5,000, walking on water, and teaching about himself as the bread of life), Jesus moved about in Galilee but decided not to do so in Judea since the Jews were planning to take his life. A Jewish festival, "The feast of the tabernacles" (the Autumn harvest thanksgiving festival), was approaching and his brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples can see what you are doing, for nobody works in secret if he wants to be known publicly. If you are going to do things like this, let the world see what you are doing." For not even his brothers had any faith in him. Jesus replied by saying, "It is not yet the right time for me, but any time is right for you. You see, it is impossible for you to arouse the world's hatred, but I provoke hatred because I show the world how evil its deeds really are. No, you go up to the festival; I shall not go up now, for it is not yet time for me to go." And after these remarks he remained where he was in Galilee.
Later, after his brothers had gone up to the festival, he went up himself, not openly but as though he did not want to be seen. Consequently, the Jews kept looking for him at the festival and asking "Where is that man?" And there was an undercurrent of discussion about him among the crowds. Some would say, "He is a good man", others maintained that he was not, but that he was "misleading the people". Nobody, however, spoke openly about him for fear of the Jews (... the Jewish religious authorities).
But at the very height of the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple (in Jerusalem) and began teaching. The Jews were amazed and remarked, "How does this man know all this - he has never been taught?"
Jesus replied to them, "My teaching is not really mine but comes from the one who sent me. If anyone wants to do God's will, he will know whether my teaching is from God or whether I merely speak on my own authority. A man who speaks on his own authority has an eye for his own reputation. But the man who is considering the glory of God who sent him is a true man. There can be no dishonesty about him.
"Did not Moses give you the Law? Yet not a single one of you obeys the Law. Why are you trying to kill me?"
The crowd answered, "You must be mad! Who is trying to kill you?"
Jesus answered them, "I have done one thing and you are all amazed at it. Moses gave you circumcision (not that it came from Moses originally but from your forefathers), and you will circumcise a man even on the Sabbath. If a man receives the cutting of circumcision on the Sabbath to avoid breaking the Law of Moses, why should you be angry with me because I have made a man's body perfectly whole on the Sabbath? You must not judge by the appearance of things but by the reality!"
Some of the people of Jerusalem, hearing him talk like this, were saying, "Isn't this the man whom they are trying to kill? It's amazing - he talks quite openly and they haven't a word to say to him. Surely our rulers haven't decided that this really is Christ! But then, we know this man and where he comes from (Nazareth) - when Christ comes, no one will know where he comes from."
Jesus makes more unique claims
Then Jesus, in the middle of his teaching, called out in the Temple, "So you know me and know where I have come from? But I have not come of my own accord; I am sent by one (God) who is true and you do not know him! I do know him, because I come from him and he has sent me here."
Then they attempted to arrest him, but actually no one laid a finger on him because the right moment had not yet come. Many of the crowd believed in him and kept on saying, "When Christ comes, is he going to show greater signs than this man?"
The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering these things about him, and they and the chief priests (of the Temple) sent officers to arrest him. Then Jesus said, "I shall be with you only a little while longer and then I am going to him who sent me. You will look for me then but you will never find me. You cannot come where I shall be."
This made the Jews say to each other, "Where is he going to hide himself so that we cannot find him? Surely he's not going to our refugees (Jews of the Dispersion or Diaspora) among the Greeks to teach Greeks? What does he mean when he says, 'You will look for me and you will never find me' and 'You cannot come where I shall be'?"
Then, on the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If any man is thirsty, he can come to me and drink! The man who believes in me, as the scripture says, will have rivers of living water flowing from his inmost heart." (Here he was speaking about the Spirit which those who believe in him would receive. The Holy Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.) When they heard these words, some of the people were saying, "This really is the Prophet." Others said, "This is Christ!" But some said, "And does Christ come from Galilee? Don't the scriptures say that Christ will be descended from David, and will come from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?"
So the people were in two minds about him - some of them wanted to arrest him, but so far no one laid hands on him.
Then the officers returned to the Pharisees and chief priests, who said to them, "Why haven't you brought him?"
"No man ever spoke like that!" they replied.
"Has he pulled the wool over your eyes, too?" retorted the Pharisees. "Have any of the authorities or any of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, who know nothing about the Law, is damned anyway!"
One of their number, Nicodemus (the one who had previously been to see Jesus), remarked to them, "But surely our Law does not condemn the accused without hearing what he has to say, and finding out what he has done?"
"Are you a Galilean, too?" they answered him. "Look where you will - you won't find any prophet comes out of Galilee!"
So they broke up their meeting and went home, .....
John 8:1 - ..... while Jesus went off to the Mount of Olives (or Olivet just to the east of Jerusalem).
THE WOMAN CAUGHT IN ADULTERY - "HE WHO IS WITHOUT SIN"
- This beautiful story, although considered genuine, is either not included in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts or placed at the end of John or in Luke's Gospel:
John 8:2-11 - Early next morning he returned to the Temple (after the authorities failed to arrest him) and the entire crowd came to him. So he sat down and began to teach them. But the scribes and Pharisees brought in to him a woman who had been caught in adultery. They made her stand in front, and then said to him, "Now, master, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. According to the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women to death (Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:24). Now, what do you say about her?"
They said this to test him, so that they might have some good grounds for an accusation. But Jesus stooped down and began to write with his finger in the dust on the ground. But as they persisted in their questioning, he straightened himself up and said to them, "Let the one among you who has never sinned throw the first stone at her." Then he stooped down again and continued writing with his finger on the ground. And when they heard what he said, they were convicted by their own consciences and went out, one by one, beginning with the eldest until they had all gone.
Jesus was left alone, with the woman still standing where they had put her. So he stood up and said to her, "Where are they all - did no one condemn you?"
And she said, "No one, sir."
"Neither do I condemn you," said Jesus to her. "Go home and do not sin again."
THE OPPOSITION TO JESUS INCREASES - "BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM!"
John 8:12-59 - Later (after dealing with the woman caught in adultery), Jesus spoke to the people again and said, "I am the light of the world. The man who follows me will never walk in the dark but will live his life in the light."
This made the Pharisees say to him, "You are testifying to yourself - your evidence is not valid."
Jesus answered, "Even if I am testifying to myself, my evidence is valid, for I know where I have come from and I know where I am going. But as for you, you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. You are judging by human standards, but I am not judging anyone. Yet if I should judge, my decision would be just, for I am not alone - the Father who sent me is with me. In your Law (also Jesus' Law!), it is stated that the witness of two persons is valid. I am one testifying to myself and the second witness to me is the Father who sent me."
"And where is this father of yours?" they replied.
"You do not know my Father," returned Jesus, "any more than you know me: if you had known me, you would have known him."
Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the Temple treasury.
Yet no one arrested him, for his time had not yet come.
Later, Jesus spoke to them again and said, "I am going away and you will try to find me, but you will die in your sins. You cannot come where I am going."
This made the Jews say, "Is he going to kill himself, then? Is that why he says, "You cannot come where I am going'?"
"The difference between us," Jesus said to them, "is that you come from below and I am from above. You belong to this world but I do not. That is why I told you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am who I am, you will die in your sins."
Then they said, "Who are you?"
"I am what I have told you I was from the beginning," replied Jesus. "There is much in you that I could speak about and condemn. But he who sent me is true and I am only speaking to this world what I myself have heard from him."
They did not realise that he was talking to them about the Father. So Jesus resumed, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man (in crucifixion), then you will realise that I am who I say I am, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak simply as my Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me now: the Father has never left me alone for I always do what pleases him." And even while he said these words, many people believed in him.
Jesus speaks of personal freedom
So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, "If you are faithful to what I have said, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!"
"But we are descendants of Abraham," they replied, "and we have never in our lives been any man's slaves. How can you say to us, 'You will be set free'?"
Jesus returned, "Believe me when I tell you that every man who commits sin is a slave. For a slave is no permanent part of a household, but a son is. If the Son, then, sets you free, you are really free! I know that you are descended from Abraham, but some of you are looking for a way to kill me because you can't bear my words. I am telling you what I have seen in the presence of my Father, and you are doing what you have seen in the presence of your father."
"Our father is Abraham!" they retorted.
"If you were the children of Abraham, you would do the sort of things Abraham did. But in fact, at this moment, you are looking for a way to kill me, simply because I am a man who has told you the truth that I have heard from God. Abraham would never have done that. No, you are doing your father's work ( ... the devil's)."
"We are not illegitimate!" they retorted. "We have one Father - God."
"If God were really your Father," replied Jesus, "you would have loved me. For I came from God, and I am here. I did not come of my own accord - he sent me, and I am here. Why do you not understand my words? It is because you cannot hear what I am really saying. Your father is the devil, and what you are wanting to do is what your father longs to do. He (Satan) always was a murderer, and has never dealt with the truth, since the truth will have nothing to do with him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks in character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. And it is because I speak the truth that you will not believe me. Which of you can prove me guilty of sin? If I am speaking the truth, why is it that you do not believe me? The man who is born of God can hear these words of God and the reason why you cannot hear the words of God is simply this, that you are not the sons of God."
"How right we are," retorted the Jews, "in calling you a Samaritan (reflecting the antagonism between Jews and Samaritans), and mad at that!"
"No," replied Jesus, "I am not mad. I am honouring my Father and you are trying to dishonour me. But I am not concerned with my own glory: there is one whose concern it is, and he is the true judge. Believe me when I tell you that if anybody accepts my words, he will never see death at all."
"Now we know that you're mad," replied the Jews. "Why, Abraham died and the prophets, too, and yet you say, 'If a man accepts my words, he will never experience death!' Are you greater than our father, Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets - who are you making yourself out to be?"
"If I were trying to glorify myself," returned Jesus, "such glory would be worthless. But it is my Father who glorifies me, the very one whom you say is your God - though you have never known him. But I know him, and if I said I did not know him, I should be as much a liar as you are! But I do know him and I am faithful to what he says. As for your father, Abraham, his great joy was that he would see my coming. Now he has seen it and he is overjoyed."
"Look," said the Jews to him, "you are not fifty yet, and has Abraham seen you?"
"I tell you in solemn truth," returned Jesus, "before there was an Abraham, I AM!" ("I am who I am" becomes in Hebrew "Yahweh", "he is", that is God! - Exodus 3:14)
At this (total blasphemy according to the Jews who did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah), they picked up stones to hurl at him, but Jesus disappeared and made his way out of the Temple.
THE MAN BORN BLIND WHO GOES BEFORE THE PHARISEES
John 9:1-41 - Later, as Jesus walked along (in Jerusalem, after he had forgiven the woman caught in adultery) he saw a man who had been blind from birth.
"Master, whose sin caused this man's blindness," asked the disciples, "his own or his parents'?"
"He was not born blind because of his own sin or that of his parents," returned Jesus, "but to show the power of God at work in him. We must carry on the work of him who sent me while the daylight lasts. Night is coming, when no one can work. I am the world's light as long as I am in it."
Having said this, he spat on the ground and made a sort of clay with the saliva. This he applied to the man's eyes and said, "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam (in the Lower City of Jerusalem)." (Siloam means "one who has been sent".) So the man went off and washed and came home with his sight restored.
His neighbours and the people who had often seen him before as a beggar remarked, "Isn't this the man who used to sit and beg?"
"Yes, that's the one," said some.
Others said, "No, but he's very like him."
But he himself said, "I'm the man all right!"
"Then how was your blindness cured?" they asked.
"The man called Jesus made some clay and smeared it on my eyes," he replied, "and then he said, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' So off I went and washed - and that's how I got my sight!"
"Where is he now?" they asked.
"I don't know," he returned.
So they brought the man who had once been blind before the Pharisees. (It should be noted that Jesus made the clay and restored his sight on a Sabbath day.) The Pharisees asked the question all over again as to how he had become able to see.
"He put clay on my eyes; I washed it off; now I can see - that's all," he replied.
Some of the Pharisees commented, "This man cannot be from God since he does not observe the Sabbath."
"But how can a sinner give such wonderful signs as these?" others demurred. And they were in two minds about him. Finally, they asked the blind man again, "And what do you say about him? You're the one whose sight was restored."
"I believe he is a prophet," he replied.
The Jews did not really believe that the man had been blind and then had become able to see, until they had summoned his parents and asked them, "Is this your son who you say was born blind? How does it happen that he can now see?"
"We know that this is our son, and we know that he was born blind," returned his parents, "but how he can see now, or who made him able to see, we have no idea. Why don't you ask him? He is a grown-up man; he can speak for himself."
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews who had already agreed that anybody who admitted that Christ had done this thing should be excommunicated (excluded from the synagogue). It was this fear which made his parents say, "Ask him, he is a grown-up man."
So, once again they summoned the man who had been born blind and said to him, "You should
'give God the glory' (Joshua 7:19)
for what has happened to you. We know that this man is a sinner."
"Whether he is a sinner or not, I couldn't tell, but one thing I am sure of," the man replied, "I used to be blind, now I can see!"
"But what did he do to you - how did he make you see?" they continued.
"I've told you before," he replied. "Weren't you listening? Why do you want to hear it all over again? Are you wanting to be his disciples too?"
At this, they turned on him furiously.
"You're the one who is his disciple! We are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this man, we don't even know where he came from."
"Now here's the extraordinary thing," he retorted, "you don't know where he came from and yet he gave me the gift of sight.
Everybody knows that God does not listen to sinners. It is the man who has a proper respect for God and does what God wants him to do - he's the one God listens to. Why, since the world began, nobody's ever heard of a man who was born blind being given his sight. If this man did not come from God, he couldn't do such a thing!"
"You misbegotten wretch!" they flung back at him. "Are you trying to teach us?" And they threw him out.
- In this clash between a poor and once-blind man and the overwhelming intellectual and judicial power of the religious authorities, it is difficult not to feel the apostle John's sense of humour and irony -
Jesus heard that they had expelled him and when he had found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
"And who is he, sir?" the man replied. "Tell me, so that I can believe in him."
"You have seen him," replied Jesus. "It is the one who is talking to you now."
"Lord, I do believe," he said, and worshipped him.
Then Jesus said, My coming into this world is itself a judgment - those who cannot see have their eyes opened and those who think they can see become blind."
Some of the Pharisees near him overheard this and said, "So we're blind, too, are we?"
"If you were blind," returned Jesus, "nobody could blame you, but, as you insist 'We can see', your guilt remains."
JESUS, THE DOOR FOR THE SHEEP, AND THE GOOD SHEPHERD
John 10:1-18 - (The man born blind and healed by Jesus has been interrogated by the Pharisees ......) Then Jesus (speaking about such people as the Pharisees) said, "Believe me when I tell you that anyone who does not enter the sheepfold though the door, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a rogue. It is the shepherd of the flock who goes in by the door. It is to him the door-keeper opens the door and it is his voice that the sheep recognise. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out of the fold, and when he has driven all his own flock outside, he goes in front of them himself, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger - indeed, they will run away from him, for they do not recognise strange voices."
Jesus gave them this illustration but they did not grasp the point of what he was saying to them. So Jesus said to them once more, "I do assure you that I myself am the door for the sheep. All who have gone before me are like thieves and rogues, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If a man goes in through me, he will be safe and sound; he can come in and out and find his food. The thief comes with the sole intention of stealing and killing and destroying, but I came to bring them life, and far more life than before. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd will give his life for the sake of his sheep. But the hired man, who is not the shepherd, and does not own the sheep, will see the wolf coming, desert the sheep and run away. And the wolf will attack the flock and send them flying. The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and has no interest in the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know those that are mine and my sheep know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I am giving my life for the sake of the sheep.
"And I have other sheep who do not belong to this fold. I must lead these also, and they will hear my voice. So there will be one flock and one shepherd. This is the reason why the Father loves me - that I lay down my life, and I lay it down to take it up again! No one is taking it from me, but I lay it down of my own free will. I have the power to lay it down and I have the power to take it up again. This is an order that I have received from my Father."
THE OPPOSITION CONTINUES; AGAIN THE AUTHORITIES TRY TO ARREST HIM
John 10:19-42 - Once again (after Jesus had taught about the Good Shepherd), the Jews were in two minds about him because of these words, many of them remarking, "The devil's in him and he's insane. Why do you listen to him?"
But others were saying, "This is not the sort of thing a devil-possessed man would say! Can a devil make a blind man see?"
Then came the dedication festival at Jerusalem (in late December c AD29. It was held to commemorate the rededication of the Second Temple in c 164BC, following its desecration by the Syrians. Also called "Hanukkah" or Festival of Lights ....). It was winter-time and Jesus was walking about inside the Temple in Solomon's cloisters. So the Jews closed in on him and said, "How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you really are Christ, tell us so straight out!"
"I have told you," replied Jesus, "and you do not believe it. What I have done in my Father's name is sufficient to prove my claim, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep recognise my voice and I know who they are. They follow me and I give them eternal life. They will never die and no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. And no one can tear anything out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are One."
Again (at this blasphemy) the Jews reached for stones to stone him to death, but Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good things from the Father - for which of these do you intend to stone me?"
"We're not going to stone you for any good things," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy: because you, who are only a man, are making yourself out to be God."
"Is it not written in your own (our) Law," replied Jesus,
"'I have said you are gods'? (Psalm 82:6)
And if he called these men 'gods' to whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken), can you say to the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'? If I fail to do what my Father does, then do not believe me. But if I do, even though you have no faith in me personally, then believe in the things that I do. Then you may come to know and realise that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."
And again they tried to arrest him, but he moved out of their reach.
Then Jesus went off again across the Jordan to the place where John had first baptised and there he stayed. A great many people came to him, and said, "John never gave us any sign but all that he said about this man was true.."
And in that place many believed in him.
LAZARUS RAISED FROM THE DEAD
John 11:1-44 - Now there was a man by the name of Lazarus (not the poor man who went to heaven in Luke's parable, Luke 16:19-31) who became seriously ill. He lived in Bethany (outside Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives), the village where Mary and her sister Martha lived. (Lazarus was the brother of the Mary who poured perfume upon the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus: "Lord, your friend is ill."
When Jesus (across the River Jordan in Perea) received the message, he said, "This illness is not meant to end in death; it is going to bring glory to God - for it will show the glory of the Son of God."
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard of Lazarus' illness he stayed where he was two days longer. Only then did he say to the disciples, "Let us go back into Jude"
"Master!" returned the disciples, "only a few days ago, the Jews were trying to stone you to death - are you going there again?"
"There are twelve hours of daylight every day, are there not?" replied Jesus. "If a man walks in the daytime, he does not stumble, for he has the daylight to see by. But if he walks at night he stumbles, because he cannot see where he is going."
Jesus spoke these words; then after a pause he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going to wake him up."
At this, his disciples said, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right."
Actually Jesus had spoken about his death, but they thought that he was speaking about falling into natural sleep. This made Jesus tell them quite plainly, "Lazarus has died, and I am glad that I was not there - for your sakes, that you may learn to believe. And now, let us go to him."
Thomas (known as the twin - "doubting" Thomas) then said to his fellow-disciples, "Come on, then, let us all go and die with him!"
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the grave four days. Now Bethany is quite near Jerusalem, rather less than two miles away, and a good many of the Jews had come out to see Martha and Mary to offer them sympathy over their brother's death. When Martha heard that Jesus was on his way, she went out and met him, while Mary stayed in the house.
"If only you had been here, Lord," said Martha, "my brother would never have died. And I know that, even now, God will give you whatever you ask from him."
"Your brother will rise again," Jesus replied to her.
"I know," said Martha, "that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
"I myself am the resurrection and the life," Jesus told her. "The man who believes in me will live even though he dies, and anyone who is alive and believes in me will never die at all. Can you believe that?"
"Yes, Lord," replied Martha. "I do believe that you are Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into the world." Saying this she went away and called Mary her sister, whispering, "The master's here and is asking for you." When Mary heard this she sprang to her feet and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet arrived at the village itself, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who had been condoling with Mary in the house saw her get up quickly and go out, they followed her, imagining that she was going to the grave to weep there.
When Mary met Jesus, she looked at him, and then fell down at his feet. "If only you had been here, Lord," she said, "my brother would never have died."
When Jesus saw Mary weep and noticed the tears of the Jews who came with her, he was deeply moved and visibly distressed.
"Where have you put him?" he asked.
"Lord, come and see," they replied, and at this Jesus himself wept.
"Look how much he loved him!" remarked the Jews, though some of them asked, "Could he not have kept this man from dying if he could open that blind man's eyes?" (The man born blind who went before the Pharisees, John 9:1-41)
Jesus was again deeply moved at these words, and went on to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay in front of it.
"Take away the stone," said Jesus.
"But Lord," said Martha, the dead man's sister, "he has been dead four days. By this time he will be decaying ...."
"Did I not tell you," replied Jesus, "that if you believed, you would see the wonder of what God can do?"
Then they took the stone away and Jesus raised his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of these people standing here so that they may believe that you have sent me."
And when he had said this, he called out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with grave-clothes and his face muffled with a handkerchief.
"Now unbind him," Jesus told them, "and let him go home."
THE PLOT TO KILL JESUS
(also Matthew 26:3-5; Mark 14:1-2; Luke 22:1-2)
John 11:45-57 - In John's Gospel, the plot to kill Jesus is recorded before he makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem:
After this (raising Lazarus from the dead) many of the Jews who had accompanied Mary (the sister of Lazarus) and observed what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went off to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Consequently, the Pharisees and chief priests summoned the council and said, "What can we do? This man obviously shows many remarkable signs. If we let him go on doing this sort of thing we shall have everybody believing in him. Then we shall have the Romans coming and that will be the end of our holy place and our very existence as a nation."
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year, addressed the meeting: "You plainly don't understand what is involved here. You do not realise that it would be a good thing for us if one man should die for the sake of the people - instead of the whole nation being destroyed." (He did not make this remark on his own initiative but, since he was High Priest that year, he was in fact inspired to say that Jesus was going to die for the nation's sake - and in fact not for that nation only, but to bring together into one family all the children of God scattered throughout the world.) From that day then, they planned to kill him. As a consequence Jesus made no further public appearance among the Jews but went away to the countryside on the edge of the desert, and stayed with his disciples in a town called Ephraim. The Jewish Passover was approaching and many people went up from the country to Jerusalem before the actual Passover, to go through a ceremonial cleansing. They were looking for Jesus there and kept saying to one another as they stood in the Temple, "What do you think? Surely he won't come to the festival?"
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