John’s Good News

An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on John’s *Gospel

Les Painter

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


The Author

The author wrote this *gospel (good news) in Ephesus about 60 years after the death of Jesus. Nowhere does it say that John the *disciple wrote the *gospel. However, the early *church believed that he did. The early Christian writers in about AD 200 agreed that John was the author.

John was the youngest son of Zebedee and Salome. Zebedee owned a boat on the Sea of Galilee.

John is one of the 12 *disciples. Jesus called John, and James, who was John’s brother, to become his *disciples (Mark 1:20). Together with Peter and James, John was a close friend of Jesus. Sometimes Jesus chose just these three to be near to him.

John does not mention his own name in this *gospel, but he writes four times of ‘the *disciple whom Jesus loved’ (13:23-25; 19:25-27; 20:2; 21:20). Twice John says that he saw what happened at a particular time (19:35; 21:24). The other three *gospel writers mention John many times.

Why John wrote this *gospel

John’s *gospel is telling the good news of our *salvation from *sin by Jesus Christ. This *gospel is different from the other three. It does not tell us so many of the events of Jesus’ life. For example, it does not tell of his birth. John wants to tell us more than the story of Jesus’ life; he tries to explain the meaning behind the things that Jesus said and did. He tells us who Jesus Christ is rather than what he does. John wrote about the great mystery - that Jesus is God as well as a man.

John wrote his *gospel for believers in the early *churches. These *churches were in the countries of Greece and Asia. He wanted to help them to develop in their Christian lives. He wanted to show them why they should look at Jesus. They would discover what God the Father is like. Jesus is the one who shows the *glory and greatness of God to the world. God shows his *glory through his Son. He is a man born of a woman. He lives among people (Matthew 1:16).

John tells us why he wrote the *gospel - ‘that all may believe’ (20:30-31). John speaks about ‘signs’. They are things that really happened. They show that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the ‘*Messiah’. He is a person whom the *Jews were expecting to come from God. This person would save *Israel, God’s people. He would save them from their enemies. (Jesus did provide a way to save *Israel, but not as the *Jews expected.)

The *salvation that Jesus obtained for us at the *cross means that we can have God’s life now, while we are alive. Moreover, we can have it for all time in *heaven after we die.

Contents (Chapter:Verse)

Part 1: A *hymn praising Jesus, the Word (1:1-18)

Jesus Christ is the Word who has always been (1:1-5)

John the *Baptist (1:6-8)

The light coming to the world (1:9-13)

The Word has become a human person (1:14-18)

Part 2: The first events (1:19-2:11)

John explains who he is (1:19-28)

John talks about the *Lamb of God (1:29-34)

Jesus chooses his first *disciples (1:35-51)

Water changed into wine - the first sign (2:1-11)

Part 3: Meetings with people in Jerusalem, Samaria and Galilee (2:12-4:54)

Jesus clears the *Temple (2:12-25)

The new birth (3:1-21)

Jesus and John the *Baptist (3:22-4:3)

Jesus in Samaria (4:4-42)

A second sign in Galilee (4:43-54)

Part 4: Jesus heals and teaches people in Jerusalem (5:1-47)

The third sign – Jesus heals a sick man (5:1-18)

Jesus teaches about the Father and the Son (5:19-47)

Part 5: Further signs and discussions in Galilee (6:1-71)

The fourth sign – Jesus feeds the crowds (6:1-15)

The fifth sign - Jesus walks on the water (6:16-24)

Discussions about the bread of life (6:25-59)

What the *disciples think about Jesus’ teaching (6:60-71)

Part 6: Jesus at the *Feast of *Tabernacles (Tents) (7:1-8:59)

Jesus moves from Galilee to Jerusalem (7:1-9)

The teaching of Jesus at the *Feast (7:10-52)

Jesus helps a woman caught in *adultery (7:53-8:11)

Jesus as the light of the world (8:12-59)

Part 7: Further *healing and teaching (9:1-10:42)

The sixth sign - Jesus heals a man born blind (9:1-41)

Jesus as the *shepherd (10:1-18)

The result of this teaching (10:19-21)

Discussion at the *Feast of Lights (10:22-42)

Part 8: The seventh sign - Jesus raises Lazarus from death to life (11:1-57)

Jesus the winner over death (11:1-44)

The results of the *miracle (11:45-57)

Part 9: The end of Jesus’ work among people in Jerusalem (12:1-50)

The love and care of Mary (12:1-8)

Reactions to Jesus being in Bethany (12:9-11)

The entry into Jerusalem (12:12-19)

The Greeks look for Jesus (12:20-26)

Jesus leaves and hides himself (12:27-36)

People still do not believe (12:37-50)

Part 10: (Jesus with his *disciples (13:1-17:26)

Jesus washes the *disciples’ feet (13:1-38)

Promises and orders to the *disciples (14:1-31)

The example of the *vine (15:1-17)

Further teaching for the *disciples (15:18-16:33)

The *prayer of Jesus (17:1-26)

Part 11: Jesus’ pain and suffering, and *resurrection stories (18:1-21:25)

The *betrayal (18:1-11)

The *trial (18:12-19:16)

The *crucifixion (19:17-37)

The *burial (19:38-42)

The *resurrection (20:1-29)

The end (20:30-21:25)

Part 1 ~ A *hymn to praise Jesus, the Word (1:1-18)

The first 18 verses of John’s *Gospel tell us about the Word. To the *gentile Greeks the Word was the power that made everything to exist and grow. It was the reason and mind behind everything that is. The Word was the power that made the world. However, they did not believe that the Word was a person. Neither did they believe that the Word existed before the world, the sun, moon and the stars. The Greeks did not believe that the Word was *eternal.

There is a difference between the Greeks’ and the *Jews’ thoughts. John understands that the Word became a person. That person was there before there was a world or anything. The *Jews believed that God made everything through the power of his words. They spoke about the Word of Wisdom (Proverbs 8:22). The *Jews also knew how important the Word was when God spoke it. “God said, ‘Let there be light; and there was light’ ” (Genesis 1:3). See also Isaiah 55:11. The book of Revelation describes Jesus as ‘the Word of God’ (Revelation 19:13).

In these first 18 verses, John says that God’s Word became a person, the man called Jesus. The *gospels of Matthew and Luke tell the story of Jesus’ birth. John tries to explain why God sent his Son to earth. He is trying to tell us about a very special person, Jesus Christ. He is the Son of God and the perfect man.

The Greeks had another thought. It was about the world in which we live and the things that we can see. To them this was not the real world. Their world was another world, one you cannot see. That world was a perfect and beautiful place. They saw the world we live in merely as a copy of their real (that you cannot see) world. So John tells us that a real person came into the real world. Jesus is the ‘real’ light (1:9). Jesus is the ‘real’ bread (6:32). Jesus is the ‘real’ *vine (15:1). To Jesus belongs the ‘real’ *judgement (8:16). Jesus is a real person in the Greeks’ world of shadows.

That is what John means when he talks of Jesus’ *miracles as signs. They show what is real in the Greeks’ world of shadows. The real is in God himself. Jesus is the Word who shows the real and true God. The *miracles (signs) that Jesus did healed people. But John does not think so much about what they did. He sees them as ‘for the *glory of God’ (2:11; 11:4 and 9:3). To John these *miracles are like a window. They show Jesus to us. He alone is real and true. Jesus is God come to earth as a person.

1:1-5 ~ Jesus Christ is the Word who has always been

The first words of Genesis are, ‘In the beginning God *created the heavens and the earth’. ‘Genesis’ means beginning. These first words of the *gospel are the same. The Word of God (Jesus) was with God before the *creation of the world. He was there from the beginning with God. Jesus is the power of God: he made the world and keeps it going (3).

Jesus is also God. God is one God, but he shows himself to us in different ways. The Bible speaks of him as God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the *Holy *Spirit. In himself, Jesus is the same as God. He shares in everything God does. So when we see Jesus, we see God the Father. God is always Jesus-like. God has never changed. God has never been different from what he has always been. He is the same God in the *Old Testament as in the *New Testament. Jesus’ words and actions show us what God thinks about us. They show us too how much he loves us.

Together with and through the Word (Jesus), God *created all things (Hebrews 11:3). God did not make anything without the help of Jesus Christ. Before God *created the world, there was nothing there. God did not take something and make it into the world. God is not part of the world. He was there before the world was. He is therefore separate from the world. We cannot find God in parts of his world. For example, we cannot find him in animals or trees.

Everything that God *created received its life from the Word (Acts 17:28). When God *created the world he said, “Let there be light" Genesis 1:3). The Word of God gave the physical light. He also wants to give *spiritual light (being able to understand) to everyone (4). This light shows everyone who God is.

God *created the world. He saw that it was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:4). However, when *sin entered the world, darkness entered too. Because of *sin, the world is no longer ‘very good’. It is in darkness. The light made the darkness disappear.

Darkness describes those do not want to follow God’s ways. Darkness is life without Jesus Christ. He is the light that shines in the darkness (5). He defeated the darkness at the *cross. The light of Jesus Christ keeps shining in the darkness. But the darkness has never understood or won the battle against the light. Jesus defeated the darkness at the *cross.

1:6-8 ~ John the *Baptist

God has always sent people (called *prophets) to tell the good news about himself. As far as we know, there had been no *prophets for four hundred years. At this time in history, God sent a *prophet named John the *Baptist. He came to point out to the *Jews that Jesus was their *Messiah. John was a great man (see Acts 19:3-4). He became very famous. People thought that he might even be the *Messiah. John, the *gospel writer, emphasises that John the *Baptist is not the *Messiah. John is not the light. He came only to show people the light.

1:9-13 ~ The light coming to the world

John now speaks of the one who is more important than John the *Baptist. The true light (the Word) is Jesus who is coming into the world (9). There has always been light in the world. People have always been able to see God through the things that he has *created. There is also a voice inside speaking to us of right and wrong (*Romans 1:18-21). The ‘world’ means more than the *Jewish people of the world. It means the people who do not believe. (The writer is thinking most but not entirely of *Jews here).

John now writes about Jesus’ life. Jesus came to the world that he had made. But most *Jews did not believe that he was their *Messiah (10-11). However, some people (*Jews and *gentiles) believed his words. Then they became God’s children.

The name of a person was very important. It showed what he or she was like. The name Jesus means ‘God is the *saviour’ (Matthew 1:21). Believing in Jesus’ name means accepting the *salvation that he obtained for everyone at the *cross. When people believe in his name, it means they believe in the character of God. They believe that God is good. He is kind and loves the people of the world. When they see Jesus, they see God and believe in him. Then God gives them the right to become his own children. All who believe in him are in God’s family.

God’s children do not come from a human birth. We cannot make ourselves children of God. Only God can make us his children. Jesus took our *sins on the *cross. He gives us his *Holy *Spirit when we agree that he died for us. All who believe in him are his children. God is their Father (12-13).

1:14-18 ~ The Word has become a human person

John tells us in these verses that the Word becomes the man, Jesus. He becomes a person and the *disciples see him with their own eyes. Would you like to see what this great God is like? Then look at the Jesus who was on this earth. He shows us how God would live if he were a man. God came from *heaven to this earth and became like us. He ate, drank and slept like us. He had the same feelings that we have.

John uses the idea of a tent to describe how Jesus lived on earth. Jesus came for a short period. He did not have a permanent home. In the *Old Testament, God’s people lived in the desert. God’s home was a tent. See Exodus 36:18-38, and chapter 40 for details of the *tabernacle (tent). This was where God would meet the *Israelites.

In the desert, the *glory of the *Lord appeared in a cloud (Exodus 16:10). The *glory of the *Lord came upon Mount Sinai. This was before God gave the Ten *Commandments (Exodus 24:16). When Moses had prepared the *tabernacle, the *glory of the *Lord filled it (Exodus 40:34). Solomon built the *Temple. The priests could not go into it. Because then, the *glory of the *Lord filled the house of the *Lord (1 Kings 8:11). When Isaiah saw the *Lord in the *Temple, he heard the *angels singing. They sang, “The whole earth is full of his *glory” (Isaiah 6:3).

John tells us how he and other *disciples saw the *glory of Jesus, God’s Son. They saw his *glory in the *miracles that he did (John 2:11). They saw his *glory in the *Transfiguration on the mountain (Matthew 17:2). Always when the *disciples were with him, they saw his *glory. They knew and felt that he was present with them all the time. It was wonderful.

Moreover, Jesus is full of *grace and truth. *Grace is God’s special *blessing. We do not have to earn it. It does not depend on how good we are. God gives it to us freely and without price. *Grace also helps us to understand God. It shows us that he is strong and powerful. He could easily destroy us if he wished. But *grace shows that he is gentle and kind. He wants good things for us. Jesus came to show us God’s *grace and God’s truth.

John the *Baptist makes clear that Jesus is greater than he is. The reason is that ‘he was before me’ (15). Verse 1 tells the same truth. With a loud voice, John shouts this message. John is older than Jesus. But Jesus existed before John was born.

Verse 16 shows that God has given his *grace to all Christians. God gives his *grace in full, but it does not come all at once. God gives all of his *grace time and time again. He gives us one *blessing after another. It is one *grace and then another *grace. After one *grace, another comes to take its place. ‘Fullness’ (being full) is the total of everything that God is. All that is in God and of God is ours (see 1 Corinthians 3:21-23).

Verse 17 says that God gave the law to the *Jews through Moses. Now he shows himself in a new way, through Jesus. We see here two ways in which God deals with us. One is through obeying laws. The other is through receiving *grace. *Grace does not replace law. We must all still obey the law. *Grace helps us to obey the law.

Verse 18 tells us that the only person who has seen God the Father is Jesus, his Son. God did not allow even Moses to see him. The only way we can know God is through Jesus Christ, the Word. It is a better way to know God than Moses knew. Jesus is God’s only Son who is close to the Father. He is the one who shows God to us.

In the first 18 verses, John has been trying to tell us how great God is. In doing this, he can only use human words to describe God. We must always recognise that we do not have the knowledge to understand God. We have to ask him to help us to understand John’s message.

Part 2 ~ The first events (1:19 - 2:11)

John now begins the story of the life of Jesus during a period of six days. God through Jesus (the Word) *created the world in six days (Genesis 1). John has already mentioned this. Perhaps John sees Jesus’ life on earth as a six-day period. He worked to *create the world in six days. Now Jesus, the Word who became man works for six days.

1:19-28 ~ John explains who he is

The *Jews of Jerusalem send priests and *Levites to ask John the *Baptist who he is (19). The words ‘the *Jews’ appear many times in this *gospel. Here it means mostly the *Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. Zacharias, the father of John the *Baptist was a priest. The job of priest passed from father to son. No other person could be a priest. So this could be a reason for this visit. John, the son of a priest, is behaving in an unusual way. They want to know why. Many people are coming to hear him speak. So the leaders may think he is a *false *prophet.

The *Jews expected the *Messiah (the Christ) to come from God to the earth. ‘*Messiah’ is a *Jewish word. The Greek word means ‘Christ’. The meaning of the word ‘*Messiah’ is ‘the one God chose above all other people’. He is the one to whom God gives his *Spirit in a special way. The *Messiah is a king who comes to rule.

The *Jews had many different ideas of what the *Messiah would do. Some thought that he would bring peace to the earth. He would make right everything that was wrong. Other people expected him to lead the armies of the *Jews. They would defeat the armies of the world. Some *Jews said that they were the *Messiah. They caused a lot of trouble.

Some of the *Jews who listened to John thought that he was Elijah. They believed that Elijah would return to the earth. This would be before the *Messiah came. He would prepare the world to receive the *Messiah (Malachi 4:5). So they thought that Elijah had returned to earth. The *Jews also expected a *prophet like Moses whom they should listen to (Deuteronomy 18:15-20). The *Jews were serious about *false *prophets. They would kill them if the things that they spoke of did not happen (Deuteronomy 18:20). We can understand therefore how the *Jews thought. They wanted to make sure that John was a true *prophet. John says that he is not the *Messiah. Nor is he Elijah or the *prophet (21).

John’s answer to their question is that he is nothing. He is just a voice. He uses the words of Isaiah: "I am only someone shouting in the desert; make the road ready for the *Lord!” (23). The roads in those days were rough. When a king came to visit, they made the roads as smooth and straight as possible. Then he could travel in comfort.

The Pharisees wonder why John *baptises people (25). What right has he to do this? If he were the *Messiah, or Elijah or the *prophet, he might have *baptised people. Isaiah had written that the *Messiah would pour water upon many nations (Isaiah 52:15). Ezekiel said that the *Messiah would pour clean water upon the people. That would *cleanse them (Ezekiel 36:25).

The *Jews did use water as a sign. It showed that a person was a true *Jew. This was in agreement with the laws of their religion. They thought that *Jews were already clean. There was no need for anyone to wash them. They did not need *baptism. The *Jewish leaders believed that only *gentiles needed *baptism. They needed it if they wanted to accept the *Jewish *faith. John does not agree with that. He is suggesting that even the *Jews need someone to wash them.

John *baptises people when they show *repentance for their *sins (Matthew 3:11). His answer is, “I use water to *baptise people. But here with you is someone whom you do not know. Although I came first, I am not good enough to undo his shoes”. That was the job of a slave. In John’s own opinion, he is not good enough even to be the slave of the one who is to come (26-27). John is saying to the *Jews, “The king is coming and it is not only the *gentiles who need to be clean; you too need to be clean.” John is like a finger pointing to Christ.

John *baptises people at Bethany. This is a village on the east side of the Jordan river (28). This is not the Bethany on the hill called the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. He *baptises to make people clean. But that *baptism does not give people the power to stay clean.

1:29-34 ~ John talks about the *Lamb of God

We now come to the next day in Jesus’ story. The *baptism of Jesus had taken place. God allowed the *devil to test him in the desert. John sees Jesus coming towards him. John and Jesus are relatives. But John does not understand until now that Jesus is the *Messiah. John calls Jesus ‘The *Lamb of God who takes away the *sin of the world!’ (29).

God provided a *lamb for *sacrifice in place of Isaac (Genesis 22:8). God now provides Jesus the *Lamb as a *sacrifice in the place of other people. There is also a reference to a *lamb in the *Jewish *Passover. It came after the *Jews left Egypt. They killed a *lamb and used its blood. It was to save the *Jews from the *Angel of Death. The *angel saw the blood of the *lamb on the door. He would then pass by. He would not kill anyone in the house (Exodus 12:11-13. During the time of the *Old Testament God forgave the *sins of the people. It was through the *sacrifice of animals.

The *New Testament is all about how God sent Jesus to the world. He sent him to be the *sacrifice for everyone’s *sin (Hebrews 10:10). Isaiah chapter 53 is a *prophecy. It tells how Jesus suffered and died for us. Jesus was the *lamb that people killed. He took upon himself the punishment for the *sins of all people. He took away the *sins of the world. This includes every kind of *sin by every kind of person. No *sin is too great.

John was the one who *baptised Jesus. Then the *Spirit of God came down like a *dove upon Jesus. John emphasised that the *Spirit remained on Jesus. In *Old Testament times, the *Holy *Spirit came to people at certain times and for special tasks. But he did not remain with them.

The time would come when God would give his *Holy *Spirit. He (the *Holy *Spirit) would rest and remain on those who believe in his Son, Jesus Christ. That would be after Jesus had done the work that he came on earth to do. That work was to die upon the *cross. He would take our *sin upon himself and became our *Saviour.

God told John the *Baptist to look for the person who received the *Spirit. He would *baptise other people with the *Holy *Spirit. The Greek word for ‘*baptise’ means to put something or someone under the water. This is similar to the way you put clothes under water to wash them.

John says that Jesus will *baptise people with the *Holy *Spirit. First, we need to *repent. Then Jesus will *forgive our *sins and bring us into God’s family. It will be like a flood of water over our lives. He will cover us all over. The *Holy *Spirit lights up a person’s life. Then that person begins to know God’s *will for his life. God *cleanses him and takes away his *sin. The *Holy *Spirit makes a person strong. The *Holy *Spirit gives the power to do right and to fight against *evil. Christ’s *baptism with the *Holy *Spirit is also a *baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11). The *Holy *Spirit burns *evil things and makes a person clean.

1:35-51 ~ Jesus chooses his first *disciples

The next day John the *Baptist shows Jesus to two of his *disciples. Again, John calls him the *Lamb of God. When the *disciples hear this, they leave John and follow Jesus. We see that John puts Jesus first. He is not jealous when the two *disciples leave him. One of the *disciples is Andrew. The other may be John, the writer of this *gospel.

Jesus turns round and sees the two *disciples following him. He asks what they want. Why are they following him? They do not answer his question straight away. ‘Rabbi’ means ‘Teacher’. The two *disciples want to know more about Jesus. That is probably why they refer to him as Rabbi. Jesus’ answer is “Come and see!” Jesus is asking the *disciples to come with him. They can then talk with him. They can find out more about him. So they go to see where he lives. John says, ‘The time was about the 10th hour.’ The *Jews counted time from 6 o’clock. So many Bible teachers think that John means 4 o’clock in the afternoon. However, the *Romans said that the day started at midnight. So other Bible teachers think that John means 10 o’clock in the morning here. They spend the rest of the day with him.

We come now to the next day. Andrew is one of the first two *disciples to meet Jesus. He is then eager to find his brother, Simon. He tells him that they have found the *Messiah (the Christ). After this, we hear of Simon Peter many times. We hear of Andrew only a few times. Andrew always takes second place to Peter. But one of the good things he does is to bring other people to Jesus. He brought to Jesus the boy who had five loaves and two small fish (John 6:8-9). He brought to Jesus the Greeks who were asking about him (John 12:21-22). He did not keep quiet about Jesus.

Jesus looks at Simon and gives him another name, Cephas. This is *Jewish for rock. In Greek, the word for rock is ‘Peter’. In the *Old Testament, a new name often had meaning. It meant that the person knew God in a different way. Abram became Abraham (Genesis 17:5). Jacob became *Israel (Genesis 32:28). This is the idea. When you come to know God, you become a new person. It is good for you then to have a new name.

When Jesus looked at Peter, he saw the kind of man Peter was then. But he could also see the ‘rock’ that he would become. Peter was a rock. He would be part of the firm ground underneath the *church (Matthew 16:18). Jesus looks at all of us in this way. He sees us as we are and he sees us as we will be.

The next day Jesus goes north to the country of Galilee. Perhaps they are in the town of Cana. There he finds Philip. He asks Philip to follow him. Philip then goes to find Nathanael. He tells him that they have found the *Messiah. Nathanael is surprised that Jesus comes from Nazareth. It was not an important place. The *Jews expected the *Messiah to be born in Bethlehem (Matthew 5:4-6). Philip calls Jesus the son of Joseph. This is not denying that Jesus is God’s Son. At this time, that is probably the only way he knows Jesus.

Jesus knows all about Nathanael. He knows he is an honest person. Jesus sees him as the kind of man David spoke about in *Psalm 32:2. He sees someone in whom there is nothing *false. Nathanael is astonished that Jesus knows him. It is possible that Nathanael has been looking for the *Messiah to come. He may have been praying about this. Jesus knows this although he has not spoken to Nathanael. Then Nathanael understands. He then declares that Jesus is the Son of God, and the king of *Israel.

Nathanael can now understand. Nathanael believes because Jesus knows all about him. In the *Old Testament is the story of Jacob’s dream. Jacob saw a ladder of gold resting on the earth. It reached into *heaven. The *angels of God were going up and down on it (Genesis 28:12). Jesus refers to this dream. Nathanael believes because of what Jesus knows about him. The truth, says Jesus, is that you will know more about me than that. Jesus tells Nathanael that he will see the *angels giving *glory to the Son of God (see Daniel 7:13-14).

Jesus himself is the meeting place between *heaven and earth. He is the Word who has become a Man. He is the way to *heaven.

2:1-11 ~ Water changed into wine - the first sign

In all four *gospels, there are many *miracles. In the first three, the *miracles are about Jesus’ power. They are acts of power emphasising the rule of Jesus. They also emphasise the defeat of the rule of *Satan. John always describes Jesus’ *miracles as ‘signs’. John wants to emphasise the meaning of the *miracle rather than how wonderful it is. Each shows a truth that God wants people to know. So these signs point us to Jesus’ character and who he is. They ask us to give an answer to the question that they asked Jesus, ‘Who are you?’ (8:25).

In this the first sign, Jesus changes water into wine. Both this *miracle and the next (4:54) happened in Cana of Galilee. This was about three days’ journey from where John *baptised people. John writes about the things that happened in the first week of Jesus’ work.

A *Jewish wedding happened late in the evening after a big meal. The bride and bridegroom were special people, like kings and queens. They stayed at home for the first week of their marriage and met with all their friends. They had fun and parties. At a *Jewish meal, it was important that there should be plenty of wine. The *Jewish teachers said that without wine there was no joy. If there were no wine, it would spoil the wedding. The bride and bridegroom would be sad. We see in this story that Jesus does everything he can to make them happy.

Jesus is present at this wedding. Mary, his mother, tells him that there is no wine left. She is anxious about what will happen now. She expects him to do something about the problem (5). It seems that Jesus does not see why he should. His reply is that his time (or hour) has not yet come.

Jesus’ words to his mother seem a little hard. He is looking beyond that moment in time. He is thinking about the purpose of his coming to the earth (7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1). Jesus knows that something special will happen later in his life. The way that we see time and the way that God sees it are different.

Jesus makes clear that no one can tell him what to do. He does only what his Father asks him to do (5:30; 8:29).

Sometimes Jesus does not perform a *miracle until a person has special *faith (John 4:49-50; Matthew 8:13; 9:22, 29-30; Mark 2:5). Mary now has *faith to ask the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them.

The large jars each held about 20 gallons of water. The *Jews used the water for *religious reasons. When people entered a house, they had to wash their feet. Then they had to wash their hands before and during a meal. They had to do this. Otherwise, the *Jewish teachers would say that they were not clean enough.

Jesus asks the servants to fill the jars with water. They fill all the jars right to the top. Then Jesus tells the servants to take the water to the person responsible for the organisation of the wedding meal (*steward). Some time after they had filled the jars, the water became wine. The *steward did not know that first it was water. He is surprised because the wine is the best he has tasted that evening.

There was a lot of wine in the six jars. It could have been 120 gallons. This would be far more than they needed at this meal. This shows us the greatness of God’s *grace. He has more to give us than we could ever need. This story shows us that Jesus changes ordinary things into much better things. It is at an ordinary *Jewish wedding. But there Jesus shows his *glory and his *disciples believe in him.

Part 3 ~ Meetings with people in Jerusalem, Samaria and Galilee (2:12-4:54)

2:12-25 ~ Jesus clears the *Temple

After this, Jesus goes to Capernaum with his family and *disciples. Jesus lived at Capernaum when he was in Galilee (Matthew 4:13). Capernaum was a town on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was about 20 *miles (32 kilometres) from Cana. This time Jesus stays only a few days.

Jesus goes to Jerusalem just before the *Jewish *festival called *Passover (13). This holiday happened each year. It was usually in the middle of April. At this time, the *Jews remembered that their *ancestors had been slaves in Egypt. See Exodus chapters 12-13 for the story of how God rescued them.

The law in Jesus’ time was that every adult *Jew should be at the *Passover. If they lived less than 15 *miles (24 kilometres) from Jerusalem, they had to go to the *Temple for this. *Jews from other countries would try to go to the *Passover in Jerusalem. They would go at least once in their lives. Many people were in Jerusalem that year. It is possible that there were two million.

Every adult *Jew had to pay the *Temple tax. The money paid for the cost of the *Temple services. The tax was a half *shekel, about two days’ pay for a working man. For daily payments, they used coins from different countries, *Rome, Greece, Tyre, Sidon and Palestine itself. But in the *Temple, the people had to use only *Jewish coins. The rulers did not allow foreign coins. People who were not *holy had touched the coins. That was the reason for this rule. So only *holy coins could be used to pay a gift to God.

The people who changed the foreign money for *Jewish money worked in the *Temple. There was nothing wrong with this job. They could ask for a payment for this service. What was wrong was that they charged each person much more than the correct amount. They seemed to think that their religion permitted this.

In order to *worship God, the *Jews had to provide animals for *sacrifice in the *Temple. It was a gift to God. So the animal had to be perfect. So someone had to examine these animals very carefully. They had to make sure that they were perfect. Most people brought their own animal or bird for *sacrifice. The people who examined the animals often said that these were not perfect. Then the owners would have to buy another animal or bird.

There were business people in the *Temple. They sold animals and birds. These were expensive. So the people had to pay much more for the animals. The *Temple had become a place for thieves. Moreover, they seemed to think that their religion permitted this.

Jesus is very angry. He makes a whip from pieces of *rope. He chases all the people and the animals from the *Temple. He pushes the money tables and the coins on to the floor (15).

The four *gospels give different reasons for Jesus’ anger (Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46 and John 2:16). We see at least four reasons why Jesus is angry.

Jesus sees that the business people are robbing poor people of their money. And they think that their religion permits this. The *Temple has become a market place. We *worship a *holy God. We should therefore come before him with honour and fear. God’s *Temple (or house) should be a place of *prayer. For Jesus, the honour and *glory of his Father is of great importance.

The noise of buying and selling is not helpful to the true *worship of God. Jesus has a great desire for the honour and *glory of his Father. It is like a fire that burns inside him. It is important for us too that we have this great desire for God. God made everyone in his own image and for his own *glory (Genesis 1:26-27). God made us to *worship and respect him. There are so many who do not know him. They do not know what God requires of them. They have *false ideas of who God is. The writer of *Psalm 119 knew about this. He said, “Rivers of tears flow from my eyes, for people do not obey your law” (*Psalm 119:136).

The honour of God’s name among the nations should be of first importance to us. We too should be sad about people who do not honour God. We see here an angry Jesus fighting against *evil. But he did not fight with the *weapons of war. He fought by showing a way of love and *forgiveness. He is not afraid to enter the war against *evil and, in the end, men killed him.

There is another reason for Jesus’ anger. It is that the people’s *worship does not please God. The worshippers have wrong attitudes (See Isaiah 1:1-17). They think that if they give *sacrifices to God they can continue *sinning. The *prophets had been telling the *Jewish people this for a long time. God wants a right heart attitude. He wants true *repentance for *sin. He does not want just the life of animals (see *Psalm 51:16-17).

Mark in his *gospel adds another reason for Jesus’ anger. “My house shall be called the house of *prayer for all the nations”. There were separate parts (courts) to the *Temple. The first court was for the *gentiles. The next court was as far as the women could go. The next court was for the *Jewish men. The inner court was for the priests only, the *Holy of Holies (the especially *holy place). The *gentiles could enter only one part. But that was full of animals and people who bought and sold things. The *gentiles could not pray and *worship with all that noise?

What do the *disciples think about it? They remember the words of *Psalm 69:9 (17). It says, “His love for God’s *Temple burned in him like a fire.” The *disciples see that this *psalm is about the coming *Messiah. So the *disciples begin to believe that Jesus is the *Messiah. The *prophet Malachi had also spoken about this event. He said there would be a time when a man would come straight into the *Temple. He would be like a fire that makes silver genuine. No one would be able to stand before him. He would make people clean so that they would bring right gifts to him (Malachi 3:1-3).

What do the *Jews think about Jesus’ actions? They do not like what Jesus has done. What right has he to act in this way? People expected the *Messiah to do wonderful *miracles when he came. So they ask him to prove that he is the *Messiah by giving them a sign (doing a *miracle).

Jesus says that if they destroy this *Temple he will build it again. It will take only three days. The *Jews think that Jesus is talking about the *Temple (building). The *Jews do not believe him. The *Temple has already taken 46 years to build. It is still not complete. The *Jews used Jesus’ words against him at his *trial (Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58; 15:29). See also Acts 6:14.

What does Jesus mean by ‘destroying this *Temple and rebuilding it in three days?’ John tells us that Jesus is talking about his own body. It is possible that Jesus actually points to himself as he speaks these words. The *disciples realised what Jesus meant. This was after the rulers *crucified him. He was in the *tomb for three days. Then God raised him from the dead. Also the *disciples may have remembered *Psalm 16:10 (Acts 2:31; 13:35).

Many of the *Jews believed in Jesus at this time in Jerusalem because of the *miracles (23). Why does he not tell the people then that he is the *Messiah? Jesus understands people. He knows what they are like. They believe when they see the *miracles. They will follow him while he does *miracles for them. The *Jews are looking for a *Messiah who will send the *Romans out of *Israel. But later they will turn away from him. This will be when they realise that he has come to die for their *sins. Jesus does not put his trust in them yet (24-25).

Jesus does not want people to believe only when they see *miracles. We bring *evil into God’s *Temple (see Mark 7:20). We do not *worship him as we should; he cannot therefore trust us. He wants believers who will understand his message. They will be true *disciples. The *miracles are signs of how much God loves his people.

3:1-21 ~ The new birth

Jesus now meets Nicodemus. He is one of the leaders of the *Jews. He would have been a rich man. When Jesus died Nicodemus brought 75 *pounds (35 kilograms) of *spices to put on Jesus’ body (John 19:39).

Nicodemus was a *Pharisee. The Pharisees obeyed the Law with very great care. The name *Pharisee means ‘the separated one’. They did not live ordinary lives. They spent a lot of time in obeying every detail of the Law. The Law was the first five books of the *Old Testament. The *Jews believed in those five books. They believed that in them were all the instructions for living a good life. But the Pharisees had made many rules that were not in the five books. They did this to make sure that people could understand the Law and obey it. This system of rules was often difficult to obey in every detail. There was an example in the section about people not working on the *Sabbath (Saturday). It had 24 chapters.

Nicodemus was also a member of the *Sanhedrin. This was a group of 70 *Jewish leaders. It was the highest Court. It ruled every *Jew in the world. The leaders were especially looking for anyone who might be a *false *prophet.

Nicodemus belonged to the *Jewish nation. They were the ones whom God had chosen. Nicodemus was one of the leaders. Because of that, he felt sure of his place in God’s future *kingdom. Therefore, Jesus’ words, ‘You must be born again’ would surprise him.

Nicodemus would have known that Jesus had been a *carpenter in Nazareth. It was unusual for a leader of the *Jews to talk to a workman about *religious matters. Also, he came at night. Perhaps he wished to hide the fact that he came to see Jesus. Perhaps he came at night because there were too many people near to Jesus during the day. At night Nicodemus could see Jesus on his own and have a quiet talk with him.

Nicodemus understood that God had sent Jesus to teach people. He knew that Jesus could not work *miracles alone. He needed God’s help. But Jesus knew that the *miracles were not as important as the new birth (being born again).

Verse 3 starts with the *Hebrew words ‘amen amen’. These words mean, ‘what I say is truth’ or ‘believe me when I say….’ or just ‘yes’. The truth is that unless a person is born again he cannot even see the *kingdom of God.

The Greek word ‘again’ has different possible meanings in English. It can mean again, that is for the second time. Like natural birth, it is an important event. It can also mean from above and therefore from God. The truth is in each of these meanings. To be born again is something so different from what went before that it is like a new birth.

The new birth is not only to do with the body. The new birth is in one’s *spirit (the inner part of a person’s mind and heart, which can listen to God). Something happens inside a person that is like being born all over again. It is something you cannot do for yourself. It comes only by the *grace and power of God.

Nicodemus does not seem to understand what Jesus is saying. He asks, “How can a grown man be born a second time?” (4). He knows that there is something missing in his life. That is why he wants to talk to Jesus. But Nicodemus does not understand what Jesus means. He thinks that Jesus is talking about being born again as a baby.

There are two kinds of birth. The first is the one we all have at the beginning of our lives. The second is when we are ‘born again’. This is when we accept what Jesus has done for us on the *cross. He has taken our *sin and he has put the *Holy *Spirit in us. The *Holy *Spirit helps us to want to do what God wants us to do (Philippians 2:14-15).

There is much in the *New Testament about being born again, or having a ‘new birth’ (for example, *Romans 6:1-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3,22, 23).

Jesus says that unless you are born again you cannot see God’s *kingdom. What does he mean by this ‘*kingdom’? The *Jews had a way of saying things twice. The second time explained further what the writer had said the first time (for example, *Psalms 46:7, 51:3 and 23:2). We find the same thing in the *Lord’s *prayer, ‘Your *kingdom come: may we do your *will here on earth as you do it in *heaven’.

What God wants to happen always happens in *heaven. So what is the *kingdom of *heaven (or the *kingdom of God) on earth? It is anywhere on earth where the things that God wants always happen. It is anywhere where God rules. It is God’s rule in our lives. We agree to follow the *will of God in our lives with the help of the *Holy *Spirit in us. That is why we cannot understand about the *kingdom until we are born again

As we have seen, there are two kinds of birth. The first is the one that we all have at the beginning of our lives. It is through our parents that we have this life. ‘Flesh’ in the Bible is what people can do for themselves. The *Spirit gives power to do what the flesh (our own strength) cannot do.

We have said that Nicodemus was a *Jew. He was in fear of God and obeyed the *Jewish law. He was a *Pharisee and leader of the *Jews. Everything seemed right for him to believe that God accepted him. So why does Jesus tell him he needs to be born again? Nicodemus seems to understand this new birth as a second natural birth. That is clearly stupid.

Jesus gives two explanations to make clear the meaning of ‘born again’. One is from the *Old Testament and the other is from our knowledge of the weather. Both help us to understand what Jesus is saying.

First, Jesus speaks of a natural event that explains a *spiritual event (10). Nicodemus is the teacher of *Israel. He is a leader in understanding the Bible. He may even be the first leader. So Jesus expects Nicodemus to understand. Jesus expects him to know what the *Old Testament teaches.

One clear *Old Testament reference to a birth with water and the *Spirit is Ezekiel 36:25-27. This refers to the time when the *Messiah will come. Then there will be a new experience of being clean (morally good) in people’s lives. There it says, ‘I will pour clean water on you and you will be clean’. Ezekiel also says that God will put his *Spirit in us and then we will obey his laws.

Jesus has now come into the world. The *prophet spoke of this new day of cleaning by water and the *Spirit’s power. So Jesus is saying that this day has come. It is here now because the King, the *Messiah, Jesus himself is now present.

Second, both the *Hebrew word and the Greek word for ‘*spirit’ also mean ‘wind’. Jesus uses ‘wind’ to explain his words because it is a mystery (8). Today we know more about the weather than in the time of Jesus. Jesus reminds Nicodemus that you can hear and feel the wind. But you cannot understand where it comes from or where it is going. The wind blows the leaves from the trees. You can see what it does. But you may not understand how it does it.

It is the same with the *Holy *Spirit. You may not understand him, or know how he works. But you can see the effect of the *Holy *Spirit in people’s lives.

In verse 2, Nicodemus had said what he and the *religious leaders believed. This was that Jesus had come from God (2). But still Nicodemus does not realise that Jesus is talking about the *spirit inside a person.

Jesus is the one who came from *heaven. He speaks to them (the *Jews) about this. We (Jesus and his *disciples) are certain what we are talking about. We know this because we have seen it ourselves (11). But none of you (most of the *Jews) will believe what we say. I help you to understand by talking to you about things on earth. But still you do not understand. So you are not likely to believe when I talk to you about things in *heaven (12). You do not understand when I help you with an example from nature. So you will not be able to understand the things of *heaven and about life and the *Spirit?

What does Nicodemus’ talk with Jesus tell us? It tells us that entry into God’s *kingdom does not depend on what nation we belong to. It does not depend on *religious rules. It does not depend on being good or knowing the Bible. It depends on our receiving a new life from God through *faith in Jesus, who is from God.

Jesus calls himself the ‘Son of Man’. This is a reference to Daniel 7:13 where Daniel had a dream. This dream was about ‘a son of man’. There is also one called the ‘Ancient (old) of Days’. This is God. He gave a ‘son of man’ authority over everything. Jesus did not often call himself the Son of God. Instead, he used the words ‘Son of Man’. The *Jews knew that this was a reference to the *Messiah. He was the one they expected to come to the earth.

Jesus is God; he and the Father are one (10:30). Yet, he came as a man living with men and women. He spoke with human lips and did things with human hands. Jesus came down from *heaven, his real home. He came to live the truth about God. Then after he had been with people for a while, he died for them. Then he returned to *heaven. Jesus knows the thoughts of God. Therefore, what he says to people about God is true.

In verse 14, Jesus talks about how he will die. People will lift him up. The *Jews at that time knew that Jesus meant death by *crucifixion. Jesus mentions an event that happened when the *Israelites were in the desert (Numbers 21:4-9). They did not like the food, which God gave them (*manna). They also wanted to go back to Egypt. This was a great *sin against God. God then sent poisonous snakes among them. Many of the *Israelites died, so the other people asked Moses to pray to God for them. The people said that they were sorry. They asked God to *forgive them.

God told Moses to make a metal snake. He put it on a pole in the middle of the camp. Since the Garden of Eden, people have associated the snake with *sin. God healed those who looked at the snake. The snake did not heal the people. They believed in God who had told Moses to make the snake and lift it up.

Moses lifted up the snake. People looked at it as Moses told them. They believed that God would heal them and they would live. In the same way men lifted up Jesus on the *cross for all to see. He hung on a *cross like a criminal (Matthew 27:38). But there was never any crime in his life.

In the *Old Testament, they killed an animal as a *sacrifice for God to *forgive *sin. The animal was perfect in every way. So Jesus had to be perfect in order to take the *sin of the world on himself. God chose that Jesus should die in this way. This was to show his love for *sinners. God gave his Son to pay the price for our *sins. So John says, ‘Even so must the Son of man be lifted up’. God *forgives those people who look to Jesus and his death on the *cross. At the same time, God puts his new life in them.

This story of the snake in the desert is a description of Jesus’ death for us on the *cross. Later in his *Gospel, John tells us that Jesus is the bread of life and God’s gift to us. (6:31-35). The *Israelites hated the bread and did not thank God for it. In the same way, it is possible to hate God’s gift of Jesus and his death for us. Paul warns about this in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 10:9). Moses put the snake on a pole. This is like the *cross on which they lifted Jesus. Paul in Corinthians says, ‘Christ did not do any *sins. But God made Christ become *sin instead of us.’ (2 Corinthians 5:21).

John has another description for the ‘*kingdom of God’ or ‘the *kingdom of *heaven’. It is ‘*eternal (or *everlasting) life’ or ‘life’. But it is more than life that lasts for ever. The Greek word means ‘life of the age’ (to come). It is the life of God. ‘*Salvation’ is another word for this. To enter into *eternal life is to have the life of God. To have this life we need to believe in Jesus. We believe that God is our Father. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God. As Jesus tells us the truth about God and life, we must obey him.

John 3:16 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. It tells us of God’s heart of love. We see his love for us in the value of his gift, his only Son. He loves each person as if he or she is the only person in the world to love.

Probably, John wrote verses 16 to 21 to explain more of what Jesus is telling Nicodemus. God ‘gave’ his Son because he loves the people he has made. Perhaps John is thinking of the story of Abraham and his son Isaac (Genesis 22; see also *Romans 8:32). Abraham loved his son very much. But God asked Abraham to give his son as a *sacrifice. God saw that Abraham intended to obey him. God then gave him a sheep to *sacrifice instead. That is how God loves.

But God did not send his Son to blame people for their *sins. He sent Jesus to save them. But some refuse to have *faith in Jesus. This means that they will not be part of God’s *kingdom.

Jesus, the light of the world, has come into the world. All people live in darkness until they hear and receive Jesus. Those people whose actions are *evil do not want to come to the light. When Adam and Eve *sinned, they wanted to hide from God (Genesis 3:8). People who do wrong want to hide. People love darkness rather than light because they do *evil things. Such people hate the light and will not come to the light. It will light up the bad things that they do. People will see the *evil that they do. But those who love God’s truth are not afraid when the light shines on them.

So some will not have *faith in Jesus. They will not see, or understand, or wonder at God’s love. They will see no beauty in Jesus. God does not blame them, but by not having *faith in him they blame themselves.

Good people do not try to hide the things that they do. Those who live by the truth (do the truth) are not afraid to come to the light. They are not afraid of what people will see in their lives. They come to the light only through God’s love. All will see this.

After coming to the light, believers live a new life. They receive the power of the *Holy *Spirit to help them ‘to do the truth’. God’s purpose is not to blame people. He has no pleasure in their death. Death is the result and effect of *sin. But the gift of God is life in Christ Jesus our *Lord (*Romans 6:23).

3:22-4:3 ~ Jesus and John the *Baptist

Jesus now moves from Jerusalem into the area near to it. This is the district of Judea. There he has time to be with his *disciples. Also, he *baptises some people (but see 4:2). John the *Baptist was also *baptising many people. This was in the same area (23). There was plenty of water there. John the *Baptist was not yet in prison (24).

A man has an argument with John’s *disciples. He is probably one of the *Jewish leaders or teachers. The argument is about the *Jewish religion. The *Jews had many rules about washing themselves. They wanted to make sure that they were clean enough to *worship. Probably the argument was about the difference between *baptism and the washing they did each day.

When John *baptised a person, the first thing that John asked that person to do was to *repent. The Greek word for ‘*repent’ means ‘change of mind’. It means having a different view of God from what you had before. It means agreeing with God about your *sin and being sorry for it. It means turning away from your *sin and going in the opposite direction. It is turning away from your old way of life. Then you go in a new way. This way is towards God and *righteousness (right living). *Repentance is necessary for *salvation. Both John’s and Jesus’ *baptisms were therefore different from the *Jewish *religious washing.

John’s *disciples wonder why people are going to Jesus to *baptise them rather than to John. They do not like to see people leaving John and turning to Jesus. They do not like to see John taking the second place. But John does not agree with his *disciples. John repeats what he has said earlier - that he is not the Christ (the *Messiah).

John says that no one can do anything unless God allows it. God gives each person a job to do that is just for that person. John’s job is to declare that Jesus is coming. Jesus said a similar thing to Pilate (19:11). Jesus can do only what God allows him to do. Each of us has things to do that God allows us to do. These things are for us to do; no one else can do them. We should not worry about what God allows other people to do.

The *apostle John says it is like marriage. Jesus is the bridegroom. John the *Baptist is the friend of the bridegroom. The *Old Testament speaks about the marriage of God and *Israel. *Israel is the bride and God is the bridegroom. The joining of God and *Israel was like a wedding. In the *New Testament, the *Church is the bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-32). Jesus has come from God. He is the Son of God. *Israel is his bride and he is *Israel’s bridegroom. John sees himself not as the bridegroom but as the bridegroom’s friend.

In the *Jewish wedding, the friend of the bridegroom arranged the wedding. He would also wait outside the bride’s bedroom. This was to make sure that only the bridegroom could enter. When he had let the bridegroom in, the friend had finished his job. In the same way, Jesus is the bridegroom and John is his friend. John is happy to take the second place to Jesus.

John the *apostle now gives some reasons why Jesus is the important one. Jesus comes from *heaven and is above all other people (31). John and all other people come from the earth. They come from human parents. They are therefore different. If we want to know about *heaven, we can learn only from the one who comes from *heaven. Because Jesus alone knows God, He alone can tell us about God.

Jesus speaks about what he has seen and heard, but no one believes him (32). Those who believe Jesus’ words know that he speaks the truth (33).

God sent his Son to speak his message. In the *Old Testament God gave his *prophets as much of his *Spirit as they needed. God would also have given John the *Baptist only a quantity of his *Spirit. God gave Jesus his *Holy *Spirit without limit (34). God gives his *Spirit to us as well to help us understand his truth.

The Father loves the Son and has complete trust in him. God has given everything he has to the Son (35). From his loving heart, God is bringing *salvation to the world through his Son.

The chapter ends with a call for people to choose the life that God offers (36). God asked the *Israelites to make this choice (Deuteronomy 30:15-20). Everyone who has *faith in the Son has *eternal life.

But no one who keeps turning away from God will share in that life. God is *holy. That means he is different and separate from us. God is right in everything he is and everything he does. He is completely good. It would be against his nature not to be angry against wrong. We too are angry when we see people behave badly towards other people. How much more will God be angry when he sees the results of all the wrong things in the world? He will burn up and destroy anything that is not good and right. ‘Because our God is a fire that burns and destroys’ (Hebrews 12:29). Because God is like this, it is impossible for anyone to stand near to God. His *holiness would destroy that person.

Jesus, through his death for us on the *cross, took our place against God’s *wrath (anger). Only by accepting what Jesus has done for us can we escape from God’s anger. We then ‘see life’. If God is still angry with us, we do not have true life.

The first three verses of chapter 4 tell of what the Pharisees thought of the *baptisms of John and Jesus. The Pharisees were interested that Jesus was *baptising more people than John (3:26). They saw this as a danger to their employment as leaders. John was like the *Old Testament *prophets. But Jesus did things differently. The Pharisees may have been worried that Jesus would bring *false teaching to his new *disciples.

John makes it clear that Jesus’ *disciples were *baptising the people. These were probably Peter and Andrew, Philip and Nathanael (see 1:35-50). Jesus decides to leave Judea and go to Galilee.

4:4-42 ~ Jesus in Samaria

The Assyrians (people from Assyria) went to war against the northern country (of Samaria). This was about 720 years before the birth of Christ. Assyria was a country north east of *Israel. The Assyrians won the war. They then brought people from their own and other countries into Samaria (2 Kings 17:24). The few *Jews who remained in Samaria then married these foreigners.

The Assyrians took most of the *Jews to Assyria (2 Kings 17:6). This larger number of people became part of that country. They are the lost ten *tribes of *Israel. The people who remained in Samaria had married foreigners. They were therefore now not true *Jews. They were a mixture of *Jew and foreigner. By the *Jewish law, this was a great *sin.

The capital of the southern part of *Israel was Jerusalem. Later, the Assyrians took the people to Babylon. But they, unlike the *Samaritans (people from Samaria), would not marry foreigners. They did not want to lose their right to be *Jews. This would have happened if they had mixed with foreigners. Later Ezra and Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem. They came to build again the *Temple that foreigners had broken. The *Samaritans wanted to help them. But the *Jews did not want their help. They turned them away. They said that *Samaritans were no longer *Jews. They had no right to build the *holy *Temple of God.

Therefore, for a long time the *Jews and *Samaritans had been enemies. Later still, there was a *Jew named Manasseh. He married the daughter of the *Samaritan Sanballat (Nehemiah 13:28). He built another *Temple on Mount Gerizim in Samaria. In 129 BC (years before Jesus was born), John Hyrcanus, a *Jewish army leader, attacked Samaria and destroyed the *Temple on Mount Gerizim.

It is now 400 years later, in Jesus’ time. The *Jews and *Samaritans still hated one another. The *Jews called Jesus a *Samaritan (8:48). This was to show that they did not like him. But Jesus talked about a *Samaritan in one of his most famous stories (Luke 10:25-37). In that story, thieves robbed a man. The thieves left the man with blood all over his body. The *Samaritan helped him. The *Samaritan was the ‘good neighbour’. This was after the ‘good’ *Jews had walked past him.

*Israel is only 120 *miles (190 kilometres) long from north to south. In that 120 *miles, there are three parts of the country. In the north is Galilee. In the south is Judea. In between is Samaria. Therefore, the quickest way from Judea to Galilee was through Samaria. The journey took three days. The other way was to avoid Samaria. This meant crossing to the east side of the river Jordan. You would then travel north. You would then *cross the Jordan again into Galilee. This way took twice as long.

Jesus and his *disciples took the short route through Samaria. On the way, they came to the *Samaritan town of Sychar. In the town, many years before, Jacob had dug a *well. Jacob, while he was dying, had given this ground to Joseph (Genesis 48:22). When Joseph died in Egypt, his family took his body back to *Israel. They buried him in Shechem near to Jacob’s *well (Joshua 24:32).

John says, ‘It was about the 6th hour.’ Many Bible teachers think that John means midday. However, other Bible teachers think that John means 6 o’clock in the evening here. (See note on John 1:35-51.)

Jesus is tired and *thirsty after the journey. He stops at this *well. It was more than 100 *feet (30 metres) deep, so you needed something to bring out the fresh running water. Here again we see that Jesus is the Word who became a man (1:14). He became *thirsty and tired as we do. The *disciples go to buy some food in Sychar.

As Jesus sits by the *well, a *Samaritan woman comes along. It was unusual for a woman to visit the *well alone. Jesus asks her to give him a drink. This surprises her. The first reason for her surprise is that she is a *Samaritan and he is a *Jew. *Samaritans and *Jews did not like one another and would not share things. They would not have shared the same water pot. Why then does he ask her for a drink?

There was another reason for her surprise. A good *Jewish teacher would never speak to a woman in public. Sometimes he did not speak even to his wife, daughter or sister if he met them outside. So we see Jesus here at the *well, tired and *thirsty. This woman was not a good woman either (18). She would not have had many friends. But Jesus is a friend to this woman. Here we see God’s love for the world in Jesus. He is our friend. That is what he came to this earth to be – a friend of *sinners.

The woman asks Jesus why he wants her to give him a drink. Jesus does not answer her question. Instead, he speaks about who he is. Also, he says that he can give her ‘living water’.

The Books of the Law were the first five books of the *Old Testament. The *Jews thought of them as ‘living water’. By ‘running water’ they meant water like that from a river. In Isaiah, God said that he would pour water on the dry land. Isaiah speaks of this picture of water. He connects it with God’s promise to pour out his *Spirit upon the *Israelites (Isaiah 44:3). Jesus too gives the words ‘living water’ a *spiritual meaning. His living water means a desire to know God (Revelation 7:17; 21:6).

The woman thinks that Jesus is still talking about ‘running water’. She does not really believe that Jesus can find water from anywhere else.

Also, the woman could not imagine that there could be anyone greater than Jacob. He was her famous *ancestor. He dug the *well and gave the water to his family and the animals. The *Jews also thought in the same way (8:53). The water from Jacob’s *well could take away a person’s *thirst. The living water that Jesus gave was a different kind of water.

Anyone who drinks the water from the *well will be *thirsty again. Anyone who drinks the water Jesus gives will never *thirst. That water will be like a river of water inside a person. It will be alive. It will give new life. It will never stop giving new life. It will be like a river that never stops flowing. The *Spirit gives life (6:63).

The woman still does not understand that Jesus is a special person. So Jesus proves to her that he is not an ordinary man. He tells her about her past life. First, he asks her to call her husband. The woman tells Jesus that she does not have a husband. Jesus knows she has been married five times. Moreover, she is now living with a man who is not her husband. Jesus knows her need. He can see that she is not a happy woman. Her way of life gives her no pleasure. Jesus knows all about her life (see 2:25). As Jesus speaks about her personal life, the woman begins to understand. She can now see that Jesus is a special person. She calls him a *prophet (19).

For a long time the *Jews had been looking for a *prophet. He would prepare for *Messiah who would come (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; John 1:21). The *Samaritans believed in the first five books of the *Old Testament only. Deuteronomy is the fifth book. So the *Samaritans too would have been looking for a *prophet.

The woman changes the subject of the conversation. Perhaps she does not like talking about her life. She asks where people should *worship God. Should it be on Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem?

Mount Gerizim was a special place for the *Samaritans. Both Abraham and Jacob had built *altars in that area (Genesis 12:7; 33:20). Also, God *blessed the *Israelites from the mountain. That was in Joshua’s time (Joshua 8:33). But the *Samaritans believed only in the first five books of the *Old Testament. Therefore, they did not believe that God approved the *Temple in Jerusalem (see 1 Chronicles 21:18; 22:1).

John Hyrcanus had destroyed the Gerizim *Temple. But the *Samaritans continued to *worship on the mountain. The woman sees that Jesus is a *prophet. The argument is about the place for true *worship. So she thinks that Jesus might be able to settle the argument. That is why she starts a conversation about the two places of *worship, Jerusalem and Mount Gerizim (10).

Again, Jesus does not answer her question. The time will come when the place of *worship will not be important. The *Jews were the people who knew God. Therefore, they knew more about the *worship of God than the *Samaritans. This was because they used the whole of the *Old Testament rather than the first five books. It would be through a *Jewish *Messiah that the knowledge of *salvation would come. So Jesus says that only the *Jews understand God. Only they know how to *worship him. God will use the *Jews to save the world. *Salvation is from the *Jews (22).

God is now leading people to *worship him in truth. The *Holy *Spirit will lead *worship. The *prophet Malachi said that this would happen. God’s name will be great among the *gentiles. And in every place people will offer true *worship to the *Lord (Malachi 1:11).

*Jewish *worship needs the *sacrifice of animals. This was a type of the perfect *sacrifice of Jesus on the *cross. Jesus says that a time will come when people will not need a special place to *worship. This will be when Jesus dies on the *cross.

Jesus says that we will *worship the Father in *spirit and in truth. We *worship ‘in *spirit’ in our inner person. We ask the *Holy *Spirit to guide our thoughts and our words. We thank and *praise God our Father for our *salvation and for all the things that he does for us.

We have confidence when we *worship ‘in truth’. We know that the words that God has spoken are true. Our lives must also show God’s truth. We are not perfect, but we must not have hidden *sin in our lives (Isaiah 59:2).

In verse 23, Jesus says that the time for true *worship has now come. This is because Jesus is now here. Although his *disciples have not yet been born again, they can *worship him with honest hearts. We do not *worship a distant God. We *worship a God who is a person. True *worship is between God and people who know him as a Father and a friend. True *worship is between God who is *Spirit and man’s *spirit (his inner person). The *Jews ‘know’ whom they *worship. Now the Son makes the Father known (1:18). True *worship comes in and through Jesus Christ. He is the truth. The *Holy *Spirit gives us the truth (Jesus).

This is what it means to *worship in *spirit and in truth. It does not matter whether those who *worship are *Samaritans or *Jews or anyone else. Those who *worship in truth can belong to any country. True *worship can be in any place.

Unlike the *Jews, the *Samaritans were not looking for a *Messiah. But the woman speaks now of a *Messiah. Perhaps this is because she is talking to a *Jew. She says that the *Messiah will come. He is the one whom they call Christ. He will explain everything.

Then Jesus tells her that he is the *Messiah, the Christ. He is the one whom God has chosen. Jesus now tells the people clearly that he is the *Messiah. This is the only time before his *trial that he tells his *disciples this. The *gospels do not mention that he tells anyone else.

This meeting of Jesus with the *Samaritan woman is like the meeting of Jesus with Nicodemus. However, these two people are very different. Nicodemus is a man. He is an important person. He is a very clever teacher. The woman is poor. She has not had a good education. She has probably had a divorce from her five husbands. The *Jews thought that three divorces were too many. And she is now living with a man who is not her husband. But we see that Jesus is a friend both to the woman and to Nicodemus. He finds a way to tell each of them the good news of *salvation. He also gives a *spiritual meaning to ordinary things (wind and water).

The *disciples now return with food. They cannot believe that Jesus has been talking with a woman in the street. She is a bad woman too. But they do not like to ask him what he wanted. Neither do they ask why he is talking with the woman (27). They are beginning to understand that they should accept what Jesus does. His actions seem strange to them, but they do not question him.

Then the woman leaves her water pot and runs into the town. She wants to tell people of her talk with Jesus as soon as possible. This man has told her all the things that she had done. She wants people to return soon to see him. Could he be the *Messiah (29)? They all come out of the town to see Jesus (30).

The *disciples have brought food and ask Jesus to eat some. But they do not understand Jesus’ reply. They think that someone has given him food. He explains what he means in verse 34. He does what God his Father tells him to do. That is as satisfying as eating food (6:27; Matthew 4:4).

He has food that they do not know about. It is not the food that you eat when you are hungry. Jesus is telling them that God has work for him to do. God his Father has sent him to this earth. To finish God’s work is more important than eating. His food is not to do what he wants to do. He must do what the Father has sent him to do.

Jesus again uses an event in the natural world to explain a *spiritual truth. The natural harvest is four months away. He asks the *disciples to look. But they are not to look at the harvest of wheat. They are to look at the people now coming to see Jesus. This *Samaritan field is ripe for the harvest. The sowing of the seed was Jesus’ conversation with the woman. The harvest will be the time when she and the other *Samaritans find *salvation. There will not be four months between the two. Sowing and harvest will quickly follow one another. The fields are even now white and ready for harvest.

This harvest is about new, *everlasting life (36). Some plant the seeds and some harvest the crops. The *prophet spoke about a wonderful harvest to come. There will be plenty. There will not be time to bring in the harvest before the time of ploughing (Amos 9:13). Jesus is now sending his *disciples to harvest the crops. Other people had planted the seeds. These were the *prophets. They included John the *Baptist. They had done all the hard work. The *disciples could now bring in the harvest. Both *sowers and *reapers will be happy and have a party together.

Some *Samaritans believe in Jesus. They believe because of what Jesus said to the woman. They ask him to stay with them, and he stays for two days. When they hear his teaching, many more *Samaritans become believers. Now they believe because of what they hear him say. They no longer believe because of the woman’s talk. They have heard him for themselves. They are now certain that he is the *Saviour. He is the *Saviour, not only of the *Jews, but also of the world (41-42). The *Samaritans were a people who were of low rank in the eyes of the *Jews. Jesus, a *Jew, brings hope to them. He loves them and saves them too. He is in truth the *Saviour of the world.

The *Old Testament often calls God the God of *Salvation or the *Saviour. Jesus is not only a teacher and *prophet. He is not just an example for us to follow. He is the *Saviour. He rescues people from *sin and from lives without hope.

4:43-54 ~ A second sign in Galilee

After the two days, Jesus leaves Samaria and goes to Galilee. The people there welcome him. They have been to the *Passover in Jerusalem. They have seen Jesus do many *miracles (2.23). But this is what Jesus says. People will not believe unless they see signs and *miracles (48). It seems that is why they welcome him. But the *Samaritans welcome him for who he is.

Most of the events that John writes about happen in Jerusalem. But the ones that happen in Galilee are important ones. The first two signs happened in Galilee. So did the story of the loaves (chapter 6).

Jesus himself said that people respect *prophets everywhere except in their own country (44). In the other three *gospels, the ‘own country’ is Nazareth. Here John understands it as the place where *Jews live rather than in Samaria. That would be Jerusalem.

The second important sign that Jesus does is in Galilee. It is in Cana, the same place where Jesus made the water into wine. There Jesus meets a leader who worked for King Antipas He comes from Capernaum about 20 *miles (32 kilometres) away. He would have been an important person. His son is sick. The leader asks Jesus to heal his son so that he will not die. Jesus says that Galileans (people from Galilee) will not believe unless they see signs and *miracles. We remember that the *Jews asked Jesus for a *miracle. It was when they met him in Jerusalem (2:18). But the man will not give up. Jesus’ words do not stop him. He wants immediate action. When the man cries, “*Lord, please come before my son dies!” Jesus can see that he is sincere and real (49).

Jesus says, “Your son will live. Go home to him”. The man then believes and starts to go back home. On the way, his servants meet him. They tell him that his son is better. The leader asks the servants when his son started to get better. They tell him that it was yesterday ‘at the 7th hour’. Many Bible teachers think that John means 1 o’clock. However, other Bible teachers think that John means 7 o’clock here. (See note on John 1:35-51.) Then the boy’s father remembers what Jesus had told him. It was at that time that his son would live. So the man and everyone in his family believe in Jesus.

This was the second of Jesus’ signs after he had come from Judea into Galilee. It again shows the *glory and greatness of Jesus. In the first sign, Jesus did a *miracle with water and wine. These are just things. In this second sign, Jesus heals a sick boy. He is a person. He saves a sick person from death. The result of both signs is that people come to *faith in Jesus.

This event has something to say about people and their need of *miracles. They need *miracles before they will believe. Jesus said this about the Galileans (people from Galilee). Unless they saw *miracles, they would not believe. Some might say to God "Show me a *miracle, and then I will believe.” But this is like telling God what to do. That is why Jesus said that people need *miracles before they believe. It is not the best way to *faith. It is not true *faith. It does not respect God. The most important thing about *miracles is not that they do something good for us. There is no doubt that this is true. The important thing is that the *miracles respect God and show his *glory. They should make clear to us that God is real (2:11).

However, sometimes people do believe when they see a *miracle. They might not have believed without the *miracle.

For this leader from Capernaum, there was a journey of *faith. He first looked for a *miracle or sign (48). He then believed that the word of Jesus was true and acted upon it (50). In the end, he believed (53).

*Faith is a living thing that grows. Not only did Jesus heal the boy. He brought the whole family to *faith (53). There is a reason why God does not always heal straight away. We may first have to go through pain and disappointment. This is what the writer of the *psalms says. “It was good for me to have trouble and pain so that I might learn your laws (*Psalm 119:71.” There is the same thought in Hebrews 12:11.

Part 4 ~ Jesus heals and teaches people in Jerusalem (5:1-47)

5:1-18 ~ The third sign – Jesus heals a sick man

Some time later Jesus goes to Jerusalem for another *feast like *Passover. He goes to a pool of water called Bethesda (the house of *mercy). This was near the Sheep Gate in the north-east corner of Jerusalem. Round the pool were five doors with covers over them. The pool is still there today.

Sometimes the water would move. Maybe this came from a *spring under the water. Many sick people waited by the pool. The waters could heal any person entering the pool. However, this would be only for the first person that entered the pool. It would happen when the waters moved. Jesus sees one man who has been waiting by the water for 38 years. Jesus asks him if he wants to get well. This might seem a silly question. But sometimes people do not really want God to heal them. The man probably asked for money. Nobody would give him money if there was nothing wrong with him.

The man thinks that there is some strange power in the water. This is what makes it move. People thought that *healing would only be for the first person in the water. So as there is no one to lift the man into the water, no one can heal him. This man has lost all hope of *healing. He does not even answer Jesus’ question. Jesus tells the man to stand up, lift his bed and begin to walk. The man obeys. His *healing is immediate. Usually Jesus looked for *faith from the sick person. But this time the man does not even know who Jesus is. He can walk again. It is a *miracle.

This day is the *Sabbath (Saturday). The *Jewish leaders see the man carrying his mat. The *Jewish law was that a person must not work on the *Sabbath. They considered that carrying a mat was carrying furniture. Therefore, it was work. So the man has not obeyed the law. But he does not think that it is his fault. The man who made him well told him to carry his mat.

The *Jews want to know who this man is. But the man does not know who has healed him. The leaders do not care that Jesus has healed the man. For them, the important thing is that Jesus has not obeyed the rules. By this time, Jesus has gone into the crowd. Jesus does not want to attract attention and *praise to himself.

Later, Jesus meets the man in the *Temple. Jesus tells him that he is now well. But he also tells him to stop *sinning. Otherwise, something worse could happen to him. Maybe he would have a more serious illness. Maybe something worse would happen to him when he died. Because then, he would meet Jesus the Judge (5:27).

Did Jesus’ words mean that the cause of the man’s illness was some *sin in the past? Sometimes the *Jews thought that this might be so. But Jesus has made the man well. He shows that God does not use the disease as a punishment for *sin. If that had been so, Jesus would have acted against God. Jesus’ action here shows that disease is something *evil and he has power over it.

The *Jewish laws about not working on the *Sabbath began when God gave Moses the Ten *Commandments (Exodus 20:8). God told the people to keep the *Sabbath day ‘*holy’ and not to do any work on that day. The *Jews then made 39 rules to stop people working on the *Sabbath. One of them was that you must not carry furniture on the *Sabbath.

Yes, God did rest when he made the world. But he did not rest from his work of love and *mercy for the people in the world. That work never stops. He never rests from his work of keeping everything going in the world. Jesus the Son and God the Father work together all the time. Jesus did only the work that God told him to do. Any work that Jesus did would therefore be the Father’s work. It did not matter on what day he did it.

The man goes to the *Jews. He tells them that Jesus has healed him. This does not seem to be the action of a friend. He knows that the *Jews hate Jesus. He knows that they oppose Jesus. The reason is that Jesus heals people on the *Sabbath. The man does not even thank Jesus. Perhaps the man wants to excuse himself for not obeying the *Sabbath law.

The *Jewish rulers are doing everything they can to make life difficult for Jesus. They do this because he is not obeying their laws. John does not tell us how they make things difficult for Jesus. Perhaps they stop him going into the *Temple, or tell people not to listen to him. Perhaps they spread lies about him. But Jesus uses this situation to tell of God the Father’s work. His Father works all the time, even on the *Sabbath. Jesus does the same.

Now the *Jews have two reasons for wanting to kill Jesus. First, he has not obeyed the *Sabbath law. Second, he calls God his Father. He is therefore saying that he is equal with God. The *Jews believe that there is only one God. He is above all other gods. So it is the worst of all *sins for Jesus to claim that he is equal with God.

5:19-47 ~ Jesus teaches about the Father and the Son

The *Jews say that Jesus makes himself equal with God. Jesus answers them in verses 19-23. Jesus does not say that he is another God. Therefore, he is not saying that he is equal with God. The Father and the Son are side by side and work together.

Again, as in 5:24, Jesus says ‘I tell you the truth’. This means that what he says now is very important. If God is the Father of Jesus, it is right for Jesus to call himself God’s Son. The Father and the Son are the same in every way. The Son does all that the Father does. Human relationships between fathers and sons are never perfect. The relationship between God the Father and God the Son is perfect. Jesus can do nothing by himself (19). He always obeys the Father.

The Father loves the Son and shows the Son his plans. The Son can and must obey the Father’s plan and do the Father’s work. The Father’s love for the Son is perfect. The Son obeying the Father is perfect. Jesus has healed the man by the pool. Through Jesus, God will show even greater things. These things will surprise them (20).

We see God’s love in the things that Jesus does. In Jesus, we see God. If we want to know how God feels towards us, we look at Jesus. If we want to know how God loves us, we look at Jesus.

The *Jews believe that God can raise the dead, but that no one else must do this. Jesus says that the Father can raise the dead to life. Therefore, he too has this authority (21) (see 11:43-4, and Luke 7:14-15). God has *created everyone. He has therefore the right to *judge everyone. God has given this authority to Jesus (29-30). You do not respect Jesus the Son. Then neither do you respect God the Father (22-23). It is important to understand this.

Jesus has power to heal the man at the pool. There will be a time when Jesus will raise all people from their graves. He will then be using the same power. However, Jesus, by this same power, gives new life to us now. The hour is coming, and is here now when the dead people will hear the voice of the Son of God. Those who hear will live (25). Apart from Jesus, a person’s *spirit is dead. God will give a person’s *spirit life (Ephesians 2:4-7). The Son has the same power to give life as the Father has.

There is no difference between verse 22 and 3:17. The writer says that *judgement is not the main reason why Jesus came to the earth (3:17). However, God has given the Son the power to *judge. We have life if we love and obey Jesus. If we see him as an enemy, we *judge ourselves.

Jesus warns the man. If he does not stop *sinning, ‘something worse’ would happen to him. That could be that the Son of Man would *judge him. So what Jesus says here is very important (5:24). The Son will raise the dead and the Son will *judge each one.

Again, Jesus is about to say something that is important. He wants to make this clear. The *Hebrew and Greek words for ‘*spirit’ mean man’s *spirit as well as God’s *Spirit. When God made Adam, God breathed his life into him (Genesis 2:7). After Adam and Eve *sinned, the *spirit inside them turned against God. They became *spiritually dead. Before a person accepts Jesus as his *Saviour, his *spirit is dead. A person with a dead *spirit does not feel sorry about his *sin. He stops feeling sad about all the trouble in the world.

There are two things that a person needs to do. The first is to hear the message of Jesus. The next is to have *faith in the Father, the one who sent Jesus. That person will immediately have *eternal life. He will no more come under *judgement. His dead *spirit is now alive.

There will be a time when all will hear the message. Jesus says that the time is now here. Those who believe will move from the world of those who will die. They will move into the world of those who will live (24). If people listen to his words and believe him, they will receive *eternal life. Jesus emphasises this. They were once ‘dead’ but they will live. Many hear his words. However, many do not believe him.

Life comes only from God (physical as well as *eternal life). Jesus says that he too has this same life to give to other people. As the Father has life in himself, so the Son has life in himself (26).

Jesus repeats that he has authority to *judge people. The reason is that he is the ‘the Son of Man’ (27). To the *Jewish leaders who knew their history, the name ‘Son of Man’ would have a special meaning. So the things that Jesus says about himself do not please them at all. Jesus’ words clearly point to himself as the coming *Messiah. (See Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 25:31, 34, 41, 46.) Jesus has healed the man at the pool. This is another sign that Jesus is the *Messiah (Isaiah 35:5).

In times of war and terrible suffering, the *prophet Daniel spoke of a time when all would be well in the world. This would be when the *Messiah came. All the wicked nations would disappear. God would give power to one like a son of man (Daniel 7:1-7). These nations had been like wild animals. Into the world would come one who is gentle and kind. He would be human and not an animal. One day, there would be people of love and peace. There would be gentle people. They would rule the world.

In the book of Daniel, it tells of the open books of *judgement in the court of *heaven (Daniel 7:9-10). The Son of Man is on the seat of *judgement. The one who ruled would be the one of God’s choice. He would be the *Messiah, the Son of Man. It would have been difficult for the *Jews not to see that Jesus is claiming to be the *Messiah.

Even Jesus *healing the man at the pool is a sign that he is the *Messiah. The *Jews would understand this. For in God’s new world, anyone who could not walk would jump like a wild animal (Isaiah 35:6). Blind and deaf people and other sick people would all come into a new country. There Jesus would be king (Jeremiah 31: 8-9). All these truths are in the *Old Testament.

God *created everyone. It is therefore his right to *judge them. He is the Judge of all and he must always be fair in his *judgements (Genesis 18: 25). God has given the power of *judgement to the Son (27). The Father tells him how to *judge and the Son obeys him. The Son’s *judgement also will be fair. At the final *judgement, everyone will rise out of their graves. (29).

Those people who have put their *faith in Jesus will not go to hell. But God will still *judge them (or reward them). This will be for the things they did when they were on earth (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). God will also *judge those people who did not hear about Jesus. He will *judge them by their life when they were alive (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus does only what the Father tells him. Again, Jesus emphasises this. His *judgements will always be fair (30).

In the *Jewish law, there was a rule about a person who had done some crime. The rule was that one witness to the crime was not enough (Deuteronomy 19:15). There had to be two or three witnesses. Of course, Jesus had done nothing wrong. But the *Jews did not believe that he was God. So Jesus tells them of the witnesses who show that he is God.

Jesus, one person, says that something is true. Would there be any reason for people to accept the truth of what he says? That would be no way to prove that what he says is truth. But Jesus does not speak on his own as one person. If he did it would be like saying that the Father and the Son were different persons. But the Father and the Son are one. Therefore, the *will of the Father is the same as the *will of the Son. Therefore, there is no need for the Son to tell people that what he says is true.

Jesus is saying that he does not need human witnesses. However, he mentions ‘another’ person who is a witness. His witness about him ‘is true’. That witness is John the *Baptist (1:15-19). So Jesus reminds the *Jews of John’s message (33-34).

Jesus tells the *Jews to remember John’s message of *repentance. However, he was not the light. He pointed to the true light, Jesus. For a time, the *Jews had been happy with John’s message. They stopped being happy when the message became too hard for them. Jesus tells people these truths so that they will believe in him. Then God will save them.

Jesus said that John was ‘a lamp’ (35). Perhaps Jesus said this after they put John in prison (Mark 6:17), or after they killed him (Mark 6:27). John’s witness was true. But the works of Jesus are a more important witness. Only the power of God could do these works of teaching and *healing (36).

But the *Jews have not listened to Jesus although he is doing the Father’s *will. The Father himself is a witness that Jesus is his Son (37). In Matthew 3:17, Matthew says that God spoke from *heaven at the *baptism of Jesus. These *Jews have not heard God’s voice, nor have they seen his face. Although Jesus is speaking God’s word, they do not hear him. They do not see God when they see Jesus (37). God’s word (the *Old Testament) is not in them. They have not understood it. They do not believe the one whom God sent (38).

The *Jewish leaders read the *Old Testament with great care so that they would always obey the laws (39). They fought hard to defend these laws (16). But there are many places in the *Old Testament that tell us about the *Messiah. The main purpose of the *Old Testament was to tell of him. However, many of the *Jews did not accept and receive God. They did not recognise God’s *Spirit in Jesus (Luke 24:25-27). They refused to come to Jesus so that they might have life (40). The truth, Jesus says, is that they are not alive but dead. Jesus knows what the *Jewish leaders are thinking and feeling in their hearts. They are against his teaching because they do not have God’s love inside them (42).

Jesus does not accept what men say; neither does he accept their *praise (41). Jesus came in his Father’s name and with his Father’s authority. The *Jews would not believe him. There were those who spoke about their own thoughts and experience. People would believe them. Such people liked other people to *praise them. However, they did not look to God to accept them (43). They thought more of human *praise than the *praise of God. (44).

These *Jews loved the Law (the first five books of the *Old Testament). It was through Moses that God gave the law. But the law cannot save *sinners. It can only show people that they are *sinners. It tells them that if they obey the rules they will live good and happy lives. The law prepares the way for the *Messiah. Although the leaders were always reading their Bible, they did not notice this. That is because they were not looking for Jesus in the Bible. They were looking for the wrong things. To know the *Scriptures (Written Words) is important. But the Bible itself does not give life if we do not look for Jesus Christ in it. We meet him in the Bible.

The *Jews knew that Moses prayed for the *Israelites when they were in the desert (Exodus 32:30-32). They believed that he still prayed for them in *heaven (see also Exodus 33:7-11; 34:34-35). Moses was a famous person.

Jesus would *judge these people after death. But the witness against them would be Moses. He pointed to Jesus (46). Jesus was the *prophet that Moses spoke about (Deuteronomy 18:15). They did not believe what Moses wrote. So they would not believe what Jesus said (47). The *Jews were probably surprised at Jesus’ words. Moses had given them the law. It showed them how to please God. But they obeyed the law without having God’s love in their hearts. Therefore, they could not understand that Moses’ laws came true in Jesus.

Today, we have the *New Testament as well as the *Old Testament. It tells us about Jesus. So it is even more important that we read the Bible. Then we will find Jesus in it.

In the *Old Testament times, only God could kill and bring back to life (Deuteronomy 32:39). It is the same with *judgement. That belongs only to God (Deuteronomy 1:17). So Jesus is very brave in speaking as he does. The *Jews hate him for it. They want to kill him.

Part 5 ~ Further signs and discussions in Galilee (6:1-71)

6:1-15 ~ The fourth sign – Jesus feeds the crowds

Jesus now *crosses the four *miles (6 kilometres) to the east side of the Sea of Galilee. They also knew it as the Sea of Tiberius. This was because there was a new town called Tiberius on the western shore (1). A large crowd goes with Jesus. Some of the crowd would have sailed across the Sea (also Lake, see verse 25). Most of them would have walked round to the other side. It is about nine *miles (14 kilometres) round the lake. These people had seen the *miracles (signs) that Jesus did on the sick people (2). Mark’s *gospel tells why Jesus crossed the lake. He wanted his *disciples to have a rest (Mark 6:31). He probably also wanted to talk to them about the things that he had been doing and saying. The mountain that they climbed is probably the Golan Heights in the north east of *Israel (3)

John mentions that the *Passover *Feast is near. During *Passover, the *Jews made bread without *yeast in it (Exodus 12:17-20). So there would be less ordinary bread in the shops at this time.

Jesus will speak later about bread from *heaven. There is therefore a connection with the *Passover meal. This *miracle of feeding of the crowds is the only one that is in all four *gospels.

The people in the crowd were hungry. The *disciples wondered how to feed them. In the other three *gospels, Jesus *preached to the crowd at this time. He also healed the sick people (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17). In this *gospel, however, John says only that Jesus saw the crowd. He asks Philip where they might buy bread for these people to eat (5). He asks this just to test him. Philip lived in Bethsaida, a town close to this (1:44), so he would know where to buy bread. Philip thinks of how much money they will need to buy bread

But Jesus already knows what he is going to do. John wants his readers to have no doubt about that. Jesus always knows what he is doing in our lives. That is a great comfort. It is to test the *disciples that Jesus asks the question (6).

But what would they have to do to feed all these people? We too would have asked the same question had we been there. It would take eight months’ wages to buy only a little bread to feed all these people (7). This is a big problem too for Andrew, Peter’s brother. But he has just a little more hope than Philip does. He sees that there is some food there, but it is only five loaves and two small fish (8-9). The loaves were the kind of bread that poor people ate. Why does Andrew mention this food? Perhaps he remembers the wedding when Jesus turned water into wine. But none of the *disciples knows what Jesus is going to do.

There is grass on the ground. Jesus tells his *disciples to get everyone to sit down. The crowd is very large. John estimates that five thousand men were there (10). With women and children, the crowd could have been ten thousand.

Jesus takes the bread in his hands and thanks God for it. Later he speaks the same words in the *Lord’s Supper. He gives the bread and the fish to all the people. They have plenty to eat (11). The *Jewish tradition was that no one should waste food. Therefore, Jesus does not want to waste anything. He asks his *disciples to collect the food that the people have not eaten. They fill 12 baskets (12-13). These baskets were small ones that people usually carried with them.

There is so much trouble in the world today. We, like the *disciples, can say that there is too much for us to do. Jesus will always give us enough to help people.

The people see this *miracle as a sign. They begin to talk about Jesus. In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses said that God would give the people another *prophet. The people wonder if Jesus is that *prophet (14). He could even be the Christ, God’s chosen one. God had, through Moses, provided food and water for the people in the desert (Exodus 15: 22-25; 16:13-18). The *Jews in the time of Jesus expected that the ‘*prophet’ would do the same.

Jesus knows that people want to make him king (15). But they want a king who will force the *Romans to leave *Israel. Jesus has not come to be that kind of king (18:36).

As this was the time of *Passover, the *Jews would think of their country with pride. They would be especially conscious that they are under *Roman rule. That is why they would want Jesus to be their king. Then he would fight against the *Romans. He will be a king who will give them free food every day. That is what they think.

They look for a king who will do what they want him to do. They do not want a king whom they must please and obey. The main reason Jesus came was not to provide for the needs of our bodies. He came to provide for our inner need of *forgiveness. Without that, we cannot enjoy the best kind of life. The *kingdom of Jesus begins in our hearts when we *repent of our *sins. Jesus does not want the people to force him to be their kind of king.

Jesus wants to get away from the crowd, so he climbs the mountain to be alone.

6:16-24 ~ The fifth sign - Jesus walks on the water

The *disciples do not begin to *cross the lake until evening (16). Perhaps they are waiting for Jesus to come with them. Mark, in his *gospel, says that Jesus tells his *disciples to *cross the lake straight away (Mark 6:45). So they get into a boat and start to *cross to Capernaum. It is dark and Jesus has not yet joined them (17). A strong wind is blowing, making the water rough (18).

When they have gone three or four *miles, (6 kilometres) they see Jesus walking on the water. He comes closer to the boat and they are afraid (19). They think that he is a *ghost (Mark 6:49). But he says, “It is I; do not be afraid.” When they know that it is Jesus, they are not afraid any more. Then they take him into the boat. Immediately they reach the shore. It is just where they want to be. John’s words here show that this is another *miracle.

The Greek words for ‘It is I’ are ‘I am’. Jesus uses the words to tell the *disciples who he is. Then they will not be afraid. In the *Old Testament, ‘I am’ is the name of God. So the words ‘I am’ could have special meaning to them.

It is now *Passover time. At this time of year, the *Jews remembered how God had rescued them from Egypt. There he divided the waters of the Red Sea (Exodus 12-14). *Psalm 77 speaks of this. ‘The waters saw you, God; the waters saw you and shook with fear. Your path led through the sea, your way through the powerful waters’ (*Psalm 77: 16, 19). Also, ‘He made the storm to be quiet like a whisper. The waves of the sea became quiet’ (*Psalm 107:29-30). God the Father was *Lord of the Red Sea. Jesus too is *Lord of the waves and the seas.

The next day, the crowd is still on the opposite shore of the lake. They realise that only one boat has been there. Jesus has not got into it with his *disciples, but they have left the shore. Some boats from Tiberius land near the place where the people had eaten the bread. The crowd sees that Jesus is not there. So they get into the boats and go to Capernaum to look for Jesus (22-24).

6:25-59 ~ Discussions about the bread of life

The people find Jesus on the west side of the lake. They cannot understand how and when he arrived. They ask him (25). They do not understand his message or why he has come into the world. They do not understand that they need to be born again. They still want to make him a king who will give them food each day.

Jesus does not answer their question. Instead, he tells them that they have not understood the real meaning of the signs. They do not see God in the signs. There is a message in the signs, but all they can see is food for their stomachs (26). Jesus tells them not to work for that kind of food because it does not last. Work for food that will always be with you. Work for food for your *spirit. Work for food that will give you life. The Son of Man will give you that kind of food. Moreover, he has the right to give you that food because the Father has given him the authority.

God the Father has put his *seal on Jesus (27). In those days, a *seal was very important. Each person had his own *seal. His ring had a special mark on it. He would press his ring into something soft like mud. He would then put this *seal on a letter. It would be a sign that the letter came from that person. It was a sign that the letter was genuine. The *seal means that the Father has given the Son of Man the power to give *eternal life.

Jesus again uses his name ‘the Son of Man’. He is the Son of God, but he is here on the earth, a man among men. He shares his life with ordinary people. Jesus tells the people that he is not a king who will give them food every day. The people ask what work they should do for God (28). His answer is that they should have *faith in Jesus himself. He is the one whom God the Father has sent

But still the people want a sign. They are still thinking of food for their stomachs. Jesus has fed them from just five loaves and two fish. There could be no better sign than that. They speak of the *manna that God gave to the *Israelites in the desert (31). That also was a *miracle. The *manna came from *heaven. There was plenty of it (*Psalm 78:24). They thought that Jesus could not give them a bigger *miracle than that.

In this *gospel, Jesus says many times who he is. He does this in the words ‘I am’. ‘I am’ is the name that God gave to himself. He said, ‘I am who I am’ (Exodus 3:14). Here Jesus gives his first ‘I am’ statement, "I am the bread that gives life". Jesus explains this in verses 35-51. Bread is necessary food that all people must eat in order to live. But the people need to understand that Jesus does not speak of physical food. He speaks of *spiritual food. Physical food is necessary for those people who want to live. *Spiritual food too is necessary for those who want real life.

Jesus makes it clear that God, not Moses, gave them the *manna in the desert. It was bread from *heaven. But it was food for the body. Now, God the Father gives them true bread from *heaven. That bread is Jesus himself who came down from *heaven. He is here now to give life to the world (32-33). The *manna in the desert fed the bodies of a few people. This bread, Jesus, is here to give *eternal life to the whole world. But still the people are thinking only of physical food (34). They want Jesus to keep on giving them food every day without end.

What is this *eternal life that Jesus speaks about? It does not mean just staying alive. Life is to know God. It is to put our trust in Jesus. It is to obey him too. It is being with him all the time. It is talking to him in *prayer. It is listening to him.

We can only know God the Father through Jesus. Life has no meaning when we do not have this *spiritual bread. We each have a need inside of us that we cannot satisfy with physical things. God will satisfy everyone who comes to Jesus. No one who has *faith in him will ever want to drink again (35). The *Jews had seen Jesus, but still they did not have *faith in him. He has told them that he comes from the Father. He does only what the Father wants. But still they do not believe (36).

In the end, it is the Father’s responsibility. Those whom the Father gives will come to Jesus. God wants to enter every person’s life. But there is still the need for a person to decide for himself. Jesus will never send such people away. He will keep them safe not only in this life but for ever (37).

The Father and the Son always agree. Jesus did not come from *heaven to do what he wanted. He came to do what the Father wanted him to do. Everything the Father gives, the Son will receive. He will lose no one of all the people the Father has given to him. God the Father will raise all these to *eternal life. That will be in the last day, at the end of the age, (38-40).

The *Jews start to complain about the things Jesus says about himself. How can they be true? He is just an ordinary person. He is Joseph’s son. They all know his father and mother. He says that he has come down from *heaven. Moreover, he says that he is the bread from *heaven (41). They do not think that this is possible. He cannot expect people to believe him (41-42).

Jesus does not argue with them, but tells them to stop complaining. The Father has sent Jesus. No one can come to him unless the Father draws that person to Jesus. The Father first gives people the desire to come to Jesus. But for those who do come, he will raise them to life on the final day (the end of the age) (43-44).

The *prophet Isaiah wrote, ‘God will teach all of them’ (Isaiah 54:13). Then everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him will come to Jesus (45). God the Father teaches people, but they still have to obey him. They still have to come to Jesus. Jesus is the only person who has seen the Father. Jesus is the one who has come from *heaven. So what God the Father says comes only through Jesus. This is the truth. Only those who have *faith in him have *eternal life (46-47).

Jesus again tells the *Jews that he is the bread that gives life (48). Their fathers (*ancestors) ate *manna in the desert. Later they died. That kind of bread ended in death. Now the bread from *heaven (Jesus) is here. No one who trusts in him will ever die. Jesus tells them again that he is the bread from *heaven. His body is the life-giving bread that he gives to the world (49-50). It is the human life of Jesus. Eating that bread means allowing Jesus into your life. You have *eternal life (life for ever). He will give his human body to save the world from *sin (51).

The *Jews cannot understand this so they complain to each other. How can he give us his body to eat (52)? Jesus is saying that they should eat his body. That is what they think he means. They should also drink his blood. Clearly, that would be an awful thing to do. His words have a *spiritual meaning, but the *Jews cannot understand it. So Jesus explains again what he means (verses 53 to 58).

Clearly, Jesus is pointing to the *cross. He is ‘the *Lamb of God’ (1:29). He is the one God will lift up, like the snake in the desert (3:14). There is only one way to understand this. It is through the death of Jesus on the *cross. There he gave his body. There he poured out his blood. To receive him is like eating his body and drinking his blood. One needs to receive this by *faith. You can understand this only by *faith. But the people do not have that *faith.

The food and drink that we eat become part of our human bodies. The eating and drinking of the body and blood of Jesus is like that. It is about being one with Jesus. He becomes part of our *spiritual nature. We become one with him and he becomes one with us. He lives in the believer. The believer then depends on him for his *spiritual food.

Jesus is teaching in a *Jewish place of *worship (*synagogue) in Capernaum when he says these things.

6:60-71 ~ What the *disciples think about Jesus’ teaching

Jesus is teaching about ‘eating his body’ and coming down from *heaven. They understand this. But they do not like it. He does not please some people. They find it difficult to receive his teaching. He is not the *Messiah who will feed them. He will not fight against the *Romans to free their land. They know that his teaching is true. But that means they will have to do something. They will have to obey him and follow him. It is not difficult to understand with our minds what Jesus teaches. But it is difficult to obey the things he teaches. It would mean making changes in the way we live.

But Jesus knows what the *disciples are thinking. So he asks them why they are complaining. How would they feel if they saw the Son of Man rise to *heaven (62)? For that is where he came from. That event could happen only after his suffering and death. Men will kill him and he will return to *heaven. They cannot receive him now. It will be even more difficult for them to receive him then.

Jesus asks the *disciples to stop thinking in a natural way. Only the *Holy *Spirit can give *spiritual life. That is a gift of God. You cannot get this life by the use of your *will. You cannot have this life by being strong and trying hard for it. The words of Jesus come from the *Spirit who gives life.

Jesus knows that some will not receive him. Neither will they receive the life that the *Holy *Spirit offers them. Jesus always knew this. He also knew that one of his *disciples would become his enemy. He would deliver Jesus to the rulers (64). Again, Jesus says that God the Father is the one who acts. He repeats what he has told them before. A person cannot come to God unless the Father first gives him the desire to come (65). Only the *Holy *Spirit can give this new life.

The result of Jesus’ words is that many *disciples do not want to stay with him. They leave him. Jesus asks the other *disciples if they also want to leave him. Simon Peter replies for them all. Who else can they follow? They know that only Jesus has the words of *eternal life. They now have *faith in him and know that he is God’s *Messiah. He is the one that God the Father chose to speak the words of *eternal life. They want to know more and to stay with him (66-71). Their *faith is growing. We note that the *devils too see that Jesus is the *Holy One of God (Mark 1:24).

Jesus answers Peter’s question. He tells the *disciples that he has chosen them. These 12 men are to be his *disciples. They have not chosen him. But although he has chosen them, they will not all stay close to him (70). One of them he describes as a *devil. He will later *betray Jesus to men. These men will put him to death (13: 2, 27).

How could Jesus choose someone who would later *betray him? This is a mystery. It is difficult to understand.

God the Father has brought us to himself. Only God can keep us close to himself. Only his *mercy will keep us safe. We will therefore not lose the life that he has given us.

There is, however, a cost to being a true believer. It means going the way of the *cross. Jesus said later, ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it stays there on its own...’ (12:24). We may often be alone when other people turn away from Jesus. We may be a part of only a small number of believers. Some people may hate us. We may have to stay with him when we do not understand the things that happen in our lives. But we shall never be completely alone. There will always be other people who stay with him. They know of no one else on whom they can depend. The *Holy *Spirit is always with us. We can be sure of our *eternal life.

Part 6 ~ Jesus at the *Feast of *Tabernacles (Tents) (7:1-8:59)

7:1-9 ~ Jesus moves from Galilee to Jerusalem

Chapters 7 to 10 are about the final year of Jesus’ work. His work starts from the second *Passover when he fed the crowd. His work ends at the third *Passover. That was a year later when they killed him. In this last year, there are two other *feasts, the *Feast of *Tabernacles (7:2) and the *Feast of Lights (10:22).

Jesus now goes to the villages in Galilee. It is the time of the *Feast of *Tabernacles (Tents). Jesus does not want to go to Jerusalem. He knew from the beginning that people would kill him (1). It is not that Jesus is afraid to die. We know that he will die later in Jerusalem. But the time is not right for him to go there now.

The *Feast of *Tabernacles was at the end of September and the beginning of October. It was the *Feast of Harvest. God had given the *Jews food when they were in the desert (Exodus chapter 16). Then they had travelled from place to place. Then God had showed himself to them in the tent of meeting. The purpose of this *Feast was to remember these events. So they lived each year for eight days in tents made of leaves and branches.

The *Feast lasted for eight days. There was a law about people attending the *Feast. Every male adult *Jew who lived less than 15 *miles (24 kilometres) from Jerusalem had to attend. But good *Jews from a greater distance would want to be there. The brothers of Jesus want him to go to Jerusalem for the *Feast. But Jesus does not agree with them. He will go only when he thinks it right to go.

Why do his brothers want Jesus to go to Jerusalem? Jesus had done *miracles in Galilee. He changed water into wine. He healed the *Roman’s son. He fed the five thousand. In Jerusalem, he had healed the sick man by the pool. But the *Jews did not regard this as a *miracle. To them, it was against the *Sabbath law. His brothers think that it would be a good idea for Jesus to do a few *miracles in Jerusalem. They think that then perhaps the people will notice him and follow him.

Jerusalem was the most important place. So why should Jesus stay in Galilee? It seems to the *disciples that Jerusalem is the right place for Jesus to be. But the greatness and *glory of Jesus comes not in wonderful *miracles. He will show his *glory a year later in his death on the *cross. This is not the time for him to show his *glory.

Jesus does not do the things that people think he should do. Neither does he do things when people think that he ought to do them. Even his own brothers do not really believe that he is the *Messiah (5). So Jesus tells them that his time has not yet come. This is not the right time for him to do what he plans to do. This explains why Jesus seems to say he will not go to Jerusalem but then later he goes. He will not go when the *disciples think he should. He will go only at the time he chooses. He chooses his time with care. He sees that a better time would be in the middle of the *Feast. So that is when he goes.

Jesus tells his brothers that any time is right for them. They can go to Jerusalem. But no one will notice them there. It would not matter whether they were there or not. They think the same as other people in the world. Their way is the way of the world. They belong to the world, so the world will not hate them. The world does not hate its own people. People do *evil things. But the brothers being in Jerusalem will not trouble them. That they are there will make no difference. People will still not want to change their ways.

It is different with Jesus. When people do *evil, he will trouble them. He will tell them to give up their *evil ways. They will not like that. So Jesus must choose his time. Then when he does go to Jerusalem, people will notice him. Something will happen. So he stays in Galilee (9). When Jesus did go to Jerusalem, he did not follow his brothers’ advice and do *miracles.

7:10-52 The teaching of Jesus at the *Feast

The *Jewish leaders were the Pharisees and the chief priests. They hated Jesus and hated each other. The Pharisees hated Jesus because he spoke against their silly rules. They loved their system of rules more than they loved God. If Jesus is right then they are wrong. Most of the priests were *Sadducees. The *Sadducees did not agree with the rules of the Pharisees. They were friends of the *Roman rulers. They were comfortable and they were rich. They did not want a *Messiah who would change things and upset their comfortable lives.

Jesus does not tell anyone he is going to the *Feast. When he goes he goes in secret (10). The *Jews notice that Jesus is not there. They look for him and want to know where he is (11). The people whisper about him and wonder what kind of man he is. Some people say that he is a good man. Other people say that he is telling lies to everyone (12). But the people are afraid of their leaders. So they only whisper these things (13). They do not want the leaders to hear them.

But Jesus is not afraid of the *Jews. At the right time, he goes to the *Temple. It is about half way through the *Feast. He starts to teach (14). This surprises the leaders. They cannot understand why Jesus knows so much. No one has taught him these things. He has never been to a college for teachers (15). Jesus tells them that his teaching is not his own, neither has he taught himself. His teaching is from God (16). He is one with the Father and shares the Father’s knowledge.

The test for the *Jews is whether they want to obey God. If they do, they will know whether the teaching of Jesus is from God. He is not speaking his own thoughts. Only those who want to obey God will understand whether the teaching is from God. Only they will know if it is true (17). Jesus does not want to bring honour to himself. If he did, he would speak his own words. He wants to bring honour to his Father, the one who sent him. Therefore he speaks the truth and does not lie. He is a man of truth. There is nothing *false about him (18).

He asks them to look to Moses who gave them the law. The *Jews kept the law with great care. They spent a lot of time reading it and writing about it. Yet, Jesus says that not one of them obeys it. They did in fact keep the law in every detail. But they did not understand the reason God gave the law. If they did understand, they would not be trying to kill Jesus (19). It was against the law of Moses to kill (Exodus 20:13). That was one of the most important laws. It was a law that would never change.

The crowd says that no one is trying to kill Jesus. He must have a *demon if he thinks that. He must be mad (20).

Jesus’ reply is that he has done one *miracle, and that surprised them. The law said that no one must work on the *Sabbath day. So when Jesus heals a man on the *Sabbath they say it is work. It is therefore against the law.

Long ago, even before Moses, God gave their *ancestors the law of *circumcision. *Circumcision was a medical act, done with a knife on the male part of a child. They did it when the child was eight days old (Leviticus 12:3). It was a sign of God’s choice of the *Israelites as his special people. They said that this act made a child perfect.

A child might be eight days old on the *Sabbath day. But they *circumcised him, although that was against the *Sabbath law. They did this to obey the law of Moses about *circumcision. (In fact, *circumcision was not Moses’ law. It came before Moses’ time). Although this act was work, they said it was not against the *Sabbath law. It was therefore right to do it on the *Sabbath day.

When Jesus heals the man, he makes his whole body well on the *Sabbath. They do the same to a child by *circumcising him on the *Sabbath day. What is the difference between the two? So Jesus asks this question. Is it better to cut a small part of a child’s body on the *Sabbath day or to make a man whole on the *Sabbath day?

So they hate Jesus and want to kill him. It is always wrong to kill people. The laws on *circumcision and the *Sabbath are not the same as the law on killing. God gave laws on *circumcision and the *Sabbath to prepare *Israel for something better. The law on killing is for all time.

The law required physical *circumcision. But there is a greater *circumcision than this. It is a *circumcision of the heart (Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4). It is a *circumcision on the inside. It brings a *spiritual change in your life. It describes the cutting of *evil from your heart. You are then clean inside and free from *sin. This would come as a gift of Christ after his death.

The *Sabbath law was a weekly rest from work. That too described something greater than the law itself. It was a sign of a greater *Sabbath rest, the *Sabbath rest of God (Hebrews 4:9-11). God is doing good things all the time. His work never stops. In *healing a man and making him whole, Jesus is doing the work of God.

The leaders are making wrong *judgements. Good *judgement, Jesus tells them, is not to *judge by what seems right on the outside. Their ways of making *judgements are wrong. They should *judge by what is right, not by working things out by their laws (21-24).

Jesus does not hide from the *Jews. He speaks freely for everyone to hear. Some of the people ask a question. Is this the man that the leaders are trying to kill? But why do the leaders not stop his *preaching? Perhaps the rulers really believe that he is the Christ (*Messiah) (26). But there is a difficulty here. The belief was that when the *Messiah came, he would come in secret. No one would know where he came from. He would make a sudden appearance. But they know where he comes from. They know that his home is in Nazareth. They know his parents, brothers and sisters.

Jesus cries out in the *Temple. He does not try to hide (27). No one really understands where he comes from. But he knows. As he teaches in the *Temple, he shouts. “Do you really think that you know me and where I come from?” Jesus tells them that he comes from God. Jesus knows the one who sent him because he came from him. They still do not understand that God has sent him. The one who sent him is true, Jesus says. But they do not know him. They ought to know that Jesus has come from God (28-29). They do not know because they do not know God.

Some of the people want to take hold of Jesus straight away. But no one even touches him. It is impossible for anyone to do anything to him at that moment in time. The reason is that God is working out his plan. Only God will decide when the time is right for them to take him (30).

Many in the crowd put their *faith in Jesus. They ought to believe that Jesus is the *Messiah. He has done many *miracles. That should be enough for them (31). How could anyone do greater *miracles?

The Pharisees hear the people whispering these things about Jesus. So they speak with the chief priests and send the *Temple police to seize him (32). This does not worry Jesus. He tells them that he will be with them a little while. That will be God’s right time. Only in God’s time can they do anything. Then Jesus will return to the one who sent him. They will look for him, but they will not find him. He tells them that they cannot go where he is going (33-34). Jesus knows why he is here. He is here to do God’s work. He knows that will finish on the *cross. They cannot follow him there.

As usual, the *Jews do not understand. His words must have completely surprised them. They could not see their *spiritual meaning. There would be no place for him to go where they could not find him?

Through the centuries, God had sent the *Jews to many other countries. They call this ‘the *Diaspora’ (sending out). They still use this word today for *Jews who live in a country outside *Israel. Perhaps Jesus would go to some Greek country where the *Jews are now living. Maybe he would teach the Greeks there (35-36).

On the last day of the *Feast (of *Tabernacles), the people remembered their time in the desert. It was there, through Moses, that God gave them water out of the rock (Exodus 17:6). At the *Feast, they thanked God for his gift of water and asked him for rain for the following year. Jesus would be thinking of this when he shouts, “If you are *thirsty, come to me and drink! Have *faith in me and you will have rivers of living water that will give you life. It will flow from deep inside you just as it says in the *Scriptures (Written Words)”. He is talking about the *Holy *Spirit. God would give the *Holy *Spirit to everyone who has *faith in Jesus.

So far, God had given his *Spirit only to certain people at different times. But the time would come when God would give a full amount of his *Spirit. This would be for all who would receive him. God had not yet given his *Spirit in this way. That was because God had not yet given Jesus his full *glory. This would happen only after Jesus died, rose from the dead and went up into *heaven.

God gave the *Holy *Spirit in this way at *Pentecost (Acts chapter 2). Before that, the *Spirit had been a power. Now he will be a person. The same thought is in Zechariah 13:1 and 14:8. After the death and *resurrection of Jesus, God would pour out the *Holy *Spirit upon his people. Jesus would send the gift of the *baptism of the *Holy *Spirit. The power of the *Holy *Spirit would come in full to all those who accepted Jesus as *Saviour. They would then go out into the world and *preach the good news.

People thought that Jesus would go to other countries to *preach, but he did not do that. Instead, he sent his *Holy *Spirit and gave his people the power to go in his place. Only the *Holy *Spirit could help people understand Jesus’ words (37-39).

Because of his words, the people talk among themselves about who Jesus might be. Some think he is the *Prophet. That could be Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15). A *prophet is one who speaks out God’s word. He may also tell what will happen in the future. Some think that Jesus is the *Messiah.

Some think that he is not the *Messiah. Other people think the same. But for them the reason is that he comes from Galilee. The *Scriptures (Written Words) said that the *Messiah would come from the family of David. David’s town was Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; see also Matthew 2:6). They do not seem to know that was where he was born. So the people cannot agree about who Jesus is. For the third time, some want to seize him. But again, no one touches him (40-44).

The *Temple police return to the chief priests and Pharisees. They ask the *Temple police why they have not brought Jesus to them (45). The police were *Levites (priests) who understood the law. They would have understood the strength and truth of Jesus’ words. Their opinion was that no one had ever spoken like Jesus (46).

This surprises the Pharisees. How is it possible for the police to believe in Jesus? Not one of the leaders believes him. Only the crowd has *faith in him. But they are just ordinary people, so they do not know the law. The crowd did not keep the many rules of the Pharisees. The Pharisees called them ‘the People of the Land’. What the Pharisees are saying is that clever and good people (like them) need not believe in Jesus.

Anyone who did not keep all the words of the law was under a *curse (Deuteronomy 27:26). So the Pharisees believe that these people are under God’s *curse (47-49). The Pharisees want to kill Jesus. They do not realise that they too are under the same *curse!

Nicodemus, one of the leaders, does not agree with the other people. John reminds his readers that Nicodemus was the one who came to Jesus by night (3:1-2). Nicodemus tells them that they are not using the law in the right way. The law first hears what a person has to say. Then it decides whether he has done wrong. The law does not *judge a person without knowing what he has done (Deuteronomy 1:16-17). Nicodemus is a man who has met with Jesus. He is now a friend of Jesus and wants to help him. But he still has some fear and does not say anything further (50-51).

The leaders think that no one from Galilee is important. Their *Scriptures tell them that no *prophet comes from Galilee (52). So they tell Nicodemus that he is foolish. He too must come from Galilee. He is the same as the crowds who do not know any better and believe in Jesus.

7:53–8:11 Jesus helps a woman caught in *adultery

After the last events, everyone goes home (7:53). But Jesus walks to the hill called the Mount of Olives (8:1).

Then early next morning Jesus goes to the *Temple. The people come to him. They crowd round him. He sits down and starts teaching them (2). But the teachers of the law of Moses and the Pharisees are against Jesus. They want to get Jesus into trouble with the rulers (6). They think that this would be a good time to do this.

They bring to him a woman whom they have caught sleeping with a man who is not her husband. They make her stand in the middle of the crowd. They tell Jesus that they have caught this woman sleeping with this man. They remind Jesus of the law of Moses. It is that they should throw stones at such a woman until she dies (Deuteronomy 22:22). They ask Jesus what he has to say (3-5). However, the law does not say that the death should be by throwing stones. It does not give the method of death. It also says that they should kill the man who slept with the woman.

They think that this is a big problem for Jesus. They have already said that Jesus does not obey the *Sabbath law. Would he again not obey the law of Moses? Would Jesus agree that the woman had done wrong? If so, would he agree that they should obey the law and kill her. Jesus taught love and *mercy towards those who do wrong. He could agree that the woman should die. Then people would no more call him a friend of *sinners. Then the people would not think well of him.

Moreover, the *Roman law did not allow the *Jews to punish a person by death. Only the *Romans could do that. The *Jews would be in trouble with the *Romans if they killed her. So what should Jesus say? He could say that the *Jews should kill her. He would then be agreeing that the *Jews need not obey the *Roman law. So they think that they have given Jesus a big problem. Should he say that they should kill her (against the *Roman law)? Or should he say that they should do nothing about her *sin? Then it would seem that the law of Moses did not matter. They need not obey it if they chose not to obey it. It would be all right for people to *sin in this way.

Jesus does not tell those who ask him whether he agrees with these things. Only *Romans have the right to punish by death. But Jesus does not give an opinion about this. Neither does he blame the woman. This situation is no problem to Jesus. All he does is to bend over and write on the ground with his finger (6).

There have been many guesses about what Jesus wrote on the ground. We do not know what he wrote. The *Jews still ask Jesus what he would do about the woman. At last, Jesus stands up and says, “If any of you has never *sinned, then throw the first stone at her!” He is telling them to throw stones at the woman. But they can do this only if they too have not *sinned. Then he bends over and again begins writing on the ground (6-8).

Then, one by one, the leaders leave. The oldest goes first and after that the younger ones. So Jesus and the woman are there alone. Jesus stands up and asks her where they have gone. Is there no one remaining to blame her? The woman says there is no one. There is no one present now who saw what happened. Then Jesus tells the woman that he does not blame her either. He tells her to go, to start her life again but not to *sin any more (9-11).

In Jesus’ words “Neither do I blame you”, we see the *miracle of the *grace of God. ‘God gave the law through Moses, but he gave *grace and truth through Jesus Christ’ (1:17). We can now better understand the truth of those words of Jesus. If we say we are sorry for our *sin, God is ready to *forgive our *sin. It does not say here that the woman was sorry for her *sin. But having seen the wonderful love and *grace of Jesus, it would have been the most natural thing for her to do. His death on the *cross gave Jesus the right to speak those words of *forgiveness.

Jesus leaves those who blame the woman to make a decision. They must decide for themselves whether they are right to blame her. Jesus does not agree with the woman’s *sin. He does not say it does not matter. When we *sin, it does matter. Our *sin usually hurts another person. Jesus tells her she must not *sin any more. He gives her another chance to start life again.

Jesus did not blame the woman for her *sin. But people might have wrongly understood this in the early days of the *church. They might have thought that Jesus excused her *sin. Sex *sins were common in those days. The early *church would have had difficulty in teaching the first Christians that such *sins are wrong.

Jesus does not teach here that because we too have *sinned we should not blame other people. We should take notice of *sin and not allow a person to escape punishment. The *sin of those who blamed the woman was that they had unkind thoughts about her. They did not see her as a person who had feelings. They used her to make trouble for Jesus with the rulers. The important thing to them was that she had not obeyed the law. They must therefore punish her. Law was more important to them than loving and caring for the woman.

It is right that we should keep the law. It is right that we should suffer punishment if we do not obey it. But we should examine our own feelings towards the *sinner. Are our feelings right and pure? We should also show love and *mercy towards those who *sin. We should always remember that we too are *sinners.

There is another fault in the actions of the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. Jesus taught on the law of divorce (Matthew 19:1-10). The teachers understood the law in their own way. They made it quite easy for a man to divorce his wife. But a woman could not divorce her husband. Everything was favourable to the man. This made a woman less important than a man. The rulers should have found the man who had *sinned. They should have asked that they punish him too. It would not be right that only the woman die for her *sin and the man escape punishment.

This story tells us too that laws are not always the best way to solve problems of sex and marriage.

8:12-59 ~ Jesus as the light of the world

Jesus again speaks to the people. He still teaches by using objects seen in the *Feast of Tents. He has already used the example of living water to help people understand his teaching (7:37). He now uses the example of light. During their journey across the desert, God had guided the *Jews by a bright light in the sky. The people would remember this at the *Feast of Tents.

On the evening of the first day of the *Feast, there was a ceremony, ‘the lighting of the *Temple’. It happened in the Court of the Women. They lit candles that gave a very bright light. This bright light shone through all Jerusalem. The great, the wise and the *holy men danced before the *Lord. They sang *psalms of joy while the people watched them. Jesus is teaching in this same *Temple Court. People could see this bright light shining out from the *Temple into the darkness. Jesus uses this in his teaching.

Jesus tells the people that he is the light for the world. Jesus is the light of God coming to people of the world. He is the one who brings light into the darkness. He speaks of the darkness of *sin. He is the one who opens blind eyes that people may see. He is the one who takes away the darkness with his light. He is the light that gives life to everyone in the world. Anyone who follows him will no more be walking in the dark. They will have the light that gives life (12). To follow Jesus is to obey him and to want to please him. John has already spoken about this (1:4-5, 9-10). This is another of the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus (6:35). Jesus himself is the true light.

The words of Jesus make the Pharisees angry. They do not like what he says. The *Scriptures often use the words ‘God’ and ‘light’ together (*Psalm 27:1, Isaiah 60:19). The teachers said that the name of the *Messiah was Light. They say that Jesus is speaking about himself. Therefore, what he says is not true (13).

Jesus has argued like this before (chapter 5). He says the same again. They must *judge the truth of what he says in the same way. He says that even if he does speak for himself, whatever he says is true. That is enough. He knows where he comes from and where he is going. The Pharisees do not know where he comes from or where he is going (14). Jesus knows more than they do about his work here on earth. They *judge in the same way that everyone else does.

We do not know all the facts, so our *judgement is not perfect. Jesus judges in a different way. His *judgement is right because he is one with God his Father. Jesus did not come to *judge while he was here on earth. However, he will be the Judge of all at the end of time. But even if he did *judge, his *judgement would be right. He would not be doing it alone. The Father who sent him is here with him (15-17).

Jesus speaks about their law. When he says ‘their law’, he does not mean that his law is a different law from theirs. It is his law too. Jesus is always very careful to obey the law in every way.

By the *Jewish law, one witness to a crime was not enough (Deuteronomy 19:15). There had to be two or three witnesses. Of course, Jesus had done nothing wrong. But the *Jews did not believe that he was God. So Jesus tells them of the witnesses to this fact. He says that he himself is one of these and his Father is the other (8:18). As Jesus and the Father are one, these two are in truth the same.

They do not ask, “Who is your father?” They ask, “Where is your father?” “Where is the other person who can say that what you say is true?” They still do not understand what he means when he speaks of his Father. They do not understand that he speaks of God. They think that he speaks of his natural father. So Jesus does not answer their question. They do not know him or his Father. They do not know that Jesus and the Father are one. If they knew him, they would know his Father too (19).

Jesus is teaching in the place where they kept the *Temple *treasure (funds). People paid this money towards the *Temple and its ceremonies, probably the Court of the Women. But again, no one seizes him. It is still not God’s time (20). People make their plans, but God has a different plan. God will work out his plan in his own time (7:44).

Jesus again tells the *Jews that he is going away and they will look for him. But they cannot go where he is going. Moreover, they will die in their *sin (21). What is the *sin that they will still have when they die? The *sin is that they do not accept who he is. They do not accept that he is the *Messiah. They do not accept that he is the one God has sent to die for them. They do not accept the reason for his death. He has done this to save them from their *sins. Jesus says that they will look for him. He means that they will look for him in the wrong way. The right way is to look for him as their *Messiah and *Saviour. In the meaning that Jesus gives to his words, they will not be going where he is going.

So they think that he means to kill himself (22). The people and Jesus are thinking in different ways. The people speak like those of the earth. Jesus speaks as one from *heaven. So the people cannot understand him. They are from below, but he is from above. They belong to this world, but he does not. They *judge as you see and touch. Jesus does not *judge like that. That is why he says that they will die. They will die and still have their *sin in them.

Jesus took their *sin and ours on himself when he died. We need to have *faith in who he is and what he has done. If we do not have that *faith, we will die. We will die with no *forgiveness for our *sins 23-24).

Jesus says, “If you do not believe that I am (the one I say I am), you will die in your *sins.” Jesus is here making another ‘I am statement’. The words ‘I am’ are the same as the words for God in Exodus 3:14. Jesus is the *Messiah who has always been from the beginning. They ask, “Who are you?” Jesus replies that he is ‘I am’. He is the same as he has always been from the beginning (25). Jesus has twice reminded them that they will die in their *sins. He has yet more to say on *judgement. What Jesus says is true because the one who sent him is true. Whatever he tells the world comes from his Father (26).

They still do not understand this (27). He says that they will lift up the Son of Man. Then they will know who he is. They will also know that he does not do anything on his own. He speaks only what the Father tells him (28). They will really understand when Jesus dies on the *cross. Then God will lift him (Jesus) up to be with his Father again. Through his death and rising, people will come to know him.

God, the Father, is always with Jesus, the Son. Jesus always does what pleases the Father. The Father will never leave him (29). However, there will be a time when the Father does leave him. Before he died, Jesus cried to God, “Why have you left me?” (Matthew 27:46) But that was only for a short time. Many people now put their *faith in him (30).

Many more would later have *faith in him (20:31). Jesus teaches those who have *faith in him, but these new *disciples have yet much to learn. A *disciple is one who learns. The word means ‘learner’. There will always be something new to learn. A *disciple learns. He then practises what he has learnt.

*Disciples learn from God’s Word, the Bible. We should be happy to know his Word. It should become a part of our life. It helps us to be *holy. When we stay in his Word, he stays in and with us. Jesus tells his *disciples that if they continue obeying his Word, they will be his true *disciples. Then they will know the truth and the truth will set them free (31-32).

To know and do the truth does not make a person a slave. The truth sets people free. It brings freedom from fear. It brings freedom from fear of what other people think of us. It brings freedom from selfish behaviour. It brings freedom from *sin. *Sin is like a chain. Jesus breaks the chains of *sin.

A true believer is one who has given his life to Jesus Christ. Some people think that you can become a believer in other ways. These *Jews depended on Abraham’s goodness. God said that because of his *faith Abraham was right with God. So the *Jews think that they too are right with him. They depend on being members of Abraham’s family. Some depend on belonging to a country. Some depend on doing *religious things in their place of *worship. Some depend on keeping laws. It is of course right to obey laws. But none of these is enough to make you a *disciple of Jesus Christ. Our first need is to know Jesus in a personal way as our *Saviour and *Lord.

Some of the *Jews have believed. But they do not like what Jesus says. He has said that they are slaves. They want the gift of life that Jesus gives. But they cannot agree that they are slaves. Neither can the Pharisees see that they are not free. Their teaching made other people slaves. Trying to obey all their difficult rules made people slaves. The *Jews were right in saying that they came from Abraham through their *ancestors. In that way, they were Abraham’s children. But they are not Abraham’s children in the way they behave. They do not see their need of anyone to set them free (33).

Jesus explains what it means to be free. Everyone *sins, so everyone must be a slave to *sin (*Romans 6:17-20). It is the same for those who are Abraham’s children as for all other people. People still kill, steal, hurt one another and do many other wrong things. But that is not the reason they are *sinners. They are *sinners because of what is in them. Paul calls it ‘a *sinful nature’ (*Romans 7:18, 23). We do all these wrong things because we are *sinners. Wrong actions come from the *sin inside us (Mark 7:21-23). This is what it means to be a slave to *sin.

Jesus says that the *Jews are not Abraham’s children. That is because they do not behave like Abraham. There is a difference between a slave and a son. A slave does not stay in the family for ever. A son stays always in the family. A slave cannot free himself. He does not have the power. Another person must free him.

That person is Jesus, the Son of God. So if the Son frees people, they will really be free (34-36). They will be sons, not slaves, and still be in the family. If they do not allow the Son to set them free, they will not be in the family. They will remain slaves. These words of Jesus are serious. They were serious then to the *Jews, as they are to us today. True freedom comes only through the Son. Only he can set people free. It is his gift to us.

Jesus knows that the *Jews are from Abraham’s natural family. But they want to kill him. They want to kill the one who has come from God. They want to kill the one who can free them from their *sin. It was important to the *Jews to be part of Abraham’s family. They were in Abraham’s natural family, but they did not behave as members of his family. They are trying to kill Jesus because they do not have his word in their hearts (37). They refuse to consider the truth.

True members of Abraham’s family would receive the words of Jesus. Jesus is telling them only what his Father has shown him. They are doing only what their father has taught them. There is a difference between his Father and their father (38).

The *Jews believed that to be a member of Abraham’s family was something special. They became special people. All the *blessings that God gave to Abraham belonged to them. They remind Jesus again that they belong to Abraham and that Abraham is their father.

But they need to understand the qualities needed to be a true child of Abraham. If you have a good father, that does not make you a good child. They must behave as the father behaves.

There is a story in the *Old Testament of three visitors who came to Abraham with God’s message. Abraham cared for them and listened to what they had to say (Genesis 18:1-8). These *Jews want to kill Jesus for telling them God’s truth. Abraham was not like that. Therefore, they are not Abraham’s true children. True children would do as Abraham did. They have a different father and they do as their father would do.

At last, the leaders realise what Jesus is saying. They are like those who do not know who their father is. He is saying that they have never known or seen their father. But Jesus is not talking of physical fathers. He speaks in a *spiritual way. Like a person with no human father, they have no *spiritual father. They say that they have a father and he is God (39-41). This is true. The *Scriptures do say that God is the Father of *Israel (Isaiah 63:16, 64:8).

Jesus continues explaining what it means to be a true child of God. If God were their Father, they would love Jesus. They would love him because he comes from God. They would love him because he is doing God’s work. God sent him. He does not come on his own. Why can they not understand his language? It is because they refuse to consider his words and do not want to understand. They are blind to the truth. They have no room for his word in their hearts (37).

The truth is that their father is the *devil. The *devil brought *sin into the world (Genesis 3). He is a thief and the one who murders. He stole God’s gift of life from Adam and Eve. That life is the life that God planned to be ours for ever. *Satan brought death into the world. He lied to Adam and Eve. He told them that they would not die. It would be all right if they ate the fruit.

These *Jews do as the *devil does. The *devil kills. They are trying to kill Jesus. Therefore, they are the *devil’s children. The *devil lies. The reason he lies is that there is no truth in him. It is his nature to lie. He cannot do otherwise. When he lies, he is speaking in his true character. Not only does he himself lie. He is the father of all who lie. Lies are his invention. He is therefore the father of those who want to kill Jesus (42-44).

Everything that Jesus tells them is true. But still they do not have *faith in him. The test is whether they believe in him. Jesus speaks the truth. So everyone who does not believe in him must be *false. Jesus asks a question. Can they show him where he is wrong? Can any of them see *sin in Jesus? They do not reply. They can find no fault in him. If that is so, why do they not have *faith in him? If they do not believe in Jesus, they are saying that he lies. That means that he is a *sinner. Whoever hears God’s words is of God. They do not hear God’s words; therefore, they are not of God (45-47).

The *Samaritans were a mixture of the *Jewish nation and other nations. To the *Jews this was like a marriage of the *holy and unholy. It was like bending the knee to a *false God. It was like sex outside of marriage. The *Jews hated the *Samaritans. They also hated Jesus. If they wanted to say nasty things about someone, they called him a *Samaritan. To the *Jews, the *Samaritans were the enemies of *Israel. They say that Jesus is a *Samaritan. That would mean that he is an enemy of *Israel. The *Samaritans did not obey the law. So they say that Jesus too does not obey the law. The *Samaritans had wrong beliefs about God. They say that Jesus too has wrong beliefs about God.

It is possible that the word *Samaritan could mean ‘child of the *devil’. They say that Jesus has a *demon in him (48). Jesus replies that he does not have a *demon in him. The nature of the *devil, his character, does not allow him to respect anyone. The *devil’s language is lies. (44). Jesus respects his Father. These *Jews do not honour Jesus. Jesus does not look for honour for himself. He does not look for honour from the people of this world. God who wants to honour him and God is the judge.

If a man obeys Jesus’ word, he will never see death. Jesus says that this is the truth. We all die. Our bodies will die, but the *spirit, the part inside us, will not die. Death is a terrible thing. But it will have no terror for those who believe in Jesus. Jesus will take away the pain of death (1 Corinthians 15:55-56).

The *Jews are now sure that Jesus has a *demon. They think that he is speaking of natural death. Abraham and the *prophets are dead. Jesus says that anyone who obeys his words will never die. How can that be true? Is he saying that he is greater than their father Abraham? They do not think that is possible. They respect the *prophets more than they respect Jesus. They ask, “Who do you think you are?” “What sort of person do you make yourself to be?” (53)

Jesus replies that if he respects himself it would mean nothing. His Father is the one who respects him. They say that God is their God. But they do not really know him. If Jesus said that he did not know him, he would be lying like the rest of them. But Jesus does know God and does what God wants him to do (54-55).

Jesus’ next words surprise the *Jews. He tells them that their father Abraham was really happy at the thought of seeing this day (time) of Jesus. He saw it and was glad (56). This may mean that Abraham was glad about the birth of his son Isaac (Genesis 17:17). He was glad because of what would follow Isaac’s birth. It would lead to the promise of God *blessing all nations through the coming *Messiah. Abraham was a man who had great *faith. Through his *faith, God made him right with God (*Romans chapter 4). So in that way Abraham looked with pleasure to the day of Jesus. It would be a day that would bring God’s promised *blessings.

The *Jews do not understand Jesus’ words. The priests ended their working days at the age of 50 (Numbers 4:3). Jesus is a young man and has not yet reached that age. So the *Jews ask him how he could have seen Abraham. He is not yet 50 years old (57).

Jesus answers, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was, I am”. Again, Jesus is using the name of God. It is the name that God used for himself at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14). Isaiah uses the same name for God. ‘I, the *Lord - with the first of them and with the last - I am he’ (Isaiah 41:4).

Jesus says, “I am”. He is saying that he is greater than Abraham. He was there when Abraham was born and even before that. There has never been a time when Jesus was not. He is here now. There is only one person who is beyond time, and that is God. Jesus is saying that the life in him is the life of God. Jesus is the God of Abraham, and of Isaac and of Jacob. He was before time and he will be after time. He always is.

The *Jews believe that Jesus is speaking against the *holy name of God. The law has this to say about anyone who claims to be God. He must die (Deuteronomy 13:1-10). They are right in their understanding of Jesus’ words. He shares with the Father the life that goes on for ever. He is the *Lord of time. He is the same yesterday, today and for ever (Hebrews 13:8). He is the *Lord of the nations. He is the *Lord of history. He is *Lord of all.

The *Jews pick up stones to kill Jesus. He hides himself and leaves the *Temple (58-59). Still they can do nothing to him. God’s time is not yet.

Part 7 ~ Further *healing and teaching (9:1-10:42)

9:1-41 ~ The sixth sign - Jesus heals a man born blind

As Jesus walks along, he sees a man who has been blind since birth (1). People then thought that every illness had a reason. They thought that your *sin made you ill. So the *disciples ask Jesus why this man is blind. Is it because of the man’s *sin or his parents’ *sin (2)?

Some of the teachers said that it was possible for a baby to *sin even before birth. It is true that *sin can pass from parents to children. That is in the *Commandments (Exodus 20:5). That is one of the awful results of *sin. There is a connection between *sin and being ill (Genesis 3; *Romans 5:12-14). But it is not only *sin that brings illness. There are other causes.

So Jesus refuses to answer their question. In this case, Jesus does not think that the question is important. It was the fault neither of the man nor his parents. This blind man is here to show the wonderful work of God. This man is here to show God’s *glory through his illness. We remind ourselves that this is the purpose of the signs (*miracles). This illness happens so that God might do his work through this man’s life (3). It shows God’s kindness and *mercy. There are those who cannot understand Jesus’ message. They cannot understand what he is saying. They are blind. Jesus has come to free them too. This is to God’s *glory.

Jesus continues his answer to the *disciples’ question. He tells them that people can only work in the daytime. We (Jesus and his *disciples) must do the work that God sent Jesus to do. We can do this only in the daytime. When the night comes no one can work (4). The day is the time Jesus can work. The night will be the end of his work here on earth. He would not be able to heal this man then. It would be too late. While he is in the world, he is the light of the world (5). Only when he is here on the earth can he do God’s work. It is the same for us his *disciples. We have only a certain amount of time to do God’s work. The night (when we die) comes when we cannot do it any more.

Jesus then *spits on the ground. He makes some *clay with the *spit and puts it on the man’s eyes (6). People believed that there was some kind of power in the *spit. It would be good for a bad eye. It could help to heal a person. They would have expected Jesus to use *spit to heal the man.

So because of this belief, Jesus uses the *spit in the *healing. He would not have agreed, however, that there was some kind of magic in the *spit. He tells the man to go to Siloam Pool and to wash off the mud. This was not a magic *healing.

There is a story in the *Old Testament about Naaman who was the head of the Syrian army. He had an illness of the skin. Elisha the *prophet told him to go and wash in the River Jordan. Then he would be clean (2 Kings 5:10). It is the same with the blind man. The *healing happens only after the man washes in the pool. He washes off the mud as Jesus asks. However, the *healing is not immediate. The man has to go to the pool and wash his eyes. This is a test of his *faith. The man obeys. He finds that he can see.

Jerusalem got its water from the Pool of Siloam. Long ago in Jerusalem there was a king called Hezekiah. He told his people to build a passage of steps to a *well outside Jerusalem (2 Kings 20:20). The passage went down through the earth to the Pool. The water came down through a pipe. The word Siloam means ‘Sent’ (7). They may have given it this name because they ‘sent’ the water down through the pipe. The Pool was not a natural *well. The pool may tell us about Jesus who is ‘the sent’ one from the Father.

Everyone is surprised that the man can see. They wonder whether he can be the same man who used to sit and ask people for money. Some people say that he is the same man. Other people say that he only looks like him. But they do not need to doubt. The man tells them, “I am the man.”

They ask the man how he can now see. He tells them everything that has happened. He did as Jesus asked and then he could see. They ask where this man (Jesus) is. He replies that he does not know (8-12). He was blind when Jesus met him. So he had not seen Jesus then.

It is a *Sabbath Day when Jesus makes the *clay and heals the man. So the people take the man to the Pharisees. John does not say who these people are. They could have been the neighbours (8). They could have been those who hated Jesus. Jesus had made *clay on the *Sabbath. They said that was work. It was against their understanding of the *Sabbath law. The Pharisees ask the man how he can now see. The man tells them (13-15).

You must not heal someone on the *Sabbath. That was how the Pharisees understood the law. You could heal if life was in danger. However, the blind man’s life was not in danger. In their opinion, it was wrong not to obey the law. A blind man can see. But still they think that it is wrong. They think that it is wrong even to put the *clay on the man’s eyes. A blind man can now see. But that is not important to the Pharisees. What is important is that Jesus does not obey the *Sabbath law. So they think that he could not come from God. To them, the law is about a set of rules that people must obey. There is nothing wrong with the way they understand the law. We should always obey God’s law.

The law is God’s teaching. It is a covenant (agreement) that God makes with his people. Keeping it is a way of life for God’s people. The Pharisees kept the Ten *Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). But verse 2 says, ‘I am the *Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land where you were slaves.’ It was by God’s *grace that God made the *Jewish people free from being slaves in Egypt. Freeing them from being slaves was God’s gift to them. God’s *grace saved them and set them free. That was the first and most important thing.

God then gave them the *Commandments (rules). By obeying these rules, they would live a good life. God gave them the law, but first he gave his free gift of *salvation. The Pharisees kept every part of the law with great care. But they forgot about God’s free gift of *salvation. When we receive this free gift, we want to obey God’s laws. We do not have to work at keeping laws in order to receive that gift. God knew that we could never keep all his laws. So first, he gave his *grace to help us when we fail.

To the Pharisees, however, the most important thing was that they obeyed every one of God’s laws. That is important. But receiving God’s gift of *salvation is more important. Keeping his laws and right behaviour will follow from receiving God’s gift.

The Pharisees understood that the *Messiah would be a second Moses. The *Messiah, when he came, would keep every part of the law with great care. This was what they did. But Jesus, the true *Messiah, was not like that. The Ten *Commandments were laws written on stone. The *Messiah, Jesus was the Word (Law) who came as a human person (1:1, 14). He saw the law in a different way from the Pharisees. God did not give the law as a book of rules. That is what the Pharisees had made it.

The law was about important matters like kindness, *mercy and right behaviour towards people (Matthew 23:23). The law would bring hope and health to people as it did to the blind man. The Pharisees kept the law with great care. They were good people. But they did not see that Jesus was the *Messiah. He was the Word made Man. More than that, they wanted to kill him.

But not all the Pharisees think in this way. Some ask how a *sinner could do such a wonderful *miracle and make a blind man see? So the Pharisees could not agree among themselves. They turn to the man and ask his opinion. What did he think of the man who had healed him? Who better to ask than the man who was blind and can now see? In verse 11 the man names the one who healed him as ‘the man they call Jesus’. Now he understands a little more about who Jesus is. He says that Jesus is a *prophet (16-17).

The *Jewish leaders would not believe that the man had once been blind. They send for the man’s parents. They ask them whether he is their son. They ask whether he had been blind. If so, how could he now see? The parents answer that it is true. He is their son and he was born blind. But they do not know how he can now see. They do not know who has healed him. Their son is old enough to answer for himself. Why do they not ask him themselves?

People were agreeing that Jesus was the *Messiah. The leaders had made a decision about such people. They would no more be able to call themselves *Jews. The leaders would put them outside their religion. They would not allow them to attend their meetings (Ezra 10:8). Jesus warned his *disciples that the leaders would put them out of the *synagogues if they followed him (16:2, 12:42).

This was a serious thing for a *Jew. You would feel that you were no longer a *Jew. You would feel that you were on the outside of your religion. You would then feel that you were apart from God. You would feel like a person on the outside of society. So the parents were afraid that this might happen to them. Still, it was quite right for them to pass the question back to their son. After all, he was an adult (18-23).

The leaders tell the man to come back. They tell him to make sure what he said is the truth. God would hear what he said. God would *judge him if he lied (Joshua 7:19). They know that Jesus is a *sinner. The man replies, “I do not know whether he is a *sinner or not. All I know is that once I was blind, but now I can see.” Again, they ask the man what Jesus did. They ask him how Jesus healed his eyes. The man answers that he has already told them once. They had refused to listen. Why do they want him to tell them again? Do they want to become his *disciples?” (24-27)

That makes them angry and they shout at the man. He is one who follows Jesus, but they follow Moses. They are sure that God spoke to Moses. In their opinion, Moses was more important than Jesus. They do not even know where Jesus came from. They could not believe someone if they did not know where he came from.

The man understands the truth much better than the Pharisees do. He does not know where Jesus has come from. He does not care either. All he knows is that Jesus has come to him and healed him. He cannot understand how the Pharisees can be so foolish. They do not know where Jesus comes from. But he has opened the man’s eyes. Everyone knows that God does not listen to *sinners. The man knows that God listens only to people who love him and obey him. This is the first time in history that anyone has ever given sight to someone born blind. The man knows that Jesus has come from God. He knows that if that were not true, Jesus could do nothing

All the man says is true. Everything he says is in the *Scriptures (Written Words). The *Jews know this. So they tell the man that he has always been a *sinner. He has been a *sinner since before his birth. Who is he to oppose them? Does he think that he can teach them anything? So they tell him that they will put him out of the *synagogue. Then he will no longer be a *Jew. He will not be able to come to their meetings. He will therefore be outside the *Jewish religion (28-34). This is a terrible thing for him. He had been on the inside of his *religious group. Now he is on the outside. People will stay away from him. He will lose all his friends

When Jesus hears about this, he goes to find the man. The man sees Jesus for the first time. Jesus asks him if he has *faith in the Son of Man. Daniel speaks of ‘The Son of Man’ (Daniel 7). He is the one who will bring *judgement to the world. Later we see that this is just what Jesus is doing. The man does not understand and asks Jesus who the Son of Man might be. Then he can put his *faith in him. Jesus replies, “You have already seen him. He is talking to you now.” The man puts his *faith in Jesus and falls to his knees before him.

The *faith of this man grows. First he saw Jesus as ‘the man they call Jesus’ (11). He saw Jesus as a wonderful man. Then he saw him as a *prophet (17). A *prophet is one who brings God’s message to people. But now he sees him as the ‘Son of Man’ and he *worships Jesus (35-37).

Jesus tells the man that it is for *judgement that he came into the world. This is so that he may give sight to the blind and make blind those who can see (39). This may seem different from 3:17. Then Jesus said that he did not come to *judge people. He came to save them. This is correct. The main reason Jesus came into the world was not to *judge the world. The way a person sees Jesus judges that person. A man is under *judgement if he looks at Jesus and sees nothing good in him. If someone does not have *faith in Jesus, God has already judged him (3:18).

*Judgement is here now for those who do not believe in Jesus. God has sent Jesus into the world. He brings both *salvation and *judgement. The light shines in the darkness. Those who receive the light come into the light. Those who refuse the light go into even greater darkness.

It is true that Jesus did not come to *judge. *Judgement comes through the way people either receive or turn away from Jesus. The blind man had received physical and *spiritual sight. Jesus is not speaking in verse 39 of those who are physically blind. Those who do not see that Jesus comes from God are *spiritually blind. Some people think that they can see. Jesus is saying that he will make these people blind.

When the Pharisees hear Jesus’ words, they ask, “Are we blind too?” (40) The Pharisees have natural sight. They think that they have *spiritual sight too. But they do not receive Jesus. They are therefore *spiritually blind. That is how Jesus judges them. Jesus tells them that they do not know that they are *spiritually blind. If they did, they would want to see. It would be the same as a physically blind person. It would be natural for him to want to see. Therefore, if they want to see (*spiritually), it would not be *sin. It would be a good kind of *blindness. God would not blame them for that. They need to know that they are *spiritually blind. Then they will want to see. They will want to know Jesus.

They say that they are not blind. That means that they can see. That means that they understand who Jesus is. Therefore, they will then accept him. But this they do not do. God therefore blames them. God’s *judgement is upon them (41).

10:1-18 ~ Jesus as the *shepherd

Jesus now uses a story of a *shepherd and his sheep. His words have a *spiritual meaning. He is showing the difference between true and *false *shepherds. The *Old Testament often used objects to make the meaning clear (*Psalm 23:1, Ezekiel 34). Jesus here uses a *shepherd and sheep in this way. Ezekiel spoke against the *false *shepherds (leaders) of *Israel. They neither fed the people nor helped them in all their needs. The result was that enemies came in to rule their country. So God said that he himself would come and be the *shepherd of his sheep (people). He would rescue his *flock (his people) and *judge the *false *shepherds. If necessary, he would *judge the sheep (people) too (Ezekiel 34).

God will bring a new *shepherd (ruler) who will care for them. In the *New Testament, Jesus is the Good *Shepherd. He will, if necessary, give his life for a lost sheep (person) (Matthew 18:12).

Jesus starts his story with the words often used in this *gospel, ‘In truth, in truth’ (I tell you the truth). Jesus is the *Shepherd whom God has sent. He loved the blind man. The Pharisees did not love him. They were not good *shepherds.

The sheep pen was the place where the sheep lived. It had only one door. At the gate was a man who guarded the door. If there were several lots of sheep in the sheep pen, one man would look after all the sheep. He would recognise all the *shepherds. The sheep too would recognise their own *shepherd when he called them. They would know his voice.

Sometimes there would be only one lot of sheep on the hills. The *shepherd would be alone. Then he would guard his own sheep. There would be no door to the pen. The *shepherd himself would lie across the opening to the pen. He himself would be the door. If a thief came to steal the sheep, he would not be able to enter. He would have to get in some other way.

The important thing about this story is the relationship between the *shepherd and his sheep. The true *shepherd knows his sheep. He knows the names of each one. He can call each one by name. He leads his own sheep out of the sheep pen. He goes on ahead of his sheep.

The Pharisees taught the people. They said, “Follow the rules”. Jesus taught that the right way to live was to follow him. We need to follow the rules, but the first thing is to know Jesus. The rules show his character. They help us to know who he is. The *Holy *Spirit will guide us into all truth (16:13). The sheep follow because they recognise his voice. His sheep know his voice and want to obey his voice. The sheep would not recognise a stranger. They would not follow him, but would run away.

The *false *shepherds enter by another way. They call themselves *shepherds, but they are not. No one has given them the right to be *shepherds. It is different with Jesus. God himself gives Jesus the authority to be a *shepherd.

Jesus tells the *Jews this story to help them understand his teaching. But they do not know what he is talking about (1-6).

Jesus is still using objects to help people understand his teaching. He now uses a gate as the object. Jesus himself is the gate (7). He says that all who came before him were thieves and *robbers. The sheep did not listen to any of them (8). Jesus speaks about the teachers and the *prophets who came before him. He does not mean that all these were thieves and *robbers. But it is only Jesus who is the new and living way (Hebrews 10:20). Some of those who came before the time of Jesus were strangers or even enemies. Only through Jesus can people find their way to God.

Who were these thieves and *robbers who came before the time of Jesus? They were those who said that only through them could you know God. They were *false *Messiahs. Jesus warned that *false *Messiahs would come (Matthew 24:5). The Pharisees in chapter 9 were like that. They thought that they knew the truth. They thought that they were good *shepherds. But they were not. There were those too who thought that they could bring freedom to *Israel. They could do this by killing people. They believed in war and killing. They too were thieves and *robbers. The way of Jesus is the way of peace.

Jesus is the gate. He will save all those who come in through him. Each one will be able to come in and go out as he pleases. He will find *spiritual food to eat. He will be safe and will have no need to be afraid (9).

The sheep are in the pen. But that is not the reason that they are safe. They are safe because they are near the *shepherd. God blesses those who obey him. God blesses a person when he comes in and when he goes out (as he travels) (Deuteronomy 28:6). A thief comes only to rob, kill and destroy. Jesus came so that everyone could have life. That life would be the best that it is possible to have. It would even be better if that were possible (10). Jesus brings life. The *false *shepherds bring death.

The *false *shepherd does not own the sheep. Someone pays him to care for the sheep. There is another difference between a good *shepherd and a paid *shepherd. The good *shepherd will die for his sheep if necessary (11). Jesus is speaking of himself. He is the good *shepherd who will die for his sheep.

Paid workers are not like the *shepherd. When they see a *wolf coming, they run away and leave the sheep. Then the *wolf attacks the sheep and they scatter (12). The reason paid workers run away is that they do not care about the sheep (13). Their first thought is for their pay and safety. Jesus warned his *disciples that he was sending them out as sheep in the middle of *wolves (Matthew (10:16). Paul gave the same warning to the leaders at Ephesus (Acts 20:29).

Jesus is the good *shepherd. He knows his sheep and his sheep know him (14). The Father knows Jesus (the Son) and Jesus knows his Father in the same way. The relationship between the *shepherd and us his sheep is the same as between Jesus and his Father. If necessary, Jesus will die for his *flock (his people) (15).

Moses prayed for a leader to come after him who would be a true *shepherd. He prayed for one who would go out and come in before the people. He prayed for one who would lead them out and bring them in. Then the *Lord’s people would not be like sheep without a *shepherd (Numbers 27:17). That leader was Joshua. The Greek for ‘Joshua’ is ‘Jesus’. The ‘greater than Joshua’ is Jesus the *Messiah. He is the true leader. All leaders should be like him.

But there are other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. There are other *flocks in other pens. Jesus will bring them together too when they hear his voice. Then there will be one *flock of sheep and one *shepherd (16).

The other sheep are the *gentiles. The *gentiles are all the people of other nations who are not *Jews. Jesus will die for the *gentiles too. Then there will be one *flock, *Jews and *gentiles. There will be one *shepherd, Jesus, caring for them all.

John, in the book of Revelation, sees the time when this will be true. There will be a great crowd. No one can count them. They will be from every nation. They will stand before the *Lamb (Jesus). They will cry out with a loud voice. They will cry, “Our God who sits upon the *throne has the power to save his people, and so does the *Lamb” (Revelation 7:9-10).

The Father loves the Son and he loves us too. The Father loves Jesus because he lays down his life for us. The Father knows what we need. He knows that our *sin will result in death. He knows our need for him to rescue us from that. The Son is ready to die to rescue us. That is why the Father loves the Son. The death of Jesus for us is the result of the love of Father and Son for one another. At the *baptism of Jesus God spoke, “This is my dear Son, and I am pleased with him”. The Father loves the Son who died for us. That brings pleasure to him.

But Jesus gives his life only to receive it back again (17). His death on the *cross was not the end. He rose again from the dead. By his death for us, we see the Father’s love. We see that God the Father too is one who gives his life for the world.

Jesus had the power over his own life and death. He could choose to die or not to die. No one could kill him. He chose to allow men to kill him. He had the power to give his life by dying. He had the power to receive it back again. He did not lose his life: he gave it. He does just as the Father tells him (18). Always he does only what the Father wants him to do.

10:19-21 The result of this teaching

Again, the *Jews cannot agree among themselves about the teaching of Jesus (19). As in 7:20 and 8:48, many of them say that he has a *demon inside him. They say too that he is mad. Why should they listen to him (20)? But other people ask, “How can it be possible for a man who says such things to have a *demon? A mad man could not give sight to a blind man. A *demon could not do that (21).

10:22-42 Discussion at the *Feast of Lights

John often brings the *Jewish *Feasts into the stories of the life of Jesus. In 170 BC (years before Jesus' birth), there was a Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes. He wanted to destroy the *Jewish *Faith and bring Greek gods into the country. He fought against *Israel and killed 80,000 *Jews. He made many slaves. He brought things that were not clean into the *Jewish *Temple. He built an *altar and burnt a pig on it as an offering to the Greek god Zeus. To the *Jews, this was a terrible thing.

In 164 BC, Judas Maccabeus fought against the Syrian king and won. He built a new *altar and made the *Temple clean again. He took away the dirt. Then they could use the *Temple again to *worship God. He ordered that each year after this the *Jews must remember what he had done. This is the *Feast of *Dedication of the *Altar or the Cleansing of the *Temple. They also call it the *Feast of Lights. Even today, the *Jews put lights in their windows for the eight days of the *Feast. It was about this time that Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world”. His words would therefore have had special meaning to the *Jews.

The *Feast of Lights was in December, in the winter, near to our Christmas (22). Jesus is walking in the part of the *Temple called Solomon’s *Colonnade (23). This was a line of tall stones. These would help to protect people from the cold weather. The early Christians met a few months later in the same place (Acts 5:12).

Everywhere the people surround Jesus. They ask, “How long do we have to keep guessing? If you are the Christ (*Messiah), explain it. Make it plain to us” (24). Their question shows that some are not completely against Jesus. But they still do not understand him. Other people want to make things difficult for him. They would tell lies about him. They hope that the rulers will then arrest him.

Jesus answers that he has already told them who he is. But they refuse to believe. He does *miracles by his Father’s power. These show who he is (25). Each *miracle shows that he is the *Messiah. Isaiah had said that the *Messiah would make the blind see and the deaf hear (Isaiah 35:5-6). But even *miracles do not help them to believe. They do not believe because they are not the sheep of Jesus (26). They do not hear his voice.

Jesus knows who are his sheep, and they follow him (27). To these, Jesus gives *eternal life. He will never lose them. No one will be able to steal them from him (28). *Eternal life starts from the moment of belief. It goes on for ever. The thought here is of the thief who enters the pen. He wants to steal the sheep. No one can steal the new Christian from Jesus. He is safe in the pen.

The Father has given the sheep to Jesus. God wants all people to be his sheep. But of some Jesus says, ‘You are not my sheep’. Such people turn away from Jesus. They are not in his *flock. They bring *judgement upon themselves. It is not because we are better people that we are in God’s *flock. We are *sinners too. It is only by God’s *mercy and *grace that we are in the *flock.

God is greater than everyone else. No one can steal the sheep. With Jesus, the sheep are safe. With the Father, the sheep are safe. They are safe with Jesus and the Father who are one (29-30).

What do we mean when we say that Jesus and the Father are one? Jesus is not part of what God *created. God did not *create Jesus as he *created the world or us. The Word (Jesus Christ) was there before God *created anything or anyone. He was there from the beginning with God. He is the ‘Word made a human person’ (1:1). He is God. This does not mean that Jesus alone is God. In his mind and heart, he is the same as God. He shares in everything that God does. In the work of Jesus upon the earth, there is a unity between Jesus and the Father. When we see Jesus, we see God. God is always Jesus-like.

God the Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father. The Son’s love of the Father is perfect. The Son does everything that the Father wants him to do. In this way, they are one. In this way too, God wants us to love one another.

Again, the *Jews pick up stones to kill Jesus. His Father has sent him to do many good things. All these he has shown them. He asks them for which of these do they throw stones at him (31-32). They answer that they are not doing this for any good thing he did. They are doing it because he has done a terrible thing. The reason is that although he is just a man, he says he is God. They said the same about him in 5:18. To say you are God was the *sin of *blasphemy (33). The punishment for this *sin was death. They killed the person by throwing stones at him (Leviticus 24:16). If Jesus were an ordinary man, they would have been right in what they said. But he is not an ordinary man.

Jesus answers them by giving them words from their law. In the *Old Testament, the word ‘Law’ (*Jewish ‘*Torah’) has different meanings. It can be the first five books. In these five books are the laws. It can be the whole *Scriptures, Law, *Prophets and *Psalms. Jesus brings words from *Psalm 82:6, so here he means the whole law. The words are, “I, the most High God, say that all of you are gods. You are also my own children”.

In this *Psalm God speaks of the ‘gods’ as judges. They were men whom God appointed as his judges. They did the work of God. In that way, they were gods. But they were bad judges. They were not fair to the poor and did not help those who needed help. God says that they are gods. They are also sons (children). But they are sons of men. They are less than the one whom the Father sent, the Son of God.

How can they say that Jesus has *sinned by calling himself God? Jesus reminds them of their law. In this case, the word is ‘*Scripture’ (one). God gave this Writing to David, so it must be right. *Scripture cannot be wrong (34-35). That *Scripture says that these men are gods. If *Scripture says that about men, why should it not say that about Jesus? So why do they blame him for this terrible *sin (*blasphemy)? Why do they blame him for saying that he is the Son of God? After all, the Father made Jesus his own special one for this work.

‘Set apart’ means to make someone *holy. ‘*Holy’ means to be set apart for a special purpose. The *Sabbath is *holy (set apart). The priests are *holy (set apart). How does God make a priest *holy? He does it by putting something of himself into the priest. God puts his *holiness into the priest. God chooses the priest to be in place of himself to the people.

In the *Old Testament, God used men (gods) to act for him in *Israel. He sent them to speak his truth. He sent them to bring right *judgement to people. These were only men. But the *Scripture says that they are sons of God. God has sent Jesus into the world in the same way. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is the perfect man. God chooses his Son to do his work upon the earth. So how can they say that Jesus is wrong to call himself the Son of God?

In Jesus, we see perfect *holiness. He is the perfect priest. He gave his life for the *sin of the world. In Christ’s human body is everything that God is (Colossians 2:9). The Father has set Jesus apart from other men to do a special work. The Father is the one who sent Jesus into the world (36). There is no-one who has a greater right to the name ‘Son of God’ than Jesus.

Jesus speaks of the things he does (the *miracles). Jesus is doing the same things that his Father does. But the leaders do not agree. They think that Jesus is not doing what God does. If Jesus is not doing what God does, they should not believe him. Jesus agrees with that.

However, if Jesus is doing what the Father does (the *miracles), they should believe. They should believe even if they do not have *faith in him. They should believe because of the *miracles. They should believe because of what he and the Father do. To believe in Jesus because of the *miracles is a little better than not believing in him at all.

But there is a better way than that. It is to believe that the Father has sent Jesus to do the *miracles. Jesus said, “I am one with the Father” (30). Some people will have no problem with his words. They will have no doubt that the Father is one with Jesus and Jesus is one with the Father (37-38). They will understand and believe.

Again, the *Jews want to take hold of Jesus, but he escapes. He *crosses the River Jordan. He goes to the place where earlier John had *baptised people. While Jesus is there, many people come to him. They say that it is true that John did not do any *miracles. But they begin to see that everything John said about Jesus is true. So, many of those people put their *faith in Jesus (39-42). More people believe in Jesus there by the Jordan than in Jerusalem.

Part 8 ~ The seventh sign - Jesus raises Lazarus from death to life (11:1-57)

11:1-44 ~ Jesus the winner over death

In the village of Bethany, there was a man whose name was Lazarus. The name means ‘God is my help’. He was sick. He had two sisters, Mary and Martha. This same Mary later poured *perfume on Jesus’ head. Then she wiped his feet with her hair (12:3).

The sisters send a message to Jesus. They tell him that his good friend Lazarus is sick (1-3). He says that this illness will not end in death. The *disciples do not understand. They think that he means that the illness is not serious. But Jesus means that the purpose of this illness is not death. The purpose is to bring *glory to the Son of God. The *glory of God is more important than the illness. John says the same thing in 2:11 and 9:3. The *glory of Jesus will be his death upon the *cross. Jesus will have to go to Bethany to heal Lazarus. He knows what will happen. He will be moving towards his death.

Jesus loves Martha, Mary and Lazarus. But he stays where he is for two more days (5-6). We may ask a question. Why does he wait two days before going to Lazarus? It certainly does not mean that he does not love the family. He loves them very much.

Jesus is always in control of his time. No one can tell him what to do and when to do it. It was the same when Jesus turned water into wine (2:4). It was the same when Jesus went to Jerusalem. He chose the time (7:10). We too should allow Jesus to do things for us in his own way and in his own time. Jesus says to Mary, “My time has not yet come. You must not tell me what to do.” There would be a two-days’ wait. But the result would be to God’s *glory (4). Moreover, it would bring the *disciples to *faith (15). The death of Lazarus brings pain to his family. But his raising to life brings *glory to God. It brings the *disciples to *faith.

Jesus decides to return to Judea. But the *disciples are afraid for his safety. The people want to kill him. They would do this by throwing stones at him (10:31). It does not seem wise to go back (7-8). We can understand their fear. Not long before, he had only just escaped from the people (10:39). Jesus’ replies to the *disciples’ fear. He reminds them that the sun shines for only 12 hours of the day. In the daytime, there is light. While there is light, the Father will care for them. They will all be safe. It is different, however, in the night. Then people fall. They cannot see where they are going (9-10).

The 12 hours of day are there for our use. Anything that happens will make no difference to those 12 hours. They will still be there. No one can make them shorter or longer. Jesus’ hour (the 12th hour) has not yet come. It will come only when God orders it. In the meantime, there is only one thing that Jesus can do. It is the work that God has given him to do.

Both the *Jews and *Romans divided the hours of daylight into 12. Each hour was not 60 minutes. It was shorter or longer depending on the time of year. Jesus is showing the difference between light and darkness. He moves in the light. He moves towards the end of his plan (the 12th hour). He keeps moving forward although the *Jews try to stop him. They move in the dark. They cannot stop Jesus as he moves slowly forward.

Then Jesus tells the *disciples that their friend Lazarus is asleep. Jesus is going to Judea to wake him up. In those days, they spoke of death as sleep. The message is that Lazarus is sick, not dead. There is no need to worry. If he is asleep, that is good. The *disciples think that he is only asleep. So he will get better. They think that Jesus is talking about natural sleep. But Jesus means that Lazarus is dead (11-13).

Jesus tells them in plain words that Lazarus is dead. He tells them that he is glad. He is glad that he is not there. Lazarus is sick so he needs Jesus to be by his side. But Jesus is not there. Yet, he says that he is glad. That sounds strange to the *disciples. But Jesus has a reason to be glad. He is glad for the *disciples. Now they will have the chance to put their *faith in him. The most important part of Jesus’ work is to bring his *disciples to *faith in himself. Now they will go to Lazarus (14-15).

The sisters are sad at the death of their brother. Yet, Jesus waits two days before he goes to Lazarus. He is glad that he is not there immediately. This teaches us something of God’s love for us. He does sometimes allow us to suffer. It is not his purpose for us that we should always be happy. He wants us to be *holy. So Jesus’ main purpose is not to take away the pain of the sisters. It is to increase the *faith of the *disciples.

In the end, we will be glad even if for a short time we have troubles. Our *faith will be like gold that someone tests in the fire (1 Peter 1:6-7). God comes to us in our pain. He shares our pain. The end is not only for his *glory. It is also for our good. God’s purpose is that we should be *holy. To be *holy is also to be happy.

One of the *disciples is Thomas. They also call him ‘*Twin’. He tells the *disciples to go to Judea with Jesus. If Jesus is going to die, they might as well die with him (16). Thomas does not understand then that Jesus calls his *disciples to die. When Jesus asks someone to follow him, he asks him to come and die with him (Mark 8:34).

Martha meets Jesus outside Bethany. Bethany is about two *miles (3 kilometres) from Jerusalem. Mary stays behind in the house. Luke tells us about Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42). Martha likes doing things. Mary is the one who sits still to think and pray. So Martha is the one who goes to meet Jesus. Mary stays behind.

Lazarus has been in the grave four days. Many people had come from Jerusalem to be with the sisters and to comfort them. Martha has a strong *faith in Jesus. Martha says, “*Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died. Yet even now I know that God will do anything you ask.” It seems that she blames Jesus. He was not there in time. However, he would have healed Lazarus had he been there. She is sure of this. But it is not too late. She is sure that God will do anything that Jesus asks him to do (17-22). Jesus tells her, “Your brother will live again”.

Martha believes that on the last day God will raise all people from death. This will be at the *resurrection. The *Jews in those days believed this. Therefore, in the last day, God will also raise Lazarus (23-24).

Jesus then said, “I am the one who raises the dead to life. All who have *faith in me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of *faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, *Lord” Martha replies. “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God. You are the one whom we have been expecting to come into the world” (25-27).

Jesus says two things about himself. “I am the one who raises dead people to life”. He not only raises people from death to life; he is the person who does it. He also said, “I am the life”. He not only gives life; he is life. The life that he brings is ‘*eternal life’. God himself is life and that life can never die.

He gives this life to those who believe. Martha sees this life as something far away in the future. Jesus says that it is his gift here and now. Jesus has won the war over death. Jesus said, “even if they die”. We know that all will die. But death will bring hope. God will not send us to a place of shadows where there is no life.

The message of this *gospel is that Jesus is the Christ (*Messiah) and the Son of God. Martha understands this, but the *Jews do not. Martha may not have completely understood the truth. But she is well on the way to understanding it. This is what it means to believe in Jesus. It means you believe that everything he says about himself is true. You trust your life completely to him.

After this, Martha goes to her sister. She tells her that the Teacher is here. He would like to see her. Immediately Mary goes to Jesus. He is still outside the village. Many people are there to comfort Mary. She is in a hurry as she leaves the house. They think that she is going to the grave to cry. So they follow her.

When Mary sees Jesus, she falls to her knees at his feet. She says, “*Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”. Jesus sees that Mary and the people with her are crying. Jesus has great trouble in his *spirit. He is very angry.

We do not know why he is angry. He may have seen that the suffering and pain of some of the people was not real. Someone they loved had died. He would certainly have felt deeply the pain that caused them. He may have felt something of the pain he would later experience for all people. This would be when he died on the *cross. He was a man of trouble and pain and he knew all about suffering (Isaiah 53:3). Also, he may have felt anger and pain because of the people who were against him.

The Greeks thought that God had no feelings. He had no care or love for people. Jesus showed that God knows pain and suffering. He feels deeply for us. He shares our suffering and pain.

There is a more likely reason for Jesus’ anger. Death is an *evil thing. The death of Lazarus makes this clear. Death came into the world because of the *sin of Adam and Eve. Death is an enemy that Jesus came to destroy (1 Corinthians 15:26). Jesus feels the pain that death brings to everyone. Jesus is angry too at the one who brought death to the world, *Satan. *Satan has the power of death, but he is not able to give life. Only God can do that.

This *miracle shows that Jesus has power from God. It shows that he is God’s Son. Neither *Satan nor any human being can bring a dead person to life. Jesus died to destroy the *devil’s power. We all live each day in fear of dying. Jesus died to rescue us from that fear (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Jesus asks where they have put the body of Lazarus. They ask him to come and see. Jesus starts crying. The *Jews think that he cries because of his love for Lazarus. The thought that God would cry would have been strange to the Greeks. Some of the *Jews say that he gives sight to the blind. Then why has he not kept Lazarus from dying (28-37)?

Jesus still has great trouble in his *spirit, so he goes to the grave. The grave did not have a door. Instead, there was a round stone across the entrance. Jesus tells the people to roll the stone away. Martha warns Jesus that Lazarus has been dead four days. His *spirit would have left him. There would be a bad smell. Jesus asks them to remember his promise that this would end in the *glory of God (4). Jesus says, “Did I not tell you that if you had *faith, you would see the *glory of God? Jesus had said this to the *disciples, not to Martha. He says it now for all who could hear (38-40).

There was a *Jewish belief about the *spirit of a person when he died. They believed that the *spirit stayed over the body for four days. Then the *spirit tried again to enter the body. By the fourth day, there was a great change in the body. They would no longer recognise the face of the person. The first three days were a period too of great pain and trouble. They thought too that the person’s *spirit would know the feelings of the family. The *spirit would know of their pain during the first three days. On the fourth day, however, the person’s *spirit would have left. It would no longer be possible for the *spirit to return to the body.

Jesus arrived on the fourth day. His time was perfect. There was no doubt that Lazarus was dead. It was therefore a greater *miracle and gave greater *glory to God.

They roll away the stone. Jesus then looks up towards *heaven. He prays, “Father, I thank you for answering my *prayer. I know that you always answer my *prayers. But I say this because of the people here. I say it so that they will believe that you sent me.” When Jesus has finished praying, he shouts, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man comes out. His hands and feet still have pieces of *burial cloth on them. A cloth covers his face. Jesus tells the people to free him and let him go.

11:45-57 ~ The results of the *miracle

Many people had come to visit Mary. They saw the things that Jesus did. Therefore, they put their *faith in him. Other people went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and Pharisees called a meeting of their government. They asked what they should do about Jesus. It worried them that he was doing many *miracles. They were afraid of what might happen if they did not stop him. Everyone would believe in him. Then the *Romans would come and destroy their *Temple. They would take from them the government of the nation (45-48).

Although the *Romans ruled the country, they allowed the *Jews to govern it for them. Most of the *Jewish rulers were *Sadducees. They were very rich. They were afraid that if all the people followed Jesus there would be trouble. They thought that Jesus might lead the people to fight against the *Romans. If there were just a little trouble, the *Romans would take away the government from the *Sadducees.

The *Sadducees did not consider what would be good for the people. They did not think of keeping safe the wonderful history of *Israel. They did not worry about God’s purposes for their nation. They thought first of their own comfort and their riches. The most important thing for them was that they did not lose their power over the people. They were afraid of losing their high position. For that reason, they must kill Jesus.

Caiaphas was a member of the Government. He was also high priest that year. He said to them, “You know nothing at all! Which is better, for one person to die for the people or for the whole nation to die?” People believed in those days that God spoke through the high priest. Whatever the high priest said would happen. So if Caiaphas, as high priest said this, it would happen. He said that it would be a good thing if Jesus died for the nation. What did he mean by these words? This is what he meant. One person would die for the people. That would be better than many people dying. But he did not understand the full meaning of what he said.

In the *temple, they would kill a *lamb as a *sacrifice. Then God would *forgive their *sins. They were now going to kill the *Lamb of God for the nation. But he would die not only for the *Jewish people. He would die also for all God’s people all over the world. He would bring them together and make them one (49-52).

What Caiaphas said did come true. In 70 AD, the *Romans went to war against Jerusalem. All they left of it was a pile of stones. They took the government of the country from the *Jews. They destroyed the *Temple. Caiaphas did not understand that Jesus himself was the *Temple. They would destroy that *Temple (Jesus). But God would raise him up. All nations would come to *worship him.

From that day, they plotted to kill Jesus. Therefore, Jesus no longer moved about freely among the *Jews. Instead, he went to a place near the desert north of Jerusalem. He went to the town of Ephraim. He stayed there with his *disciples (53-54). Jesus is not afraid to go to Jerusalem. He will go when the time is right.

It is almost the time of *Passover. Many of the people who live in the country come to Jerusalem. They come to prepare themselves for the *Feast. They need to make themselves clean. The law said that every man should make himself pure before the *Feast. The *Israelites had escaped from Egypt many years before. They now prepare to kill their *lambs. They do this to remember the escape from Egypt. But there is something that they do not know. Even now, God is preparing his own *Lamb. He will offer himself for the *sins of the world.

The people keep looking for Jesus. As they stand in the *temple area, they ask one another questions. will he come to the *Feast or will he stay away (55-56)? But the chief priests and the Pharisees give orders to the people. They order them to tell them if they see Jesus. In that way, they hope to take hold of him (57).

Part 9 ~ The end of Jesus’ work among people in Jerusalem (12:1-50)

12:1-8 ~ The love and care of Mary

Six days before *Passover Jesus returns to Bethany. This is where he raised Lazarus from death. The family have prepared a meal for Jesus. Martha serves the meal. Martha is the sister we usually see doing jobs in the house. She is the one who works. Lazarus too is there at the table (1-2).

Mary takes a small amount of *perfume. It would cost a lot of money. She pours it on Jesus’ feet. She then wipes his feet with her hair. Women did not let down their hair in those days. People did not think much of a woman who did that. She is therefore a brave woman to let down her hair. But she does not care what people think. She just wants to show her love for Jesus. The sweet smell of the *perfume fills the house (3). In this action, Mary shows her love for Jesus. She gives something that costs a lot of money. No cost is too great to show her love for Jesus.

A *disciple named Judas Iscariot is there. Later he will give information against Jesus to the *Jewish leaders. He thinks that Mary’s action is a waste of money. He thinks it would be better to sell the *perfume. It was worth three hundred silver coins. That was equal to a year’s pay for an ordinary person. They should sell the *perfume and give the money to the poor. But he does not really care about the poor because he is a thief. He looked after the money bag. Sometimes he stole money from it (4-6).

Judas’ heart is wrong. He could not see the beauty of Mary’s action. He loves money and hates to see it wasted. Paul says, ‘The love of money causes all kinds of *evil’ (1 Timothy 6:10). Judas looked after the money because he understood the job. He did it well. *Temptation often comes to us through the things we do well.

Jesus tells Judas to leave her alone. She has done a beautiful thing. She is looking to the day of his *burial. She has saved this *perfume for that. What she has done is about his *burial. Jesus says that they will always have poor people among them. But they will not always have him (7-8). He speaks words from Deuteronomy: ‘There will always be some poor people. That is why I am telling you to give to those in need’ (Deuteronomy 15:11). They could help poor people at any time. Mary could have done this beautiful thing after Jesus had died. But that would have been too late.

If you love someone, it is better to tell him or her now. You may not have another chance to do it. If you think of doing a kind act, do it now. The chance may not come again.

Mark in his *gospel gives us more of Jesus’ words about this story. He says that people will speak the good news through the whole world. And whenever they speak the good news, people will remember what Mary did (Mark 14:9). That is a wonderful thought.

12:9-11 ~ Reactions to Jesus being in Bethany

The *Jews hear that Jesus is still in Bethany. A large crowd comes to see him. They also want to see Lazarus. This is because Jesus had raised him from death. So the chief priests plan to kill Lazarus as well as Jesus. It was because of Lazarus that many people were turning away from them. People were putting their *faith in Jesus. Jesus had done a great *miracle by raising Lazarus from death (9-11). The greater the *miracle, the greater the danger to the *Jewish leaders. The people were turning towards Jesus and away from them. So they were afraid.

12:12-19 ~ The entry into Jerusalem

The next day there was a large crowd in Jerusalem for the *Passover *Feast. They had heard that Jesus was coming to the *Feast. They took *palm branches and went out to meet him. A *palm branch was a national sign of their country. They stamped a *palm branch on their coins. They had done this from the time of the Maccabees family. That was about a hundred years before,

The people shouted, “Hosanna!” This means ‘Save us now’. It is as if they are shouting, “God save the King! God bless he who comes in the name of the *Lord! God bless the King of *Israel!” The shouts of the crowd come from *Psalm 118:25-26. It was a song of *praise. They used a song after winning a war. It was a part of the *Passover *Feast. They used *palm branches also at the *Feast of Tents. They sang the same song then. They used *palm branches too for other *Feasts. They used to shout this *Psalm as they climbed towards Jerusalem. The use of the name ‘King of *Israel’ says clearly that Jesus is the *Messiah (12-13).

The people were getting beyond control. This was like a king leading his people into battle. The people would think that their *Messiah had come at last. He would lead them to win the battle against the *Romans. He would become king of the whole world. This must have made Jesus very sad. He was not that kind of king.

Jesus found a *donkey and rode on it. The Bible said that this would happen. ‘Everyone in Jerusalem shout *praise to God. Your king has won the battle. He is coming to you. He is right and he is the one who saves. He is gentle and rides on a *donkey. He comes on a young *donkey’ (Zechariah 9:9).

This speaks of Jesus the king. He has won the fight, but he does not come on a war horse. He comes on a young *donkey. A *donkey is an animal of peace. It is an animal that carries loads. Jesus comes as the Prince of Peace. He does come as a king. He is the king. He sits on the high seat of a king. His enemies are building that seat. But they do not realise that is what they are doing. That seat is the *cross. Jesus is in truth the king not only of *Israel but also of the whole world.

At first, the *disciples did not understand this. But they did understand after God gave Jesus his *glory. His *glory was his death and *resurrection from death. Jesus obeyed his Father even to death on a *cross (Philippians 2:8). Afterwards they remembered all this. It all happened in the exact way the Bible said it would (14-16).

Two crowds come to meet Jesus. One had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from death. Another had heard about this *miracle. They also come to meet Jesus. This worries the Pharisees very much. They realise that they can do nothing. The problem is too great for them. It seems as if everyone in the world is following Jesus (17-19). This is not the first time that they think this (11:48).

12:20-26 ~ The Greeks look for Jesus

God loved the world so much that he sent Jesus into the world to save it (3:16). The Pharisees see everyone in the world following Jesus. It is almost as if God’s plan is coming true. Now we see two men from the *gentile world looking for Jesus. Some Greeks had gone to Jerusalem to *worship during the *Passover. The *gentile nations did not have the same rules about good behaviour as the *Jews. However, these Greeks could see what was good in the *Jewish religion. They were looking for a better kind of life.

They may have known Philip who came from Bethsaida in Galilee. Philip is a Greek name, so he may have been a Greek. They go to him and say, “Sir, we would like to meet Jesus.” Philip tells Andrew. Then they both go to Jesus and tell him (20-22).

Jesus replies, “The hour has come for God to give the Son of Man his *glory.” It is difficult to know how the Greeks would have understood these words. They would not have known what Jesus meant by ‘the hour’. They may have thought he meant his confident walk into Jerusalem. When Jesus speaks of ‘his hour’, he means his coming death. This is the *glory that God will give to him. We see this in the next verse (24).

Jesus shows the importance of what he is saying with the words, “I tell you the truth”. He speaks of a seed of wheat falling on the ground. There it lies safe. But unless it dies it remains a single seed. It is alone. Nothing will happen to it. The earth must cover it. Then it will be cold and dark. It needs first to die. Then lots of wheat will come from it (23-24).

Jesus uses this description of the seed to point to his own death. First must come the cold dark grave. Death must come first before there can be new life. The death of Jesus would bring new life to many.

If you love your life and want to hold on to it, you will lose it. Only by using your life for good will you keep it. God will give *eternal life to those who are not always trying to hold on to their life. If you want to serve Jesus, you must follow him. Wherever he is, you must be there too. The Father will honour the one who serves Jesus (25-26). These Greeks wanted to see Jesus. But they would not have expected this reply to their question?

The words, ‘Son of Man’ are from Daniel Chapter 7. To the *Jews who knew their history, the name ‘Son of Man’ would have a special meaning. Daniel spoke of the nations as animals and birds. All these terrible nations would pass away. God would give power to one like a son of man (Daniel 7:13-14). The nations had been like wild animals. But into the world would come one who was gentle and kind. He would be human and not an animal. Kindness, love and peace would rule the world.

But the *Jews would not understand ‘Son of Man’ like this. They would see him as one who came to rule the world by war. Jesus said, “The hour has come for God to give the Son of Man his *glory.” They would understand this as the beginning of the war to rule the world. That would be their idea of how God would rule the nations.

But then Jesus speaks of a seed falling into the ground and dying. He speaks of saving your life by dying. He speaks of his *glory as death on a *cross. No wonder they do not understand his words. No wonder too that a few days later they would shout different words. They would not shout, ‘Save us now’ and ‘God save the king’. They would shout ‘Kill him’.

12:27-36 ~ Jesus leaves and hides himself

Jesus now has much trouble. How shall he pray? He prays, “Father please save me from the suffering that is ahead (this hour)”. In the Book of Hebrews, the writer speaks of this *prayer. Jesus asks God with loud crying and tears to save him. God listens to his *prayers. Through suffering, Jesus learns what it means to obey God. Suffering makes Jesus perfect. Now he can save for ever all who obey him (Hebrews 5:2-9).

Soon he would face the pain of the Garden of *Gethsemane (Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34). There he will again ask the Father to save him. Soon he will meet a terrible death. Death is the pay you get for *sin (*Romans 6:23). Death is the *judgement of God on us. It is what we get for going against him and becoming his enemies. When we die, God meets us as our Judge. In Jesus’ death, he meets God the Judge for us. In his death, Jesus takes our place. He dies our death and frees us for ever from death. His death will be terrible. It is so terrible that he prays to his Father. Is there any way in which he might avoid it? But always he looks for God’s *will, not his. For that reason, he came into the world.

The only way he can pray is to ask the Father to bring himself *glory. That *glory would be Jesus’ winning over *sin and death on the *cross. So important is this that a voice comes from *heaven. The voice says, “I have already done this and I will do it again.” The whole work of Jesus upon the earth is to bring *glory to God (27-28).

People hear this voice in two ways. Some think that it is thunder (a loud noise in the sky). Other people think that an *angel had spoken to Jesus (29). They understand very little. Only Jesus understands the purpose of the voice. The voice speaks to help the people, not Jesus (30). They do not understand the meaning of the message. Jesus explains the meaning. God is now judging the people of the world.

Jesus’ death will bring *judgement on this world. God is now judging the world’s people (31). God has sent the Son of Man into the world to show his love for the world. The world does not receive him. Therefore, they do not receive God himself. They are about to kill the Son of Man. This is the most terrible thing the world can do. The *cross will *judge the world. The *cross will *judge each one of us. Jesus will himself bear that *judgement for us in his own body on the *cross.

Adam and Eve did not obey God, so God sent them out of the Garden of Eden. By their *sin, they put themselves under the power of ‘the prince (ruler) of this world’. ‘The whole world is under the power of the *evil one’ (1 John 5:19). Jesus is obeying God completely. He is throwing out the prince of this world (*Satan). *Satan thought that he could defeat Jesus by putting him to death. But that same death would take away his power as prince of the world.

When they lifted Jesus on the *cross, people would want to come to him (32-33). Jesus would draw people to himself. The power of God’s love in Jesus’ death would do this. These people would accept what Jesus has done for them. The world’s prince (*Satan) would no longer have any power over them.

This is difficult for the crowd to understand. They understood from the bible that the *Messiah could not die. He lasts for ever (34). They understood this from the book of Daniel. The Son of Man would rule for ever. His *kingdom would last for ever. No one could destroy it (Daniel 7:14). This is a problem for people even today. How can God die?

Who is this Son of Man whom God will lift up? Jesus answers by saying again that he is the light. His light will be with them only for a little while longer. They must walk in the light while they can. Then they will be children of light. When the night comes it will be dark. Then people will fall. Those who walk in the dark are those in the world without God. They do not know where they are going.

We need to have *faith in the light (Jesus) while we have it. Then we will become children of God. We should live in the light as he (Jesus) is in the light. We shall then live together in peace. Jesus washes away all our *sin (1 John 1:7). Jesus does not want anyone to stay in darkness (46). He calls us to act while there is the light of day. Do not wait until the dark of night when you cannot see. There is only *judgement for those who stay in the dark. Then it will be too late. ‘It is an awful thing to fall into the hands of the living God’ (Hebrews 10:31).

After Jesus said this, he left and hid himself from the people. It was still not the time for the people to take hold of him (36).

12:37-50 ~ People still do not believe

The people have seen Jesus do many *miracles. But still they do not want to have *faith in him. The *prophet Isaiah said that this would happen. He said, “*Lord, who has believed our message? Who has seen what the arm of the *Lord has done” (Isaiah 53:1)? The people understand neither the words (message) of God nor his acts (arm of the *Lord).

John gives other words of Isaiah to explain why the people would not believe in Jesus. His words were, “*Lord, he has made the people blind. He has made their hearts hard. Therefore they can neither see with their eyes nor understand with their hearts. Therefore they will not turn to the *Lord that he might heal them” (Isaiah 6:10).

Isaiah said this when he had a sight of the *glory of the *Lord in the *Temple. He saw God the Father and God the Son. He saw Jesus (37-41). Paul speaks about God taking the people of *Israel through the Red Sea. Their *spiritual food and drink came from the *spiritual rock that followed them. That rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 1:3-4). Christ is always there with God. He is the One and Only. He is always at the Father’s side (1:18).

It is difficult to understand these words of Isaiah. The *Jews believe that God is in everything. That is true. God always knows what will happen. So the *Jews speak of events as if they will happen. God knows that the *Jews do not believe. Therefore, they say that God makes them like that. The *Jews do not accept their *Messiah. This would not surprise them if they knew this *Old Testament *Scripture. So Isaiah says that God makes the people blind. God also makes their hearts hard. These *Jews do not believe in Jesus. God wants them to believe. But you cannot blame God that they do not believe. Only they are to blame.

Many people listen to Jesus. But they are not all like those that Isaiah mentioned. Many, even among the leaders, believe in Jesus. But they keep it secret. This is because they are afraid of the Pharisees. The leaders would have put them out of the *synagogue. They would then be outside the *Jewish religion. They would no longer be *Jews. This would be very serious. So they keep their *faith in him secret. They like *praise from other people rather than *praise from God (42-43).

Jesus cries out with a loud voice. He says, “You have *faith in me. Then you have *faith in the one who sent me. You look at me. Then you see the one who sent me. I am the light that has come into the world. No one who has *faith in me will stay in the dark. I did not come to *judge. But I will *judge those who refuse to obey my teaching. I came to save the people of this world, not to be their judge.”

“But there are those who do not receive me. Neither do they receive my teaching. God will *judge them on the last day. Moreover, God will *judge them by what I have said. This is because I do not speak my own words. The Father did not send me to speak my own words. I speak only the words that he has told me to speak. Also, he tells me how to say the words. He tells you the things that you should do. If you obey, you will have *eternal life. That is why I say just what the Father has told me to say (44-50).”

*Judgement will not come to those who obey Jesus’ words. But *judgement is already upon those who do not obey his words.

Before he speaks to his *disciples, Jesus makes one last request to the people to believe in him. He makes clear the need for *faith. Three times, he speaks of his unity with the Father. He says again that he is the light of the world. He makes clear the difference between the light and darkness (44-46). Light will always overcome darkness. But darkness is never able to overcome light. However strong the darkness, the smallest light always has power in it. Once light has appeared there is no darkness. Jesus speaks of *judgement (47-47). When people see Jesus, they see God. When people listen to Jesus, they listen to God.

Jesus did not come to *judge. He came to save. *Judgement is the result of people not believing. His words will *judge them. *Judgement is the result of hearing Jesus’ words and not obeying them. *Judgement is the result of seeing the beauty of Jesus and turning away from him. *Judgement is to love darkness rather than light. These words are the words of the one who is the Word (1:1). Jesus has the power and the right to *judge because of his unity with the Father. The most important part of his teaching is about *eternal life. He will give this to those who believe. These are Jesus’ last words to the people. He now teaches his *disciples (chapters 13-17).

Part 10 ~ Jesus with his *disciples (13:1-17:26)

13:1-38 ~ Jesus washes the *disciples’ feet

It is just before the *Passover *Feast. Jesus knows that the hour has come for him to leave this world and return to the Father. He has always loved his people in the world. His love for them is perfect. He now shows them the full meaning of his love (1). The evening meal is ready. The *devil has already spoken to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. He has told him that this is the time to hand Jesus over to the leaders (2).

Jesus knows that he has come from God and that he will go back to God. He also knows that the Father has given him complete power (3). Jesus is now going to wash the *disciples’ feet. There is important meaning in this. Jesus knows that his hour has come. He loves his people. He sees that the *devil is working through Judas. Jesus is certain that God has sent him into the world to die for it.

So, knowing all this, what does he do? He gets up and takes off his outer clothes. He puts a towel round himself. He puts some water into a large bowl. Then he begins washing his *disciples’ feet. Then he dries them with the towel (4-5). Jesus has taken off his outer clothes and put on a towel. He now becomes a servant. He is the one who has come from God. He has complete power (3). Now he is a servant. He is the Servant that Isaiah spoke about. ‘He pours out his *soul to death’ (Isaiah 53:12). He lays aside his clothes even as he will lay aside his life.

Jesus knows too that Judas his friend will become his enemy. But, even then, Jesus loves Judas and comes to him as a servant.

When Luke tells this story, he says that the *disciples are asking questions of each other. They want to know which one of them should be the chief man (Luke 22:24). Jesus teaches them that the top person is the one who is not too proud. He is the one who will wash the feet of the other people. He will be their servant.

The roads in that country were very rough and dirty. People wore *sandals. Their feet would soon get dirty. At the door of each house, they put big pots of water. A servant with a towel would stand at the door. He would wash the dirty feet of the people as they came in. But there was no servant present in Jesus’ small group. They should have washed each other’s feet. They were so busy asking who was the chief man. They probably forgot about feet-washing.

Jesus comes to Simon Peter. Peter asks, “*Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answers, “You do not know now what I am doing. But later you will understand.” “No,” says Peter, “You will never wash my feet.” This feet-washing is very important. But Peter does not understand that. He does not realise what will happen if Jesus does not wash his feet. It will mean that Peter will not really belong to Jesus. Peter replies quickly without thinking. Peter is like that. For Peter always acts immediately with much energy. “*Lord, do not wash just my feet. Wash my hands and my head. (6-9)”

Jesus explains. If they have had a bath in the morning, they do not need to wash. They will be clean all over. Jesus’ action here has a *spiritual meaning. At first, Peter does not allow Jesus to wash his feet. He is too proud to let Jesus do this for him. Jesus explains further. What will happen if he does not wash Peter’s feet? Peter will lose everything.

A complete washing all over is necessary before a person can come into Christ’s *church. This is *baptism. This does not mean that God cannot save someone when *baptism has not taken place. *Baptism is not necessary before *salvation. God will save you even if there has been no *baptism. But what if there is no good reason for not having *baptism? What if you are too proud to come into Christ’s *church in this way? If you are proud, you will be outside. You cannot wash yourself to make yourself clean. You must not be proud.

It is easy to be proud like Peter. Someone may offer to do something for you. But you may not want their help. You would rather do things for yourself. What you are saying is that you do not need help from other people. You can manage quite well on your own. You must allow Jesus to wash (*baptise) you in his *Holy *Spirit. Unless Jesus cleans you, you cannot be clean. You cannot make yourself clean. Jesus says that all the *disciples are clean except one. Jesus knows who will hand him over to the rulers (10-11).

After washing his *disciples’ feet, Jesus puts on his outer clothes and sits down again. Jesus has done what each of the *disciples ought to have done. He questions the *disciples. Do they understand what he has done? They call him Teacher and *Lord and that is right. That is who he is. Jesus, their *Lord and Teacher has washed their feet. Should they not do the same for one another? He has set them an example. They should follow it.

A servant is not greater than his master. Those whom the master sends out are *apostles. They are not greater than the one who sends them out (Jesus). He is giving them an example of how they ought to behave towards one another. Now they know these things. God will make them happy if they do them (12-17). If you know Jesus’ teaching, you must always do it.

Jesus is *Lord. He is the name above every name (Philippians 2:9). He is the *Lord of our lives. Jesus is also our Teacher. Jesus is both *Lord and Teacher. We should therefore obey his words. We should obey his truth, his orders, his example and his teaching. If Jesus is our *Lord, we should obey him in everything. So if Jesus is not our Teacher, he is not our *Lord.

The Greek word for ‘servant’ is ‘slave’. A slave had no rights in his master’s house. The *disciples’ master is Jesus, their *Lord and Teacher. Jesus is telling his *disciples that he is sending them out as servants. A leader is to be a servant. He is not one who orders people what to do. In the world in those days, a slave was nothing. His value was almost that of an animal. To people of that day, Jesus’ teaching would have been difficult to understand. It is still difficult for us to understand today. Jesus is not asking us to wash one another’s feet as a *religious act. He is showing us what attitude we should have in serving one another.

Judas Iscariot is one who knew what to do and did not do it. Jesus knew that Judas would be against him. He knew those whom he had chosen. There is a verse in the *Psalms. ‘My friend, who is near to me and whom I trust, has turned against me. He did this although he ate at my table’ (*Psalm 41:9). Jesus knew this verse. To eat bread with someone is a sign that you are friends. It is a terrible thing to break that friendship. So Jesus is telling Judas how sad he is. He is sad that Judas will become his enemy. This *Scripture must come true. God knows what will happen. It is part of his plan. God is in control of events.

The truth is that Jesus’ life is in God’s hands. It is not in the power of men to kill Jesus. Jesus will die because he chooses to die. Men do not take his life from him. Jesus tells them this before it happens. Then when it happens, they will believe that “I am he”. He is the one he says he is, the *Messiah (Christ). Jesus again uses the name of God “I am” (Exodus 3:14). He is God. When the *disciples understand this, they will come to *faith in him (18-19).

Jesus says that what he tells them is true. You receive someone whom Jesus has sent (the *disciples). Then you receive Jesus. When you receive Jesus, you receive the one who sent Jesus (the Father). Jesus spoke the same words when he sent out the 12 *disciples (Matthew 10:40). We should not think too much about the one man who did not receive him. The important thing is that 11 *disciples did receive him (20).

Again, Jesus has much trouble in his *spirit (11:33; 12:27). He tells his *disciples, “What I tell you is true. One of you will hand me over to the rulers”. They are not sure what he means. They look at one another asking which one of them it could be. Jesus’ favourite *disciple is sitting next to him at the meal. This *disciple is probably John who wrote this *gospel. Peter whispers to John to find out which one Jesus means. So John leans towards Jesus and asks who he is talking about.

At the table, the *disciples would each lean on the left elbow (the bend in your arm). That left the right hand free to use to eat. John would have been to the right of Jesus. He would have leaned towards Jesus to whisper to him. Jesus gives the bread to Judas who sits on his left. Judas is in a special place of honour. Offering the bread to Judas is a special honour. Again and again, Jesus shows his love for Judas. Again and again, Jesus tries to save him from what he is about to do. Jesus is making a final request to Judas not to hand him over to the rulers.

As soon as Judas takes the bread, *Satan enters him. Jesus tells Judas to go quickly and do what he has to do. The *disciples do not know what Jesus means. Judas looked after the money. So some think that Jesus is telling him to buy something for the *Feast. Other *disciples think that Jesus is telling him to give some money to the poor. Judas takes the piece of bread and goes out. John notices that it is already night (21-30). It is night for Judas as he turns away from Jesus. It is dark outside. There is darkness in Judas too. The moment has passed when he might still be in the light with Jesus.

It is dark when Judas leaves. In this darkness, Jesus who is the light now speaks. “My time has come. The *glory of God will soon be all round me. And God will receive great *praise because of all that will happen to me. Very soon now, God will give the Son of Man *glory” (31-32). That *glory is the *cross.

Jesus speaks as a father to his children. “My little children, I will be with you for a little while longer. Then you will look for me but you will not find me. You cannot go where I am going. I tell you that just as I told the people. But I am giving you a new order. You must love each other as I have loved you.”

There are many meanings to the word ‘love’. The love that Jesus talks about is the same love as his love. It is a special kind of love. If necessary, you would die for another person. Jesus tells the *disciples that they must love each other. Then everyone will know that they are his *disciples. Everyone will recognise this kind of love. Simon Peter asks, “Where are you going?” Jesus answers, “You cannot go with me now, but later you will.” We remember that Jesus said the same thing to the *Jews (7:33). He is going where the *disciples cannot go. But he comforts them by telling them that they will follow him later.

Peter asks, “*Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I would die for you.” “Would you really die for me?” Jesus asks. “What I say is true. A cock (male chicken) will crow (sing). Before that happens, you will say three times that you do not even know me.” (33-38). Peter believes that if necessary he will fight for Jesus. He will even die for him. Jesus knows that is not the way for Peter to die. Before Peter dies, he will learn how to give his life for the sheep (believers). Peter will die after a life of working for Jesus and caring for Jesus’ sheep. Peter will die later for his *Lord (21:18-19).

In some ways, Peter and Judas are the same. Both saw Jesus’ *miracles. Both heard his teaching. Jesus gave his love to both. In the final hours of Jesus’ life, both failed him. We know of both today because of this. Both left Jesus when he needed them most. Both brought pain to Jesus’ heart.

But God saved one and not the other. One was sorry for his *sin and asked Jesus to *forgive him. He went to *heaven. One was sorry but did not turn to Jesus. He turned against himself. Then he killed himself. He died without *forgiveness. We all fail. We need to go to Jesus every day and ask for his *mercy. He will not throw away even one person who comes to him. Jesus will lose none of all the Father has given him (6:37, 39).

14:1-31 ~ Promises and orders to the *disciples

The darkness is growing. There is great fear among the *disciples. They know now that Jesus is going to leave them (13:33). But Jesus tells his *disciples not to worry. He tells them still to have *faith in God and to have *faith in him.

They can even be happy about his going away. It will be the best thing for them (28: 16:7). There are many rooms in his Father’s house. There is more than enough space for them. Jesus would not tell them this if it were not true. He is going ahead to prepare a place for each of them. He will prepare the way to *heaven by dying on the *cross. Then he will return to *heaven to be with the Father.

Jesus also promises to come back to earth. We know this ‘coming back’ as his ‘second coming’. Then he will take us back to *heaven to be with him. Then we shall all be together with him. We shall enjoy him for ever. This is possible only through Jesus’ death, *resurrection and going back to *heaven (1-3).

Jesus says that they know the way. They know the place where he is going. But Thomas does not understand. He says that they do not know where Jesus is going. How can they know the way (5)? Thomas is the *disciple who finds it difficult to believe. He needs to be sure of everything before he believes. The *disciples do not understand the *spiritual meaning of Jesus’ words.

Jesus explains what he means. ‘Way’ in the Bible means ‘road’. But he is not speaking about a road that you walk on. Jesus is the way. He is the road. The road to *heaven is Jesus himself. Jesus is the road that leads to life (Matthew 7:14). It is like asking someone the way to a town. It might be difficult for a person to explain the way you want to go. So that person would go with you and take you to the town. You can therefore say that person is the way.

Jesus is also the truth. David says in the *Psalms, ‘Teach me your way, *Lord, so that I may walk in your truth’ (*Psalm 86:11). If we teach people the truth, people need to see in us something of that truth. But what they see in us may not be a perfect example of truth. With Jesus, it is different. People could always see in him a perfect example of the truth that he taught. He himself is the truth. Truth is there in the person of Jesus Christ. He is truth.

Jesus said, “I am the life”. David said in the *Psalms, “You show me the path of life” (*Psalm 16:11). Jesus came to give us the life of God. He wants us to have that kind of life. He came so that we might have that life and have it to the full (10:10). Jesus is life. Life is Jesus.

The way, the truth and the life are not just ideas. Jesus himself is the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Jesus. Peter says the same thing (Acts 6:12). God has come to this world in the person of Jesus Christ. He sent Jesus to bring people who are lost back to himself. So the way back to God is through Jesus and through Jesus alone. If the *disciples really knew Jesus, they would know his Father too. But from now on, they will know God. They will know him because they have seen Jesus. God is the same as Jesus. The same Jesus who is about to die on the *cross is also God (6-7).

Philip says, “*Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us” (8). Philip wants Jesus to show him how to go straight to God. Why can he not see God as the *prophets in the *Old Testament saw him? Moses saw God (Exodus 24:10). Isaiah saw God (Isaiah 6:1). Philip does not think it necessary to go through another person to see God. He has been with Jesus a long time. But he still does not understand that Jesus and the Father are always side by side. There is not one moment when they are not together. Jesus and God say the same things and do the same things. The *disciples still do not understand that only by seeing Jesus can they know God.

Jesus is kind to Philip. But he is also getting a little impatient with him. How can Philip be so silly? “Do you not know me, Philip, even after I have been with you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Do you not believe this? Do you not yet understand who I am? If you have seen and understood who I am, you will know the Father.”

Everything the *disciples see in Jesus will be in the Father too. The words that he says are not just his own. Rather, it is the Father, living in him, who is doing his (God’s) work. The message that Jesus brings is God’s message.

The love that Jesus shows to the sick and the poor is God’s love. In Jesus, we have a description of the God whom we cannot see (Colossians 1:15). To ask Jesus to show them the Father is a silly question. It is so silly; they should not even ask it. Still they could not understand. Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus. That means that Jesus and the Father are one person. They do not yet understand that God has made himself known in Jesus. The words and works of Jesus are the words and works of the Father who is in him (9-10).

Two things will help the *disciples towards belief in Jesus. The first is his statement that he and the Father are one. The second is the *miracles he does. The *miracles will help them to believe in him (11).

Jesus explains to his *disciples the result of having *faith in him. The great truth is that they will do the same things that he is doing. They will do even greater things. This is because he is going to the Father. He will do whatever they ask if they ask in his name. This is the way that the Son will bring honour to the Father (12-14).

These greater things will be possible only after Jesus has returned to the Father. This will be after his death and *resurrection. Jesus lived only in one country, *Israel. He did all his wonderful acts there. The greater things would come after God sent his *Holy *Spirit. Then the *church would have the help of the *Holy *Spirit. They would do the things that Jesus did. Now they would do them all over the world.

‘Greater things’ does not mean that they will do greater *miracles than Jesus did. They too will do *miracles. But the ‘greater things’ will be that they will go to many more people. Many more will be born into the nation (*kingdom). This is the nation where Jesus is king. In the Book of Acts, we see Jesus’ *disciples doing these greater things. We see people in Christ’s *church doing these things. We see it all through history. We see it all over the world today. These are the ‘greater things’.

The things that they ask must be in Jesus’ name. They must be the same things that he would do. The *disciples have been with Jesus for three years. They know who he is. They have seen him. When they see him, they know that they see God. So they must be careful about the things that they ask. They must be things that they see in the person of Jesus. They must be things they see in the character of Jesus.

The *disciples love Jesus. Therefore, they must do what he asks them to do. He will ask the Father to send them another helper. He will send them the *Holy *Spirit. He (the *Holy *Spirit) is ‘another helper’. He is ‘another Christ’. He will help them and always be with them. He is the *Spirit of truth. He will be like Jesus who is the truth (6). He will show them what is true. The people of this world cannot receive the *Spirit. This is because they neither see him nor know him. They do not know God or his Son Jesus. But the *disciples know him. They know him because he lives with them and will be in them (15-17).

In the Greek language, the word for ‘*Holy *Spirit’ means someone who comes by your side to help you. He is one who comforts you. It is something like a ‘lawyer’. A lawyer is one whom you pay to help you in a court of law. The *Holy *Spirit is ‘another helper’. He will be a helper like Jesus. He will help the *disciples to remember Jesus’ words (26).

Jesus tells the *disciples that he will not leave them as *orphans. He will not leave them without someone to care for them. He will come back to them. Before long, the people of the world will not see him any more. But the *disciples will see him. Because he lives, they also will live. Then they will know that he is one with the Father. They will know too that they are one with him. They love him. Therefore, they will do what he tells them to do. Then his Father will love them. Through seeing Jesus, they will know what the Father is like (18-21).

The other Judas, not Judas Iscariot, asks Jesus to explain what he means. How can Jesus show them what he is like and not show the people of the world? Jesus replies to Judas’ question. The important thing is whether people do as he asks. People do not do as he says. Therefore, they will not see him. Anyone who loves him will obey him. Then his Father will love them. He will come to them and make his home in them. This is a wonderful thing. God the Father, Son and *Holy *Spirit will have a home in the believer.

A person who does not love Jesus will not do as he asks. Therefore, Jesus will not come to that person. Jesus will not make his home with him. The teaching does not come from Jesus himself. It comes from his Father who sent him (22-24).

Jesus tells his *disciples these things while he is still with them. But he will not always be with them. After he has gone away, the Father will send the *Holy *Spirit. He (the *Holy *Spirit) will take his place. The *Holy *Spirit will come to help them. The *Holy *Spirit will teach them everything. Jesus spoke many words while he was with them (25-26). The *Holy *Spirit will help the *disciples to remember these words. Writers later remembered the words of Jesus. They wrote them in the books of the *New Testament. The *Holy *Spirit helped them to remember Jesus’ teaching. It is important for us to know this when we read the Bible. It helps us to understand it.

The *Holy *Spirit today brings to our minds the right words of the Bible. He helps us to remember the words when we need them. He will tell us what is right and what is wrong. We might be thinking of doing something wrong. The *Holy *Spirit will bring to our mind a verse of the Bible or a teaching of Jesus. Then we will not do wrong.

Jesus gives the *disciples his own peace. It is a kind of peace that only he has. It is not like the peace that this world can give. Peace is not a life without trouble. People of the world want to get away from trouble and not to face it. That is how they understand peace. The way of Jesus is to meet trouble, to fight it and win against it. The fight against trouble may be hard. But Jesus has left us his peace to help us in the fight. What is ‘his peace’? How does it differ from the peace of the world? Jesus is always in unity with the Father. He always obeys the Father. He therefore has God’s peace inside him. He gave that peace to the *disciples.

Again, as in verse 1, Jesus tells his *disciples not to worry or to fear (27). Jesus describes his peace as ‘the peace that is mine’. Paul says the same about this kind of peace. Paul says, ‘God will bless you with peace that no one can really understand (Philippians 4:7).

Jesus has already told the *disciples that he is going away. But he will come back to them. They are afraid and do not want him to go. He is going back to the Father. Jesus says that if they really love him, they will be happy about that. The way back will not be a happy one. It will be a way through death on a *cross. But there will be a happy meeting for Jesus with his Father (Hebrews 12:2). This is because the Father is greater than he (28). The Father is greater than the Son because the Son comes from the Father (1:14). But the Father has no more power than the Son. Neither is he more God than the Son.

The Father has given Jesus a work to do. The *disciples do not understand that Jesus is about to finish that work. Jesus and the Father are one (10:30). Jesus is equal with God. Then he came to the earth. But he did not hold on to being equal with God. He became a servant (Philippians 2:6-7). You could almost say that for a time he stopped being God. So while he was here on the earth the Father was greater than he. He always did what the Father told him to do.

Jesus is telling the *disciples this before he leaves them. Then when he does leave them they will believe in him (29). He spoke almost the same words before (13:19).

There is not much time left for Jesus to speak to his *disciples. The ruler of this world (*Satan) is coming. Jesus knows of the strong powers that are against him. But he knows too that the *devil cannot hold him. The *devil had no power over him. The *devil is the prince of this world. But Jesus does not belong to the *devil’s world. The *devil could not change the Father’s plan. Jesus would teach the world of his love for the Father. This was part of the plan. It was difficult for the *disciples to understand this. The Father was asking Jesus to show his love by dying on a *cross.

Jesus tells the *disciples that it is time now to go with him to meet the enemy. Even now, the enemy is coming towards them. They leave the room and Jesus continues his teaching outside (30-31).

15:1-17 ~ The example of the *vine

Jesus is the true *vine and his Father is the gardener. The Father cuts off (or clears away) every dead branch. They are the branches that have no fruit on them. But he also cuts off pieces of the branches that do grow fruit. He does this so that the branches will grow bigger and better fruit. The *disciples are already strong. This is because of the word that Jesus has spoken to them. If they stay with him, he will remain in them. A branch cannot grow fruit if it lives by itself. The branch must remain in the *vine. A person cannot grow fruit unless he stays with Jesus. He cannot do anything without Jesus. If a person does not remain in Jesus, he is like a branch that dies. The gardener will throw it into the fire and it will burn (1-6).

The description of *Israel in the *Old Testament is often of a *vine or *vineyard. ‘The *vineyard of the *Lord is the house of *Israel’ (Isaiah 5:1-7). Later, (AD 68-70) their coins had a picture of a *vine on them. Jesus calls himself the true *vine. The *Old Testament calls *Israel the ‘*vine’. This usually speaks of a bad *vine. It does not grow good *grapes (fruit of the *vine). *Israel was not a good *vine. A good *vine would grow much fruit. The leaders thought that they were the true *vine. God gave *Israel the job of being ‘a light to the nations’ (Isaiah 49:6). This was that they might bring God’s *salvation to the whole earth. Now they are thinking about killing their *Messiah.

But God’s plan to reach the nations has not failed. Through Jesus, the true *vine, God’s plan would now happen. God would bless all the nations of the earth with his *salvation. So Jesus says, ‘It is I who am the true *vine’. Being a *Jew will not save you. Only *faith in Jesus saves people. When people believe, they become branches joined to Jesus, the true *vine.

There were many *vineyards in *Israel. They wanted the *vine to produce many *grapes and good *grapes. Therefore, they had to cut away the dead wood. If they did not cut the dead wood, there would be no life and goodness in the *vine.

Further, there was no use for this dead wood. It did not burn well on the fire. They could only burn it in the garden. Jesus says that some of those who follow him are like that. Some are like him and grow good fruit. Who are the dead branches? They are those *Jews who thought that they were branches of the *Israel *vine. Many times the *prophets would call on the *Jews to improve their behaviour, but they would not listen. They were the dead branches.

Jesus may have been thinking here of Judas Iscariot. The dead branches are also Christians who believe. But they do not live good lives. The dead branches are also those who become believers. But then they turn away from their *faith in Jesus. God has called us to himself. He has chosen us. We need to make sure that God has called us. We need to know too that God has chosen us (2 Peter: 1:10).

God cuts off parts of the branches so that they will grow better fruit. Jesus is speaking of those whom he has taught his word (3). We need to read and learn God’s Word, the Bible. The Word washes and cleans the Christian when he obeys it.

The gardener cuts each branch so that it will grow better fruit. Sometimes difficult problems enter the life of a Christian. It is difficult to understand the reason for some problems. Sometimes we are sick. This does not make us happy at the time. It is painful. But God’s love is still with us in these pains. When we understand that, God will bring better fruit in our lives (Hebrews 12:11). Sometimes pain is necessary so that better fruit may grow. God wants good fruit to come from his *vine. He cuts deeper into our lives than we would choose. But in the end, there will be two happy people. They will be the one who sows and the one who brings in the fruit (4:36).

What does it mean to stay in Christ? What does it mean that no branch can grow fruit by itself (4)? We cannot grow fruit ourselves. Christ’s work in us grows the fruit. Apart from Christ, there will be no fruit. Together with Christ, there will be much fruit (5). To stay in Christ means to receive him into our lives as a friend. It means to talk to him in *prayer with the help of the *Holy *Spirit. It means to pray and thank him for his help. It means asking him what we should do when we have to make decisions. This will bring honour to God. A branch cut off from the *vine is like a person who does not have Jesus in his life.

Jesus tells the *disciples to stay with him and let his commands become a part of their lives. Then they can pray for whatever they want. He will answer their *prayers. Their *prayers will be the same as if he had prayed them. But that will depend on their staying with Jesus. They will show the world that they are his *disciples. But that will depend on their growing much fruit. This will bring honour to the Father. Jesus has loved his *disciples just as the Father has loved him. He asks them to stay in his love. This means that they must not remove themselves from Jesus’ love. Jesus has always obeyed his Father. They too must do everything that God asks them to do (7-10).

Jesus is really happy. He has told the *disciples this so that they too may be happy. From the fruit of the *vine, people make wine. God gives wine to make the heart (the inner part) of man happy (*Psalm 104:15). To obey God and know in your heart that you please him makes you happy. People of the world will watch happy people and want to be happy too. Christians must love one another as Jesus has loved them. The best way to show love for friends is to die for them. That is how Jesus showed his love for us. He does not ask his *disciples to do anything that he did not first do himself.

It is a wonderful thing for God to call you his friend. Abraham was a friend of God (Isaiah 41:8). The *disciples are Jesus’ friends. But they need to do what he asks them to do. Jesus no longer calls his *disciples servants. A servant does not know what his master is doing. He does what his master tells him to do. He does not ask questions. A friend can talk to you and will tell you his plans. Jesus speaks to the *disciples not as servants but as friends. He tells them everything his Father has told him.

As his friends, Jesus sends the *disciples out to tell other people about him so that they too may become his friends (11-15). The *disciples must not stay apart from the world. They are in the world. They are to be Jesus Christ to the world. The way to show Jesus to the world is to be like him. That means doing good things for other people. It means to show other people the fruit (the good things) of the Christian life. Other people will then see the fruit and want it for themselves.

What does Jesus mean? He says that the *disciples may ask for whatever they want. He will then give it to them. When we pray we need to believe that God loves us. He wants to answer our *prayers. *Prayer must be in the name of Jesus. This tells us something about *prayer. We should pray only for things that Jesus would want us to have. ‘In his name’ means to pray for the things that he wants. When we pray we should ask ourselves, ‘Is this something that Jesus wants?’ For example, we should not ask for more money than we need. We must always remember that God is wiser than we are. He knows our needs better than we do.

The *disciples needed to remember that they did not choose Jesus. Rather, he chose them. God loved us first before we loved him. God did not choose us because of any good thing in us. He did not choose us because we are good people or clever people. He chose us just because he wanted to.

Not only did Jesus choose his *disciples; he separated them from other people. He separated them to go into the world. There they need to grow fruit. This fruit will last. The fruit will be the new Christians. They will not tire and stop being Christians. They will remain *disciples of Jesus to the end. Then the Father will give them whatever they ask in his name. Again, Jesus tells the *disciples that they must love one another (16-17).

15:18-16:33 Further teaching for the *disciples

Jesus has been speaking of the strength of love. Now he speaks of the power of those who are against him. The people of the world are against Jesus. They will also be against his *disciples. What does the ‘world’ mean? It means people who do all their business without God. It is a way of life that is against God. The people who do not believe in God will hate the *disciples. They will hate the *disciples because the *disciples love God. People often do not like those who are different from them.

The people of the world will not love the *disciples. But the people of the world did not love Jesus either. He asks his *disciples to remember that. If they were like other people in the world, those people would love them. They no longer live like other people of the world. That is how Jesus has chosen them to live. Jesus has called his *disciples out of the world. He has called them to live as he lived. Because Jesus has chosen them to live good lives, the world will hate them (18-19).

Jesus asks the *disciples to remember something that he had said earlier. This was that the servant is not greater than his master (13:16). People had behaved badly towards Jesus. They would also behave badly towards his *disciples. They had attacked Jesus. They would attack the *disciples too. They will kill Jesus. They will even kill the *disciples. The reason is that they will see Jesus in the *disciples. Some have obeyed Jesus’ teaching. Some will also obey the *disciples’ teaching (20).

Some people hate Jesus. These people will know that the *disciples belong to Jesus. So the *disciples must expect people to hate them too. There is another reason why people will hate the *disciples. It is that these people do not know God. They do not know that God sent Jesus into the world (21). People did wrong things before Jesus came. Then they did not understand that they were doing wrong. But now Jesus has come and spoken to them. Therefore, they have no excuse for doing wrong. They will not agree that God has sent Jesus to tell them about their wrong ways (22).

So those who are against Jesus are against his Father too. Jesus has done things that no one else has ever done. They have seen Jesus doing these things. So they have no excuse. Still they hate both Jesus and his Father. That is why the Bible is true. *Psalms 25:19; 69:4 say, ‘People hated me for no reason’ (23-25).

Jesus again speaks of the *Holy *Spirit (the Helper) He is the one that Jesus will send to the *disciples (see 14:15). The *Holy *Spirit is the *Spirit of truth. He comes from the Father. He will show the *disciples what is true. He (the *Holy *Spirit) will help the *disciples. He will tell them about Jesus. Then they will be able to tell other people about him. They will do this because they have been with Jesus from the beginning (26-27). This is why God promised to send the *Holy *Spirit first to them. After that, the promise would be for all future *disciples.

Jesus prepares his *disciples for the troubles that lie ahead. It will be like someone putting a large stone before them. They will not be able to see the stone. This refers to the leaders who will oppose them. But they must not be afraid. The leaders will put them out of the *synagogues. The priests will not allow them to attend the meetings. This will be serious. It will mean that people will regard them as foreigners. They will no longer be *Jews.

The time will come when people will kill the *Jewish Christians. They will even think that God wants them to do this. They will see it as *worship of God. The *apostle Paul was like this. That was before Jesus met him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-2; 26:9-11). People act like this because they do not know either God the Father or Jesus the Son. Jesus tells the *disciples these things while he is still with them. The time will come when Jesus will not be with them. God will send his *Holy *Spirit who will remind them of these things (16:1-4).

Not long before this, Peter had asked Jesus, “Where are you going?” Then Thomas had said to Jesus, “*Lord, we do not know where you are going. So how can we know the way?” Now Jesus tells the *disciples that he is going back. He is returning to the Father who sent him. Yet none ask him, ‘Where are you going?’ Before this, Peter and Thomas had not really understood the purpose of Jesus’ coming. Now they should understand more about Jesus’ work and his coming death. So Jesus expects them now to ask where he is going (5).

Now the *disciples are very sad. This is because Jesus has told them that he is leaving them. So Jesus explains why they need not be sad (6). It will be good for them that he is going away. Only after he has left them will the *Holy *Spirit come to help them. He (the *Holy *Spirit) cannot come until Jesus has gone away (7). God will send his *Holy *Spirit at *Pentecost. This will be after Jesus’ death and *resurrection.

When Jesus was on the earth, he could meet only a few people. He could help and heal only a few people. That was because he was then only in one place, *Israel. Now the *Holy *Spirit would do the things of Christ everywhere. He would do them at all times. Before Jesus left the *disciples, he gave them a promise. He promised that he would be with them (and us) to the end of time (Matthew 28:20). Jesus is about to do as he promised.

The *Holy *Spirit will help the *disciples to understand Jesus’ death, *resurrection and return to the Father. He will show the *disciples that Jesus fought and won the fight against *sin and death. All through the *Old Testament, there is the promise that a great leader will come. He is Jesus, the *Messiah. He will be king (see Isaiah 11:1-10). It is for the good of the *disciples and the *church that Jesus goes away. Then God will be king in the hearts of people. The *Holy *Spirit will show them the right way to live. When they live that way, God will change their lives. There will be peace (Isaiah 9:6-7).

This is ‘the *kingdom of God’ that the Bible speaks about so often. John the *Baptist spoke of the coming of Jesus, the light. In the same way, the *Holy *Spirit speaks of Jesus’ death and *resurrection. He will show people the ‘*kingdom of God’ and give them the power to live in it.

What will the *Holy *Spirit do? He will be like a light that will shine into people’s lives. The light will show three things. The first is *sin. The second is *righteousness. The third is *judgement (8).

First, the light of the *Holy *Spirit will show *sin. The people of the world do not know what is right and what is wrong. The *Holy *Spirit will show the world what is wrong. It is the same thought as in 3:20. It is like taking the cover from *sin and showing what it really is.

He will show people what *sin is. It is not to believe in Christ (9). After Jesus’ death, Peter *preached at *Pentecost. The people were greatly upset. Peter told them that they had killed Jesus. But God had made him both *Lord and Christ (*Messiah). So they asked Peter what they should do (Acts 2:36-37). They did not see that Jesus is both *Lord and Christ. This was their *sin. *Sin is to say to God, “I do not need you. I am able to live my life without your help”. It is to refuse God’s *grace and goodness.

Second, the light of the *Holy *Spirit will show *righteousness. *Righteousness means being right with God. The people of the world do not understand this as God understands it. God understands how we should live in a different way from them. The *Holy *Spirit will show people the difference. Jesus is the only one who is *righteous. Jesus’ way is the only right way. The only way to be right with God is through Jesus. People will really understand that all other ways are wrong. Jesus will die and return to the Father. Then people will see that he is the *Righteous One of God.

The *Jews thought that Jesus’ death (and that of his *disciples too) was what God wanted (2). Soon they will see that only one good person lived on this earth. That person was Jesus. He died as if he were a criminal. Further, there was no reason for his death. People will only really understand when Jesus has returned to the Father. But then they see him no more (10).

People killed Jesus. But they did not see that it was *sin. They thought that was what God wanted. Peter *preached the truth about what they had done. Then they understood. Then they wanted God to save them. Then they asked what they needed to do (Acts 2:37). Peter replied that they should *repent. They should ask someone to *baptise them. Every one should do this in the name of Jesus Christ. They should do it for the *forgiveness of their *sins. Then they would receive the gift of the *Holy *Spirit (Acts 2:38).

Third, the light of the *Holy *Spirit will show *judgement. The *Jews brought Jesus to the *Council. They did this to *judge him. The *judgement that Pilate gave was that Jesus should die. The way that the world judges is wrong. The true *judgement (of God) was on the prince of this world (*Satan). Pilate judged as the ruler of this world (*Satan) judges. The *devil has no power over Jesus (14:30). Jesus obeyed God in every way. Jesus did all that God asked him to do. By doing this, Jesus drove out *Satan and defeated him (12:31). When Jesus dies upon the *cross, God will *judge *Satan. He will also *judge those who obey *Satan’s rules (10). People will see that one day God will *judge everyone. He will *judge them with true *judgement.

When the *Holy *Spirit comes, people will awake from their (*spiritual) sleep. They will know at once that *heaven and hell are real. As on the day of *Pentecost, they will cry out, ‘What shall we do?’

The *Holy *Spirit is the one who helps us. He helps us to understand the good news of Jesus. People in the world have their own ideas of *sin, *righteousness and *judgement. Jesus, through the *Holy *Spirit, shines light upon their wrong ideas. He is the power in the *church. He is the power to bring God’s light on *sin, *righteousness and *judgement. The *Holy *Spirit speaks to our hearts. He calls us to *repent and to turn round. This means to live our lives in a new way. It is completely different from the old way. Jesus then gives us the gift of *salvation. This is true life.

Jesus had much more to say to his *disciples. But he knew that they would not be able to understand then (12). We can only understand a little at a time. The *Holy *Spirit is a person. He is the *Spirit of truth. He can therefore only speak what is true. However, he does not say the things that he himself wants to say. God and Jesus send the *Holy *Spirit. He speaks only what he hears from them. He will guide the *disciples into all truth. ‘All truth’ is all there is to know about Jesus. It is not truth about everything.

He will speak of things to come. He will help the *disciples to understand them (13). The *disciples do not understand now. The *Holy *Spirit will come in great power. This will be after Jesus has died and returned to *heaven. The *Holy *Spirit will help them to understand more about Jesus’ death and *resurrection. As these events happen, they will understand.

The *Holy *Spirit is showing John the things he should write in this *gospel. We read these things in the Bible. As we read them, the *Holy *Spirit speaks to us and helps us to understand them.

The *Holy *Spirit will not speak about himself and say how great he is. His work will be to show how great Jesus Christ is. He will show the *disciples all that they need to know about Christ (14). Everything that God the Father is he has given to Jesus. The *Holy *Spirit will therefore show things about himself through Jesus. He will show all the greatness and *glory of God (15). The *Holy *Spirit helps us to see the *glory of God. He shows us that his *glory is in the life of Jesus Christ.

Jesus has already told the *disciples that he will be with them only for a little while (13:33). In verse 16, he says this twice. First, he says, “In a little while you will see me no more.” This will be at his death. It will be when Jesus is in the *tomb. Then he says, “A little later you will see me.” This will be the period from his *resurrection to his return to the Father. Then they will see him again. The *disciples still do not understand, but they do not question Jesus. Instead, they question one another. What does he mean by ‘a little later’ and ‘because I go to the Father’ (17-18)?

Jesus knows what they are asking one another, so he repeats their question (19). Jesus then speaks the words that he uses so often in this *gospel, “What I am saying to you now is true.” It is important. He tells them that they will cry and be sad. But they will not be like the people of the world; they will be happy. Then things will change. First, they will cry and be sad. Then they will stop crying and be happy (20).

It is like the birth of a child. Before the birth, the mother has much pain. But after the birth, the mother forgets the pain. Now she is happy and can enjoy her new baby (21). It will be the same with the *disciples. Now is the time when they are sad. But they will see Jesus again and they will enjoy being with him. No one will be able to take their joy away from them (22). They will be happy all the time, whatever people might do to them. Peter says the same about believing in Jesus. You will be so happy that you will not be able to find words to speak it (1 Peter 1:8).

Jesus tells the *disciples what will happen ‘In that day’. ‘That day’ is after his *resurrection. Again, Jesus speaks words that show they are important, “What I am saying to you now is true.” After the *resurrection, they will not need to ask him questions about his going away. They will see that he has died. Yet, he has risen from death. Then any question they might ask will be to the Father. It will not be to Jesus. The Father will give them whatever they ask in Jesus’ name (23). They have not asked in this way before. It is important that they now ask the Father in Jesus’ name.

The *disciples now understand who Jesus is. They understand that when they see him they see the Father. When they ask anything, they will think about Jesus. They will think about who he is. They will think about Jesus still being with them. They will ask the things that they would have asked him then.

Then the *disciples will be as happy as it is possible to be. *Sin is like a wall that keeps us away from God. By his death and rising again, Jesus will take away that wall. Jesus died in our place. He took our *sin in his own body on the *cross. The way to the Father is always open.

Jesus is helping the *disciples to understand. He has been using objects and things to help them. The time is coming when he will no longer speak like that. This will be at *Pentecost. Then the *Holy *Spirit will not use such language. He will speak in language that they can understand. He will tell them about the Father (25). They will be able to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. Jesus will not need to ask on their behalf. The Father will answer their *prayers because of their love for Jesus.

Because of that love, they will pray directly to the Father. There will be no one in between (26-27). Jesus tells the *disciples again that he has come down from *heaven to earth. He has come to do the Father’s work. Now he is leaving the world and going back to the Father (28).

The *disciples can see that Jesus is no longer speaking in the language of objects. He is speaking in language that they can understand. He is not using examples. Now, at last they know that Jesus understands everything. They do not need to ask him any more questions. They believe that he has come from God (29-30). Jesus replies, “You believe at last!” But he tells them that there will be a time of trouble ahead (31). There is a time coming. It is even here now. Then they will all run to their own homes. They will leave Jesus alone. But the Father is always with him. He will not be alone (32).

Are the *disciples right to say that they understand? In the world, they will have trouble. The world will be against them. Through their trust in Jesus, they will have peace in the world. That is why Jesus has told them these things. Peace will come when on the *cross Jesus wins the fight against *Satan.

17:1-26 The *prayer of Jesus

Now, after his words to his *disciples, Jesus prays for himself. He speaks about his *glory. *Glory is everything that God is. It is the power and great importance of God. It is his great beauty. It is a bright light coming from God or Jesus.

God is love. If God were not love, there would be nothing. We see God’s *glory in his great love. We see God’s *glory in the love that sent Jesus to his death on the *cross.

Jesus now looks to *heaven and prays. The time has now come. It is the time of his death and *resurrection. The way to his *glory is through these. His death on the *cross and his *glory go together. His death will bring *glory to the Father (1). Jesus’ death showed what *evil men could do to God’s perfect Son. The *resurrection showed God’s power over death.

Through Jesus’ death and *resurrection, God gave Jesus authority over all people. He therefore has the authority to give life to all. It is his gift to us (2). Jesus is a king on a *cross. As Jesus is king of all, he has authority to *judge all people (see Matthew 28:18). Those who believe receive the gift of life for ever (for all time). Life for ever is for all whom God has given to Jesus. These people are the gift of the Father to the Son. People who will not believe will not receive this life. The *cross is the time of *judgement for those who do not believe.

Life for ever means life that starts now and never ends. Jesus has won the fight against death. Those who share in his defeat over death will have life that lasts for ever.

But it is more than life that lasts for ever. Life for ever is life from above. It is life where Jesus is king. Life for ever is to know what God is like. Then, knowing what God is like, his life can be our life. We can have the life of God himself. God says that we can have his nature (2 Peter 1:4). All that God is can be ours. We can be like him. This life for ever is to know God and Jesus Christ whom God has sent. It is to know both the Father and the Son (3).

It is through the Son that we know the Father. God is Father, Son and *Spirit. We know what God is like in all three Persons. We only begin to know him here on earth. We shall know him more and more in the life for ever.

Knowing God is more than to know him with our minds. The Bible speaks of ‘knowing’ as when a husband and wife know one another in their sex life. Adam knew Eve his wife and Eve had a son, Cain (Genesis 4:1). Husband and wife were no longer two; they were one body. They became one in mind, heart and body. Knowing God is like that.

Life for ever is to have life that never ends. But it is more than that. It is to know him who is for ever (God). To know God is to know what he is like. It is also to be close to him and be his friend. It is also to have his nature in us. In the *Old Testament God gave the promise that it would be possible to know him like that. No longer will people have to teach one another to know God. Everyone will know him from the young to the old (Jeremiah 31:34).

When Jesus came to the earth as a baby, he took our human nature on himself. He always did as the Father told him. This meant even dying on the *cross. When we accept him as our *Saviour and *Lord, he puts his *Holy *Spirit in us. He gives us his own nature.

Only here in his *gospel does John describe God as the only true God. This is because there were many *false gods at that time. Sometimes people did not please these gods. Then they thought that the gods would be angry. How wonderful for people to know that there is only one God! Sometimes we do wrong. But our God is not angry with us. He is a God who loves people. He wants to bring them to himself.

This is also the only time when Jesus calls himself Jesus Christ (Jesus the *Messiah). Jesus has brought *glory to God by doing everything God gave him to do (4). This is the reason he came to this earth. He prays for new strength so that he may finish his work. He has shown the world God’s love for the world. God will show his *glory in the *cross. This is yet to come. The *cross is part of ‘the time’ that is now coming (1). Jesus shows God’s *glory by obeying his Father. Jesus obeys God even by death on the *cross (Philippians 2:8). Jesus shows his perfect love for the Father by obeying him.

Our first purpose in life too is to bless God and to be happy with him for ever. We bring *glory to God by doing his work in the world.

Jesus was with God before anything existed. Then he came to this earth. He has always known the Father. He is now going to return to the *glory of being present with him. He is returning to be where he was at the beginning. This was before there was a world or anything. He will again be at the Father’s side (5). Jesus left everything behind when he came to this earth. Jesus asks his Father to give it all back to him.

God has given the *disciples to Jesus. He has taken them from the people of the world. Jesus has shown God’s name to the *disciples. ‘God’s name’ means God’s nature. Jesus has shown the *disciples the Father’s nature. He has shown them what God is like. It is another way of saying, ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father’ (14:9). We see the same idea in the *Old Testament. ‘I will tell of your name to my friends (*Psalm 22:22). The writer of the *psalm is thinking of the *Messiah. He will tell people what God is like. ‘My people shall know my name’ (Isaiah 52:6). So God’s people too will show the world what God is like.

‘The name of the *Lord is a strong building.’ Good people run to it and are safe (Proverbs 18:10). The name of the *Lord also keeps us safe.

To the *Jews, God was so high and far above his people that they could not even speak his name. We cannot see God and he is distant. But Jesus brought him near to us. We can now even call him Father.

The *disciples belonged to God the Father before Jesus chose them. God gave them to Jesus as a gift (6). They have obeyed God’s word as Jesus too has obeyed his Father. Jesus has given the *disciples God’s word and they have believed. However, their *faith is still weak. But Jesus knows that one day it will be strong. They are sure that Jesus has come from the Father. They are sure that every word of Jesus has come straight from the Father. They believe that the Father has sent the Son. He has sent him to show them that God is their Father too (7-8).

Jesus prays only for those whom the Father has given him. Jesus does not pray for people of the world. The Father has not given them to him (9). There is a difference between God’s own people and the people of the world. John in his *gospel speaks often of God’s own people. They are very special to him.

Everything that the Father is, the Son is too. Everything that the Son is, the Father is too. Everything and everyone that the Father owns, the Son owns too. Again, Jesus is saying that he and the Father are one. The *disciples too are showing Jesus to the world (10). So far, the *disciples have not done much to show Jesus to the world. There are still many things wrong in their lives. It is the same for us. But again, Jesus is thinking about what God will do through them in the future.

God does not need anything or anyone to help him to be better or more wonderful than he is. God needs nothing from us. He is the God who is enough. But ordinary people can bring *glory to him. How wonderful!

Jesus will soon leave this world and return to his Father. But the *disciples will remain in the world. Jesus prays to his *holy Father. Why does Jesus call his Father ‘*holy Father’? ‘*Holy’ means to be separate and different. Because God is *holy, he is separate from his world. He is other than the world. Jesus therefore prays that the Father will keep those who belong to him *holy. He prays that God will keep them separate from the world.

He also prays that the Father will keep the *disciples safe. He will keep them safe by the power of the name that God gave to him. The Father and the Son are one in nature. To have their name is to have their nature. You have the power of God’s nature inside you. To be in the name of Jesus is to be in Christ.

When Jesus gave himself to die on the *cross, he showed the nature of God. He showed that God is love. The *disciples’ love for one another will be like the love of Father and Son for one another. The love of the *disciples one for another will show that same love. The Father and the Son are one in purpose. They want the same things. Jesus prays the same unity for his *disciples (11). The *church has one purpose. That purpose is to show the world the life of God that Jesus brought to us.

But there is one whom God has not kept safe. He is Judas Iscariot. Jesus calls him ‘the one whom God will lose’ (12). We find the same words in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Please see also *Psalm 41:9. He is the one who does not keep the law. He is against God. He is the wicked one whom God will kill. This is in the *Scriptures. It is true and it will happen.

Jesus is now going back to his Father. He is as happy as it is possible to be. But we know that soon *evil men will kill him on the *cross. Why is Jesus so happy? It is because he knows that he will win against *Satan. He will do this by his death. He will free the hold that *Satan has on the world.

He is now with his *disciples. So he wants them to be happy as he is. It does not matter what might happen to them. He wants them still to be happy to the full. ‘Full’ is to have as much as possible inside you (13). The *disciples will be happy when they speak the *gospel to the world. The *disciples too can win against *Satan. That is another reason why Jesus wants his *disciples to be happy. They will no longer lose the fight against *sin and *Satan (*Romans 6:9, 14).

The *disciples are ‘not of this world’ just as Jesus is ‘not of this world’ (14, 16). The people of the world are people without God. So the *disciples are different from them. They think in a different way. They live in a different way. They think and live like Jesus. The *disciples cannot do the wrong things that the world does. Because of this, the world hates them.

People of the world can see that the *disciples are not of their world. They are not like them. The world is under *Satan. He is the ruler of the world. He always speaks lies. He must lie because that is his nature. People of the world have *Satan’s nature. God’s people have God’s nature and live by his truth. The two are opposite. Light and darkness cannot be friends. One comes from below, the other from above.

The Father sent Jesus (his *Apostle) into the world to show his love for everyone. He also sent Jesus to bring people who *sin back to himself. In the same way, Jesus sends his *apostles into the world. He sends them to tell people that they can be friends again with God. He sends them to show God’s love for all people through the way they live.

The fact that the *disciples are not of the world judges the world. But Jesus does not ask his Father to take them ‘out of the world’. He prays that God will keep them safe from the *evil one (*Satan) (15).

Jesus’ *disciples are ‘not of this world’. They are, however, in the world. Jesus does not take them out of it. This means that they mix daily with people of the world. They have the same problems and troubles. But Jesus makes them strong so that they can overcome their troubles. They can also help other people with their problems. God the Father did his work upon the earth through his Son. Now the Son will do his work in the world through his *disciples. He will also do it through his *church.

Twice Jesus speaks of ‘your word’ (14, 17). There is great power in the word of God. First, it was because of the word that the world hated the *disciples (14). Second, the word is truth. Jesus prays that the truth of his word will set the *disciples apart from the world. They will then belong to him in every way (17).

God separates the *disciples for the work that he wants them to do. Jesus set himself apart in the same way. God separated Jeremiah in this way. He did this before Jeremiah was born (Jeremiah 1:5). God told Moses to separate the sons of Aaron as priests (Exodus 28:41). God told the *Jews that they must be *holy. They must be *holy just as he is *holy (Leviticus 11:44-45). They must have the same mind and heart as God. God gives us his *Holy *Spirit. This is to help us to be *holy even as he is *holy.

The ‘word’ was the whole message of God that Jesus spoke to his *disciples. The *disciples must then speak it to the world. They must to show it in their lives (18). For this reason, Jesus separates himself from the world.

In the *Old Testament, the priests killed animals in a service to God. But first, they made themselves clean. Jesus has no *sin and does not need anyone to make him clean. But he *consecrates himself (sets himself apart for a *holy use) to die on the *cross for *sinners. His death will bring to people the power to be clean. He has done everything he can do. He has done this by speaking and living God’s truth to the world. By so doing, he gives his *disciples the strength to be like him (19).

Jesus has been praying for his *disciples. But he does not pray for them only. He prays now for those who will believe through their message (20). He does not pray only for the *disciples with him then. He prays for all who will believe in future days. Jesus speaks of such in 10:16, Matthew 24:14 and Luke 13:29. How wonderful to know that he prays for us!

He prays that the *disciples will be one with each other. This is the same as he and the Father are one. He speaks of a unity in the *Spirit. The life that the Father and Son have together (as one person) is the only true life. As the *disciples believe in him, they too may have this same life. It is possible for them to have the life of God in them. We too may possess the life that is in God himself. It is the life that the Father, Son and *Holy *Spirit have together. This means that we share God’s own nature (2 Peter 1:4).

We see this in the *Lord’s Supper (Communion). When we eat that meal together, we have a part in his body and his blood (1 Corinthians 10:16). Jesus has already said that he and the Father think and do the same things. They are together in everything. They are of one heart and mind. Jesus prays that the *disciples may have this same unity. He also prays for all those who believe through them. He prays that they too may have this unity. He prays that they may be one with the Father and the Son. It is Father God who has sent Jesus. He prays that the world may know this (21). This unity will be such that people of the world will see it. Then they too will want it.

The unity that Jesus prays for is a unity of people in heart and mind. Jesus gives this unity to us. We cannot make it ourselves. The *apostle Paul tells us to keep the unity that Jesus has given us (Ephesians 4:3). We are to show it to the world. The *church will show the Father’s love for the Son. Jesus came to show us the God whom we cannot see (1:14). The *church too will show the world the Father whom no one can see. The *church will show too the Father’s love for the world. That is Jesus’ *prayer.

Jesus does not say that *churches should all be the same. We do not have all to *worship God in the same way. People will not always believe in the same things. The important thing is that Christians love one another. They do not all have to be the same. The right kind of unity will show the world the truth that Jesus brought to the earth.

The Father has given his *glory to Jesus his Son. Everything that God is in his nature he has given to the Son. We see the *glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Jesus has given this same *glory to his *disciples. This is so that they may be one. This is just as the Father and Son are one (22). Jesus will be in his *disciples as the Father is in Jesus. So they will all be as one person. Then the world’s people will know that the Father has sent the Son. They will know that Father God loves the *disciples. It will be the same as he loves his Son (23).

What is the *glory of Jesus? Jesus’ death upon the *cross is his *glory. When we are of one heart and mind with Jesus that is his *glory. When we take his pain and his *cross as ours then we receive his *glory. When it is difficult to be a Christian, then we take to ourselves the *glory of God.

Jesus always obeyed God. That was his *glory. We have God’s *glory when we too obey God. We do not do as we want but as God wants. The more we obey God the more of his *glory we shall have. People saw the light and life of God in Jesus. They saw his *glory. Our *glory is the light and life of Jesus in us.

Jesus promises that we may live and rule with him for ever (for all time). However, he wants us to receive his pain and the death into our lives (2 Timothy 2:11-12). Jesus promises that we can be happy now. But when we meet him and see him, we shall be much happier.

Jesus continues his *prayer for those whom the Father has given him. It does not matter where Jesus is. He prays that they may be there too. When he is again in *heaven with his Father, he wants us to be with him then. The Father has given him *glory. He prays that his *disciples may see his *glory. He speaks of the love that the Father always had for him. The Father loved him long before there was a world (24). Again, he is saying that he has always been (verse 5). There has never been a time when he has not existed.

Jesus finishes his *prayer to ‘*Righteous Father’. He prays to the one who is right in all he does and says. Again, we see the great difference between the world and the *disciples. The people of the world do not know God. Jesus knows God. The *disciples know that God has sent Jesus (25). Jesus has made the Father known to the *disciples. He has made known his name (his nature). He has shown them what God is like. He has shown them who God is and what he does. He will continue to do this. The Father loves him. He prays that his love may be in the *disciples. He prays that he (Christ) may be in all believers. He prays that they may show God’s love to one another and then to the world.

In this chapter, Jesus has prayed first for himself. Then he has prayed for his *disciples. Last, he prays for all who will believe in him in future times and in every place. He knows that the *cross is near. He knows that only a few *disciples follow him. He knows that soon they will leave him. That will be when he needs them most. But Jesus believes in his *disciples. He believes in the power of his Father to use his *disciples. They will speak his name in the entire world. The *cross is near, but Jesus’ talk is not sad. He speaks of hope for the future.

Part 11 ~ Jesus’ pain and suffering, and *resurrection stories (18:1-21:25)

18:1-11 ~ The *betrayal

Jesus had finished praying. Then he and his *disciples crossed the stream in the Kidron Valley. They went into a garden (1). The other *gospels tell us that it was the garden of *Gethsemane. It was on the side of the hill called the Mount of Olives. They did not allow people to have gardens on top of the hill in the city itself. The reason was that the soil there was *holy. However, rich people had gardens on the side of the hill called the Mount of Olives. The owner would have given Jesus the key to his garden. He and his *disciples would have gone there often.

Only John says that the garden was in the Kidron Valley. The other *gospels tell of Jesus in the garden. They tell of his *prayers and his pain there (Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46). We know that John knew about this (11). At that time, they killed many *Passover *lambs. They poured the blood of the *lambs on the *altar. The blood would pour down into the Kidron stream. As Jesus crossed the stream, he would have seen the red blood of the *lambs. It mixed with the water. He would have thought of his own *sacrifice.

Judas knew that Jesus often met with his *disciples in this garden (2). Judas is about to *betray Jesus. What does this mean? Judas is a friend of Jesus. A friend is one who helps you. He wants the best things for you. You do not do wrong things that will hurt your friend. You do not go in secret to your friend’s enemies and hand him over to them. This is what Judas is about to do. This is the *betrayal of Jesus by his friend, Judas.

Judas has promised to *betray Jesus, so he comes to the garden. He knows that this is where Jesus will be. With him are some *Roman soldiers and the *Temple police. He leads them to the garden. There could have been a group of about six hundred soldiers. Why are there so many to take hold of one person who has no sword? They must have known the power of Jesus. There might be trouble. So the high priests and Pharisees have sent the *Temple police. The *Roman soldiers were there to help the *Temple police. They had lights and swords (3).

Jesus knew everything that would happen. He knew that Judas would *betray him (13:2). He did not wait for the soldiers and police to come to him. He did not hide in the trees. He went forward to meet them. He was not afraid. He knew what the Father wanted him to do. He was ready to obey him. He knew that they would kill him. Only in this way would the light win over the darkness. Only in this way would the world know the Father’s love for its people. He knew the Father’s plan for him; it was his plan too.

Jesus asks them, “Who are you looking for?” (4). They answer, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus says, “I am he.” Judas is now about to give his friend Jesus to the soldiers and police. He stands there with them (5). The other *gospels say that he *betrayed Jesus with a kiss.

When Jesus says, “I am he”, they all fall to the ground (6). His reply “I am he” says that he is the one whom they are looking for. But there is a greater meaning in Jesus’ words. He is speaking the *holy name of God (Exodus 3:14). They are present with the *Messiah, the Son of God. For a moment, they fall down before him. For a moment, the leaders lose their power. But it is only for a moment. God’s plan must go forward.

So Jesus again asks them, “Who are you looking for?” Again, they say, “Jesus of Nazareth.” (7) This time Jesus answers them. He has already told them that he is Jesus. They are looking for him, not the *disciples. So, let them go free (8). John tells us why he says this. It is that the words that he had spoken (16:9; 17:12) would come true. He has not lost even one of those that God gave him (9). We see here Jesus’ love for his *disciples. He puts himself in their place. It is the same when he is on the *cross. He took our place so that we might go free.

Simon Peter carries a sword. He pulls it out and cuts off the right ear of the servant of the high priest. The servant’s name is Malchus (10). Luke tells us that Jesus healed the ear with a touch (Luke 22:51). Peter is very brave, for there are many soldiers there. But Jesus tells Peter to put back his sword. Peter does not understand that this is all part of God’s plan.

It is right that Jesus should drink the cup that the Father has given him (11). Jesus is using the word ‘cup’ to describe his death. It is like a cup of bitter wine. Jesus’ cup is the pain and death of the *cross. It is now not far away. We understand this better in Matthew 26:39-40. There Jesus asks the Father to take the cup (his *cross) away from him. But he does not pray for what he wants. He prays for what the Father wants. We learn about this cup in the *Old Testament. It is the cup of God’s anger against *sin (Jeremiah 25:15). It is the cup of God’s *judgement. God’s *judgement on us is that we should die for our *sin. By right, we should have this cup. But God gives it to the Son whom he loves.

It is important to see that Jesus is in the centre of this story. He is the king. He acts as the king. Everything that happens is all part of God’s plan. The dark powers of *evil are there. They are in the person of Judas, wrong religion and the worst of *Roman government. They all fall down as Jesus gives himself up to them. But behind it all is the *evil of *Satan, the power of the dark world. Jesus is king in that Garden. The same powers of *evil are in the world today. Jesus is still king over all. The fight that took place in that garden is of great importance for all time.

18:12-19:16 The *trial

The *Roman officer and his men, together with the *Temple police, take Jesus. They bind him (12). They take him first to Annas. Annas had been high priest from AD 6-15. He was not high priest then. But people would still call him high priest. He was the father of Caiaphas’ wife. Caiaphas was the high priest that year (13). Caiaphas once said that it would be good if one man died for the people (11:49-51). What he said then would now come true (14).

Annas, as a high priest, had great power and was very rich. He achieved his high position by doing all that the *Roman rulers told him to do. Annas and his family owned the shops in the *Temple. People bought animals there for the *sacrifices.

We hear of Annas and Caiaphas at *Pentecost. That was when that they brought Peter and John before them. Then there were other members of their family present (Acts 4:6). Luke in his *gospel mentions Annas and Caiaphas. They were then high priests. It was at the time when the word of God came to John the *Baptist (Luke 3:2). Caiaphas was high priest. But Annas had all the power.

Someone found a copy of John’s *gospel on Mount Sinai in 1892. In this copy, verse 24 comes after verse 13. This would mean that Annas sent Jesus immediately to Caiaphas. These verses are therefore about the *trial before Caiaphas, not Annas. This would explain why the *trial should not have been before Annas. He was not the high priest then.

We remember that Jesus turned over the tables of money for the *Temple tax. He was a danger to Annas and his businesses. Annas would therefore have seen Jesus as his enemy. It would have pleased him when the men brought Jesus to him. He now had Jesus in his power. But ordinary people would have hated Annas and his family.

John does not tell us about Jesus’ *trial before the *Sanhedrin. He has already told us what the *Sanhedrin had agreed. They had decided that Jesus should die (11:45-53).

They do everything now in a great hurry. It is the early hours of Thursday morning. They must do quickly all that they have to do. They must do it before the sun goes down on Friday. After that would be the *Sabbath and the week of the *Passover. Then the law did not allow any of these things.

They had therefore to do much in a short time. First, they took Jesus to Annas and Caiaphas to hear what Jesus had to say. Then Jesus had to go before the *Sanhedrin. Then, before the end of the morning, they sent him to Pilate. It would now be possible for Jesus to be on the *cross by midday. He would then be dead and off the *cross before the sun went down. Then none of this would happen on the *Sabbath. So they would not break the law!

It was the law that they should not ask a *prisoner certain questions. They must not ask him anything that would go against him. They must not ask questions that might lead to his death. So the high priest was wrong to ask Jesus these things at that time.

There are other important laws on *trials. Someone says that you have done wrong. Then that person must have two witnesses to speak against you. They should not have asked Jesus to speak against himself. They should not have asked him to say anything that would not be to his benefit. So Jesus in his reply is saying, “Do not ask me these things. Ask those who heard me, ask the witnesses.”

The high priest asks Jesus about his *disciples and his teaching. He should not have done this. He is trying to find out whether Jesus has taught his *disciples some secret teaching. Jesus has not done this. He answers that he has not spoken in secret. He has always been in the open. Then anyone could hear him. He taught in the *synagogues and the *Temple There all the people came together. He has never said anything in secret. So why do they ask him about this? Why do they not ask the people who heard him? They are the witnesses. They know what he has said (19-21).

As soon as Jesus said this, one of the *Temple police hit him in the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he says. Jesus replies, “If I said something wrong, say so. But if not, why did you hit me?” Jesus is only asking for a proper *trial. They have tied up Jesus. He is still bound. Now Annas sends him to Caiaphas the high priest (22-24).

Simon Peter and another *disciple follow Jesus. It could be that the other *disciple is John. John’s father sold fish. He could have sold fish to Caiaphas. John, therefore, could sometimes have taken fish to Caiaphas’ house. They would therefore know him there. That *disciple knows the high priest. He therefore follows Jesus. He goes into the high priest’s garden (15). Peter stays outside near the gate. The other *disciple comes back and speaks to the girl at the gate. She lets Peter in. She asks Peter, “Are you not one of that man’s *disciples?” “No, I am not!” Peter answers (16-17).

It was cold. The servants and *Temple police had made a fire to warm them. So Peter goes near the fire to warm himself (18). Again, someone asks him, “Are you not one of that man’s *disciples?” Again, Peter answers, “No, I am not!” (25). One of the high priest’s servants is there. He is of the same family as the servant whose ear Peter cut off. He asks, “Did I not see you in the garden with that man?” Peter is now even more afraid. They know him. They know that he cut off Malchus’ ear. Once more Peter answers, “No”. Then at that moment, a cock (male bird) began to crow (noise that the cock makes) (27).

There is another way we may understand the ‘cockcrow’. *Roman soldiers did guard duty during the night. They divided the night into four periods. They blew a trumpet (musical instrument) for each period. The Greek word for ‘cockcrow’ and ‘trumpet call’ is the same. The third period was between the hours of three and six in the morning. The ‘cockcrow’ at that time could therefore have been a trumpet sound. So this is what Jesus could have said to Peter. “Before the trumpet sounds the cockcrow, you will say three times that you do not know me.”

We often see Peter as the one who left Jesus in his time of need. Only Peter and John are in the grounds in John’s story. All the *disciples said that they would not do anything against Jesus. They all said that they would die with him (Mark 14:31). But they all ran away. It was wrong for Peter to take his sword to fight for Jesus. But he was the only one who defended him. Peter was brave when you think of all the soldiers who were there. Peter failed, not because he ran away, but because he was brave. Luke tells us that Peter went outside and cried aloud (Luke 22:62). It was a dark hour for Peter.

To Peter it seems like the end of everything. There is nothing left for him to hope for. But this is not so. Luke helps us to understand this. Jesus tells Peter, “*Satan has asked to shake you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon. When you have turned back, make your brothers strong” (Luke 22:31-32). This is a time for Peter to turn back to the right way. Peter was sure that he would not run away. He would not leave Jesus although all the other disciples did. He was sure that he would even die with Jesus (Matthew 26:33, 35). He tells Jesus that the *cross must never happen to Jesus (Matthew 16:22).

But now he has failed. He thought that he was a strong man. Now he can see that he is not. He finds the truth about himself. Jesus knows that later there will be a new Peter (21:15-18). This will be after the *cross. Peter will then know that he is a weak person. But he will be a strong rock. ‘Rock’ is the meaning of the name ‘Peter’. Peter will know that he can be strong only with Jesus’ help. It is the same with us. When we fail it is not the end. Jesus in us will make us strong so that we do not fail.

It is a dark hour too for God. His own Son needs him very much. It seems that God is weak. It seems that God cannot help. Paul calls this ‘the weakness of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:25). It often seems that God is not there when we need him most. He does not answer our *prayers. He does not take away our problems. We are still sick although we pray. God seems weak too in the wider world. Millions of people go hungry. *Evil people still kill thousands of Christians. Still many are ill. It seems that God is far away. It seems that he does not care about our problems. It seems that he does not care about his world.

God may seem to be weak. But he is the God who is always there. He is always present. We remember the words of Caiaphas. He said that it was good that one man should die for the people. Although he did not know it at the time, he spoke the truth (11:50). Weeks later Peter told the people, ‘You, with the help of *evil men, put Jesus to death (Acts 2:23). But it was by God’s *will that they gave this man over to you’. God meant it to happen. Moreover, he knew before that it would happen.

Jesus stands above everyone else in this story. When all is dark, Jesus is the light. The light wins over the darkness (1:5). This will always be true in the world. It will be true in our lives. It may be dark all round us. The things that happen still make us sad. It will seem sometimes that God does not answer our *prayers. It is true that we are weak. But the light of God’s truth still shines in the darkness. One day the darkness will go and only the light will be there.

It is early morning. They lead Jesus from Caiaphas to the building where Pilate, the *Roman ruler lived. But the *Jews do not enter the building. They must not go into the house of a *gentile. If they did, they would not be clean. The reason is this. The owners had to take away all *leavened bread. The *Jews must not go into a house where they had not done this. There must be no *yeast in the house (Exodus 12:18:19). If there was, they could not then eat the *Passover meal (28). *Yeast was a sign of *evil.

They are careful to keep the *Sabbath law. Jesus has done no wrong. They are sending him to his death. But that does not bother them. They would not eat the *Passover *Lamb. That was because they were not clean (by the law). But they would kill Jesus, the *Lamb of God. Their hands may be clean but their hearts are not.

How easy it is to keep the rules of religion yet to have no love for people! We can go to *church. We can do all the right things. We can pray. We can read the Bible. We can give our money. These things are good. But only one thing can save us. It is Jesus’ death for us on the *cross. All these things can be ‘dead works’ (Hebrews 6:1).

They could not go in to Pilate, so Pilate came out to them. He asks them, “What wrong thing has this man done?” They answer, “This man has done a wrong thing. If he were not an *evil man, we would not have brought him to you.” Pilate says, “You take him and *judge him by your own law.”

In some ways, the *Romans allowed the *Jews to govern themselves. But the *Romans did not allow them to *judge in matters of life and death. The *Jews want to kill Jesus. We see why in the *Gospels of Matthew and Mark (Matthew 26:57-27:1; Mark 14:53-65). The high priest asks Jesus if he is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus replies, “I am”. In those words ‘I am’, he is saying that he is equal with God (Daniel 7). This, they say, is his crime. The word for this is *blasphemy.

Why do the *Jews not like Jesus’ words? Jesus is saying that one day all things will end. Then he will share with God the *judgement of all people on the earth (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62). This, they say, is *blasphemy. This is against their law. Anyone who spoke such words must die. But the *Romans did not allow the *Jews to kill Jesus. If the *Romans had allowed it, they would have thrown stones at him. They would have done this until he died (Leviticus 24:16). The one who saw the crime would throw the first stone. Then all the people would throw stones until the person died (Deuteronomy 17:7).

So the *Jews reply that the law does not allow them to put anyone to death. They could rule that a man should die, but the *Roman ruler had to agree (29-31). Moreover, if the *Jews killed him, it would be by throwing stones.

Jesus had said that men would lift him up. They would lift him up on a *cross. Then he would draw all men to him (12:32). If these words of Jesus are to come true, they must *crucify him (the *Roman way). Jesus’ words could not come true if they threw stones at him (the *Jewish way). So Jesus’ words would now come true. He would die a *Roman death because they must lift him up. He could not die a *Jewish death.

The *Jewish leaders had one desire - to kill Jesus. They could not themselves do this. But they would make sure that the *Romans did it for them.

Pilate goes back inside the building and asks Jesus to come to him. He asks him, “Are you saying that you are the king of the *Jews?” (33). If Jesus says that he is a king, the *Jews will tell the *Romans. This will make things worse for Jesus.

The *Jews are clever in saying that this (he says he is a king) is Jesus’ crime. They do not say that the crime is *blasphemy. That crime does not matter to Pilate. It matters only to the *Jews. But Jesus says that he is a king. That does matter to Pilate. It is something that Pilate cannot neglect. He must do something about it. It would not please the *emperor (ruler) in *Rome. He would fear someone who said that he was a king. So Pilate must act.

But Jesus understands what the *Jews are doing. So he answers, “Is this your own idea? Did you think this yourself, or did other people talk to you about me?” “Do you think that I am a *Jew?” Pilate replies. “Your own people and the chief priests brought you to me. What have you done?” Pilate could see that Jesus was not a criminal. He was not one who would fight the *Romans for political purposes. He was not like Barabbas (40).

Jesus replies. He tells Pilate that his idea and Pilate’s idea of a king are different. Jesus is not a king like the kings of this world. The *Romans do not need to be afraid of him. If he were a king of this world, he would then ask his *disciples to fight for him. They would even now be fighting. Jesus may have been speaking about an ‘army of *angels’. His Father could send these if Jesus wanted help (Matthew 26:53). Then the *Jews would not have been able to hand Jesus over to Pilate. Jesus says that he is not that kind of king. He does not need servants to fight for him (34-36).

“So you are a king,” Pilate replied (37). Jesus answered, “You are right in saying that I am a king. That is the reason why I was born. I came into the world to be this kind of king. I was born into the world to speak about the truth. I have come to speak the truth about God. Everyone who understands truth hears my voice.” (37).

Jesus is saying that he comes to show people the only true way to live. It is a life with God. It is the only true life. It is the life that will set people free (8:32). People who understand truth will know what kind of king Jesus is. Strong people do not need armies to win their battles. Strong people know the power of love. Pilate does not understand this and asks Jesus, “What is truth?” Pilate is not ‘of the truth’. He does not understand truth. If he did, he would not have asked that question.

Pilate goes outside. He tells the *Jews that he can find nothing wrong in Jesus. He knows that Jesus has done no wrong. He knows that he should free Jesus. He knows that this is the right thing to do. But he is afraid of the *Jews. He is afraid of what might happen if he frees Jesus. The leaders think that Jesus is guilty of a crime. Pilate knows why the leaders want to kill Jesus. It is because of spite (Matthew 27:18). Pilate knows that Jesus is not guilty of a crime. Pilate knows that he ought to free Jesus. So Pilate has a plan.

Pilate has a plan. It is a custom to free a *prisoner at *Passover. People will think that Pilate is a kind and good man. Pilate knows what would offend the *Jewish leaders. It would be to call Jesus ‘the king of the *Jews’. Pilate knows that Jesus has done no crime. Pilate knows that Jesus is a good man. Moreover, his wife has had a dream about Jesus. She too knows that Jesus is a good man. She advises Pilate to have nothing to do with him (Matthew 27:19).

So he will offer to free Jesus ‘their king’ (38-39). Then the leaders will think that Pilate agrees with them. They will think that Pilate agrees that Jesus has done wrong. That will please them. It will also allow the people to speak. They will know that the priests have handed Jesus to Pilate because of spite. So the people too will be pleased. They will ask Pilate to set him free.

The light of Jesus shows the darkness in the hearts of the *Jewish leaders. Pilate can say that Jesus should die. But he knows that Jesus is innocent. So Pilate will never be happy about it. It will always cause him trouble. So if the people say, “Set him free”, all will be well.

But he does not know the sort of people who are in this crowd. The high priests could have paid people money to shout against Jesus. Here are friends of the high priests. Here are thieves. Here are those who cause trouble like Barabbas. Barabbas was a man who killed people. He did this for political reasons. These people will kill other people in their struggle against the government (40). They will fight the *Romans to make them leave their country. They are people like Barabbas.

So Pilate’s plan does not work. The people do not want a king who will tell them about their *sins. They want a king who will fight against the *Romans. They are enemies of God. Therefore, they do not want a king who will show the truth about them. So they shout, “No, not him! We want Barabbas.” Pilate does not listen to the truth that Jesus speaks. Instead, he listens to the lie and God judges him.

In this story, we see how great is God’s *salvation. The rulers could have killed Jesus by throwing stones. Then he would have died under the *Jewish law of *blasphemy. But that was not God’s plan. Jesus himself said that they would ‘lift him up from the earth’ (12:32). It was necessary that Jesus should die by *crucifixion. Only then would it be possible for Jesus to return to *heaven. Only then would it be possible for Jesus to rule there as king over all.

Jesus would die the *Roman way. That was by ‘lifting up’. That was by *crucifixion. In the *Jewish law, there is a rule about a person who dies on a tree (*cross). That person is under the *curse of God (Deuteronomy 21:23). Jesus would therefore die under the *curse of God.

We all live under the ‘*curse of the law’ (Galatians 3:10). God gave commands in the Book of the Law. The law said, ‘There is a *curse on everyone who does not keep obeying these things (Deuteronomy 27:26). To do anything wrong is to come under the *curse of God. Therefore, we are all under this *curse. We need someone who will take our place. We need someone to take this *curse upon himself. That person is Jesus. He died on a tree (Deuteronomy 21:23). He ‘became a *curse for us’ (Galatians 3:13). The *judgement of God is upon us for not obeying his law. Jesus took that *judgement upon himself when he died on the *cross.

Jesus is Peter on the *cross. He was the one who said that he never knew Jesus. Jesus is Paul on the *cross. He was the one who killed people. He thought that he was pleasing God when he did this. Jesus is David on the *cross. He took another man’s wife. Then he killed the man so that he could have her for himself. Jesus is Adam and Eve on the *cross. They ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Jesus is the thief on the *cross. He was the one who hung by the side of Jesus. Jesus is every man and woman on the *cross. Jesus is there on the *cross for us in every age.

At last, Pilate does what the leaders want him to do. He orders men to beat Jesus with a whip. This was a terrible punishment. They tie Jesus to a post. They take the clothes from his back. The whip was a long piece of leather. In it were pieces of metal and sharp bones. It would tear pieces from a man’s body. He would suffer terrible pain. Many whom they punished in this way would die.

The soldiers make a crown of branches with long *thorns. They put it on his head. They put a purple coat on him. They may have found a box for a *throne. Matthew and Mark say that the soldiers put a stick (sign of a king’s authority) in his hand. They laugh at him. They put a crown on his head. It would then seem that he was their king. They took the stick. They struck Jesus on the head with it ‘again and again’. They said, “Hello, you king of the *Jews”. They did not know that they were speaking truth. They hit him on the face with their fists (1-3). Pilate may have thought that this would satisfy the people. It might shame them. Now they would not ask for Jesus’ death. They would accept this punishment in place of *crucifixion.

Again, Pilate goes out. Again, he says that he can find nothing wrong with Jesus. He will show Jesus to them. He has not found him guilty. So they can see this for themselves. Jesus comes out wearing the crown of *thorns and the purple coat. Pilate says, “Look, here is the man!” (4-5). How could a poor man like this be a king? Can he really be a danger to *Israel or *Rome? We do not know whether Pilate knew the meaning of his words. Here was Jesus the Man standing in the place of all people.

When the chief priests and *Temple police see him, they shout “Hammer him to a *cross with nails! Hammer him to a *cross with nails!” Pilate tells them, “You take him. You hammer the nails into him! I do not find him guilty of anything.” (6). Pilate must have known that the *Jews had no power to *crucify anyone. The crowd reply, “He claims to be the Son of God. Our law says that he must die.” (See Leviticus 24:16.)

When Pilate hears this, he is very much afraid. He goes back into the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asks Jesus. But Jesus gives him no answer. The *Jews said that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Pilate may have asked this question then. He may have wondered whether Jesus was a god from *heaven. This would have frightened him. The question had nothing to do with whether or not Jesus was guilty of a crime.

Pilate is confused. “Why will you not answer me?” Pilate asks. “Do you not know that I have the power either to free you or to *crucify you?” Jesus replies, “If God had not given you the power you could not do anything to me. Therefore the one who handed me over to you did something even worse.” (7-11). This one could mean either Judas or Caiaphas.

Pilate had the power that God gave him (*Romans 13:1). He had legal power. He did not use his power well. He had made an unjust decision. The *Jewish leaders, however, did not have that same power from God. They used Pilate to do their *evil work. So, as Jesus said, they did something even worse than Pilate.

To hear the *Jews speak about their law worries Pilate. The *Romans tried to follow local customs and laws. Jesus tells Pilate that his idea of authority is wrong. Pilate had the authority of Caesar. He was the *Roman *emperor. But God gives power and authority to kings and governments. God has the final authority. Caesar gave Pilate authority. So both Caesar and Pilate are guilty. But Jesus says that Caiaphas is more guilty.

Pilate tries again to set Jesus free. But the crowd again shouts, “If you set this man free you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king is an enemy of Caesar.” (12).

This was enough for Pilate. He had not been a good ruler (see Luke 13:1). The *Romans tried to agree as far as possible with the customs of a country. On more than one occasion, Pilate had not done this. Pilate had put images of Caesar on flags. The *Romans said that Caesar was a god. But all such images were an insult to the *Jews. The *Jews had reported Pilate to the *emperor before. He could not risk another bad report. His main interest was to look after himself. Doing the right thing was not his chief purpose. He *crucified Jesus in order to keep his job. In the end, Caesar did remove him from his job.

So Pilate brings Jesus out and sits on the judge’s seat. This is the official seat of *judgement. Matthew says that Pilate requested water to wash his hands. This is to show that he is not responsible for Jesus’ death. Pilate is now making an official *judgement. They called the place ‘The Stone *Pavement’. In the *Aramaic language, it is ‘Gabbatha’ (13). It was a stone platform just in front of the Palace.

John says, ‘The time was about the 6th hour.’ Many Bible teachers think that John means midday. However, Mark 15:25 says that the *crucifixion began at 9 o’clock in the morning. So other Bible teachers think that John means 6 o’clock in the morning here. (That would be *Roman time. See note on John 1: 35-51.)

It is the day before *Passover. *Passover is the occasion when they kill the *Passover *lamb. Jesus is the *Passover *lamb. Pilate says to the crowd, “Look at your king” (14). But the crowd shout, “Take him away! Take him away! Kill him! Hammer him to a *cross with nails!” (15).

“Shall I *crucify your king?” Pilate asks. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answer. Then Pilate gives Jesus to them so that they may *crucify him. The teaching of the *Scriptures is that God alone is the king of *Israel (1 Samuel 12:12; Judges 8:23; Isaiah 26:13). The *Romans had ordered the *Jews to pay taxes to Caesar. This was when they first came to *Israel. Many people died fighting against this law. They said that God alone was their king. They would pay taxes only to him. The chief priests now say that Caesar is their king. That is how much they hate Jesus.

The *Jewish leaders began by hating Jesus. As time passed, they hated him more and more. They hated him so much that they could not think right. They are careful about being clean when they eat the *Passover *lamb. But they can see no wrong in killing Jesus, the *Passover *Lamb. Jesus’ crime, they say, is *blasphemy. But they know that Pilate will not allow them to kill him for that. So they change the name of the crime. They say that Jesus is fighting against Caesar. They say that he is against the *Romans. They know that the *Romans will kill him for that.

They forget that God is their king. Instead, they say that Caesar is their king. No true *Jew could say that. At last, they hate Jesus so much that they become mad. They shout for Jesus’ death on a *cross. They are behaving like animals, not people. They hate Jesus so much that they forget all *mercy, all goodness, all right ways. They even forget their God. There are many things for us to learn here.

In this story, we see that Jesus is always in control. It is possible that the translation of verse 13 could be, ‘Pilate brings Jesus out and sits him on the *judgement seat’. He laughs as Jesus sits there, covered with blood. “Look at your king”, Pilate jokes. Pilate does not realise that he is speaking truth. Jesus gives himself as the *Lamb of God. But always we see him as king. Jesus and not Pilate ruled in that palace. Jesus and not Pilate sat on that seat of *judgement. Here we see Jesus’ courage. We see his *obedience to the Father. We see his agreement with the Father’s *will.

The physical suffering of Jesus was terrible. We cannot imagine the pain of the *thorns and the whip. Here on this earth he was a man and felt pain as we do. Many do suffer in this way. Jesus knows all about this. But other people brought suffering to him. Many today suffer at the hands of other people. Jesus knows about that too. They made fun of him as people do today. They made him look foolish. That too can hurt people. The *Old Testament spoke of this many years before (*Psalm 22:6; Isaiah 53:3). Jesus knew all about these things. The writer to the Hebrews asks us to think about Jesus when *sinful men were against him. We look to him so that we will not grow tired. We will not stop following him (Hebrews 12:3).

It was to a legal court that they took Jesus. It is important to see understand this. They said that he was guilty of two crimes. The first was *blasphemy. The second was *treason. They brought Jesus to the *judgement seat as a criminal. Pilate, the judge, had the legal right to say that he should die.

Every human being is guilty of these two crimes. We see the crime of *blasphemy in Genesis. “You will be like God”, the snake said to Eve (Genesis 3:5). That is *blasphemy. *Sin also is *treason. God is king over every person. God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and *evil. But they took the fruit and ate it (Genesis 2:27; 3:6). From that time, all men and women in the world have not obeyed God. They will not agree that he is their king.

In this story, Jesus came before the *judgement seat of Pilate. But what we see here is God on the *judgement seat. It is Jesus who stands before him. He stands here as a criminal, although he has done no wrong. Here Jesus is standing in our place. He is the ‘last Adam’ (1 Corinthians 15:45) who stands as a criminal before God. He stands in the place of the first Adam and all who come after him.

Pilate asked Jesus, “What have you done?” (18:35) It is the same question that God asked Adam and Eve after their *sin (Genesis 3:13). Jesus took our place. As a man, he was a criminal before God in our place. He is ‘the *righteous one’. He died for all who are ‘not *righteous’. He did this that he might ‘bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18).

19:17-37 The *crucifixion

They take Jesus away. He carries his *cross to the place called *Skull Hill. In *Aramaic, they call this *Golgotha (17). Jesus would have carried only the horizontal bar (cross bar). The main bar would have been already in place. Later, they would have tied the *cross bar to the main bar. They would nail Jesus’ hands and feet to the wood. They would then leave him to die in terrible pain.

There is the same scene in Genesis. Here Abraham’s son Isaac carried the wood for his *sacrifice on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:6). Jerusalem is on the same hill. The Latin (*Roman language) word is ‘*Calvary’. The place of *crucifixion had to be outside the city walls. It was against the law to *crucify a man inside the city. *Crucifixion was terrible. It was the worst kind of death they could think of in those days. Only slaves and criminals would die in this way. No *Roman, however bad his crime, would die like this.

So Jesus goes out with bruises and blood over his body. The whip has torn his body. Four soldiers (see Acts 12:4) are with him. He carries his *cross to the place where he will die. John does not mention that Simon helped Jesus to carry the *cross (Matthew 27:32; Mark 15:21; Luke 23:26). This must have happened somewhere on the way to *Golgotha. They hammer nails into Jesus to fix him to the *cross. They do the same to two other men. There was one on either side of Jesus (18). John does not mention their crime. We note from Isaiah that ‘he died with *sinners and took the *sin of many (Isaiah 53:12).

Pilate orders that they write on a board the name of Jesus’ crime. They put it above the *cross. It reads, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the *Jews’. The words are in *Hebrew, Latin and Greek. *Skull Hill was not far from the city; so many people would read these words.

The chief priests do not like these words. So they go to Pilate and complain. Why has he written that Jesus is the King of the *Jews? Jesus only says that he is the King of the *Jews. That is what Pilate should have written. But Pilate takes no notice of them. So far, he has been weak and unable to make a right decision. Now he will decide what to do. He tells them, “What I have written, I have written.” He has written this and he will not change it (19-22). These words, like the words of Jesus, will never pass away.

*Hebrew, Latin and Greek were the languages of three nations of the world at that time. Greek was the language of Greece. This was the country of beauty and thought. God *created all things. He gives us the gift to love beauty and to *create things. Latin was the language of *Rome. This was the country of law and good government. *Hebrew was the language of *Israel. This was the country of the religion and *worship of the true God.

In Jesus we have the highest expression of all these. He is the expression of highest beauty and highest thought about God. In him are the law of God and the *kingdom of God. There are many religions. But Jesus alone is the truth. He is the exact image of God himself. Today Jesus still says, ‘When they lift me up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself’ (12:30). It was right that the world should use these three languages to call him king.

The clothes of a man on a *cross belonged to the four soldiers on duty. Every *Jew wore five pieces of clothing. They were his shoes (*sandals), his hat (head covering), his belt, his vest (inner clothing) and his outer coat.

After the soldiers had nailed Jesus to the *cross, they divided his clothes into the five parts. They divided the shoes, hat, belt and outer coat. That was one part for each of them. But they left the inner piece of clothing, the vest. This was a single piece of cloth from top to bottom. It did not have any seams (stitches). So the soldiers said, “Let us not tear this into pieces. We will *gamble to see who gets it.” This happened that the *Scriptures might come true. This is in *Psalm 22:18, ‘They divided my clothes and *gambled for my clothes.’ The soldiers do this and so they make the *Scriptures come true (23-24).

The inner vest has the same description as the inner dress that the High Priest wore. It was a coat that no one could tear (Exodus 28:31, 32). The job of the High Priest was to stand like a bridge between God and man. This is what Jesus did. He was the perfect High Priest. Through him, men and women come to God. The inner vest was a single piece of cloth. There were no stitches. This is a sign of Jesus, the perfect High Priest. He opens the way for all people to come near to God.

Were there three or four women standing by the *cross? It is difficult to know from the words that John writes here. There were probably four. There was his mother. There was Mary Magdalene. Jesus sent out seven *devils from her (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). There was Mary the wife of Cleopas. We know nothing about her. There was the sister of Jesus’ mother, Salome. She was ‘the mother of Zebedee’s sons’ (Matthew 27:56). She would have been Jesus’ aunt. If this is so, then James and John were, like John the *Baptist, Jesus’ cousins.

At this time, Jesus’ own brothers did not believe (7:5). Jesus did not choose them to look after his mother. Jesus sees his mother and the *disciple whom he loved. They are standing near by. He says to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son.” He says to the *disciple, “She is now your mother.” From that time, this *disciple took her into his own home (25-27). This *disciple is John, Jesus’ cousin. Jesus shows his great love for his mother. This is even in that hour of his very great pain. It gives meaning to Jesus’ action.

Jesus knows that he has now finished his work. All through this time, Jesus is in great pain. Darkness falls over the whole land ‘from the sixth hour until the ninth hour’ (noon until 3 in the afternoon) (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33).

His death is the ‘lifting up’ on the *cross that he has spoken about. Just before, the crowd had cried, ‘See, your king is coming’ (12:15). Pilate had said, ‘Here is your king’ (14). Pilate had put the words ‘Jesus.... the king’ on the *cross. All these words are now true. Jesus is a king upon his *throne. It seemed that Jesus’ enemies had defeated him. His *cross seemed to be failure. But it was not; it was success.

God in Jesus is dying on this *cross. God in Jesus is there in all the pain and suffering. Only through Christ can we know God. If a man does not know Christ, he does not know the true God. It is not easy to see this. It is not easy either to see God in our pains and suffering.

Jesus says, “I am *thirsty.” He says this so that the *Scripture might come true. ‘They gave me poison for food, and for my *thirst they gave me *vinegar to drink’ (*Psalm 69:3, 21). (They put *gall in my food and gave me *vinegar for my *thirst). This could also refer to *Psalm 42. ‘My *soul *thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?’ (*Psalm 42:2).

There are things that we can see and touch. Some people in those days said that these things were *evil. They said that you could see and touch the body. Therefore, it is *evil. So they said that Jesus was just a *spirit with no body. Only the *spirit was completely good. So if Jesus did not have a body, he could not really suffer. They said that he did not know about pain. So John considers it important to say that Jesus had a human body and was *thirsty.

During their long wait for a person to die, the soldiers would have had a jar of cheap wine to drink. They put a piece of material into the wine. They put it on the stem of a *hyssop plant. This was like strong grass, about two *feet (60 centimetres) long.

John is remembering the first *Passover when the *Israelites were slaves in Egypt. The *angel of death went to kill the first born of the Egyptians. God told Moses what the *Israelites must do. They had to put the blood of the *Passover *lamb on their door posts. The *angel of death would then pass over their houses. Then they were to ‘take a bundle of *hyssop’. They had to put it in the blood that was in a basin. Then they would touch the two door posts with the blood from the basin (Exodus 12:22). The blood of the *Passover *lamb would save the *Israelites.

It is the same now on the *cross. The blood of Jesus would be the way of *salvation from *sin for the world. The word ‘*hyssop’ would help the *Jews to think of the saving blood of the *Passover *lamb. John is saying that Jesus is the great *Passover *Lamb of God. Jesus’ death opened the way of *salvation to the world.

They lift the *vinegar and hold it to Jesus’ lips. Jesus receives the *vinegar. He shouts, “It is finished.” The Greek word ‘finished’ is the same in verses 28 and 30 and 17:4. It means that his work is perfect and complete. He has ‘obeyed even to death’. He has brought *glory to the Father. He has done everything that he came to do. No one takes his life from him. He himself decides to give it up (10:18). “It is finished” is a cry of joy that he has won the battle. He then bows his head and ‘gives up his *spirit’ (dies) (28-30).

The next day will be a special day for the *Jewish people. It will be both the *Sabbath and *Passover. They do not want the bodies to stay on the *crosses during that day (Deuteronomy 21:33). So they want to rush the deaths. They ask Pilate to break the men’s legs and take their bodies down. If they had not done this, it could have been many days before they died. The soldiers first break the legs of the two men who are on each side of Jesus. But when they come to Jesus, they see that he is already dead. So they do not break his legs (31-32).

One of the soldiers sticks his *spear into Jesus’ side. Blood and water come out. Those who understand medicine say that this is not unusual. There is much detail in this account. There is only one person who could write about it. That is someone who actually saw what happened.

There is, however, a great deal of meaning in the ‘blood and water’. First, there is meaning in the pouring out of the blood. This tells of the *salvation Jesus won for us on the *cross. In the book of Hebrews it says, ‘There is no *salvation unless there is pouring out of blood’ (Hebrews 9.22).

Second, there is meaning in the water. This means new *spiritual life. Jesus’ *sacrifice gives us this new life. John *preached a *baptism by water. It was a *baptism of *repentance. That means turning away from *sin. Water also means the power of the *Holy *Spirit. Jesus poured this out after his *resurrection. Jesus gave a promise to the woman of Samaria. Anyone who drank the water that he gave would never *thirst. It would be like a river inside you. It would splash. It would be full of joy. It would give *eternal life (4:14). He said the same on the last day of the *Feast of *Tabernacles. Jesus would give the gift of the water of life. He would give this after his death and *resurrection, (7:38, 39).

Jesus now receives *glory from the Father. The saving blood and the life giving water are signs. They show that Jesus’ work is now finished.

Some people in those days said that Jesus did not die. They said, ‘It only seemed that he died.’ John says he knows that Jesus died. Someone who saw it happen told him about it. This could be an unknown person. It could be John himself. He tells this so that other people too may have *faith. All this happened so that the *Scriptures would come true. John uses the same word for ‘true’ here as he uses to describe the (true) *vine (15:1).

The authors of the *Scriptures wrote about the *Crucifixion many years before it happened. This is interesting. The *Scripture that John refers to would be Exodus 12:46 (the rules for the *Passover). It says that they must not break the bones of the *Passover *lamb. Then, in Zechariah 12:10 it says, ‘They will see the one into whose side they stuck a *spear.’ Numbers 9:12 also refers to the rule that they should not break the bones of the *Passover *lamb. There is also *Psalm 34:20. This refers to Jesus. It says that they will not break his bones.

Zechariah lived about 500 years before Christ. David wrote many of the *Psalms. He was king about 1000 years before Christ. The *Israelites left Egypt about 1300 years before Christ. Three times in chapter 19, the writer speaks of words that the *Old Testament writers wrote. John writes, ‘these things happened to make the *Scriptures come true’ (24, 28, 36).

19:38-42 The *burial

So Jesus died. They had to act quickly. It would soon be the *Sabbath. Then they must do no work. Jesus’ friends were poor, so they could not afford a proper *burial. But there are two people who will help.

One is Joseph from Arimathea. He is one of Jesus’ *disciples. But he is a secret *disciple. This is because he is afraid of the *Jewish leaders. He asks Pilate to let him have Jesus’ body. Pilate agrees. Joseph removes Jesus’ body from the *cross (38).

Nicodemus is the other person who helps. Both are probably members of the *Sanhedrin. Nicodemus is an important person. He is therefore is able to speak to Pilate. There was a *Jewish custom. They wrapped the bodies of dead people in cloths. They would cover the cloths with sweet *spices. Nicodemus brings 75 *pounds (35 kilograms) of *spices. They contained *myrrh and *aloes. That would be enough *spices to bury a king. There is a reference to this in *Psalm 45:8.

This is a large amount. It says much about Nicodemus’ love for Jesus. He was the man who earlier had visited Jesus by night (3:1-15; 7:50). Usually they did not take much care of the body of someone *crucified for *treason. They threw it into an ordinary grave. Perhaps Pilate is not sure that Jesus’ crime is *treason. So he lets them take the body. The two men wrap the body in a cloth, together with the *spices (39-40).

Both Nicodemus and Joseph were members of the *Sanhedrin. The *Sanhedrin decided that Jesus should die. Perhaps they were absent from the meeting that made the decision. If they were present, they must have kept quiet. What a difference it would have made to Jesus if they had supported him! They were afraid. That was very sad.

But the death of Jesus did something for Nicodemus and Joseph. It is certainly true that Joseph was a secret *disciple. However, Joseph needed a lot of courage to ask Pilate for Jesus’ body. It was now the property of *Rome. They both forgot their fear. They went to Pilate to request the body of Jesus. Jesus had made this promise. ‘But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (12.32). The power of the *cross changes the lives of these two. Once they were men of fear. Now they are men of courage.

In the place where they had *crucified Jesus, there was a garden. In the garden was a *tomb. No-one had ever put a dead body there (41). It is the time to prepare for the *Sabbath. The *tomb is close by. So they lay Jesus there (42). Joseph of Arimathea owned the garden and the new *tomb. This tells us that he was probably a rich man.

The fall of Adam took place in a garden. The second Adam (Jesus) freed us from the results of Adam’s *sin. That was also in a garden. It says in the *Psalms that they would not throw Jesus’ body away. It would not spoil and disappear (*Psalm 16:10). It is important too that they laid Jesus in a new *tomb. There is a reference to the *tomb in Isaiah. ‘They gave him a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death’ (Isaiah 53:9).

We have mentioned people who thought that the physical body was *evil. They thought that only the *spirit was good. They thought that it was not possible for God to have a body and die. It is important to understand that Jesus did die a physical death. God did not intend his body to stay in the grave. He must rise from the dead. He must still have his complete human body. It would still have the marks from the whip and *spear.

20:1-29 ~ The *resurrection

It is very early on Sunday morning. It is still dark. Mary Magdalene goes to the *tomb. It would have been between 3 and 6 o’clock. The *Jewish custom was to weep at the *tomb. They wept during the first three days (see 11:17). They thought that the *soul of the dead person would still be present. Mary could not come on the *Sabbath (Saturday). The journey would be against the *Sabbath law.

This is what *tombs were like in those days. In the front of the *tomb was a groove (narrow opening cut into the ground). In the groove, there was a round stone like a wheel. It was very large and would have been heavy (Mark 16:4). They wheeled the stone into position along the groove. The groove was on a slight slope. It would therefore have been easy to close but hard to open. They would need several strong men to open it. The authorities had fastened the stone so that no one could move it (Matthew 27:66).

Mary is surprised. She sees that someone has moved the stone from the entrance. She may have thought that the *Jews had removed Jesus’ body. Or maybe that someone had taken it. The punishment for removing bodies from graves was death.

Mary is worried, so she decides to get help. She runs to Simon Peter and to Jesus’ favourite *disciple. Peter had denied Jesus. But Mary still looks to him as the leader of the *disciples. She says, “They have taken the *Lord out of the *tomb. We do not know where they have put him!” (1-2). So Peter and the other *disciple run to the *tomb. John was probably younger than Peter. So he ran faster. He reaches the *tomb first. He bends over and sees the strips of cloth lying there. But he does not go in. When Simon Peter arrives, he goes into the *tomb. He too sees the strips of cloth lying there. He also sees the piece of cloth they had used to cover Jesus’ face. It was by itself, folded and separate from the cloth (3-7).

The *disciple who reached the *tomb first also goes inside. Then an extraordinary thought comes to him. If someone has removed the body or taken it, why would they leave the grave clothes? Moreover, why would they leave them in a neat bundle? It did not look as if someone had taken off the clothes. It seemed as if the body had just come out of the clothes. It was as if a butterfly (insect) had come out of its skin. And the skin was still there on the ground.

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. But this is different. They had to take off Lazarus’ grave clothes (11:44). Jesus just left them behind. Now John believes. He believes that Jesus has risen from the dead. He believes that Jesus is alive (8).

They still do not understand that Jesus had to rise from the dead. This was in the *Scripture (9). It would be a passage like *Psalm 16:9-11. The whole of the *Old Testament tells of the *Messiah. It tells that he wins the battle. It tells that his rule will be for ever.

So the two *disciples go back to the other *disciples (10). After all have left, Mary stands alone by the empty *tomb. She is weeping. Two *angels appear to her. They are dressed in white. One is at the head and the other at the foot. They are sitting where Jesus’ body had been. They ask Mary why she is crying. She answers that someone has taken her *Lord away. And she does not know where he is (11-13).

As soon as Mary says this, she turns round and sees Jesus standing there. But she does not know that it is Jesus. “Woman,” he says, Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” She thinks that he is the gardener. She says, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him. Then I will take him away.” (15)

Jesus says to her, “Mary.” She turns towards him and cries out in the *Hebrew language, “Rabboni!”. This means, “Master!” How beautiful that she should hear Jesus speak her own name! How wonderful that she should be the first person to see the risen *Lord! She falls at his feet and grasps hold of his feet in happy surprise. Jesus is kind to her. He says, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet gone to the Father.

Both Thomas and Mary want to touch Jesus. He asks Thomas to touch him (27). But he asks Mary not to touch him. Why is this? It could be that this is what Jesus says to Mary. “Do not continue to grasp hold of me.” So this is not different. The situation is different before and after the *resurrection. Jesus had told the *disciples that he would be leaving them. He had said that this would be good for them. The *Holy *Spirit would come to help them. But this would only be after he has left them. He (the *Holy *Spirit) could not come until Jesus had gone away.

Now Mary’s relationship with Jesus would be through the *Holy *Spirit. Jesus would not be present as a person with her (16:5-16). She would not be able to see and touch him.

Jesus speaks of not having yet returned to the Father. It is clear that he is speaking of his *Ascension. He now has a different kind of body. He has not yet returned to the Father. But he is now in the process of returning to him.

There could be another reason for Jesus’ words to Mary. The *disciples need to hear the good news of his *resurrection. Mary must tell the good news to other people. So Jesus says, “Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (16-17).

Why does Jesus say ‘My Father and your Father’? This is the reason. Jesus’ relationship with his Father is different from theirs. Jesus is for all time the son of the Father. He is one person of the *Trinity. Only he could be in close relationship with a *holy God.

Now it is different for the *disciples and for all Christians. The difference comes through Jesus’ death and *resurrection. Because God is Jesus’ Father, he is also the *disciples’ Father. The *disciples are his brothers. God is now our Father. We are Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Christians become God’s sons and daughters. This is possible only by God’s *grace. That is what makes us members of his family (see 1:12).

Mary Magdalene goes and tells the *disciples that she has seen the *Lord. She also tells them what he has told her (18).

The story of the *resurrection is true. The events John tells us of are real. They happened at a certain time in history. It is not a story that someone has invented. John tells us of things that happened. He speaks of real people, John, Peter and Mary Magdalene. It happened in a *tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. It happened on ‘the first day of the week’ following *Passover in the year AD 33. We have the *church and the *New Testament. This is also evidence that these events are true. Jesus is not dead. He is alive. He is alive now. We can meet with him. We can know him as a person as the *disciples did.

The *disciples were afraid of the *Jewish leaders. They were afraid that they would do the same to them as they had done to their *Lord. On the evening of that same Sunday, they locked themselves in a room. Then, in a moment, Jesus is there with them in the room. “Peace be with you!” he says.

This is only an ordinary greeting. But to the *Jews, it means more than having no worry. Jesus gives the *disciples his own peace (14:27; 16:33). The *Hebrew word is ‘*shalom’. ‘*Shalom’ is to have the best life possible. It is everything that Jesus can give you of himself. In the *New Testament Letters, it usually goes with ‘*grace’ - ‘*grace and peace’. It means, “May God give you every good thing.”

Then Jesus shows the *disciples his hands and side. This proves to them that it is Jesus himself. He has risen from death. Yet, the marks of the *spear and whip are still on his body.

When the *disciples see the *Lord, they are very happy (19-20).

Again, Jesus says, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you" (21). This second greeting emphasises the importance of these words. He is telling his *church to continue with the work he has already begun. The way the *church is to do his work is ‘as the Father has sent me’. In what way did the Father send Jesus? It was a way of service and suffering. It led in the end to the *cross. Jesus said, “Whoever serves me must follow me’ (12:26).

The command here is the same as in Matthew’s *Gospel: “God has given me all authority... Therefore go... and I am with you” (Matthew 28:18-20). Christ’s people in the *church are the ones he sends with his authority to do his work. He would do the work if he were still on the earth. The *church will be his voice, his hands and his feet. The *church will need to depend only on Jesus to do this work. In his life, Jesus depended completely on his Father God. He only did what his Father told him to do. He always loved and obeyed him. His *church must be like that too. It may seem hard, but always we remember his promise, ‘I am with you’.

Then Jesus breathes on them and says, "Receive the *Holy *Spirit. If you *forgive anyone his *sins, I will *forgive them. If you do not *forgive them, I will not *forgive them" (22-23). God made man out of the dust from the ground. God breathed into his nose the breath of life. Man became a living being (Genesis 2:7; see also Ezekiel 37:9). Jesus breathes on his *disciples in the same way. Here Jesus first gives something of the *Holy *Spirit to the *disciples. It is a first step in their receiving the *Holy *Spirit. Later they would receive the *Holy *spirit completely (in full). That would be only after Jesus had returned to *heaven at *Pentecost. They still do not have the power that they will later receive at *Pentecost.

The giving of the *Holy *Spirit here is about the *forgiveness of *sins (23). What Jesus is saying is this. “Those whose *sins you *forgive I have already *forgiven. Those whose *sins you do not *forgive I have not *forgiven.” This promise is for all the *disciples. The *disciples do not *forgive. God *forgives. God’s *forgiveness does not depend upon human *forgiveness. God’s people *preach the *gospel. The *gospel speaks about God forgiving people. It is the news of God’s *forgiveness to people. *Forgiveness comes to those who receive the message of the *gospel. God *forgives those who are sorry for their *sins. Those who do not accept the *gospel message still have their *sins.

Thomas (called the *Twin) is one of the 12 *disciples. He was not with the other *disciples when Jesus came. So they tell him, “We have seen the *Lord!” But he says, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it” (24-25). Thomas’ doubt is that of many people today. Unless he could see, taste, touch, and hear what was true, he would not believe it

A week later, Jesus’ *disciples are in the house again. Thomas is with them. Although they have locked the doors, Jesus comes and stands among them. He says, "Peace be with you!” Then he says to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop not believing and show that you do believe” (26-27).

The writer does not tell us whether Thomas touches the marks. All he can say to Jesus is, “My *Lord and my God!” (28). Thomas has a complete change from not believing to believing. He sees Jesus, as he really is, the *Lord of all and his God. There are many *false gods today. Christians still need to say, “Only Jesus is *Lord, only Jesus is God.”

Then Jesus tells him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed. *Blessed (happy) are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (29). This is a special comfort to all people in the centuries following Jesus’ life on the earth. The *blessing is no less for us than it was for Thomas. We have an even better *blessing. Peter wrote, ‘Although you have not seen him, you love him (1 Peter 1:8).

Thomas found it hard to believe. Many are like Thomas. They cannot believe that the story will end in a happy way. The good news seems too good to be true. They say that it may be true for other people, but it cannot be true for me. I do not deserve it. The truth is that none of us deserves to have the life of God. We do not have to earn *salvation. God saves us by his *grace.

How did Thomas get from doubt to belief? It was because he was certain that God had raised Jesus from death. Thomas is the one who doubted. Yet later, he took the message of the good news to India.

John began the *gospel with the words, ‘In the beginning was the Word...and the Word was God.’ This is a statement that Jesus was God. He was God even before he came to the earth. Now, Thomas makes the same statement. Ordinary men and women now understand that Jesus is God.

20:30-21:25 The end

Now, following the *resurrection, John states his purpose in writing this *gospel. Why has he told this story of the life and teaching of Jesus? John gives two reasons. First, “So that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” Second, “That by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31). The purpose of the *Gospel of John is to show that Jesus is God but also man. Then, through *faith in Jesus, people will accept *salvation and have *eternal life

Jesus did many other signs (*miracles) when he was with his *disciples. But John did not write them in this book (30).

This is the end of the *gospel as John first wrote it. John has finished what he started to do at the beginning. Now come further thoughts. It would not have been possible to tell of everything Jesus did. Neither would it have been possible to tell of all his words. John has written about the importance of Jesus’ life. He has shown us what Jesus was like. He has shown us the kind of things he was always doing.

What is the main reason that John wrote this *Gospel? It is that people might know that Jesus is the *Messiah and the Son of God. There is only one person who can be the Son of God. He is Jesus. He is the only one who can *preach, teach and heal people. Only he can give God’s real life to people. People may then put their trust in him. By having *faith in him, they may have true life.

In his *Gospel, John has written about Jesus. He has written of his life, his teaching, his death and his *resurrection. They are all there for us. They are there for each of us to believe that Jesus Christ is our *Lord and God. Believing means giving our lives to him who first gave his life for us. It means following him in our lives as our Way, Truth and Life. This is what it means to have life in his name. In the Bible, the name of God does not merely mean the name by which we speak of him. His name is all that he is in himself. Life in his name is to share Jesus’ life. He himself is *eternal life and only he can give it.

This chapter describes an event that John wrote about after the end of the main story. The *disciples have left Jerusalem. They are now in Galilee. We remember the message they received from Jesus after his *resurrection. They were to go to Galilee. They were to meet him there (Matthew 28:7). John calls the lake ‘the Sea of Tiberias’. Seven of the *disciples are mentioned (2). The sons of Zebedee are James and John, the writer of the *Gospel. Peter suggests that they go fishing. This they do. It is night and they catch nothing (3-4).

They do not recognise Jesus at first. Jesus shouts, “Friends, have you caught anything? They answer “No”, so Jesus asks them to throw their net on the right side of the boat. Then they will find some fish. This they do. The net has so many fish in it that they cannot get it into the boat (5-6)

John is the first to recognise Jesus. He tells Peter that he can see Jesus. Peter had taken off his clothes while he was working. He puts them on again. He jumps into the water to reach Jesus. The boat is about a hundred yards from the shore. The other *disciples stay in the boat. They drag in the net full of fish. When they land, they see a fire of burning coals. It has fish on it and some bread (7-9).

Jesus asks the *disciples to bring some of the fish they have just caught. Peter gets back into the boat and drags the net to shore. In it, there are 153 large fish. Even with so many fish, the net does not break (10-11).

Jesus invites the *disciples to come and have breakfast with him. But none of the *disciples dare ask who he is. If they had asked him, he could only have replied, “I am” (the name of God). They know that it is the *Lord. Jesus takes the bread and gives it to them. He does the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus appeared to his *disciples after his *resurrection (12-14).

This is a meeting of the *disciples with Jesus after his *resurrection. The *disciples had a similar meeting before this (Luke 11:1-11). The *disciples might well have remembered the previous meeting. Then Jesus told Peter what would happen in the future. One day it would be not only fish that they would catch. They would also catch men. Through their message, men and women would believe in Jesus. They would then follow him. On that previous occasion, they left their boats and their nets and followed him. Then too they had caught many fish. That was through a *miracle. Now, in this century, we see that Jesus’ words were true. There are now millions of believers in many nations of the world.

Jesus shares a meal with his *disciples on the shore of Lake Galilee. There is great meaning in this. This is part of the ‘better things’ that the *Holy *Spirit will bring at his coming (16:7). Jesus himself will come and make his home among us (14:23). He still shares with us the ordinary things of life. He shares eating, drinking, work and every part of our lives.

Jesus had shared a meal with his *disciples in the upper room. It was only a few days before (Matthew 26:26-29). Then he took bread and wine. Now he takes bread and fish. He gives it to the *disciples to eat. In the first meal, he showed his *disciples that he would die on the *cross. Now they see that he is alive. Now they can have new life. It is the life of Jesus. It is *eternal life. It is the best possible life (John 10:10).

There is yet to be another meal. This is the marriage supper of the *Lamb. Then people will come from every part of the world. They will sit at this great meal (Revelation 19:9). Jesus will be king there.

There may be a reason why the writer added this chapter after the main story. Some may have said that Jesus’ *resurrection did not happen. They may have said that the Jesus whom the *disciples saw was not a real person. He was not a person with body and blood. They may have said that the *disciples just dreamed about him. However, only a real person would have shown the *disciples where the fish were. Only a real person would have lit a fire on the shore. Only a real person would have cooked a meal and handed it to the *disciples. Jesus, who had risen from the dead, did all these things.

We come to the last part of the *gospel. It speaks to those who have believed that Jesus is ‘the *Messiah, the Son of God’ (20.31). Now Jesus speaks to Peter, the leader of the *disciples. He says, “Follow me!” (19) He adds, “You must follow me!” (22). It was the same when Jesus first asked Peter to follow him. “Come follow me. I will make you men who fish. But you will fish and catch men” (Mark 1:17). It may have been, as now, in the same place by the sea. So Jesus brings the *disciples back to where they began. But now they have spent some years with him. They have been with him in his death and *resurrection. The gift of the *Holy *Spirit will soon come to them. They will continue with Jesus in the power of his *Holy *Spirit.

After the meal, Jesus speaks to Peter. We note, however, that Jesus does not call him Peter, the rock. Peter has failed to be a rock. Jesus is showing Peter that in himself he is weak. He is reminding Peter how easily he fails. When Peter understands this, he will be able to follow Jesus in a new way. Simon trusting in Jesus will be Peter the rock. He will be a true leader of Christ’s *church.

So Jesus asks, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” ‘These’ could mean the boat and the fishing nets. So Jesus could be asking Peter whether he loves Jesus more than his work. Would he follow Jesus and leave his fishing business? It is more likely that ‘these’ refers to the other *disciples. He asks, “Do you love me more than the other *disciples do?” This might remind Peter of the night when he had been so confident. Then he was sure that he would never leave Jesus. He would not leave Jesus even if the other *disciples did (Matthew 26:33). Now Peter does not refer to what he can or cannot do. He just replies, “You know that I love you.” (15).

There had been a previous occasion when Peter had warmed himself by a fire (19:18). Then Peter had said that he did not know his *Lord. There is a fire here on the beach (8). It would remind him of that occasion. Now Peter has the opportunity to forget his past mistakes. He can speak instead of his love and friendship.

Jesus asks the question three times. We remember the time before the *crucifixion. Then Peter denied his *Lord three times. So now, three times, Jesus gives Peter the opportunity to be sorry. He has the opportunity to tell Jesus that he loves him (16-18).

After the first question, Jesus says to Peter, “Feed my *lambs.” On the second and third occasions, he says, “Feed my sheep”. Jesus is asking Peter to care for people in the *church. After the third question, Peter is upset. He does not like it when Jesus repeats his questions. So Peter answers, “*Lord, You know all things; you know that I love you”.

Jesus’ questions hurt Peter. However, Jesus is teaching an important principle here. There is *sin in Peter’s life. Peter must recognise that. Only then can he serve Jesus. Before we can follow Jesus, we must deal with our *sin. We must *confess it. We must leave it behind. We must be *holy “Those who are not *holy may not see the *Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Peter did not forget this when he *preached. He called on people to *repent (Acts 2:37-38). We may fail many times. God can always *forgive. Then we can start again.

For Peter and for us, to love Jesus means that we must serve him. Peter’s job was to care for the sheep (God’s people). Jesus gave his life for us. We too should be prepared to give our lives for Jesus. Jesus says to Peter, “When you were young you dressed yourself. You went wherever you wished. But when you are old, it will be different. You will have to reach out your hands while someone else dresses you. They will take you where you do not want to go.” Jesus says this to show how Peter will die and bring honour to God. Then he says to Peter, “Follow me!” (19).

Peter did die for his *Lord. He too went to a *cross. They hammered nails into him to fix him to the *cross. His head was at the bottom and his feet at the top when they did this. He said that he did not deserve to die in the same way as his *Lord. So, from the start, Jesus reminds Peter that there will be pain in following him. There will be a *cross (12:25-26) In the Christian life there is dying and living. ‘I have died but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20). That is how it was with Jesus. There is death first. Then there is life. *Crucifixion leads to *resurrection.

Peter has confessed his *sin. He is now in right relationship with his *Lord. He is now an *apostle. Now he turns and sees Jesus’ favourite *disciple. He is following them. John now identifies himself as the favourite *disciple. He reminds us of the meal (the Last Supper). Then he was the one who sat next to Jesus. This was when he had asked, “*Lord, who is going to *betray you?” So Peter asks Jesus, “*Lord, what about him?” Peter is now an *apostle, so he wants to know about the other *apostles. But he does not need to know about them. He does not need to know what work Jesus has for them. He would give them different things to do. So Jesus tells Peter not to bother himself about John or the other *apostles. All he needs to do is to keep following Jesus (20-22).

In his *gospel, John speaks a lot about the *kingdom of God. That *kingdom is present here and now. It is where God rules as King. We enter that *kingdom now by *faith in Jesus Christ. We have *eternal life now. “God has rescued us from the rule of darkness and brought us into the rule of the Son whom he loves (Colossians 1:13).

But that is not all that the Christian hopes for. The time is coming when all in their graves will hear his voice and come out (5:28-29). ‘I will come back and take you to be with me’ (14:3). Jesus will return as King and Judge at the end of this age. The King is coming and his people will be with him for all time.

John finishes his book by saying that he is the one who wrote these things. Moreover, we know that he is telling the truth (24). Who does he mean by ‘we’? It may be the other *disciples. It may be the *elders (leaders) in Ephesus. That was where John lived.

At the beginning of the *Gospel John said, ‘We have seen his *glory’. Later Jesus prayed, “I want those whom the Father has given to be with me where I am. I want them to see my *glory” (17:24). They have now really seen his *glory. The writer has shown us the *glory of Christ chapter by chapter. This is a good way to end the book. We now look forward to the *glory of Jesus’ return. Then we shall see him as he is. Now he asks us to follow him.

But there will be no end to the journey. For there is no way of describing the greatness of Jesus Christ. He has done so many wonderful things. He did these even before he came to this earth (1:3). He has done wonderful things during his brief time on earth. No words can describe his greatness. There are so many other things that Jesus did. Someone might have written them, word by word. But even then, there would not be enough space. No library could contain so many books (25). Jesus is greater than anything that it would be possible for John to say about him in his book.

But by reading this book we begin to see ‘the *glory of the one and only Son. He is the one who came from the Father’ (1:14).

Word List

adultery ~ sex activity between a married person and another who is not the legal husband/wife.

aloe ~ a plant which gives a bitter drug.

altar ~ a table (usually stone) where they burnt animals and other gifts given as a *sacrifice to God or *false gods; a high structure with a flat top on which to put a *sacrifice to God or a *false god; the ‘*holy table’.

ancestor ~ any relative of a family in a previous period of time.

angel ~ a servant from God who brings messages from heaven [see heaven]; pure *spirits, greater than men and women, they give love to God, do what he wants, take care of those who are accepted into God’s family; a bad *angel, or one that has fallen, who serves Satan [see Satan].

anoint ~ to mark a person with oil to show they are special for God; marked by the Holy Spirit [see Holy Spirit].

apostle ~ a man chosen by God to lead his church [see church]; one of the 12 men chosen by Jesus to be his helpers and to teach about him.

Aramaic ~ the language which Jesus spoke.

ascension ~ the passing of Christ’s body from earth to heaven [see heaven].

baptise, baptism ~ to put a person in to water, or put water on a person; the way to show we are made clean by Christ; when the Holy Spirit [see Holy Spirit] comes in to a person who knows Christ; the way we show to everyone that we belong to Christ and his church [see church].

Baptist ~ a person who baptises [see baptise] people (John the Baptist).

bee ~ an insect that produces wax [see wax] and honey.

betray, betrayal ~ to give a person to an enemy; betrayal, the act of giving a person to an enemy by not being loyal.

blasphemy ~ to say things against God; to *curse and insult God.

blessed ~ someone who has received many good things; someone who is kept *holy.

blessing ~ good things that God gives to us.

blindness ~ being blind.

burial ~ putting a dead body into a grave.

Calvary ~ the place where they killed Jesus on a wooden *cross.

carpenter ~ a worker in wood or large trees, for houses, ships and buildings.

church ~ a group of people who follow and believe in Jesus Christ; a meeting or gathering of those who believe in Christ; all those who believe in Christ.

circumcise, circumcision ~ to cut off the loose skin from the end of the sex part of a boy or man; for Israelites [see Israelites] it was a proof that a man agreed to obey God’s laws; a sign of a pure *spirit.

clay ~ earth, heavy and firm when dry, stiff and soft when wet.

cleanse ~ to make clean or pure.

colonnade ~ a range of columns set at regular distances, supporting a roof.

commandment ~ a command given by God; the ten important commands or rules of God given to Moses on the mountain of Sinai.

confess, confession ~ to say that you have done wrong things; to say that you believe in God.

consecrate ~ to set apart for a *holy use.

Council ~ important men meet together to discuss and decide events.

creation, created ~ the act of God making the world and everything there is; everything that God has made.

cross ~ two pieces of wood fixed together. The *Romans punished people by fixing them to a *cross to die. Jesus died this way; the cross is now the sign of the church [see church] of Christ; not to put yourself first but to put Jesus and other people first in your life.

crucify, crucifixion ~ to put to death by nailing a body to a *cross; the death of Jesus by nailing him to the *cross.

curse ~ to use bad words; to wish *evil upon someone; when a person is sad because of bad words said against them.

dedication ~ to set apart as sacred [see sacred].

demon, demons ~ *evil *spirit(s) from the Devil [see Devil]; *spirit(s) who work for Satan [see Satan] and do *evil.

devil ~ another name for Satan [see Satan], the chief *evil *spirit.

Diaspora ~ all Jews [see Jew] living scattered among the Gentiles [see Gentiles].

disciple ~ one who follows another and learns from him; a person who believes in Jesus and follows the things he teaches; also applies to those who follow John the Baptist [see Baptist].

donkey ~ an animal that carries people or goods.

dove ~ a bird that is gentle; can be another way of talking about the Holy Spirit [see Holy Spirit].

elder ~ a church [see church] leader.

emperor ~ a ruler in *Rome.

eternal ~ things that have always been and will continue for all time; a thing which has no beginning or ending; a thing which never changes.

eternal life ~ life of a new quality for those who believe in Jesus.

everlasting ~ things which continue for all time.

evil ~ wicked, bad, doing bad things.

faith ~ to believe in someone or something; to agree with, and do the things God teaches; to follow his words even when they seem difficult; belief and trust in God and in Jesus his Son; belief that the Scriptures [see Scriptures] are true; “the faith” means the things that Christians believe about Jesus.

false ~ not true; not genuine.

feast ~ a large meal to remember an event or person; a religious [see religious] ceremony.

Feast of Tabernacles ~ a Jewish [see Jew] harvest festival [see festival] to remember God’s care for his people when they were in the desert.

Feast of Lights ~ a Jewish [see Jew] religious [see religious] festival [see festival]. This was to remember the time when they found oil for the lamp light in the Temple [see temple]. This was after the Jews [see Jew] won back the Temple from the enemy.

feet ~ the plural of foot (measure of length (feet and inches)).

festival ~ a holiday; a feast [see feast]; a big meal.

flock ~ a number of sheep or birds; the people in a church [see church].

forgive, forgiven, forgiveness ~ to show pity (mercy [see mercy]) and not to remember bad things - sin [see sin]; to set free from wrong things that we do.

gall ~ a bitter liquid.

gamble ~ to play a game with numbers on a piece of wood, where the right number (on the wood) is the winner.

Gentiles ~ people who are not Jews [see Jew]; people who do not know God; people of all nations.

Gethsemane ~ a garden on the slope of the hill called the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where Judas betrayed [see betray] Jesus.

ghost ~ a spirit [see spirit].

glory ~ the power and great importance of God, great beauty and like a great king; a bright light coming from God or Jesus.

Golgotha (Skull Hill) ~ Calvary [see Calvary]; [also see skull].

gospel ~ (1) The good news about Jesus; (2) The record of Jesus’ life in the books by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

grace ~ a gift of God that we do not deserve and cannot earn; what God gives because he is generous; the help and protection coming from God.

grape ~ a fruit used in making wine.

healing ~ an act that cures or heals; getting well.

heaven ~ the place where God and Christ are. The future home of the people who know God; the place of happiness and peace where God lives and rules; the place where people who really know God and Jesus will go after they die; the sky.

Hebrew ~ the language of Jewish [see Jew] people.

Holy Spirit ~ the Holy Spirit is a person, but not human as we are. He lives and works for God; equal and joined with God and Christ, he does the work of God among the people in the world; God’s Spirit. Jesus sent him to help people; another name for God; also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ and the one who comforts.

holy, holiness ~ description of God, set apart, perfect, wonderful; completely good, with nothing bad in it; belonging to God; separate from sin [see sin], pure, clean.

hymn ~ a song about God or to God.

hyssop ~ a sweet smelling plant with blue flowers.

Israel ~ the name given to Jacob by God; the name of the people from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the group of people chosen by God; the northern land ruled by a king in the land promised to the chosen people by God; the nation of the Jews [see Jews] and those who speak Hebrew [see Hebrew]; all those people who believe in Christ; the church [see church] of Christ.

Israelites ~ the people of Israel [see Israel]; people that speak Hebrew [see Hebrew]; the people who are Jews [see Jew] living in Israel.

Jew, Jewish ~ a person who is from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; a person who believes the faith [see faith] of the Jews.

judge (to judge) ~ to hear and think about; to decide on or form an opinion on.

judgement ~ when God says what is right or wrong; when somebody says who is right or wrong; when God or Christ put moral people on test.

kingdom ~ where God rules as king; land ruled by a king.

lamb ~ a young sheep; a young member of a church [see church].

Lamb of God ~ name given to Jesus; it describes how people killed him and that he died for us; this was to make it possible for God to *forgive the bad things we do.

leavened ~ bread made with yeast [see yeast].

Levites ~ one of the 12 families of Israel [see Israel]; they acted as assistants to the priests in the Temple [see temple].

liar ~ a person who does not speak the truth.

Lord ~ the name for God in Scripture [see Scripture] and meaning he is head over all; a name that we use for Jesus when we obey him; someone with authority.

manna ~ the food which God gave to the Israelites [see Israelites].

mercy, merciful ~ help to those who are in need or difficulty; the love God shows in forgiving; God’s love and goodness; God’s pity towards all he has made; being kind to bad people.

Messiah ~ a special servant of God; a name for Jesus Christ; it means the person who is sent to save people from the anger of God because of our bad ways; the only one who can put people right with God; the one who will come again to rule over God’s kingdom [see kingdom]; God’s anointed [see anoint] one.

mile ~ a unit of distance equal to 5280 *feet (1600 metres).

miracle ~ wonderful works done by God’s power; a wonderful thing that happens and shows that a person brings a message from God.

murderer ~ someone who murders.

myrrh ~ a sticky substance from a plant used as a perfume [see perfume], or to put on dead bodies before putting them in a tomb [see tomb]; one of the gifts the wise men gave to Jesus when he was born.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus.

obedience ~ obeying authority; being ready to obey.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Holy Scriptures [see Scripture] that includes the *holy things that were written before Christ’s birth.

orphan ~ a child who has no living parents; sometimes a child who has lost one parent by death.

pagans ~ those who love a god or gods that are not the God of the Holy Scripture [see Scripture].

palm ~ a tree.

Passover ~ an important *holy temple [see temple] day for the Jews [see Jew]. They ate a special meal on this day every year to remember that God freed them from being slaves in Egypt at the time of Moses; they came to Jerusalem, to meet in the Temple [see temple] and to share food together; a special meal.

pavement ~ a path covered with stones or hard material; the path at the side of a street.

Pentecost ~ the time each year when the Jews [see Jew] thank God for their food; the time when God gave the Holy Spirit [see Holy Spirit] to the church [see church].

perfume ~ a sweet smelling oil.

Pharisee ~ a group of Jews [see Jew] who thought that they kept all God’s rules. They did not like the things that Jesus taught. They thought that they did not do any wrong things. So, they thought that they were very important and clever.

pound ~ a unit of weight equal to 16 ounces or 454 grams.

praise ~ to say how good a person is; to give love to God, as when we are praying and singing to him.

prayer ~ the words that we say when we talk to God.

preach, preaching ~ to tell and explain the good news about Jesus Christ to a group of people.

prisoner ~ a person kept in prison.

prophecy ~ words and stories given to a person by God; words that tell of things that will happen in the future; to explain the Scriptures [see Scripture] in public; the words spoken or written by a prophet [see prophet].

prophesy ~ to tell of things that will happen in the future; to speak with God’s help (or a *false god) and on God’s behalf (or a *false god).

prophet(s) ~ those who are able to tell other people what God wants; people who spoke for God; someone who tells of things that would happen in the future.

psalm(s), Psalms ~ song(s) used for praising God; one of the books in Holy Scripture [see Scripture].

reaper ~ a person who gathers a crop or harvest.

religious ~ pure, *holy, sincere; affected by religion; one who loves God.

repent, repentance ~ to turn from sin [see sin] to God’s ways; to change from past *evil, a change of mind and heart in turning away from wrong.

resurrection ~ when someone's body lives again after death.

righteous, righteousness ~ being right with God; people God sees as clean and not his enemies.

robber ~ one who robs people.

Rome, Romans ~ Rome was the most famous city in the world at the time of Jesus. Their soldiers fought and defeated many countries. They made the people obey the rules of Rome. They made them pay taxes to Rome. The people could not rule themselves, but had to obey the laws of Rome.

rope ~ a thick piece of string.

Sabbath ~ a day of rest in which people could not work. In the Old Testament [see Old Testament] it was Saturday (from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday), day seven of the week for the Jews [see Jew]. It is a special day, for the Jews, for doing what is pleasing to God.

sacred ~ kept special for God; something God will accept; made *holy by God.

sacrifice ~ to ask God’s (or a *false god’s) forgiveness [see forgiveness] by killing an animal. God told the Israelites [see Israelites] to make sacrifices to him. Usually it was a special animal that they killed and burned on the altar [see altar]; some of the pagans [see pagans] killed their children as a sacrifice; something given up for a special purpose; giving up something that is important to you on behalf of someone (God); offering yourself to work for God; Christ’s death for us.

Sadducees ~ an important group of Jews [see Jew] at the time of Jesus. They believed that people would not live again after death.

salvation ~ when we are taken out from the results and power of sin [see sin], the rescue of a person from *evil things and their results in their life; forgiveness [see forgiveness] by God when we follow Jesus and are sorry for our wrong ways.

Samaritan ~ a person from Samaria.

sandals ~ a shoe with a piece of leather for underneath the foot, another piece for over the foot and another piece round the ankle.

Sanhedrin ~ the leaders of the Jews’ religion [see Jew] meeting together. There were 71 men in the Sanhedrin. Together, they judged [see judge] people. The people in the Sanhedrin had great power.

Satan ~ a name for the chief bad spirit [see spirit]; the top devil; the bad one known also as the Devil [see Devil].

Saviour ~ Jesus, the one who saves us, the one who rescues; someone who will bring us back from the bad things we have done or the bad things other people have done.

Scripture(s) ~ the things written in the books of God’s *holy word, also called the Bible; the book which tells God’s truth and shows that the Lord [see Lord] Jesus Christ has come.

seal ~ a sign that something is genuine.

shalom ~ the Hebrew [see Hebrew] word for peace and God’s blessing [see blessing]; Jews [see Jews] used it as a greeting.

shekel ~ a Hebrew [see Hebrew] coin; a Hebrew weight.

shepherd ~ a person who looks after sheep.

sin, sinful ~ when people do things against God; when we do not obey the commands of God; the *evil that is in us which we were born with.

sinner ~ someone who does not obey God’s commands.

skull ~ the bone part of the head.

soul ~ the spirit [see spirit] part of a person that is in us during our life, and lives after we die; the spirit part of people which relates to God; a person’s inner wishes and desires.

sower ~ a person who scatters seed over the earth for growth.

spear ~ a long and thin weapon [see weapon] of war, like a sword.

spice(s) ~ a vegetable substance with sweet or strong smells.

spirit, Spirit ~ part of a person when they are alive, which we cannot see, that decides what to do – good or bad; the soul [see soul] of a person; God’s Holy Spirit [see Holy Spirit], that Jesus promised to send to all who know him as the Son of God; the Spirit cannot be seen but joins with the spirit of those that know Jesus to help them to follow him and to do good things.

spiritual ~ *holy; relating to the soul [see soul]; relating to *holy things.

spit, spat ~ to throw out saliva (water) from the mouth.

spring (as water) ~ water coming out of the ground; starting point of a river.

steward ~ a person who manages the money or property of another person; someone who is responsible for the table and servants in a home.

synagogue ~ a place or building where Jews [see Jew] gather for *prayer, study of scriptures [see Scriptures] and other public meetings.

tabernacle ~ a tent; the tent the Jews [see Jews] moved from place to place and used as a temple [see temple] in the desert.

temple ~ the special building where Jews [see Jew] went to *praise God; the *holy place in heaven [see heaven] where God is; a special building where people went to *praise *false gods.

tempt, temptation ~ to test someone or try to make them do *evil things.

thirst, thirsty ~ a great desire for drink; the suffering caused by lack of drink.

thorns ~ sharp points on a plant or bush.

throne ~ a chair for a king or god.

tomb ~ a grave; a place for a dead body.

Torah ~ the holy [see holy] books of the Jews [see Jews], made up by the first five books of the Old Testament [see Old Testament].

transfiguration ~ the change in Jesus’ face and looks when he was on a high mountain with three of his disciples [see disciples].

treason ~ not being loyal to a person or government so that you become an enemy.

treasure (*Temple) ~ the gifts of money given by the Jews [see Jews] for the workers and maintenance of the Temple [see Temple].

trial ~ the examination of a person in a court of law to discover whether he is guilty or not of a crime.

tribe ~ a group of people; a family or people who have the same ancestors [see ancestor].

Trinity ~ God who is three persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit [see Holy Spirit].

twin ~ one of two children born together, from the same mother.

victory ~ success in war; the winning of a struggle.

vine ~ the climbing plant which grows grapes [see grape].

vinegar ~ sour wine that Roman [see Rome] soldiers often drank.

vineyard ~ a field where vines [see vine] grow.

wax ~ a yellow substance like fat made by bees [see bee].

weapon ~ a tool of war used in attack or defence when fighting.

well ~ a hole made in the ground where water collects; a natural source of water; a spring [see spring].

will (as God’s) ~ the command or desire or direction from God to a person to act in a certain way; God’s plan for a human life which may be different from his own desires.

wolf, wolves ~ a wild animal like a large dog.

worship ~ a way to act when we are with God; giving thanks to God and Jesus; usually done together with other people, with prayers [see prayer] and much happy singing; to bend down to God or a *false god; to show honour to God and say that we love him very much.

wrath (anger) (of God) ~ God is holy [see holy]; therefore, God must act against all that is not holy; wrath is God’s necessary act against *sin (because he is holy).

yeast ~ a substance which makes bread rise before baking.

Book List

Bruce Milne ~ The Message of John ~ BST The Bible Speaks Today ~ IVP

R. V. G. Tasker ~ John ~ Tyndale NT. Commentaries ~ IVP

New Bible Commentary ~ 21st Century Edition ~ IVP

William Barclay ~ The Gospel of John ~ The Daily Bible Study ~ The St. Andrew Press ~ Edinburgh

Charles John Ellicott, DD. ~ A Bible Commentary for English Readers by various writers ~ Cassell & Co. Ltd. (Out of Print)

Bible Versions

New International Version

The Contemporary English Version CEV

The Message, Eugene H. Peterson, NAV Press

The Living Bible

Authorised Version

New King James Version


© 1997-2001, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

January 2001

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