Bible Study – Acts 10

RECAP:

Last week Paul took us through chapter 9 and Saul’s encounter with Jesus that immediately changed the entire course of his life forever. God’s ways are most perfect making Saul blind so that he was unable to do anything EXCEPT pray and mediate, fast and reflect. For three days Saul re-adjusts to what he has now discovered and we also know that in these three days God speaks with Saul – he receives the vision of Ananias coming to heal him.

We also saw the faith of Ananias and his wonderful relationship with God – his faithfulness in going to the house to pray for his ‘brother’ Saul.

Saul’s transformation is immediate – baptized and then witnessing – no transition – Saul’s passion was the truth and he goes and confounds the Jews. This man who once sought Christians to imprison and kill is now sought by the Jews to be killed.

Then we saw another amazing disciple – Barnabas. Saul’s conversion was a bit too much for the disciples to stomach – they did not believe he was genuine – but Barnabas lives out Jesus’ teaching – he is not afraid but reaches out his hand of friendship, forgiveness and love to a man who may be his enemy.

The shock waves of Saul’s conversion lead to his life being in danger straight from the get go and so the disciples send his to Tarsus.

Luke now shifts focus away from Saul and onto Peter.

READ 9:32-43

What is Peter doing?

He is evangelizing, speaking, ministering.

Who does he visit in Lydda?

Saints. Believers. Converts. Probably from Philip’s ministry in the area.

And Peter continues to exercise his healing ministry.

At this time a disciple dies in Joppa. Tabitha or Dorcas – I know which name I would prefer.

What were the believers in Joppa’s intention in sending for Peter?

They did not send messengers to Lydda for Peter to come and preside over a funeral. They sent for Peter TO RAISE HER FROM THE DEAD. What faith these believers had. What expectation of the power of God.

Do you notice anything interesting in how Peter approaches this situation?

He kneels and prays. He does not walk in and say “Tabitha get up.” He prays to God. This has nothing to do with Peter. This has nothing to do with his power. This is a demonstration of the Living God’s authority over life and death.

Also, Peter does not touch Tabitha at all – until she awakens. To touch a dead body would be an unclean thing for a Jew.

Where does Peter end up staying. Do you see any significance in what we have just seen with Peter?

Peter ends up at Simon the Tanner’s place. He traveled to Lydda to minister and meet the saints, and there he heals a paralyzed man. That event spreads to Joppa and the believers there realize, just as Tabitha is dying that Peter is only 10 miles away. So they send for him. He goes and prays and Tabitha is raised from the dead. Peter is now in Joppa and so he needs a place to stay – Simon the Tanner.

This is God’s incredible sovereignty in view. Two people healed and Peter’s travels land him in exactly the right place so that Cornelius is able to send for him.

All this is simply setting the scene for the next movement of the spirit and the church – the encounter between Cornelius and Peter.

READ 10:1-23

What do we know about Cornelius?[i]

A God fearer – not a convert to Judaism – hence not circumcised or baptized. Believed in a coming messiah.

Prays regularly.

And God speaks to him – a gentile – and affirms that his gentile prayers have come before the throne of God.

It’s a wonderful piece of irony here – This God fearer, who was barred from presenting offerings to God in Jerusalem at the temple, is here told that his acts of generosity and prayers have been an offering directly to God and God has accepted them.

It’s not just about the ritual – but the heart.

He obeys God and IMMEDIATELY sends for Peter.

Meanwhile, back in Joppa Peter gets peckish and while the food is being prepared he goes and prays.

What is God challenging Peter with in the vision of the animals?

Peter is still culturally prejudiced. Notice here – Peter disobeys God. God says clearly GET UP, KILL AND EAT.

Peter says NO.

He has an ingrained prejudiced which needs to be dealt with. His Jewishness must be set aside when God so commands. If God has made all animals clean his Jewish understanding must be set aside to accommodate God’s command.

If three men show up on your doorstep and said – Someone has asked for you – please come now. Would YOU go? What does Peter’s willingness to go show us?

His life is not his own. Where he goes is not his decision. What he does is not his choice. All these things we tend to hold onto in Western 21st Century Christianity. We struggle with the idea that our future should not be in our hands, or our control but in God’s. That if God should call, we must leave our nets and go.

I think God has often called many, who have simply not recognized the call or have thought “how ridiculous. I have a family to feed – my life is good here. God could not possibly ask me to do this.”

READ 10:24-48

What image does Luke give us of Cornelius in v24?

Expectantly waiting. He has gathered family and friends. He is eagerly awaiting Peter, and the words Peter will bring with him. Are we like this on Saturday evening’s awaiting worship on Sunday?

What remarkable significance is there in Peter and Cornelius standing and talking together?

Here is a picture of the reconciliation of the gospel. Peter a Jew, speaking with and about to become brothers with a man who represents the occupying army of Israel – a man whose colleagues have killed and tortured Peter’s countrymen and women. For Peter, Cornelius represents everything that should be hated and despised – a foreign invading solider who is a gentile.

Yet God orchestrates this amazing meeting.

What changes for Peter in v34 – why is this amazing?

Peter’s journey is complete. The penny drops. He now realizes that God is not more favorable to the Jew than to the gentile but that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people. Peter’s prejudice has been removed.

And this is why he presents the Gospel of Christ to Cornelius in v36-43.

But there is one more shock for Peter and his companions!

READ 10:44-48

I love this – While Peter was speaking the Holy Spirit came upon them. The image is almost of God waiting for Peter to finish talking – but after a while the eternal realized that Peter might speak for eternity and so he just let the Spirit loose.

Why were the circumcised companions of Peter astonished at what they saw?

The Holy Spirit. Poured out upon Gentiles. No way!

Way.

Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.


[i] Caesarea – third time mentioned. Philip resided there after Azotus (8:40). Paul went here having fled Jerusalem (9:30). Originally Stratos Tower – Caesaer gave it to Herod the Great who renamed it Caesarea.

Romans 2 v14-15 – part 2

The phrase “also the greek” is to be connected with the positive side as well. In other words the greek who patiently does good and seeks glory, honor and immortality will be given eternal life. Such a Greek can only be described as a gentile Christian walking with God, for such things can only be sought through a relationship with God. This is continued in v10, “glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the jew first and also the greek.” What is doing good? It is obedience to the good news – the gospel. Believing and trusting and following the good news, the gospel of Christ is our good works. Romans 2:6-8 says He will reward each one according to his works: eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality, but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition18 and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness.

V11 sums up the main point – God shows no partiality. This is then followed, in v12, that ALL people will be judged, either by the law or without the law. You cannot shield yourselves from God’s judgment with the law, or with ignorance. Then in v13, Paul focuses specifically upon the Jew. It is not the hearers of the law that are righteous but the DOERS of the law who will be justified. We know that the law cannot be fulfilled by human effort.

So, having this background in mind, we now reach our text – v14-15.

V14. The first question to tackle is the relation of v14 to the rest of the chapter. Moo, Murray, Fitzmyer and Calvin see v14 as connected to v12a – v14 is an explanation of v12a. To paraphrase: those gentiles who will perish without the law can, by nature, do things that the law requires, like love and honor their parents. Therefore they are aware of moral obligations and hence the ground upon which they will judged! Murray writes that v14 is:

“providing the answer to the question arising from v12a, namely; if the gentiles are without the law, how can they be regarded as having sinned?”

Murray’s conclusion is that the gentiles are not entirely without law. There are some gentiles who do have the law (converted believers), but here Paul is referring to those who are not converted. Calvin sees these verses as rejecting ignorance as an excuse by a gentile . Moo likewise argues that the gentiles are not without a law – they have some knowledge of God’s moral demands .

The conclusion is that God does not condemn the gentiles without their having any understanding of his demands upon them. The question that is primary in this whole pericope is already clear – Is there such a thing as natural law? Can you have a little bit of knowledge of God? These questions must be left until later.

Daniel Chapter 3 – part 2

THEY ARE WILLING TO DIE FOR A GOD WHOM THEY DO NOT EVEN KNOW HAS THE POWER TO SAVE THEM – BUT THEY KNOW HE EXITS AND THAT HE IS REAL AND THAT HE IS WORTHY OF WORSHIP!!

What faith!! What faith!!

Here are three things for us to learn about this kind of faith that Shadrach, Meshach and Abedego showed:

1.   Our faith needs to be rooted in who God is – not in who we are or where we are. Faith based on our circumstances – hey, life is great, God is good; life is crap God is…….  Is not a good place to be. If our faith is based on what is happening to us we will not benefit from faith nor will we be able to group as a Christian. Faith based on a God who is Lord of the Universe even though he seems silent should still be able to give me peace, even when we face our worst fears.

2.   Our faith needs to be rooted in BOTH the power of God and in his goodness. God can be trusted. Therefore we need to be able to leave the decision of whether God will protect us or rescue us to Him. Shadrach, Meshach and Abedego say that their trust in God is not based on whether they are save dor not – he is God, he is Good – they trust that!!

3.   Our faith should be about loving God for his person not for his performance. Too often we pray to God as if we are sending God coded signals to dictate his behavior like a performing pony. Instead we should approach God like loving parent who will do what is best for us. Can we, WILL we trust his decisions?

This is the type of faith we are called too. Resilient, (able to cope in tough situations) adaptable (able to survive the unexpected in life) and strong, able to face even our worst fears knowing that God is God.

There are times when we will want God to show up so badly, but we will say or try and think that it does not matter if that prayer or desire is not answered – when in fact it does matter and we silently get angry with God – and there are the times when we have prayed and then the things we asked for happens and we are totally stunned God showed up

Sahrach, Meshach and Abedego held the tension between “it really does not matter whether God shows up” and “we are totally shocked that he has shown up.”

They really didn’t care either way – it would not effect their thinking or decisions.

As the three are thrown into the fire, Neb sees a fourth person in there with them. God shows up and the three guys don’t faint shocked that God did rescue them.

Now if I was one of the guys I would popped my head out of the furnace and gone – “Nanananana”.

Who was the fourth person in the fire? Jesus.

And this was not just for the benefit of the three guys, although I am sure the three were vaguely happy to see God. Jesus showing up is for the benefit of Neb. Here was the second encounter he has had with the followers of Yahweh. Daniel not only interprets Nebs dream but tells him what the dream is and Neb is impressed and acknowledges Daniels God to be powerful. Here, he sees three followers of Yahweh completely protected from the fire, in a miraculous way and his response is good, but it is still not the right response. Neb says that the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abedego should be praised – but he still has not bowed the knee to God  and that was the reason for this miracle. Sharach, Meshach and Abedego could have died and gone to be with God, but God is chasing Neb’s heart.

It is the kind of faith which these three Hebrews showed that allows missionaries to continue to try and lead Muslims to Christ. It is this type of faith which will help us when we stand up for those being bullied, or picked on, or beaten up, and it is the kind of faith which will help us to stand up for truth.

Is this the faith you have? Is it the faith you want.

You know, the true reward of faithful witness to God is not to be found in its results but in the experience of knowing the presence of God in the midst of the struggle.

Life will through at you some hefty knocks – some bad situations – times when your so sad you will hurt – and times when you will be SO happy you wish it would never end.

Living life with the faith of Christ – the faith that Shadrach, Meshach and Abedego had – will help you pass through the hardest and the best of times knowing that God knows what is happening and all things are in is hands.

Daniel Chapter 2 – part 2

God is present with Daniel in Babylon and God is present with us here in the 21st Century America.

We live in a world and a culture that is walking away from God and yet is still terrified of what the world, and nature can throw at it. The world, the culture has no explanation of why hundreds of thousands died in a devastating cyclone in Myanmar – or why thousands have died in the earthquake in china, or why kids get cancer or why moms die when their children are young. The world, the culture has no answer for disaster, except to blame a God they do not believe in and use it as an excuse not to believe in God.

“I could never believe in a God that would allow something like that to happen.”

Daniel did not know why God had given Israel over to Babylon, but he did know that God was still in control.

Do you really know that God is in control? How can I know this you might ask? The same way Daniel knew – BY HIS WORD. The Bible tells us to TRUST in God – To do what he says and then to trust that God knows what he is doing.

God is not is heaven multi-tasking and saying “Gosh I hope that works out – ooooh Andy, you nearly messed that up= ahhhhh, John stop that!”

How is God in control?

The dream Neb has shows us.

Too often people get hung up about what the dream represents, and its details – to do that is to ignore its point – the thing that the dream teaches us is NOT the details of the course of events in history BUT that the fact that HISTORY is UNDER GOD’S CONTROL and that it has a purpose.

What is the purpose?

That all the kingdoms of the earth, Babylon, Assyria, Rome, Great Britain, America will not and cannot stand against the breaking into the midst of this world the Kingdom of God.

Nothing can stop it. Nothing can stand in its way. THE KINGDOM that is to come – the Kingdom of God, will eventually smash every kingdom.

And, by the way, as an aside – you do realize that if you are a believer in Jesus you will not be spending eternity in heaven. Our vision of heaven is some cloud and us sitting there with a harp.

Oh no. Eternity for us will be on a NEW EARTH – a perfect earth. 2 Peter 3:13 says But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Revelation 21:1, Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” [ Isaiah 65:17] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

Paradise, life forever will happen on the new earth.

But this begins now – the Kingdom of God has broken into our world through Jesus.

And that is the message that we – YOU are called to tell people in your schools, homes, neighbor hoods – wherever you are.

Are you strong enough to give this message?

You can only give this message – you can only live in this world as a follower of Jesus if, like Daniel, you are willing to listen to your culture but have not been assimilated into the culture.

There is nothing that is hidden from God or that God does not understand – NOTHING. In the end, this fact should be more important to us, God’s people, than anything else.

When we realize this truth about God’s knowledge, we should be comforted as well as have the courage to go on even when life seems dark, when we are confused by the shocks of life and wondering what is going on and why.

Daniel Chapter 2 – part 1

What overwhelms you? What stresses you out? What worries do you have? Maybe some these worries, or concerns, or stresses are about your life, your future, your family, the state of the world, global warming, wars.

A lot of life is out of your control. You have no idea if you will get a serious disease, or whether someone will crash into your car and kill you, whether a world wide recession will effect your future education or college or even your parents future.

Daniel had no control over whether he was taken captive and sent to Babylon.

He had no control over his physical state, but he did have control over his inner state.

Now, Daniel could have fretted, worried, despaired, been fearful, given up, but he didn’t. He kept going forward. He lived in the place that God had put him to live.

And this is the key – he lived in the PLACE GOD HAD PUT HIM.

God had placed him in Babylon. And I think that this was the attitude Daniel came to live by. Yes, he was now having to do things he didn’t want to do, learn things which he didn’t want to learn, but his loyalty and his focus remained on Yahweh He learnt to live in Babylon with as much faithfulness to God as he would have if he had remained in Jerusalem.

And here is the radical point. Just as Daniel was in Babylon because God had placed him there, so was Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon because God had placed him there.

Here was Daniel, captive of the largest most feared kingdom in the known earth and yet it too was completely at the mercy of God, and of God’s people.

Neb has a dream which is so troubling to him that he is willing to kill every wise man in the kingdom unless they tell him the dream and then the interpretation. The dream was so powerful that Neb knew that if he told the dream to his wise men they would then just give him a load of meaningless interpretations – Neb wanted to now exactly what this powerful dream meant.

Babylon was at the mercy of God.

And Babylon was also at the mercy of an insignificant little Jewish guy – Daniel – who then tells the most powerful king in the world what God of the Universe was telling him.

God is involved with our earth. He has not abandoned it. He has not left it. There is no part of the world that is out of God’s hand or out of his control.

Hear this – nothing happens in the Universe without God knowing about it and allowing it to happen.

That is what the Bible says – Jeremiah 20:4-5 says:

For this is what the LORD says: ‘I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; with your own eyes you will see them fall by the sword of their enemies. I will give all Judah into the hands of the king of Babylon, who will carry them away to Babylon or put them to the sword. 5 I will deliver all the wealth of this city into the hands of their enemies—all its products, all its valuables and all the treasures of the kings of Judah. They will take it away as plunder and carry it off to Babylon.

Jeremiah 25:12: “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, [a] for their guilt,” declares the LORD, “and will make it desolate forever.

Jeremiah 27:11: But if any nation will bow its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let that nation remain in its own land to till it and to live there, declares the LORD.” ‘ “

And here is a big one! 1 Samuel 16:14-15: Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil [a] spirit from the LORD tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you.

Why are their earthquakes in China, or war in Africa, cyclones in Asia? I don’t know – but the message here in Chap 2 of Daniel is that while we may not have an answer as to why something has happened – WE MUST REALIZE THAT GOD STILL KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING!!

Daniel chapter 1 – part 2

Daniel realized that God was a portable God – He came to Babylon with the Israelites.

Daniel was re-trained, re-educated and re-named – everything about them changed – externally – but the one thing the Babylonians could not do was change them internally.

And what you are like Internally depends upon what you have feed yourself with in the past – it rings to the surface what you truly believe to be true.

Daniel had been a good jew – he had been diligent in studying the torah – he knew the words of God – he knew the words of God SO well that they were a part of his DNA.

And so when EVERYTHING else about his faith was taken away he still was able to fall back on what knew to be true – and that the Babylonians could not change.

This meant that Daniel could LEARN all the Babylonian philosophy, all the Babylonian religion, all the Babylonian law – he learns them with excellence, but they mean nothing to him. He was not assimilated by it nor changed by it  – it was knowledge, not life.

So, I ask again, what would happen if all the externals stuff of our Christianity was taken away from us – could we survive as a Christian. Or would the culture engulf you, assimilate you.

To some extent you and I are like Daniel. We live in an alien culture – its alien compared to the words and commands of God. It is alien because it does not recognize the supremacy of Jesus. And not to recognize the supremacy of Christ is not to be fully human. Life cannot be lived to its fullest without Christ at the center.

And we have a choice in how we live as believers in this culture – we can either be assimilated by it or we can understand it but do not let it become apart of who we are.

In the one area that Daniel was able to show loyalty to God he does – food – he does not defile himself but eats vegetables.

In this culture, in the culture of iphones and Macs and Wii’s and playstation 3, of what clothes you must wear to be cool, or what shoes to have, or msic to play, were are you taking the stand against culture – where are you showing yourself to be loyal to Yahweh?

Where?

Or are we so assimilated into the culture that we have become unrecognizable? Because if that is true then we have lost

If you claim to be a believer in Jesus Christ then you must be 100% committed.

Now when I say 100% committed I do not mean that you are perfect. When people say are you 100% committed to God it sounds an impossible task for there are days when I do not feel 100% committed.

But I heard a story which helped me get a better understanding. There was a teenager who at school was a good student: A’s and B’s. Then all of a sudden they started to slip and they started to get 70% in tests and the teach took the student aside and said “hey, whats the problem, you’re a great student, you can do better than this – give me a 100%.”

Well, the student did not get better, and sadly the teacher watched a great student get mediocre to bad grades.

About 10 years later that Student, who was now a writer for Time Magazine, saw his teacher at a reunion and went over and said to her, “Thank you for all your encouragement. But  you know, when I was in your class, my home life was a bad place. My dad had left home and my mom was an alcoholic and I had to look after my little brother at night time and couldn’t study. I tried my hardest. the 70% was, at that time, my 100%.”

Is our 70%, or 80% or even 65% the 100% of what you have NOW!

Daniel had no middle ground to walk  it was either total assimilation or total commitment to God. I am sure he had doubts, and was angry and sometimes confused and may have wanted to give up. But he gave God what he had.

Give God what you have!

We must stop having one foot in the Kingdom of God and one foot in the world. We need to stop putting our relationship with God third on our list of things to do – we need to stop spending our money on what we want and instead on what God wants – we need to stop thinking we can get way with the private things we do that we know God is not pleased about and start to REALLY live a life open and honest before god and before our culture – and that means at school as well!

Daniel Chapter 1 – part 1

There was a survey done in England about teenagers and cell phones. They took ten teenagers and took away their cell phones for one week.

What do you happened? Their lives degenerated into chaos. They were unable to communicate with each other – they did not know where to meet each other – their lives literally fell apart.

They would arrange meeting places and meeting times only minutes before they got together – sometimes changing the meeting place or time by text.  Their life was so flexible that without a cell phone you would be unable to know where your friends were going to meet.

They had come to rely completely upon their cell phones – much more than they thought.

This got me thinking – What would happen if we had no computers, or if televisions stopped working – what would we do.

Think about the times when the power goes out, maybe in the middle of your favorite show. How do you feel when there is no power in your house. Helpless – frustrated – nothing works, no tv, no internet, no air, no lights. We kinda grind to a halt and wait for the power to come back.

We have become reliant upon things haven’t we.

But what about our faith in Jesus.

What do we rely on for our faith? What keeps our faith going?

For some of us its youth group – for others it’s the Bible – for others it’s social events – friends – family – church – trips – music – diocesan events.

What would happen to our faith in Jesus Christ – to our Christianity – if we were not allowed to read our Bible, or to go to Church or to go to youth group or to any diocesan events?

Would we be able to sustain our faith for the next 25 years?

Would we be able to still know God, worship God, pray to God and recite scripture and grow in our faith without church, youth group, a bible, devotionals, worship music, Christian videos? What would happen if all the props of Christianity were removed from our life?

What would happen if everything was stripped away and all that was left was US and our RELATIONSHIP with God.

Would we discover that actually our faith in God is tied up with needing a Bible, to going to youth group, to going to church or going to Camp or having devotionals, or listening to music. Might we discover that these extra props of our life as a Christian have become  the source of our faith rather than tools of our faith.

This is exactly the question that Daniel discovered when his country was attacked and taken over by Babylon.

Daniel was suddenly faced with a life where everything he had relied upon religiously was gone – his temple was gone – his ritual was gone – his sacrifices was gone – his way of life and daily devotions were gone as was his freedom!!

Not only that, but Daniel’s whole world had been shaken because when Babylon defeated Israel – it appeared to have defeated God – Yahweh. A smashed Israel equated with a smashed Yahweh.

In Daniel’s day when a country beat another country the underlying message was – “My god has beaten your god – nanananana”. If your country prospered then your god was strong – if your country did not propser and was weak then so was your god.

He had to wear new cloths – he was given a new name and he was in a place where all trace of his belief and faith were GONE!!

He was an insignificant minority in a culture that saw his belief system as a waste of time.

How would our faith hold up to that?

That’s what Daniel and his friends faced as they were force out of their country into a new life.

But Daniel discovered something about God as he began to live away from everything he had known – he came to realize that God was a God 2 Go God. That God was able to exist outside the temple, outside the ritual, outside the daily devotions.

Bible Study – Acts 8

RECAP:

Paul, last week, took us through chapter 7 and the incredible story of Stephen. Stephen is a man whom the scripture describes as full of the spirit, wise, full of faith, full of grace and full of power. We saw that while he was assigned the role of making sure that food was distributed fairly he was also a preacher and declarer to the word of God. He had an amazing understanding of the Old Testament and was able to out argue some the Pharisees – even Saul. He exposed their history to them showing that they had consistently failed in their walk with God, rejecting the prophets sent to them, rejecting the spirit and rejecting the messiah. They’re the ones, not him, who have blasphemed God. Such was his brilliance, and his boldness in preaching what Jesus had taught he was killed. As he died, Saul looked on with approval.

READ 8:1-25

WHEN DID THE PERSECUTION BEGIN?

On that day! The day of Stephen’s killing.

WHY DO YOU THINK STEPHEN’S DEATH WAS A CATALYST FOR PERSECUTION?

The line was crossed – the barrier was broken. The Jews had retrained themselves up to this point but Stephen caused such rage that they over-stepped the mark and killed him – but by killing once the gate was opened. Not everyone was part of the persecution – some devout men came and buried Stephen.

WHAT WAS SAUL’S STRATEGY?

To destroy the Church. The enemy is now adopting an unsubtle approach – lets just violently take the church out. The verb destroy, lumaino expresses a brutal or sadistic cruelty. Saul does not spare women in this and his passion was to see these people killed (9:1, 22:4, 26:10).

WHAT GOOD COMES FROM v1?

The great dispersion leads to the fulfilling of the great commission – the sending out of the church into Judea, Samaria and the entire world. It’s the dispersion of the New Israel.

Stephen’s speech was prophetic – Jerusalem and the temple now begin to fade from view as Christ calls his people out and accompanies them.

WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT ABOUT WHERE PHILIP GOES?

Philip goes to the despised and hated Samaritans – they were hybrids in both religion and race. It shows the change in people like Philip. Also Peter and John, who come later  (remember John was the one who said to Jesus, regarding a Samaritan village, “shall I call fire down from heaven on these people”), are about to have their cultural thinking changed. We know Jesus’ compassion and love for the Samaritans through the Gospels but now the disciples have grasped it.

ANYTHING  INTERESTING ABOUT PHILIP’S MESSAGE?

He preaches about the Messiah – the Samaritans were expecting a Messiah and so the Gospel was ideal for them. HE also performs miracles and signs and the people pay attention.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS STRANGE MAN SIMON THAT GAVE HIM HIS AUTHORITY AND POSITION?

He performed some magic/sorcery and proclaimed himself to be someone great.

HOW DOES THIS CONTRAST TO PHILIP’S APPROACH?

Philip does not proclaim himself but Christ. Philip declares himself to be nobody – he only declares Jesus Christ.

That is what all preachers should do – proclaim Christ not themselves.

DOES SIMON CONVERT OR NOT?

WHAT IS THE IMPLICATION OF THIS IN TERMS OF CONVERSION AND BELIEF?

John Stott says that there is no need to support that he was only pretending to believe – nor that he exercised saving faith because Peter in v21 declares his heart was not right.

Calvin would argue for temporary faith.

Simon believed in God but he did not believe God – he did not believe to submission. Hence his desire to pay for the Holy Spirit – he did not have the transformational experience of the Spirit.

Many in the church are in Simon’s position.

WHY ARE PETER AND JOHN CALLED TO COME AND INSPECT WOULD HAD HAPPENED?

WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT THEOLOGICALLY ABOUT V15 & 16?

Theologian Howard Marshall: the most extraordinary statement in Acts, especially in light of Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The visit of Peter and john to Samaria was exceptional. Samaria was the first occasion on which the gospel had been proclaimed post-resurrection, not only outside Jerusalem but inside Samaria. The Samaritans were a kind of halfway house between Jews and Gentiles. The conversion of Samaria was like the first fruits of the calling of the Gentiles.

It happens twice more but not on this scale: Cornelius’ conversion where the apostles ask Peter to explain what happened (11:1-18) and when the Greeks turned to the Lord in Antioch Barnabas is sent to scout out what happened (11:20-24).

READ v26-40

WHAT DOES THIS ENCOUNTER BETWEEN PHILIP AND THE ETHIOPEAN TELL US ABOUT GOD?

God is concerned about an Ethiopian eunuch, who is a probably convert to Judaism who is reading Isaiah in his chariot.

God send Philip some 60 miles to make sure he encounters this man so that he can explain a passage in Isaiah, lead him to conversion in Jesus and then baptize him.

God’s compassion for us means he arranges some incredible appointments so that we can be exposed to Jesus.

WHAT IS REMARKABLE ABOUT THIS CONVERSION?

Chrysostom compares this to Saul’s conversion. The Ethiopian, unlike Saul, sees no wonders, or miracles, or visions. He believes purely on the word of God – from the scriptures. He is like you and I – we hear, then we believe, and then we experience the Spirit.

Bible Study – Acts 5:12-42

REACP:

Last week Paul took us through the wonderful prayer that the apostles prayed. There prayer begins with worship, and then they do not pray for God to STOP the persecution or threats but that they may have courage to speak the gospel despite the threats. And God’s immediate answer was to fill them with the spirit.

We then have a glimpse into the function of the very early church – united in mind and possessions. Not that everyone sold everything immediately but they were WILLING to sell land and possessions for those in need and for the work of the gospel. A good example was Joseph, a Levite, known as Barnabas, who we will encounter again. He sells some land and places the money at the apostle’s feet. But the contrast to Barnabas is Ananias and Sapphias, who sell land but then keep some of the money.

John Stott writes: Ananias and Sapphias were not so much misers as thieves and above all liars. They wanted the credit and the prestige for sacrificial generosity without the convenience of it. So in order to gain a reputation to which they had no right they told a brazen lie. [1]

ANYTHING FURTHER ON ANANIAS AND SAPPHIAS BEFORE WE MOVE ON?

READ 5:12-16

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE FLEDGLING CHURCH’S REPUTATION?

WHAT EFFECT ARE THEY HAVING?

The prayer that the disciples prayed is already being fulfilled – signs and wonders are happening.

They are doing very public ministry and it is having two types of effect. As one writer has said On the one hand awestruck reserve on the other great missionary success.

The presence of the living God, manifested through either preaching or miracles or both is alarming to some and appealing to others. Some are frightened away and others are drawn to faith.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16 shows us this – Paul says: For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing– to the latter an odor from death to death, but to the former a fragrance from life to life.

The presence of God is so present that even Peter’s shadow may have brought healing. Although the word used for overshadow, Luke uses in Luke 1:35 and 9:34 to denote the overshadowing of God’s presence.

READ 5:17-33

The disciple’s actions cause the Sanhedrin to be filled with jealousy. The word Zelos is religiously motivated rage. The Sanhedrin is in a rage, and they arrest them. But the disciples are brought out of the jail by an angel and instructed to go back to the temple to preach.

BY GOING BACK INTO THE TEMPLE TO PREACH AT DAYBREAK WHAT ARE THE APOSTLES EXHIBITING?

On one level immense bravery. Everything within the human nature would say RUN AWAY FROM HERE!!

But in reality it shows the immediate fulfillment of their prayer for courage in the midst of threats. They were normal human beings so I think they had some fear in them – but God’s peace and power is stronger than their fear. They are determined to obey God’s commands (go back and preach) rather than man’s command (stop preaching).

If you pray for courage God may put you in a place where you might have to exercise some courage. Just as if you pray for patience, God is likely to put situations before you that will allow you to exercise patience.

Also, their actions are going to inflame the religious rage of the Sanhedrin.

WHAT DOES V26 IMPLY ABOUT THE APOSTLES?

They went voluntarily. The apostles could have used the situation to inflame the crowd or to cause some trouble but instead when the temple guard came for them they went quietly, without any resistance. They knew they were going back to be punished.

WHAT DOES V28 SAY ABOUT THE AUTHORITY OF THE SANHEDRIN?

They have none when it comes to the living God. They had condemned and killed Jesus – they had forbidden the apostles to speak – they have jailed the apostles – and yet Jerusalem had been filled with the gospel.

Despite seemingly having all the power and authority they are in fact powerless in the face of the gospel proclamation of the living God. [2]

Peter now sees another opportunity to preach – WHEN DID HE GET TIME TO WRITE ALL THESE SERMONS!!!!!!

WHAT PRINCIPLE DOES PETER LAY DOWN IN V29

If authority, civil or ecclesiastical, disobey or misuses God given power, to command what he forbids or to forbid what he commands then the Christian must disobey the authority in order to obey GOD.

WHAT DOES PETER’S SERMON RESULT IN?

Would we speak in such a way knowing that our life may be endangered by what we say? We read this, I think, without fully understanding the INTENSE pressure Peter must have been faced with – a Sanhedrin filled with hateful faces – possibly hearing insults and threats as he spoke. And yet Peter does not hold back or water down his words. He says what he knows is truth regardless of what may come.

TRUTH ALWAYS HAS OPPOSITION.

Are we people who will speak the truth of the living God?

READ 5:34-42

Gamaliel then speaks out. Gamaliel is a legendary Rabbi in Jewish tradition – the one whom Saul of Tarsus was mentored by. A wise and respected teacher.

IS GAMALIEL’S ADVICE GOOD OR BAD?

There is an element of truth to Gamaliel’s thinking but that is the danger that can come by wisdom which is not based in Christ.

Ultimately his position is a laissez-Faire attitude – to the point of saying “We will ignore the truth until the truth proves itself.” It gives license to ignore the work of God now!! It also says we will wait until the winning side is declared and then we will decide whom to join – which is faith.

Yes, ultimately God’s purposes will triumph – but Gamaliel’s position does not take into account that in the shorter term evil plans sometimes succeed while good plans, conceived in accordance with the will of God sometimes fail.

Gamaliel’s position means Jesus lost and his work was not of God.

Gamaliel wins the day and the apostles are beaten and released.

WHY DO THE APOSTLES REJOICE? WHY DO THEY CONSIDER IT AN HONOR TO SUFFER?

Because they had obeyed God. They had overcame any fear – they knew they had been guided by the spirit – they knew their prayer had been answered – they had not backed away, or compromised. The issue is not the suffering, the issue is that they had obeyed God  for the sake of the name – Jesus Christ.

They had obeyed, to the point of willing to die, for their Lord – Jesus Christ.

Do we rejoice for this same reason?


[1] Kept back: nosphizomai = misappropriate. Same word LXX uses of Achan in Jos 7. Used in Titus 2:10 = meaning to steal

[2] Guilt of this man’s blood – Matthew 27:25

Bible Study – Acts

Our continued Tuesday morning study in Acts. We have reached chp 3. My notes are below.

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Acts 3:11-4:22

RECAP:

Last week we settled into our regular routine, spending most of the time together on 2:42-47, and then on 3:1-11. Paul showed us how the early church began to function – devoted to the apostles teaching – fellowship, breaking of bread. Also, that many signs and wonders were done through the apostles, communal living, selling property and seeing their numbers increase.

We had a wonderful discussion on how we as a church today measure up to the fledging church of the first century.

Then we had an example of the signs and wonders that the apostles were doing – the healing of the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate. Begging for some money Peter and John looked at him and Peter sees something – or feels something which makes him go to the man and tell to stand up in the name of Jesus Christ – without fear of failure. And the man does.

At this point things begin to change rapidly for the Church. As John Stott has written, the good ship Christ-Church was ready to catch the wind of the spirit and to set sail on her voyage of spiritual conquest. But almost immediately a perilous storm blew up, a storm of such ferocity that the church’s very existence was threatened.

Let’s begin to examine what this storm was.

READ ACTS 3:11-26

What effect has this healing had on those in and around the temple?

Pandemonium! Imagine the scene – a crippled man who was as part of the landscape as the gate itself – so familiar to everyone, is all of a sudden standing on his own two feet! People must have been straining to see this sight – a crowd quickly gathering around this man and the two disciples. Notice Luke’s pastoral side here – he says that the man CLUNG to Peter and John – having never walked before; he may have felt a little unsteady despite being completely healed.

The crowd gives Peter an opportunity to preach. As Paul pointed out last week, this mirrors chapter 2 – a miracle and then a sermon.

Who does Peter say healed This Man!

OK, an obvious question but why is Peter quick to point this out? Peter IMMEDIATELY assigns the credit to Jesus Christ. It is easy to add 2 + 2 and reach 5. Peter and John take a crippled man’s hand and he walks – too easily could the miracle be attributed to Peter and John. How often do we, or have in the past, kept some of the credit for a work of God.
What is Ironic about v15 “and you killed the author of life whom God raised form the dead.”

A striking oxymoron from Luke – the author of life is himself subjected to death – and yet death could not hold him.

Does v17 excuse the actions of the people? What is Peter’s purpose in saying they acted ignorantly?

One of the things you learn when you study exegesis – the study of studying scripture, is that the Bible holds together – it never introduces a new topic without it having been spoken about before – Peter here is referring back to the Old Testament – and the difference between sins of ignorance – where forgiveness was available and sins of presumption, where forgiveness was not available – Numbers 15:27 .

What progression does the sermon take?

He tells them the bad news – they killed Jesus – despite the fact the OT foretold about Jesus coming – but the good news is that they can now repent! In order to appreciate the immense good news, you need to understand the depth of the bad news.

What three blessings would happen to those who repent?

Total forgiveness – v19b
Spiritual refreshment – v19c
Universal restoration – v20

How does Peter Present Christ in this sermon, as well as the Pentecost sermon?

Peter incredibly weaves a biblical tapestry which forms a thorough portrait of Christ – rejected by men but vindicated by God, as the fulfillment of all OT prophecy, as demanding repentance and promising blessing, and as the author and giver of life, physically to the healed cripple and spiritually to those who believe.

READ ACTS 4:1-22

The Pandemonium attracts some attention.

Who shows up to see what is going on?

All the important people – the Sadducees, and the captain of the temple guard, who actually had a priestly status second only to the high priest.

Why are the Sadducee’s Greatly Annoyed?

That the two disciples were preaching about the resurrection. Again and again the resurrection comes up – as Paul said a number of weeks ago, the resurrection is the key doctrine – Jesus was raised form the dead and the Sadducees rejected the resurrection as a doctrine. The Sadducees believed that the Messianic period had begun in the Maccabean period that was just before Jesus’ time. They were not looking for the Messiah. Therefore they see John and Peter as agitators and heretics.

Does Peter and John’s Arrest have any effect on suppressing the gospel?

Luke’s answer is of course not! 5000 men become believers despite Peter and John’s arrest. Luke emphasizes that the oppression of men does not hinder the word of God – some encouragement for us in our present situation.

Does the question that the elders as Peter and john in v7 sound familiar?

They had asked Jesus by what authority had he cleansed the temple. It all came down to authority. The ruling elders believed they had the monopoly on authority and unless they sanctioned it there was no other authority – or so they thought.

Do you see any irony in Peters opening remarks to the Ruling Elders?

Peter begins by saying how ludicrous it would be for such a court to have been gathered because of an act of kindness to a cripple. Peter is calling them out on the real reason for this court – preaching the resurrection in Jesus’ name.

Can you see a familiar formula he uses in his address to them?

For the third time he says “you killed him but God raised him up.” Rub it in peter!! It’s ALL about the resurrection.

What Do the Sadducees Notice About the Disciples?

They were unschooled. Does not mean stupid – but they had not been to rabbinic school – they were not ones taught in the law and yet – they speak authoritively about the law.

What dilemma do the Sadducees find themselves in?

Many witnesses have publicly attested to the miracle. The Sadducees are unable to reject the miracle – although they would have no problems rejecting it (even if they knew it to be true) if they could. This they have an impossible dilemma – they refuse to recognize truth – and that is a bad place to be. They can do nothing but let the disciples go.

See anything ironic or sad in v17?

They are unable to even say the name of Jesus.

What are these unschooled men who were with Jesus doing in v19?

They are teaching the ruling elders – it is better to obey God than man!!

Acts 2:1-47

Another study from our Men’s Breakfast Bible Study group – we meet from 7-8am on Tuesday’s. Remember, I am team teaching with my boss so my studies are not concurrent!

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Acts 2:1-47

RECAP:

We are already into chapter 2!! Last week Paul took us through Chapter one. Chapter One answers some fundamental questions – 1. Jesus is alive, and here is some proof, 2. What is the mission and purpose of the followers of Jesus – the continuation of his ministry, which now expands to the world, 3. If Jesus is alive, where is he now – ascended back into heaven, 4. Is Jesus gone forever? No, he is returning. 5. We see Peter taking the lead and initiating the replacement of Judas.

We now turn to chapter two.

READ ACTS 2:1-13

WHAT IS PENTECOST? Notice the text says, when the day of Pentecost arrived…

Pentecost has both an agricultural and historical meaning. Agriculturally it celebrated the completion of the grain harvest, which took place some 50 days after Passover (Pentecost means fiftieth). Farmers were to bring the first sheaf of wheat from the gathered crop and offer it to the Lord. Towards the end of the inter-testamental period it began to be observed as the anniversary of the giving of the law at Mount Sinai – which was fifty days after the Exodus.

One commentator has said that Luke may be expecting his readers to see the filling of the spirit like the sheaf which is offered to God as the sign of the great harvest to come. (Also, he says, Jesus has gone up to heaven and now is coming down, not with a written law but with the law which is written on the heart.)

THE SPIRIT COMES – WIND, FIRE AND SPEECH – ANY BIBLICAL SIGNIFICANCE?

Wind is often used as a sign of power – wind and spirit are words interchangeable – Genesis 1:1 – the Spirit / wind of the Lord hovered over the waters – God speaks to Job out of the wind – the whirlwind; Fire is often a sign of God’s presence and his purity – God appears to Moses out of the fire of the burning bush and declares the ground holy – the pillar of fire which is called the angel of the Lord leads Israel OUT of Egypt –  while speech is a sign of universality – a reverse of babel in genesis 11.

They receive the promise of the Father – the Holy Spirit and the effect is instantaneous – they began to speak in other tongues – languages – almost certainly praising, worshipping, prophecying. This is completely consistent with how people react when the spirit come son them throughout the Bible – the disciples are doing what the 0 elders did in the camp in the desert, what Saul did when we encountered the prophets and so on.

WHY DO THE CROWD COMMENT THAT THESE ARE GALILEANS IN V7

There a bunch of what would be seen as uneducated, culturally backward rednecks sounding intelligent. The crowd is astonished – so astonished that some tried to say that they were simply drunk.

WHY DOES LUKE TAKE THE CARE TO LIST THE VARIOUS PLACES THAT THESE JEWS WERE FROM?

Note: Jew – comes from the word meaning  one sprung from the tribe of Judah, or subject to the Kingdom of Judah, or a descendant of Jacob.

It illustrates the universality of the Gospel and is a further illustration of the reversal of Babel. The nations listed covers most of the first century Roman world, especially were Jewish communities existed. It provides one of the most comprehensive ancient catalogues of the Jewish Dispersion.

The world wide witness has begun.

God’s revelation is not bound to one particular language but transcends all variations of human speech. The spirit removes the barrier that hinders effective communication.

READ ACTS 2:14-21

HOW DOES PETER BEGIN HIS SERMON

By quoting scripture – Peter starts with scripture and then applies it – a good model.

Here we have a sample of  one of the Themes of Acts – sermons / speeches. The sermon is abbreviated and obviously Luke has gotten he gist of it probably from Peter himself.

DO YOU NOTICE ANYTHING SIGNIFICANT IS LUKE’S REPORTING OF PETER’S SERMON?

No interpretation – he simply reports the abridged version – he makes no comment or interpretative suggestions. He lets Peter’s words speak for themselves.

WHAT IS PETER SAYING BY QUOTING FROM THE PROPHET JOEL

That the last days have been inaugurated. This is something which I think theologian N.T.Wright is correct about – the Jewish Messianic expectation was that the Messiah would come at the end of the age – this when they expected the out pouring of the spirit – but Jesus appears not at the end of the age but at the beginning of the end of the age – and that was something the Jewish leadership had a hardtime understanding. The OT prophecy of the messiah has now been fulfilled – the last days have begun because the Spirit has been poured out and here are the believers speaking languages and showing proof that this has happened – but there is work to be done by the people of God – and the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel is still in the future.

As one theologian has written – Between the day of Pentecost, when the spirit came, inaugurating the last days) and the day of the Lord (when Jesus will come concluding them) there stretches a long day of opportunity, during which the gospel of salvation will be preached throughout the world.

READ ACTS 22-41

WHAT DOES PETER PRESENT IN THESE VERSES?

Quite simply the Gospel. Peter has a defined concise gospel message here.

WHAT IS PETER’S KEY EVIDENCE OF WHO JESUS IS

The resurrection. I love v24 – God raised him up loosing the pangs of death because it was not possible for him to be held by it (death).

WHY MIGHT V38 SHOCKING FOR THE LISTENERS

Peter calls on this group of Jewish people to completely change their mind about Jesus and then submit to the humiliation of baptism – which the Jews regarded as necessary only for gentile converts because gentiles were unclean – in the very name of the person they had previously rejected and some may ven have been in the crowd screaming crucify him.

That they did this shows their belief – v44

WHAT TWO PROMISES DOES PETER SAY THOSE WHO BELIEVE WILL RECEIVE

Forgiveness and the HS

READ ACTS 2:42-47

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE EARLY CHURCH?

  1. It was a learning church
  2. It was a loving church
  3. It was a worshipping church
  4. It was an evangelistic church

Acts – An Introduction…

After a year and a half in the gospel of John, we began a new book this fall for our men’s breakfast Bible study – Acts!

The following is the introduction to Acts study – they are my notes,  with the questions.

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Men’s Tuesday Morning Bible Study

Acts

Introduction

Today we start our study of the book of Acts.

Most Bibles entitle this book The Acts Of The Apostles, and this has the support of the early church fathers, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian. But interestingly, apart from listing the 12 apostles in the opening chapter, Luke discusses only the ministry of Peter and Paul. John accompanies Peter to the temple in Chapter 3 and to Samaria in chp 8 but Luke records no specific words or deeds of John. So maybe we should call it the Acts of Peter and Paul. But the problem to that is that this book also relates the ministry of Stephen, Philip, Barnabas, Silas and Timothy.

Maybe it should be called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. While Luke does emphasis the outpouring of the spirit in Jerusalem, (2:1-4), Samaria (8:17), Caesrea (10:44-46) and Ephesus (19:6) the content of the book is much broader. And, as the first verse of Acts says, he is writing a continuation of the gospel. The emphasis then falls not so much on the Holy Spirit, but rather on what Jesus is doing through the HolY Spirit in developing the church in Jerusalem, Samaria, Asia Minor, Greece and Italy – the continuation of the ministry of Christ through those who are his servants.

So maybe we should just call it ACTS – the book which relates the history of the early church.

Acts is unique among the NT writings in that it’s main purpose is to record a selective history of the early church.

READ ACTS 1:1-2

To whom is this book written to?

Theophilus!

Anyone know what the name means?

It means the friend of God.

How does Luke’s gospel address Theophilus?

Most excellent – which seems to suggest Theophilus was a real person who was part of the ruling classes – and a gentile who was a god fearer. A God fearer was someone who might worship in the synogugue but objected to circumcision – like Cornelius in chp 10 – so he was not a convert to Judiasim.

Some commentators have argued that Theophilus is not a real person but symbolic for any Christian seeker or convert – but I think that is needlessly obscure for it to be valid.

Both Acts and Luke are anonyomous. The early church of the first and most of the 2nd centuries are silent on who wrote Luke and Acts. 175AD is the first mention of Luke being the author. In 185AD Ireanus talks of Luke as the author. Why Luke? The latter chapters of Acts (starting at chp 16) begins a first person narrative which happens throughout the later chapters. This strongly suggests that the author was a companion of Paul.

Luke is mentioned 3 times in the NT – Col 4:14 Our dear friend Luke the physician and Demas greet you. 2 Tim 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is a great help  to me in ministry. Philemon 24: Mark, Aristarchus,  Demas  and Luke, my colaborers, greet you too.

Also, Eusebius and Jerome testify that Luke was from Antioch. Out of the 15 times Antioch is mentioned in the NT, 14 of them are in Acts. For the writer of Acts, Antioch is important. If Luke did reside in Antioch then this is almost certainly where he would have met Barnabas (11:22 – A report  about them came to the attention of the church in Jerusalem,   and they sent Barnabas  to Antioch.). V26 of Acts 11 tells us that Barnabas brought Paul to Antioch, while Gal 2:11 tells us Peter and Paul were at Antioch at the same time. Luke would have undoubtedly have heard the gospel message and converted and became a disciple of the apostles.

This, along with the fact that in the ‘we’ narratives in Acts, the names of Silas and Timothy are referred to in the third person, Luke is most likely to the person who composed the books.

When was Acts written?

Some argue for 70AD. However, the book ends fairly abruptly – with Paul in Rome under arrest. We know that Paul was released before 70AD and Luke does not mention this, nor his subsequent journeys. A better date would be 62AD.

There are two major distinctive features in Acts.

First, are the Speeches and sermons. In fact they constitute nearly a third of the total text of Acts: Peter – 2:14-36, 3:11-26, 10:34-43 – Stephen – 7:1-53 – Paul – 13:16-47, 17:22-31, 20:18-35, 22:1-21, 24:10-21, 26:1-29.

Second, the frequent summaries where Luke provides broad generalization about the life the church, e.g:

READ ACTS 2:42-47; 4:32-35; 5:12-16

What are the Key Themes?

There are a number.

READ 1:8

What is a key theme from this verse?

The witness of the gospel is now worldwide.

READ 16:34

What key theme might come from this event?

The witness is inclusive of all kinds of people, Jews, Gentiles, physically handicapped, pagan’s and women.

READ ACTS 12:6-11

What key theme might come from this event?

The witness is guided by the providence of God

READ Acts 5:41-42

What key theme might come from this event?

Faithful witnesses must be prepared to suffer for their testimony.

READ ACTS 9:13-16

What key theme might come from this event?

The Christian witness of the church continues the ministry that Christ begun.

CONCLUSION

Here is a summary of the book of Acts:

After his ascension, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to empower the apostles as witnesses to spread the message of the gospel and to draw to himself people from all nations.

John 9:1-41

READ JOHN 9:1-12

What does the disciples question presuppose about the cause of disabilities?

It presupposes that a disability is caused by sin. That God had judged that person with a disability.

If the man was born blind, then using the disciples logic, whose sin caused his blindness.

Taking the disciples logic the answer would be the parents – or the man if he had sinned in the womb.

What do you make of Jesus’ response? What issue does it raise? Was the man born blind in order to be healed by Jesus?

Jesus is not dismissing that sin was the cause of the disability – only that neither the parents nor the man are the cause of the blindness.

The cause of the blindness is the sin of Adam. Disability is caused by the sin of adam. We live in a fallen world where imperfection, disability and disease are prevalent.

For Jesus, all things, even afflictions, calamties and evil acts have as their ultimate purpose the glorification of God in Christ. God does not let an evil act, or an affliction or a calamity pass him by. He knows. And for all who are in Christ it shall be turned into good as Romans 8 tells us and as the cross illustrates – Jesus suffers the greatest in justice of history – God killed unjustly and without cause.

But what has Jesus come into the world to do?

To set humanity free from sin through his death – he is the light of the world – this man is an example of what Jesus has come to do – set people free from the darkness. Jesus says the night is coming – Jesus’ earthly ministry will be limited in time – which went against the notion of the time that the Messiah and the Messianic age would last forever.

Why does the Bible tell us that Jesus spat in the dirt and made mud? Couldn’t he have just said “Be Healed?”

We don’t know really why he did this. One point is that Jesus is deliberately provoking the Pharisees by making mud / clay, which was considered one of the 39 classes of forbidden work – on the Sabbath (see v14). Another is that Jesus took that which was deemed unclean (Lev 15:8) – spit – and uses it as a symbol of healing. Also, Jesus requires an act from the man – he sends the man to wash his face.

Do you see anything significant in the meaning of the name of the Pool?

Go and wash your face in the pool of Sent. Jesus has told the jews many times he is the one sent by the Father. Maybe this is over spiritualizing, but there might be an illusion here to the jews going and washing in the pool of the sent one.

The healing sends everyone into a spin of confusion – this was healing never seen before – the mans words in v32 show that nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. Yet it really is only confusing because they are trying to find an alternative explanation for what really happened.

Now we have had discussions about hindsight and how easy it is to read back into the gospel of John with what we know. And that is true. But don’t forget there were 12 very ordinary Jews, who while they made many mistakes, and did not understand – they followed Jesus and sought to understand.

READ V13-23

Who the ‘they’ are who brought the man to the Pharisees we do not know – but he is brought to them for questioning.

What has happened to the Pharisees over this healing?

They are divided. Some where saying this man is not from God. Their reasoning went like this:

Major Premise: All people who are from God keep the Sabbath.

Minor Premise: Jesus does not keep the Sabbath

Conclusion: Jesus is not from God.

The other group also had their reasoning:

Major Premise: Only people who are from God can heal

Minor Premise: Jesus has healed a blind man

Conclusion: Jesus is from God.

What does the mans declaration of who Jesus is show about what is happening to him?

He is changing. He calls Jesus Jesus at the beginning. And as all this discussion is going on around him he must be thinking and contemplating and his understanding is growing – Jesus must now be a prophet – the highest accolade he could give Jesus.

The Pharisees are on a campaign to discredit the healing or the blind man.

What is odd about the Parents response to the Pharisees? Why do they act like this – what is missing?

John tells us they are scared about being put out of the synagogue. They are frightened for their own position. Also, they show no sign of happiness that their blind son can now see.

READ v24-34

How would you describe v24?

They are, in my opinion, in a VERY dangerous position. They invoke the name of God in order for the man to speak truthfully only to then attribute God as a sinner.

What remarkable barrier are the Pharisees hitting in this passage?

The truth. The Pharisees theoretical and dogmatic assumptions run into the indisputable and unalterable fact that this man can now see!! He has simply been telling them what HAPPENED!! The  plain facts.

It is an example for us. We have the truth of who Jesus is. We will face opposition, rejection, dismissal, even attempts to modify the truth but we must continue to stand on the undeniable truth of the God of the Gospel

By v27 the man’s understanding is growing.

What does the man’s question “You don’t want to become his disciples too, do you?” imply about him?

That he already considers himself to be a disciple. Maybe this whole charade has helped him understand.

The Pharisees realize that the man has seen through their attempts to trip him up – and so they resort to another sophisticated and educated method – insults!!

We have already seen Jesus show that he has surpassed Moses and that in fact Moses would be their judge (5:45), and yet even here they claim Moses as their standard.

Finally, what has the man become to the Pharisees?

This blind man has become a teacher to the Pharisees. This uneducated, former beggar, dismantles the theologians argument. The Pharisees know that God only listens to the godly who do his will!!

It shows that a person seeking God and his truth will always expose a Minister, or  theologians prejudices and agendas.

The man is thrown out being accused of being steeped in sin – which was true – but also now he has encountered Christ his sin has been forgiven.

READ vv35-41

What does Jesus do here in v35

Is this not a beautiful picture. The man has stood up to the Pharisees and been thrown out of the temple. Jesus hears about it and goes and finds him – he is the good shepherd – he seeks this man out. And he completes the conversion – the man worships Jesus. 

Jesus again states his mission in v39 – what is it?

The judgment refered to here is the division of humanity into believers and unbelievers brought about by Jesus coming into the world and being the light.

Jesus refers to the Pharisees as blind guides in Matt 23:16 – the Pharisees believed they saw well – Jesus calls them blind.

What v41 intend to teach us?

It is not the Pharisees sin that makes them lost. If they had recognized their sin and were yearning for God no charge would be brought against them. It is their repudiation of grace that makes them lost – for there is no were to go by rejecting Jesus because they have rejected the light, which does not just make them blind, but culpable.

The man was an image of humanity and the Pharisees – blind and lost – and Jesus’ mission is to awaken the eyes of th lost – to be the light which shines and draws people to him. The Pharisees prove their blindness by refusing to see the light and this poor, uneducated former beggar kneels at Jesus’ feet to worship him.

John 8:12-29

READ John 8:12-20 

Jesus begins with his second great “I am” statement: 

Can anyone remember the first great I am statement? 6:35 – I am the Bread of life. 

If anyone can remember back over the past two weeks, especially to Matt’s session – why is Jesus’ statement “I am the Light of the world” so significant?

This is probably still during the Feast of Tabernacles – a feast which remembers the time when God took Israel out of Egypt and led them by a pillar of fire. Each day during the feast there was a lamp lighting ceremony in the evening. This is another statement that God had now inhabited the temple as prophesized. 

Also, John has a strong light / darkness comparison – 1:4-5 Life was in him and that life was the light of men That light shines in the darkness yet the darkness did not overcome it. 3:19-21 “This, then, is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.  For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed.  But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”

What is the implication of Jesus’ words “anyone who follows me will never walk in darkness?” 

That the world is now in darkness and all who live in it will walk in darkness UNLESS they follow Jesus. We are not free to map out our own path in life if we want to walk in the light – we must walk in the light – and follow JESUS’ path – just as the Israelites had to follow the route taken by the pillar of light.

I find the Pharisees’ response intriguing – they do not condemn Jesus as a heretic – probably because they have missed his significant point – Why do they bring up the issue of testimony again.

Is Jesus contradicting himself in 5:31 where he says, “If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid.”

The Pharisees challenge is that no one else is making this claim with you Jesus – only YOU!! Hence his claim is invalid! Now the law calls for two witnesses in cases where there will be a judgment made against someone for an offence or for execution. You did not need two witnesses for everything. Also Jesus was not here to simply show himself – but to show and do the Fathers will – this was not Jesus’ mission – it was the Trinitarian mission.

What reason does Jesus give in support that his testimony is valid?

Because he knew where he had come from and where he was going. Jesus is the Son of God – second person of the Trinity – that is who he is from all eternity before the incarnation and will be true for all eternity after the incarnation. There is no authority higher than Jesus – no other place to appeal to for knowledge or understanding. His testimony is valid

What the Pharisees have done is judged from their perspective, from their expectations, from their rules, from their understanding and from their premise without EVER contemplating or suggesting that their starting point might be wrong – and hence their judgment is wrong.

What is ironic is that the Pharisees lack the necessary knowledge to judge Jesus and yet they constantly judge him.

The Pharisees want to know whom Jesus’ Father is – obviously to assess and probably question him.

Once again in v19 Jesus explicitly lays the serious charge before them – what is it?

To have rejected Jesus is to have rejected the one they claim to worship.

What is the implication in v20 “But no one seized him, because his hour had not come”

Every action is under the direction of the Father.

READ v21-29

V21 – where is Jesus going? What does it mean that they will look for him?

Commentators are divided over when the Jews will look for him – maybe its their continued search for Jesus because of the rumors of his resurrection; maybe it’s the continued search for the messiah – or as one commentator has suggested it refers to the time of their death – they will search for the comfort of God but will not find it – they will die in their sin – the consequence of rejecting Jesus.

How on earth do they get the idea that Jesus might commit suicide?

V22 shows how arrogant and ignorant these people were. They were so sure that they were heaven bound that for Jesus to go to a place where they could not go would have to mean he commits suicide and consigns himself to the outer regions of death forever.

What does Jesus mean by “You are from below?”

We have established that the world is n darkness – also who is the ruler of this world? The Prince of darkness. And in v44 Jesus explicitly tells the Jews that their father is the devil.

Their statement that surely Jesus is not considering suicide is, Jesus suggests, hell inspired. Hence they will die in their sins because they are rejecting the only remedy for their sins.

Does anyone see any significance in Jesus’ statement that “For if you do not believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

The word He is not in the original Greek – Jesus says literally, if you do not believe that I am – many take this as a reference to the divine – I am – Yahweh 

Do you find anything ironic is their question – Who are you?

Have they been listening to Jesus at all? The sense of this is “Who do you think you are?” They KNOW who Jesus has claimed to be. They just refuse to accept it or even to consider it. But the basis of Jesus’ messiah ship is not on their acceptance of him but on the Father – and Jesus has simply done the will of the Him.

V26 Jesus says I have many things to say and to judge you about, but the one who sent me is true and what I have heard from him – these things I tell the world. What does this mean?

Jesus’ mission, we know from John 3:16 is to reveal the gospel of God to the world – to show the world the offer of eternal life for all who believe. But Jesus will return, not with the message of salvation but to judge and the Jews and the Pharisees will be judged – not now, because Jesus’ role right now is to tell the world what the Father wants to the world to know.

V27 – Jesus utters a prophetic statement here – what does Jesus mean by “then you will know that I am [he].”

The cross is the clearest sign of who Jesus is – the sacrifice for sin – and for some it may be the time of recognition of who Jesus is – but for others it will be their condemnation as they ignore all Jesus has said and taught which pointed to this event. As one commentator said, Ironically at Jesus crucifixion, when they think they are passing judgment on Him, he is lifted up and becomes their judge.

John 6:43-71

RECAP LAST WEEK

 

We ended last by seeing that the people were convinced that his claim to have come from heaven was false because they knew were he was from.

 

What does such a reaction fail to take into account?

 

That they might be wrong!! Just because Jesus is from humble stock – and they think they know were he comes from, does not mean they are right.

 

READ v43-52

 

Can you think of another group which seemed to do well grumbling?

 

As Paul Fuener has pointed out – John is showing how Jesus trumped Moses – how similar this situation is regarding the people of Israel and Moses. They grumbled in the desert– they grumbled against God and Moses whenever things got hard or things happened which they did not understand.

 

What does their grumbling show about their relationship with God?

 

They don’t have one!!

 

Jesus says that no-one comes to me unless the Father draws them. These guys were not being drawn to Jesus – therefore….. God is not working in them.

 

What comes to your mind when you hear Jesus say “No-one comes to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” What doctrine comes to mind? How does that make you feel?

 

V45 – Who will be taught by God?

 

Those who are drawn by the father will be taught by God, and those who are taught by God will come to him. It’s a wonderful cycle – if drawn by God you will be taught by God and to be taught by God is to be drawn by God – Its all God!!

 

 Isaiah 54 is a chapter about future restoration of the Kingdom of God in the last days.

 

If Jesus is appropriating an end time verse to himself what then has begun with Jesus?

 

Eschatological blessings of the last days have begun. We are not just in the end times, we are, as beievers, experiencing some of the end time blessings – the spirit in us – the active work of God amongst us – we have a taste of the magnificent reconciliation of God in our lives, which will be completed when we die or when Jesus returns. And all who hear and are open to God will not be left out – and will be raised in the last day – it’s a promise from God.

 

I do love v46 – primarily because it is a verse which stumps Mormons, but also because it shows an intense intimacy between the Father and Jesus – no-one has seen the father EXCEPT Jesus.

 

Jesus has referred to himself as the bread from heaven – bread which if eaten will give eternal life.

 

Contrast V41 & V52 – whats happened with his audience?

They have progressed from grumbling and complaining to arguing. This was not a friendly Bible Study!!

 

Lets continue to READ v53-59

 

The people have no idea how Jesus could do this.

 

What new concept does v54 add to the whole issue?

 

V54 all of a sudden, out of the blue, Jesus throws into the discussion the issue of Drinking his blood – that of course would be abhorrent to a jew, as would eating flesh.

 

What act does this remind you of in the church?

 

There is some debate amongst commentators regarding the meaning of these verses and whether they relate to the eucharist or not.

 

Lev 17:11 says For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.

 

What do you think Jesus meant for those hearers to understand from his words?

 

 

5:26 has Jesus saying that he has life in himself – it is not a power given to him – but Jesus himself is the source of life.

 

Eating and drinking from something which is itself the very essence of life would lead to what?

 

Eternal life.

 

The eating (and now drinking) of his flesh and blood GIVES eternal life.

 

The image could be that people must take Christ into their inner most being – this is the point of meeting with and knowing Christ – it is a union – and coming together. One of the themes of John’s gospel is abiding in Christ – being in the Son.

 

Interestingly the word for “eat” changes in v54. Until know, John uses a word esthio, but now he uses a word trogo – which is a more physical meaning – literally to munch, crunch or naw.

 

Whitacre argues that this is a strong suggestion of the Eucharist. He says “Here then is some of the deepest NT teaching about the Eucharist” referring to these verses.

 

I don’t think these verse relate primarily to the Eucharist – but they do in a secondary way. To come to Christ – to trust in him means a beginning of an unsurpassed intimacy – that we do share in Christ, through the HS all of which is possible through the death of Jesus on the cross – when his body is broken and his blood shed for us – we become a part of his body – there is no other relationship as intimate as being reconciled with your creator and Lord – and that is represented in the Eucharist – when we come together and Christ is very present with us as we share in him.

 

READ v60-71

 

What do the disciples find hard?

 

Jesus’ claims. Of course they have found much of Jesus’ discourse mysterious – but it’s the parts they think they understand which bothered them.

 

Jesus’ words “ Does this offend you” gives the sense of “Has this led you into sin.”

 

What is Jesus challenging his audience with in v62?

 

Jesus gives them a glimpse of the future – Will not his (the son of mans) ascension into heaven prove that he had come down from heaven? Those disciples who have been led by to Christ by the father – and who are taught by God – will see the ascension.

 

What is Jesus saying in v63?

 

Here is my take – Jesus is saying my flesh cannot benefit you – stop thinking that I was asking you literally to eat my body or literally drink my blood. It is my spirit, my person, in the act of giving my body to be broken and my blood to be shed, that bestows and sustains life, even everlasting life.

 

V64 – when does Jesus know those disciples who would not believe and betray him? What does this imply?

 

From the BEGINNING! The implication is that this knowledge is not revealed gradually but known by Jesus from the beginning – yet he preaches to them and tells them the truth – giving them the opportunity to believe. But no amount of preaching will help – people can only come to Christ if the father has enabled them.

 

The example of this is the 12 . Peter responds to Jesus’ question, “Do you wish to leave too?” with evidence that they have indeed been enabled by the father, “To whom shall we go – you have the words of eternal life/”

 

Did they fully understand what Jesus had said? Probably not – but there was something in their spirit that knew staying with Christ was the right things to do.

 

And what about Judas? What warning are we given by Jesus choosing Judas to be an inner circle disciple and yet knowing he will betray him?

No group is entirely pure. But also, it warns us that being involved with Church, having high office in the church, or responsibility saves you – only faith saves – Judas had intimate access to Jesus, and saw Jesus’ works up close – and yet he had neither trust nor faith.

 

This whole section encourages us towards a faith which makes Jesus a very part of our being – eating and drinking him – drawing nearer and nearer to him in more and more intimacy – that our lives live and breath Jesus Christ – feeding from him who is life.

John 5:16-30

Recap: Last week Matt took us through the healing of the Officials Son and the man who had been paralysed for 38 years. The official was challenged by Jesus not to just see him as a miracle worker – but to have faith in him – and the official comes through – he leaves Jesus having to trust that his son is made well – and when he discovers that indeed his son is healed he and his whole house believes.

This is in contrast to the paralyzed man. Jesus heals him without any sign of faith from the man – and the man shows no faith – instead he rats Jesus out to the authorities and Jesus tells him to ‘Sin no more’.

We have now reached v16  of Chapter 5 in our whirlwind travel through John’s Gospel.

PLEASE READ JOHN 5:16-30

What is Jesus’ crime? Why are they persecuting him? Notice – plural – doing – Jesus had done this before, possibly many times

Why does Jesus’ response in v17 incense them so much?

It’s interesting the mindset of these Jews. They have seen an amazing healing. A man known to be paralzed for nearly four decades is walking. Their response is not “Wow” – or “How incredible” but “Not on this day you don’t do that.” God has shown up in their midst and al they are worried about is that their rules are being violated. How very sad. A theologian has said that the last seven words of a dying church is “We have always done it like that”.

And Jesus’ response completely radical – as is this whole chapter – because it reveals something of the eternal nature of who Jesus was and is.

The Jews accepted that God was exempted from the Sabbath rest rule. While it says in Genesis that God rested on the 7th day, jewish teaching says that God’s divine providence remainded active on the 7th day and on every day since – otherwise life would cease to exist. Babies are born on the Sabbath and people die on the Sabbath. Only God can give life and only God can deal with the fate of the dead.

Rabbis, the Pharisees knew God was active on the Sabbath. (The fourth commandment does not encourage idlness!)

But here Jesus is equating his activity on the Sabbath with God’s – God was exempt from the Sabbath and Jesus should also be exempt.

What becomes the issue now? Are the Pharisee still worried only about Sabbath violations?

Jesus turns the issue into the question of Jesus’ relationship with the God. He does it deliberately. A jew would have qualified is words “My Father” with “who is in heaven”. Not to do was unacceptable familiarity. Jesus is deliberately pushing the buttons. He is clearly claiming that he partakes of the same nature as the Father. By saying “My Father” instead of “Our father” Jesus claims equality. For the Jews this is indeed Blasphemy – if what he said was not true!

What is the significance of Jesus words that he an do NOTHING by himself – that it is impossible for the Son to take independent self determined action?

What does v19 tells us about the Son?

If Jesus could do self determined action it would mean he is another God. This shows the unity between the Father and the Son. Jesus is co-equal with the father and thinks only as the Father thinks. They cannot think separately. It also tells us Jesus is subordinate to the Father. There is a theological implication here. Has the Son ALWAYS been subordinate to the Father in eternity or did the Son become subordinate at the incarnation (which would suggest a change in the relationship in the trinity). Finally, it shows that all Jesus says, teaches and does he does with nothing less than the authority of God.

What do you think the greater works are in v20? (see v21-22).

Raising the dead – spiritually and physically – and judging the world.

The OT says that the raising of the dead and the giving of life is God’s prerogative only – Deut 32:39 is one example (1 Sam 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7). In fact Jesus’ contemparies did not think the Messiah would be given authority to raise the dead. Although Elijiah raised the dead it was not because he so decreed – but because God worked through him. Jesus’ claim is clear – he is not an instrument through which God moves – but HE can determine who has life and he can give it.  

V22 says that God has entrusted all judgment to the Son. The son does not declare God’s judgment but the Son himself Judges.

What is the purpose of the Fathers delegation of all this to the Son? Unity of the Father and the Son.

How have the Jews treated the Son – and the implication is? The Jewish leaders and lovers of the Torah are dishonoring the father / Yahweh.

V24-30 expand on this principle: Jesus here speaks of Spiritual resurrection and physical resurrection.

So, according to v24 when do we attain eternal life?

When we believe. Again, contemporary Judaism believed eternal life to be a future event. Jesus, revealing more about the work of God, shows that eternal life beings here on earth. Conversion gives us eternal life, raising us from spiritual death.

When will v28 happen?

Have we see a glimpse of in the gospels?

The end of time – the raising of humanity past and present. Matthew 27:52-53.

Jesus has made some bold statements. The underlying question now has become “Who says so” – prove it.

This is what Jesus does next.

READ v31-47

Why would Jesus say that if he testifies about himself it would not be valid.

God was consistent with his own law. The interrogation of witnesses was central to Jewish legal procedure – two witnesses were required for a testimony to be valid – Deut 17:6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a man shall be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. c/f 19:15.

Jesus’ testimony was witnessed by another.

Who is the other? (c/f v37)

Jesus did not need the witness of the Baptist – John the Baptists witness was for the people. In fact the point here is that Jesus’ claims of himself could only be validated BY the witness of the Father.

What do you think Jesus might have meant by his statement in v35 that people enjoyed the light of John the Baptist for a little while?

John was popular – his message inspired many. But did that fruit all converge to Jesus? No.  Much of it was superficial and insincere and it did not appear to transfer to allegiance in Jesus.

When might the father have testified about the Son? Matt 3:16?

At Jesus’ baptism. The dove ascends upon him and the voice from heaven – this is my son with whom I am well pleased.

In v37-40 what does he accuse the Jewish leaders of NEVER having?

How would you sum this up in one word?

Godless. They were Godless. Even with the scripture – they missed him. How sobering – hours, years of studying and they completely miss the work of God. It is not about knowledge, but of the Spirit.

Why does Jesus say that the Jews will accept one who comes in his own name?Why would they be willing to accept false prophets while rejecting the messiah?

They loved the glory of men and did not like being challenged. They were self absored in the fulfillment of their religious duties and had no place for God’s revelation. Religion had become a means of self advancement.

Pray God we never become like this!

What is significant in Jesus saying that He will not accuse them but Moses will?

For the Jews they believed Moses was a heavenly intecessor for them. They were children of Moses – yet Jesus shocks them with the charge that Moses will be their accuser – that if they understood moses properly they would have welcomed Jesus.

HOW CAREFUL WE MUST BE NOT TO LET OUR RELIGION, OUR TRADITIONS, OUR METHODS AND OUR VIEW POINTS GET IN THE WAY OF THE (SOMETIMES UNORTHODOX) WORK OF GOD IN OUR LIVES AND IN THE LIFE OF OUR CHURCH.

CLAIMING THAT WE ARE RIGHT, OR THAT OUR AUTHORITY IS IMPORTANT, WITHOUT PLACING OURSELVES AND OUR APPROACH FULLY ON SCRIPTURE AND ON GOD’S WAYS IS CLAIMING TO STAND IN A PRECERIOUS PLACE. 

John 4:24-54

We saw last week Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. How Jesus draws her into a conversation, revealing something of himself to her, despite her not understanding it – but then her thinking begins to change – starting from a Jew who spoke to her – to asking if he was greater than the patriarch Jacob – to asking if he a prophet. Jesus brings her to the place of confronting her sin.

Look at v26 – the woman has just mentioned the word Messiah….

What is unusal about Jesus’ response.

He is happy to relate to the title of Messiah. He never does this with the Jews – because of the baggage that comes with it but here is happy to acknowledge who he is – the Messiah.

READ John 4:27-38

The dynamic change a little now. This private, individual conversation is now interrupted by the arrival of he disciples, shocked that their Rabbi was speaking to a woman.

Why don’t the disciples express their feelings publically?

Out of respect for Jesus but also even the disciples seem to acknowledge that to return and say out loud “What the hell are you doing talking to woman.”

Do you see anything significant in the woman leaving Jesus and going back to the town. What does she leave behind?

She leaves the bucket behind. More importantly she leaves HER bucket behind – the bucket she needed to provide her water twice a day – a valuable item. Does she forget it? Well, the word ‘left’ has a sense of deliberateness. It is the same word used to say Jesus left Judah. Did he forget Judah? No, it was deliberate. Maybe the woman finally was going to allow Jesus to get that drink. She leaves it behind so he could get the water to quench his thirst.

What has the woman now become? How would you describe her actions?

She has become an evangelist. I find it interesting that this woman if ill repute comes into the village – tells them that there is guy that seems to maybe be the Messiah, but knew all about me, come and see!! AND THEY GO!!

What does the disciples attempt to feed jesus show about where they are spiritually?

In the same place – to some extent – as the Samaritan woman. They too are focusing on the physical.

How would you express v34 – what is Jesus saying here?

To do the work of God NOURISHES him – it energizes him – it takes away the weariness of the days walk. It was what he was meant to do. Are we nourished in this way.

What is the point of Jesus’ analogy about the harvest is coming? When is it coming?

RIGHT NOW – look the crowd is coming from the village!! The grain harvest maybe four months away but the soul harvest is here.

That’s why he had to go through Samaria.

And what the disciples did not sow – they did not speak with the Samaritan woman – they will reap though in Ministering to the village.

Sometimes the sower never sees the harvest. Other times the sower and the reaper rejoice together. And Christians are called to be doing BOTH jobs – we are to be sowing and we are to be reaping the harvest of what others have sown.

READ v39-45

What drew the villagers to go and see Jesus?

Don’t you find it interesting that the village LISTEN to (1) a woman – who had no testimonial value in that culture and (2) who is supposedly ostracized by her people because of her immorality.

Maybe it is because this woman who has been so separate from everyone – who may not have associated with the main village for a very long time – who never spoke or never got water with the other women, comes running into the village shouting “Come and see, come and see a man who told me all about myself…Could this be the messiah.”

How does this villages response to Jesus compare to other responses to Jesus? – See Luke 9:51-56

This small, insignificant, rejected people have welcomed Jesus and want him to teach them – while other Samaritan villages and those in Israel reject him.

Do you see a pattern of evangelism here?

The woman meets with Jesus and then calls others to Come and See – personal contact with Christ is necessary for conversion. Also, the woman does not beg, or cajole, or argue her case – she simply says – come and meet him and see for yourselves.

What is the significance of their statement in v42 that Jesus is the savior of the world?

These Samaritans see Jesus for the whole world – not just for them or for the jews. Remember John 1:11, he came to his own yet his own did not receive him but the Samaritans in this village did.

Do you see an apparent contradiction in v44 & 45?

To be welcomed is different to receiving honor. Why would Jesus go to a place where he knew he would not be honored? Possibly because he knew that being in Galilee would not bring him such honor as to anger the pharisees and thus cause a premature crisis.

The people in Galilee welcomed him as a miracle worker – but no more – they do not honor him as the person is really is (6:41).

READ 46-54

Capernaum was a town on the Northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was a major trade and economic center in the North Galilean region, and was some 16 miles from Cana.

How much faith does the Royal Official Have? Remember the Centurion?

The official obviously believes Jesus can heal his son – but he does not believe that Jesus can do it at a distance – nor that he can do it if his son should die. The official limits what he think jesus can do.

To whom is Jesus addressing? Why does Jesus respond the way he does?

Jesus is responding not just to the official but to the Gailieans. They are more interested in Jesus as a miracle worker – but he is challenging them to think of him differently – about his true identity.

What does Jesus in v50 demand of the man?

Just think about what Jesus does here. The man is desperate for his son. Jesus says to him – “Leave here, go home WITHOUT ME, because he will be well.” For the man to leave without the person whom he was sure could heal his son must have taken courage and faith.

What time does the official discover that his son was made well?

Now, this is another minor difficulty. To some extent is does not matter what time it is here – but there are differing view. The NIV and TNIV say 1pm. The Holman Christian Standard version says 7am while the footnote in the NASB says 7pm.

Commentators differ – majority say 1pm. The man left Jesus and stopped off for the night and continued the next morning. The issue others have with 1pm is that the journey from Cana to Capernaum – while over very hilly country, could be done in 6-8 hours. Surely a worried father could have gotten home that evening. However, those commentators picking 7pm would argue that the man did not begin his journey because of the onset of evening and so set off early the next day and meet his servants.

As I said – it really is not as significant but it does need pointing out.

Why does John tell us that this is the second sign Jesus performed?

For John, he is building the case of his prologue. John tells of eight miracles in his gospel and each one says something very significant about Jesus. The first sign – the water into wine – showed Jesus’ power of the physical universe and declared what he would do in the future. Here, Jesus shows his power over life and death – and that he could heal at a distance such was his powerful word.

( Turning water into wine (2:1-11); healing the royal officials son (4:46-54), healing the paralysed man (5:1-15); feeding the five thousand (6:1-14); walking on water (6:15-21); healing the blind man (9:1-41); Raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44); providing the catch of fish (21:6-11).)

John 4:1-23

READ John 4:1-9

 

Why does the fact that the Pharisees knew Jesus was baptizing make Jesus leave Judah for Galilee?

A confrontation is on its way and the time is not yet for that confrontation. It will come – but not now. 

 

Why do you think  John says Jesus HAD TO travel through Samaria?

The normal routes for Jews ran up the east side of the Jordan river (Transjordan). Interesting the verb had to normally, in John’s Gospel, is used with regards to God’s plan or will. Jesus had to go to Samaria because the woman at the well was going to be there.

 

Who were the Samaritans?

Descendants of two groups (1) the remnant of native Israelites who were not deported after the fall of the Northern Kingdom in 722BC (2) Foreign colonists brought in from babylonia and Media by the Assyrian Conquerors. The Samatitans refused to worship in the temple in Jerusalem. After the exile the Samaritans put obstacles in the way of the Jewish restoration of Jerusalem in the 2nd century BC. The Samaritans helped the Syrians in their wars against the Jews. In 128BC the Jewish high priest retaliated by burning their temple on Mount Gerizim.

 

NOTE REGARDING THE SIXTH HOUR.

As this is a Bible study we do need to spend a few moments looking at the phrase ‘the sixth hour.’ The NIV has ‘the sixth hour’ and its footnote suggests noon. Now, the newst translation to be published – a conservative translation called the Holman Christian Standard Bible says 6pm in its version. Now most commentators argue for noon being the time, but there are some other commentators who have argued for a 6pm reading here. There argument is that John uses the Roman method of time. 

 

Look at John 19:14 – the sixth hour is used here – if it meant noon here then Jesus was crucified around 3pm (if using the Jewish method) – John 1:39 says the tenth hour – which is often translated 4pm. Yet the verse says the disciples spent the day with him – a Roman timing would place that at 10am (which the HCSB) does.

 

Why is the woman shocked that Jesus spoke to her?

The Jewish rule was that men should not speak to women in public – even their own wives. In fact there was a Jewish tradition which said never speak to women, in public, at a well. This is because Jacob and Isaac met their wives at wells – and to speak to a woman at a well indicated you were looking for a mate!

 

Now the translations say that the reason for the shock was that Jews do not associate with Samaritans. The problem with that is that the disciples are in a nearby Samaritan town buying food – and thus associating with Samaritans. One commentator makes the point that Jesus and his disciples show some freedom from the stricter Jews – being willing to eat food handled by an unclean Samaritan. 

 

Can someone read out the footnote to this verse in the NIV.

I think this makes sense of the verse. ‘Do not use together with…’ – a Jew would never use any vessels used by a Samaritan. The woman says to Jesus “You, a Jew, speaking to me at the well, and wanting to use MY bucket to drink from?”

 

READ John 4:10-26

 

Bearing in mind Jesus is still thirsty – And that the woman has questioned the propriety of Jesus’ request, Why do you think Jesus responds to the woman in this way?

I am going to suggest that there may be a slight rebuke here o the woman. She has hesitated in giving Jesus a drink because she questions whether he should even be addressing her. Jesus, on the other hand, says that if she knew who he was and what he had, she would ask for living water and HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HER – WITHOUT HESITATION. WITHOUT QUESTION. He would give her what she asked straight away.

 

What is going through the woman’s mind as she responds?

She is still thinking about REAL water. Water which comes from a well does not necessarily mean its completely clean. Only wells which were fed by a living or underground stream has nice, fresh water. Some well water can be stagnant and unclean. The woman wants living water – fresh, clean, drinking water. The problem is – Jesus has no bucket and no tools. Tradition says Jacob dug this well – would Jesus dig his own well? Jacobs well here was around 100ft deep. Was Jesus going to do what the great Patriarch did – dig a well and provide life in the desert for his people and livestock?

 

How would you summarize Jesus’ response in v13

Yes, Jesus is greater than Jacob – he gives the woman the gospel – using the imagery which she has in her mind. The water Jesus gives is EVERLASTING – life giving.

 

I know this is conjecture – but how do you invision the woman’s thinking here – what is she thinking when she asks Jesus for this water that she might never thirst again?

 

Up to this point Jesus has been engaging her in a very visual way. There was the well – the water was right in-front of them. But now Jesus has brought her to the place of asking the question – GIVE ME THIS WATER!! 

 

Why do you think Jesus asks the woman to go NOW and get her husband – why at this point does he ask her to do this?

She was now beginning to ask questions and is thinking about who Jesus might be. Also, receiving living water requires a sense of guilt – confession of sin. Jesus draws her to the point of being aware of her sin.

 

What is her sin?

Now if you take husband as in she had five bonafide husbands, then her (obvious) sin now is that she is living with a man. Woman in the first century were not allowed to divorce men. She has either been adandoned by men or they have died. On the other hand, without changing the  point – husband mean MAN. She has been with five men. That would make her immoral.

 

What ‘office’ does the woman now give Jesus.

She is growing in her understanding of who he might be. She has reached ‘prophet’. Not unreasonably when someone lays bear your life like this.

 

But why does she ask about worship? Is she trying to avoid more scrutiny about her life?

Jesus does not think she is avoiding more scrutiny because he answers her quesion.

What is Jesus teaching us here in v21-23? 

 

Geographic location will soon make no differnce to WHERE you worship. In around 35 years after this the temple is destroyed and Jesus will be the true temple – the real center of worship Do you think God craves worship – like a worship junk? God says that he seeks worshippers!! 

According to v25 what type of Mesisah were they waiting for to return.

A teaching Messiah – one who would explain all that ever happened. As opposed to the type of Messiah the Jews expected – a military conquering Messiah.

 

What is unusal about Jesus’ response. 

He is happy to relate to the title of Messiah. He never does this with the Jews – because of the baggage that comes with it but here is happy to acknowledge who he is – the Messiah. 

 

READ John 4:27-38

 

The dynamic change a little now. This private, individual conversation is now interrupted by the arrival of he disciples, shocked that their Rabbi was speaking to a woman. 

 

Why don’t the disciples express their feelings publically?

Out of respect for Jesus but also even the disciples seem to acknowledge that to return and say out loud “What the hell are you doing talking to woman.”

 

Do you see anything significant in the woman leaving Jesus and going  back to the town. What does she leave behind?

She leaves the bucket behind. More importantly she leaves HER bucket behind – the bucket she needed to provide her water twice a day – a valuable item.  Does she forget it? Well, the word ‘left’ has a sense of deliberateness. It is the same word used to say Jesus left Judah. Did he forget Judah? No, it was deliberate. Maybe the woman finally was going to allow Jesus to get that drink. She leaves it behind so he could get the water to quench his thirst.

 

What has the woman now become? How would you describe her actions?

She has become an evangelist. I find it interesting that this woman if ill repute comes into the village – tells them that there is guy that seems to maybe be the Messiah, but knew all about me, come and see!! AND THEY GO!!

 

What does the disciples attempt to feed jesus show about where they are spiritually?

In the same place – to some extent – as the Samaritan woman. They too are focusing on the physical. 

 

How would you express v34 – what is Jesus saying here?

To do the work of God NOURISHES him – it energizes him – it takes away the weariness of the days walk. It was what he was meant to do. Are we nourished in this way.

 

What is the point of Jesus’ analogy about the harvest is coming? When is it coming?

RIGHT NOW – look the crowd is coming from the village!! The grain harvest maybe four months away but the soul harvest is here.

 

That’s why he had to go through Samaria.

 

And what the disciples did not sow – they did not speak with the Samaritan woman – they will reap though in Ministering to the village.

 

Sometimes the sower never sees the harvest. Other times the sower and the reaper rejoice together. And Christians are called to be doing BOTH jobs – we are to be sowing and we are to be reaping the harvest of what others have sown.

John 3:1-18

READ Chapter 2:24-Chap 3:18

 

In chap 2:24 what do you think John means when he says that Jesus would not entrust himself to man because he knew what was in man 

Jesus did not need anyone to affirm him in his calling or in who he was – Jesus knew exactly who he was – Also, Man’s character is evil – it aims to flatter and deceive, to say one thing and mean another – to lie and to be fickle – to claim allegiance only to break it – to make an oath only to ignore it. Humanity was sinful and fallen – that’s why he was on the earth!! 

 

Chapter divisions can sometimes interfere with the flow of the argument and here is an example – Jesus would not entrust himself to man, for his knew what was in man, there was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus – Nicodemus was just the same as everyman, regardless of the high position or ‘spiritual’ status he held.

 

Who was Nicodemus?

A ruler of the Jews – possibly THE teacher of Israel – a theologian par excellence – a Pharisee. We would call him the Archbishop of Canterbury. Here we have the clash of two theologians – the best Israel had – against THE theologian.

 

Why do you think he went to see Jesus at night?

We don’t really know exactly why he went at night. It could be to avoid association – but if Nicodemus was representing others, why hide his trip – another reason could be this was the best time to see Jesus. Or even, maybe the darkness represents the sinister character of Nicodemus’ intentions. He arrives in the dark – v19 talks about those who like their sins remain in the dark while John 1:405 says he is the light of the world. John is using light and darkness to contrast good and evil.

 

How would you describe Nicodemus’ opening statement to Jesus – “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Nicodemus begins with ‘Rabbi’. He gives him a certain status straight away – Maybe it was flattery. How would you or me respond to someone like Nicodemus saying to us “hey – your really good, top notch…” – I would probably begin to think “Yeah – Too right I am – that’s me – I’m the man!!”. 

 

Who might the “We” be in Nicodemus’ statement?

 

Why do you think Nicodemus has come to Jesus – do you think there is any motive, possibly, behind it – consider what has just happened in the previous chapter?

Maybe Nicodemus is there to say to Jesus – “Hey man, you’ve got great potential. God is moving in you – but you’ve really got to stop this aggravating people thing – it’s not going to help you to advance as part of us.”

 

It’s almost as if Nicodemus is there to endorse Jesus’ ministry with the caveat that he just needs to tone it down a bit. It also seems that Nicodemus is gearing up to ask Jesus a question – But Jesus cuts right across Nicodemus’ word and flattery and changes the agenda in a big way.

 

How would you describe Jesus’ response to this great giant and of spiritual life and theologian of Israel? 

Jesus starts by making it very personal. Nicodemus has said “We” and Jesus begins with “I” and “you” – the “you” here is singular – its almost as if Jesus is saying “It’s not about your group and my group – its about you and me Nicodemus – its about what you think”.

 

Jesus has tells the top theologian of Israel that he is NOT a part of the people of God because he is NOT born again. It’s like meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury and the first words out of your mouth is “Sorry Bish – but you are no where near the kingdom of God because you need to be born again!” The Greek word here translated “again”  can also mean “from above”. You need to be born from above Jesus tells Nicodemus.

 

What do you think the tone of Nicodemus’ response was? How do you think he sound when he said “Can anyone be born when he is old?”

I think he is almost dismissive – how can you go back into your mothers womb Jesus – your talking utter nonsense. Nicodemus’ ignorance is starting to glare brightly!

 

In v5 onwards Jesus begins to really turn up the heat on Nicodemus. He tells the stunned theologian that to be a part of the Kingdom of God he had to be born of water and the spirit.

 

Now, if Jesus is talking about something new then it would be unfair to expect Nicodemus to keep up – but Jesus’ response to him shows that this is not new – but foundational stuff in the OT!

 

READ Ezekiel 11:19-20 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

 

36:25-27 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Jer 31:31-33 31 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, 

       “when I will make a new covenant 

       with the house of Israel 

       and with the house of Judah.

    32 It will not be like the covenant 

       I made with their ancestors 

       when I took them by the hand 

       to lead them out of Egypt, 

       because they broke my covenant, 

       though I was a husband to [d] them, [e]” 

       declares the LORD.

    33 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel 

       after that time,” declares the LORD. 

       “I will put my law in their minds 

       and write it on their hearts. 

       I will be their God, 

       and they will be my people.

The OT clearly pointed towards a cleansing and a spiritual transformation through an inner work of God in his people. Flesh, as Jesus tells Nicodemus, will always give birth to flesh – it will always give birth to sinful children. Of course you can’t go back into the mothers womb and even if you could you would just be the same – sinful. 

 

But spirit gives birth to spirit – the 2nd birth births a spiritual person – one redeemed, saved, regenerated.

 

Nicodemus KNEW these OT verses as a Pharisee, but he did not KNOW them, nor what they meant.

 

Jesus expected Nicodemus – the great theologian – to know this – v10 also tells us this – You are the teacher of Israel and you don’t know this?

 

How did Nicodemus think he was ‘saved’ or part of the covenant people of God?

A lot depended on Nicodemus – he had to keep the law – he had to remain in the covenant – his righteousness was important. Jesus is telling Nicodemus that his status as a Jew, or a Pharisee has NO value in God’s sight with regards to his place before God. If Nicodemus remains fleshly then he canot enter the kingdom of heaven.

 

Look at v8 – What might Jesus be saying by comparing the wind with one who is born of the Spirit?

Neither you or me determine the Spirit’s work. We do not tell or control the spirit – or make our hearts new – we come to God and God in his sovereignty will move and we will know he has because we feel him and experience him – but we do not determine anything. What a shock to man dedicated to making sure he is saved!!

 

Look at v11 – Jesus now reverses the whole conversation – Nicodemus began with We and Jesus said I – here he says “We” – we know and we testify to what we have seen but you do not accept our testimony – who is the WE here do you think?

Some have argued Jesus is referring to the Trinity – others say it’s referring to the disciples. It could also be that he is referring to John the Baptists testimony – Nicodemus would have known John’s testimony and he would have known that John had pointed out Jesus as the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. Here is Nicodemus – he did not accept John’s testimony and he is not understanding Jesus’ testimony.

 

By now the great Jewish Theologian is silent – way out of his league.

 

Jesus delivers a fatal blow to Nicodemus in v12 – if he cannot understand the basic concept of being saved – which is clear in the OT – then how can he understand heavenly things. What a blow for a theologian – Jesus is saying you understand nothing and yet claim to be the spiritual teacher of Israel. Does the Episcopal church come to mind?

 

And to prove his point Jesus continues to teach Nicodemus some incredible things.

 

Look at v13 – what does Jesus claim here?

He can teach the things of heaven because he is from heaven. His testimony is not just a little true – it is COMPLETELY accurate!

 

And then in v14-15 he makes the ultimate claim.

 

What do you make of v14-15?

Numbers 21 – the people of Israel spoke against God and against Moses and so God sends venomous snakes to attack and kill the Israelites. The people plead with Moses to pray to God for them – so he does and God says to Moses to make a bronze snake and to hold it up – all who looked at it after being bitten will live.

 

How does this story relate to Jesus?

 

The point is that just as in Numbers 21 – death is the punishment for sin; in both cases God in his sovereignty provides a remedy; in both cases it involves something or someone being lifted high; in both cases a believing heart – faith – is required for healing and for salvation.

 

Using the very scriptures which Nicodemus prided himself on knowing and interpreting Jesus shows him how they relate to Jesus himself as the one who gives eternal life. This must have shocked Nicodemus to his core  but he remains quiet.

 

Jesus continues to teach him.

 

V16 – the most quoted verse in the NT – How easily it can roll off our tongues and yet how immense this verse is. 

 

What is the character and purpose of God in these verses?

The incarnation of God into a human being is to save people. To come and offer eternal life. God has not left mankind to itself – God acts – he acts from his love to us. 

 

If God loved the world in this way – sending his son – what does this mean his reaction is to sin?

HE HATES IT. The Gospel show us God’s love and it also shows us his anger at sin. God is SO angry at sin, he himself dies for us. Romans 1:18 says that God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

 

That’s the same thing as John 3:16 but from a different angle – God’s wrath is poured out on Christ who takes our place – the Gospel. The Gospel show us God’s response to sin – he loved us that he would die for us – he hated sin that he would pour his wrath on his son to atone us from our sin.

John 1:43-2:12

READ 1:43-51

 

What was unorthodox about Jesus calling Philip to follow him?

Jewish teachers would teach and people / disciples would attach themselves to the group. Jesus however was pro-active in picking his disciples.

 

Philip follows Andrews example and goes to find his friend Nathanael. Who does he say has found the one written about?

He uses the word ‘We’ – he is already considering himself part of and associated with this fledging group of disciples – we have found him.

 

Why is Nathanael skeptical about a man from Nazareth?

Nazareth is not mentioned anywhere in the OT scriptures – it has no prophetic or historic significance as to the Messiah or even to any prophet.

 

Why don’t they say “Jesus from Bethlehem?”

Because they probably don’t know yet that Jesus was born in Bethlehem but had lived in Nazareth.

 

What is profound about Philips response – Come and See

It is the perfect evangelistic response. Philip does not engage in an argument over the issue of Nazareth or whether Jesus is truthful etc, he simply says “Come and See” – come and check it out for yourself.

 

It is still the greatest response in evangelism – “I don’t believe it” – “then come and see – check it out for yourself – pray to God, read the scripture, ask Christ through his Holy Spirit to meet with you.” 

 

Why on earth does Jesus call Nathanael a true Israelite and say he is without deceit?

Nathanael was WILLING to come and check out the claim. He was a man seeking God – wanting to see if this was really from God. He was not like Jacob who became Israel, a deceiver – Nathanael wanted to know and was willing to come and see.

 

What is it that causes Nathanael to acknowledge who Jesus is?

Jesus displays some supernatural knowledge about Nathanael. Firstly Jesus has said that he was a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit – and Nathanael response that is “How do you know me?”  And then Jesus says “I saw you under the fig tree.” 

 

Now, I am going to read into the text a little, but I think that something significant happened to Nathanael under that fig tree – it may have been a spiritual experience, or maybe Nathanael prayed something, maybe he had asked God to make him a true Israelite, one without deceit – and then he goes to Jesus and Jesus speaks right into that situation and immediately Nathanael says “You are the son of God you are the king of Israel.”

 

How would you sum up Jesus’ response to Nathanael?

Jesus does not say, “you clever boy” or “Wow, you are quick off the mark.” Jesus response is effectively “you have a long way to go.” There is more to come. Even Nathanael’s confession is not full – he does not know the full scale of who Jesus is or his works or his mission or what is going to be asked of them as disciples. 

 

And they will see even greater things – they will see miracles and healings and the dead raised. Jesus tells them that they will heaven open. For Jewish Apocolyptic preachers, the greatest desire was to see heaven open – and of course angels ascending and descending refers back to Jacob and his vision at Bethel. 

 

What is Jesus telling the disciples?

Jesus will be place of much greater divine revelation than given at any other occasion in the OT – Jesus is the very culmination of all of God’s revelatory expressions.

 

The disciples are beginning their journey with Jesus. All the those in chap 1 who came to follow Jesus did so because of someone else’s human witness – it sets the stage for what is to come  – the revealing to the disciples and to Israel the true nature of this Lamb of God that is to take away the sin of the world.

 

And for us it challenges us to point beyond ourselves to jesus – to say to people “Come and See.”

 

READ 2:1-12

 

The third day after the events with Nathanael – Jesus was at a wedding in Cana – Cana being around 10 miles northeast from Nazarath. 

 

Why would Jesus’ mother want to get involved with a catering issue at a wedding? 

It is very possible that this was a wedding of a close friend or even distant relative of Jesus – John lists the guests as Jesus’ mother, Jesus and his disciples.

 

To run out of wine was a great faux par – weddings would last a week and hospitality was required and the groom was in charge of this.

 

Jesus’ mother may have been trying to help a friend or relative.

 

How would you describe Jesus’ response. What  might Jesus mean by “my time has not yet come?”

Jesus responds in a formal, although not rude manner – it would be like me saying Madam.

 

What does wine symbolize in scripture?

Amos 9:13-14 – 13 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
       “when the reaper will be overtaken by the one who plows
       and the planter by the one treading grapes.
       New wine will drip from the mountains
       and flow from all the hills,

    14 and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. [a]
       “They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
       They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
       they will make gardens and eat their fruit.

Joel 3:18 – “In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
       and the hills will flow with milk;
       all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
       A fountain will flow out of the LORD’s house
       and will water the valley of acacias.

Luke 22:18 – 18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

 

Zec 9:15

 

Wine is a symbol of the new kingdom.

 What about weddings?  Does scripture talk about the significance of a wedding?

 

Rev 19:7 – Let us rejoice and be glad
       and give him glory!
       For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
       and his bride has made herself ready.

Rev 19:9 – 9 Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ” And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

 

My suggestion is that when Jesus says “My time has not yet come” he is speaking both about his impending ministry but also he is talking about the fact that he is not the groom, yet but there will be a time when it will be his wedding – the wedding of the lamb with the church and he will provide the wine – in abundance – the very best wine.

 

Hence Jesus reveals, right at the beginning, his glory – his future.

John 1:19-42

Well, we are racing through John’s Gospel – in the past two weeks, we have looked at the magnificent prologue to the Gospel – v 1-18. The prologue is packed with theological significance that is then unpacked throughout the rest of the gospel – showing us that that the gospel began at creation – that the word has always existed  – was with God and is God. That the creation did not recognize its creator, even when it entered into the world – the incarnation – and this word, God, is Jesus Christ.

 

We are now entering into the narrative of the gospel.

 

READ  Chp 1:19-28  

 

What made the Jewish leaders send a delegation to check out this odd desert preacher?

What did they want to know?

What does this imply about the EFFECT of John’s ministry?

This says something quite profound. John’s desert ministry was obviously causing one heck of a stir that the Jewish leadership had heard about it and wanted to now who he was.

 

They were willing, or at least entertained the thought that he might be the messiah.

 

John was huge – he had a mega ministry – popularity and influence

 

And yet he instantly tells them he is NOT the Messiah.

 

What is odd about John’s denial of being Elijah?

Jesus calls John Elijah. 

 

In fact Luke 1:17 Gabriel’s message to Zechariah said that John would go in the spirit and power of Elijah.

 

We will learn some more about John’s humility in the following verses, but John refuses to take upon himself honor or status – something we can learn from. Of course, Jesus can bestow status and honor on whom he so wills, but John does not claim it for himself. Also, on a practical view, John probably refused to take on the traditional ‘mantle’ or even baggage of the legacy of Elijah, who having been taken in a chariot to heaven would, according to Jewish tradition, return this way – he is definitely not THAT Elijah. 

 

What might be happening to John the Baptist status as he keeps denying the various roles?

He is going from a prospective Messiah, to a nobody very quickly.

 

V22 – almost exasperated the demand an answer WHO ARE YOU?

 

In what way does John choose to answer the question “Who are you”?

The original context of the Isaiah quote is about preparing the roads to allow for a return from the Babylonian exile to Jerusalem.

 

John was clearing away any obstacles that might be in the way of people coming to know the Messiah.

In v24-25 does John’s answer satisfy  them?

No – they now begin to demand by what authority does john do this, since he does not seem to have any authority, at least with regards to the Jewish Leadership!!

 

There is no indication in the Hebrew scriptures that the coming of the Messiah to Israel would be proceeded by a baptism of repentance for the Jews. However the OT clearly uses water as a symbol of cleansing and renewal. 

 

Does Anyone Know when Baptism in Judaism happened?

Baptism was part of the ritual for Gentiles converting to judaism because gentiles were regarded as unclean.

 

What was John saying about Jews by baptizing them?

That the Jews were UNCLEAN!! That they were just like the gentiles.

 

John was a transitional figure calling Israel to repentence and declaring God’s salvation. Just like the Old Testament prophets, John was beckoning a righteous remnant to come out of the people of Israel.

 

To whom does John change the focus too in v26? How does John see himself in relation to the coming one?

John takes the focus from himself and points it towards the one to come. A disciple was to do ALL the things a slave would do for their master – except untie the straps of the Rabbi’s sandals. Again we see some of John’s humility – John acknowledges that in relation to the one to come he is unworthy to do a task judged too menial even for a disciple.

 

John may have had an influential, large, talked about ministry but his focus was entirely upon the coming messiah – John claimed no special position, or status such as  archbishop – he purely focused on the fact that his purpose was to point everyone to the coming Messiah – this is a wonderful model for us.

 

To end this section, we probably just need to note something about v28. There is some scholarly discussion as to exactly where this Bethany was.  This was not a village but the region of Batanea (called Bashan in the OT).

 

READ v29-34

 

What event is missing here in this Gospel that is in the synoptic gospels to mark the beginning of Jesus’ ministry?

Jesus’ baptism is not explicitly said here in John’s gospel. Why might John have left out the story of the Baptism? Remember v8 of the prologue? V20?

I think John does assume that his readers  knew about it but also it could be that Jesus’ baptism by John could have been seen as indicative of submission on the part of Jesus, an inference that the evangelist might seek to avoid.

What is John saying about himself and Jesus in v30? Do you think John knew the fullness of this revelation when he spoke it?

NO!

 

John the Baptist spoke a profound truth about Jesus’ existence and preincarnate state here and John the Baptist may not have had a clue about that other than Jesus was the one to come but John the evangelist records this and EXPECTS his readers to here a Christological statement of Jesus eternal state.

 

What Does John say was his purpose?

John did what he did so that the one to come might be revealed to Israel – John is a herald – an announcer – the King is coming – recognize him!!

 

Our role comes out of John the Baptist – a herlader of the one who has come and who will come.

What does John say the mission of the One who is to Come will be?

What is significant about the statement?

The lamb who has come to take away the sin of the world!! Firstly, the message is for EVERYONE – the WORLD!!!

 

Secondly, there is a hint of HOW he will do this – to TAKE AWAY – bearing off, getting rid of, carrying away. How is the One to do this? Is there a hint of substitutionary Atonement here? Probably.

 

How did John know that Jesus was the Lamb of God?

When the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon Jesus – John had been given a supernatural message that THIS would the sign.

 

This separates John form the disciples – the disciples began their journey through witness from other humans – John was the last of the OT prophets and so, he receives revelation as to who Jesus was – and it keeps in line with the OT which prophesied that God would pour out his spirit on all people in the last days . 

 

READ v35-42

 

Do you notice a difference between the calling of the disciples here in john and in the Synoptics?

Here in the fourth gospel disciples follow Jesus immediately while in the other Gospels they do so only at a latter point in time.

 

Well, the gospel of  john does not deny earlier  encounters but focuses on Jesus’ climatic call to discipleship.

 

Also, the confessions were initial ones. As we know, as Jesus’ ministry unfolded they were challenged in their traditional view of what the Messiah would do. Plus, these confessions provide a credible motive why these men would make the dramatic decision to leave everything behind to follow Jesus.

 

What is John doing to his own ministry by pointing to Jesus and saying “The Lamb God?”

This statement effectively marks the end of his ministry and of his significance in redemptive history. He is similar to Moses who brought salvation history to a boundary that he himself was not allowed to cross.

 

It also confirms John’s humility and intense desire to serve God – as one commentator says “To recommend your own disciples to a greater teacher was rare, required great humility and incredible  confidence in the other teachers superiority. This shows John’s humility and submission to the divine will.”

 

Interestingly, the text shows that not all John’s disciples immediately followed – and likely some did not follow Jesus at all!

 

What is behind Jesus’ question to the two disciples – What Do You Want! Is it a question just for them?

What a penetrating question – what do you want – it is a question we do well to ask – what do we want with Jesus? What the two disciples wanted and the road and direction their journey with Jesus took them I think was VERY different.

 

Jesus accepts them as his disciples by taking them to where he was staying and they spent time with him.

 

What principle of evangelism might we glean from Andrews actions having spent time with Jesus?

Andrew goes to his brother – his family first. I like this principle of evangelism – start with your family – tell those who know you best what you have discovered and work outward from that.

 

So to summarize, the gospel writer has shown that John’s testimony to Jesus was complete – despite his ministry being large, influential and successful, John’s passion was to point to the Messiah – he had humility  and was completely at ease pointing people away from himself and to the greater teacher. He took no status or honor upon himself, although we know that Jesus confers upon high honor upon him.

John 1:1-18

Welcome to John’s Gospel. I am not a huge fan of big intros to books of the bible because all we need to know is in the text – but there are some things which we need to lay out before we get into chapter one.

 

John is a very different type of gospel – which is why it is separated from what we call the synoptic gospels (which comes from the greek word which means to see with the same eyes), Matthew, Mark, & Luke. 

 

John’s content is different and very selective. 90% of John is exclusive to John. Now this is really remarkable when you consider that John is possibly the last gospel to be written, or, at the very least, he would have had seen the majority of the other accounts.

 

Also, John’s Gospel is selective – the author tells of eight miracles in the gospel, Turning water into wine (2:1-11); healing the royal officials son (4:46-54), healing the paralysed man (5:1-15); feeding the five thousand (6:1-14); walking on water (6:15-21); healing the blind man (9:1-41); Raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44); providing the catch of fish (21:6-11).  Only the feeding of the five thousand and the walking on water is found else where in the synoptic gospels.

 

This gospel also has the famous seven “I am” says – I am the bread of life; Iam the light of the world; I am the door; Iam the good shepherd; I am the resurrection and the life; Iam the way the truth and the life; Iam the vine.

As we shall see the gospel is intensely Christological – that is, Christ centered.

 

Who wrote John? Well, the answer, for some, is not straight forward, but the author must have been a jew because he understood and quoted from the OT (12:40; 13:18, 19:37) – he had a knowledge of jewish feasts (2:23, 5:1, 6:4, 7:2, 10:22, 13:1).

 

He was familiar with Jerusalem – he knew that the pool of Bethesada had five porches and that Bethany was only 2 miles from Jerusalem.

 

The author says he was an eyewitness to what happened (1:14). He knew the exact number of fish caught (21:11) and he was at the crucifixion where he saw Christ’s side pierced with a spear but his legs not broken.

 

He claims to be the disciple about whom a rumor was spread that he would not die before Christ’s return (21:20-25).

 

Also, interestingly, the name ‘John’ is conspicuously absent in the book – he talks of John in  1v6 (referring to the Baptist) but after that no mention of one of Jesus’ major disciples. Contrast that to the fact that John is mentioned in the scriptures twice as many times as those of the other Gospel writers combined – Matthew 8 x, Mark 8x, Luke 3x and John 35x..

 

All this points to John, the disciple of Jesus, as the author. 

 

The date of writing is generally agreed to be in the 85-95 AD range. This fits with the earliest know segment of the gospel, a fragment called the Rylands Fragment (of John 18:31-33 & 37-38, dated around 125-135AD which suggests that the gospel was in well in circulation by the beginning of the second century.

 

The purpose of the gospel? Well, put simply, that can be summarized from John 20:30-31 – Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe [a] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

READ JOHN 1:1-18

 

This is known as the prologue to the gospel of John – as it sets the scene for what is to come.

 

What other book begins like John’s gospel?

Genesis.

 

Anyone want to make a guess as to why he might make an illusion to Genesis?

He takes us back to the beginning – where everything began – to say that this is where the gospel begins.

 

The other gospels begin at the beginning of Jesus’ life ministry or John’s ministry – but John begins his gospel in eternity – in the beginning of creation the word already was.

 

And where was the word? What is the implication of being with someone?”

The Word is distinct from God.

 

And yet the very next phrase says the WORD WAS GOD.

 

The Word was in the beginning , that is has always been – The Word was with God, that is a distinct person – and the Word was God – that is not just divine but diety.

How do we describe that today?

The trinity!!

 

What was created though the Word?

EVERYTHING!!  The universe was created through Jesus – our existence and its sustaining is in Christ – Col 1:17 – In him all things hold together.

We cannot exist apart from Christ – and this is the tragicness of unbelief. Living a life which is disconnected from it very source.

 

How do read v4 – In him was life and that life was the light of all people – how was the word the light of all people?

This is pointing to the incarnation of the Word – that when the Word, the very essence of life itself, entered the creation, it was a light to all humanity.  Notice 1 john 1:1-2. In order to have life we need to know God – and the Word incarnate is the source of such knowledge.

 

The darkness, in v5, seems to relate to evil, the world – The Word shines in the darkness – in the place of human rebellion – where people run and hide scared that their deeds may be exposed – the people love the darkness – they did not, nor have not understood what has come.

 

The gospel now changes tack slightly and speaks of John, who came as a witness.

 

Who is this John, and how do you know? What was John’s mission (v7)

Curious, isn’t it that the gospel writer simply says “John” – no explaination of who this might be – especially when in other places in this Gospel, the writer is very careful to distinguish between people – 14:22 – Then Judas, not judas Iscariot.

Because the gospel writer never mentions the name John again, there is no need to distinguish him from any other John – this was John the Baptist – sent as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that ALL may believe

 

Why do you think the author has to emphasis that John was NOT the light but only a witness to it?

There may have been a cult risen up around John The Baptist – we know in Acts that Paul encounters people who had the baptism of John but not Jesus. John  was remarkable – but he was not the person to whom people should rally around.

 

V9 cements this – the TRUE light was coming into the world. This is the REAL light – the ultimate self-disclosure of God to man – the manna from heaven symbolized the TRUE bread from heaven Jesus – the tabernacle symbolized the REAL temple from heaven – Christ. 

 

Yet, the people rejected the TRUE light – they did not recognize their creator.

 

According to v12 what requirement was needed to receive the right to become children of God? How did this differ to the religion and philosophies of the day?

Unlike greek philosophies or the mystic cults, where intelligence or enlightenment was required, or even the Jewish religion which demanded the right pedigree – ANYONE could have the right to be called a child of God as long as they RECEIVED HIM and BELIEVED in the name.

 

All, slaves, free, poor, rich, can be children of God.

 

And while we must receive him and believe his name, this is not our work but God’s work.

 

V14 reaches the piniacle – here is the explicit claim of Christianity – the shocking claim – that this eternal Word became flesh and lived amongst us. The incarnation. Now the glory of the Father, revealed in the OT is now revealed in the coming of the Word in person.

 

What was the grace of the Old Testament?

The coming of the Messiah. And in 16-17 John lays out what has happened in the incarnation – we have received the fullness of grace – the completion of it – the OT is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.