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Gospel of John - Chapter 3 - Lesson 3

Posted on March 1, 2016 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

John 3:22 After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized.

 

Jesus had spoken with Nicodemus in Jerusalem which was in Judea, but this indicates Jesus and his disciples had moved into a more rural area. They left the city to minister in the country. Jesus could not individually invest in the masses, so He particularly chose these twelve disciples (students, learners) to pour Himself into them and teach what the Father had instructed Him. According to John 4:2, Jesus did not baptize people Himself but entrusted that work to His disciples.

 

John 3:23 Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. 24 (This was before John was put in prison.)

 

Aenon (translated springs) near Salim was close to Samaria. Even though John the Baptist points to Jesus as his superior, people still seek out John to be baptized. This appears to be after the baptism and temptation of Christ but before John’s imprisonment by Herod Antipas. Herod would eventually have John beheaded at the request of his wife’s daughter as a reward for her dancing before him. He unwisely swore an oath in front of his guests to give her what she asked. Of course, her mother was the one who told her to ask for John’s head on a platter because he had preached against her adulterous relationship with Herod Antipas as she was originally married to his brother Philip. (Found in Matthew 14:1-12 as well as in Luke and Mark).

 

John 3:25 An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing.

 

Amplified Version footnote on verse 25:

John 3:25 An immersion baptism was one of the requirements for a convert to Judaism, and John the Baptist had most likely taken over the ritual, giving it new meaning in his own ministry. Jewish tradition specified that there had to be enough water to completely cover a person, and that it had to be collected naturally.

 

This controversy may have been over the fact that immersion was used for Gentile converts to Judaism and John was baptizing Jews. The Bible does not make completely clear what issue they were debating. Baptizing was a hot button topic of the day whether it was John the Baptist doing it or the disciples of Jesus.

 

3:26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

 

The disciples of John the Baptist were jealous that Jesus was drawing bigger crowds than John. They were upset that Jesus was apparently gaining followers while John was losing them even though John spoke of this happening himself, knew this day was coming, and was glad for it. As you may remember, John had even suggested that some of his disciples follow Jesus or had at least pointed Andrew and John in His direction referring to Him as the Lamb of God.

 

John 3:27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ 29 The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”

 

John’s directive from Heaven, from God, was to prepare the way for the Messiah. According to Merriam-Webster, Messiah means “the expected king and deliverer of the Jews.” However, we know from Scripture that Jesus the Messiah is truly a deliverer of all people who believe no matter what nationality. This was not the time for Jesus to function as an earthly king, but He will come again as the victorious Lamb and deliverer. His first visit was to deliver those who would believe from sin and the wrath of God, so He did not meet the Jews expectation of the Messiah. They did not understand that He first must suffer, die, and be resurrected.

 

Once again John makes it clear that he is NOT the Messiah. He explains this in terms of a familiar occurrence, a wedding, to enable the people to relate. John the Baptist was the Best Man, but Jesus was the Groom. The bride belongs to the Groom, not the Best Man. The church is often referred to as the “bride of Christ,” so it was time for His bride (believers) to follow Him rather than anyone else. The Best Man’s job was done when the Bridegroom arrived and everything was going as planned. John’s joy was complete because he knew he had fulfilled his God-given purpose, that for which he was born, of making the path straight for the Bridegroom/King. John the Baptist is exceedingly content to humbly disappear into the background as Jesus takes His rightful position on center stage by the authority bestowed on Him by God the Father.

 

John 3:31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.

 

We believe John MacArthur explains verses 31-35 far better than we can.

 

The MacArthur Bible Commentary:

3:31-35 “In these verses, John the Baptist gave five reasons for Christ’s superiority to him: (1) Christ had a heavenly origin (v. 31); (2) Christ knew what was true by firsthand experience (v.32); (3) Christ’s testimony always agreed with God (v. 33); (4) Christ experienced the Holy Spirit in an unlimited manner (v. 34); and (5) Christ was supreme because the Father sovereignly had granted that status to Him (v. 35).”

 

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

 

Recently a friend posed this question on his Facebook page: “If you are saved… As a Christian, what are you saved from?” According to John 3:36, we are saved from the wrath of God. All human beings are going to live forever. The question is “Are you going to live forever with God in His light, love, and joy; or are you going to live forever under His wrath?”

 

Luke 12:4-6 (AMP) “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will point out to you whom you should fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority and power to hurl [you] into hell; yes, I say to you, [stand in great awe of God and] fear Him!

 

Heaven is eternal, but so is Hell. All deserve God’s wrath, and there is only one way to escape it. God graciously offers the escape plan to all who believe and trust in the saving power of Jesus Christ.

 

Romans 3:21-24 (ESV) 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

 

We will see in John chapter 14, that Jesus explains, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

 

Q – We keep reiterating this like a broken record, but it is of the utmost importance. Do you know where you will spend eternity? Have you heeded the Spirit’s call and surrendered your all to Jesus? If not, we are praying you do so ASAP!

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 1 - Lesson 5

Posted on February 23, 2016 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

John 1:29 (NIV) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!


The very next day after John the Baptist dealt with the contingent sent from the Pharisees, he saw Jesus headed his way. There must have been a crowd gathered because he instructed them to look at Jesus and described Him as “the Lamb of God. John the Baptist was not only announcing who Jesus was but was heralding His purpose. Within the sacrificial system God had implemented for His people, the Jews, only a lamb with no blemish or malady, a completely sound specimen, could be sacrificed at Passover. In the original Passover when the Jews were captive in Egypt, the blood of a perfect lamb was put on the doorposts so the angel of death would pass over that house rather than kill the first born children inside. Jesus would ultimately become the final Passover Lamb whose death would deliver all types of people from all nations and all times from sin and death. This does not say that all people will be saved. The Bible clearly teaches that not all roads lead to Heaven. In John 14:6, Jesus clearly claims to be the only way. Those who believe Jesus is God in the person of the Son, that He died in their place and was raised to life on the third day, and trust Him alone to deliver them from sin and death, WILL be delivered. Continue watching for references to Jesus as the Lamb of God. You may want to mark them in your Bible. We will put the words in red for you.

 

John 1:30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.”


John was baptizing so that Israel, the Lord’s people, might recognize their need for spiritual cleansing in preparation for the Messiah’s arrival. Even though he was Jesus’ cousin, John had not realized that He was the Christ until he baptized him. Also, John reiterates that Jesus is superior to him.

 

John 1:32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”


God had given John a sign to watch for – that the Holy Spirit would descend upon the Messiah and stay. He had witnessed this occurrence when he baptized Jesus.

 

Mark 1:9-12 (NIV) At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

 

John the Baptist declared that he only baptized people with water but Jesus would baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

 

Acts 1:4-5 (NIV) On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

 

John’s baptism was in preparation for the arrival of the Messiah. The baptism of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave His followers was to sustain them in His physical absence from the earth. The gift of the Holy Spirit enabled them to proclaim the Gospel with power and boldness.

 

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 

God had revealed the fact that Jesus was His Son to John the Baptist as the Spirit in the form of a dove rested on the Lord when He was baptized with water. As far as John the Baptist was concerned this was irrefutable evidence that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of God. He did not keep this good news to himself but declared it loudly and without apology to the people.

 

Q – Once John the Baptist recognized Jesus for who He really was, He pointed others His direction. How can we as believers point others in the direction of Jesus so they too may have the gift of forgiveness and God’s grace? If you have not entrusted your life to Jesus, it is our prayer that He might reveal Himself to you through the study of His word in the Gospel of John.

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 1 - Lesson 4

Posted on February 22, 2016 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

 

John1:19 (ESV) And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

 

The Jewish leaders, the Pharisees, sent priests and Levites to question John the Baptist and find out exactly who he was. He confessed that he definitely was NOT the Messiah, the Anointed One. Some had thought he might be the long awaited hope of Israel because he was baptizing for repentance from sin and announcing that the Kingdom of Heaven was near.

 

John 1:21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

 

Reformation Study Bible:

1:21 Are you Elijah. In Matt. 11:14 Jesus, clearly referring to Mal. 4:5, tells the crowd that John is “Elijah who is to come.” John comes in the “spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17), but the Baptist here affirms that he is not Elijah himself.

 

Malachi 4:5 (VOICE) Keep watch. I am sending Elijah the prophet to you before the arrival of the great and terrible day of the Eternal One.

 

These religious leaders thought John the Baptist might be Elijah resurrected, but he unequivocally denied this. Some thought he was the prophet Moses described in Deuteronomy 18:14-15 (VOICE):

 

Moses: 14 The nations you’re going to displace seek guidance from people who practice divination and predicting. But the Eternal your God doesn’t want you to do that. 15 He will raise up from among your own people a prophet who will be like me. Listen to him.

 

John also denied that he was the prophet Moses foretold. This left the envoy from the Pharisees puzzled.

 

John 1:22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”


John the Baptist quoted a portion of Isaiah 40:3, so we looked up the entire verse in the Voice Bible. It makes clear that the way is being prepared for God Himself. Since roads during that time were dirt, there were often large potholes, rocks in the way, or narrow areas. If a king were coming to town, the road crew would go out and make sure his journey would be smooth. John the Baptist served to “pave the way” for Jesus’ ministry to begin. So John the Baptist was a one-man road crew for Jesus the King.

 

Isaiah 40:3 (VOICE) “A voice is wailing, “In the wilderness, get it ready! Prepare the way; make it a straight shot. The Eternal would have it so. Straighten the way in the wandering desert to make the crooked road wide and straight for our God.”

 

 

Reformation Study Bible:

1:23 In quoting Is. 40:3, John applies to Christ what is said of Yahweh in that passage. The same truth appears even more clearly in Mark 1:1–3.

 

The passage in Mark leaves no doubt as to whom this applies, Jesus, the Son of God. You might take time to look it up and read it and any notes found in your Bible.

 

John 1:24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

 

The Pharisees (some of the religious leaders of Israel) and their emissaries were constantly questioning the authority of anyone but themselves. Instead of being delighted that John was encouraging people to turn from their sin and prepare themselves for the Kingdom of God, they wanted to know who gave him the license to preach! They were majoring on the wrong thing. Seems like they would have praised John the Baptist instead of calling him on the carpet. They questioned his authority to baptize if he were not the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet promised by Moses.

 

John 1:26 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27 even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28 These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

 

John the Baptist does not answer their question about his authority. Instead, he explains that Someone greater than himself is already among those who had come out to hear him at the Jordan River. They were unable to recognize Jesus as the Christ, but God had revealed this truth to John the Baptist as we will see. One of the lowest jobs for a servant was taking off the masters’ sandals. He states that he is not even worthy to perform this lowliest of tasks for the Person he is heralding. John is given many opportunities to exalt himself, but instead, in humility he promotes Christ. From the beginning of his ministry, John the Baptist humbly sets himself in the background, revealing the place of prominence as belonging to the Lord Jesus. He could have claimed fame since the angel announcing his conception to his father Zacharias had said:

 

Luke 1: 15-17 (NASB) “For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”


John the Baptist, the one-man road crew, worked tirelessly to help people prepare for the coming of Jesus’ ministry on earth. He proclaimed the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven boldly, yet humbly subordinated himself to Jesus, the Anointed One.

 

Q – Are we making a straight path, a clear way for people to understand Jesus? Is the example of our lives declaring His greatness, His supremacy, and His sovereignty to all who observe us?

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 1 - Lesson 3

Posted on February 21, 2016 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

The Word (God’s Voice), Jesus, became flesh:

 

Luke 2:7 (ESV) “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

 

Jesus not only became flesh but came in the form of an embryo, being born of the virgin Mary who was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit. He fully identified with mankind by even going through the birth experience rather than just materializing as King which was well within His power. The Apostle John writes that He dwelt among us. The disciples lived with Jesus every day. Jesus was fully human with all the needs that entails. He ran on food, water, and sleep like the rest of us; but He was still fully divine.


John was with James and Peter when Jesus was transfigured before them on the mountain.

 

Matthew 17:2 (ESV) “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.”


They not only saw Jesus’ humanity clear and present, but they also saw His undeniable divinity. God then told these three disciples that this was His Son and commanded them to listen to Him.


According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, grace can mean “the divine influence upon the heart, and it’s the reflection in the life.” The disciples saw the grace that Jesus offered all who would believe on Him; transformative power to become what God intended them to be.

 

Romans 8:28-29 (NIV) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

 

John observed that Jesus was full of truth. In fact, according to Jesus Himself, He is THE TRUTH:

 

John 14:6 (NIV) “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

We will study this in more depth later. Stay tuned: more layers of understanding are coming!

 

John 1:15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”


Elizabeth gave birth to John before Mary gave birth to Jesus (see Luke chapter 1 again). So John the Baptist was older than Jesus in His human expression. However, John the Baptist was correct in saying Jesus was before him because, as we have already seen, Jesus has always been. Technically, Jesus created John the Baptist if you think about it hard enough. In fact, He created His own mother Mary. True – but tilt, tilt, tilt! I love this line from the Michael Card song “The Mystery”:

“No fiction as fantastic and wild:

A mother made by her own child!”

As stated before, John the Baptist tried to make it clear that Jesus was above him in rank, more important than him. John the Baptist shouted that Jesus was who he had been preaching about all along. One of the things that John the Baptist preached was that he must decrease because the Lord Jesus must increase (see John 3:30).


Luke 3:16 (NASB) John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.


John the Baptist was faithful to fulfill his job as the trailblazer of the Messiah.

 

John 1:16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.


Through Moses, the Law was given. The Law is the instruction manual and a reflection of one’s sin back to them. The need for a Messiah, the need for a Savior, the need for the sacrificial Lamb of God becomes evident as we realize we can NEVER fully uphold the Law. No one who could uphold the Law except Jesus, the God-Man.


Romans 3:10 (NASB) …as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one…

Romans 3:23 (NASB) …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

 

Because Jesus became the sacrificial Lamb and died in our place, He has the authority to extend grace to us, not only saving grace, but “grace upon grace.” This indicates a superabundant, fantastic eternal grace!

 

Romans 6:23 (NASB) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Ephesians 4:2-7 (VOICE) 4 But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, 5 united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace. 6 He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. 7 He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed.

 

This ability to be united with God is not accomplished by self-effort, will, good works, self-worth. It is only accomplished through the work of God’s abundant grace which is made available to us through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

 

John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.


The Amplified Version of the Bible sheds some light on verse 18:

 

John 1:18 (AMP) “No one has seen God [His essence, His divine nature] at any time; the [One and] only begotten God [that is, the unique Son] who is in the intimate presence of the Father, He has explained Him [and interpreted and revealed the awesome wonder of the Father.]”

 

No human has seen God the father. In fact, He told Moses that it would kill him to see His face:

 

Exodus 33:18-20 (NASB) Then Moses said, “I pray You, show me Your glory!” And He said, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!


So Jesus was God with skin on, fully God and fully man in a human body. He was also the Voice of God and explained God’s nature to all who would listen. Through Jesus, we can understand God’s righteousness, justice, mercy, love, and grace. Jesus' presence reveals that God desires to be with His people – Emanuel, God with us. Even before Jesus, we see this desire in the Ark of the Covenant housed first in the traveling tabernacle and then in the temple. It was the symbol of God’s presence among the Jews. God calls those who trust Jesus to be His own “possession.”


1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;


Jesus is the Light who dispels the darkness of this world and reveals the marvelous life found in relationship with God.

 

Q – Has the Light shown a spotlight on your need for a Savior? Have you realized the depth of sin that creates distance between you and a completely perfect God? Trusting Jesus is the only way to bridge that gap.