John 18:1-11: Obedience Even Unto Death

Read: John 18:1-11

Judas’ betrayal of Jesus was something that Jesus had known about since the beginning of his ministry. He first mentions the betrayal in John 6:71. Jesus allowed Judas to stick around even though Jesus knew his intent even when under the guise of piety, Judas wanted Mary to sell her perfume for money so Judas could pilfer some off the top for himself. Earlier that evening, the devil had entered into Judas, and Jesus knew this (John 13:2,26).

Jesus had gone out to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mountain of Olives with his disciples before he was betrayed. Jesus here prayed to God if he was willing, to remove the cup from Jesus, but prays not for his own will, but the will of the Father (Luke 22:42). Jesus had laid aside his glory and took on a position of a servant to glorify God and do the will of the Father (John 4:32, John 6:33, John 6:38, Philippians 2:5-11), but the task to Jesus troubled him He knew what he had to do (John 12:27). God knew long before any of the events surrounding the crucifixion transpired that Jesus would have to carry out the will of God on the cross. The task was huge such that it caused angst for one who knew his place in heaven.

Judas came back this time with the Romans, priests, and Pharisees to betray Jesus and have him arrested. When they did come, they asked twice. The first time they ask, Jesus speaks “I am he” and they are knocked back. When Paul encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus he went down in the presence of a glorified Christ (Acts 9:4). This act may have been a demonstration of the plain spoken mode of Jesus who was forcefully willing to take on the forces of darkness even though he was angst about it. They ask again, perhaps because they were dumbfounded by what had just happened. Jesus again answers “I am he” to their question and says to them to let the others go their way.

But Peter in a brash display of zeal draws his sword and cuts the ear off of one of the servants. Jesus tells him to put away his sword, saying in a manner of a rhetorical question, that the cup was given to him by the Father and he should drink it. Peter’s zeal is contrasted with his betrayal. Peter had previously said that he would not betray Jesus even to death, but Jesus knew that Peter would deny him (John 13:36-38, John 18:25-27). Jesus knew that Judas would betray him, as he had spoken it before (John 17:12), and this was being fulfilled.

The plan God had set in motion long before these events had transpired could not be undone. Judas’ betrayal was set in motion and Jesus knew this. Peter in his zeal would try and stop it, but would later deny Christ, and Jesus knew this too. Jesus even asked the Father to remove the cup if possible, but nevertheless submitted to the will of the Father. His act of obedience to the will of the Father is what brought about the redemption of mankind. Paul says that one should have the attitude of Christ Jesus in Philippians 2:5 who became obedient as a servant and obedient even unto death on the cross. Jesus is not only the means of redemption, but also the model of obedience one should aspire too. Jesus says the ones who love will keep his commandments (John 14:15, John 14:23-24, John 15:10). In all things, one should obey the commands of Christ as Christ obeyed the Father, even when one does not want to or being obedient causes angst. Doing so will bring about the will of God. In all things though, Christians can know that anxiety can calmed by way of prayer and petition to the Father–even Jesus did this in the last hours before he went to the cross! One can know that the peace of God is with them (Philippians 4:6-7).

Lord, help me to obey you, even when it hurts.

John 17:22-26: God’s Glory and Love Revealed

Read: John 17:22-26

Jesus while praying for the disciple prays that the Father would be glorified in them just as the Father had been glorified in Jesus and so that the disciples would know the oneness that Jesus has with the Father. They would know the love of the Father for Jesus and have the same sort of “perfect unity” that Jesus had with the Father. Because of the oneness the disciples will have with the Father, the world will know that Jesus sent them.

The manifestation of God in one’s life is the Holy Spirit living in one’s life (John 14:16-18). The disciple were not be left as orphans, but were to receive the Holy Spirit who would guide and teach them in the way they should go so that the world would know that Jesus was sent. The Book of Acts records the progression of the Holy Spirit coming into the lives of believers and directing them where to go next, what to say, how to say it, among many things as the gospel went out from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. But before they started this mission, they went to Jerusalem to wait on the Spirit (Acts 1:4). The Spirit came and they were filled with power and this started the movement that Jesus was promising even here.

Jesus also asks the Father that the disciples get to see the glory where Jesus was and how the Father loved even before the foundation of the world. Seeing the glory of God revealed was not something that anyone could do and live (Exodus 33:20-23). God’s glory could certainly overwhelm a person as it did with Isaiah when he was in the presence of God (Isaiah 6:1-8) because one realizes his or her sin and cannot stand before God because of this. Up to this point, the disciples had seen some manifestations of God’s glory and had accessed the Father principally through God in human form, Jesus. Jesus was asking God to fully reveal himself to them so they could know the glory of not as in a mirror or with veiled faces as Paul describes (1 Corinthians 13:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18), but rather in the fullest sense of what can be known. He asks this so they can know the love of the Father for the Son, the love of God for them, and so Jesus may be with them in this love.

God did not stop revealing his glory and love with the disciples. Everyone who believes in the name of Jesus can know the love of the Father in the same way and have the oneness with the Father in the same manner the disciples did. In doing so, they will too receive the power of God and will be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can then help guide and direct the Christian as he goes into the world and speaks about the truth of Jesus.

Lord, I have seen your glory and love! Compel me to show it to others!

John 14:16-26

Read: John 14:16-26

Jesus’ time on earth was only for a short while, and while he was with the disciples, he instructed them on how they should live out their lives in accordance to his commands. And now that it was time for Jesus to depart and return to the Father, he was going to ask the Father to send another permanent helper to them, namely the Holy Spirit. For the disciples, this again probably did not make a whole lot of sense either considering the that Jesus said that he and the Father were one in the same but somehow separated in location, and that Jesus was going away to be with the Father. Here, Jesus said that he is going away, yet he is coming to them and will live inside of them. He also says in the same manner as that the Father is in Jesus, so will Jesus be in them. And he says in response to Judas’ question that he who hears Jesus’ commands hear not Jesus’ commands, but the commands of the Father. These things are only possible if Jesus is the Father and the Spirit too: that is all three of them, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are God.

Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will teach them all things and remind the disciples of the things that Jesus had taught too. The work of the Holy Spirit is to provide illumination and instruction on the things of God (also in John 16:13). Jesus talks about the role of the Spirit in John 3:1-13 when he is talking to Nicodemus. The spiritual truth that Jesus was speaking into Nicodemus’ life was only comprehensible when the Spirit was there to help him understand. (Paul expounds on this more in 1 Corinthians 2:1-16.) On the same token, the Spirit also compels worshipers in truth when they worship. Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to a spring of water welling up inside of someone rather than a well, which required one to labor to get the water out of (John 4:24). The Spirit does other things too: convicts Christians of sin (John 16:8) and intercede for Christians (Romans 8:26-27).

The Holy Spirit is God living in inside – that is making his abode – in every believer. In the same manner in which Jesus was in sync with the Father, so should Christians be in sync with God too. While the oneness of Jesus, God, and the Spirit is not entirely comprehensible, there can be some understanding of it in the manner in which the Spirit indwells every believer. The same functions the Spirit played in the lives of the disciples are the same functions that the Spirit plays in the lives of believers today. The Spirit brings one into a close relationship with God, teaches and reminds believers of the truths of God, convicts the believer of sin, and makes intercessions on the part of the believer. Increasingly, as a Christian mature, he or she becomes more in tune with the Spirit in one’s life. While Christians are not God, they can enjoy a close relationship with God in a similar manner in which the members of the Godhead share with God abiding in the life of the believer!

Lord, you have never left me or forsaken me because your Spirit lives inside of me!

Help me to recognize the work of the Spirit in my life so I can be in a close relationship with you!

John 14:1-6

Read: John 14:1-6

Jesus had just told the disciples that he was about to leave them, probably to their surprise. Many of the Jews thought that the messiah would be a lasting messiah, not one who would leave them only after such a short time (John 12:34). To console them, Jesus says two things: he goes to prepare a place for them and that he will return for them. These words probably provide some level of comfort, but they still do not understand what Jesus is talking about. Jesus is not talking about a place on earth, rather that he was going to return to be with God (John 13:1). John gives glimpses of this place in Revelation 21:22-23 and Isaiah 6:1-5 describes the place of God. Jesus was going to return to the glory which he left in order to become a man, serve others, then die (Philippians 2:5-9). Jesus return was probably also difficult to understand too. Jesus says after the resurrection that his return will be in the manner in which he goes away (Acts 1:11) and with trumpets and voices to which he will call all those who believe in him to be with him (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

The confusion is illustrated by Thomas’ remarks: he does not know where Jesus is going or how to get there. Jesus answers by saying that he is “the way”, and the place he is going is to be with the Father. The Greek word translated “way” is “ὁδος” which literally means road, street, or path, but can be figurative too. Jesus associates the “the way” with two other concepts that he had associated with himself namely “the truth” (John 1:14, John 1:17, John 5:33, John 8:31-32, John 8:44-46) and “the life” (John 1:4, John 3:15-16, John 4:14, John 5:24-29, John 6:27-48, John 10:10, John 11:25). These two concepts by now were familiar with the disciples, and they believed that Jesus was indeed the way to eternal life, so much so that when Jesus asks them if they want to abandon him too, Peter replies “to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68) In other words, there was no other person who could bring eternal life other than Jesus. Peter affirms this when he speaks before the rulers and elders in the temple. He declares is salvation is found in no one else other than the name of Jesus. When Jesus declares that he is that no one comes to the Father except through him, he is saying that he is the only path to salvation. There is no plan B, path, or means to salvation other than Jesus.

If Jesus is the truth and the life and salvation can be found in no other, then logically it follows that any other claiming to have a way to salvation is false. For many with modern sensibilities that seek to include everyone as to not create divisions among people, this is a difficult truth to accept.  Such people want to think that there are many paths to God and that so long as one is truly committed to his or her path, he or she will reach God. There are two problem with this thinking: The first is obvious: it is contrary to what Jesus said. Second, as a matter of practicality, the only one in jeopardy of not receiving salvation is the one who wants to be inclusive. If the inclusivist is right, then the inclusivist and the exclusivist receive salvation. If the exclusivist is right, only the exclusivist receives salvation. In both cases, the exclusivist receives salvation, so it is more reasonable to be an exclusivist. If the modern Christian wants to be inclusive, then include as many as one can by preaching the one way to the Father to all creation (rather than contradicting the teachings of Christ) so Jesus can make a place for them and call them home when he returns. For we know in the end there will be a great multitude from every tribe, tongue and nation worshiping God (Revelation 5:9)!

Lord, you are the way! Help to share the way with as many as I can!

John 8:45-59

Read: John 8:45-59

Being a descendant of Abraham did not stop the Pharisees from being children of the devil. Jesus points this out, in that they are slaves to sin, and thereby do what their “father” tells them to do. Jesus says that if they were sons of Abraham, they would do his deeds. Abraham’s deeds as Paul, the author of Hebrews, and James note were his faith that resulted in justification (Romans 4, James 2:23, Hebrews 11:8,17, Galatians 3:1-14). Paul and James both quote from Genesis 15:6, in which Abraham was promised a son, and Abraham believed God and god counted it as righteousness to Abraham. Paul makes it obvious that that it was not a working of the flesh in that it was not circumcision because this happened before circumcision. The mark of circumcision was a marker of the promise. The Pharisees and Jews did not believe him as Abraham did.

The Pharisees try to ascertain who Jesus’ father was. They thought that perhaps he was a Samaritan and had a demon. Samaritans were half-breeds in the eyes of the Jews in that they intermarried with other people and were not of pure descendants of Abraham. The Samaritans however saw themselves as descendants of Abraham, as the woman at the well notes in John 4:20. One’s heritage in Jewish society had implications on one’s standing in society. Certain tribes of Israel had particular prophecies that pertained to them, such as the ruler of Israel coming from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). Matthew and Luke both give Jesus’ genealogy to show that he was a descendant of Abraham and David such that he fulfilled certain aspects in the Jews thought were necessary for one to be the Messiah (Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38). The Old Testament is chock-full with genealogy. Saying Jesus was a Samaritan was a way of discrediting him among the Jews, and saying he was demon was to say he was crazy for thinking the way he did. The Pharisees in there scheming were always looking for a way to discredit Jesus, yet in all their attempts were unable to do so.

Jesus then makes a statement about Abraham that seems to baffle them yet again. Jesus says that Abraham saw his day some time ago when Abraham was alive. The Jews question this, saying Jesus is not even 50 years old. Abraham had lived some 2000 years before Jesus was born. The numbers just did not add up. Jesus then says, before Abraham was, “I am”. The tense of the verb Jesus uses for Abraham is translated “was” is “γενεσθαι” which carries the meaning if coming into existence, coming into being, or being made. Jesus is saying that before Abraham existed on the planet, Jesus “was”. This word is “ειμι” and is to “exist”. Jesus was effectively saying, “Before Moses began to existed, I exist” or “Before Moses began to existed, I Am.” Jesus’ statement is first person present tense. Any Jew would have immediately recalled Moses conversation with God at the burning bush (Exodus 3). When Moses asks about who he should say sent him, God answers “I am that I am”. The great “I Am” is who sent Moses to Pharaoh. The great “I Am” is the self-sufficient being. His existence is not contingent upon any other’s being. Jesus in effect is claiming to be the great “I Am” at the burning bush, the one who delivered them from Egypt, no one other than God himself. To many this would be blasphemy, and for this reason, they picked up stone to kill him.

A person in the world then and today has one of two possible spiritual fathers: God or the devil. One is the father of lies, and the other is the father of truth, and his son is Jesus. No matter who one’s earthly descendants are one will be in one of these two families. While the Jews claimed Abraham as their descendant, Paul likens all those who believe to be descendants of Abraham (Romans 4:16-25, Galatians 3, particularly Galatians 3:29). Abraham is the father of faith, and those who follow as he followed by faith are the family of God. No one can claim salvation because of anything earthly he might obtain or might be associated with. Going to church, tithing, being from a good family, doing good deeds, being a good person, having a good education have do not determine who one’s spiritual father is because only faith can. Trust Jesus, who is God, and you will be in the family of God.

Lord, you are Abba – my Daddy! Thank you for loving me as your child!

John 5:30-47

Read: John 5:30-47

Jesus, after laying his claims for equality with God, Jesus says that if he testifies about himself, then his testimony is not true, but if there is another witness, then the testimony is true.  In the Jewish legal system, truth was not established by a single witness, but my two (or more) witnesses (Deuteronomy 17:6, Deuteronomy 19:15). Jesus then gives 5 other witnesses to the veracity of his testimony: the Spirit, the witness of John the Baptist, the witness of works, the witness of the Father, and the witness of Scripture.

The Spirit (John 5:32):  The “another” is uncertain, but given that Jesus testifies about the Father later on, it seems that Jesus is alluding to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the one who speaks truth into the lives of believers (John 14:17, John 15:26, John 16:13, Romans 9:1, 1 John 5:6, 1 Corinthians 2:10-16). The Spirit here is testifying about Jesus and Jesus, being one with God and the Spirit, knows that the testimony is true.

John the Baptist (John 5:33-35) John the Baptist gave a testimony about Jesus, calling him the Lamb of God and the one who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:19-36, John 3:22-36, Mark 1:1-13). Jesus calls him a “lamp” – a light bearer as described in John 1:6-8. John made the way for Jesus, pointing people to Christ so that they would not only have Jesus’ testimony, but also the witness of another.

Works (John 5:36): Jesus claims that his works were a sign from God that his testimony is true (John 7:31, John 10:24-38). John the Apostle recorded many of the signs in his gospel to that people might believe in Jesus too (John 20:30-31). The ultimate work of Jesus was his death, burial, and resurrection on which the Christian faith stands or falls (1 Corinthians 15:11-19).

The Father (John 5:37-38):  Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 17:5 speaks of a voice from heaven calling Jesus “My son”. Peter recalls the transfiguration of Jesus in 2 Peter 1:16-21. Perhaps Jesus is talking about the voice from heaven, although they may have audibly heard it, they did understand it because it was not abiding in their hearts. This is the condition described in Isaiah 6:10 where the ears are receiving sound, but is not received. The Father’s words abiding in one’s heart should compel them to believe in the Father, the one who sent Jesus.

The Scriptures (John 5:39-47): Moses wrote about Jesus (Genesis 3:15, Genesis 12:3, Genesis 18:18, Genesis 49:10, Numbers 21:8-9, Numbers 24:17-18, Deuteronomy 18:18-19). The scriptures for the Jews in New Testament times varied depending on the sect, but they all agreed that the writings of Moses were scripture. Jesus reasons that if they believed the scriptures they would believe in him. They do not believe in him, so they do not believe the scriptures. The reason Jesus gives is that they seek glory from one another rather than God – perhaps they were looking to make themselves the prophets the scripture spoke of rather than Jesus. In that matter, they were abusing scripture. In any case, if one does not believe scriptures, they cannot believe Jesus.

Claiming equality with God would require extraordinary witnesses, but Jesus nevertheless had the witnesses he need to prove his case. Christians today, perhaps, have even more of a witness concerning Jesus. Not only do Christians have the five aforementioned witnesses, Christians have the message fully revealed and expounded on by the New Testament writers and the Holy Spirit living within. Christians have a personal testimony to share and they can also point skeptics to the veracity of scriptures that have been verified as accurate and reliable. One does not have to affirm some pie-in-the-sky claim concerning what he or she believes, but have evaluate it based on real history and verifiable facts.

Lord, your testimony is true. Help me to point others to the truth!

John 5:16-24

Read John 5:16-24

The Jews wanted to kill Jesus not only because he was working on the Sabbath, but that he claimed equality with God (John 5:16-18). In spite of this, Jesus launches into a dialogue about himself concerning his oneness with the Father. Jesus claimed among other things that he did the work of the Father. When Jesus says that he is doing the work of the Father, he sees God working and works in the same manner, not of himself. In a manner of speaking, Jesus says that he is working harmoniously with the father as two professional dancers work together as one. It is apparent that the Father is leading the Son and the Son is completely in step with the Father because the Father is showing him everything.

Because Jesus is in step with the Father and in response to the action that Jesus performed, Jesus says that he gives life as the Father gives life, and should the Father heal, The Son heals also. The term translated “judge” and its kin “judgment” are translated from the Greek words “κρινω “ and “κρισις” respectively (John 5:22, also in John 5:29). These words not only carry a legal meaning, but also a carry common usage as well in terms of discernment, approval and opinion. In manner of speaking, the Father and the Son share a common opinion about matter on how they act – there is no deliberation or disagreement. God does this for Jesus so the people will regard Jesus in the same way that they regard the Father. Jesus chose to heal the man at the Pool of Bethesda, and the Father was at work right alongside him and in complete agreement with the actions Jesus was taking.

Jesus makes a peculiar remark that on face would seem contradictory to the statements concerning salvation in John 3:16 and John 3:36 – that is salvation comes by faith in Son. Jesus says in John 5:24 that the ones who hear Jesus’ word and believes “he that sent him”, namely the Father, have eternal life. It would stand to reason that Jesus was contradicting himself unless to believe the Father is not different than to believe in Jesus, which is only possible if Jesus and God are one and the same. John 1:1 declares that Jesus was God and Jesus himself says in John 10:30 that he and the Father are one. For this reason, one cannot affirm just any god for salvation, but have faith in the God who is Jesus. Even more so, this underscores the oneness of Jesus as God.

The oneness with the Father that Jesus had can never fully be understood by human minds, but this relationship is reflected in the relationship God has with his people when he indwells them with the Holy Spirit. John 14:16-26 describes this relationship. The Father loves the Son, and the two are harmonious in all they do. Likewise, Jesus loves his people and his people should love him, and for this reason his people too should be harmonious in all that they do. Jesus says that he would be with them in the form of the Holy Spirit and that one of the Spirit’s roles was to teach and remind people of what Jesus said. The ones who love Jesus will act in accordance with his will by obeying his commandments (John 14:15) and the Spirit will be there to teach and guide believers along the way.

Jesus is still sending his Helper into the lives of believers today. The ones who have the Spirit today are the ones who have life. While Christians have righteousness by faith, Christians still sin and these two competing wills causes disharmony between God and believers, disrupting the oneness. Paul commands believers to consider themselves dead to sin because Jesus died to sin (Romans 6:10-18). Because believers are dead to sin, they should not obey the passions of the mortal body but be instruments of righteousness.

Lord, live in me and help me put off sin so that I may have oneness with you!