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John Introduction

No matter the translation, the Gospel of John will strike the reader with its depth, poignancy, and eye-witness appeal. This may well be the deepest book of the New Testament. New revelations seem to come through the Holy Spirit every time the gospel is studied, so it is impossible to determine that one has completely understood a verse.

The author appears to be lurking within the text as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, present but not focused on his own role. This title doesn’t necessarily imply that Jesus loved this disciple more than the others, only that this disciple recognized he was loved. Most commentators even from the earliest times believed this disciple was John, one of the twelve, brother of James and son of Zebedee.

The author apparently wrote this account considerably later than the other Gospel accounts. He probably was aware of the other accounts and chose to not include many of the stories they do include. There are discrepancies in the sequence and timing of events between John’s account and the three Synoptic accounts. (“Synoptic” means they “see with the same eye”.) For instance, John describes the cleansing of the Temple at a much earlier point in Jesus’ ministry.  John has Jesus’ last meal with the disciples as before the Passover. There are various ways different commentators have reconciled the differences between the gospels.

John seems to be motivated to tell things at a more intimate level, giving details and even mentioning names, motivations, and events that are missing from the other three Gospel accounts. For instance, most of John’s account takes place in Jerusalem rather than Galilee, unlike the three synoptic accounts. The reason for Jesus being in Jerusalem is to attend the feasts, and most of his ministry in John occurs around those feasts. 

The miracle stories John does include appear to have the motivation to prove that Jesus was the Anointed One. John also includes much of the theological reflections of Jesus, especially in Chapters 14-17, that are not included in the other three accounts. The focus of this theology is to help the world see how completely Jesus revealed the nature and love of God, the Father of us all.

John Guide to the Transcommentary

This is a little bit more than a translation and a bit less than a full commentary. It serves a similar function to the Amplified Bible, though that work’s purpose was to provide a complete sense of the meaning of the words used by the writers of scripture. This work has a somewhat different purpose:

  • To convey as close as possible the actual meaning of the sentences as they would have been understood at the time they were originally spoken or written. To accomplish this for twenty-first century Americans, dynamic equivalent words and sayings have been used at a sentence level. An attempt has been made to preserve intended wordplay and irony from the original author.

  • We have attempted to clarify ideas, references, and thought sequences that would have been clear to first century audiences but are not clear to modern audiences because of differences in culture, customs, language, or degree of familiarity with Old Testament scriptures and Messianic prophecies. The phrasing of the translation itself aims at that clarity, but we have also added words, phrases, and sentences to the narrative for improved understanding. All such additions are in brackets [].  This allows the reader to have the explanatory additions when reading but also insulate these additions from the translated scripture – indeed, with a little effort they can be skipped entirely when reading aloud.

  • Color codes for different types of additional material are intended to further aid understanding:

- As in many editions, the words of Jesus are shown in red.

- Words of Father God or the Holy Spirit are shown in blue.

- Green is used for words added to descriptive narrative because they are implied or as commentary to explain the context.

References to scriptures are shown in gold.

  • As in many translations and editions, we have added headings in bold to help understand when a new theme is introduced by the author.

  • The author frequently refers to "Christ" or to "Jesus Christ".  We have employed the words “the Anointed One” rather than "Christ", since that is the meaning of “Christ”.  We wanted to avoid the sense of "Christ" as Jesus’ surname, yet still recognize it as a well-known title.

  • We have also added study questions at the end of each chapter to help you think more thoroughly about the meaning and application of the author’s writing.

An example of the use of bold headings, color, and brackets can be seen in the following paragraph taken from John 5:

The basis for judgment

30 “I can do nothing on my own.  When I judge, I judge by what I hear [as I listen both to people’s own words (Matthew 12:36-37) and what I hear from the Father], and my judgment is right, because I am not seeking to please myself but to do what pleases my Father. 31 [Likewise,] if I testify on behalf of myself, my testimony is not valid.  [Testimonies on behalf of oneself legally must be corroborated by at least one other person.] 32 There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. [Jesus is referring to his Father. The Father testifies out loud several times about who Jesus is (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5, John 12:29), but he also testifies through the miracles that he and Jesus do together.]

We will have succeeded in this translation if you the reader find that you can read this Gospel with greater comprehension and enjoyment than ever before.  Please let us know if you find the various supplementary materials helpful. or too distracting, or if you have any other suggestions about how to improve this approach to translation.

Richard Tittle, pneuma9@gmail.com

John Chapter 1

God’s Expression

God's Expression existed from the beginning, right alongside with God. The Expression was also God, and was always with God, from the very beginning.

God's Expression

Through God's Expression, all things came into being. There was no separate expression for creating anything else. [This possibly is why Jesus has such command over the elements of nature – he intimately knows every feature of the world, since it all was created through him.] In him was the life that animates creation. This life was the light that gives mankind direction. The light shines in the darkness, but those of the darkness are not even aware of it.

6 There was a man sent from God, named John [the Baptist]He came as a witness to testify about the light, so all might believe in the light through him. John was not the light himself but came only to testify about the light. He was talking about the true light, which was coming into the world to bring illumination to all men. [By sending Jesus, God turned on a light for everyone in the world. It was up to them whether they chose to live in that light.]

10 He who was the source of the world was now in the world he created, but the world was not aware. 11 He came to his own country, and his own people did not embrace him. 12 But to all who did accept him and believed in who he is, he gave them the privilege to become children of God. 13 They would be born [in their spirits simply by believing and trusting in him], not by bloodline, or fleshly desire, or man's choice, but from God himself. [When we are born again, it is a new kind of birth – God is our father and we are a new and different kind of being.]

14 God's Expression became human and lived with us, and we [who have followed him] saw his majesty, the majesty of the only son, himself God, full of favor and truth.  15 John testified, crying out, “This is the one I already spoke about [at a previous time not recorded by this account], ‘He that appears after me is ahead of me, because he existed first before me.’”

16 And we [who have followed Jesus] have received from his fullness one gift after another. 17 For the Law was given by Moses, but favor and truth came through Jesus the Anointed One. 18 No man has ever seen God face to face, but the only son, himself God, who lives in the closest intimacy with the Father, has clearly portrayed him [showing exactly what he is like].

The testimony of John the Baptist

19 This is the testimony of John [the Baptist], when the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to question him, asking, “Who are you?” [Many people were following John the Baptist, believing he might be one of the important representatives of God predicted by scripture. The Jewish leaders had the job of examining him to find out both his claims and the truth about him.] 20 He spoke out openly, without hesitation, saying, “I am not the Anointed One.” [“Anointed One” is a title given the expected coming leader of the Jewish people, referring to “the anointing” – the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of God that would mark his leadership. There are many references throughout the Old Testament to this expected leader, but he is never directly referred to as the “Anointed One” in scripture. This was an understanding given by God to the prophets and the teachers of the Law.]

The testimony of John the Baptist

21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” [Malachi 4:5 refers to Elijah coming before the Day of the Lord, which the teachers of the Law had interpreted as the coming of the Anointed One.] And he said, “I am not.” [Though Jesus recognized John as fulfilling the scripture from Malachi (Matthew 11:14), John himself did not claim any title.] “Are you the Prophet?” [“The Prophet” was described by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-18, and again the teachers of the Law understood this to refer to the Anointed One.] He responded, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Tell us who you are so we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make a level pathway for the Lord’, as Isaiah the prophet said [Isaiah 40:3].”

24 The ones sent to him were Pharisees [the Jewish group dedicated to strictly observing the Law as a rulebook]25 They asked him, “Why, then, are you baptizing, if you are not the Anointed One, or Elijah, or the Prophet?” 26 John [the Baptist] answered them, “I baptize in water. [It’s what God told me to do.] There is standing among you one you do not know, 27 who is coming [among you] after me, but I am not worthy to even untie his sandals.” 28 These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan [in a small stream off the Jordan River in the modern nation of Jordan], where John was baptizing.

Jesus’ introduction by John the Baptist

[John the Baptist came and impressed everyone except the Jewish religious leaders. John had been told by God that his job was to pave the way for the Anointed One to come, and he was told several things about him in advance.] 29 The next day [after John was examined by the Levites and priests], John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming towards him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. [That  the Anointed One would take away the sins of the world, functioning as a substitute, was another revelation given to John the Baptist. The Anointed One was expected by the religious community to be a conquering hero rather than a suffering servant or a sacrificial lamb as described in Isaiah 53.]

Jesus' introduction by John the Baptist

30 "This is the one I was speaking about when I said, ‘There is one coming after me who ranks before me because he existed first before me.’ 31 I didn't know who he was, but I came baptizing with water, so that he would come and appear before Israel. [One of the primary purposes for my baptizing people was so that the Anointed One would come and be revealed.] 32 And I saw the Spirit come down like a dove out of heaven and remain on him. 33 I didn't know who he was, but the One who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain on him is the same one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’

[Surprisingly, the number one thing that John knew about the coming Anointed One, the one he was sent to identify to the world, was that he would baptize with the Holy Spirit, but Jesus does not do this until after his own death and resurrection. John baptized with water to signify cleansing from an old way of life, but Jesus was going to fill people with the Holy Spirit, which would empower them to live a new life and to walk in the wisdom and power of God (Luke 24:49).  The Spirit would also be the seal which guaranteed to each believer their belonging to God (Romans 8:9, Ephesians 1:13) and their inheritance as sons.  Jesus had to be glorified, dying on the cross and removing men’s sins, before he could send the Spirit. A Holy God could live in us only if we were first made holy.  Jesus would send the Spirit after his death, resurrection, and ascension, from his place of authority at the right hand of the Father (John 15:26, John 16:7).] 

34 "I saw this, and I testify that this is the Son of God.” [John knew that the one on whom the Spirit came and remained was the Son of God, and he saw this happen at Jesus’ baptism.]

Early encounters with disciples

35 The next day, John [the Baptist] was standing with two of his disciples. 36 He observed Jesus walking and said, “Look, the Lamb of God.” [John was encouraging those who were seeking the Anointed One to transfer from following himself to following Jesus.] 37 Hearing what John [the Baptist] said, the two followed Jesus [as though they were his disciples]38 Turning around, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They replied to him, “Rabbi”, which is Hebrew for teacher, “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see for yourselves.” They came with him and saw where he was staying and stayed with him that night and the whole next day, since it was already about four in the afternoon.

Early encounters with disciples

40 Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard John [the Baptist] and followed Jesus. [It seems likely that the other of the two was John, the writer of the Gospel account. The writer tends to mention himself, but not directly.] 41 Right away, Andrew found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the ‘Messiah’”, which is Hebrew for the Anointed One. 42 He brought him to Jesus, and when Jesus looked at him, he said, “You are Simon, son of John [not John the Baptist or John the Gospel writer].  You will be called Kephas”, which [translated from Hebrew to Greek] means Peter [or ‘Rock’ in English]

[These things all took place in Jordan, where John had been baptizing.  John gave away at least two of his disciples to Jesus.] 43 The next day, Jesus decided to go to Galilee. [Probably his new disciples traveled with him. After he got to Galilee, he continued gathering disciples.] He found Philip and said, “Come [be my disciple].” 44 Philip was from Bethsaida, the same city as Andrew and Peter. [This may have been the fishing village associated with a section of the larger town Capernaum, since Peter’s house has been excavated in modern times in the ruins of ancient Capernaum. However, Peter may have moved from Bethsaida to join his wife’s family in Capernaum. Most scholars think Bethsaida was just northeast of where the Jordan River feeds the Sea of Galilee.]

45 Philip found Nathanael [who was also called Bartholomew] and said to him, “We have found the one written about by Moses in the Law and by the Prophets - Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” [In Deuteronomy 18:15-18, Moses refers to a prophet like himself who would lead the Jewish people. There were many references to the Anointed One among the Prophets, for example, Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 12:10.] 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” [Apparently, Nazareth had a bad reputation.] Philip said, “Come with me and see.”

47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said this about him, “Look. Here comes an Israelite with no pretense in him.” 48 Nathanael said to him, “Where do you know me from?” Jesus replied, “Before Philip called to you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” [Jesus recognized Nathanael, possibly from an earlier vision.] 49 Nathanael answered, “Rabbi, [a Hebrew word for teacher,] you are the Son of God, the King of Israel.”  [Nathanael seems to recognize Jesus as the Anointed One, though he doesn’t yet understand many of the implications of this truth.]

50 Jesus answered, “Do you believe [in who I am] because I said, ‘I saw you under the fig tree’? You will see greater things than this.” 51 And Jesus said, “I assure you, you will see the heavens open up and the angels of God will go up and come down on the Son of Man.” [Jesus was referring to a familiar story known to every Jew – the story of Jacob’s stairway to heaven – told in Genesis 28:10-13. Nathanael would see many miracles performed by Jesus. Heaven opens and angels come and go whenever we pray in faith, because it is the angels who do God’s will, and God carries out our prayers and declarations in agreement with his will. ‘Son of Man’ was both a known title for the Anointed One, or Messiah, and a fit and humble way for Jesus to describe himself as born like any other human being.]

John Chapter 1 discussion questions

Discussion questions

1. Why is the author so intent on making us aware that Jesus existed before his time on earth, and that he was God himself? What was it that John (the disciple) experienced with Jesus that he felt people needed to understand about him?

2. Why are the Jewish leaders investigating John the Baptist? What does John say is his purpose? Did he accomplish it?

3. Who does John say Jesus is? Why do you think it took so long for the disciples to understand Jesus’ identity?

4. Jesus tells Nathanael he will see angels coming and going in Jesus’ ministry? Why do you think Jesus mentioned this? Have you ever seen angels?

John Chapter 2

Turning water into wine

On the third day [since the disciples first began following Jesus], there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Both Jesus and his disciples were asked to come to the wedding. And when they [the wedding party] ran short of wine, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “What does that have to do with you and me? My time [for revealing myself as the Anointed One] has not yet arrived. [The Father has not shown me this is my assignment.] His mother said to the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.” [She felt it was her assignment to help the wedding party, and therefore, by extension, if Jesus could help, he should. Perhaps she was thinking he could help without fully revealing himself. As it happened, only a few saw what he did but most did not.]

Turning water into wine

There were six stone water jars standing there, used by the Jews for purification, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars up with water”, and they filled them up to the top. And he said to them, “Ladle some out and bring it to the master of ceremonies”, and they carried it to him. [The married couple’s need and Mary’s faith in Jesus made this the right time for a miracle. Jesus didn’t even need to say a word for the miracle to be carried out.]

When the master of ceremonies tasted the water [which had been] turned into wine, he did not know where it came from, but the servants who had ladled the water knew. 10 He called over the bridegroom and said to him, “Every man provides good wine in the beginning, and when guests have drunk plenty, then he puts out the inferior, but you have reserved the good wine until now.” 11 This first of his miracles was performed by Jesus in Cana of Galilee, showing his greatness, and his disciples believed in him [because of what they saw with their own eyes].

12 After this, he went to Capernaum [which later became his home base], along with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples, where they stayed only a few days. 13 It was time for the Jewish Passover feast, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.

Cleansing the Temple
14 In the Temple, he found sellers of oxen, sheep, and doves, and money-changers sitting [in their usual places]15 Taking a whip made of small cords, Jesus drove them all out of the Temple, including the oxen and sheep, and poured out the money changers' coins, and turned over the tables. 16 And to those that sold doves, he said, “Remove all these things from here; do not make my Father's house into a house for selling things.” 17 All this reminded his disciples that it was written in the scriptures, “Zeal for your house has consumed me [Psalms 69:9].” [What appears to be the same story is described in Matthew 21:13, as well as in Mark and Lukebut in these three accounts the clearing of the Temple occurs during Jesus’ last visit to Jerusalem before his crucifixion. It makes more sense the clearing of the Temple occurred later. Perhaps a disciple of John inserted this story in the wrong place within the account. Alternatively, Jesus may have cleansed the Temple twice.]

Cleansing the Temple

18 Then the Jews responded, saying to him, “What supernatural sign can you show us to justify [that you have the authority for] doing these things?” 19 Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will bring it back to life.” [Matthew 12:40, Mark 8:12, and Luke 11:29 make clear Jesus has no intention of fully explaining himself, saying instead that this will be like the sign of Jonah among the Ninevites, redemption after three days hidden in the great fish. Only his rising from the dead will prove who he is, but even then only to those who are ready to believe.] 20 Then the Jews said, “It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you, in three days, will bring it back to life?” 21 But he was talking about the temple of his body. 22 After Jesus had risen from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and believed the scripture [Psalms 69:9], and the word Jesus had spoken. [Later, it made sense to them that he had fulfilled the Psalm as well as the word he had spoken about his body being the new Temple.]

23 While he was in Jerusalem, many at the Passover feast believed in him, because of the miracles he performed. 24 But Jesus did not trust them because he understood [what motivated] everyone [and knew that their support was superficial and short-lived]25 He did not need a man to speak but already knew what was inside the man.

Discussion questions

1. Why did Jesus turn the water into wine, if it was not yet time to reveal himself?  Or did Mary’s request actually change his Father’s mind?

John Chapter 2 discussion questions

2. What is the similarity between Jesus turning water into wine and multiplying loaves and fish?  Do you believe that God intends for ordinary Christians to perform miracles?

3. What is the importance of Jesus talking about his body as a temple.  Do you think Jesus was saying his body was replacing the Temple as the place for God’s presence to dwell?

John Chapter 3

Nikodemos hears about being born again

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nikodemos, a ruler of the Jews. [He was a member of the judicial council called the Sanhedrin, seventy-one men who were priests, tribal elders, and teachers of the Law, both Pharisees and Sadducees.] He came to Jesus at night [to avoid being seen by other religious leaders as supporting Jesus] and said to him, “Rabbi, we [serious students of God] are aware that you are a teacher from God, for no one can perform the miracles that you have done, unless God is with him.”

Nikodemos hears about being born again

Jesus answered him, “I’m telling you the truth, unless a man is born again from above, he cannot see the realm of God. [You can only understand these things if you have fully given your life over to God. Then God will give you his Spirit who is God himself. Then you will live a new life in a new realm with new senses and feelings.] Nikodemos said to him, “How is it possible for a man to be born again when he is grown up? Can a man enter into his mother's womb a second time and be born again?”

Jesus responded, “I am telling you the truth, unless someone is born through water and [again by] the spirit, he cannot participate in the realm of God. [The first birth is our natural birth through water. The second birth is when we believe Jesus is our Lord and Savior which makes our spirit come alive.] What is born from human flesh is human flesh and what is born from the spirit is spirit. [They are different realms with different laws. Our fleshly life and desires are set in motion when our bodies are born. But our spiritual life is set in motion when we are born again – that is, born of the Spirit.]

“Don't be so surprised when I tell you, ‘You must be born again from above.’ Just like the Spirit, the wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear the sound of it, but you don't know where it came from or where it is going. That's the way it is with anyone born of the Spirit.  [The operation of the Spirit is both spontaneous and invisible.]

Nikodemos replied to him, “How are these things possible[, and nobody has understood this before]?” 10 Jesus replied to him, “You are a teacher of Israel and don't understand these things? 11 I assure you this is the truth, that we speak only what we know and testify exactly what we have clearly seen, but you are not accepting our testimony. [Understanding the kingdom comes only with trust in God.] 12 “If I have told you about earthly things and you don't believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? [I have told you how a person connected to God can live a supernatural daily life. But I also need to tell you about God’s divine plan and how it will come to pass.]

The purpose of the Son of Man

13 [You said before that I must be a teacher sent from heaven but let me explain to you why I was sent.] No one has gone up into heaven, but the Son of Man has come down from heaven. [I came from heaven, so I understand heaven’s point of view. I am always in connection with my Father, so I know exactly how he thinks.] 14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness [Numbers 21:8-9], in the same way the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that all who put their trust in him shall possess eternal life. 16 For God loved the world so much that he gave up his only son born to him, so that all who put their trust in him would never die but instead possess eternal life. 

The purpose of the Son of Man

[In the story from Numbers, the people complained against God. Their bitterness and rebellion resulted in their destruction, as fiery serpents bit them. They were saved only when God had Moses make a representation of their sin as a serpent on a pole, so that when the people looked at it, they were delivered from death. This was a precursor of what God planned to do through Jesus. The only way we are saved from the destruction that comes from our own sin is by believing Jesus became sin for us on the cross. We cannot save ourselves – only by looking at the one God sent, can we be delivered from destruction.]

17 “God did not send his son into the world to judge the world, but instead so the world might be saved through him. 18 The one who puts his trust in him will never be judged, but the one who does not believe is already judged, because he did not trust in the character and authority of God's only son. [Everyone who sins deserves destruction, because God hates sin, but God wanted to deliver people from that destruction. Whoever trusts Jesus is saved from death. Whoever does not trust Jesus is rejecting God’s remedy, so they are rightly condemned – for they were both sinful and they rejected his rescue.]

19 “But this is the reason for the judgment - that the light came into the world, and men preferred darkness to the light, because their works were evil. 20 For everyone that commits evil deeds hates the light and avoids coming into the light, where his works will be exposed and rejected. 21 But the one who does what is right comes to the light so that it can be shown that his works are in God.”

[God sent Jesus to shine a clearer light on the world.  People already sinned, but now their sin was in clearer relief because they avoided the light of Jesus hoping no one could see the darkness of their sin. The same is true today when we present Jesus through our witness and our acts in his name – people can come into the light, or they can avoid the light, so they can continue to hide their works of darkness.]

The difference between John the Baptist and Jesus

22 After these things, Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, and there he stayed with them, and baptized [probably near Jericho]23 At the same time, John was baptizing in Aenon near Salem [a spring west of the Jordan River, halfway between Jerusalem and the Galilee], and people came and were baptized, 24 for John had not yet been thrown into prison.

The difference between John the Baptist and Jesus

[Someone must have visited and reported what they experienced at both Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s baptism locations and saw the difference between what was happening at each.] 25 Then a discussion came up between John's disciples and a certain Jew about purifications [specifically baptisms]. 26 He approached John [the Baptist] and said to him, “Rabbi, the man [Jesus] that was with you on the other side of the Jordan, for whom you spoke up, now is baptizing, and everyone is coming to him.” 27 John answered, “A man has nothing except what is provided from heaven. 28 You yourselves heard me say I am not the Anointed One but was sent before him.” [John the Baptist was not offended that Jesus was gaining followers at John’s expense.]

29 “The bride belongs to the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and listens for his voice, has great joy when he hears his voice. 30 Therefore, my joy is now complete. He must become greater, and I must become less. [John was like the best man at a wedding, who has an important role, but when the groom comes, his role fades. John also is conveying the understanding that the Anointed One is coming as a bridegroom to marry an entire people – the Church.]

31 “He that comes from above [Jesus] is over all. He that is of the earth [John the Baptist], is earthly, and speaks about the earth. He that comes from heaven [Jesus] is over all. 32 And what he [Jesus] has clearly seen and heard is what he testifies, but no one receives his testimony [completely]33 He that does receive his [Jesus’] testimony has accepted that God is trustworthy [since God sent Jesus and gave him the words to say]

34 “The one God sent speaks the words of God, for God gives him the Spirit without limit. [Jesus always had words of wisdom for every situation because the Spirit constantly fed him God’s truth.] 35 The Father loves the Son and has given everything to him [through the Spirit]. 36 He who puts his trust in the Son possesses eternal life, and he that does not put his trust in the Son will never see life, but instead the righteous anger of God rests on him.”

[John the Baptist is saying, “I have a limited revelation. Jesus’s home is heaven, so what he teaches is the full revelation from God. Most don’t understand yet what he is saying.  But as they do, they are aligning themselves with God. Jesus has been delegated the authority and full representation of his Father God. If someone accepts him, he has entered eternal life, but rejecting him will result in that person’s rejection by God.”]

Discussion questions

1. Have you been born again? Do you see things differently now – with spiritual eyes? Do you have times where your own life is unpredictable because you are letting God direct your path?

John Chapter 3 discussion questions

2. Nikodemos rightly said that Jesus was sent from God. What was the reason Jesus gave that Father God sent him? How can it be true that Jesus came to save the world rather than judge it, yet also that individuals would be judged on how they responded to him?

3. What reason does John the Baptist give for why Jesus is so much more important than him?

John Chapter 4

Jesus and the Samaritan woman

When Jesus was made aware that the Pharisees knew that he now produced and baptized more followers than John, though it was not Jesus but his disciples who did the baptizing, he left Judea, and departed into Galilee. [Some of Jesus’ disciples had followed John and were experienced baptizers – Jesus allowed them to continue and keep a continuity with John’s ministry. Jesus, just like John, would teach repentance, but he would demonstrate the goodness of God through miracles. Jesus knew that his own assignment would be to baptize people in the Holy Spirit after his death made it possible for the Spirit to live in sinful men, but at this point baptism in water provided an initial cleansing. Now that people were beginning to flock to him, he knew that confrontation with the religious leaders was inevitable. It was clear to him that it wasn’t yet the time for this, so he left the area closer to Jerusalem and traveled north towards his home area.]

Jesus and the Samaritan woman

On the way he had to pass through Samaria. [Samaria was directly on the road north from Jerusalem to Galilee, though many Jews traveling to Galilee went out of their way to avoid Samaria because of the hostility between Samaritans and Jews.] So he came to a town of Samaria, called Sychar, close to the land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph, and Jacob's well was there. [Jacob’s well is still there, in the modern city Nablus in the West Bank area, inside the grounds of a monastery.] Jesus, being tired from the journey, sat down beside the well. It was around noontime.

A woman of Samaria came to the well to draw water. [She came at a less common hour, presumably to avoid mixing with the other women of the town.] Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For the disciples had departed into the city to buy food [and he had no bucket to use to draw water]The woman of Samaria said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask for a drink from a woman of Samaria, since Jews have no dealings with Samaritans?” [The Samaritans were a partially Jewish splinter group, descended from the northern tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh mixed with ancestors from Persia from the time when the kingdom of Israel was exiled. 2 Kings 17:24-41 explains some of the history. The Samaritans worshiped on Mount Geri­zim, which was not far from the town of Sychar. The Jews and Samaritans had mutual animosity over their differing ancestry and views of the scriptures.]

10 Jesus answered her, “If you were aware of the gift of God [that I am] and who it is who asked of you, ‘Give me a drink’, you would have asked me [rather than my asking you], and I would have given you life-giving water.” 11 The woman said, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where then can you get that life-giving water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and needed water himself, as well as for his children and his cattle?”

13 Jesus replied to her, “All who drink from this water will be thirsty again. 14 The one that drinks the water that I will give him will never have to be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become a spring of water gushing up into eternal life [that will deeply satisfy you both now and in eternity].” [Jesus keeps on describing things that are perceived supernaturally but the woman takes his responses naturally, at least at first. Those who accept Jesus as the Lord of their lives will be given the Holy Spirit, who brings to them a flow of life through the Spirit.] 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me that water, so I won't be thirsty or have to travel here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back here.” [Jesus, having revelation of the truth about her, invites her to a more honest relationship, so that she can receive more.] 17 The woman replied, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have spoken honestly, ‘I have no husband’, 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. [This doesn’t necessarily mean that she was divorced five times – the husbands may have died. Either way she has likely experienced much pain and has not been living under the blessing of God.]  You spoke the truth.”

19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I can tell that you are a prophet. [You see the truth about me. I wonder if you can tell me the truth about God too.] 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, but you  all say that Jerusalem is the place one should worship.” [The Samaritans conducted their worship at nearby Mount Gerizim.] Jesus said to her, “The time has arrived where people will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  22 You [Samaritans] all worship one you do not know; but we worship him we do know, for salvation comes from the Jews. [Since the time of Abraham, God has revealed to the Jews the way of salvation, and the Anointed One who brings salvation comes from the Jews.] 

23 But the time has arrived for true worshippers to worship the Father [not in a specific place, but] in their spirit, knowing who He truly is, for the Father desires this type of worshipper. [God doesn’t want religious observance, he wants relationship. He also wants people to know how good he really is and how much he loves them, for then they will want to know him.] 24 For God is spirit, so those who worship him must worship him in the Spirit and in the truth. [When a person’s spirit comes alive, they will then be able to perceive the truth about God.]

25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming, who is called the Anointed One. When he comes, he will tell us everything. [You seem to know so much. We have been taught that when the promised Anointed One comes, he will lead us into all truth.]” [Both Jews and Samaritans believed in the coming king called the Anointed One, (“Messiah” in Aramaic and Hebrew.] 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, who is speaking to you.” [The woman trusted him more and more, so now he could trust her with the fullness of truth.]

27 At this point, his disciples arrived, and they were amazed he was speaking to the woman, yet none of them said [to Jesus], “What are you looking for?” or “Why are you talking with her?” [According to the teaching of the rabbis, a Jewish man should not converse with an unrelated woman, especially a Samaritan. But Jesus did what his Father showed him. The disciples were not going to question him.]

28 The woman then left behind her water jar [because she had found a greater gift than water], and she went off into the city and said to the men, 29 “Come with me and meet a man who told me everything I ever did. Could he be the Anointed One?” 30 They proceeded out of the city and came to him.

The assignment of the harvest

31 Meanwhile, his disciples persuaded him, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not see.” 33 Therefore the disciples asked each other, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to carry out the will of the one who sent me and to complete his assignment.” [To Jesus there was nothing more satisfying than carrying out his Father’s will.]

The assignment of the harvest

35 “You have a saying, ‘There are four months and then the harvest.’ But come and see [what’s really happening in front of us right now]. I am telling you, lift your eyes and look at the fields - they are ready for reaping. [All I did was offer truth to this woman whom the Father put into my path, and now these Samaritans are ready to believe.] 36 The [spiritual] reaper receives his pay and gathers a harvest by bringing people to eternal life, so both the one who first sowed the seed and the one who reaps the harvest are both glad about the results. [Let’s not worry about who gets the credit.] 37 The saying applies [to you my followers], ‘One sows and another reaps. 38 I have sent you to reap where you didn’t labor.’ Someone else began the work and you get to finish the job. [Now that the Father and I have brought these people to the brink of faith, why don’t you complete the job of explaining the goodness of God and life in the kingdom.]

39 And from that city, many of the Samaritans put their trust in him, through the words of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to him, they asked him to stay with them awhile, and he remained there for two days. 41 Many more believed because of his own words, 42 and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you told us, but we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Anointed One.” [This is not an insult to the woman. If anything, they are commending her for pointing them to such a valuable truth.]

A nobleman believes without first seeing

43 After two days, Jesus left Samaria for Galilee, 44 even though he had spoken that a prophet has no honor in his own country. [Jesus had just been honored in Samaria by a whole town believing, without even a miracle performed. Now, he is returning to his home country to give them another chance, though they had rejected him in Nazareth (Matthew 13:53-58).] 45 This time when he came into Galilee, the Galileans accepted him, for they had seen all he had done at the [Passover] feast, since they also had gone [John 2:23].

A nobleman believes without first seeing
John Chapter 4 discussion questions

46 So Jesus came again to Cana of Galilee, where he had made water into wine. A nobleman was there, whose son was sick in Capernaum. 47 When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea to Galilee, he went to him, and asked him to come and cure his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 But Jesus said to him, “Unless you directly see me perform a miracle, you won't believe.” [Jesus wanted to impart to the Galileans a higher degree of trust and belief. The lowest level is just plain skepticism, finding any reason not to believe. The next level believes what your eyes tell you. The highest level is hope and trust, expecting that God is good, believing without any evidence required. This is what Jesus is about to impart.]

49 The nobleman said to him, “You must come before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go ahead, your son is alive”, and the man believed what Jesus said to him and departed for home. [The man hadn’t yet seen the evidence and yet he now believed. Jesus’ words to him brought with them the power to believe. Jesus himself believed that the Father would accomplish the healing.]

51 While he was on his way, his servants met him and said, “Your son is alive.” 52 The man asked them what time he began to improve. They said to him, “Yesterday, at one in the afternoon, his fever left him.” 53 The father knew it was the same hour at which Jesus said to him, “Your son is alive.” As a result, the man and his entire household believed. 54 Thus, Jesus performed his second miracle when he had come out of Judea into Galilee. [Neither of the first two miracles in Galilee involved Jesus saying or doing anything overt to make the miracle happen!]

Discussion questions

1. Jesus often goes way out of his way to visit a single person. What do you imagine caused him to do that in the case of the Samaritan woman? Have you ever known that God wanted you to be at a specific place at a specific time? Were you obedient?

2. What does Jesus do that encourages the woman to continue in the conversation? What enables her to let her guard down and trust him? What have you found most helpful in talking to strangers to lead them closer to faith?

3. Why do you think Jesus was hopeful that the Galileans would now have a higher degree of trust and expectation? Why did he choose to not go with the man and instead heal from afar?

John Chapter 5

Jesus heals the man at the pool

After this, there was a feast day of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. [Jesus frequently went to Jerusalem for the feasts, especially Passover. It is unlikely this feast was Passover because a short time later, in John 6:4, it is nearing Passover.] In Jerusalem, by the sheep gate, there is a pool called Bethzatha [“house of the olive” in Hebrew], with five porches. In these porches lay many sick, blind, crippled, or paralyzed, who were waiting for the waters to move. For an angel went down at certain times into the pool and stirred the water, and whoever stepped into the pool first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. [Or so it was believed. To believe that God heals so arbitrarily is very common, but it is very short of the good news that God always wants to heal, which Jesus came to demonstrate. This verse was not included in many of the manuscripts – however, without it, verse 7 does not make sense.]

Jesus heals the man at the pool

There was a man there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been that way for a long time, he asked him, “Would you like to become well?” [Jesus did only what he saw the Father doing, so his coming to this gathering place of those who were sick and even choosing this man to heal must have been part of the Father’s plan.] The man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool, so when the water is stirred, before I can come to it, someone else gets there first and steps in.”

Jesus said to him, “Stand up, pick up your mattress, and walk.” Immediately, the man became well, and he picked up his mattress and walked. [Jesus’ words carried power and authority – the man did what he said even though he had plenty of excuses which had previously hampered him.] This happened on the Sabbath day. [Picking up his mattress is part of what proved the man was healed.] 10 But the Jews said to the one who was healed, “It's not lawful for you to carry your mattress on the Sabbath.”  [The Law did not expressly forbid this, but it was the interpretations of the rabbis that defined picking up the mattress as work on the Sabbath. Jesus saw making a man whole a reasonable part of the Sabbath since one of the purposes of the Sabbath was to keep a man whole through rest.] 11 The man answered them, “The one who made me whole is who told me to pick up my mattress and walk.” [The man wants to blame Jesus so that he himself won’t be in trouble with the authorities.] 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who told you to pick up your mattress and walk?” 1And the man did not know who it was, Jesus having slipped away, since there were a large number in that place.

14 Later Jesus found the man in the Temple and said to him, “Look, you have been made well.  Don't sin anymore, so nothing worse may happen to you.” [Jesus was called to those who sin and those who needed a physician. Jesus confronts the man as a habitual sinner and connects the man’s sin and his sickness. Ironically, the man immediately does the worst thing he can do – blaming his trouble on the one who has healed him.] 15 The man went out and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 And therefore the Jews went after Jesus, because he had done these things on the Sabbath

The relationship between Jesus and the Father

17 Jesus responded to them, “My Father has been working all along until now, so I am working too.” [Jesus is helping people understand the Sabbath. God stopped the work of creation on the seventh day, but not the work of mercy and governing the world he created. Jesus understood that God was his father. As a good son, Jesus would do the same as his father.] 18 Because of that, the Jews wanted to kill him, because not only had he broken the Sabbath, he also said that God was his father, making himself the same level as God. [The adult son of a man is considered at the same level of authority as the man since he represents the patriarch and will inherit the man’s title, possessions, and business. Jesus invites all to see God as their Father. However, the Jewish leaders were correct in assessing that Jesus was acting as the first-born son of the Father. As the first-born, he was the representative of his Father, and thus he was announcing his rights and responsibilities.]

The relationship between Jesus and the Father

19 Jesus answered them, “I am telling you the truth, the Son can do nothing himself except what he sees the Father do; in fact, whatever the Father does, the Son does the same.  [Like every son, Jesus models his life on his father’s practices. He has a miracle working father. He sees in his Spirit what the Father is going to do next and then trusts his Father to accomplish it as he carries out what his Father shows him.] 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself does, and greater works than these he will show, so that you will be amazed. [Every miracle and amazing teaching of Jesus came forth from Jesus’ submission to his Father, and he says and does what he hears and his Father shows him. The healings he has done are amazing, but he will soon raise the dead.] 21 For just as the Father awakens the dead and gives them life, the Son gives life to whomever he chooses. [Both Elijah (1 Kings 17:22-23) and Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-37) had been used by the Father to raise the dead, but in the Last Day, the Father will raise all to life or judgment.]

22 “For the Father judges no one, but has turned over all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is not honoring the Father who sent him. [Jesus is the complete demonstration of the love of the Father. Jesus makes visible and clear the Father’s will, and because Jesus has lived as one of us, he has the right and responsibility to judge us, which is the Father’s plan. That’s part of why he came to the earth. When people accept Jesus’ actions and words, they honor both the Son and the Father. When they don’t accept Jesus, they dishonor the Father as well, and their lives will be judged by Jesus accordingly at the Final Judgment. While the Jewish leaders are upset at Jesus describing himself as equal to the Father, Jesus is very honest about the authority the Father has entrusted to him.]

24 “I am telling you the truth, he that hears what I am saying and puts his trust in the one who sent me possesses eternal life and will not come under judgment but has already passed from death into life. [Any person’s response to Jesus determines the destiny of their lives. However, as soon as a person believes, they are saved from future judgment and born anew, and they will live forever.] 25 Again, I tell you the truth, the time has come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear shall live. [Both the spiritually dead and the physically dead like Lazarus will come to life, once they hear and respond to Jesus.] 26 For just as the Father possesses life in himself, he has given life to the Son to possess in himself, 27 and also has given him authority to pass judgment, because of being a man.  [Because of the Son’s submission, the Father gave him the right and ability to impart life to whomever he chooses. Jesus himself also gives the ability to impart life to his disciples. And because he was willing to live as a human, and understands the trials and temptations of human life, God also gave him the right to judge every human being.]

28 “Don't be amazed at this, for the time is coming when those in the tombs will hear my voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, rising to life, and those who have done evil, rising to judgment.” [Matthew 27:52-53 describes how, after Jesus’ resurrection, many of the righteous who were in the tombs rose to life. Romans 2:6-10 describes how this same truth will apply to all who have died.]

The basis for judgment

30 “I can do nothing on my own. When I judge, I judge by what I hear [as I listen both to people’s own words (Matthew 12:36-37) and what I hear from the Father], and my judgment is right, because I am not seeking to please myself but to do what pleases my Father. 31 [Likewise,] if I testify on behalf of myself, my testimony is not valid. [Testimonies on behalf of oneself legally must be corroborated by at least one other person.] 32 There is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. [Jesus is referring to his Father. The Father testifies out loud several times about who Jesus is (Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5, John 12:28), but he also testifies through the miracles that he and Jesus do together.]

The basis for judgment

33 “You sent to John [the Baptist] and he testified the truth [about me]34 but I don't accept testimony from man [because men are unreliable but God never lies]. I mention these things [about who I am] so you might be saved [by putting your trust in me]. 35 He [John the Baptist] was a lamp that burned and was seen, and you were pleased to enjoy his light for a season.

36 “But I have a testimony greater than John's. For the works the Father has assigned me to carry out - these same works testify the Father has sent me. 37 And he who sent me, the Father himself, has testified on my behalf. You have never heard his voice or seen his form, 38 and you don't have his word dwelling in you, or you would trust in the one he has sent. [If you are one who seeks God and are used to hearing from him, you would recognize I am from God.]

39 “You search the scriptures, for you believe that through them you possess eternal life, and yet it is these very words that testify about me. 40 And you won't come to me, so that you might [truly] possess life. [The living word, Jesus, fulfills the written word, but who Jesus is and what he does demands a response. We must come to him and decide to follow him.]

41 “I don't care about praise from men, 42 but you don't even have the love of God in you. [My motivation in talking about myself is not that I want you to give me the respect I am due, but I need to point out to you your own hypocrisy.] 43 I have come in my Father's name and you don't accept me. If someone else were to come in his own name, you would accept him. 44 How could you possibly believe me, you who accept praise from one another, when you don't even care about seeking the praise that comes from God alone? [Those who truly seek after God will recognize Jesus as God himself. Those who use God’s name for their own advantage will value credentials but not recognize someone who is truly from God.]

45 “Don't worry that I will bring accusations against you before the Father. There is already one who accuses you - Moses, in whom you hope. 46 If you really trusted Moses, you would trust me, since Moses wrote about me [Deuteronomy 18:15-18]. 47 But if you don't believe his writings, how will you believe what I am saying to you?” [Moses said that God would send a prophet that would speak the word of God and that anyone would be judged who did not believe him. Jesus is that prophet, and therefore Moses himself would be willing to testify against anyone who did not believe the words that Jesus said.]

Discussion questions

1. Why do you think Jesus picked this one man to heal out of the many that were there at the pool? Do you think the man truly wanted to be healed? Why would the man who was healed get Jesus in trouble with the authorities?

John Chapter 5 discussion questions

2. Some of the Jews were scandalized that Jesus claimed to represent God, but Jesus ignores their threats and expands considerably on all that Father God has entrusted to him. What does Jesus include among his responsibilities and authority?

3. Jesus says that both the works he does, and the scriptures, testify about him. Can you explain or give examples of both?

John Chapter 6

The miracle of multiplication

[After the healing of the man at the pool in Jerusalem,] Jesus departed across the sea of Galilee, also known as Tiberius. And a great number followed him because they had seen the miracles he had performed on those who were sick. Jesus went up to a hillside where he sat down with his disciples. [The location is mentioned as near Bethsaida in Luke 9:10. The village called Tabgha, near the north shore of the Sea of Galilee, is the traditional site of the miracle of multiplication.] It was nearly Passover, a feast of the Jews.

The miracle of multiplication

When Jesus looked up and saw that a large crowd had come to him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, so they can eat?” [According to Matthew 14:13 and Mark 6:31-32, it was an isolated place so there were no villages nearby.]  He said this to test Philip, for Jesus knew what he was about to do. Philip answered him, “Even two hundred days' wages wouldn't buy enough bread for each of them to have only a little.” One of the disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said, “There is a boy here with five barley loaves and two small fish, but what is that among so many?” [God can always use the little we have and multiply it to become much.]

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass where they were. The men who sat down numbered about five thousand [not counting women and children]11 Jesus took the loaves and, when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those sitting for the meal, and likewise the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they were satisfied, he said to his disciples, “Gather up the leftover pieces, so that nothing is lost.” 13 They gathered and filled up twelve small baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves that were left over. [Each loaf had been multiplied around a thousand times. The fact that there were abundant leftovers proved that there was more than enough to satisfy the people.]

14 Then the people, seeing the miracle that had been done, said, “This is truly the Prophet, who was to come into the world.” 15 When Jesus recognized that the people were about to come and take him by force to make him a king, he withdrew again to a hill by himself.[Many scriptures were considered “messianic” – that is, they described the Anointed One, whom God would send. One of the most important to the people is that the Anointed One would reign as a king on David’s throne (1 Chronicles 17:13). The people greatly desired a leader like David who would overthrow the Roman occupiers. Jesus knew this was not the kind of kingship he was called to demonstrate, at least not until his second coming.] 16 And when evening came, his disciples went down to the sea. 17 They boarded a boat and went across the sea towards Capernaum. [According to Mark 6:45, Jesus ordered the disciples to take the boat while he dismissed the crowd.  He likely needed some time with his Father.]

Jesus walks on the water

18 And the sea grew rough because a great wind was blowing. 19 When the disciples had rowed three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and approaching the boat, and they became afraid. [Why did Jesus walk on the water? The Father must have shown him this since he did nothing except what his Father showed him. But this demonstrated that Jesus, even though not yet ready to assume earthly kingship, ruled over all creation.] 20 But he said to them, “It's me. Don't be afraid.” [According to the accounts in Matthew 14:25-26 and Mark 6:48-50, the disciples were extremely afraid and astonished when they realized it was Jesus walking on the water. Matthew tells how Peter followed the Lord’s example and walked on the water as well.] 21 They gladly received Jesus into the boat, and right away the boat was at their destination. [This immediate completion of their journey from the middle of the lake seemed miraculous to them too.]

Jesus walks on the water

22 The next day the crowd which stayed on the opposite side of the sea [from where the multiplying of the loaves and fish had occurred] realized there had been only one boat, but Jesus had not gone into it with his disciples but instead had gone off by himself, and his disciples had departed. 23 Other boats came from Tiberius near to the place where they had eaten the bread the Lord had blessed. 24 When therefore the crowd saw that Jesus wasn't there, nor his disciples, they boarded the boats and departed for Capernaum to seek for Jesus there. [The crowds were still looking for Jesus because they wanted him to meet their needs. It was a mystery to them that he wasn’t where they had last seen him since the disciples had taken the one boat.]

Sermon on Jesus as the bread of life

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come [and how did you get] here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “You seek me not because you understood the miracles, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. 27 Don't work so hard for food that doesn't last, but instead [seek the] food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give you, for God the Father has marked him with his stamp of approval.” [If they had understood the miracles, they would know that Jesus was sent by God and could give them something much better than meeting their material needs – he could give them eternal life. Because the Father had approved Jesus as his son and representative, Jesus could promise they would have what could come from God alone.]

Sermon on Jesus as the bread of life

28 Then they said to him, “[You say we should be more spiritually minded.] What [are you saying we] should we do to work the works of God?” 29 Jesus replied, “This is the work of God - that you put your trust in the one He has sent. [You don’t get the good things that God has for you by working hard or doing the right things, but rather by trusting him and trusting me who was sent by him.]

30 They said back to him, “[Even though we saw you multiply bread, you are claiming something huge – that God sent you.] What miracle will you perform for us to believe you? What work will you do? 31 Our fathers ate manna in the desert. As it is written [Psalms 78:24], ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ [Moses gave bread daily, which established his right to be regarded as sent by God. Can you do something like that?]

32 Then Jesus said to them, “Don't focus on the fact that Moses gave you the bread from heaven, but right now my Father is giving you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Then give us this bread all the time.” [They are still focused on the physical.] 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me shall never be hungry, and the one who puts his trust in me shall never be thirsty. [The manna that God gave through Moses nourished physically for a few hours. But I myself am bread that God is sending now for everyone in the world, and if you receive me I will give you eternal life, which will satisfy you completely.]

36 “But as I told you, you have been watching me, and yet you haven't put your trust in me.  [I can’t give you abundance of life and satisfaction until you put your trust in me.] 37 Everyone the Father gives me comes to me, and I will never send anyone away who comes to me. [When someone responds to the Father’s draw on their hearts and comes to me, I know they are the Father’s gift to me. I would never reject a gift from my Father. They will be safe with me.] 38 “For I came down out of heaven not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of the Father who sent me, that all he has given me shall not be destroyed but shall be raised up in the final day. [I can promise that I will lose none who comes to me. They are mine forever.] 40 And this is [also] the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who considers the Son and puts his trust in him, will possess eternal life, and I will raise him up in the final day. [In case you are worried that the Father has selected only a few and sent them to me, I am telling you that anyone who chooses me of his own free will I choose in return. All who come to me I consider the Father’s gift. They have already gained eternal life. No one shall take them from me. I will give them resurrection bodies on the Day of Judgment and they will live with me forever.]

41 The Jews then began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” 42 And they said, “Isn't this Jesus, son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he say then, ‘I came down out of heaven.’?” [This is the “Nazareth syndrome”, where familiarity breeds contempt – people argue themselves right out of believing.]

43 Jesus answered them, “Don't grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him, and I myself will raise him up in the final [judgment] day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God’ [Isaiah 54:13].  All that have listened to the Father and have understood will come to me. [The Father speaks through miracles that you observe, scriptures that you read, through faith shared by others, and indirectly though dreams and visions.] 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the one who is from God - he has seen the Father. [Jesus is that one who is from the Father and therefore knows him intimately.]

47 “I am telling you the truth, the one who believes [in me] possesses eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness and are dead. 50 Such is the bread that has come down out of heaven that a man may eat from it, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down out of heaven.  If anyone eats this bread, he shall live forever. And the bread that I shall give is my body in exchange for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews then argued among themselves, “How can this man give us his body to eat?”

53 Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth, unless you eat the body of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you don’t have eternal life within you. 54 The one who eats my body and drinks my blood possesses eternal life, and I will raise him up the final day. 55 For my body is truly food and my blood truly drink. [You must chew, swallow, and digest the truth that I am giving my life as an exchange for you, and that my life remains in you.] 56 The one who eats my body and drinks my blood remains in me and I remain in him. 57 Just as the living Father has sent me and I live because of him, so also the one who eats me shall live because of me. [I learned to trust my Father who then lived in and through me. In the same way, you are to trust me, and I will then live in and through you.] 58 This is the bread that came down out of heaven, not as your fathers ate and are dead.  Whoever eats this bread shall live forever.”

Jesus’ words are spirit and life

59 He said these things as he taught in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60 Many of those who had listened said among the disciples, “This is a difficult sermon. Who can understand it?” 61 When Jesus became aware that his disciples themselves grumbled at it, he said to them, “Does this upset you? 62 What if you were to see the Son of Man go up to where he was originally?”

Jesus' words are spirit and life

63 “It is the Spirit that brings life. Human effort is of no value. The words I speak to you are themselves spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who didn't believe and who would betray him. [If Judas had believed Jesus’ words and had accepted who he was, he would not have betrayed him. The other eleven disciples also had various degrees of doubt but did not turn away from Jesus.] 65 And he said, “That's why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is given to him from the Father.”

[Coming to Jesus is a process of the heart. Father God draws all people. Those who are willing to listen to the truth of the word of God will begin to gain faith. Those who are not willing will resist the truth and not gain faith. Prayer for a person will increase the draw on their heart, as some will need. But each person is responsible for the soil of their own heart.]

66 After this event, many of his disciples [but not the twelve] returned to their homes and no longer walked with him. 67 Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” 68 Simon Peter replied, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we not only believe, but we are sure you are the Holy One of God.”

70 Jesus answered, “Haven't I chosen the twelve of you, and yet one of you is my enemy.” 71 He spoke of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, who was the one who would deliver him up. He was one of the twelve.

Discussion questions

1. After Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish, the people were ready to declare him their king. Why do you think Jesus needed time alone? Why do you think he sent the disciples away with their one boat? Had he planned to walk across the water?

John Chapter 6 discussion questions

2. Jesus describes the Father as the one who, behind the scenes, draws people’s hearts toward Jesus, but Jesus seems completely confident he won’t lose anyone who comes to him. Based on what Jesus says, how do you understand God’s intervention, human will, and the issue of whether salvation can be lost.

3. After reading this passage thoroughly, what is your understanding of what it means to eat Jesus’ body and drink his blood? Is he talking only about Holy Communion or does this have to do with a faith decision?

John Chapter 7

Worldly advice from Jesus’ brothers

After all this, Jesus continued to travel around Galilee, and he avoided traveling in Judea, since the Jews were plotting to kill him. However, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. So his brothers said to him, “Get out of this place [Galilee] and go to Judea so your followers can see the works you will do there. No one stays hidden that wants to become well known. If you're going to do these things [miracles], you might as well show them to the world.” For not even his brothers had faith in him. [As Jesus traveled around Galilee, apparently he occasionally spent time with his family. His brothers didn’t yet understand who he really was, so the best they could do was give him worldly advice.]

Worldly advice from Jesus' brothers

Jesus said to them, “It's not yet the right time for me [to go to the feast], but it's always the right time for you. The world has no reason to hate you, but it hates me, because I testify about it that its works are evil[Because I tell the truth, there are those who want to stop me. The Father has worked out the best time for me to have an impact without unnecessarily causing opposition.] You go ahead to the feast.  I'm not going to the feast yet - it's not the right time for me.”

The controversy about who Jesus is

9 After he said these words, he remained for a time in Galilee. 10 After his brothers had left for the feast, he also went, not openly, but in secret. 11 The Jewish leaders sought for him at the feast, asking, “Where is he?” [The leaders were looking for an opportunity to get rid of him.] 12 And there was much murmuring about him in the crowd. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others said, “No, he deceives the people.” [They likely saw him as a false prophet.] 13 However, no one spoke openly about him for fear of the Jewish leaders.

The controversy about who Jesus is

14 When the feast was well underway, Jesus went up to the Temple and taught. [Jesus reached the maximum number of people by teaching at the Temple on the feast days. The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, is the final feast of the Jewish year, and lasts for seven days.] 15 And the Jewish leaders were amazed at him, saying, “How does he understand the scriptures so well, since he never learned at our schools?” 16 Jesus had an answer for them: “My teaching is not from myself. It is from the one who sent me. 17 Anyone who is ready to do God's will can tell if the teaching is from God or only from myself. 18 He that speaks for himself is seeking his own glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is trustworthy and has no ulterior motive.”

19 [They were questioning him, but now he questioned then,] “Didn't Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you actually keeps the Law. [For example,] why do you want to kill me?” 20 The people answered, “You must have a demon. Who is trying to kill you?” [The leaders were desiring to do exactly that, though it’s possible the people didn’t realize that.] 21 Jesus answered, “I've done one miracle on the Sabbath, and you are all upset” [John 5:15-16]. 22 [Let me help you think about the Sabbath.] Moses gave you circumcision, though it's not originally from Moses but from the patriarchs [Abraham originally implemented circumcision in obedience to God (Genesis 17:10-14), but Moses re-instituted it (Leviticus 12:3).] Yet, even on the Sabbath don’t you circumcise a male child? 23 If a male child receives circumcision on the Sabbath and the Law of Moses isn't broken [even though circumcision is work and you are not to work on the Sabbath], why are you angry at me that I have made a man completely well on the Sabbath? 24 Don't draw conclusions based on appearances only, but make a judgment considering all the Law.” [Frequently the rabbis argued about what took precedence when aspects of the Law come into conflict. Jesus’ argument was not unusual.]

25 Then some of them from Jerusalem said, “Isn't this the one they are trying to kill? 12 But look, he's speaking openly and no one is saying anything to him. Have the leaders already decided that he's the Anointed One? 27 But don't we know where this man came from? When the Anointed One comes, no one will know where he is from.” [One interpretation of Isaiah 53:8 was that the ancestry of the Anointed One would be unknown. This was just one of the many things the rabbis taught about the coming Anointed One.]

28 Then Jesus cried out in the Temple, “You  know me and where I'm from, but  I didn’t come representing myself [or my earthly family].  The one who sent me [who truly is my Father], you don't know at all. 29 I do know him, since I am from him, and he sent me.”

30 They wanted to grab him, but no one touched him, because his time had not yet been fulfilled. [It wasn’t the appointed time for his crucifixion.] 31 And many of the crowd put their trust in him and said, “When the Anointed One comes, will he do more miracles than this man has done?” 32 The Pharisees heard the people murmuring these things about him, so the Pharisees and chief priests sent the guards to take him into custody. [The Jewish leaders felt that the people’s devotion to Jesus was getting dangerously out of hand. They would lose status if Jesus became identified as the Anointed One, and Rome might also react against this. They felt they had to stop this.]

33 Then Jesus said, “I am with you only a little longer before I go to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me and not find me, for the place I am going, you can't follow.” 35 The Jewish leaders said to one another, “Where will he go that we will not find him - to the non-Jewish nations where our people live? Will he go and teach the non-Jews? 36 What is he talking about, ‘You will look for me and not find me, for the place I will be you can't follow.’” [This is another case where, even though the Jewish leaders were wrong-headed in their understanding of Jesus, what they said was prophetic, in that Jesus through his followers would in fact be teaching the non-Jews.]

37 On the final day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood up and cried out, 38 “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who puts his trust in me, as the scripture says, out of his belly will flow streams of life-giving water.” [Isaiah 44:3 describes the Spirit as water being poured out.] 39 He was speaking about the Spirit, who was going to be received by all those who put their trust in him, but the Spirit wasn't yet given because Jesus had not yet been raised to glory. [Until Jesus’ redeeming death, which completely removed all sins for those who trust Jesus, the Spirit could not come and make his home in men.  Men had to be made holy for a holy God to live in them.]

40 Some in the crowd, when they heard [what Jesus said], said, “This is truly the Prophet.”  41 Others said, “This is the Anointed One.” But others said, “Does the Anointed One come out of Galilee? 42 Doesn't the scripture say that the Anointed One will come from David’s descendants [Jeremiah 23:5] and from David's hometown, Bethlehem [Micah 5:2]?” 43 So there became a division among the crowd because of him. 44 And some of them wanted to arrest him. But no one put their hands on him.

45 Then the guards came back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who said to them, “Why haven't you brought him?” 46 The guards answered, “No one has ever spoken like this man.” 47 They replied, “You weren't deceived by him, too, were you? 48 Have any of the leaders or the Pharisees put their trust in him? 49 But this crowd, who doesn't understand the Law, is under a curse.” [The leaders were saying that the largely favorable response to Jesus was because the crowd didn’t understand the Law and was therefore under a curse. This concept is described in Deuteronomy 28:15.]

50 Nikodemos, who earlier had come to Jesus, but was one of the rulers, said, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and examining what he is doing?” 52 They answered him, “Are you also from Galilee? Search and you will see that no prophet comes from Galilee.” [The “elite” from Jerusalem and Judea looked at Galilee as “the sticks”. However, while most of the prophets were from Judea, Jonah was a prophet from Galilee, so the comment was not even accurate.] 53 And everyone left for his own home.

Discussion questions

1. Do you find it surprising that Jesus’ brothers teased him? Or that Jesus sometimes travelled incognito? Does this make him seem more normal?

John Chapter 7 discussion questions

2. Jesus takes the trouble to explain the people’s misconceptions about work on the Sabbath, and about where he comes from and whom he represents. Can you summarize his points?

3. Why was Jesus so controversial? Is Jesus still controversial today?

John Chapter 8

The woman caught in adultery

The woman caught in adultery

Early in the morning, Jesus went off to the Mount of Olives [most likely to pray]When he returned to the Temple and all the people came to him, so he sat down and taught them. [Jesus had attracted much attention at the Feast of the Tabernacles, so the religious leaders were looking for an opportunity to trap him.] The interpreters of the Law and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and when they had stood her before them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. Now, in our Law, Moses commanded that someone like this should be stoned, but what do you say?”  

[According to Deuteronomy 22, all cases of adultery require the participants to die, not necessarily by stoning. Adultery is never considered the fault of the woman only – the man is guilty too. Jesus has already told us [John 3:17] he did not come to condemn but to save. In this case, he is able to prevent the injustice of men dominating a woman, especially by men who have committed the same sin as she has.]

Following the father of lies versus the Father of Lights

12 Jesus spoke to them again [at the Temple], saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever accompanies me as my disciple will not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.”  [Knowing that he had little time left to have an impact, Jesus was more forceful in his invitation to people to follow him personally as a spiritual leader.] 13 The Pharisees responded, “You are speaking up for yourself, so your testimony isn't valid. [How can you advertise yourself as a spiritual leader. Others have to testify on your behalf.] 14 Jesus replied, “Even though I testify about myself, my testimony is accurate. I know the place I came from, where I received my assignment, and to which I am also going [when I complete my assignment]. Though you have no idea where I came from and where I am going.

Following the father of lies versus the Father of Lights

15 “You judge based on your own desires. I am not judging anyone, 16 but if I did judge, my judgment would be correct, because I would not make it by myself. I am here along with my Father who sent me. 17 It is written in your Law that a testimony is true if it comes from two witnesses. 18 I am the first witness, testifying on my own behalf, and my Father who sent me is also testifying for me.” 19 Then they said to him, “Where is your father?” [They thought he was saying that his earthly father would come and testify on his behalf.] Jesus answered, “You don't recognize me or my Father. If you had recognized me, you would have also recognized my Father.”

20 Jesus spoke these words as he taught right in the middle of the Temple, near the collection boxes, and yet no one tried to arrest him, because his hour [the time of his trial and crucifixion] had not yet arrived. 21 Jesus spoke again to them, “I will be leaving here and you will try to find me. You will still be in your sin when you die, so you won't ever be able to go where I am going.” 22 So the Jewish leaders said, “Does he mean he will kill himself, since he said, ‘You won't be able to go where I am going’?” [Since they were observers of the Law, they expected that when they died they would go to “Abraham’s bosom”, or Paradise. If Jesus committed suicide, in their minds, he would be excluded from Paradise. Jesus, of course, was saying just the opposite, that their hardheartedness towards him would keep them from Paradise.]

23 Jesus told them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; but I am not of this world. 24 That's why I told you, you will die in your sins.  For if you don't believe that I am who I am, you will surely die in your sins.” [Jesus is making it clear that each person’s deliverance from eternal separation from God is entirely dependent on their acceptance of him.] 25 So they said to him, “Who do you think you are?” Jesus replied to them, “What I have been telling you from the very beginning.”

26 “I have many things that I could say condemning you, but he who sent me is the truth himself, and whatever I hear from him is what I speak to the world.” [Jesus responds like one of us – he is tempted to just tell them all that he sees that is wrong with them – but he resists that temptation in favor of what his Father is telling him to say.  The Father is more focused on the people understanding who Jesus is.] 27 They didn't recognize that he was speaking to them about the Father.

28 Then Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, you will know that I am who I am. And I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things just as the Father has taught me. 29 He that sent me is with me and has not left me alone, because I always do what pleases him.”

30 As he spoke these things, many put their trust in him. 31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who put their trust in him, [I know you are excited about what I am doing and what I am saying but so far you do not trust me or my father.] If you live based on what I have been saying [and trust me completely], you are really my disciples. 32 You will understand the truth, and the truth will free you from bondage. [You are attracted to me, but your pride and your fear of what others think keeps you bound.]” 

33 They answered him, “We are children of Abraham, and have never been slaves to any man. How can you say, ‘You will be freed from bondage’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “I am telling you the truth, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave isn't promised a permanent position in the household, but the son has the authority of a permanent position. 36 So if the son grants you your freedom, you are free. 

37 “Even though you are descendants of Abraham, you are trying to kill me, because you have no room [in your hearts] for what I am saying. 3What I learn from my Father is what I speak to you.  What you learn from your father is what you  do.”

39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father!” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would act as Abraham did. 40 But now you are trying to kill me, a man who told you the truth I have heard from God. Abraham didn't do anything like this! 41 No, you are doing the acts of your father.” Then they said to him, “We aren't illegitimate. The only father we have is God!" 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your father, you would love me, for I came forth from him, not for my own purpose, but sent out by him on his mission.

43 “Why don't you understand my speech? It is because you don't even hear what I am saying. 44 You take after your father, the devil, and you carry out the lusts of your father. He was a murderer from the very beginning, and he never stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he is speaking his own language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

45 “And because I tell you the truth, you will not believe me. 46 Which of you can convict me of sin? If I am speaking truth, why won't you believe me? 47 The one who is of God hears God's words. The reason you do not hear them is you are not of God.”

48 The Jews said to him, “Isn’t the truth that you are a crazy Samaritan and you have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I don't have a demon.  Instead, I honor my Father.  However, you treat me shamefully. 50 I am not trying to establish my own reputation, but there is someone seeking it for me and judging in my favor.”

51 “I have been telling you the truth - if anyone obeys what I have been saying, he shall not even experience death.” 52 Then the Jews said to him, “Now we know for sure that you have a demon. Abraham and the prophets all died, but now you say that if anyone obeys what you are saying, they will not experience death? 53 Are you greater than our father, Abraham, who is dead, and the prophets, who are dead? Who are you making yourself out to be?” [Jesus has been saying this for quite some time, and his listeners are finally hearing what he is saying.]

54 Jesus answered, “If I praised myself, it wouldn't mean anything. It is my Father who praises me, whom you call ‘our God’. [There are several places where the Father praised Jesus publicly – Matthew 3:17, Matthew 17:5, John 12:28.] 55 And yet you don’t know him.  But I do know him. If I were to say I didn't, I would be a liar, like you. But I know him, and I follow whatever he says.”

56 “Your father, Abraham, jumped for joy to see my day. He did see my day and was glad.” [Jesus appears to be referring to the story of the three visitors of Genesis 18. The three visitors appear to have been the pre-incarnate Jesus along with two angels.] 57 Then the Jews said to him, “You're not even fifty years old, and you've seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth - before Abraham was, I am!” [God described himself as “I am” in Exodus 3:14. By Jesus describing himself this way, he was making himself the equivalent of God.] 59 Then they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid and escaped out of the Temple.

John Chapter 8 discussion questions

Discussion questions

1. Did Jesus invalidate the Law by not endorsing punishment of the woman caught in adultery? Was there a power in his pardon of her and his command “Go and sin no more” that was greater than what was achieved through the Law?

2. Jesus called those who would not accept his testimony “children of the father of lies”? Why was it important for Jesus to make the case for who he was, even if he knew that the leaders and many of the Jews would not accept his testimony? If you try to convince a group of non-Christians to follow Jesus, are you willing to accept that many will not believe, so that you can reach those who will?

3. Why is Jesus now making it increasingly clear that he is the Anointed One, the Son of God, when earlier in his ministry he did not talk about it publicly?

John Chapter 9

Healing the man born blind and confirming the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees

As Jesus went along, he saw a man who had been born blind. And his disciples asked him, “Master, whose sin caused him to be born blind, this man's or his parents'?” [The teaching and belief of the time was that sickness was always caused by sin­­. It was even believed that sin could occur pre-birth. Exodus 20:5 says that a person’s sin, especially idolatry, caused a sin tendency in the person’s descendants. Jesus always emphasized freedom from sin and sickness.] Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents’ sin caused this. [Nor did God cause him to be born with blindness. In a fallen world, sickness and bad things happen!] However, this is an opportunity to show forth the work of God in him, so let me do the work of him who sent me, while I still have time in the day. The night is coming when I will no longer be able to work. While I'm still in the world, I am the world's light.” [Every case of sickness or bodily weakness is an opportunity to show forth God’s desire to heal, regardless of the cause.  Jesus is the one who demonstrated this until his crucifixion, which is the “nighttime” he describes.  After that, he put his trust in his followers to do the same works of healing that he demonstrated.]

Healing the man born blind and confirming the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees

After he said this, he spat on the ground, and making clay from the spittle, he rubbed it over the man's eyes and said, “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam”, which means “sent out”. [Jesus did what his Father showed him to do – he didn’t always heal blindness the same way.] So the blind man went and washed and came back seeing.

[After the man washed and was healed,] his neighbors and others who had seen him beg then said, “Isn't this the man who sat and begged?” Some of them said, “Yes, this is the man.”  Others said, “No, but he looks like him.” But the man himself said, “I am that man.” 10 So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “A man named Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me to go to [the Pool of] Siloam and wash. I went and washed. I was able to see!” 12 Then they said to him, “Where is he?”  He said, “I don't know.”

13 They brought the man that had been blind to the Pharisees 14 because it was the Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened the man's eyes[, and the Pharisees had confronted Jesus before about “working on the Sabbath”]15 The Pharisees asked him again how he had received his sight. The man answered them, “Jesus put clay on my eyes, I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees responded, “This man [Jesus] can't be from God - he doesn't keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man possibly be sinful and do such a miracle?” And there was a division among them. 17 They said to the [formerly] blind man, “What do you have to say about the one who opened your eyes?”, and the man said, “He is a prophet!”

18 But the Jewish leaders did not believe that the man had been blind and then received his sight, so they called the parents of the man, 19 and they asked them, “Is this your son? Tell us, was he born blind? How then is he able to see?” 20 His parents answered, “We can tell you this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we don't know how he now sees or who it was that opened his eyes. Ask him - he is old enough to speak for himself.” 22 The parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had already decided that anyone who publicly acknowledged that Jesus was the Anointed One would be kicked out of the synagogue. 23 This is why his parents said, “He is old enough to speak for himself.”

24 Then they called for the man who was blind a second time and said to him, “Give your praise to God, for we know that this man [Jesus] is a sinner.” 25 The man answered them, “Whether he's a sinner or not, I know only that I was blind, and now I see.” 26 Then they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already and you didn't listen. Why do you want me to tell you again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 [This outraged them, so] they insulted him, saying, “You are his disciple. We are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses. We have no idea where this man is coming from.”

30 The man replied, “Now this is an amazing thing, that you don't know where he is coming from, and yet he has opened my eyes! 31 We know that God doesn't listen to sinners, but he does listen to anyone who is a worshipper of God and does his will. 32 From the beginning of the world, no one has ever heard of someone opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man didn't come from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They replied, “You were born completely in sin [or else you wouldn’t have been born blind], and you are trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue [excommunicated him].

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out of the synagogue and when he found him, said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” [Jesus knew that the man already had sufficient faith that he had stood up to the Jewish leaders despite the cost. Now it was time to confirm the man’s faith.] 36 The man answered, “Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in him?” [That he would call Jesus “Lord” meant that he already believed. But Jesus wanted to make sure the man knew more fully who he was.] 37 Jesus said, “You have seen him already, and it is he who is talking to you.” 38 And he said, “I believe, Lord.” And he prostrated himself to worship him.

39 And Jesus said, “I came into this world to bring about judgment, so that those who don't see might have sight, and those who have sight might become blind.” [Even though Jesus came to save the world, at the time of his Second Coming, he will judge the world, and how people have responded to him and his words will be the basis of that judgment. Those who appeared to have sight in this world will be shown to be spiritually blind by how they responded to Jesus.] 40 Some of the Pharisees who were with him said to him, “Oh, are we blind?” 41 Jesus replied to them, “If you really were [physically] blind, you would have no sin, but since you claim to see, your sin remains.”

Discussion questions

1. What are the differences between the response of the man born blind to his healing and the lame man at the pool in Chapter 5?

John Chapter 9 discussion questions

2. In what ways could the man Jesus healed of blindness see even before his healing? In what ways were the Pharisees blind even though their eyes were fine?

John Chapter 10

Jesus the Good Shepherd

[Having just pointed out the “blindness” of the Pharisees, Jesus felt the need to explain the difference between true leaders who cared about the people and those leaders who were out for themselves.] “I am telling you the truth, anyone who doesn't come into the sheepfold through the entrance but climbs in some other way has come to steal and to harm. [There is an "entrance requirement" for those who would lead God’s people. Anyone who takes a leadership role for God’s people must himself love God and love those whom God sends or else he will be a dangerous leader.] But he who comes in through the entrance is a shepherd to the sheep.

Jesus the Good Shepherd

“The watcher at the entrance lets him in. And the sheep hear his voice - the shepherd calls to each of his sheep by name and leads them forth. When the shepherd brings them out, he goes in front of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They won't follow a stranger but will run away from him because they don't know his voice.” Jesus spoke this illustration to them, but they didn't understand what he said.

Then Jesus also said, “To tell you the truth, I am the entrance for the sheep. All that ever came before me [pretending to be the Anointed One or leaders of the people] were thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn't listen to them. I am the entrance - if anyone enters through me, he will be safe, and shall be able to come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that they can have life with such abundance that it overflows.

11 [The theme of God as shepherd is throughout the Old Testament – Psalms 23:1-4, Psalms 80:1, Psalms 100:3, Ezekiel 34:11-16.] “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 But the hired hand is not the shepherd - since the sheep are not his. When he sees the wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf snatches some and scatters the others, 13 because he is a hired hand and doesn't care about the sheep. [This type of leader is after his own profit, so he doesn’t look after his followers – he either ignores or uses them.]

14 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and I am known by them, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I am laying down my life for the sake of the sheep. 16 I also have other sheep which are not from this fold. I must lead them also, and they will listen to my voice, and there will be one fold with one shepherd. [The other sheep are likely the non-Jews who will follow Jesus.]

17 “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life so that I can receive it back again. 18 No one takes it from me. I lay it down on my own. I have the right to lay it down, and the right to take it back again. I have received this as a commission from the Father.” [Jesus is explaining what will happen in his crucifixion and resurrection. He is not expecting that the crowd will understand him now, but later they might. It may look like people are taking his life from him, but he is in fact purposely laying it down. This is the plan of the Father, and Jesus fully participates in it. And he also willingly will take on his body again after his death. Both his dying and living again are voluntary acts that he does sacrificially as the great shepherd for all the sheep on earth.]

Identifying Jesus as the Anointed One

19 There was again a division among the Jewish leaders because of what he said. [Jesus acted according to what God showed him, which included speaking the truth, but people often don’t understand the truth, and even resist it, especially when it’s different from the status quo.] 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon and is raving. Why are you listening to him?” 21 Others said, “These aren't the words of someone demonized. Can a demon open the eyes of a blind man?”

Identifying Jesus as the Anointed One

22 Some time after this, in the winter, it was the Feast of the Dedication in Jerusalem, 23 and Jesus walked into the Temple, onto Solomon's porch. [Since the weather was colder, it was good to be in a more enclosed area.] 24 The Jewish leaders surrounded him and said to him, “How long will you keep us guessing? Tell us straight out if you are the Anointed One!” [The Feast of the Dedication, or Hanukkah, celebrated the deliverance of the Temple and the nation of Israel almost two hundred years earlier. Since the Jews were anticipating that the Anointed One would deliver them from Rome, it seemed an appropriate time to challenge Jesus to declare himself, though the Jewish leaders’ intention was to kill Jesus for such audacity.]

25 Jesus answered them, “I did tell you, and you didn't believe. The works that I do in the name of my Father tell you the truth about me. 26 But you don't trust me because you are not from my flock. 27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them well, and they follow me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never be destroyed. And no one can snatch them out of my care. 29 My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of his care. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 Again the Jewish leaders picked up stones to stone him. 32 Jesus responded, “I have shown you many great works that originated with the Father. For which of my works are you going to stone me?” [Jesus did works that only the Anointed One could do, then honestly described himself as coming from God. If it was blasphemy to call himself God, then it was equally so to heal what no one ever had been able to heal.] 33 The Jewish leaders responded, “We aren't stoning you for any good work, but because of blasphemy, since you are only a man, yet make yourself out to be God.”

34 Jesus answered them, “Isn't it written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’ [Psalms 82:6]? [In this Psalm, the writer is prophetically chastising the religious leaders of the time that God had given them authority and they were using it unjustly. Jesus calls this “your Law” because they were so legalistically guided by it.] 35 If the ones who received this word were called ‘gods’, and scripture is infallible[, then it isn’t unscriptural to call ourselves “gods” too]. 36 What about the one whom God dedicated for his own purpose and sent into the world? How can you say of me that I blaspheme because I say I am the son of God?”

37 “If I am not walking in my Father's footsteps and doing his works, then don't put your trust in me. 38 But if I am doing my Father's work, even if you don't trust me, at least trust the works you see, so that you can know and believe that the Father is in me and I am in him.” [Jesus says that we can recognize someone as sent by God when they are doing the works of God – we recognize them by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20).]

39 So they tried again to grab hold of him, but he slipped out of their hands. [It was not yet time for him to confront the leaders so they would crucify him and he would sacrifice his life for the world. He was still making converts.] 40 He went beyond the Jordan to the place where John [the Baptist] first baptized and stayed there. [It was out of the jurisdiction of the Jewish leaders, and those who had been affected by John’s ministry were predisposed to receive Jesus.] 41 Many came to him there, saying, “John didn't do any miracles, but everything he said about this man is the truth.” 42 And many put their trust in him there.

Discussion questions

1. According to Jesus’ description of the “good shepherd”, it what ways can you see him fulfilling that description. In what ways were the Pharisees “hired hands” or “wolves”? Do you know your shepherd’s voice, and do you believe he hears yours?

John Chapter 10 discussion questions

2. Why was it so important that Jesus was freely giving up his life and then choosing to rise again?

3. If Jesus was ready to give up his life for the sheep, then why did he choose to escape this time when the leaders were ready to stone him to death?

John Chapter 11

The raising of Lazarus from death

[This story is not reported by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The most likely reason, since it was a momentous and influential event, is that their accounts might have endangered Lazarus if he was still living when they published their Gospels. John, having written much later, likely after Lazarus’ second death, could now report this story that had likely contributed to the impetus for Jesus’ crucifixion.]

The raising of Lazarus from death

There was a man named Lazarus from Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister, Martha, and Lazarus became sick. This was the same Mary [who became] known for anointing Jesus with ointment and then wiping his feet with her hair [John 12:1-3]. It was her brother, Lazarus, who was sick. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, saying, “Come and see your friend who is sick.” When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not end in death, but instead will result in God being praised, that through it the Son of God will receive honor.” [Jesus already could see what the Father intended to do through him.]

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister [Mary] and [her brother] Lazarus. [If Jesus loved this family, why did he put them through Lazarus’ sickness and death? Because he loved the Father even more and was obedient to his instructions.]