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John 11 – I am the Resurrection & the Life

By John

The passage we’re looking at this week is John 10. If you want to grab the full study, you can find it here. You can also download this page as a pdf here.

Passage Big Idea

Jesus not only holds the keys to new spiritual life, but physical life as well. He is the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25-26)

Passage Structure

11:1-16 – Jesus learns of Lazarus’ death
11:17-37 – Jesus & the agony of death
11:38-44 – The raising of Lazarus
11:45-54 – The beginning of the end

Some things to look out for

Some random thoughts/facts/ideas

– This is the final and most climactic “sign” in John (apart from the cross), before we enter the next major section of John, Jesus’ passion (John 13-20).
– Resurrections, even in Jesus ministry is rare. There’s Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:22-24), The widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-15) and Lazarus’. This is the most dramatic, and personal of all three raisings.
– Ridderbos (a commentators) paraphrase of John 11:38-39 – “Enough now of tears and wailing! Enough honour has been bestowed on death! Against the power of death God’s glory will now enter the arena!” Just thought that as a nice way to put it.
– Again, there is division in people’s response to Jesus (John 11:45-46). Not again, the Pharisees do not even bother to deny the event, nor send someone to investigate – they assume Jesus can do this. But their response is not a plan to praise God, but a plan to kill him.
– Along with their plot to kill Jesus (11:53), Lazarus is also seen as a threat to the Pharisees after this, so they also plot to arrange his death…again (12:9-10).

Old Testament Background

– Daniel 12:3 – Most Jews (at least those who followed the Pharisees) believed in the resurrection from the OT, as evidenced by Martha’s statement (John 11:24). The Sadducee’s (another Jewish religious group) didn’t. That’s why they were sad you see. See Acts 23:8.

Some possible areas of application

– When we speak of eternal life, the place most of our brains go is eternal physical life. The previous passages in John have elaborated on the idea of eternal life, but none of them have been talking about he physical, but the spiritual. Here we have the final piece in the puzzle as to what eternal life looks like.
– Imagine how painful this event is for Jesus. He loves Mary, Martha and Lazarus – but he waits for Lazarus to die, knowing that people need to see that Jesus is the resurrection and the life by Lazarus being raised from the dead. And you can see his agony (John 11:33,35,38)
– This passage has the second shortest verse in the bible. (John 3:35)
– Jesus anger in this passage is at death, and the effects of it to friendship & family. Does that echo with your experience of death?
– This story does not tell us Lazarus’ reaction to the events. Imagine how he must have felt, and what he must have thought emerging from the tomb in strips of linen!

John 10 – Full Life

By John

The passage we’re looking at this week is John 10. If you want to grab the full study, you can find it here.

Passage Big Idea

Jesus promise to those who follow him is life as it is meant to be – full, satisfying, in intimate personal relationship with God.

Passage Structure

10:1-6 – The shepherd: A unique relationship
10:7-10 – The door: A unique purpose
10:11-13 – Good shepherds Vs. Bad Shepherds
10:14-18 – The shepherd, the sheep & the Father
10:19-21 – Result: More division

Some things to look out for

Some random thoughts/facts/ideas

– This is not an entirely new thought here. Jesus is following on from the issues & discussion of John 9, particularly the distinction between those who recognise Jesus (like the blind man), and those who don’t (like the Pharisees).
– So the Pharisees here are in Jesus direct line of fire. They should have been good under-shepherds for God’s people (see OT background below), instead they have been destroying the flock and leading them towards death.
– Again Jesus teaching causes division (v.19-21). On the one hand people reject, on the other people don’t reject outright…but are still noncommittal.

Old Testament Background

– God as chief shepherd: Gen 48:15, 49:24; Ps 23:1, 28:9, 77:20, 78:52, 80:1; Isa 40:11; Jer 31:10; Ezek 34:11-31
– Israel as the sheep of his pasture: Ps 74:1; 78:52; 79:13; 95:7; 100:3; Ezek 34:31
– Psalm 118:20 – “This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter”. This Psalm is quoted again by John in John 12:13.
– Unfaithful shepherds – Jeremiah 23:1-4, Ezekiel 34, Zechariah 11:4-17
– Ezekiel 32 – Condemnation of Israel’s leaders who look after themselves, not the flock.
– God’s people outside Israel – Isaiah 56:8

Some possible areas of application

– Jesus is building a picture of intimacy between himself and his people. He doesn’t just know about them collectively, he knows them personally, individually, personally. Do you feel that?
– In the strains and struggles of life, it’s often hard to know whether God actually cares for us. Jesus makes it clear here that the way we know he’s a ‘good shepherd’ and not an ambivalent / malicious / capricious one (contra a hired hand) is that he lays down his life for us. This is the ultimate expression of love and sacrifice for his people.
– Sometimes it’s easy to spot those who are false under-shepherds (like the Pharisees). But it’s not always so blatant. How would you know from this passage the difference between a true under-shepherd and a hired hand?

John 9 – Spiritual Blindness

By John

The passage we’re looking at this week is John 9. If you want to grab the full study, you can find it here.

Passage Big Idea

If you want to walk in the light – true, relational knowledge of God – you must come to Jesus.

Passage Structure

9:1-12 – Jesus’ healing of the man born blind
9:13-34 – The Pharisees’ three interrogation
– 9:13-17 – First interrogation of the man born blind
– 9:18-23 – Interrogation of the blind man’s parents
– 9:24-34 – Second interrogation of the man born blind
9:35-41 – Spiritual Blindness

Some things to look out for

Some random facts/ideas

– John picks up in this passage one of his Gospel in this passage: light & darkness.
– Here’s something amazing. John 9 comes between John 8 & 10. John 8 is Jesus discussion with the Pharisees about who he is…but they don’t/won’t see it. John 10 is Jesus talking about those who hear Jesus voice being his. John 9 may well be the events that show us what both groups look like in practice.
– Many consider this miracle to be the sixth “sign” of Jesus, and the final one in the Gospel before the final “sign” pointing to Jesus as the Messiah. That of being lifted up on the cross.
– There are significant parallels between this healing, and the healing in John 5. Both are at pools (5:2 / 9:7) and both take place on the Sabbath (5:9; 9:14)
– This healing is informed by Jesus ‘I am’ statement in John 8:12. “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” This healing, and his interaction with the Pharisees is going to explain what he means by that.

Old Testament Background

– Restoration of sight was one of the things that the Old Testament promised the Messiah would do, and would signal the ushering in of God’s Kingdom (Isaiah 29:18, 35:5, 42:7).
– The Old Testament usually considers getting saliva on you as a sign of uncleanness (Lev 15:8).
– The problem in Israel – ever seeing, never perceiving (Isaiah 6:9-11)

Some possible areas of application

– It’s worth working through this passage and building a list of what the characteristics of spiritual blindness are (extensive), and what the characteristics of those who can see are (but John 10 is particularly helpful for this one).
– The man born blind’s response to Jesus is phenomenal. He’s not nearly as educated as the Pharisees, and he’s not nearly as “important”…but he knows the light of the world when he encounters him. Do we?
– Some of the things we see about Spiritual blindness in this passage are: a denial of facts, a lack of compassion, pre-determined decision making, false picture of self. Do we see this today?

John 6 – True Sustenance

By John

The passage we’re looking at this week is John 6. If you want to grab the full study, you can find it here.

Passage Big Idea

That true sustenance in life is found in Jesus.

Passage Structure

6:1-21 – Jesus’ displays of power
– 6:1-15 – Feeding lots
– 6:16-21 – Walking on water
6:22-59 – The Bread of Life
– 6:22-40 – The hunger of the crowds
– 6:41-59 – The resistance of the Jews
6:60-71 – People’s response

Some things to look out for

Some random facts/ideas

– This is the halfway point of the first major part of the Gospel, and is a “watershed” moment in people’s response to Jesus. Even with the signs, many abandoned him (6:66).
– People differ on their explanation of the significance of the 12 baskets left over (6:12-13). Carson reckons it’s alluding to the restoration of the 12 tribes of Israel, seen in the forming of the 12 disciples.
– The reference of bread of life is not to the Lord’s Supper (Communion), but to the idea that Jesus is what will bring about life eternal in people.

Old Testament Background

– A new era of redemption (John 6:45 cf. Isaiah 54:13)
– Manna, Moses & the people (Numbers 11)
– The multiplication of the bread is seen as well by Elisha in 2 Kings 4:42-44.
– The prophet in 6:14-15 is a reference to Deuteronomy 18:15-18.

Some possible areas of application

– Often we look for the short-term, instant gratifications in life. Jesus is offering far more than that.
– We mustn’t mistake Jesus being all we need with never struggling over stuff, and wanting something different. We are going to be drawn to other sources of sustenance…but we need to know where true life lies.
– Jesus words and call for belief / trust in him are confronting. They jar against our self-reliance and self-focused goals. In the face of this, we need to keep eternity in perspective as we make decisions.

John 3 – Redo Please

By John

The passage we’re looking at this week is John 2:23-3:21. It’d be good to make sure you’ve read up to at least that much in the Gospel so far. As you’re reading, here are some things to help you along the way.

Passage Big Idea

That new life (being born again) is found in looking to the cross.

Passage Structure

– The problem with men (2:23-35)
– Nicodemus’ misunderstanding (3:1-15)
– God’s solution (3:16-21)

Some things to look out for / background

OT Background

– The Kingdom of God (Zechariah 9:9-13)
– The snake in the desert (Numbers 21)
– New hearts (Jeremiah 31:33-34 & Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:25-27)

Nicodemus

– A member of the Pharisees, a powerful Jewish Sect, and most likely sitting on the Sanhedrin (a member of the Jewish ruling council) who are a driving force in having Jesus crucified later on.
– Nicodemus is mentioned twice more in this Gospel (7:50-52 & 19:39-42).
– There is a distinct difference in status between Jesus and Nicodemus. Jesus is a Rabbi which isn’t an official “position”. But Nicodemus is an important man. It’s the difference between a Professor speaking to an undergraduate. But you see the tables turn during the conversation.

The Kingdom of God

– Jesus is referred to as a King twice in John’s Gospel (1:49, 6:15).
– One of the drivers of this passage is that Nicodemus didn’t understand what needed to happen for the Kingdom of God to come about. How would Israel’s new life begin? A new King ushering in a a new culture? The removal of the Romans? Or was there something deeper that needed to be born again…?
– Ezekiel 11, 36 & Jeremiah 31 point to something more fundamental happening as the Kingdom of God is ushered in.

Born Again

– The term born again can equally be translated “born from above”
– It’s the idea of new spiritual birth
– The idea of being born of water & the Spirit (3:5) is not two different events, but referring to the same, and further describing being born again (3:3). It’s closest links in the OT are passages like Ezekiel 36:25-27, Isaiah 4:3-5.

Some areas of possible application

– What does this passage have to say about where our problems stem from and how they might be fixed?
– What does this passage have to say about God, and what it means to be a part of what He is doing in this world?
– Does our pride sometimes get in the way of us hearing / knowing God?
– What does this passage say about the way God looks at His world, and us?

John 1 – The Source of Life

By John

So this week we’re looking at John 1:1-18.

But as we read through the Gospel, you might want to read John 1-2.

Passage big idea

If you’re going to write a Gospel in the hope that people believe in the guy you’re writing about (John 20:31), it’s a fair question to ask – why are we even talking about believing in this guy? As well as raising some of the major themes that John is going to develop in this book, he gives us a starting point as to why we need to talk about Jesus.

Because Jesus is the source of life.

Passage structure

Passage observations that support idea that Jesus is the source of life (from Beasley-Murray with tweaks from Derek Hanna):

Creation: (v.1-5)

The Word was with God in the beginning, and was the means of creation (v.1-3).
In the Word is life and the light of men. (v.4-5)

Witness: (v.6-8)

John came to witness to us about this light (v.6-8)

Responses: (v.9-13)

People didn’t recognise their creation and God when he came… (v.9-11)
But to those who did were given new life from God (v.12-13)

Revelation: (v.14-18)

The Word (Creator) lived amongst his creation, and his glory was seen (v.14-15)
The source of all life is God himself. And God’s revealed in Jesus (v.16-18)

Some things to look out for in this passage:

– A lot of the themes developed throughout this Gospel are raised in the first 18 verses. In fact many would go as far as saying that the rest of the Gospel is really just an explanation of these first 18 verses.
– John’s Gospel is carefully crafted. It’s a work of art. Many scholars argue that these first 18 verses are a chiastic structure where the centre of the chiasm tells us the ultimate point being driven at. Here’s it’s verse 12.

Some ways this passage might apply to us:

– We often think life comes from what we have, or we look for explanations through science. John says it’s found in neither of those places.
– John puts forward that not only is Jesus God, but that our natural reaction is to shy away from him. Do you think that’s true?
– It’s MASSIVE if Jesus is God. It has implications for every area of life. We need to know and explore that.

John – An Introduction

By John

The Purpose

For the official studies, grab them here.

The purpose of John’s Gospel is stated by John (20:30-31). It’s “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

John is concerned to demonstrate who Jesus is, to explain the salvation that he has come to give and to demonstrate that in him the eschatological age has dawned. Jesus is the fulfilment of the entire sweep of the Old Testament, “He is the new temple, the one of whom Moses wrote, the true bread from heaven, the true Son, the genuine vine, the tabernacle, the serpent in the wilderness, the passover” (Carson). Jesus has brought in the last times, the age of fulfilment – the Spirit has been given and eternal life is available now.

Background

The author of this Gospel is generally agreed to be John the Apostle of Jesus – although he refers to himself in this Gospel as “the disciple that Jesus loved” (John 13:23-25, 19:26-27, 20:1-10, 21:1-25).

It was most likely written between 80-85 AD, but there is much debate about this.

The audience for this gospel is most likely Jews and those familiar with Jewish practices & history – which is why there’s little explanation about Jewish practices.

John is written differently to the other synoptic gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke. Where as the other Gospels focus in Jesus ministry in Galilee, John’s Gospel talks nearly entirely on Jesus ministry in Judea.

Themes in John

Some themes raised in John 1:1-18 that’ll be dealt with throughout the book:
– Light / Darkness
– Eternal life
– Glory
– Jesus as God
– Witnesses
– The Spirit

Some commentaries

Looking for a bit of extra background and reading. Here are some books you might want to get.

Good commentaries on John that are easy to read:

Kruse
Milne

More technical commentaries:

Carson
Kostenberger <- My favourite.

Reading the Bible

By Talks

With Growth Groups starting up, there are two options for your groups.

The first is to work through the studies written for our network of churches. They contain lots of background, and will walk you through the passage. You can get the PDF’s here – http://freshchurch.net/sermons-studies/

The second option if you’re feeling a bit braver is to read the Gospels as they were written – bare and uninhibited! Print out the passage we’re looking at from biblegateway.com (or use your own bible), read the passage together, and then just ask some questions about it. Here’s some questions that’ll help you get to what the passage is trying to communicate.

Context of the section:

    Where does this section fit within the overall Bible storyline? Within this book?
    What came before and what comes after this section? How do they link together?

Understanding what it says:

    What recurring or unusual ideas appear in this section?
    What would this section have meant to those it was originally written or spoken to?
    What is the logic of the passage? Write down it’s main point.

Understanding in light of Jesus:

    How does Jesus life, death and resurrection affect what’s said here?
    What does this passage have to say to those who are trusting in Jesus?
    What does this passage have to say to those who aren’t trusting in Jesus?

Application:

    What is the most obvious application of this section for my life?
    What have I been most challenged by as I’ve read through this section?
    What would be the most incorrect application of this passage?