Studies in the Gospel of Christ according to John, 4
THE LIGHT SHINES
IN THE DARKNESS
Abd al-Masih and Colleagues
(John 8:37 - 11:54)
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058 Ė Version 16.2.2004
English Title: The Light Shines in the Darkness, 4 - John 8:37 - 11:54
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f) The devil, murderer and liar (John 8:37-47)
37 "I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me, because my words find no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father." 39 They answered him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus said to them, "If you were Abrahamís children, you would do what Abraham did."
The Jews regarded themselves as of Abrahamís seed, and assumed that for this reason, the link with the Father of faith, they inherited the promises that God had bestowed on His obedient servant.
Jesus did not reject the privileges of this relationship, but was grieved that the children of Abraham were devoid of the ancestorís spirit. This had given him the capacity to listen to Godís voice and to keep His word. As a result they shut their hearts to Jesusí words. These words failed to enter their hearts or to illumine them. They remained ignorant and unbelieving.
Christís utterances bore no fruit in that multitude other than refusal and hatred. Most likely, most of them were not at that stage intent on killing Jesus. Jesus, however, uncovered the intents of their hearts and knew that hatred is a prelude to murder. Soon they would cry out "Crucify him, crucify him" (Matthew 27:21Ė23; John 19:15).
Abraham heard Godís voice and instantly obeyed Him. More wonderfully, Jesus not only listened to his Fatherís voice constantly, but saw Godís works and majesty. His revelation was complete, springing from a firm fellowship with God. Jesus is Spirit from His Spirit, and love from His love.
But the Jews hated the One begotten of the Father. This proved that they were not coming from the true God. The source of their thinking was other than heavenly. At this stage of the argument, Jesus tried to draw them into thinking about the identity of their "fathers". It was not Abraham.
40 "But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God; this is not what Abraham did. 41 You do what your father did." They said to him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God."
The Jews resented Christís words, because he had accused them of being out of line with Abrahamís spirit. Their confidence with their descent from Abraham formed the basis of their faith and hope and their boasting. So, how dare Jesus find fault with their Abrahamic connection and annul it.
Jesus also showed them that Abrahamís works were in obedience of faith to God, when he left as a migrant. His trust in Godís faithfulness was demonstrated when he offered to sacrifice his son Isaac, as was the humility he showed towards his nephew Lot. But the Jews displayed their obstinacy, rebellion and unbelief. Their spirit was contrary to Christís. Thus they disputed the truth incarnate standing in their midst; nor did they listen to Godís voice through him. Jesus came not as Godís Son surrounded by angels in glory. But as a simple man, having only the impact of His words. He did not compel men to accept his Gospel. He revealed Godís love, grace and name. They refused this good news with contempt. They toyed with the thought of killing him. This contrasts with the qualities and deeds of Abraham. He heard, obeyed, lived and did in accordance with Godís revelation.
42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but He sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word."
Jesus proved to the Jews that Abraham was not their father, and he lead them to discern the name of the actual father they were following. As he was, so they were also.
The Jews felt that Jesus had made plain the difference between him and them. They replied that they were not the children of fornication, unlike the Moabites and Ammonites who were born of incest (Genesis 19:36Ė38). Nor were they a mixed race like the Samaritans, since they claimed that God was their Father, relying on the passage in Exodus 4:22 and Deuteronomy 32:6 as well as Isaiah 63:16. When Jesus pointed out that God was his Father, they retorted that he was their Father also according to Scripture. This was a doctrine of their faith, for which they had struggled and suffered. But their witness was false.
Jesus demonstrated briefly that they were deceiving themselves. He said, "If God were your Father, you would have loved me, because God is love not hate. He loves His Son who proceeds from Him, and the Son carries His essence." Jesus was not independent of the Father even for a moment, but obeyed Him as an obedient apostle.
Then Jesus asked the multitude, "Why do you fail to understand my language? I do not speak in alien tongues, but I offered my Spirit in simple words, that even the little ones would grasp." Jesus answered his own question, saying to his enemies, "You cannot listen; you are not free but slaves; your spiritual lives are lost. You resemble the deaf who do not hear the call."
Dear brother, how is your hearing spiritually, do you hear Godís word in your heart? Do you hear His voice eager to cleanse and order your inner being? Or are you proud and deaf, because a strange spirit has taken hold of you? Do you work for God in the power of the Gospel, or does an evil spirit indwell you, and you follow its directions?
QUESTION 63: How did Jesus prove to the Jews that they were not the children of Abraham?
44 "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your fatherís desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
Jesus tells everyone who does not love him that the devil is their father. With this he showed the Jews the truth about themselves, even though they claimed to know God. The legalists were far from God. The Evil One was their parent.
The devil causes turmoil wherever he goes. His aim is to bring the downfall of Godís creation. He looks out for the weak points in every person, and tempts by trickery to dominate, and drive him to commit sins. Than he runs to Godís throne, accusing the fallen one, to justify the punishment of the judge on the wretch, so ugly is deception!
Jesus declared Satan to be the sum total of wicked lusts, which have deprived him of good will. He became slave to self, hating everyone. In the same spirit lived all the enemies of Christ, destroying others and themselves driven by their lusts. All who live apart from the Lord are bent on evil which Satan incites in them.
What are Satanís lusts? Jesus tells us that he was a murderer from the start; that is because he loathes Godís image in man. He also separated himself from God, the life-giver. In him eternal death took place. He was the dominion of death. His aim is to exterminate all living beings.
The cause of this ferocity is deceit. The devil duped the original pair by lying to Adam and Eve towards unbelief and the transgressing of Godís command. He also fooled himself, while heading the angelic host, imagining himself to be greater, more beautiful and stronger than God.
This self-deception is the essence of Satan, who did not realize the limits of his ambitions, and fell abysmally. Christ is the opposite of this. He is meek and lowly. Sadly, man prefers delusion and boasting rather than Christís humility, and his self-denial. So the deceiver mobilizes an army of liars, from whose mouths emerge lies, like serpents poisoning lives. There is no confidence shown by one to the other.
A lady said to her mother, "All are liars; they flatter one another with smiles. Everyone honors himself, pupils cheat in exams, traders deceive. Even at home deception occurs between the spouses. No one trusts the other, yet each one considers himself to be the only upright person."
Satanís incitements are lies! Often these lies have some half-truths. Satan makes every lie sound right. He is the deceiver and father of lies.
45 "But, because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God."
Only Jesus tells the truth, and reveals the truth of God. Blessed are those who believe his words. He knows the truth of the universe, but becomes humble and faithful in all he says.
Many do not accept the good tidings of this truth, because it is Jesus who speaks it. If a political leader or religious founder were to say what Jesus said, men would believe him. But when Jesus spoke as an ordinary man, people publicly rejected him, because they desire greatness and dominance rather than self-denial.
Jesus asked the Jews pointedly, "Why do you not believe? Have you found deceit in me or pride or wicked conduct? No, I always speak the truth and live it out. I am Truth incarnate, innocent, upright, with no trickery or deceit."
Finally, Jesus announced to his rebellious people, "He who is from God hears His words and recognizes His voice. Just as a child distinguishes his parentís voice from all other voices. The mother too, when she hears her infantís crying, runs to him. So also the called of God hear the heavenly Fatherís voice, but those who cannot understand the Gospel, are not from God. A man may be religious, praying and fasting, yet his father may be the devil. Our piety does not save us, but only a rebirth by Christís blood, so that the Spirit may come on us and abide in us. Who is your father, God or Satan? Do not be quick to answer, but compare your purposes with those of the Evil One and then with the works of Christ and then repent."
PRAYER: O heavenly Father, we thank you for teaching us the truth about our sins and your love. Forgive my lies, and free me from all hatred and pride. Snatch me from Satanís power, that I may deny myself and not remain in self-deception. Open my ears and heart to your Gospel, and make me a humble and faithful person.
QUESTION 64: What are the qualities of the devil that Jesus made clear to us?
g) Christ exists before Abraham (John 8:48-59)
48 The Jews answered him; "Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?" 49 Jesus answered, "I have not a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it and He will be the judge."
Jesus tore down the masks of these Jews, showing them their collusion with Satanís spirit, by ignoring truth.
Following this attack, the evil spirit was forced to come out into the open. Instead of repenting and mourning their sins, they showed their alliance with the devil, and confessed that they had blasphemed by denying Jesusí birth by the Holy Spirit. They called him Samaritan from the mixed race. The news of a Samaritan revival had reached Jerusalem, and Jewish racists were indignant.
One party knew about Jesusí Jewish roots, and insisted that he was indeed Jewish. But others insisted that he was performing miracles with the devilís help. The devil-possessed were unaware of their true state, but claimed that the Holy One of God was devil-possessed. Thus the father of lies twisted their minds so as to treat white as black, and black as white.
Calmly Jesus answered these spiritually blind folk, saying, "There is no Satan in me; I am filled with the Holy Spirit. No evil spark inclines me to the worldly desires. I overflow with truth and love; I do not live for myself; I have denied my self and honor my Father; this is my reasonable worship. I proclaim Godís name to you, and sanctify the Father by my conduct. Yes, I reveal Godís truth to you, but you hate me, for declaring God is my Father. The evil spirit in you has no wish to leave you for the Spirit of God to take over. You do not wish to become children of the Holy One, so you blaspheme me and purpose my death. I do not seek my glory, since I abide for ever in the Father. He defends me, cares for me, honors and glorifies me. He it is who will judge you, because you reject me. Whoever rejects the One born of the Spirit, falls into Godís judgment. That is because the evil spirit is upon those who reject, deterring them from receiving the Savior."
51 "Truly, truly I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death." 52 The Jews said to him, "Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, as did the prophets; and you say, ĎIf anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.í 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you claim to be?"
Jesus gives the summary of his Gospel, saying - all who hear his words, accept them and keep them in their hearts, will find that these words will be powerful in their lives. They will receive eternal life and never perish. Death for them will be a gate to God their Father, not because of their goodness, but because Christís words abide in them. Have you grasped this principle of Godís Kingdom? All who do not keep Jesusí words in their hearts fall into sin and Satanís dominion. Those who keep the Gospel and his word live forever.
The Jews were stirred up in anger, crying, "You are Satan, you are lying. All the patriarchs of faith died. How then can you say that your words bestow eternal life to those who believe in you? Are you better than the Creator, since you grant life not ended by death? Are you greater than Abraham, Moses and David? You have deified yourself."
54 Jesus answered, "If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 But you have not known Him, but I know Him. If I said, I do not know Him, I should be a liar like you; but I do know Him and I keep His word."
Calmly Jesus replied, and revealed his essence in greater detail. He the Christ does not seek glory for himself. He is ever glorious by nature. God guarantees the honor of His Son, as the Father is in the Son, through him Godís Fatherhood is made plain. Yes, the Jews claimed that the omnipotent One is their God, but they did not truly know Him. Their father was Satan hiding himself under "the name of God", using that name falsely. They pretended piety, but were empty of the Spirit of love. Whoever knows God, loves as God loves him. For that reason any religion that alleges that merely to hold on to the name "God" is enough, does not prove the validity of that way of life; the whole creed may be faulty. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All the characteristics and names of the divine essence which other religions mouth are nothing other than elementary ideas. The truth of God lies in the unity of the Trinity. Thus Jesus rebuked the Jews saying, "You do not know Him. Your lives and thoughts are based on lies. You are blind to the truth." At the same, Jesus insisted that he knew the Eternal. If this were not so, his testimony to Fatherhood would have been a lie. But Jesus proclaimed Godís true image to the Jews.
56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad." 57 The Jews then said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" 58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am." 59 So they took up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.
After Jesus had told the Jews that they did not know the true God, and that the driving force in their piety was Satan, he ended by revealing his eternity, for them to accept or reject him. He also revealed his deity by an example from Abraham, the pioneer of faith. With this, Jesus informs us that Abraham lived with God, and that he rejoiced to see the incarnation of Christ; for by it, the promise made to Abraham was fulfilled, that his seed would be a blessing to all nations.
At this, the Jews were astounded, saying, "You are a young man and yet say that you have seen Abraham who lived two thousand years earlier? Your mind must be sick."
Jesus replied with a kingly sentence, "Before Abraham was, I am." He supported this claim by adding, "Truly, truly, I say to you," for them to realize that he was the eternal God, as his Father is. Prior to this, the Baptist had announced Christís eternity. The crowds missed this truth, nor did they believe that a man could be the eternal God.
They treated Christís witness as blasphemy, an attack on God, as well as an impossibility; so much that they would not wait for an official verdict, but took stones to cast at him. When they were about to cast these stones, he vanished from their midst. We do not know how. His hour had not come. He left by the temple gate.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we worship you; you are the eternal God, faithful and true, full of love. You do not seek glory for yourself, but you honor the Father alone. Deliver us from all pride, so that we may not fall into Satanís sin. Help us ever to sanctify our Fatherís name in heaven, and receive by faith in you life everlasting.
QUESTION 65: Why did the Jews want to stone Jesus?
2. Healing the man born blind (John 9:1-41)
a) Healing on the Sabbath (John 9:1-12)
1 As he passed by, he saw a blind man from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3 Jesus answered, "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night comes when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
Jesus did not hurriedly flee from his enemies who were going to stone him, rather he noticed at this critical juncture a brother man in affliction. He is the pardoning love that is sincere in blessing. The disciples also saw the blind man but were not unduly troubled. Instead they speculated about the guilt that caused this calamity, as most people in the past thought that diseases were due to some sin or other, and fell as punishment from God. Jesus did not define the cause of the handicap; he did not formally declare the parents or the young man innocent, but saw in this manís affliction an opportunity for God to work. He would not let his disciples judge the wretch, or philosophies on the causes of blindness. He impelled them to move forward and showed them the aim of Godís will; salvation and healing.
"I must work", said Jesus. Love impelled him, he had no wish to judge or destroy, but longed to heal in compassion. He shows thereby his redeeming love, his convictions and aims. He is the savior of the world, wishing to build up people into the divine life.
We also hear Jesusí words, "I do not work in my name nor through my own strength; rather I accomplish my Fatherís works in His name, in accord with Him." His works he called Godís.
Jesus knew that time was short, and death was near. Despite this, he gave time to cure the blind man. He is the light of the world, desiring to illumine the blind man with the light of life. There was a time coming, when neither he nor any saint could do something. While it is day and there are occasions to preach, let us witness to him. Darkness increases, our world has no hope other than the return of Christ. Who will prepare his way?
6 As He said this, He spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the manís eyes with the clay, 7 saying to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
Preciously Jesus had performed his miracle by a mere word. But in this case of the blind man he spat on the ground and made a paste out of the spittle and covered the eyes of the blind man with it. Jesus wanted him to feel that the blind man had been given something from Christís body. Jesus felt for the blind man, and dealt with him in the best manner to lead him to a cure. Strangely, the manís eyes were not instantly opened. He had to walk some way to the bottom of the valley, to wash himself in the pool of Siloam, which means "the sent One", a symbol that the healing was meant to be a sending forth to His people. They themselves were born blind in sins and trespasses, needing to receive the cure that Jesus provides and salvation too.
The blind man accepted Christís promise, confident in his love. He obeyed instantly. He walked on questioning his instructions. Yet he went forward, washed his eyes and was restored to sight. Right away, he saw people, water, light, his own hands and the heaven. He saw all this with amazement. His throat exploded with Hallelujahs and praise to God.
8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, "Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?" 9 Some said, "It is he," others said, "No, but he is like him." He said, "I am the man.". 10 They said to him, "Then how were your eyes opened?" 11 He answered, "The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ĎGo to Siloam and wash.í So I went and washed and received my sight." 12 They said to him, "Where is he?" He said, "I do not know."
The miracle did not remain concealed, because his neighbors saw the healed one and were mightily surprised. Some did not believe that this upright walker was the same man who used to stumble and hesitate as he moved, often led by a bystander. He witnessed to his own identity that he was the selfsame one whom they had known.
People inquired about the details of his cure, but did not ask about the healer, but only how it was done. The restored blind man called his healer Jesus, and knew little else about him. He was ignorant of Christís deity, but saw him as a man, who made a paste and rubbed it on his eyes. Then ordered him to wash, and so he was able to see.
At this, the Councilís spies asked, "Where is this Jesus?" The young man replied, "I do not know; once I was blind but now I see. He did not ask me for money nor a word of thanks. I went down to the spring, and now I can see. I do not know who he is, nor where."
PRAYER: We thank you, Lord Jesus; you did not pass the blind man and ignore him. You opened his eyes and made him a sign for all who are born in sin. Wipe our eyes clean by your Holy Spirit, so we might see your light, and confess your name with joy.
QUESTION 66: Why did Jesus heal the man born blind?
b) The Jews interrogate the healed man (John 9:13Ė34)
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see."
Jewish life was a prison of legalism; they were more concerned about Sabbath-breaking than the joy of healing. The neighbors and spies brought the cured man to the Pharisees to decide whether the healing was of God or by satanic agencies.
So began the interrogation and discussion on Jesus. The young man cured described the way the healing had taken place. He shortened his statement, as his joy in healing had been muddied by the hatred of Jesusí foes.
16 Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." But others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" There was a division among them. 17 So again they said to the blind man, "What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet."
After hearing his testimony, the legalists began to argue. Some said that Jesus has no power from God, since he has broken Godís commandment. They thus passed judgment on Jesus by legalistic reasoning.
Others saw the connection between the blind manís sin and his cure and pardon. They commented that the healing must have a deeper meaning, because it relates to Godís pardoning ability. It was therefore impossible for Jesus to be a sinner, because he forgave the sin and resolved the cause of the affliction.
The two parties could not find a compromise. Both sides were blind, like many in our day who discuss Jesus superficially and pointlessly. Then they questioned the healed man to find out if Jesus had said anything else, and what he did feel about Jesus. Such inquiries are useful for folk who know something about Jesus, it is good to question those who are born again. For they know how to be freed from sin and Godís wrath. Apart from our spiritual rebirth we cannot see God.
The healed man began to think, "Who then is Jesus?" He compared Jesus to men of God in the history of his people. During that historical age many miracles were performed, but no one had ever cured a man born blind. From Jesusí actions any thinking person could see that here was a unique savior. So the man called Jesus a prophet, who not only discerns the future but decides the present in Godís power. He searches hearts and expresses Godís will.
18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight, 19 and asked them, "Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?" His parents answered, "We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind, 21 but how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him, he is of age, he will speak for himself." 22 His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, "He is of age, ask him."
The Jews refused to concede the logic of comparing the Old Testamentís miracles with Godís works of Christ, that were marvels. They did not believe he was a prophet or Godís sent One, otherwise their position would have been faulty and would be blameworthy.
They fell back on a fallacy, to the effect that the miracle was a delusion, and that the man had not been blind at all. They were willing to allege the impossible to decry the happening of a miracle at Jesusí hands. To heal one born blind seems an impossibility to them, an affliction resulting from hereditary guilt.
The parents were brought around, who had heard of their sonís problems with the police. These parents spoke cautiously for fear of the Pharisees, and denied what they had earlier heard from their son. They abandoned him, so as not to be entangled in the crisis. So the son was left on his own, responsible for himself. Expulsion from the Council was a grave matter; it means separation from society like a leper. It would also mean denial of rights and the chance of marriage. Jewish hatred for Jesus had reached this extent that they wished to destroy his followers too.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we thank you because you are Godís authority made flesh. Keep us in the hour of trial not to cling to our security and comfort more than to you. Lead us to deny ourselves and to courage and loyalty, to prefer death rather than forsake or neglect you.
QUESTION 67: Why did the Jews deny the possibility of the healing of the man blind from birth?
24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, "Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner." 25 He answered, "Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see."
The Pharisees were trying hard to find a weak point in Jesus to pass sentence on him. Again they brought the healed man before them, and made him swear to speak against Jesus and charge him with some offence. They asserted as law experts that they knew Jesus to be a sinner; all they needed was clear proof. They put pressure on him to agree and accuse Jesus, and wished him to confess that his healing was not to the glory of the Nazarene. But he replied wisely, "I do not know if he is a sinner, only God knows. I know one thing Ė once I was blind but now I see." This fact cannot be denied. It implies a miracle, a divine energy and the grace of forgiveness. This young manís witness is one that thousands of believers will confirm. They may not know the mysteries of heaven and hell, but they received rebirth. Each of them can claim, "I was blind but now I see."
26 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 would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?"
Not content with this young manís replies, the Pharisees tried to find contradictions in his report, and asked him to repeat his story. He was angry and said, "Have you not understood the first time? Do you wish to hear the story once more, so as to become his disciples?"
28 And they reviled him, saying, "You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from." 30 The man answered, "Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of the blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." 34 They answered him, "You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?" And they cast him out.
After the young man had ridiculed the scribes and the scholars, they cried out and reviled him saying, "Not us, but you are the disciple of this deluder. We follow Moses, the man who spoke with God." Jesus had previously informed them that if they had understood Moses rightly, they would have listened to his words and grasped them. But since they had twisted Mosesí words and used them to justify themselves, they could not understand him either, nor could they recognize the Spirit through whom he spoke.
At that the healed man responded, "He who opens the eyes of one born blind has creative powers. He is mighty and able. In his gentleness he did not blame me; he did not ask for money, but offered me loving service gratis. He did not even wait for me to thank him. I found no lack or blemish in him."
The young man then confessed, "Every member of the Old Covenant knows that God does not respond to the prayers of the proud. Sin in man prevents the flow of blessing from God. But he who is broken before the Holy One, confessing sin, seeking faith and love with thanksgiving, for him God speaks in person."
"None of you could open my eyes, no man can do this because all have sinned except Jesus. He was able to heal me, proof that he is sinless. God dwells in him." Having been compelled to think of Jesus during this enquiry, made him know Jesus in his innocence and divinity.
At that, the self-righteous pious folk cursed him saying, "No one is more corrupt than you, your parents too are likewise. Your depravity comes out in your blindness." These pious folk did not realize that they were more blind than that poor man. Jesus was using him as an apostle on his behalf to them, to show what he could do with them. But they rejected Christís teaching through the healed messenger. So they ejected him by force from the synagogue. This expulsion first took place in the Council chamber, and then publicly, when they called him a servant of Jesus. He was that day a healed one and yet rejected by his nation, evidence that their spirit could not endure Christís Spirit.
QUESTION 68: What did this young man realize gradually during his interrogation?
c) Jesus reveals himself as God's Son to the healed one (John 9:35Ė41)
35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36 He answered, "And who is he, Sir, that I may believe in him?" 37 Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you." 38 He said, "Lord, I believe;" and he worshiped him.
We have read this comforting story. When Jesus heard about the healed manís expulsion, he sought and found him in his distress. This is the comfort available to every believer, who has been separated from family and friends for Christís sake. If you are in this situation we assure you that Jesus will hear your cries, and come to you in person and not leave you. Do not look to people or you will be disappointed. Look to Jesus alone. You have no hope on earth or in heaven but in him. He loves you.
Then Jesus asked the young man the crucial question, "Do you believe in the Son of God, who is also the Son of Man?" This shows that Jesus was aware of the young manís familiarity with parts of the Old Testament, and knew from Daniel 7:13Ė14, that the Son of Man is the Judge of the World and Godís Son. Jesus was asking this to find out if the young man wanted to yield to the majesty of Godís Son for time and eternity, and would not fall back. He had already felt that Jesus was no ordinary man, and addressed him as "Lord." Yet he wished to know more about who the Son of God was, so as not to worship a mere man Ė which would be idolatry.
At this, Jesus gave him a glorious answer, "You saw him beforehand by faith, before seeing him by sight, I am He; the Son of God speaking to you." No more delay for this young man in full surrender to Jesus. He bowed down before him, as if to say, "Lord, I am yours and you are my king, my master and Lord. You are Love incarnate, I yield to you willingly, to be your slave henceforth." Brother, have you discerned Jesus, Godís Son, in human form? Have you bonded with him as a believer? Have you worshiped him as a bond-servant?
39 Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind." 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, "Are we also blind?" 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ĎWe see,í your guilt remains."
When the young man bowed down before Jesus, he was not prevented from doing so, because Jesus is worthy of all honor. But Jesus said that his coming would bring judgment to the proud, and on pious folk who imagined themselves to be discerning, but knew nothing of the truth. The blind and sinners had realized this and repented, and fornicators were cleansed. Jesus did not judge the unrepentant; they judged themselves for rejecting his salvation. They had received some light in the past trough the prophets and biblical evidences. But if they deliberately oppose Jesusí preaching, they will forfeit the rest of the illumination which was available. They would become blind, hard-hearted, stubborn and hateful killers. Christís coming and his preaching have two results: Salvation or damnation, blessing or cursing. What is the result in your heart?
Among Christís audience were Pharisees, who felt that Jesus was marking them by his words. They asked, "Are we blind?" Jesus pierced their hypocrisy saying, "If you realistically saw yourselves blind and grieved at your spiritual state, you would have repented of your sins before John the Baptist, and forsaken your sins; then you would have received pardon and blessing. But you delude yourselves, and claim to understand everything, thinking you are righteous. But with such boasting you prove your blindness and hardness. You will not get a single ray of light from the light of the world."
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you are Godís Son in human form. We worship you and surrender to you now and forever. We are at your disposal with our energies and possessions. We beseech you to forgive and sanctify our hearts, so that no sin, however slight, may separate us from you.
QUESTION 69: What does bowing down before Jesus signify?
3. Jesus the Good Shepherd (John 10:1Ė39)
In chapter 7 and 8 Jesus pointed out to his foes the reality of their condition, then in chapter 9 their blindness to the knowledge of God and his Son as well as themselves. In chapter 10, he frees his own from the duty of following their sinful leaders, and calls them to himself. He is the Good Shepherd, the only door leading to God.
a) The sheep hear the voice of the true shepherd
†††† (John 10:1-6)
1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; 2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers." 6 This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
In some villages peasants gather their sheep in a large enclosure and guard it by night. By morning, the shepherds come and enter the enclosure calling their sheep. The guards permit them to enter, then an odd thing happens: the shepherds do not each drive or pull their sheep from the crowded enclosure, but call out in recognizable voices. The sheep can tell one voice from the other, and follow their own shepherdís voice. Even if the shepherdís owner dresses up in a disguise, the sheep will follow the voice of their owner. Whereas if a bogus shepherd were to come dressed up as their owner, the sheep would not move at all. The sheep follow the right voice of the genuine shepherd. By calling he leads his own to green pastures and refreshing waters. His sheep crowd behind him; not one of them stays behind; they trust their shepherd fully.
Jesus used this allegory to show us that all who are willing listen to his voice, for them Jesus is the divine Shepherd. He did not come to the people of the Old Covenant to snatch or steal, but he chose Godís peculiar people from among them and called them to Himself. He rescued them and fed them with spiritual food constantly. Other "shepherds" are more like robbers prowling round the flock like ravening wolves. They enter in with the help of agents and trickery. They snatch the sheep for themselves and devour them. They live for themselves, and honor themselves. They do not genuinely serve the flock. Pastors and servers in churches who were not called by God personally and are not abiding in Christ truly, our Lord calls these robbers. They harm rather than help.
Jesus predicted that his genuine followers would keep away from strange shepherds and stay apart from them, sensing the danger in time. He also urged them to trust the promise that God, Himself, would tend His flock as recorded in Psalm 23.
People did not grasp Jesusí words, not realizing that their Ďshepherdsí were unfaithful and evil (Jeremiah 2:8; 10:21; Ezekiel 34:1Ė10; Zechariah 11:4Ė6). Despite this, God was ready, to become their Good Shepherd, to quick His people and send them sincere pastors, just as Moses and David were. The Bible uses pastoral metaphors; the terms "shepherd" and "flock" and the "Lamb of God" and "redemption by bloodshed", all come from the thought forms of the pastoral countryside. God in His Son is called the Good Shepherd, to stress His essential care of us.
b) Jesus is the authentic door (John 10:7-10)
7 So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. 9 I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
Jesus described himself as the door leading to the flock of God. There is no way to fellowship with the redeemed in the church apart from Christ. Whoever tries to make one religious without Christ resembles a thief who confuses the minds of Godís sheep with errors. The Holy Spirit does not lead us by diverging paths but into the narrow gate that is Jesus. Anyone who does not enter thereby, nor eat his flesh, nor drink his blood, has no right to serve Godís children. We ourselves need to die to our complacency and enter Christís fold; then we become part of his flock.
All the eminent people who appeared before or after Christ and did not live in his Holy Spirit, are thieves who delude. Jesus says that all philosophers and ideologists and national leaders are robbers, if they do not believe in him and submit to him; they corrupt the crowds with their teaching and habits. But true prophets who abide in Christís Spirit and pre-dated him were broken-hearted, coming to God through the door. Jesus prepared them and sent them for faithful service in his flock and fold.
No one can enter the fold of God unless he dies to himself and clings to Jesus to save him. Jesus makes his obedient sheep kings and priests. The sincere pastor goes out of the door into the world appealing to men to be saved. Then he returns with them into the body of Christ, for them to abide in him and he in them. Such pastors do not regard themselves as superior to the sheep, for they all enter into Christ. Whoever abides in humility, finds in his Lord the fullness of power and knowledge. The humble heart finds in Jesus an unfailing pasture.
Four times Jesus warns his flock against the scribes and priests, who seek their own glory and corrupt others.
At the same time Christ called everyone to himself, to give true life of goodness and peace, and make him a source of blessing to others. Whoever comes to Christ, becomes a spring of virtues flowing to others. Shepherds do not live for themselves, but sacrifice their days and lives for the flock. The Spirit of God does not give us the heavenly life just for our personal salvation, but appoints us servants and pastors to deny ourselves and love others. With the increase of love there is an increase of the overflow. Nothing is lovelier than service for the Lordís sake! This is meant by the expression, "That they might have life more abundantly!"
PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for being the door that leads to God. We worship you because you called us into your fellowship, to serve God and man. Help us to submit ourselves and find true life. Enable us to win souls as led by your Spirit, and be a blessing to all with the favor you grant us.
QUESTION 70: What are the blessings Jesus bestows on his sheep?
c) Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11Ė21)
11 "I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep."
God bore patiently with kings, false prophets and priests who cheated, and looked on His scattered people as sheep without a shepherd. So He sent us Christ as the Good Shepherd. On arrival he said, "Here I am ready, the true King, the High Priest, and the Prophet with a final revelation." In Christís person we find all the functions of shepherding combined. He can rightly say, "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." I shall not exploit you, but rescue you from a misguided life and from every peril.
The proof that he is the only Good Shepherd was his willingness from the start to lay down his life for his sheep. He did not just say that he would lay down his body, but offered body, soul and spirit for the salvation of Godís flock. He toiled from the first moment in serving his followers. His physical death was the crown of a self-giving life. Remember that Jesus did not live only for himself or die for this. He lived and died for you.
Faithless shepherds are found out, because in the hour of danger they flee and hide themselves, caring only for themselves. They abandon the sheep to the wolves, who are bound to appear. They are not beasts but act in beastly fashion; their father is Satan. As the primal wolf, Satanís aim is to devour. His attacks are vicious, persecuting and killing. He turns up with pleasing temptations and white lies. We pastors must not tolerate or ignore false teaching using love as a pretext. But for the sake of love we must defend the truth wisely and robustly if need be. Christís life tells us that he was constantly in conflict with infernal spirits. With love he spoke the full truth to his servants, that they may serve the flock with effort and defend it in the face of attacks from satanic spirits. The aim of the ravenous wolf is clear, for by false charges and severe persecution he wishes to destroy Godís church. Are you seeking service and honor in Godís flock? Note that this will mean conflict, suffering, and sacrifice, and does not ensue in gain or pleasure, let alone rest.
14 "I am the Good Shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep."
Christ repeated the claim that he was the unique Shepherd. We all fail and are unable to minister as we should, since we do not fully know the enemy, and we do not fully understand the mentality of the sheep, or how to lead them to the best pastures. Christ knows every individual by name, and perceives his past, his thoughts and his future.
Jesus chose his own sheep, and granted them the gift of knowing him vitally. As they get to know him better, they wonder why he never rejected them. His very presence shows up their failings. This encounter produces a greater love, moving into thankfulness and an eternal covenant or bond.
This mutual knowledge between Jesus and his flock is not superficial or worldly, but is a gift of the Spirit, because we realize him as he sees the Father, and as the Father knows the Son. This is a mystery, that every Christian, by the descent of the Spirit, receives the revelation of truth in divine knowledge trough Christ. It also means that Godís Spirit dwells in His flock, and fills them. No one is ignored.
16 "And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd."
Christ did not die for any particular race, but for all. Not only did he save the stubborn of the Old Covenant, but also the corrupt folk among the nations. He foretold that his death would redeem sheep in numbers from all over the world. None could come to God of his own accord; they needed a guide, a Good Shepherd. This was to be Christ. He is personally the potentate of nations and individuals. His spiritual guidance takes place by his word. As the sheep recognize the voice of their own shepherd, so also everywhere people prepared hear Christís voice, and are quickly converted. From the elect of the Old Covenant and the converts among the nations a new spiritual union emerged, under Christís leadership. The people of the New Testament are today Godís flock, with Jesus as our Shepherd. All who hear the Gospel with joy and believe in Christ, Godís Son, belong to the true church, even if they join different denominations. We have one Spirit, one Lord, one Father. This Spirit comes on all the cleansed by Christís blood. The unity of Christís fold is greater than we imagine, gathering sheep from every corner. The Good Shepherd comes in person, to lead his faithful and simple followers to glory. Then there will be one fold and one shepherd. But whoever tries today to create a church by ways and systems that are human and aims that are worldly will be in danger of falling into the traps of the great wolf, who tries to draw the attention of the flock from her shepherd to itself. However, we cannot draw close to one another, unless we draw nearer to Christ.
17 "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father."
We believe God is love, loving His Son always. For Jesus constantly did what pleased his Father. Now we read what truly pleases God; it is only the cross. The death of Christ was the purpose determined by God. There is no other way to save the flock from sin, but by the atonement and her sanctification through the blood of the Lamb.
The death and resurrection of Jesus are great miracles; he told us he would die in order to live. He did not offer himself under compulsion, but spontaneously, because he desired the redemption of sinners. He is true love. His Father committed to him authority to save the world, and the authority to take that life again. No one was able to prevent the completion of Christís victory on the cross. The devil and his followers attempted to foil his redemptive act; but this malicious being failed before Christís mighty love. It was neither Caiaphas, nor Pilate, nor any other who impelled him to die; it was he who resolved to die. He did not flee at the sight of the wolf approaching him, but he offered himself to save us. This was Godís perfect will. Jesus won the conflict between heaven and hell on the cross. From that day on His flock have the assurance sealed by the blood of the Lamb. Jesus leads us through crises and afflictions to his glory.
19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, "He has a demon, and he is mad; why listen to him?" 21 Others said, "These are not the sayings of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of a blind?"
Those spies sent by the Jewish leaders were furious to hear Jesus describing the authorities among the Jews as robbers and agents of Satan; as well as his claim to be the Good Shepherd, and especially the Shepherd for all nations Ė a matter regarded as wicked by the Jews. They saw themselves as the elect of God. They called him demon-possessed and mad and were disgusted by him. Most of the bystanders agreed with this accusation. The populace were turning against Jesus, since his heavenly teachings were beyond their grasp.
Yet some of his listeners had the courage to witness publicly that they were hearing Godís voice in Jesusí words. His words were not empty thoughts, but filled with power and creative. He had forgiven the sins of the blind man. The hostility against Jesus grew among the multitude, while his love took root in some sincere folk. Jesus leads and led his flock at all times in the Spirit calmly to the certain goal.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Shepherd of the sheep, you did not reject the stubborn sheep, but sought them till you found them, and laid down your life for them. Forgive us our sins. Thank you for granting us the Spirit of knowledge, so that we may know you, as you know the Father. You know our names and do not forget us. You tend us along with all your followers. Choose from among the nations, those who will listen and unite them. Keep them from the devouring wolf.
QUESTION 71: How does Jesus become the Good Shepherd?
d) Our security in the union of Father and Son
†††† (John 10:22-30)
22 It was the Feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Fatherís name, they bear witness to Me, 26 but you do not believe, because you do not belong to My sheep."
The Feast of Dedication was an occasion for rejoicing and merriment, commemorating the restoration of the Temple after the exile to Babylon in 515 BC. It was the Maccabees who rebuilt it in 165 BC. The feast was held in early December, a season of cold and rain, since Jerusalem lies at the altitude of 750 meters.
On this occasion, Jesus, the persecuted, came again to the temple, preaching in Salomonís porch, where those visiting the temple would listen to him. This eastern porch is mentioned again in Acts 3:11 and 5:12.
At this point, the Jews prepared to attack Jesus. They demanded that he publicly announced whether he was the expected Messiah or not. What he had proclaimed about himself was loftier and more wide-ranging than people expected from their Messiah. Those added qualities over and above what they were looking for was a cause of stumbling. But some believed that Jesus might well be the true Messiah, because his person, authority and works proved impressive.
Thus, they tried to coerce Christ to sound a stirring call for a Christian national movement. After all, the feast was a memorial of the Maccabean uprising. They hoped he would officially demand his right to be king of the land, calling his people to arms. They were ready to follow him to war and cast away the shame of imperial rule from them. Jesus had other plans: humility, love and the change of minds. He did not say to the Jews that he was the Messiah, whereas he did so to the Samaritan woman. He also confessed to the man born blind regarding his divine glory. The Jews wanted a Messiah who was political and reckless; Jesus was a spiritual redeemer, and compassionate. The people dreamt of authority, freedom and honor. Jesus came urging self-denial, penitence and renewal. He announced his greatness, but they did not grasp this, for they demanded something he was not. Minds did not meet, and faith was not forthcoming in their hearts. They did not open their hearts to Jesusí Spirit. His wonders were done in the name of his Father, who upheld him and led him victorious.
The Jews were loth to hear about the bond between the Son and his Father as the foundation for their state. They demanded violence, money and aggrandizement, right up to this day.
27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand."
Jesus is the meek Lamb of God; he calls his followers sheep and lambs, those who put on his nature. Their first quality is that they listen, because the Holy Spirit opened their minds and hearts, so that Jesusí voice and his will penetrated into their depths, turning them into new creatures. Willing attention is the start of discipleship.
Christ knows all who heed the word personally; he loves them, sees their secrets, and knows the image into which he will mould them. True Christians are not sunk in aimlessness and unconcern. They are known and their names recorded in heaven. Each one is a miracle, Godís new creature.
Jesus is like a Good Shepherd; his sheep are used to his voice, and follow him with the joy of surrender to his leadership. They do not desire anything but the will of their Shepherd. All perverse thinking has no place in their hearts; they are meek lambs.
This change took place in them because of Christís work in them. He gave them Godís love, and the power to overcome death and sin. They will not die but live for ever, because they bear his life, a gift in themselves. They are freed from judgment and loss, from eternal death; justified by Christís blood.
None of the sheep bought by Christís blood will perish. He left heavenís glory to save humanity, and suffered to give them life. He resolved to keep them at all cost. Are you confident in your Lordís hands? Have you chosen the might of Christ and his ability? Either you live in the world of sin a wanderer, or you are freed in the adoption of Godís children in Christ full of the Holy Spirit. Our Lordís protection is greater than our work, for it extends beyond the horizon for our knowledge, we stand beside the Victor.
29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Fatherís hand. 30 I and the Father are one."
Some believers will have doubts with the thought that the young man Jesus will keep them from death, Satan and Godís wrath. This is beyond comprehension. That is why Jesus pointed his disciples to his Father and His omnipotence. He it was who chose every individual follower of Jesus. No man follows Jesus but by the will of God and His choice.
God the Father is responsible for those who cling to His Son. The Father is the Great One, omnipotent. Jesus did not please himself, but submitted to his Father.
For this measure of self-denial, the fullness of deity was in him. Some speak as if Christ is inferior to his Father. But the constitution of the Holy Spirit tells us that he who exalts himself will be abased, and he who abases himself shall be exalted. Because Jesus gave all the glory to his Father, He had the right to say, "I and the Father are One." That openness refuted the objection of those who say we join another to God. We do not worship three godís, we worship one God. People who deny this perfect union of Christ and his Father, are proud, not realizing that the way to greatness begins from lowliness.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd. You laid down your life for the sheep. You grant us life, so we shall not die. We thank you; you keep us from death, Satan, sin and Godís wrath. No one can snatch us from your hand. Teach us your humility, so that we might know the Father in you, and to deny ourselves, that your power may be seen in our weakness.
QUESTION 72: How does Christ lead his flock?
e) The Son of God in the Father and the Father in him
†††† (John 10:31-36)
31 The Jews took stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, "I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of these do you stone Me?" 33 The Jews answered him, "We stone you for no good work, but for blasphemy; because you, being a man, make yourself God." 34 Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, ĎI said, "You are godís." í? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came (and Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say to him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ĎYou are blasphemingí, because I said, "I am the Son of God?"
The Jews hated Jesus as he said, "I and the Father are One." They treated his witness to himself as blasphemy, and were keen to stone him as the law required, otherwise the wrath of Jehovah would fall on the nation. So they ran to the courtyard and came with stones to cast at him.
Jesus stood calmly before them asking, "What evil have I done to you? I served you, healed your sick, exorcised demons and opened the eyes of your blind. I cleansed the lepers and preached the Gospel to the poor. For which of these deeds do you want to kill me? You seek to destroy your benefactor. I do not seek honor or money for my services, which I humbly called my Fatherís works. I am here as your servant."
The Jews shouted, "We do not stone you for any work done, but because of your blasphemy. You have raised yourself to the level of God, while you stand among us as a mere mortal. We shall shed your blood to show that you are mortal. How dare you say that you are God, one with the Holy One? You must be demon-possessed, you deserve instant destruction.
With full confidence Jesus replied, "Have you not read in your Law that God used to personally speak to his elect, saying, "You are gods, you are all sons of the Most High" (Psalm 82:6), whereas you are yourselves perishing and falling from one sin into another. Doubtless, all are sinners, wandering in error. Yet God called them "gods and sons" for His divine nameís sake. He has no wish for you to perish, but that you may live for ever. Return to your God and be holy as He is."
"So, why do you want to stone me? God Himself calls you "gods and children". I have not committed a sin like you. I am holy in word and in deed; I have the right to live for ever, as the true Son of God. Read what is written in your Law and you will know me, but you do not believe even in your Scriptures, and do not recognize my deity."
"I have not sent myself, but the Holy Father has sent me. I am his Son; He is my Father. His holiness rests in me. So I am God from God, light from light, begotten not created, of one essence with the Father."
Jesus overcame the Jews with texts from their own Scriptures, and demolished their arguments. But their eyes remained malignant with hatred, but they lowered their arms, since Jesus had proved from their Book the possibility of divine Sonship in the Old Testament generally and in particular applied to him.
37 "If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me, 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." 39 Again they tried to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.
"This means," explained Jesus, "You must believe in me, as I do what God does, works of mercy. Sovereignty would not be mine if I did not represent his compassion. Since His love is incarnate in me, I have the authority to fulfill Godís works, for they are truly the Fatherís work."
"It may be your minds failed to grasp deity in humanity. Nevertheless, examine my works, who can raise the dead by his word, and open blind eyes, or still the storm, or feed 5.000 famished folk with five loaves and two fishes? Do you long for the Holy Spirit to open your minds and hear His voice, so that you may know that God Himself is in me? When you are filled with the Holy Spirit you will abide in this essential knowledge, and realize that the fullness of deity is in me bodily."
Here and before the milling crowds, Jesus uttered the mighty words, that he was in the Father, and as the branch abides in the vine, and receives strength from the roots, so also Christ proceeds from the Father and abides in Him. The two are indivisible, in perfect harmony and unity. Thus we can say, the Son is hidden in the Father, to reveal his Father and honor Him. So the most famous of prayers begins, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name."
Whoever delves deeply in the testimony of Jesus on his deity, in prayer and adoration, will realize it is the decisive proof against superficial understanding about the Holy Trinity. Not three gods apart from one another, but perfect unity in the Holy Trinity, so with joy we testify that God is One.
When the Jews heard Jesusí repeated testimony on his perfect union with the Father, they drew back from stoning him. Yet they wished to arrest him and bring him to the High Council, there to discover his views. Jesus slipped away from them. No man can harm one of Godís children, so long as their Fatherís will protects them. Jesus said, "No one can pluck them out of my Fatherís hand."
PRAYER: Father and Lamb of God, we see full unity in your love. Our minds cannot grasp deity in your humanity. Your Spirit has illumined us, to realize that great love and your saving deeds. You made us your children. Help us to hallow your name in our motives, words and acts. Sanctify us as you are holy.
QUESTION 73: How did Jesus proclaim his divinity?
4. The raising of Lazarus and the outcome
†††† (John 10:40 Ė 11:54)
a) Jesus across the Jordan (John 10:40 Ė 11:16)
40 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John at first baptized, and there he remained. 41 And many came to him; and they said, "John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man is true." 42 And many believed in him there.
The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees broke out; they incited the peopleís leaders after he had healed the cripple at Bethesda (Chapter 5). At the end of his third visit to Jerusalem, this conflict developed towards a climax. Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not overcome it. At all times, Jesus was exposed to the risk of death. Bodily he entered the temple again and again, guiding his disciples into maturity in knowledge and trust, while his foes moved to the nadir of hatred.
Following on the Feast of Dedication, Jesus left Jerusalem, and went to a region beyond Jordan, where the High Council had no jurisdiction. Here John the Baptist had preached earlier, outside Jewish authority, but under one of the Herodian kings. The Baptist was well-known there; his witness to Jesus evident.
Those who had believed because of the Baptist had continued in their faith. Their teacher had been beheaded. When Jesus arrived, they rushed to him, knowing his humility, majesty and power. Jesus offered them examples of his signs, faithfully preaching about God and man. So many opened their hearts to the Gospel, holding on to their faith in the Baptistís prophetic role, though the Baptist had not offered miracles to justify this role. But as soon as Jesus came to them, they trusted in him as Lord and Savior.
1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill."
During Christís preaching in the region of Jordan, a man called Lazarus fell ill. He belonged to a village on the Mount of Olives. Jesus had often been a guest at his house. Christís talk with Martha, Lazarusí sister, is famous. John does not recount those events, since they are found in another gospel. He does, however, tell us of Mary who poured out a jar of ointment on Jesusí feet. The evangelist mentions this mystic woman hungry for the Lordís words. After she had anointed his feet with oil she wiped them with her hair (John 12:1Ė8). She demonstrated her humility, faith and love for Godís Son.
The news of Lazarusí illness made Jesus sad. However, the sistersí faith drew him to join them. They did not beg Jesus to come speedily to heal his friend, but simply sent him news about his condition, confident that he would heal from a distance. They felt sure that Jesusí affection for Lazarus would move him to act. "Lazarus" means "God has helped". So this name became a motto for the last miracle mentioned in John.
4 But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it." 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to his disciples, "Let us go into Judea again." 8 The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" 9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."
When the news reached Jesus, he was aware of his struggle with the forces of death. He had predicted that the patient would not be prey of death, but in him Godís glory would shine. Jesus knew through the Holy Spirit what he had to do before his friendís passing away, his authority would appear by raising a dead man before the gates of Jerusalem. So that the folk in Jerusalem would have no pretext for unbelief.
Godís glory and Christís glorification are one. Glory magnified, because he confronted death and won. Humanity at large agonizes at the prospect of death in its being. Death leads directly to extinction, they feel. Jesus knew his Fatherís will and was not obsessed by death and its outcome, but realized the cause of death. He can plant life into a sick world.
Jesus did not go directly to Bethany; he delayed for two days. He let death swallow his friend. The disciples were dismayed to hear that he was going back to Judea; they had witnessed the attempt to stone him. The disciples did not feel for Lazarus, nor did they wish to witness Godís glory, but feared for their own lives.
At that point, Jesus used an illustration that one travels safely in daytime, but at night he may fall into obstacles and ravines. As the hour of crucifixion was nigh, the hours of daylight had not ended. They had to go to Jerusalem calmly, safe in Godís hands.
Whoever does not trust in Godís providence, will dwell in darkness like Jesusí foes, because the light of faith has not risen on them. Thus Jesus asked his disciples to trust in him and his leading completely. Otherwise unbelief will draw them into darkness. This is our consolation in the darkest hour that nothing will befall us without the will of our Lord. In him is our confidence.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for being the Master of life; in your light we see the way. You lead us into the straight path, even when your enemies desire our ruin. Help us, not to delay, but be ready for pain and death for your sake. So that your care of us may be glorified by our faith.
QUESTION 74: Why did Jesus speak of Godís glory, even though Lazarus died?
11 Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep." 12 The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead; 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." 16 Thomas, called the twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
Lazarus was described by Jesus as "our beloved". Often Jesus and his disciples had been guests at Lazarusí home. He was therefore a friend of all the disciples. We can thus say, Lazarus as "beloved of Jesus" parallels Abrahamís title as ĎFriend of God.í
Jesus applies the term "sleep" to death, to stress the fact that death is not the end of living. Our bodies perish but our souls persist. Our rest today is in the Lord by faith. We are satisfied and restful in his life, and we shall observe our Saviorís awakening of us at the resurrection. We shall live for ever.
"I go to awaken him", said Jesus confidently. He did not say, "Let us pray to find out what God wants us to do, and how we shall comfort the family." No, Jesus was conversing with his Father for two days, before news reached him of his friendís death. He was sure Lazarusí rising would precede his own glorious rising. This was to strengthen his followersí faith and prove to his foes that he alone was the Messiah. Then pointedly he added, "I go to raise him," as if a mother would say, "I go to wake up my son; its time to go to school." Jesus shows no hesitation, he was life itself and Lord over death. Faith in Jesus frees us from all fear, and will confirm us in life.
The disciples failed to grasp the meaning of Christís victory at the time. They imagined Lazarus to be asleep; so there was no reason to go to him and waken him. More so as they were risking death at the hands of the Jews.
Then Jesus spoke frankly about Lazarusí death, saying, "He is dead". This news disturbed the disciples, but Jesus reassured them, saying, "I rejoice." This then is the response of Godís Son to death. He sees victory and resurrection. Death is not a cause for lament but for rejoicing, for Jesus assures his followers of life. He is life; whoever believes in him shares in his life.
Jesus continued, "I rejoice for your sakes, that I was not there at his death, and did not heal him on the spot. This is the sign about the end of each person. However, faith in him starts off a new life. Let us go to him." This going indicates tears and lament for mankind, but for Jesus it speaks of resurrection. We thank God that Jesus will say, when we lie in the grave, "Let us go to him." His coming to us will mean freedom, life and light.
Thomas, the apostle, loved Jesus and was brave. When he noticed Christís resolve to go to the corpse, not realizing that Christís aim was to snatch him from his grave, Thomas turned to his comrades and said firmly, "We shall not leave Jesus alone; we love our Lord and shall accompany him till death. We are all bound to him." Thomas thus emphasized his loyalty to the end.
QUESTION 75: Why did Jesus advance victoriously to rescue Lazarus?
b) Jesus meets Martha and Mary (John 11:17-33)
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.
Four days had passed since Lazarus had lain in the grave; he had been buried on the day he passed away, and the news reached Jesus that day. There was no point in Jesus arriving at once, since his friend was already buried. Death was confirmed without a doubt.
Bethany lay east of the Mount of Olives facing the Jordan which was 1.000 meters below. Beyond stood the Dead Sea. To the west at a distance of three kilometers lies Jerusalem on a hill beyond the Kidron valley.
Many friends of the deceased had come to his home, weeping and beating their breasts. Grief was specially evident, since Lazarus was the breadwinner of the family. The shadow of death overcast the gathering.
20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
When Martha heard that Jesus was near, she hurried towards him lamenting; thinking to herself that if he had arrived in time the nightmare would not have struck. She gave expression to her faith when they met, confident of his limitless power. She did not waste time expressing her sorrow, but spoke of her trust that he would arrest the death; she did not know how, but she believed in his absolute authority, and in his bond with God, who would answer the Sonís prayer at all times.
Jesus instantly responded to her faith with a mighty promise, "Your brother shall rise." She did not fully grasp the import or his words, but considered them as a promise of the final resurrection for him. She was now hopeful, realizing that death is not the end. Resurrection to life is what believers expect.
25 Jesus said to her," I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me, though he may die, yet he shall live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."
In the hearing of his disciples, Jesus said to Martha that great text, "The resurrection is sure to come, it is here in my person. Not that he will be raised on the day of resurrection, but he will rise today by my presence. I am the Creator; from me proceeds the Holy Spirit to you. I shall die in your stead to take away your sins, to grant you the life divine. Death will not have dominion over you. Soon I shall assure your resurrection by Mine. So that you may be buried and rise again with me in faith. My death is yours, my life is yours. I live and you live in me."
The one condition for receiving Christís life is the covenant of faith with Jesus. The currents of his life do not pass from him in you unless you are bonded with him. Our faith in Christ opens our perceptions to the Father and eternal life. His love plants joy, peace and love in us that never ceases. A person filled with Christís love will not die, because Godís Spirit is everlasting. This Spirit dwells in the hearts of those who believe in Christ.
Jesus did not make a stirring speech announcing his victory over death in the raising of Lazarus. He assured those who were alive in his Spirit that death would not have dominion over them, since they have shared in his resurrection already. Have you realized the force of this unconditional promise from his lips? If you believe in him you will not die. Do not think of your approaching death, or the open grave; rather turn your eyes upon Jesus. Thank him for this commitment, for he will establish you in life eternal.
Dear brother, do you believe in Jesus the life-giver? Have you personally experienced that he has freed you from deathís dominion, and raised you from corruption of sin? If you have not experienced this spiritual rising, we assure you that the Lord of Life stands before you extending his hand to you. Believe in his love and power. Hold his hand, and he will lift you up from your sins, and transport you into eternal life. He is your only faithful Savior.
Martha accepted Christís promise. She not only experienced life eternal but also the life-giver. She believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, who has power to raise the dead. He has the authority to conduct the final judgment. She experienced his power flowing in her, awakening and sanctifying her. She was bold to utter the testimony of her faith on the way, even though she knew the Jews had resolved to stone Jesus for declaring he was Godís Son. She did not fear death, but loved her Savior: A woman whose courage puts men to shame. Her confidence grew strong with her love.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you are eternally great. Death had no dominion over you. You died our death, and raised us by your resurrection. We worship and thank you. You have shared your life with us, so that death may no longer have dominion over us. We love and thank you for our freedom from guilt, fear and death.
QUESTION 76: How do we rise from death today?
28 When he had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The teacher is here and is calling for you." 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
Perhaps Jesus requested Martha to bring Mary to him, so that she might hear from him words of trust and comfort away from the din of the mourners. Thereby she would progress in faith through his love. Jesus conquers by the boldness of faith, not by pessimism and sorrow. He wished to bring the grieving Mary to the light of Godís presence, so that she might live and be spiritually active.
Mary may not have heard about Jesusí coming, as she was drowning in sorrow. However, when Martha returned to her and told her that Jesus was asking for her, she rose anxiously and went to meet the Lord. So much that all those present were astonished at her conduct, asking whether she was going to the grave to weep. They all rose and followed her to the tomb, an illustration of human life that is marching on to perdition, swallowed by misery and gloom. While philosophy and religion cannot provide a correct answer to the problem of life or death, in death, the truth of the hope that a Christian has, becomes evident as well as his solid comfort.
32 Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
Mary saw Jesus, and in an emotional gesture threw herself at his feet, a broken spirit. She confessed her faith prostrate, trusting that he was able to work divine miracles. If only he had been present earlier, her brother would not have died. This points to the firm faith that was evident in the household, that God was present in Jesus. But death had shaken that faith and left the sisters perplexed.
When Jesus saw this anxious faith in his loyal followers along with the crowdís ignorance, he was troubled in Spirit. He noted how they had all succumbed to the influence of death. He was sad to see weeping, and perceived that the world is set in the power of evil. Again he felt the weight of the worldís sin pressing on his shoulders; in Spirit he saw the necessity for the cross, and the open grave as the only way to overcome such grief. He was convinced of the resurrection which was about to occur. That is the decisive judgment on death, unbelief and misery.
c) The raising of Lazarus (John 11:34-44)
34 And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept.
Jesus did not reply in word. Conversation with one in grief is useless. At this point actions were more effective than words. He asked those present to lead him to the grave. They said, "Come and see." These were the selfsame words that Jesus used to call his disciples at the start of his ministry. He called them to view life; these people were calling him to look at death. He wept to see the slowness of men to learn, their ignorance and their unbelief. Even the best of his followers were unable to show true faith. The flesh does not avail, the soul lacks faith. The Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out on them. Spiritual death reigned, and Godís Son could only weep at the miserable state of mankind.
Jesus was a real man, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. His Spirit was troubled. His sensitive soul was stirred to see the dread of death on his followers and their lack of love for the living God. Jesus today weeps at the state of our churches and ourselves, and on all who persist in sin and in spiritual death.
36 So the Jews said. "See how he loved him." 37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" 38a Then Jesus, deeply moved again, Ö
The Jews saw Jesusí tears and explained them as due to his love for Lazarus. Love is not coldly logical or intellectual, but harmonizes with the emotions of other souls. Christís love is greater than our understanding and extends beyond death. He saw Lazarus in his sealed grave and grieved at deathís victory over his friend. But his heart cut through beyond the stone and prepared the corpse to hear his call.
Some of those present criticized Jesus for his blunt ways, and discussed his authority. At that Jesus was angry. Because the lack of faith and love and faint hope causes Godís wrath. Jesus purposed our rescue from gloom, and saves us from our narrow horizons, so that we may cling to his love, and live by his faith and rest assured in his hope, no longer to revert to human standards, but trust in his ability. He desires to raise those who are dead in sins of our surroundings. Does Jesus feel disturbed by your unbelief or does he rejoice at your fervent love?
PRAYER: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for wasted opportunities in trusting and loving. Forgive my lack of faith and forgive my self-interest. Impel me towards a living hope, to honor you and yield constantly to you.
QUESTION 77: Why was Jesus troubled and why did he weep?
38 Then Jesus deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe, you would see the glory of God?"
Around Jerusalem, people would bury their dead in a room hewn from rock, and place a large circular stone at the narrow opening. It was possible to roll that stone to left or right, if they wanted to open or shut the tomb.
There lay Lazarus, buried in the rock-hewn grave. Jesus approached, and noted the terror of death on all. He saw in death Godís wrath poured on all sinners, as if God had delivered the living into the hands of the destroyer. But the Creator does not desire the death of the living, but their repentance and conversion to life.
Jesus ordered the lifting of the stone blocking the tomb. People were shocked, because touching the dead was pollution for some days. Decomposition would have begun to set in after four days. Martha protested indirectly, saying, "Lord, it is not right to disturb the rest of the dead, he stinks." Martha where is your faith? You had just confessed that Jesus is Godís Son and Messiah, able to raise the dead. The fact of death and the image of the tomb had dimmed her eyes, and she did not know what her Lord wanted.
However, he strengthened her faith and exhorted her confidence surpassing manís abilities. He demanded total reliance that merit the vision of Godís glory. Jesus did not say, "Believe, and you will see me performing a great miracle." He had earlier foretold his disciples that Lazarusí sickness was not unto death, but to Godís glory (John 11:4). Jesus knew what he had to do owing to his harmony with his Fatherís will. He sought to draw her attention from the dread fact of death to Godís glory, revealed to faith. Not his own honor but his Fatherís majesty and glory was his aim.
Likewise, Christ says to you, "If you believe, you will see Godís glory." Turn your eyes away from your problems and trials. Do not be obsessed by your guilt and maladies, and look to Jesus, believe in his presence, yield yourself to him as a child embracing his mother. Let his will be done; he loves you.
41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you hear me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that you have sent me."
Marthaís confidence In Jesusí words accorded with faith in his command. She charged those present to remove the stone. Tension rose among the crowd. Will Jesus enter the tomb and embrace the belovedís corpse, or what shall he do?
But Jesus stood calmly before the tomb. He lifted his eyes in prayer, uttering audible words. Here we have one of the recorded prayers of Jesus. He called God as Father. He thanked the Father because his whole life was just a sanctifying and adoration of Godís Fatherhood. He clearly thanked God for answering his prayer, before Lazarus was actually raised. While others wept, Jesus prayed. He asked his Father to revive his friend, a sign of divine life that overcomes death. The Father consented and gave him the authority to rescue a victim of deathís terror. Jesus believed that his prayers would be answered, nothing doubting. For he constantly heard his Fatherís voice. At all stages of his life Jesus continued to pray, but here he prayed aloud, so that people might know the mysteries that would occur there. He thanked his Father for always answering his prayers. No sin separated them, no barrier rose between them. The Son does not insist on his own will, nor demand honor for himself, or the mastery of power for its own sake. The Fatherís fullness operates in the son. His fatherly will raised Lazarus from the dead. All this Jesus confessed before the crowds, so that they would realize that the Father had sent the Son to them. So the raising of Lazarus becomes a glorification of the Father, a miraculous sign of the Trinityís unity.
43 When he had said this, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."
As soon as Jesus had cried out, "Lazarus come out", after giving glory to God, the dead man heard (when the dead normally hear nothing). Human personality does not perish at death. In heaven, believersí names are recorded. The call of the Creator, the voice of the redeemer and prompting of the life-giving Spirit penetrates the lower layers of death. Just as the Holy Spirit was brooding in the beginning amidst the darkness, creating order out of chaos.
Lazarus was used to hear Jesusí voice and obey. In the grave he also heard and obeyed by faith. Christís life principle flowed into him; his heart began to beat, his eyes opened, his limbs moved.
Next, the second stage of the miracle took place, for Lazarus had been bound in bandages tightly wrapped. The dead man was like a worm in a chrysalis, unable to feel anything. He was unable to move his bandaged hands to remove the kerchief covering his face. So Jesus ordered them to untie him.
All were astonished to see Lazarusí pale face; he was moving despite his bandages. They all stared at him as he drew towards Jesus.
Lazarus walked between the crowd towards his house. John tells us nothing about the bowing down of those present before Jesus, nor about tears of joy or mutual embraces. Nor does he compare this raising with the rapture of believers to Jesus at his second coming. All this was of secondary importance. John draws the picture of Jesus, the life-giver, before our eyes, in order that we might believe and receive eternal life. John, the evangelist, was among the crowds, by faith he saw Godís glory in the Son, because he heard Christís voice and yielded to his power. Have you risen from the dead by faith in Christ?
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for raising Lazarus in the name of your Father. You have also risen from the dead. We thank you for your life in us. By faith we have risen with you. We beseech you to raise the dead from among our nation, that unbelievers may trust in you, and in union with you receive eternal life.
QUESTION 78: How did Godís glory appear in the raising of Lazarus?
d) The Jewish council sentences Jesus to death
†††† (John 11:45-54)
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary, and had seen what He did, believed in Him;
Lazarus revived after his death, eating, drinking and speaking. People were meeting him alive on the road and in homes. Many were astounded by the majesty of Jesus, and believed he was the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Thus the disciples multiplied, and people rushed to Maryís house to witness Jesus with Lazarus.
46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered in Council, and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on thus, every one will believe on him, and the Romans will come and destroy both, our holy place and our nation.
Some of those who observed the miracle hurried to the Pharisees to pass on information about Jesusí activities. They were still unbelievers, and the Lordís judgment on them is hinted at in the parable of the ĎRich Maní, to whom Abraham responded, "If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will also refuse someone who has risen from the dead" (Luke 16:31). Godís Spirit cannot change stony hearts that refuse to trust in Jesus, even if the mightiest wonders are shown to them.
The Pharisees had great influence in the High Council of religious affairs. So much that the high priests gave in to their insistence. Seventy members were summoned to discuss the matter. The Sadducees, who denied the resurrection, welcomed the convening of the Council. The members were undecided and confused, since Jesus had not committed a specific sin for arrest. However there was a Christian revival among the masses before the Passover, when tens of thousands of pilgrims pour into the capital. In the debates that followed, the Council members name Jesus as mere man, not even a man of God or a prophet. Despite this denial, they were unable to dismiss his startling miracles.
During the proceedings, fear overshadowed the atmosphere in the Council, lest the imperial power should note this matter and intervene. The gathering of multitudes round a man who worked miracles in the manner of Messiah, points to the risk of a rebellion. At that, the Romans would bar the temple, Godís dwelling-place. Then the services of the Temple would terminate along with the sacrifices, prayers and blessings.
49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all; 50 you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish." 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
When the confusion and tumult of the Council was at the height, the high priest Caiaphas stood up, and began to attack the leaders of the nation, accusing them of ignorance and thoughtlessness. He had some right in what he said, since he was the chairman of the Council in his capacity of high priest. He had been anointed with oil, symbol of holiness, but he was an Anti-Christ. He was expected to be filled with the Holy Spirit, for God to speak through him as the nationís leader. Yet he followed error and caprice. In assuming the role of prophet linked to his position as high priest, he described all the people as ignorant.
The type of Ď"rue spirit" that spoke in Caiaphas was exposed, because Satan spoke in him, apparently committed to Godís purposes, but in practice opposed. Doubtless, it was better for the people that the Lamb of God should die in their place, so that they might escape Godís wrath and have eternal life. But Satanís spokesman was voicing such thoughts for political reasons, "Let Jesus die to rescue us from Roman wrath." With this devilish prediction Christís words were justified, that the devil is the father spiritually to many Jews, because he is a liar and father of lies.
In spite of this devilish mentality, John saw that Caiaphas expressed an evil aim, that was implicitly a divine truth. Caiaphas had to explain Jesusí death as a deliverance for all, not realizing the higher implications of his "authoritative" words. The ignorant unthinking one was Caiaphas, because he did not believe in Jesus, even though the Holy Spirit had led him to utter a sentence on Christís atoning death. He failed to grasp the sense of his own words, because he really intended the contrary.
John, the evangelist, perceived the meaning of this statement in the widest range as salvation for the world. Jesus did not die to atone only for the sins of his people, but for every believer among the nations. All who trust in him are the children of God, as by their confidence in the Savior they receive eternal life with its energies and qualities.
The aim of our faith is not just personal salvation, but unity of all Godís children to be one in Christ. His love is the symbol and power of Christianity. His name unites his followers. Whenever they link with their center, they are linked with one another. Let us wake up and hurry towards him, to discover that we are brothers and sisters in Godís family, more intimate than worldly kinship.
53 So from that day on they took counsel how to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore no longer went about openly among the Jews, but went from there to the country near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim; and there he stayed with his disciples.
Some members of the Council were vexed by Caiaphasí harsh prediction, as they felt for Jesus, but the majority were pleased, believing that God had spoken by Caiaphas to pass sentence on the deluder and save the nation. By a consensus, the Council accepted the sentence, and agreed Caiaphasí suggestion to execute Jesus. No doubt, some of those present, the more upright, protested, but no one paid heed. The wily Caiaphas had misled them into a plan to destroy Jesus, and do this secretly; so as to avoid a disturbance among the people.
Jesus heard of this plot, and perhaps was aware of it by divine insight. He left the area of the Councilís jurisdiction, and went to the area of the Jordan valley east of Nablus, waiting there with his disciples the hour of his sacrificing and rising.
The battleground had become clear. His quarrel with the priests since the cleansing of the Temple, together with his dispute with the legalists, since he healed on a Sabbath, has now reached a climax with Lazarusí raising. So the peopleís leaders resolved to kill the benefactor right away.
Light shines in darkness, and darkness does not overcome it.
Dear brother, have you seen that Christ is the light? Has his Gospel illumined your mind and renewed your heart? Has his everlasting life come upon you, and has his Spirit led you to repentance and confession of your sins, and created faith in you to bless and make you holy? Open yourself to let the Spirit of Christ draw you, yielding your life and future to him, so that you may not consent unwillingly with Jesusí enemies in their judgment of him. Rather, join with his disciples, and know the Holy One, so that you may confess, "We have seen his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for not denying the truth in the hour of peril; you have ever glorified your heavenly Father. Pardon our weak faith and neglect. Draw us into your fellowship with the Father, to live in eternal life and serve you without ceasing. Receive my life to be praise for your glorious grace.
QUESTION 79: Why did the Jewish Council kill Jesus?
QUIZ - 4
Dear reader, send us correct answers to 15 of these 17 questions. We shall then send you the sequel of this series of studies.
63. How did Jesus prove to the Jews that they were not the children of Abraham?
64. What are the qualities of the devil that Jesus made clear to us?
65.†† Why did the Jews want to stone Jesus?
66. Why did Jesus heal the man born blind?
67. Why did the Jews deny the possibility of the healing of the man blind from birth?
68. What did this young man realize gradually during his interrogation?
69. What does bowing down before Jesus signify?
70. What are the blessings Jesus bestows on his sheep?
71. How does Jesus become the Good Shepherd?
72. How does Christ lead his flock?
73. How did Jesus proclaim his divinity?
74. Why did Jesus speak of Godís glory, even though Lazarus died?
75. Why did Jesus advance victoriously to rescue Lazarus?
76. How do we rise from death today?
77. Why was Jesus troubled and why did he weep?
78. How did Godís glory appear in the raising of Lazarus?
79. Why did the Jewish council kill Jesus?
Remember to write your name and full address on the quiz page of answers, not just on the envelope. Send it to this address:
P.O. BOX 15755
PITTSBURGH, PA 15244
CONTENTS - 4
f)†† The devil, murderer and liar (John 8:37-47) ..................................... ††167
g)† Christ exists before Abraham (John 8:48-59) .................................. ††172
2.†† Healing the man born blind (John 9:1-41) ..................... †175
a)† Healing on the Sabbath (John 9:1-12)............................................. † 175
b)† The Jews interrogate the healed man (John 9:13Ė34) ...................... ††178
c) Jesus reveals himself as God's Son to the healed one
†††† (John 9:35Ė41) ............................................................................ ††183
3.†† Jesus the Good Shepherd (John 10:1Ė39) .................... †185
a) The sheep hear the voice of the true shepherd (John 10:1-6) ............ ††185
b)† Jesus is the authentic door (John 10:7-10) ..................................... ††186
c)† Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11Ė21) ................................ ††188
d) Our security in the union of Father and Son (John 10:22-30) ............ ††192
e) The Son of God in the Father and the Father in him
†††† (John 10:31-36) ........................................................................... ††195
4. † The raising of Lazarus and the outcome
††††† (John 10:40 Ė 11:54) .................................................. †198
a) Jesus across the Jordan (John 10:40 Ė 11:16) ................................ ††198
b)† Jesus meets Martha and Mary (John 11:17-33) .............................. ††203
c)† The raising of Lazarus (John 11:34-44) .......................................... ††207
d)† The Jewish council sentences Jesus to death
†††† (John 11:45-54) ........................................................................... ††212