John Highlights

I finished this book over a month ago, so I had better write this before I forget all I have learned.  I know I may sound like a broken record when I say this, but reading it on order changed my perspective on many familiar passages from this book.  As a matter of fact, I really didn't read anything new from this gospel, but you can always learn something new in a different stage of life with the different situations and circumstances we may be going through at the time.

The book of John is the last of the four gospels, written by John, one of the twelve who is referred to as the Beloved Disciple.  This is a bit funny because he is the only one who calls himself this, but it shows where he stands with Christ because he obviously knows His affection for him.  I heard someone say once that you know you are a good parent when each of your children feels like they are the favorite.  John felt he was Jesus' favorite and was not ashamed to tell everyone about it.

I have never really paid attention that this book doesn't tell the birth story of Jesus like the other gospels.  It starts out with a familiar passage that talks about how Jesus was fully human and fully God from the beginning.  The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).  This is a link for all my choir people.."The Word Was God".  This is a piece that we did several times in choir that comes straight from John 1:1-3.  If you ever want to memorize scripture, learn it in a song:)

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God and
the Word was God.  He was in
the beginning with God.  All things
came into being through Him, and
apart from Him nothing came into
being that has come into being.

This passage was in Logan's Awana verses to memorize a month or so ago, and he asked lots of questions about these verses.  Some things are just difficult for me to fully wrap my mind around, much less explain it to a seven year old.  Anyway, he acted like it was no big deal and explained it to me perfectly....faith like a child is precious! 

I know I speak of Francine Rivers often, but she is a fabulous author.  She wrote a series about the five women in the lineage of Christ.
In the last book about Mary, there were several things that Francine pointed out that had me go back to the scriptures to see if it was accurate.  One thing in particular was when Jesus was baptized, she alluded to the fact that only John the Baptist saw the dove.  I always thought that everyone saw this, but perhaps it was just for John to know for sure that Jesus really was the Messiah. 

Another thing in Unafraid: Mary that I found particularly interesting was the fact that Mary didn't fully understand what Jesus came to do.  She acted as if Mary may have been a bit pushy for Jesus to reveal His power because some still doubted her story of not being with Joseph before they were married.  Perhaps she was waiting for Jesus to prove once and for all that He was the Son of God that she had been trying to say for his whole life.  Her thoughts probably come from John 2:3-4 because while they were at a wedding in Cana, they ran out of wine and would be an embarrassment to the family.  Mary told Jesus because she knew He could take care of it easily.  He said to his mother, "what does that have to do with us?  My hour has not yet come."  She replied to the servants, "whatever He says to do, do it."  Jesus then had them fill the waterpots with water and He turned the water into wine.  I love that His first miracle was at a wedding.  I just love weddings...so does God:)  He is preparing right now for the great Wedding Feast for all believers to take part in.

John 3:16 is probably the most quoted verse in the bible..."For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotton Son, that whoseover believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."  This was said in the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.  He was a Pharisee, ruler of the Jews, who came to Jesus at night to talk with Him because he knew that He came from God.  He didn't understand what Jesus was telling him about being "born again" because he was thinking literally.  Jesus told Nicodemus that man must be born of water and of the Spirit to enter the kingdom.  So for any of us to enter the kingdom of God, we have be born again.  "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (John 3:6). 

Another one of my favorite verses is from this chapter..."He must increase, but I must decrease."  I can so easily forget the truth in this short verse.  It also reminds me of Philippians 1:21 "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."  This is a constant struggle for me to remember that I must deny my own desires and allow Christ full access of every area of my life.

Jesus was an incredible teacher, and He used every opportunity to make a point in whatever situation He was in.  It is a lesson to us to not waste any opportunity that we have to share Christ or one of His teachings.  He compared Himself to many different things in these circumstances to teach a lesson.  For example...
1.  Living Water (Chapter 4);  He compared Himself to living water when he talked to the woman at
     the well.  She was surprised that He would dare speak to her because she was a Samaritan.  He
     used the water that she drew for Him as a teaching tool for understanding who she was really
     speaking to.  He said, "everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of
     the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a
     well of water springing up to eternal life" (4:13-14).  He then told her He knew the many husbands
     she had and that she was living with a man who wasn't her husband.  Jesus' attitude toward this
     woman is a great lesson to us.  She was definitely immoral, but He cared about her even in a society
     that disregarded women.  He wanted her to know Him and to drink from the living water which only
     He could provide for her.  His encounter with the immoral woman was life changing for her.  She ran
     to tell everyone about what had happened to her. 

2.  Bread of Life (Chapter 6);  This teaching caused many of Jesus' followers to withdraw and no longer 
     follow Him.  They simply could not grasp what He was trying to teach and rather than just have faith,  
     they chose to desert Jesus.  He teaches this concept after He feeds the 5,000.  He reminds them of the
     manna that God provided for the Israelites when they were in the wilderness, then says, "For the bread
     of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world...I am the bread of life, he  
     who comes to Me will not hunger" (6:33,35).  He also said "He who eats of My flesh and drinks of My 
     blood abides in Me and I in him" (6:56).  The law forbid anything like this, so this was a difficult
     concept for them to grasp because they were taking it literally.  Many grumbled and said, "this is a
     difficult statement; who can listen to it?" (6:60).  This is the point when Judas made his decision not
     to believe in Jesus.  Although he didn't abandon Jesus like others did, he would soon do much worse
     and betray the One who came to seek and to save that which was lost. 

3.  Light of the World (Chapter 8):  Jesus spoke this comparison after the adulterous woman was to be
     stoned.  The religious leaders were trying to catch Jesus at every opportunity they could because they
     were jealous of the people following Him.  They were afraid to lose their power rather than believe in
     the One they had been waiting for.  This woman was brought to be stoned because she had broken the
     law.  It takes two to commit adultery, but the man is not mentioned.  Perhaps this showed the hearts
     and intents of these men who were accusing her.  Jesus said, "He who is without sin, cast the first
     stone" (8:7).  Of course, they couldn't throw a stone at her because "all have sinned and fall short of
     the glory of God".  The only One who was without sin did not cast the first stone.   Jesus wanted them
     to see that their sin, too, wasn't acceptable to Him.  He showed mercy but did not approve of her
     actions.  He told her "from now on sin no more" (8:11). 

4.  Good Shepherd (Chapter 10):  This one was so good, it had its own blog.  Check out
     And We Think We're So Smart for more on this one:)

5.  The Vine (Chapter 15):  This is one of my favorite comparisons.  This is after the Last Supper and they
     are making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.  This is Jesus' last teachings to His beloved
     disciples because that evening, He would be taken prisoner and fulfill that which He was sent to do. 
     There were many vineyards there, and He may have passed by one and made this last comparison..."I
     am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser...you are the branches, he who abides in Me and I 
     in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."  True believers are known by their
     fruit.  It is not for us to judge because only God can see the hearts, but it is evident by the fruit in a 
     person's life whether or not they are true children of God.  Jesus was also saying this at the very time
     one of His called, Judas, was betraying Him.  He may have been saying this to prepare the others that
     not everyone who appears to be in the vine is truly connected to the vine.  They still had no idea that it
     was Judas who would betray their Teacher and Master.  Jesus knew that this would be difficult for
     them all to endure and He was doing all He could do to prepare them of what was to come.  

After I wrote a blog (Ramona and a Little Hope) on my struggles with impatience on having another baby, I got the sweetest message of encouragement from my cousin, Laura, with scripture from John 11.  It moved me to tears. Studying this passage soon after that made it much more applicable to my current situation.  God is on-time and His plan is the best even when it doesn't seem so.  Jesus appeared to have arrived too late for His dear friend Lazarus to be healed.  I find it interesting that He was so moved that He wept, even though He knew His power and even what He was about to do.  Perhaps He was also mourning what would follow this major miracle.  His other miracles were amazing, but no one could match this one.  Lazarus had been dead for four days and was even starting to stink.  Jesus went into the tomb where his body lay and told him to come forth in a loud voice.  Once He raised Lazarus from the dead, chief priests and Pharisees convened a council and decided that He could turn the whole nation toward Him and they would lose their places.  From that day on, they planned together to kill Him, so from this point on, Jesus' ministry could not be public. 

In the next chapter, Jesus makes His triumphant entry into Jerusalem.  He came riding into town on a donkey to fulfill scripture.  Traditionally, kings who entered into a town on horse were declaring war.  Jesus, the KING of KINGS, came into town on a donkey, which signified that He came to bring peace.  However, in His final return, He will come on a white horse making judgement on sin for all time. 

In the Last Supper in Chapter 13-14, Jesus has one last meal with all of His disciples before His crucifixion.  In studying this passage, I thought a lot about Judas.  I have always had questions about him.  How could he walk right beside Jesus for three solid years and do that to Him??  I was asked in my bible study what was Judas' sin.  Many would say greed, but his sin was unbelief.  He chose not to believe in Jesus.  He appeared to, even deceiving those closest to him, but he was not a child of God.  It made me wonder how many there are who appear to be children of God, yet don't really believe.  Our works and actions alone don't save us.  We are given the gift of free will and make our own choice whether to believe or not. 

Judas left in Chapter 13, and I love what Jesus told the disciples in Chapter 14.  It is such an encouraging chapter, and it shows how much Jesus loved His disciples because He was trying to console them of what was to come even though they did not understand. 

In Chapter 17, it shows how much Jesus loved us as well as His disciples.  He prayed a specific prayer for all believers in verses 22-26.
I have given them the glory that you gave me,
that they may be one as we are one— 
 I in them and you in me—
so that they may be brought to complete unity.
Then the world will know that you sent me
and have loved them even as you have loved me.
   “Father, I want those you have given me
to be with me where I am, and to see my glory,
the glory you have given me
because you loved me
before the creation of the world.
   “Righteous Father,
though the world does not know You, I know You,
and they know that You have sent Me.
I have made You known to them,
and will continue to make You known
in order that the love You have for Me
may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Sometimes, I admit, the familiarity of the cross can sometimes leave me not really thinking about the sacrifice that Jesus made for me.  This Easter season, let it fall fresh on each of us what punishment Jesus, the only sinless man, took for us.  "But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)

"He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."   John 3:36 

1 comment:

  1. Wow...best one yet! You wonder why you scored that way on the gifts survey?