Thinking on Scripture with Dr. Steven R. Cook

gospel-of-john

Episodes

Saturday Jul 15, 2017

     To follow Jesus means we follow Him for who He is and not who we want Him to be. There is a biblical Jesus and a worldly Jesus. The worldly Jesus is the one the world sets forth. He is the ecumenical Jesus who never judges, never offends, never stands up for truth, never divides, embraces other religions, wants to improve the world rather than convert the heart, and lets everyone into heaven. There are many moral people who follow this Jesus, and the world loves them for it. In the end, this is a Jesus of their making who fits their agendas. It’s a Jesus who serves them.      But what does the Bible reveal about Jesus? The Bible reveals Jesus is God who added humanity to Himself (John 1:1, 14; 5:18; 10:33; 20:28), and that He is worthy of worship (Matt. 2:11; 14:33; 28:9). He lived a sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 1 John 3:5), willingly went to the cross and died in our place (John 3:16; 10:14-18), and was buried and rose again on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Concerning salvation, Jesus is the only Savior (John 14:6), and it is only by grace through faith in Him that one is eternally saved (Eph. 2:8-9). There is no salvation apart from Jesus (Acts 4:12).      During His incarnation, there was a time when Jesus was popular with the masses because He fed them (John 6:1-14), but when they wanted to take Him by force and make Him king, He withdrew from them (John 6:15). The same crowd later pursued Jesus, not because they embraced Him or His teaching, but because they wanted another free meal (John 6:24-26) and He corrected their selfish motives (John 6:27). Jesus was kind to the sick and helpless (Matt. 8:1-3; 20:34; Luke 5:13), yet He did not hesitate to condemn the religious and powerful (Matt. 23:13-36). For the most part, Jesus was rejected by the majority of those who heard and saw Him (John 3:19; 12:37; 15:24). At times He caused division (John 7:43; 9:16; 10:19), even among His own disciples (John 6:66), as well as members of a family in the same household (Luke 12:51-53).      Jesus called men to follow Him (Matt. 4:18-19; 9:9; John 1:43), and He had many female followers as well, several of whom funded His earthly ministry (Luke 8:1-3). To follow Jesus means to learn His teaching, obey His commands and model our life after Him. Followers of Jesus were to share the gospel (Matt. 4:19), not be bound by the world’s values (Matt. 8:19-22), treasure Jesus above one’s profession (Matt. 9:9), be committed to Jesus above family (Matt. 10:34-38; cf. Mark 1:20), and deny self and take up one’s cross daily (Matt. 16:24; cf. Luke 9:23). There is no place for personal glory or selfishness in serving the Lord, as one’s life is given for His glory and the benefit of others (1 Cor. 10:32-33; Phil. 2:3-4). To follow Jesus is a lifelong pursuit.

Saturday Jul 15, 2017

In John 21:1-25 Jesus appears to seven of His disciples and encourages Peter to shepherd God’s people. Peter and six other disciples had been fishing all night but had caught nothing (John 21:1-3). Jesus appeared on the beach and asked if they’d caught anything, and was told “no” (John 21:4-5).  Jesus then commanded they cast their net again, on the right side of the boat, and they caught a huge amount of fish (John 21:4-6). John realized it was Jesus and told Peter, who jumped out of the boat and swam to Him (John 21:7). The other disciples brought the boat and fish to shore where Jesus had already built a fire and cooked breakfast (John 21:8-13). This was Jesus’ third appearance to the disciples (John 21:14). After breakfast, Jesus then talked with Peter and restored him to ministry, commanding him three times to care for God’s people (John 21:15-17). This was done in contrast to Peter’s comments that he would never deny the Lord and would be faithful to death (Matt. 26:33, 35; John 13:37). Of course, Jesus knew Peter would fail (John 13:38), and when the test came, he denied the Lord three times (John 18:17, 25, 27). For this reason, Jesus spoke with Peter about his love for Him, and restored him to service. Jesus then revealed to Peter that he would, some day, be faithful to death, and would thus glorify God as a martyr (John 21:18-19). John then corrects a common misunderstanding in which people thought He said the apostle John would not die before the Lord returned (John 21:20-23). John then provides a final statement that his testimony about Jesus is true (John 21:24), and if all that Jesus said and did were recorded, there would not be enough books to record it all (John 21:25).

Saturday Jul 08, 2017

Jesus’ resurrection is an essential part of the gospel.  If Jesus is not raised from the dead, then His death on the cross was not effective, and we have believed in a false Messiah.  However, the Scriptural testimony is very clear: Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion and forty days later ascended to heaven.  Here are several biblical facts about Jesus resurrection:   It was predicted by Jesus (Matt. 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19). It showed Jesus overcame death (Acts 2:23-24). It was central to the gospel message (Acts 26:22-23; 1 Cor. 15:3-4). It had many eyewitnesses, including: Mary Magdalene and other women (John 20:10-18; Matt. 28:8-9), two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), the disciples without Thomas (John 20:19-25), the disciples with Thomas (John 20:26-29), the disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23), Peter, James, and more than 500 brethren at one time (1 Cor. 15:5-7), Stephen (Acts 7:56), Paul (Acts 9:1-6; 1 Cor. 15:8), the disciples at Jerusalem before His ascension (Acts 1:3-9), and John on the island of Patmos (Rev. 1:9-18). It was argued as true against those who disbelieved (1 Cor. 15:12-19). It reveals Jesus as the first among many to be resurrected (1 Cor. 15:20). It reveals Jesus as the Son of God (Rom. 1:3-4). It is the basis for our new life (1 Pet. 1:3). Those who are raised with Christ will not know the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:5-6).

Saturday Jul 08, 2017

The Central Idea of John 20:1-31 is that Jesus is resurrected from the dead and revealed Himself to Mary and the eleven disciples.  On the first day of the week after Jesus’ crucifixion, Mary came to the tomb and found it empty (John 20:1).  She ran and told Peter and John, who came and found the tomb as she had described (John 20:2-5).  Upon looking into the tomb, they saw Jesus’ burial wrappings lying there and His face-cloth rolled up by itself in a different place (John 20:6-8).  Not yet understanding the Scripture concerning Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples went home (John 20:9-10).  Mary remained at the tomb and encountered two angels sitting where Jesus had been laying and briefly conversed with them about the location of Jesus’ body (John 20:11-13).  Then Mary encountered Jesus and spoke with Him, assuming He was the gardener, and again asked about the location of Jesus’ body (John 12:14-15).  Jesus then revealed Himself to her and in excitement she grabbed Him (John 12:16).  Jesus then told Mary to go tell the disciples He is alive and will ascend back to heaven, which she did (John 12:17-18).  When it was evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples and showed them His wounds (John 20:19-20).  He spoke peace to them and gave them the Holy Spirit, explaining their right to declare whose sins have been forgiven or retained (John 20:21-23).  Thomas was not among the disciples when Jesus appeared (John 20:24), and he did not believe their report (John 20:25).  Jesus revealed Himself again eight days later specifically for Thomas’ benefit, and he believed (John 20:26-28).  Jesus then pronounced a blessing on those who believe in Him, even though they have not personally witnessed His resurrected body (John 20:29).  John then states the purpose of his book is a written deposition concerning Jesus’ miracles, which prove He is the Son of God, and the Savior of those who believe in Him (John 20:30-31).

Saturday Jul 01, 2017

John’s Gospel is a written deposition concerning the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  It is written with a bias to persuade the unsaved person to believe (πιστεύω pisteuo) in Jesus as Savior (John 19:35; cf. 20:30-31).  The Greek word πιστεύω pisteuo is a transitive verb, which means it takes a direct object, which is Jesus Christ.  If one accepts John’s report as true concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the logical result is to look to Jesus as our Savior and reap the benefit of eternal life (John 3:16; cf. John 10:28).  It is important that we realize our faith is based on objective truth and not subjective experiences or feelings.  Paul, when sharing the gospel, based his message on the historical reality of Jesus and the eye witnesses of those who knew Him (1 Cor. 15:3-8).  For us, as Christians living long after the events of the cross, we accept the biblical testimony as true, believing Jesus died for our sins, was buried in a grave and was resurrected on the third day.  More so, we understand that salvation is by grace (we don’t deserve it), through faith (a rational response to the gospel), in Jesus Christ (the One who saves us from our sins and gives us eternal life; see John 3:16; 20:30-31; Acts 4:12; 16:31; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5).  Once saved, we continue to live by faith in God and His Word (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 4:2), applying it to our lives (Rom. 14:23; James 1:22), and realizing it is the only thing that pleases God (Heb. 11:6). 

Saturday Jul 01, 2017

The Central Idea of John 19:31-42 is that Jesus’ dead body is laid in a tomb.  The Jewish authorities who had pressured Pilate to crucify Jesus requested His legs be broken, along with the other two men, so that their bodies might not hang on the cross overnight (John 19:31).  To expedite death, Roman soldiers would break the legs of those crucified which would prevent the victims from using their legs to push upward, leading to asphyxiation.  It is a twist of irony that the Jewish leadership sought to obey Moses’ teaching concerning not leaving a body on a cross past sunset (Deut. 21:22-23), yet had no hesitation to crucify the One of whom Moses spoke and commanded obedience (Deut. 18:18).  The Roman soldiers broke the legs of the men on either side of Jesus but did not break His legs; rather, a Roman soldier pierced His side with a spear, and blood and water came out, showing Jesus was already dead (John 19:32-34).  John declares He witnessed these events and that his testimony is true, and also that Jesus’ death fulfilled Scripture (John 19:35-37).  Joseph of Arimathea—a secret disciple of Jesus—requested the body of Jesus from Pilate who granted his request (John 19:38).  Joseph, along with Nicodemus, took the body of Jesus and prepared it for burial with linen wrappings and spices and placed it in a new tomb near the place of crucifixion (John 19:38-42).  Several women apparently watched these men hastily transport Jesus’ body and prepare it for burial (Matt. 27:61), and later planned to return and finish what had been started (Luke 24:1).   

Saturday Jun 24, 2017

The death of Jesus was an atoning sacrifice that paid the price for our sin (Mark 10:45; Rom. 3:24; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).  This means our sin, which offends God, is actually removed from us (i.e. expiated) and put on Christ (John 1:29; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:26), and He was judged in our place, the innocent for the guilty (Rom. 5:6-8; Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18).  The death of Christ was a voluntary act of love, as Jesus gave His life for us (John 10:14-18).  As a result, the Father is forever satisfied (i.e. propitiated) because Jesus paid for our sin (Rom. 3:24-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2), and the Christian will never be condemned (Rom. 8:1).  The blood of Christ is the coin of the heavenly realm that pays our sin-debt and forever satisfies God’s righteous demands for sin.  In addition, the death of Christ removes God’s wrath (Rom. 5:9), reconciles us to the Father (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-19), produces lasting peace (Rom. 5:1; Col. 1:20), forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:13-14), eternal life (John 10:28), the gift of righteousness (Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9), a life of purpose in serving Him (Col. 3:23-24), and a future in heaven (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). 

Saturday Jun 24, 2017

The Central Idea of the John 19:17-30 is that Jesus is crucified and died.  After being condemned by Pilate, Jesus was made to carry His own cross (John 19:17).  Jesus was crucified with two other men (John 19:18) who were identified by the other Gospel writers as criminals (Matt. 27:38; Luke 23:32-33).  Pilate wrote an inscription that was placed atop the cross that read “The King of the Jews.”  The Jewish leadership protested and asked it be changed, but Pilate refused (John 19:19-22).  The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus then divided His garments and unwittingly fulfilled prophecy (John 19:23-24).  John mentioned four women at the cross (John 19:25), and the unnamed woman was perhaps Salome, John’s mother.  “John was Jesus’ cousin on his mother’s side. As such, he was a logical person to assume responsibility for Mary’s welfare.”[1]  Jesus then requested John care for Mary, which he did (John 19:26-27).  Jesus, knowing His atoning work was finished, stated He was thirsty and was given wine (John 19:28-29).  Jesus then declared “It is finished” and gave up His spirit and died (John 19:30).  The Greek word τετέλεσται tetelestai was common in Jesus’ day.  “Papyri receipts for taxes have been recovered with the word tetelestai written across them, meaning ‘paid in full.’”[2]  The idea is that Jesus’ death paid the price for our sins.    [1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository NotGes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), John 19:25. [2] Edwin A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 340.

Saturday Jun 17, 2017

God the Father was in complete control of the circumstances surrounding the trials and crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).  Though unjustly attacked, Jesus knew He was doing the Father’s will (John 6:38; 10:14-18; 12:27; 18:11) and did not retaliate against His attackers (1 Pet. 2:21-23).  Unlike Jesus, Christians are capable of sin (Eccl. 7:20; 1 Pet. 4:15), and we should accept our punishment when we do wrong (Acts 25:11).  But like Jesus, there are times when we will experience unjust persecution (1 Pet. 3:14-17; 4:12-19).  We must start with the realization that there are times when God sovereignly permits His people to suffer or die (see Acts 5:40-41; 7:54-60), and other times allows them to escape (Acts 9:23-25).  If possible, the believer can avoid unjust suffering such as when Jesus walked away from His attackers (John 8:59; 10:31, 39), or when Paul avoided stoning (Acts 14:5-6) or an unjust trial (Acts 25:1-12).  However, when there is no escape, the Christian must bear up under such hardships with an attitude of faith, trusting the Lord sees what’s happening and will act as He determines best.  Stephen is a good example of a believer who trusted God when being violently attacked (Acts 7:58-60).  Certainly God will avenge the innocent (2 Thess. 1:6-7); however, there may be times when He surprises us by showing grace and mercy to those don’t deserve it, such as the grace shown to Paul when he was persecuting the church (Acts 9:1-6; Gal. 1:15-16).  By faith, the Christian who suffers unjustly is not to retaliate (Rom. 12:17-19; 1 Pet. 2:21-23), but is called to love and pray for his enemies (Luke 6:27-29), and to bless them (Rom. 12:14; 1 Pet. 3:8-9), if perhaps God may grant them saving grace (2 Tim. 2:24-26). 

Saturday Jun 17, 2017

Pilate had Jesus scourged, perhaps to evoke an emotional appeal from the unbelieving Jews who wanted Him killed (John 19:1-5).  However, they were not moved to pity, but erupted in further hostility, demanding Jesus be crucified because He made Himself out to be God (John 19:6-7).  An emotional appeal is never enough to turn the sinful heart to Christ.  It is faith in Jesus (and not feelings) that leads one to salvation and a life of service to the Lord.  Pilate became afraid at what he heard and took Jesus into the Praetorium for further questioning, but Jesus gave no answer (John 19:8-9).  Pilate then sought to challenge Jesus, saying he had the authority to release or crucify Him (John 19:10), to which Jesus answered that he would have no authority except it had been given to Him by God (John 19:11).  Pilate sought to release Jesus, but was threatened by the Jews who said they’d report him to Caesar as a traitor to Rome (John 19:12).  Pilate yielded to their unjust demands and handed Jesus over to be crucified (John 19:13-16).

Saturday Jun 10, 2017

God is sovereign over the affairs of mankind and He rules over His creation (Ps. 103:19; 135:6; Dan. 2:21; 4:34-35).  God promised David that he would have a son who would rule over an earthly kingdom forever (2 Sam. 7:12-13, 16; Ps. 89:3-4, 35-37), and that son would rule in righteousness (Jer. 23:5-6; 33:14-15).  God revealed that Jesus is the son of David who will rule (Luke 1:30-33).  Jesus offered the kingdom to Israel (Matt. 4:17; 10:1-7), but the majority rejected both Jesus and His offer, so Jesus began to denounce them because of their rejection (Matt. 11:20), and eventually pronounced judgment upon the nation (Matt. 23:37-39).  Though the kingdom was rejected, the Davidic promise still stands, and Jesus will bring in the kingdom at His second coming (Matt. 19:28; 25:31; Rev. 19:11-21; 20:4).  The millennial kingdom will become an eternal kingdom (1 Cor. 15:24-25; 2 Pet. 3:13).

Saturday Jun 10, 2017

The Jewish leadership brought Jesus before Pilate and declared Him an “evildoer” who deserved to be put to death (John 18:28-32).  The hostile Jewish leadership felt compelled to bring Jesus to Pilate because the Romans did not permit them to kill anyone through their own system of jurisprudence.  The Jewish leadership sought religious purity by not going into the Gentile courtyard, yet their actions to lie against Jesus and to seek His death reveal defiled hearts given over to sin.  Had the Jews killed Jesus by stoning, it would have resulted in broken bones, which would have contradicted biblical passages that said none of His bones would be broken (Ps. 34:20; cf. 22:16-18; John 19:36-37).  Thus, in their sin, the Jewish leadership accomplished the will of God by turning Jesus over to the Romans that He would die by crucifixion rather than stoning (Acts 2:22-23; 4:27-28).  It is generally true that hasty trials are born out of lax morals.  Pilate would not kill Jesus on the grounds of Jewish laws pertaining to blasphemy (see Mark 14:55-64; cf. John 19:7); so the Jewish leadership manufactured new charges against Jesus that would have upset Rome (Luke 23:1-2).  Pilate then asked if Jesus was a King as the Jewish leadership said (John 18:33).  Jesus confirmed that He is a King, but His kingdom did not originate from this world and everyone who accepts divine truth accepts Him (John 18:34-37).  Pilate did not perceive Jesus as a threat to Rome and declared Him innocent (John 18:38; cf. 19:4; Luke 23:14-15).  Pilate should have released Jesus right away; however, he sacrificed justice by keeping Jesus under arrest and offering to release a known criminal, Barabbas, in His place.  The Jewish leadership rejected Pilate’s offer and kept demanding Jesus be crucified, while Jesus kept quiet (Matt. 27:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:21-23).

Copyright 2013 Steven Cook. All rights reserved.

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