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The Seven “I Am” Statements in John

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Link to the Outline of the Gospel of John

Hey! What’s Your Problem?

Reader Challenge: As you read through this portion of Scripture, John chapters 7 and 8 (see link just below), try to answer the question found in the title of this blog–What is the problem that the enemies of Jesus have that prevents them from seeing Christ for who he actually is?

Week 8 Part 2 John 7:1-8:59  Focus–Jesus Confronts His Enemies

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Summary of Chapter 7 (based upon Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 30-31)

The Galilean Ministry has ended. Jesus has retired to the northern regions of the country. After six months, he returns again to Judea for the Later Judean Ministry and the feast of Tabernacles.

1. John 7:1-13 His blood brothers, not yet believers, (see Acts 1:14 for their later belief) attempt sarcastically to entice him to go to the feast with them. Jesus refuses, but later goes up “not publicly, but in secret” (vs 10). In the meantime, at the feast, the “Jews” are murmuring about where “that man” might be, while the crowds call him a “good man”  They are all afraid to say anything openly, for fear of the religerati©.

2. John 7:14 Halfway through the feast, Jesus goes up to the temple and begins to teach. He causes a stir.

ESV  John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'”

3. John 7:15-52 The people react.

a. The “Jews” are generally skeptical and oppositional (15, 20, 35-36).

b. The crowd is divided–some derisive and some more or less open (vss 12, 20, 25-27, 31, 40-44).

c. The Pharisees sent guards to arrest him (32, 45-52).

d. The guards sent to arrest him are dumfounded with awe-filled amazement at the manner in which Jesus spoke while teaching (32, 45-46).

e. Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees who had personally gone to inquire of Jesus (John 3:1-12), speaks up in defense of the law, a fairly safe and noncommittal way to defend Jesus himself (50, 51).

Summary of Chapter 8 (based on Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 68-69)

1. John 7:53-8:11 Discussion among experts is inconclusively split concerning whether or not this section should be included in Scripture.

This is the highly popular and famous scene in which Jesus loves unto salvation a woman caught “in the act of adultery.” The great contrast is between the non-judgmental (yet highly aware) love of Jesus versus the callous condemnation and deceitfulness of the “teachers of the laws and the Pharisees.”

2. John 8:12-59 The confrontation between Jesus and the religerati© continues (see Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 68-69).

Scene: the temple courts the following day (1-2)

Jesus: [Theme 1–the light] I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (12) [JESUS’ SECOND GREAT “I AM” IN JOHN] (Light of the World: 1:4,5,7,8-9; 3:19, 20, 21; 8:12; 9:5; 11:9, 10; 12:35, 36; 12:46)

Pharisees: “You bear witness of Yourself; Your witness is not true.” (13)

Jesus: [Theme 2–Sent by God] The [my] Father sent me (7:28; 8:14b, 15, 16, 17, 18, 26, 49-50; 5:31, 5:38)

Pharisees: They don’t get it–they remain literalistic and concrete; their scope is narrowly focused on the physical, carnal world only.

• “Where is your father?” (8:19) [slanderous insinuation]

• “You, who are you?” (8:25) [scornful disdain]

• “They did not recognize that he spoke to them of the Father.” (8:27) [ignorance born of prejudice]

The Crowd of Religious People: “While he was saying these things, many believed in him.” (8:30) [mental agreement only, quickly changing to disdain–8:31, 33, 39, 41, 44, 48, 52, 53, 57, 59] [see also The Parable of the Sower, especially vss 5-6 and 20-21]

Jesus: [Theme 3–The Son of Man to be lifted up] “When you will have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he.” (3:14-16; 8:28; 12:32-33) [Also, Theme 6–I AM]

Jesus: [Theme 4–Truth] “If you remain [abide] in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (8:31-32; 1:9, 14, 17; 3:21, 33; 4:18, 23, 24, 37; 5:31, 32, 33, 45; 6:32; 7:18, 28; 8:13, 14, 16, 17, 26, 32, 40, 44, 45, 46)

The [Supposedly] Believing Crowd of Religious People: “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” (8:33)

Jesus: [Theme 5–My Father, your father] “I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” (8:38) “If you are Abraham’s children, you are doing the works of Abraham. But now you are seeking to kill, me, a man who has been telling you the truth which I heard from God. This Abraham did not do. You are doing the works of your father.” (8:39-40)

The [by now] Non-believing Crowd of Religious People: “Abraham is our father.” (8:39) “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father–even God.” (8:41)

Jesus: [Theme 5–My Father God, your father the devil]If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me (8:42) [Also Theme 2–Sent by God]. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s 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 out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (8:44) “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” (8:47)

The [now] Hostile Crowd of Religious People: “Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” (8:53)

Jesus: [Theme 2–Sent by God] “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’  55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.” (8:54-55)

Jesus: [Theme 5–My Father, your father] “Your father Abraham [according to the flesh] rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” (8:56)

The Hostile Crowd of Religious People: “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” (8:57)

Jesus: [Theme 6–I AM] “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” (8:58)

The Hostile Crowd of Religious People: [Theme 7–Jesus’ Enemies want to kill him] So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. (8:59; 5:18; 7:1, 19, 20, 25; 8:37, 40)

So how did we do in the Reader Challenge? (see top of post)

Hint: What is the one thing that Jesus had that none of his enemies had? L-O-V-E.

1. See Jesus’ many miracles:

• water to wine demonstrates compassion for a groom, his bride, and the parents (2:1-11)

• healing the nobleman’s son demonstrates love for a social class not his own (4:46-54)

• healing the paralyzed man demonstrates Jesus’ love for the outwardly weak and defeated, the unattractive and unlovely (5:1-9)

• healing the paralyzed man on a Sabbath demonstrates Jesus’ (and God’s) love for people above an overly zealous and ungodly love for human religious tradition

• feeding the 5,000 people demonstrates love for people’s physical needs 6:1-15

2. Jesus’ actions demonstrate love:

• cleansing the temple demonstrates love for God and for God’s house of prayer (2:13-22)

• Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus demonstrates love for potentially hostile people (3:1-21)

• Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well and his long visit in her village demonstrates his love for ethnic and religious classes not his own (Jesus was Jewish by human birth) (4:4-43)

• Jesus’ long discourses with his enemies in chapters 6, 7, and 8 demonstrate his love for those who hate them

• These same discourses demonstrate Jesus’ love for God in his willingness that none should go without hearing the gospel of salvation, even those whom he knows will use this gospel against him in order to kill him

3. Lack of love prevented Jesus’ enemies for recognizing that Jesus was a good man.

Yet, even without LOVE, two other attributes would have worked to help these blind enemies of Christ: KNOWLEDGE and OBEDIENCE

 

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1. Obedience

2. Knowledge

John 7:17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.

obedience–if anyone’s will is to do God’s will

knowledge–he will know

Obedience–John 7:19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?”

John 7:23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well?

Knowledge–John 7:27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”

Obedience and Knowledge–John 7:49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” [The chief priests and Pharisees do not obey the law that they claim to know.]

Knowledge and Obedience–John 8:4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” … John 8:7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. [In their claimed knowledge of the Law, the Pharisees test Jesus to see if he will deny the love for common folk, which he often displays, or deny his obedience to the Law of Moses. Jesus’ outwits them by causing them to recognize their own guilt of disobedience.

Knowledge and Obedience–John 8:49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. [The religious leaders did not know God, nor did they obey him. They dishonored God by dishonoring his Sent One–Christ.]

Summary: If they had known God and wanted to obey him, they would have investigated Jesus’ claim of being God’s Son with an open mind and an open heart, given that God backed up Jesus’ claims with astounding miracles, and that Jesus taught with astounding teaching. If these Pharisees had sought to honor God (to know, obey, and love him), they would have fairly investigated Jesus’ claims, as Nicodemus, who was one of them, apparently did. Seeking to do God’s will (obedience), they would have discovered (knowledge) that Jesus truly was who he claimed to be. Knowledge of God and his Son leads to love for both. So, in love, they would have honored God by honoring the Son. They did none of these, thereby showing that they had neither knowledge of God, nor a heart of obedience towards him, nor did they have the love of God in their hearts. Jesus told them flat out that they had none of these because they were not “of God” but of their father, the devil (8:44).

 

 

Pirouette of Love and Knowledge

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Sent and Endorsed

Week 7 Part 2 John 6:22-71: Focus–Jesus Was Sent by God the Father and Endorsed by Him

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

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Faith Has Its Perfect Response

 

 

Jesus’ “I Am” Statements in John 6

 

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Link To: Outline of the Gospel of John

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Week 6 Part 2 John 6:1-15: Jesus Feeds 5,000 People from One Lunch

(Link to Outline of John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Parallel Passages: Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17

Important Items to Notice jesus-bread-life-50000

  • The healing of the nobleman’s son, Jesus’ second sign recorded in John’s Gospel (see Outline of John, Week 5), occurred at the beginning of what is called the “Great Galilean Ministry.” This fourth sign, in which Jesus feeds 5,000 men plus women and children from five “loaves” of Mediterranean flat bread and two fish, occurs at the end of his Galilean ministry.
  • John 5 records how Jesus was rejected in Judea; John 6 shows how he was rejected in Galilee also.
  • In Judea, John records how the Jewish religious leaders rejected Jesus; here in Galilee, it was not just the leaders but his own disciples (the twelve excepted) who also rejected him.
  • This is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels (see links above, Parallel Passages).
  • As recorded by John, the disciples’ faith had not grown sufficiently for them to expect or even believe that Jesus could feed the enormous crowd from one boy’s lunch (John 6:5-9).
  • Nevertheless, the disciples obeyed Christ and arranged the men in orderly groups of about fifty each (Luke 9:14-15). Application: Obedience is a servant to faith in the outworking of miracles in our lives. Obeying Christ’s clear commands even when our faith falls short is sometimes enough for our miracle to happen (cf. the miraculous results of Peter’s obedience without faith in Luke 5:3-9).
  • Apart from the resurrection, this is the most well attested sign that Jesus performed, witnessed and participated in by over 5,000 people at once.

Many of Those Whom Jesus Fed Later Rejected Him (John 6:66).

John supplies a key to their actions:

NIV  John 6:15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

This was an unruly mob ruled by the concrete reality of their stomachs. They wanted control over a puppet king of their own making, one who would do their own bidding and feed them on demand. They had no interest in Jesus as a person–who was this amazing man? Nor did their eyes lift to the heavens to recognize the source of the awesome power Jesus displayed. Their interest in him was earthbound, not spiritual.

The writer John explores their attitudes and motivations later as Chapter 6 continues.

Application: How does this miracle demonstrate John’s theme–that Jesus is the Son of God. What does this mean for me personally in my own life?

 

Week 6 Part 2 John 6:15-21: The Fifth Sign–Jesus Walks on Water

 

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

Genesis 1:2 …  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

After the miracle of the bread and fish, Jesus sent the crowds away. Then he sent his disciples away into the one boat down on the shore and bid them sail to the other side of the lake, while he himself retreated into the mountains to pray. He prayed for a good deal of the night, while his disciples rowed against the wind on high seas in a fierce storm. By the middle of the night, they were still out in the middle of the lake, suspended half way from shore to shore, about 2-1/2 miles out.

Suddenly, an apparition-like form came moving across the water, and the disciples in the boat were terrified. The form spoke in a familiar voice, “It is I; do not be afraid.” At this, they recognized that it was Jesus, and they willingly brought him into the boat. Again suddenly, all at once, they found themselves and the boat on the shore towards which they had laboriously been rowing for hours.

Question: How does this fifth sign achieve John’s thematic purpose of demonstrating that Jesus is the Son of God? How does this affect me in my life personally?

……………………………………..

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

This miracle-story should be accepted by faith. If one does not believe it, however, let him not try to explain it away. Let him be honest and say, “I do not believe it.” (Hendriksen, vol. 1, 227)

 

 

 

Like Father Like Son

John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Week Six: Discourse—Does Jesus Himself Claim to Be Divine? (Link to John 5:18-47)

Main Point: 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.

A Dramatic Scene

A GRAND miracle has just been performed—Jesus suddenly and completely heals a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years. The man picks up his sick-bed mat and carries it off.

“Wow!! Awesome!! Praise God!! We’ve never seen or heard anything like this in our whole lives!! Who is this man who did this healing?”

Wrong!—The religious leaders said, “You both picked the wrong day of the week for your dramatic little display. We are the keepers of the law, and it is against our law for anyone to heal, lift, and carry on the Sabbath. You are both sinners.”

Jesus: “Ah, but you are wrong. My Father and I are One, and we hold ultimate authority over the Sabbath. We created the Sabbath, not as a set of picayune laws to trip people up, but as a day of rest to help people weary from their labors.stained-glass-jesus

“I want to help you to understand and believe, so listen to me.”

Part One: If it quacks like a duck…

ESV  John 5:18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel.

21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.

22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,

23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice

29 and come out, those who have done good to the  resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

 

It is possible for a son or daughter to share many physical and personality traits with their parent. This is because they share one-half of a complete set of genes. That’s a lot of genes for two people to have in common!

Nevertheless, parent and child are independent of each other in many ways, especially their thought life, their speech, and most importantly, their will (their center of volition, their driving force.)

When Jesus states in verse 19, “the Son can do nothing of his own accord,” he is not describing a shortcoming in himself. Rather, he is saying that there is nothing in the Son that is independent of the Father. They share everything, even their will. Christ is purely, exactly like his Father. And because this is so, they are One.

Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Three strands of thought intertwine in Jesus’ discourse above.

1. The Son possesses all the Father possesses and does not possess any trait or quality, apart from his human nature, which the Father does not also possess. This indicates that Father and Son are identical (vss 18-20).

A limited analogy might be human fathers and sons, in which the father openly shows the son all he does—his garage and office, his hobbies, his work, his philosophies and ethic, and so on. As the son grows and matures, he displays his identity as his father’s son by taking on for himself many characteristics of his father.

2. Just as God has life in himself and the power of life over death, so the Son has life in himself and power of life over death (vss 21, 25-26). And, as the Father makes sovereign choices in matters of life versus death, so does the Son (vss 21, 24-26, 28-29).

3. God has given the final judgment to his Son (vss 22, 24, 27-30).

 

Part Two: The Witnesses

 

John 5:31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true.

 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true.

33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.

34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.

35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen,

38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent.

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

41 I do not receive glory from people.

42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you.

43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.

44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope.

46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

 

 Jesus Presents His Five Witnesses

1. Jesus Himself (vs 31).

I know that my testimony is true, because I know who my Father is and where I come from. Nevertheless, if I were the only witness to myself, you might not believe me. Therefore…

2. God the Father (vss 32, 36-38)

3. John the Baptist (vss 33-35)

I don’t need John’s testimony, as I have plenty of divine testimony, which is far stronger.  John the Baptist was sent for you, as a herald to announce my coming and to prepare the soil for the good seed. As regards John the Baptist, you are like the seed that fell on stony ground (Luke 8:5-6).

4. Jesus’ Signs and Miracles (vs 36)

These were given to me by God my Father, and none could perform these miracles without his endorsement (John 3:2).

5. Scripture and the Prophets (39-40, 45-46)

The Scripture and prophets all speak of me, especially Moses, whom you adore and on whom you place your trust. I don’t need to condemn you at the final judgment—Moses will condemn you by the words he spoke about me, which you neither believed nor received (Hebrews 1:1-2).

 

Jesus Accuses His Accusers (37-47)

1. They do not know the Father (vs 37).

2. God’s Word does not abide in them (vs 38, 43).

3. They do not believe the One whom God sent (vs 38).

4. Their hearts are hard (vs 40).

5. The love of God is not in them (vs 42).

6. They refuse to receive the One God sent (# 3 above, vss 38, 43), yet they will receive another who comes in his own name (promoting his own glory and not having endorsement from God).

7. They seek and receive glory from the wrong places (vs 44).

8. They neither understand nor believe their hero, Moses (vss 45-46).

9. They misunderstand the basics (vs 47).

 

Link to Outline: Gospel of John

 

Jesus Heals Paralyzed Man in a Miraculous Display of Grace, Love, and Power

 Click here for: Link to the Outline of the Gospel of John

 ESV  John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Week Five: The Third Sign–Healing the Paralyzed Man (Link to John 5:1-18)

ESV  John 5:1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids–blind, lame, and paralyzed. 4  5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.'” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Summary: While the first two signs both occurred in Galilee, this the third sign occurs in Jerusalem. Its reservoir was uncovered in 1888 at the time of repair work on the church of St. Anne in northeast Jerusalem. (Hendriksen, Vol. 1, 190) Jesus saw a man there who was “withered,” that is, dried up or paralyzed. He couldn’t walk and had other difficulties with movement (vs 7). Jesus knew that he had been there a long time and asked him, “Do you want to be healed?” Not giving a direct answer, the man described his difficulty in being healed by the only means he knew–self-effort to move his disabled body into the water quickly, before others, who had outside help, got in. Apparently, they believed that only the first person into the water during moments of “stirring” would be healed. Jesus then gave him a direct command, “Get up, take up your bed [which was about the size of a yoga mat], and walk.” And the man did so.

It happened to be the Sabbath when Jesus healed the man. Immediately the religious leaders of the day challenged the man with the accusation that lifting and carrying his mat on the Sabbath was illegal, according to their Jewish law, as interpreted by them. He announced his healing to them by saying that the man who healed him had told him to pick up his mat and walk. Not knowing who the man was, the conversation ended. The healed man next shows up in the temple, where it says, Jesus “found” and encouraged him with the words, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.”

The man went back to the Jewish leaders and told them that Jesus is the one who had healed him. From that moment on, the Jewish leaders began to persecute Jesus for breaking the Sabbath law by healing and commanding the one healed to pick up his mat and walk. When confronted, Jesus replied, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” The Jewish leaders understood this statement to mean that Jesus was calling God his Father, thereby claiming to be the Son of God, equal to God. From that moment forward, they not only persecuted Jesus, but they also wanted to kill him (vs 18).

Comparisons and Contrasts Between This Sign and the Two Previous Signs–1) water to wine (John 2:1-11) and 2) healing the nobleman’s son (John 4:43-54)

  1. In changing water to wine, Jesus demonstrated his power over inanimate nature and the laws of physics and chemistry. By changing matter itself, he demonstrated himself to be outside the material realm. In the two signs of healing, Jesus demonstrated his re-creative powers over biological matter.
  2. In the first sign, the inanimate substance displayed no self-will, for such is nonexistent. In the second sign, Jesus responded to the will of the sick boy’s father, a third party. In the third sign, Jesus responded to his own will, since the paralyzed man, unlike the boy’s father, requested nothing.
  3. In the first sign, the initiator of the encounter with the water was Christ in the sense that the water asked for nothing, while Christ responded to a direct request from his mother. The nobleman initiated the encounter by persistently “begging” Jesus to heal his son. Christ initiated the healing of the paralyzed man with no prompting whatsoever, thereby placing his own sovereignty of choice in bold relief. (Why did he heal this man and not someone else or many of the “multitude”?
  4. Both the nobleman petitioning for his son and the paralyzed man at the outset displayed insufficient faith, the paralyzed man showing far less than the nobleman.
  5. This is the first miraculous sign for which Jesus is persecuted.

A Sign That Displays Christ’s Amazing Power, Grace, and Loving Compassion for the Powerless, Unloved, and Alone

Some commentators appear to criticize the paralyzed man for a perceived lack of will, as though he engaged in a self-pity party. Yet, Lazarus, a dead man who had no will, is never criticized for himself not having improved his dead condition. Nor is Saul, who became the Apostle Paul, ever criticized for not having initiated his own salvation. Thirty-eight years is a very long time. The text indicates that the paralyzed man had attempted on several occasions to move himself into the healing water before the others (vs 7). And if his desire for healing had died along with his hope of its ever becoming a reality for him, doesn’t this all the more establish Christ’s perception and compassion?

Of all the multitude of disabled people lying by the sides of the pool (vs 3), Jesus chose this one, who had grown old with infirmity as his sole companion. This shows us that Christ is indeed sovereign in his election and that salvation and healing are by grace and not by any virtue of will-power (John 1:13) or positive thinking.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.

Similarities with Jesus’ Raising of Lazarus from the Dead (John 11:1-54)

When Jesus raised Lazarus, no one, not even his believing sisters Martha and Mary, expected or asked him to perform such a miracle. Likewise, the possibility of healing never entered the paralyzed man’s head.

Jesus began his miracle by calling out to the dead man, “Lazarus…” Jesus began his miracle of healing by calling out to the paralyzed man, “Do you want to be healed?”

Jesus finished his miracle by commanding Lazarus, “…come out.” Jesus finished his miracle by commanding the paralyzed man, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”

  • In Lazarus’ case, coming back to life had to occur with the calling out of his name, since a dead man can neither hear nor obey a command to “come out.”
  • In the paralyzed man’s case, healing had to occur simultaneously with the command to “Get up, take up your bed, and walk,” since a paralyzed man cannot obey such a command. The text then says, “and at once the man was healed” and obeyed.
  • In both of these cases, the initial calling was effective: 1) Lazarus came back to life, and 2) the paralyzed man’s interest and hope had been aroused.

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

Ephesians 5:14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–

Isaiah 26:19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

  • Application: Do you recall a specific “wake-up call” from the Lord? If so, why not share your story with another?

Fallout

  • The formerly paralyzed man now healed gets chastised and interrogated by the Jewish leaders for breaking their law by lifting and carrying on the Sabbath day, the day of his great and wonderful healing.
  • He goes to the temple.
  • Jesus, again taking the initiative, “finds” him in the temple and performs one of only two “follow-ups” ever presented in all four Gospels (of which this writer is aware), by leading him towards a healing of the spiritual condition of his soul. Here again, Christ prominently displays his great love for the unlovely and otherwise unloved. (See John 9:34-38 for the other follow-up.)
  • The healed man returns to his interrogators, presumably the only people besides Jesus who knew of his healing, to boldly proclaim his positive confession that “it was Jesus” who had healed him.
  • The Jewish leaders turn upon and persecute Jesus for healing on the Sabbath day (vs 16).
  • They later determine to kill Jesus for announcing himself to be equal to God, and therefore, divine (vss 17-18).

 

Jesus Builds Our Insufficient Faith

Click here for: Link to the Outline of the Gospel of John

ESV  John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Week Five: The Second Sign–Healing the Nobleman’s Son (Link to John 4:43-54)

Recap: In the First Sign–the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11)–Jesus showed himself to be the Son of God by demonstrating his control over the natural world itself. Only someone above and beyond the natural world, someone who is outside of and not part of the natural world, could change the very substance of matter from one molecule (water) to others (wine). Because God is invisible Spirit, and Jesus was also truly physical man, he is the Son of God, rather than God the Father.

What was the Second Sign?

The second sign pointing to the deity of Christ he also performed in Cana of Galilee. In this sign, Jesus heals a nobleman’s son, who was on his deathbed sick (John 4:47).

  • he completely healed him (John 4:50-51)
  • he did so by speaking a Word (3 words–“Your son lives.”) (John 4:50) (lives is present tense in Greek, not future–your son now lives)
  • he healed the man’s son from a distance of about 16 miles (the distance from Cana to Capernaum)
  • the father checked with his servants to ascertain that the healing occurred at the exact time when Jesus spoke the word (John 4:52-53)

Again, a long distance healing accomplished by speaking a word can only be performed by someone who is themself supernatural. Jesus Christ is this person.

Troublesome Questions

1. Was Jesus first reply to the nobleman a rebuke?

ESV  John 4:48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”

Answer:

  • It sure sounds like one!
  • The commentators I have consulted agree that Jesus was rebuking the man.

Explanation:

John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

John 10:10 …I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

  • We know that Jesus is Love; therefore, any seeming rebuke does not have any sort of negative motivation whatsoever. We must search for a positive motivation.
  • The verses above show that Jesus came to bring life to dying people. All people die. He came to bring eternal life–

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

  • The pathway to eternal life is belief in Jesus as the Son of God.
  • The pathway to eternal life is NOT having seen a miracle, believing in miracles, or having one’s beloved son miraculously healed.
  • Jesus’ observation was that the religious people of that day, of whom the nobleman was one, were MISSING THE MARK.
  • He didn’t want them to miss out on eternal life by going for the EVIDENCE rather than the PRIZE. Christ is the prize; miracles are mere evidence whose purpose is to lead people to belief in Christ as Son of God. Jesus’ complaint (rebuke) is that saving belief was not there, dependent as it was on the constant presence of miracles. Miracles don’t save; Christ saves. The means is belief in Christ, whether or not one has a miracle.
  • Two more shortcomings of the nobleman: 1) he did not initially believe that Jesus could heal from a distance (a greater miracle than laying on hands), 2) nor did he believe that Jesus’ power could extend after death itself (he thought that Jesus needed to get there before his son died)

2. How did Jesus build the man’s insufficient faith?

Answer:

  • Step One: He made the man wait. He did not go rushing down to heal the man’s son at the first request. Waiting is a struggle that exercises our faith muscles. Either our faith will grow, or we will give up in disbelief. The nobleman’s faith grew as he persisted in exercising the faith that he did already have.
    • Applications:
      • Are we prepared to wait for our miracle, or do we give up if we do not receive an immediate affirmative reply?
      • Do we place our faith, our trust, and our hope in the goodness and love of God and his Son, even when circumstances seem to say otherwise? (Example: How could a loving God permit such-and-such?)
  • Step Two: Jesus did heal the man’s son, but not the way the man had asked. As a result, the man’s faith in Jesus clearly grew.
    • Before this rebuke, the man believed that Jesus needed to be physically present in order to heal his son. After this rebuke, the man believed in Jesus’ word and in his power to heal at a great distance.

John 4:50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.

  • Step Three: Finally, the man and his entire household believed that Jesus is the Son of God. They now have eternal life, which is far, far better than an extension of our temporary existence.
    • Applications:
      • How “miracle-dependent” is my faith in Christ? If the miracles dry up, does my faith also dry up?
      • Do I submit to the faith-growing discipline of being asked by God to wait for my miracle, to wait for his answer to my prayer?

A Word of Encouragement

Fortunately, God’s answers to our prayers for help are not dependent on our faulty faith. Did you know that Jesus never turned down anyone’s request for help or healing? The gospels record that he healed everyone who ever came to him. Jesus wants to build our faith, not destroy it. God knows just how much we can bear. He often allows us to have a bit more than we think we can bear, because he wants us to call out to him. Encourage yourself today by thinking about all the times God rescued you and answered your prayers with a yes! God loves his children.

For Further Study:

Both David and Paul were men whom God greatly loved. Both of these men received not just a delay but a NO to their request for healing.

  1. David’s son died. (2 Samuel 11:27-12:25)
  2. God did not heal Paul’s eyes. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

What does this tell us about the relationship between miracles and saving faith?

 

 

Concrete to Spiritual: How Jesus Changes the Old Testament to the New

Week 4: Spiritual Replaces Concrete

One of the great takeaway lessons we learn from John 3–Nicodemus–and John 4–the Woman at the Well–is that Jesus introduces a Great Shift–the Great Change–away from concrete interactions with his people (physical symbols and types) to spiritual.

This is one of the biggest differences between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus himself introduced this change, and we see it in both the account of Nicodemus and the Woman at the Well.

The reason the Great Shift occurs with the advent of Christ at the beginning of the New Testament is that the Spirit of God in the later pages of the Old Testament had left the temple and never returned. John the Baptist predicts the return of the Spirit at the time of Jesus’s baptism, saying that Jesus would be the one to baptize people with the Holy Spirit.

Further, in the Old Testament, the Spirit dwelled first in the column of fire by night and cloud by day, which hovered over the Israelites in exile. It next dwelt within the Tent of Meeting, and finally, in the temple. All these are EXTERNAL to the human being. Humans did not have the Spirit of God living within them, and ever since Adam sinned, humankind had lost intimate contact with God and lived separate from him. This is why God needed to talk to his people with concrete, physical symbols–pictures formed by real, historic events. Humankind had become SPIRITUALLY DEAD.

In the New Testament, the promised Holy Spirit arrives, not to live outside humans in the spaces of inanimate objects, but to live within humans in the spiritual spaces of human hearts. This is an enormous change from the Old Testament to the New. It’s a change best described as new wine which no longer fits the old wineskins. (Luke 5:36-38) It is the change from CONCRETE to SPIRITUAL.

In John 3 and John 4, the main protagonists understand Jesus’s words in concrete terms only, that would be to say, in literal terms, using the word “literal” in its modern meaning of something physical, something which can be seen and touched.

  1. Nicodemus interprets Jesus’s words, “You must be born again,” as climbing back into the mother’s womb. (John 3:3-4)
  2. The Woman at the Well interprets Jesus’s words, “living water” as physical water that she could physically drink and therefore physically never thirst again. (John 4:10-15)

In both cases Jesus patiently explains the new spiritual meaning. He pours his new wine into their old wineskins. And as the text shows, he had more success with the woman at the well than with Nicodemus. The woman at the well understood, believed, and went running off to confess her new belief and her discovery of Jesus the Messiah to her fellow townsfolk. Nicodemus, on the other hand, needed more time.

And so we see that God is Spirit and truth, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

……………………………….

For more information on how the Gospel of Christ changes the concrete into the spiritual, read Does Paul Spiritualize the Concrete?: The Great Shift Exemplified in Colossians 2:8-3:4

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