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Jesus’ “I Am” Statements in John 6




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


Blessed Are the Meek


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?


  • 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.”


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


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?


  • 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

New Birth–Its Necessity and Its Joy

Week 4

The New Birth–Necessary and Desirable: John 3:1-21 and John 4:1-42

First, let’s read the text, especially John 3:1-15  (New Birth Necessary) and John 4:1-30 (New Birth Desirable).

What is the New Birth?

“It is very clear, therefore, that there is an act of God which precedes any act of man. In its initial stage the process of changing a person into a child of God precedes conversion and faith.” (Hendriksen, Vol. 1, 133)

Being “born again” or “born from above” is an action of God that connects the person spiritually with God; communication with God is restored through the depositing by God of his own Holy Spirit into the person. Being born from above is God’s action of REGENERATION upon a dead soul (the Bible precedes “Dr Who” by 2,000 years). It’s God’s work of bringing an enemy of God (all human beings since the fall of humankind–see Genesis 3 and Romans 5:10) into the very family of God as children.

ESV John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

NIV  Galatians 3:26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith

ESV  Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

NIV  Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.

ESV  Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”

2 Corinthians 6:18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

1 Peter 1:23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;

Why is the New Birth Necessary? Jesus explains to Nicodemus 

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [ἄνωθεν, an-o-then, 1-from above, 2-again] he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

ESV  Romans 8:9 … Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

1 Corinthians 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. [AND]Job 14:4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Why is the New Birth Desirable? Jesus explains to the Woman at the Well  woman-well

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to 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.

2 Samuel 14:14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

How do we get the New Birth? We must only ASK for it.

John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 

John 4:15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

Isaiah 55:1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

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.'” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

The new birth (the water of life) is FREE; it is for EVERYONE who asks.

God will cleanse us to make our water vessels clean.

Nicodemus and the woman at the well both discovered that they were incapable of being born from above and receiving the water of life on their own. They didn’t have the capacity to effect their own new birth; unlike the mythical Dr Who, they were not able to perform their own regeneration. Such a miracle of life must come from above; it must proceed from God alone. God created at the first, speaking life out of nothing. He alone can speak new life into a dead sinner’s heart.

Jesus explained to Nicodemus in very few words the entire theology of the Old Testament, made clear in the picture of the brass serpent that Moses lifted up high on a pole to heal all those who had been fatally bitten by a venomous serpent. (Numbers 21) The poisonous snake, in the picture God chose to use, represents sin. Looking at a brass serpent lifted up on a pole effected physical healing. Looking at Christ (with the look of faith) lifted up on the cross brings spiritual healing–cleansing–to a soul poisoned by the fatally venomous bite of sin.

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 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.

 2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”–

Nicodemus needed to be cleansed of the sin of unbelief. (Exodus 20:3-7)

John 3:11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Nicodemus did not confess his sin of unbelief, and the account in John 3, he did not receive salvation–cleansing and new birth–the water and the Spirit.

John 3:5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

The woman at the well needed to be cleansed of her sin of immorality.

John 4:17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.

She did confess her sin (see just above, vss 17 and 19). John 4 recounts her joyful salvation and her sudden trip back to the village to tell all her neighbors the good news of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ paid the price for our cleansing, so that the water of life would be FREE for all of us.

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.


Outline of John up to this point Outline

You might be interested to read more at this link from Billy Graham’s website: How to be Born Again





Signs Part 2: Water to Wine and Cleansing the Temple Compared and Contrasted

Week 3: John Chapter 2, Part 2


credit: goodsalt.com

credit: goodsalt.com

ESV  John 2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.

Malachi 3:1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.

16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

Isaiah 56:7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Psalm 69:9 For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?”

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”

21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.

22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

NET  Acts 10:40 but God raised him up on the third day and caused him to be seen,

ESV  1 Corinthians 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

John 20:16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). [Mary’s and Jesus’ post-resurrection meeting here]

John the Poet

Scripture includes poetry. God is a poet. (Anyone having marveled at a sunrise or sunset must know that this is true.) The Psalms are poems; The poetry of Psalms is Scripture.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

John’s prologue, verses 1-5, though prose, is a most profound and beautiful poem expressing eternal truth with very few and very simple words. (John 1:1-5)

And like most poets, John uses symbolism to develop layers of meaning.

Disclaimer: To say that John is a poet does not mean that the events he describes are “poetic” only. This author believes as literally true every word that John writes. But God as poet designed events to occur which were in and of themselves symbolic of spiritual realities. This is, after all, the New Testament, where Spirit overtakes and surpasses concrete types. (We will see this spelled out in John Chapters 3 and 4.)

The Symbolism of Chapter 2

Scene 1 is about purification: the water of purification was turned into wine, which represents Christ’s blood shed for the remission of sins, i.e., for purification from sins.

  • Just as wine is better than water at a wedding, so blood is better than water for cleansing from sin.
  • The type (the literal event of Jesus’ turning the water into wine) is concrete–they drank physical wine; the reality underlying the symbols of the literal event (antitype) is spiritual.
  • The crucifixion and shedding of Christ’s blood were concrete–real blood flowed–the reality beneath these literal events is spiritual–cleansing from sins is a spiritual reality, not a concrete reality, not one that can be handled and touched.
  • Spiritual blood received by faith in Christ’s having shed his literal, physical, concrete blood is better than literal, concrete water for cleansing–purifying–the soul from sin. (Witness MacBeth’s wife trying in vain to remove her guilt by washing her hands with literal, concrete water–it didn’t work!)

John 2:6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification

John 2:7 “Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim.

 John 2:9 When the chief servant tasted the water (after it had become wine)…

John 2:4My hour has not yet come. [The hour of Christ’s crucifixion: John 17:1 …”Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,”]

Revelation 7:14 …They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Hebrews 9:22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

Scene 2 is also about purification: Jesus chased out from the temple the money changers and the sellers of sacrificial animals. The problem, as much as doing business in God’s house of prayer, was that these merchants were cheating the people right and left, overcharging and selling for large profits. (Matthew 21:13) And one thing extremely clear from the Old Testament is that God loves his poor people.

 Isaiah 58:5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD? 6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Jesus came and “purified” his Father’s temple.

Water to Wine and Cleansing the Temple Side by Side: Their Symbols Compared and Contrasted

1. Cleansing occurs in both scenes.

Scene 1 is an inward cleansing of heart and mind received by drinking the blood of the Lamb through faith.

Scene 2 is an outward cleansing of God’s temple which Jesus accomplished by rejecting and casting out the impure elements of sinful theft fueled by monetary greed.

2. The two cleansings result in opposite effects for those involved.

In Scene 1 drinking the blood of the Lamb (symbolized by the wine that Jesus created) results in joy, festivity, happiness, celebration, and fellowship of family and friends.

In Scene 2 the sin of hardened hearts (repeatedly and willfully stealing from the poor under the excuse of religion) results in shame, confusion, anger, bitterness, and exclusion from the temple, which symbolizes Christ himself.

3. The two cleansings sum up the Gospel message of salvation vs judgment.

— Gospel message of salvation

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.

— Gospel message of judgment

John 5:22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,

John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

John 12:48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.


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.

  • Christ is Son of God
  • Our appropriate response is belief
  • Belief yields LIFE in his name

A Kind of Belief  That Yields No Permanent Beneficial Outcome

John continues writing…

John 2:23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.

24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people

25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

Later in John, we see people like these–those who follow Jesus because of his miracles only–turning back when the teaching becomes too costly (difficult) for them to accept.

John 6:66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. [Read the entire context here and an even broader context here.]

John 6:36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Can we see how the verses above, which come later in John, relate to the two scenes in Chapter 2? John foreshadows the rest of his gospel in his simple recounting of Jesus’ changing water to wine  and the cleansing of the temple (Scene 1 and Scene 2), which, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he places side by side at the outset of Christ’s public ministry.



What about me? Is my heart’s desire the joyfully glad cleansing of Scene 1–drinking the wine of Christ and joining the festive wedding celebration–

–or do I prefer the cleansing of Scene 2–being cast out by Christ, away from him and all his people, away from the wedding feast?

New Testament Scripture teaches very clearly that I will be cleansed by Christ. Which shall it be? The joyful cleansing of salvation? Or the painful cleansing by exclusion that comes with judgment?

 Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The verses above were written by John, the same John who wrote the Gospel of John. And so we see by John’s theme in his gospel (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) that he is very much an evangelist at heart. He wants us to believe, to find life, and to be spared from the judgment of Jesus Christ upon all people who reject the living wine–the blood of his life sacrificed on the cross–which alone leads to eternal life.

This is what the Bible teaches, and I verify that the life in Christ that John teaches is true. I have not yet witnessed the final judgment–no one has because it hasn’t happened yet. And if the one is true–life in Jesus–why would the Bible be lying about the other?

What about you? As seen in chapter 1, Jesus hears your thoughts even now. And this is the promise he extends to the whole world:

Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Romans 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

What about you? What about now? Call out to the Lord and be saved!


Link to the Outline of the Gospel of John

Signs Part 1: Turning Water into Wine


Week 3: John Chapter 2, Part 1

First Sign: Water to Wine 2:1-11

                                         What is a sign-text                                               ?

…a miracle viewed as a proof of divine authority and majesty…

…a physical illustration of a spiritual principle…

…the sign points away from itself to the One who performed it…

(Hendriksen, 117)

The First Sign in the Gospel of John


ESV  John 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.  3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”  5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”  6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.  7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.  8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.  9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom  10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”  11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

At a literal level, what Jesus did at the wedding was IMPOSSIBLE. This points to Jesus’ special powers.

Why does this miracles constitute a SIGN?

Water in the New Testament symbolizes the Word of God.

ESV  Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

Christ is called the living Word of God.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Wine in the New Testament symbolizes the blood of Christ shed on the cross as an atonement for sin.

Matthew 26:27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

The physical wine itself pales in comparison to the realization that here is a man who shows himself to have great power and love, by his working of a supernatural feat to bless the guests at the wedding, including the bridegroom and his bride.


ESV  John 2:11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

This first sign shows that Jesus is the master of both QUALITY (he is the best wine) and QUANTITY (100-150 gallons is lots of wine!!) (Hendriksen, 119)

He can also CHANGE PHYSICAL SUBSTANCES, making him to be God!



Why Signs?

Jesus is the Light of men. This Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness just can’t put it out.

We all know from taking photos that too much light destroys color and detail–everything becomes a burned out white. Our eyes themselves can’t function when the light is too bright. Christ’s light (the light of God himself) would blind us if we saw it unfiltered.

A Sign Miracle is a toning down of the exposure of Christ’s light.

The Miracle Signs illuminate Christ to our understanding without overexposing our human minds to a blinding light.

John’s writing places all else but Christ in background tones of shadows while at the same time painting Christ in vivid, detailed colors.

Christ himself is a “Sign” that points to God as love.






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