John 1-21 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight JOH01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet. Soaring through the scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
All right. Let's turn in our Bibles to the Gospel of John. Or, we like to affectionately call him around here Juan. The Gospel of Juan. Can we do that?
OK. The gospel of Juan it is. So, many years ago, just a couple miles from here in an apartment house called the Lakes Apartments, in the little community center room, we had our very first Bible study that became this church. The very first Bible study was II Peter, chapter 1. Don't need to explain why I chose that.
But I announced that night after the study-- since it was our very first meeting, it was sort of like an interest meeting-- that we would be starting the following week in the Gospel of John. I said, the name of my message next week is John chapter 1. The name of my message the following week will be John chapter 2. And we will go through the Gospel of John.
And then after John, we covered the book of Acts. And we continued our-- continued our pace of going through the scriptures. And then it eventually went into the Old and the New Testament. But all of that to say, the foundation, the earliest foundations of this fellowship is the Gospel of John. So it's fun for me to be returning to it, although just for one night. And now John is a friend. He's Juan now.
So I've spent a lot of time in this gospel. The first book I read in the New Testament was the Book of Matthew, just because that was the first book in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But I discovered what a valuable tool John is for young believers. And so we often counsel brand new believers to-- the first book they should read is the Gospel of John, because of the way it sets Jesus forth in such a unique way.
So we're looking at John from a 30,000 foot view. We're only going to be diving down for some key texts. But let me take you back to a question that Solomon asked when he built that temple in Jerusalem, and he was there dedicating it and praying before the Lord. And, you know, he said, it's been a lifelong dream of my father and here it is. And your glory has filled this place. And we want you to dwell among your people, et cetera.
But then he asked the question, but will God indeed dwell on Earth? It's like, wait a minute. The heavens of the-- heavens can't contain God, much less this temple that I have built. Will God indeed dwell on Earth? It's a fair question. And it really is not answered fully until we get to the Gospel of John.
Now, I know, God dwelled among his people in the tabernacle, with the mercy seat, the Ark of the Covenant, eventually the temple. It stood there. People gathered to worship there. God did works and wonders there in the midst of His people. But you also remember as the worship system of the tabernacle and temple wore on, that eventually the glory of God, the presence of God departed.
Ezekiel saw the glory of God depart, be lifted up out of the temple toward the Mount of Olives, and then vanish in the book of Ezekiel. So back to the question, will God indeed dwell on Earth? Now we come to the Gospel of John. And in the first chapter, in the 14th verse, John says, and the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
God became human. Undiminished deity, unprotected humanity, and dwelt among His people. John was one of the witnesses to that. And John gives us that unbuffered, fullest account that exalts the deity and the glory of Jesus like none of the other gospels do. This gospel of Juan-- John-- is typically distinguished from the other three. Those three are called synoptics, as we covered last week.
This is simply referred to as the fourth gospel. The fourth gospel. The Gospel of John is the fourth gospel. We have three accounts that are very similar. We have one that is standalone and very unique. And I'll explain why in a moment. Now I'm going to take you way back again. I want to tie some loose ends together.
When God was dwelling among His people in the tabernacle, the 12 tribes were encamped-- in Numbers chapter 2-- at the foot of Mt. Sinai around the Tabernacle. And they were divided into four sections, depending on the four sides or signs or directions that we still talk about-- north, south, east, and west.
On the east side, there were three tribes. On the west side, three tribes. On the south and the north, three tribes. 12 tribes divided into groups of four, with three tribes per camp, per group. In each of those four directions, those four large camps of three tribes, they all gathered under the tribal banner or the standard of one tribe. And we're told that in the Old Testament.
And tradition gives to us-- Jewish tradition-- what the signs of those banners or ensigns, those standards were. So for example, facing the east was the tribe of Judah. The tribe of Judah had a special emblem, a flag, a banner that was a lion. On the west side was the tribe of Ephraim. And the tribe of Ephraim, the three groups that gathered under the banner of the tribe of Ephraim or the group of Ephraim was an ox.
So you have a lion on one side, an ox on the other. And then the north and the south, there were three tribes and three tribes under a banner and another banner. And on one side was the tribe of Reuben. And he had the banner of a man. And the other tribe was the tribe of Dan. And Dan had the banner or the insignia of an eagle.
So you have a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle. That's the tabernacle. Now let me just throw in something else. If you were to look at the tabernacle encampment from a drone, from an aerial view, you're looking down. If the tribe of Judah was at the bottom, that would have been the largest encampment. There were more people in that eastern encampment that had Judah as the insignia than all the rest.
So you would see more people in the tribe of Judah, fewer people in the encampment of Ephraim, and just about equal amounts on the two sides, on north and south, on Ephraim and Dan. So looking at it from an aerial view or a drone shot, it would appear to you like a cross, where the bottom part would be much longer. The top part would be a little bit smaller and equal distance on the side.
We've shown you that map before. The tabernacle, the place of God dwelling with His people, was, you might say, a model of the throne of God. Fast forward to the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel sees a vision of the glory of God. And he sees these creatures in Ezekiel chapter 1 and chapter 10.
And in Ezekiel 1, these four creatures each had the face of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. Hm. Hold that thought. Fast forward to the Book of Revelation chapter 4. John sees a vision of four living creatures with eyes in the front and behind. And one had the appearance of a lion. One had the appearance of a man. One had the appearance of an ox. One had the appearance of an eagle.
I don't think it is coincidental. It seems to be-- to be fingerprints of the Holy Spirit throughout the scripture. And add to that the four gospels. Why four? Well, it's interesting. We discovered last week Matthew shows Jesus as fulfilling all of the scriptures. The King of the Jews, the fulfillment of Jewish anticipation, the lion of the tribe of Judah.
Mark pictures Jesus in a fast pace, like a movie going very rapidly. He is the servant of the Lord. The ox was the beast of burden or the servant animal. Then you have the Gospel of Luke picturing Jesus as the son of man, the perfect ideal man for the Greeks.
Now you have the Gospel of John. And this pictures Jesus soaring like the eagle as the great son of God, or God in human flesh. A fourfold testimony like the fourfold testimony seen on the ensigns at the tabernacle. Ezekiel 1, Ezekiel 10, Revelation chapter 4. I don't think it's coincidental. I think it's there so we get the idea that there's a full orbed picture of Christ.
OK, the synoptic gospels. We covered that last week in one fell swoop. Matthew, we said-- and Luke-- were like 2 snapshots of Jesus' life. The gospel of Mark was like a very fast motion picture. The Gospel of John is more like a studied portrait. A studied portrait.
It is different from the other gospels. Let me explain why. Over 90% of John's gospel is unique material that does not show up in the other three gospels. 90% is new material. It is the strongest evidence for the deity of Christ, as I mentioned. In the Book of John, the seven "I am" statements appear, where Jesus said, I am the bread of life. I am the Resurrection and the life. I am the door to the sheep fold. On and on.
Seven statements Jesus applies to himself, claiming to be very unique. There are no parables in the Gospel of John whatsoever. And the miracles that are recorded, there's not as many. There are only seven miracles, five of which are new. Only two are shared with the synoptic gospels. But five of them are unique to the Gospel of John.
The longest prayer in the New Testament is found in the Gospel of John. It's Jesus' own prayer in John chapter 17. Longest prayer, shortest verse. The shortest verse is found in John chapter 11, verse 35. You know the verse well. Jesus wept. Jesus wept. 1/3 of the Gospel of John covers the last eight days of Jesus' life, from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
Also, the most famous verse in all of the scripture, the most often quoted verse in all of the scripture, showing up everywhere-- even at sporting events-- is John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life."
Something else. In the Gospel of John, the word Jesus and the word Christ appear over 170 times. The book is all about not John. He's not even mentioned in the book by name as the author of the book. I'll explain that in a second. But it's all about Jesus Christ, 170 times.
Not only that, but the word believe is very key to this book. The word believe and its derivations show up 98 times in the Gospel of John. So if you want to know what the book of John is about, you count up the words that are used over and over and over again. Believe, believe, believe. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. Christ, Christ, Christ.
And he tells us in John chapter 20, "Truly more signs than these Jesus did in the presence of his disciples." Which are not recorded in this book, but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ. And by believing, have life in His name. He states the purpose. Very few books in the Bible do that. John tells you why he wrote the book. He writes it so that you will believe it.
So if you're struggling with faith, read this book. By the way, if you know somebody that you've shared the gospel with who's struggling with Christianity and God and belief, and you've shared and they've already tuned you out, just give them a little printed copy of the Gospel of John. I've watched the Gospel of John confront people like nothing else.
My father-in-law was an atheist. Did not believe in God, raised Lenya to not believe in God. Tucked her in at night saying, God doesn't exist. You make it on your own. Until he read the Gospel of John. Now he is confronted with statements he must accept or reject. He had rejected them all his life, but now he is confronted in a different way.
And that atheist decided to give his life to Christ and get baptized. And had to call Lenya up and say, whoops, boy, was I wrong. Basically he read the Gospel of John and said, if this is true, I'm in trouble. And he would have been in trouble, were it not for a change that was made.
Now, John-- again, this is the Bible from 30,000 feet, so I'm going over his life before I go a couple of verses in his book. John, his dad was named Zebedee. His brother was named James. So James and John were sons of Zebedee. They had a fishing business in the Sea of Galilee. They were also partners with another brother gang, Peter and Andrew.
And so you will see Peter and James and John as part of the inner circle with Jesus, being a part of certain events that the other disciples are not a part of, like the transfiguration of Jesus on the mount, the raising of Jairus' daughter, being asked to come aside privately with him in the garden of Gethsemane. This is part of the inner circle.
OK. His name does not appear in the gospel. We believe John wrote it, even though John didn't say, I'm John. I wrote it. He does in Revelation. He said, I, John, saw this. And I saw that. Here he does not say, I, John. He simply refers to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved.
And so I bring that up because if you're thinking, well, John didn't want to mention his name because he was humble. He's the guy who said, I'm the disciple whom Jesus loved. Enough said. I don't know how humble that is, but it's true. He was the disciple whom Jesus loved. But also was Peter. And so was Andrew. And so was James and Judas Jesus loved them all.
But I like it when somebody personalizes it. I can say, I'm Skip. I'm the guy Jesus loves. And you can say that. You ought to say that. The reason we believe it's John is because internally, there are certain events he records that only require an eyewitness account and the other gospels say it was Peter, James, and John, number one.
Number two, the Greek of John is very simple. When I studied Greek, I studied the book of 1 John, because it's the simplest Greek. 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, the Gospel of John, it's very, very easy Greek. Greek students cut their teeth on the writings of John. And because the wording is related-- Revelation, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Gospel of John-- very similar in writing style. That's another clue.
But there's a third historical clue. There was a guy named Irenaeus. Irenaeus was a disciple of a guy by the name of Polycarp. Polycarp was a guy who was a disciple of the apostle, John. John had told Polycarp that he wrote the fourth gospel. Polycarp told Irenaeus he wrote the fourth gospel. Irenaeus wrote it down. So that's a pretty early, almost eyewitness account that John wrote the gospel.
John is the most theological of all the authors, as seen in his prologue, the beginning parts. So we begin in John chapter 1. We're going to look at verse 1 and a couple of verses. Let me set this up by saying Matthew began with Abraham, right? The genealogy. He started with Abraham. Why Abraham? He's writing to Jews. That's where you start when you write to Jewish people, Abraham. Father Abraham.
Mark includes no genealogy. He's writing about a servant. Servants, who cares about their genealogy? Luke includes a genealogy, goes all the way back to Adam. So he goes all the way back to the beginning. John beats them all. He goes back before Adam. So the book begins with the incarnation of the Son of God. That's chapter 1.
"In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him. And without Him, nothing was made that was made." That sort of sounds like a strange way to introduce a person in such an impersonal way.
"In the beginning was the Word." The word? What that-- was was all-- word? What's that? The ancient Hebrews, in some of their writings, would use the Hebrew word Memra. Memra means word. And they would use that in place of the name of God, in place of the name of the Lord.
You'll see it in the Targums, some of the translations and commentaries. They take the word Lord or God out and they put Memra in. The Word, the Word, the Word. Also, the Greeks used the term word, Logos, a lot. You see, the Greeks studied their world. And they saw that in their world there is a predictability. There are patterns.
There are seasons. There's a predictable sunrise and sunset, as we call it, as we know it. And there are seasons. And there's a predictability about the natural world. And then they asked the question, why is there that pattern predictability in the natural? What is the cause of that kind of organization?
Their answer was, there must be a Logos, an ordering principle, a first cause. And they call that the Logos. So John, perhaps with a Jewish mindset-- but more, perhaps, with a Greek mindset-- says, in the beginning was the Logos, the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Several years ago-- I love telling this story. Several years ago, I got a knock on my door. And I opened the door and there was somebody standing there with a "Watchtower" magazine and a green covered Bible, which I was familiar with as the New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses. And I knew that I was staring at two Jehovah's Witnesses.
So I looked at them. And I took in a breath, because I knew-- I knew the dialogue that was coming. And so we started talking. And I mentioned that I believe in Jesus and stuff, and that I believe that Jesus is God. I just wanted to cut to the chase. And so the Jehovah's Witness at the door quoted John chapter 1, verse 1.
And he said, now, in the original Greek language, it says "in the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the word was a god." I said, are you sure about that? He said, oh, yes. We are-- it's right here. Here's an expandatory on it. And I said, so you know that to be a fact? Yes, I know it to be a fact.
I said, hold on just a minute. I went and grabbed my Greek New Testament, opened it up to John chapter 1, verse 1. And I said, OK, let's read together.
I said, now you noticed, did you not, in verse 1 that there's no definite article before [GREEK] and that the predicate is moved forward. And you probably also know that the Greeks would do that for emphasis, so that literally it reads not "the Word was a god." It literally reads, "God was the Word." God was the Word.
Now, don't think I'm a smart guy or something. It was-- I happened to be taking-- it was, like, my first week in Greek. And we had just studied that. So it was fresh in my mind. So it's not like I can do that with the rest of the New Testament. But I just thought, this is perfect. I'm going to pull this baby out. But that is true.
That's all verse 1. Go down to verse 14. "And the Word--" that Logos-- "became flesh." That's important to John. I'll show you why in a moment. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth."
When John wrote the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John, he was combating an error that had swept through the early church at the time of his writing. It was called gnosticism. Some of you have heard of gnosticism. A Gnostic, it means to know. And they believed they knew better than everybody. They knew more than everyone else.
And their teaching was that Jesus never had a physical body. The first heresy in the early church was not a denial of the deity of Christ, but a denial of the humanity of Christ. They taught Jesus seemed to have a human body, but he didn't. God would not dwell in a human body that's sinful and evil and corrupt.
So they had all these weird sayings that when Jesus walked on the sand, he didn't leave footprints. And all sorts of fanciful stories that he didn't have a body. So John is writing to fight against that error and will say in 1 John, "Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an error."
He fights against gnosticism. Jesus truly was human. He got tired. He slept. He ate. He wept. The Bible says his spirit was troubled. All of that human emotion and experience, at the same time, no less God. Again, undiminished deity, unprotected humanity. So he begins setting that up, fully God, fully man.
By the way, 1 John, chapter 1 is very similar. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled concerning the Word of life." He's making sure you know Jesus was both deity as well as humanity. So that's the incarnation.
The second part, toward the end of chapter one. Take you down to verse 29. After the incarnation of the Son of God is the presentation of the Son of God. He is presented to John the Baptist, to the disciples who believe in Him, to the group in his neighboring town of Cana of Galilee, to Nicodemus and to the Samaritan woman.
But look at verse 29 of chapter 1. The next day, John-- this is J the B now, John the Baptist. This is Juan number two. "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, behold--" or look, or check it out-- "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." You need to know why John said that.
John was from a priestly family. His father was in the priesthood. His father offered up lambs for the morning and evening sacrifice. He was familiar with the shedding of blood for covering sin in a temple setting. And here is that son of the priest seeing Jesus, saying, look, behold, check it out. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
"This is He"-- verse 30-- "of whom I said, after me comes a man who is preferred before me for he was before me. I did not know Him, but that he should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water." Now, I mentioned that 90% of John does not show up in the other three gospels. So John will record or reveal events that aren't in the other three.
Certain festivals that Jesus attended and cleansing the temple. The other three gospels show that Jesus cleansed the temple, remember? With the whip, whipping the people out who were buying and selling? At the end of his ministry, John shows that Jesus did it also in the beginning of His ministry. So He did it twice.
In chapter 2, verse 23, "Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which he did." Now, we read that and we go, oh, that's awesome. That's great. The disciples are going to be stoked. They believed in Jesus. Lord, sign them up. Take them to the prayer room. Get them involved.
No. Not so fast, buckaroo. It says they believe, but Warren Wiersbe calls these unsaved believers. It's an interesting term. They believed when they saw the healings. They believed when they saw the miracles. They didn't believe in Him as a savior. They believed in Him as a healer. That's all they wanted.
So notice verse 24, "but Jesus did not commit Himself to them." Oh, it seemed like they were ready to commit themselves to him, but Jesus was not ready to commit himself to them. Why? Because he knew all men. Insight into his character. "And had no need that any one should testify of man, for he knew what was in man."
But now, immediately, chapter 3, verse 1, there's a contrast. "There was a man." So Jesus knew men. He knew what was in man. There's some men and some women who believe in Him. Jesus won't believe in them. But there is a man different from the other men. There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." He is interested in Jesus, but for a very different reason. They are following the miracle worker. He wants to explore more who this Jesus really was.
He's not wowed by the miracles as much as they are. So he comes to Jesus. And he says, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God." Stop right there. Was that accurate? Well, it's a trick question. Yeah, it was accurate. He was a teacher. He was human, though he was God. But he was teaching them. He was instructing people.
"We know that you are a teacher come from God." But here's the misunderstanding of Nicodemus-- that's all he thought he was. It's the same misunderstanding people have that, I'm willing to recognize Jesus as a good teacher, a good person, a great leader, but nothing more. Certainly not the Son of God, certainly not God in human flesh. So Nicodemus was partly right, but not fully right.
Jesus was a teacher come from God. But more than that, He was God who had come to teach. Now, you notice he came at night. And I read commentaries and people make a big deal out of this. He was a coward. He didn't want to be seen by his friends, the leadership who knew who he was and knew Jesus. Jesus was controversial, so he was a coward. He wouldn't come to him in the day, came at night.
I don't look at it quite as conspiratorially as some people. Nicodemus had a real job. He worked during the day. Jesus was surrounded with crowds during the day, thousands of people. Probably, he's a pragmatist and he thinks, you know, the best time to get some one on one with him is at night, after the day is over. When he's hanging out with his disciples, I'll find out where they're staying. I'll have a private interview with him. Smart.
Chapter 2, verse-- or chapter 3, verse 3. "Jesus answered and said to him, most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God." This is unique to the Gospel of John, this interview. Here's what I love about Jesus. Jesus doesn't care about the flattery.
We know that you're a teacher come from God. Nobody can say these things or do these unless God is with him. Jesus didn't go, oh, well, thank you. I'm glad you noticed. I really thought that water-to-wine thing was pretty cool anyway. I'm glad you dug it as well. He bypasses all of the opening statements and just cuts right to the heart. Unless you're born again, you won't even see the kingdom of heaven.
I feel sorry for that term, born again. Ever since President Jimmy Carter, it's been ruined. There was a time in our country when born again meant what we know, as biblical Christians, it means. President Carter said he was a born again Christian. Nothing wrong with that. But it became part of our pop culture.
People now talk about reincarnation as being born again, all sorts of weird experiences. I've been born again. Songs about being born again. They've cheapened the term. Born again is literally translated born from the top, or born from above. You want to get to heaven, you've got to be born from the top. You've got to be born from above. There needs to be not just a physical birth, but a spiritual birth.
And then he fully explains it in Chapter 3, verse 16, that most famous verse in all of scripture, what Martin Luther called "the Bible in miniature." It covers the entire scope of salvation. Let's go through it quickly, but let's go through. John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
But look at it more carefully. It tells us the origin of salvation. For God so loved the world. You know, sometimes people say, man, I'm searching for God. Oh, really? Like, where you looking? Like, behind the barrel over there? This mosque or that church or this group or that belief?
I mean, first of all, God isn't lost, dude. You're lost. God has been searching for you for a long time. The origin is not you. The origin is God. For God so loved the world. The Bible says, in Ephesians 2, "we were dead in tresspasses." Dead people don't search for anything.
So the origin of salvation, for God. Second, the motivation of salvation. For God so loved. I hope you are still gobsmacked, awed by the fact that God in heaven loves you, let alone-- I mean, He knows you. He cares that you exist. And that he loves you madly.
For God so loved. That's the greatest miracle. You know, John who wrote this-- wrote 1 John goes, "herein is love." Not that we love God, but that He loved us. That's real love. So you have the origin and the motivation of salvation. Third, the destination of salvation. For God so loved the world.
Now, to a Jew, a Jewish leader like Nicodemus-- a Pharisee, who believed that God loved special people, chosen people, the elect people, the Jews-- to be told God so loved everybody, that was a wake up call. That was new information. Then we have the demonstration of salvation in verse 16. "For God so loved the world that he gave"-- there's the demonstration-- "that he gave his only begotten son."
Love can never be silent, can never be passive, must always be active, must always be giving. So God demonstrated it. Next we have the condition of salvation. Whoever believes in him. Whoever-- you have to believe in Him. You have to believe the gospel.
If you believe truly, you have faith that God sent His son into this world to die on a cross to pay for your sins, that he rose again from the dead, that he is alive today. If you actually believe that-- and by believe, I mean you receive it as your own, you surrender to that knowledge, that fact, that truth-- and it changes, you are saved. That's the gospel. Whoever believes in him.
You don't have to work for it. You believe. And if you believed, you'll see the evidence. You'll see the works that follow. And then, finally, we have we have the conclusion of salvation. "That whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." See, that's the conclusion. That's the end.
The end of your belief system, whatever it is, is going to lead you to one of two places as seen in this verse, condemnation or salvation. If you believe in Jesus, you won't perish, condemnation. You'll have everlasting life, salvation. If you don't believe in Jesus, you will not have salvation. You will have condemnation.
OK, enough said on that. We've got to get going. John is also the only one to record that beautiful incident in chapter 4 of the woman at the well of Samaria. And I just want you to notice one particular verse, since you know it so well. Verse 4. It said, "But he needed to go through Samaria." I like that little part. "But he needed to go through Samaria."
If you and I were Jewish and living 2,000 years ago and heard somebody say, hey, Jesus needs to go through Samaria, you would go, no, he doesn't. He does not. There are two other routes to get to Samaria or to get from Galilee to Jerusalem, Jerusalem to Galilee. They're well traveled. You don't have to go through Samaria. In fact, none of us ever do!
The other routes were longer, but preferred by Jews because the woman of the well will say-- we won't read it, but you heard it in the little skit-- the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Back in history, when the Assyrians in 722 BC-- you know that date now, don't you? The Assyrians took the northern kingdom captive and repopulated people from other conquered kingdoms into that area of Samaria.
The Jewish people intermarried with all these different groups so that the bloodline was impure. And eventually they abandoned the temple worship in Jerusalem. They built their own rival temple on Mount Gerizim. And because there were two rival worship systems and two rival temples, the Jews and the Samaritans did not hang out.
But it says Jesus needed to go through Samaria. Why? Because there was a woman there who really needed a life change, who really needed forgiveness. Jesus isn't just about the crowds. He's about the one. He needed to get to her. He got her life squared away, got a hold of her. She went and told the villagers, many of whom believed in Him.
Jesus then spoke to some of the villagers. And there was a sort of pre-revival of messianic Judaism going on in Samaria, even before the book of Acts, when one of the apostles goes to Samaria and preaches there. Philip preaches there. And there is indeed a revival that happens. So he needed to go there.
Chapters 5 through 12 is the next section. So we have the incarnation of the Son of God in chapter 1, the presentation of the Son of God all the way to chapter 4. Now the confrontation of the Son of God, chapters 5 to 12, which include the a 7 "I am" statements of Jesus. This section include the seven "I am," where Jesus claims to be certain things.
Here's an FYI that I hope you'll appreciate. The chronology of Jesus' ministry is largely ascertained, understood, constructed from the Gospel of John. If we just had Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it would seem like the whole ministry of Jesus took place in about a year.
John helps by mentioning certain festivals, certain events, certain gathering chronologies that help us understand that indeed the ministry of Jesus on Earth lasted 3 and 1/2 years. So when you add John to the other gospel accounts, it rounds out the information. So that we know Jesus lived and began his ministry at age 30. And that ministry lasted 3 and 1/2 years.
In chapter 5, now, he's the only writer to bring this story out. Verse 1, "After this, there was a feast of the Jews. Jesus went up to Jerusalem. There was in Jerusalem by the sheep gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew Bethesda, having five porches." Bethesda is a word that means the house of mercy. It's a great name.
If you went there and looked at those people in that pool, and smelled that horrible, third world rancorous smell, you would say, this-- this place isn't named right. This isn't the house of mercy. This is the house of misery. This is a miserable spot.
"In these--" Verse 3 is the explanation. "In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water." The pool of Bethesda was a pool that was about two to three feet deep, large and rectangular. It had a colonnaded porch around the whole perimeter of this rectangle.
It was bisected in the middle with another covered, colonnaded porch. So you have one, two, three, four porches. And one cutting across the middle, that's the fifth porch. You follow? Come with us to Israel and we'll show you the remains of the Pool of Bethesda. It's not far from the Temple Mount. It's where they used to wash animals. Lambs, before they would take them up to the temple for sacrifice.
But scholars say that, on a normal day, there were probably 300 sick people there. On a festival day, there were 3,000 or so. So again, you have to just imagine the sight and the smell. And why were they there? There was a legend that because it was fed by a spring of water, sometimes the spring would bubble up. And when it would bubble up, they would say, oh, an angel is moving that.
So the legend was when it starts bubbling up, and the angel starts, I don't know, kicking it with a little angel foot , whatever, a wing to get it stirred up, that the first one down in that water would be healed. Go to chapter 7, if you don't mind. After Jesus heals him, after the confrontation takes place in the temple with the leaders, chapter 7, verse 1.
"After these things, Jesus walked in Galilee, for He did not want to walk in Judea." So he's back up north. He's done with down south. "Because the Jews sought to kill him." Now, on the Jews' feast-- now, verse 2. "The Jews Feast of Tabernacles was at hand." That's the Feast of Booths. I'm going to take you all the way back down to verse 37.
It says, "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." The Feast of Tabernacles was a special feast.
There were three feasts that you know of, that if you lived anywhere close enough to get to the temple, you would make your way to Jerusalem on a pilgrim festival. The Feast of Tabernacles was one of those feasts, one of the three pilgrim feasts. It lasted for-- it lasted a total of eight days. Really seven days, but there's sort of a beginning and an end day.
So on every day, there was a ritual. The priest would leave the Temple Mount, go down the hill to the Pool of Siloam, which is where the water source fed the city of Jerusalem. Where you would go down and get your water, take it home. And so you would go down to the Pool of Siloam, bring a pitcher, a silver pitcher. Walk back up to the temple. And I'll pour it along the base of the altar.
And then, the priest would yell out a quote from Isaiah chapter 12 that says, "With joy you will draw water from the well of salvation." They did that every day, every morning. Every day, every morning. On the last day of the feast, the priest went down twice and did it. And it was a bigger crowd.
And so the water would be poured out. Everybody would shout, "With joy, you will bring water from the well of salvation!" Then it said-- and probably right after that event-- "Jesus cried out in the temple." He didn't just [SOFTLY] talk like this. OK? So there's thousands of people. He has to get their attention. It's like, [YELLING] "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink!"
All the heads went [WHOOSH] as He was talking. "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink." If you're thirsty, you're quoting Isaiah. You're remembering that our forefathers were given water out of the rock from the Old Testament, and that we dwelt in booths. And God brought water for the people of Israel in their wilderness wanderings to quench their thirst. Let me just tell you, if you're thirsty, you come to me and drink.
What a statement. What a day that would have been. Whoever believes in me out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water. Did you hear that promise? Jesus didn't say, if you come to me and drink, your thirst will be quenched. That is true. He did say that on another occasion, but not here. He said, "out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water."
Here's how it works. You come to Jesus. You drink of the living water. Your thirst gets quenched. Christian, if that's where you stop, you've stopped too soon. If you're making it all about me-- bless me, fill me, I want to enjoy, I want more-- you've got it all wrong. He satiated you that he might flow out of you.
Out of your innermost beings will flow rivers of living water. You have a message to get out. You have others who are lost, who are thirsty. They need to hear it, too. Don't just let the-- let the-- don't be a well. Be a hose. Be a geyser. That's the thought of this. "Out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water."
In chapter 12, I'm taking you to sort of the end of a section. Take you to verse 37. He concludes this section giving a statement of national unbelief. This really closes Jesus' public ministry in John chapter 12, verse 37. "Although he had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in him." This is the confrontation.
"That the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, Lord who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed." That's Isaiah 53. "Therefore, they could not believe, because Isaiah said again, he has blinded their eyes"-- quoting Isaiah 6-- "and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn so that I should heal them."
So John is making a summary statement of saying nationally, the Jewish people rejected him. Did not believe in him, just like Isaiah predicted. Their hearts became hardened. Now, in chapter 13, 14, 15, and 16, we have what I call the instruction of the Son of God. Jesus now devotes these weeks, months to His 12 disciples, His staff, His closest friends. Instructing them. He is alone with them. He disciples them.
The setting here is in chapter 13, verse 1, is the Passover meal. There are no crowds. "Now, before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come, that He should depart from this world to the Father having loved his own who were in the world. He loved them to the end. Supper being ended, the devil already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him.
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, that He had come from God, was going to God, rose from the supper, laid aside his garments. Took a towel and girded himself. After that, poured water into a basin, began to wash the disciples' feet, to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded."
This act was sort of a parable form of his life. He rose up from the supper like He had done in a greater way, rising up from the throne of glory in heaven. It says that He laid aside His garments. Philippians chapter 2 tells us He emptied Himself of the prerogative of deity.
Then third, He took a towel and girded Himself. Jesus wrapped Himself in a skin of humanity, a cloak of humanity, while on the Earth. Then He poured water into a basin to wash His disciples' feet. In a few hours, He would pour out His blood upon a cross to wash people from their sin.
And now, in chapter 17, we get to that longest prayer that I mentioned. Jesus spoke-- at least recorded here-- 632 words, the longest prayer recorded. Doesn't mean this is the longest prayer Jesus ever prayed. Far from it. On 19 different times, if you add up all the gospel accounts, we find Jesus praying. And sometimes he'd spend all night in prayer to God, so this is by far not the longest.
But it says, "Jesus spoke these words, lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, Father, the hour has come. Glorify your son, that your son may glorify you." Now, there's an obvious point to be made. If Jesus, the Son of God, needed to pray-- or at least felt the need to pray-- that's Him. You and I, not Him, do we feel at least or more a need to be connected in prayer to God?
See, Jesus was unique. He was theanthropic. He was Theos, God, and anthropos, man. He's the theanthropic son of God. You and I are just anthropos. We're just people. If Jesus, as the theanthropic son of God felt the need to pray, how much more should we?
By the way, tidbit of information-- John Knox, the great Scottish reformer, when he was on his deathbed asked his wife to bring a Bible and open it to John 17 and read it. And he listened to this prayer being read by his wife as he fell asleep from this world and awoken in heaven. He wanted to make sure this is the last thing he heard.
Now, we get in chapter 18 to the execution of the Son of God. That's chapter 18 and 19. He goes to Gethsemane. He's arrested. He goes through trials before high priest Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, et cetera. In verse 1 of chapter 18, when Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron where there was a garden in which He and His disciples entered.
John is the only gospel writer to mention that he crossed over the Brook Kidron to get to the garden of Gethsemane. Just said he went to the garden of Gethsemane. Why was that important? The Brook Kidron had a channel where blood and water from the sacrifices in the temple flowed underneath the Temple Mount into this conduit, was emptied out into the Brook Kidron.
So when Jesus was walking over the Brook Kidron on a little bridge, He crossed over a bloody river filled with the blood of lambs. He is crossing over something that was emblematic of sacrifice. He the Lamb of God was going to be taken back over that same brook up to be tried and executed as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
I'll take you now to verse-- chapter 19, verse 1. We'll fast forward His arrest. Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. That is using the Roman flagellum, the whip. The soldiers twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, put Him in a purple robe. And they said, hail, King of the Jews. And they struck Him with their hands.
Verse 25, there stood by the cross Jesus, across of Jesus, his mother, his mother's sister Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved-- that is John-- standing by, He said to his mother, woman, behold your Son. He said to His disciple, behold your mother. From that hour, the disciple took her to his home.
John it seems the only disciple at the cross. Joseph, the husband of Mary, no doubt dead by this time. Died an early death. Tradition said he's gone. Jesus gives Mary to the charge of John. According to tradition, John takes care of Mary. And she dies 11 years later in the city of Jerusalem.
Some think she went to Ephesus, and there's churches in different parts of the world where legend says she went. Probably not. She died in the city of Jerusalem and was taken care of to the time of her death by John. She's not mentioned after this. Nothing is known, at least, of Mary after this. We don't know exactly where she went. She shows up in Jerusalem in the book of Acts probably, but that's it.
Now, we come to the last section. We're going to go very quickly. I'm going to take you to the very end. This is the Resurrection of the Son of God I'm over time, so I'm only going to say that Peter and John both go to the tomb. John records that they both went to the tomb. John records that John beat Peter to the tomb.
Want you to know that on Resurrection day, for the Resurrection marathon, John won. Peter came in second. Peter may have been the guy who said, I know who you are. You're Christ, the Son of God. Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. Not to be outdone, John wants you to know he beat Peter, number one.
Number two, he wants you to know that when he looked in the tomb, Peter just sort of looked mystified. John looked and believed that He had risen from the dead. John brings that out as well. Book closes in chapter 32 with Jesus in Galilee with His disciples. Peter goes back to fishing. It's what he knew best. The others join him.
Chapter 21, verse 4, when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore. Yet, the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, children, have you any food? They said no. He said to them, cast your net on the right side of the boat. And you will find some Hmm, that sounds familiar. So they cast, and now, they were not able to draw it in because the multitude of the fish. Therefore, that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, it's the Lord. He wants you to know that he spotted Jesus first.
Now, when Peter-- Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord from John, he put on his outer garment for he had removed it and plunged into the sea. He wants to be close to Jesus. Jesus restores him in that beautiful picture, the reinstatement of Peter, three times, you love me, feed my lambs. Feed my sheep.
Verse 20, then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following who also had leaned on his breast at the supper and said, Lord, who is the one who betrays you? Peter seeing him said to Jesus, but Lord, what about this man? This is human nature. Jesus said, if I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? Follow me. I have things to say about it. You've heard it before. Let's go on to the very last verse.
And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. Now, that last verse could be a figure of speech, could be a literary device, right? It's there, an exaggeration to make a point, or it's a statement of fact.
If you actually think of the millions of people throughout history whose lives have been changed by Jesus, if they were to write about those changes, you would have massive libraries. Probably, the libraries could not contain them. You have a story. There are millions of names written in the Lamb's book of life. I hope yours is.
After 2,000 years, we're still talking about this greatest story ever told because Jesus is still working, still changing lives, still forgiving people, still reinstating people back into ministry, still doing work on earth through the Holy Spirit.
Father, as we close tonight, we close in prayer. You have changed so many lives. You changed John's. His writings committed to this fourth gospel has changed my life, our lives. Thank you, Lord, that you are still in that business of transformation.
And we could write our own story of life change. We could write our own testimonial of how you have worked, are working, and are using us. Lord, we who are born again surrender ourselves to your plan. Just like you reinstated Peter and sent him out, use us. Send us wherever you want to send us for your purpose, for your glory. In Jesus' name, Amen. Let's all stand.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from The Bible From 30,000 Feet.