Handbook of John
Jesus the Son of God
The special emphasis of John is the Deity of Jesus. Consists chiefly of Jesus' Discourses and Conversations. Gives things Jesus Said rather than things He Did. Schaff calls this Gospel the "Most Important literary production ever composed."
The Author does not identify himself till he comes to the end of the book (21:20, 24), where he states that he is the "disciple whom Jesus loved" ( 13:23 ; 20:2) , that is, John the Apostle, most intimate earthly friend of Jesus.
Ancient tradition and unbroken subsequent opinion have recognized his authorship, till the rise of modern criticism. The same class of critics who deny the Virgin Birth of Jesus. His Deity, and His Bodily Resurrection, basing their hypothesis on an ancient vague mention of a certain John the Presbyter of Ephesus, have inferred that the author was not John the Apostle, but another John of Ephesus. This would undermine the value of the book as a testimony to the Deity of Jesus. The theory is based on such flimsy evidence and such obvious desire to discredit the book that it is not even entitled to serious consideration by Christian believers, and is mentioned here only because it is one of the pet propaganda of a certain school of present-day "scholarship."
His father's name was Zebedee (Matthew 4:21). His mother seems to have been Salome (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40), who, by comparing John 19:25, seems to have been a sister of Mary the mother of Jesus. If so, John was a cousin of Jesus, and, being about the same age, must have known Him from childhood.
John was a business man of some means. He was one of five partners in a fishing business that employed "hired servants" (Mark 1:16-20). Besides his fishing business in Capernaum, he had a house in Jerusalem (John 19:27), and was a personal acquaintance of the high'priest (John 18: 15, 16).
He was a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:35, 40). If he was a cousin of Jesus, as seems implied in passages above cited, then he was kin to John the Baptist (Luke 1:36), and must have known of the Angelic announcements about John and Jesus (Luke 1:17, 32). So when John the Baptist appeared, crying that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. John the son of Zebedee was ready to take his stand with him.
On the Baptist's testimony he became an immediate disciple of Jesus (John 1:35-51), one of the first five disciples, and returned with Jesus to Galilee (John 2:2, 11). Then, it seems, he went back to his fishing business. Later, probably about a year, Jesus called him to leave his business, and go about with Him. He was thenceforth with Jesus continually, and thus was an eyewitness of what is written in his Gospel.
Jesus nicknamed him "Son of Thunder" (Mark 3:17), which seems to imply that he had a vehement, violent temper. But this he brought under control. The incident of forbidding the strange to use the name of Christ in casting our demons (Mark 9:38), and the desire to call down fire on the Samaritans (Luke 9:54), are interesting sidelights on his nature.
He was one of the three inner circle disciples. And was recognized as the one closest to Jesus. Five times he is spoken of as the disciple "Whom Jesus Loved" (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). He must have been a man of rare qualities of character to thus attract the Companionship of Jesus.
He and Peter became the recognized leaders of the Twelve, and, though utterly different in disposition, were generally together (John 20:2; Acts 3:1, 11;4:13; 8:14).
For a number of years Jerusalem seems to have been his chief residence. According to well-established tradition, his later years were spent at Ephesus. Nothing is known of his activities or whereabouts in the interim. At Ephesus he lived to great age, and wrote his Gospel, three Epistles and Revelation.
The Date of his Gospel is usually assigned to about A.D. 90. Some think that John originally wrote this Gospel much earlier, while he was still in Jerusalem, soon after the Resurrection, in Hebrew, and in later years, issued, in Greek, the Ephesian edition, which was the parent of all extant manuscripts.
Reminds us the opening words of Genesis. Jesus is called GOD and CREATOR. John is very positive that Jesus was a Personality existing from Eternity, and that He had a hand in the Creation of the Universe. In John 17:5 Jesus is quoted as referring to the "Glory He had with the Father before the World Was." Jesus is here called THE WORD. That is, Jesus was God's Expression of Himself to Mankind. Jesus was God. Jesus was Like God. Jesus is God's Message to Mankind.
Jesus said this again and again (8:12; 9:5; 12:46). It is one of the keynotes in John's Thought about Jesus (1 John 1:5-7). It means that Jesus, as Light of the World, is the One who makes clear the Meaning and Destiny of Human Existence.
God became a Man in order to win man to himself. God could have made man with an instinct to do His will; but he chose rather to give man the power to decide for himself his attitude toward his Creator. But God is a spirit; and man is hedged in by the limitations of a material body, and has scant conception of what a Spirit is. So, the Creator came to his creatures in the form of one of them to give them an idea of the kind of being He is. God is like Jesus. Jesus is like God.
"Son of Mon"
This was Jesus' favorite name for himself. It occurs about 70 times in the Gospels: Matthew, 30 times, Mark, 5, Luke, 25, John, 10.
It was used in Daniel 7:13, 14, 27 as a name of the Coming Messiah. Jesus' adoption of it is thought to have been equivalent to a claim of Messiahship.
Also, it suggests that Jesus rejoiced in his experience as God in human form, sharing the life of mankind. He carried the title with him to heaven (Acts 7:56; Revelation 1:13; 14: 14).
Ezekiel was thus addressed about 90 times (Ezekiel 2:1, 3, 6, 8 etc), implying the lowliness of man compared to God.
Although a citizen of the universe, familiar with the infinite depths of stellar space, yet his earthly life was spent in a very limited circle, howbeit a strategically important circle. Palestine was the junction of three continents, lying between the Mediterranean Sea and the Great Arabian Desert, meeting place of the world's highways. In Jesus' day, it consisted of four divisions, all under the control of Rome:
Judea, the south part, stronghold of Jewish conservatism.
Galilee, the north part, with large admixture of Greek population.
Samaria, in between, a hybrid race, partly of Jewish blood.
Perea, east of lower Jordan, with many prosperous Roman cities.
Herod ruled Galilee and Perea. Pilate ruled Judea and Samaria.
Alexandria, second city of the Roman Empire, was 300 miles to the southwest. Antioch, third city of the Roman Empire, was 300 miles to the north. Along the Palestinian coast, and through Galilee, passed the commerce and armies of the world. Aside from his childhood flight to Egypt, there is no record of his going more than 70 miles away from Nazareth. Jerusalem on the south, Sidon on the north, Decapolis and Perea on the east, were the limits of his known travels.
Galilee. Its population was estimated by Josephus at 1,000,000. It was covered with rich Greek cities. It was a center of world culture. Its Roman capital, and royal residence of Herod, was Sepphoris, only 4 miles from Nazareth.
After brief statements about the Deity of Jesus, his Pre-Existence and Incarnation, John's Gospel, passing over Jesus' Birth, Childhood, Baptism and Temptation, starts with this testimony of John the Baptist before the Committee from the Sanhedrin as to the Deity of Jesus.
This was at the close of the Forty Days' Temptation. It is nowhere stated that Jesus returned from the Wilderness Temptation to the Jordan where John was baptizing. The three Synoptics pass directly from the Temptation to the Galilean Ministry (Matthew 4:11-12; Mark 1:13-14; Luke 4:13-14). But the three successive "morrow's"
(29, 35, 43), followed by the "third day" (2:1), for his arrival in Galilee, make it evident that Jesus went back from the wilderness to the place where John was preaching before departing for Galilee.
"The Prophet" (21), a prophetic name of the Messiah, and so generally understood by the people in Jesus'day (John 6:14).
Note John's profound humility in his devotion to Christ (27)- not worthy even to untie his shoe latch. This is so noteworthy that it is recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7; Luke 3:16). What a boon to the world if all preachers could exhibit the same humble adoration of the Lord whom they preach!
There were five of them: John, Andrew, Simon, Philip and Nathanael. They had been prepared by the preaching of John the Baptist, and all five later became Apostles. This was one of the contributions of the Baptist's ministry to the work of Christ. Temporarily, however, they went back to their regular occupations. About a year later they were called to follow Christ continuously. (See note under Matthew 10.)
John the Apostle is assumed to be the unnamed disciple (40). If he was a cousin of Jesus (see introductory note to this Gospel), then he must already have known Jesus before this.
The "tenth hour" (39), was 10 A.M. John uses Roman time, like ours, counted from midnight or noon (4:6; 19:14).
Simon, being a business partner of John, may already have known Jesus personally, but nor that he was the Messiah till now at the Baptist's John public proclamation. The fact that Jesus gave Simon a new name at this, their first recorded meeting, seems to indicate that Jesus already had him in mind for the Apostleship.
Nathanael was converted by the majesty of Jesus' person (46-49). Jesus' statement about angels (51), marks HIM as the connecting highway between earth and heaven (Genesis 28:12).
Personal Appearance of Jesus
There was something in Jesus' bearing that had an instant effect on Nathanael (1:49). No hint of Jesus' personal appearance is given in the New Testament. The earliest legendary description dates from the 4th century. It his an apocryphal letter ascribed to Publius Lentulus, a friend of Pilate, written to the Roman Senate. It is not authentic. In part it is as follows:
"In this time appeared a man endowed with great powers. His name is Jesus. His disciples call him the Son of God. He is of noble and well-proportioned stature, with a face full of kindness, and yet firmness, so that beholders both love him and fear him. His hair is the color of wine, straight and without lustre, but from the level of the ears curling and glossy. His forehead is even and smooth, his face without blemish, and enhanced by a tempered bloom, his countenance ingenuous and kind. Nose and mouth are in no way faulty. His beard is full, of the same color as his hair; his eyes blue aid extremely brilliant. In reproof and rebuke he is formidable in exhortation and teaching, gentle and amiable of tongue. None have seen him to laugh, but many, on the contrary, to weep. His person is tall, his hands beautiful and straight. In speaking, deliberate, grave, little given to loquacity; in beauty surpassing most men,"
There are other traditions. One, that he was erect and handsome. Another, that he was stoop-shouldered and ugly. Whatever his personal appearance, there must have been something about his countenance and bearing that was Majestic, Commanding, Divine. The fore-gleam in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah hints an unattractive appearance,
but it probably refers to his lowly manner of life for one who was to be a King, rather than his personal appearance.
Being a carpenter, he must have had considerable physical strength. Speaking so effectively to vast multitudes in the open air, we imagine he must have had a powerful voice. From his discourses, conversations end teachings, we think of him as being always under control, never in a hurry, in perfect poise, slow and majestic in all his movements. There are hints that he had a sense of humor.
Periods in Jesus' Life
There are certain periods in Jesus' life into which may be grouped all that is told of him:
Cana was about 4 miles northeast of Nazareth. Nathanael was of Cana (21:2). He did not have a very high opinion of his neighbor town Nazareth (1:46). The marriage, evidently, was in the home of some friend or relative of either Jesus or Nathanael.
"Woman" (4), was a title of respect in the usage of that day. Jesus used it again, on the cross, at a time when there could have been no possible savor of disrespect (19:26). The point of his remark seems to be: "Suppose the wine is gone, what have I to do with it? It is not my affair. My time to work miracles has not yet come." Probably he had just told her of the new miraculous powers bestowed upon him by the descent of the Holy Spirit at baptism. See note on his Temptation, Matthew 4: 1-10. She saw in the situation an opportunity for him. While he did this miracle at her suggestion, his "hour" (4), for the general use of his miraculous powers came about four months later, at the official beginning of his public ministry in Jerusalem at Passover time (13).
"Two or three firkins" (6). A firkin was about 8 gallons. The stone jars were about the size of half a barrel.
Significance of this miracle: Jesus had just submitted himself, for forty days, to every suggestion Satan was capable of offering, as to how he should use his miraculous powers, and had steadfastly refused to use them for his own personal need. Then from the wilderness directly to the wedding. And though his subsequent miracles were wrought largely to relieve suffering, this first miracle was done at a wedding feast, on a festive occasion, ministering to human joy, making people happy, as if Jesus wanted to announce, right at the start, that the religion which he was now introducing into the world was no religion of asceticism, but a religion of natural joy. It was Jesus' blessing on marriage.
"Beginning of miracles" (11). This was Jesus' first miracle. The fabulous and silly tales, in the Apocryphal writings, about his childhood miracles are sheer fabrications.
"Manifested his glory" (11), as Creator (1:3, 14). The miracle involved a speeding up process which required actual creative power. (See note on Jesus' Miracles, Mark 5:21-43.)
This was a sort of family visit, including his mother and brothers, probably to the home of John or Peter to lay plans for his future work. About a year later Capernaum became his main residence. He did no more miracles in Galilee till after his return from the Judean Ministry (4:54).
The Early Judean Ministry, 2:13 to 4:3
This is told only in John's Gospel. It lasted 8 months, beginning at Passover time (2:13), April, and ending "four months" before harvest (4:3, 35), December. It includes Cleansing of Temple, Visit of Nicodemus, and Ministry by the Jordan.
Evidently there were two Cleansings, three years apart: this, at the beginning of his public ministry (note the word "after," 3:22); the other, at the close, during his Last Week (Matthew 21:12-16; Mark 11:15-18; Luke 19:45-46). In this, he drove out the cattle; in the other, he drove our the traders. In this, he called the Temple "a house
of merchandise"; in the other, "a den of robbers."
From his previous visits to Jerusalem, like Luther in Rome, he had, no doubt. already become appalled at the unspeakable godlessness of the hierarchy that ruled in the name of God. The formal opening act of his public work, which he intended as a sign to the nation that he was the Messiah, (for so it was expected, Malachi 3:1-3), was
in open and utter defiance of the ruling clique, whose antagonism was immediately aroused, and which Jesus seemed never to care to pacify. Thus he began his ministry, and thus he closed it.
There must have been something very majestic in Jesus' personal appearance, or, more likely, it may have been through his miraculous power, that a lone stranger, with only a scourge in his hand, could have cleared and held control of the Temple area, so that (the second time) not even a vessel could be carried through (Mark 11:16). Even the police were cowed into silence.
What was it that was so displeasing to Jesus in the Temple? They were profiteering to such en extent that the whole service of God had been Commercialized and Scandalized, inside the sacred area which had been dedicated to other purposes. (See further under Matthew 21:12-17.)
The Temple, built by the Herods, of marble and gold, was magnificent beyond imagination. Surrounded by four courts, on lower successive levels: for priests, Israel, women, Gentiles. Bordered by covered colonnades, with pillars of whitest marble, each 40 feet high and made of a single stone. That on the east was called Solomon's Porch, where the traders were. The whole area surrounded by a massive wall, 1000 feet on each side, about the size of four average city blocks.
Miracles (23). Jesus had done only one miracle in Galilee, up to this time (2:11; 4:54). But now, along with the opening of his campaign by the spectacular demonstration in the Temple, he wrought such an abundance of miracles, that many were ready to accept him as Messiah, But he knew too well what they expected of the Messiah.
The Cleansing of the Temple, and accompanying miracles, had made a deep impression on the city. Nicodemus, a Pharisee and one of the Sanhedrin, influential, cautiously seeks a private interview with Jesus. He is interested, but desires to satisfy himself as to Jesus' claims. To what extent he believed we do not know. Two years later he took Jesus' part in the council (7:50-52). Later, he and Joseph, another member of the Council, buried Jesus (19:39). He was a secret disciple in the formative days of his faith, but later he was willing openly to share with Jesus the shame of his cross. His coming out of the shadows in the hour of Jesus' humiliation, when even the
Twelve had fled to cover, risking his own life in that tender final ministry, is one of the noblest incidents of Scripture. He surely atoned for his original inclination to secrecy, especially considering he was a member of the Sanhedrin, right in the very heart of the
The "New Birth" that Jesus was talking about is not merely a metaphor, but an actual reality, resulting from the impregnation of the human heart by the Spirit of God (see Romans on 8:1-11). Nicodemus, no doubt, shared the common notion that the Messiah's kingdom was to be a political kingdom in which his nation would be feed from Roman domination. Jesus tries to tell him of its personal spiritual nature, so different from what was in Nicodemus' mind, that Nicodemus did not know what Jesus was talking about. He just could not see how he, a good man, a genuine Pharisee, one of the
rulers of the Messianic nation, would not be welcomed into the Messianic Kingdom with open arms, just as he was. He just could not take it in that, instead, he would have to entirely re-construct his ideas and himself.
"Be lifted up" (14). This is an announcement, at the opening of Jesus' ministry, that the Cross would be his Messianic throne. It is a reference to the brazen serpent to which those who had been bitten looked and lived (Number 21:9), meaning that the "new birth," of which he had just been speaking, into eternal life, would come by
virtue of his death. It suggested the beloved John 3:16.
This was in the same region where he had been baptized. Meantime, John had moved further up the Jordan, about 40 miles, to a place called Aenon. Both men were preaching the same thing: The long-foretold kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Soon Jesus had a wider following than John, because of His Miracles, and because He was the Messiah whom John proclaimed, and had a more Commanding Personality.
After 8 months John was imprisoned (Matthew 4:11); the rulers at Jerusalem were taking notice (John 4:1); it began to look as if it might be dangerous for Jesus to continue in that region; and, lest he be cut off prematurely, before his work was completed, he withdrew to Galilee.
That this period was 8 months is indicated thus: it began about Passover time (April, John 2:13; 3:22); it closed "four months to harvest" (December, John 4:35).
Jesus returned to Galilee through Samaria, instead of the more common route up the Jordan valley, possibly for prudential reasons. Samaria was outside Herod's jurisdiction, ll'ho had just imprisoned John. Jesus was only passing through. His conversation with the Samaritan woman was only incidental. It is one of the most beautiful, delightful and helpful things in the story of Jesus' life.
Samaritans of an alien race, had been planted there by the Assyrians, 700 years before (II Kings 17:6, 24, 26, 29; Ezra 5:1, 9, 10), and had accepted the Pentateuch. They were expecting the Messiah to make Samaria, not Jerusalem, his seat of government.
Jesus was being eyed with suspicion by the rulers of his own nation. But here the despised Samaritans received him gladly. One of the ever-recurring contrasts of the Gospels is the repudiation of Jesus by the religious custodians of his nation, and his acceptance by the outcast. sinners and common people.
Jacob's Well is still there, 100 feet deep, 9 feet in diameter. Ir is one of the few places where an exact spot connected with the story of Jesus can be identified.
"Sixth hour," Roman time, like ours, 6 P.M.
This visit of Jesus laid the groundwork for the hearty reception of the Gospel by Samaritans a few years later (Acts 8:4-8).
Cana was 4 miles northeast of Nazareth. It was the home of Nathanael, and the place where, a year earlier' Jesus had wrought his first miracle (John 2:1-11).
The Nobleman was one of Herod's officials, in Capernaum. Capernaum was 15 miles northeast of Cana. This miracle was performed by word of mouth on a person 15 miles distant. "Second sign" (54), means second in Galilee. He had done miracles in the meantime in Jerusalem (John 2:23).
Following this miracle, seems to have been the time when Jesus went back to Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30). The healing of the nobleman's son in Capernaum was what the inhabitants of Nazareth had heard of and wanted Jesus to repeat in his own city (Luke 4:23).
This was during a Feast (1). It is not stated which Feast. The Feasts which the Jews observed in Jesus' day, and which Jesus, no doubt, attended regularly, were:
Jesus had returned to Galilee in December, about the time of the Feast of Dedication. The Feast next following would be Purim. Next was Passover, which is quite generally accepted as the time of this visit.
A year before Jesus had cleansed the Temple, as an introductory sign that he was the Messiah. This time he works a Sabbath miracle, for the purpose, it would seem, of violating their ideas of the Sabbath, in order to get attention of the rulers, so as to give his claims of Deity the fullest possible publicity in the nation's capital. It gave him a hearing for a detailed explanation of his claims, and resulted in the Sanhedrin's determination to kill him (18), which it took them two years to bring about.
The Pool of Bethesda, traditionally, was located just north of the Temple. But some scholars identify it with what is now called the Virgin's Pool, just south of the Temple, which is still an intermittent spring.
Jesus referred to this miracle, and their determination to kill him, a year and a haft later. It was one of the main contentions of his enemies (John 9:14; Luke 13:14). For healing the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath they planned to kill him (Mark 3:6). Jesus called them inconsistent in circumcising on the Sabbath while objecting to his healing on the Sabbath.
The only recorded instance of Jesus' "anger" is at their objecting to his healing on the Sabbath (Mark 3:5). except that it is recorded that he was "moved with indignation" at the disciples trying to keep children from him (Mark 10:14).
Healings on the Sabbath
Seven are recorded, as follows:
This is the only one of Jesus' miracles told in all four Gospels (Matthew 14:13-33; Mark 6:32-52; Luke 9:10-17).
The place was on the northeast shore of the Sea of Galilee. A spot two miles southeast of the Jordan entrance fits the description.
The time was Passover (6:4), one year before Jesus'death, when the passing multitudes were on their way to Jerusalem. Jesus himself did not go to Jerusalem this Passover, because on his previous visit they had formed a plot to kill him (John 5:1, 18). Ir was probably the first Passover he had missed going to Jerusalem since he was 12. He celebrated it by working one of his most marvelous miracles for the Passover-bound multitudes.
Notice Jesus' love of order; he made the people sit down in companies of 50's and 100's (Mark 6:39-40), probably arranged around him in a circle or semi-circle.
Notice, too, that he was not wasteful. He commanded that the left-overs be gathered up (12-13).
The miracle made a telling impression. The people wanted to enthrone him as king immediately (14-15).
Jesus Walks on the Water (16-21). This was in the "fourth watch" (Mark 6:48), after three in the morning. Jesus had spent most of the night alone in the mountain (Mark 6:46).
The disciples.were rowing to Capernaum (John 6:17), by way of Bethsaida (Mark 6:45). Bethsaida was at the Jordan entrance. Capernaum was about five miles southwest of the Jordan entrance.They were hugging the shore, because of the storm.
When Jesus appeared they were ''25 or 30 furlongs" our, that is, about 3 or 4 miles, half way across.
When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water he wanted to do it too. Dear, lovable, impetuous Peter! But he began to sink. Then Jesus chided him for his lack of faith. To us it seems that Peter had a good deal of faith, to even try it-a good deal according to man's way of looking at things, but in Jesus' eyes so little.
Jesus' Discourse on the Bread of Life (22-71). Jesus had worked this mighty miracle as a setting for a plain talk on his true mission in the world.
While he had spent much time ministering to men's bodily needs, the real purpose of his coming into the world was to save men's Souls. When he told them that they began to lose interest. As long as he fed their bodies they thought he was great. They wanted him to be their king.
It seems that the people generally were expecting the Messiah to bring in a social order in which men could get their bread without working. It would have been just wonderful if they could have had a king-who would every day feed them miraculously, as he had done the day before, as Moses had given the daily manna.
This was at the Feast of Tabernacles (October), a year and a half since he had been there, six months before his death.
On his previous visit he had healed a man on the Sabbath, and announced to the rulers that he was the Son of God (John 5:18), for which they laid plans to kill him. He remained away during the intervening Passover (John 6:4).
But now his work was drawing toward a close, and he again went to the capital of his nation to further present his claim that he was sent from God. However, the time for his death was not yet fully come. Knowing their plan to kill him (for it was generally known, 7:25), he made the journey incognito, till he appeared in the midst of the Temple multitudes. Then he opened his address by referring to their plot to kill him (7:19-23).
When the rulers heard it they sent officers to take him. But the officers somehow were awed by his presence. And he went ahead with his message from God.
The Deity of Jesus
Jesus is called "The Son of God" in all four Gospels:
Matthew 3:17; 4:3, 6; 8:29; 14:33; 16:16; 17:5; 26:63; 27 :54.
Mark 1:1; 1:11; 3:11; 5:7; 9:7; 14:61, 62.
Luke 1:32, 35; 3:22; 4:41; 9:35; 22:70.
John 1:34; 1:49; 3:16, 18; 5:25; 9:35; 10:36; 19:7; 20:31.
Jesus called himself "The Son of God" (John 5:25); "making him self equal with God" (John 5:18). Three times Jesus categorically said "I am THE SON OF GOD,, (Mark 14:61-62; John 9:35-37; 10: 36).
Jesus repeatedly. used expressions about himself that can be predicated only of Deity:
GOD HIMSELF called Jesus His Own "BELOVED SON" (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35).
Evil Spirit called Jesus "The Son of God" (Matthew 8:29; Mark 3:11; 5:7; Luke4:41).
It was commonly recognized that he made the claim:
The Old Testament prophets foretold his Deity: "His name shall be called Mighty God, Everlasting Father" (Isaiah 9:6). "This is the name whereby He shall be called, God our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16), "In that day the house of David shall be as God" (Zechariah 12:8).
The "Rock"on which Jesus said He would build his church (Matthew 16:18), was the truth that He is the Son of God.
Jesus is Himself called "God" (John 1:1; 10:33; 20:28; Romans 9:5; Colossians 1:16; 2:9; I Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 1:8; I John 5:20; Jude 25).
Thus, neither Jesus himself, nor the Scriptures, leave any possible doubt as to the nature of Jesus' Person. Why not accept the record just es it is? If he was only a good man, he can do nothing for us, except to set us an example. If he was really God, he can be to us a Saviour as well as an example.
There are three instances of Jesus' dealings with women who had made a misstep: This one; the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50; and, the Samaritan Woman (John 4:18). In all three Jesus was exceedingly considerate. (See under Luke 15.)
The language of verse 7 may imply that Jesus knew that the men who were accusing the woman were themselves guilty of the very thing of which they accused her.
His categoric and amazing statements about Himself infuriated the rulers, and they attempted to mob him (59). Aside from the statements on the preceding two pages, Jesus made other claims for himself approximating Deity.
Names and Titles Applied by the Scripture to Christ
"The Christ" "The Messiah" "Saviour" "Redeemer" "Wonderful Counselor" "Faithful Witness" "The Word of God" "The Truth" "The Light of the World" "The Way" "The Good Shepherd" "Mediator" "Deliverer" "The Great High Priest" "The Author and Perfector of our Faith" "The Captain of our Salvation" "Our Advocate" "The Son of God" "The Son of Man" "God" "The Holy One of God" "Only Begotten Son" "Mighty God" "The Image of God" "Everlasting Father" "Lord" "Lord of All" "Lord of Glory" "Lord of Lords" "Blessed and Only Potentate" "King of Israel" '"King of Kings" "Ruler of the Kings of the Earth" "Prince of Life" "Prince of Peace" "The Son of David" "The Branch" "David" "Root and Offspring of David" "The Bright and Morning Star" "Immanuel" "The Second Adam" "The Lamb of God" "The Lion of the Tribe of Judah" "The Alpha and the Omega" "The First and the Last" "The Beginning and the End" "The Beginning of the Creation of God" "The First-Born of All Creation" "The Amen."
What Napoleon Said about Christ
Generally .accepted as a genuine word of Napoleon. Some doubt its authenticity. "I know men, and I tell you, Jesus is not a man. He commands us to believe, and gives no other reason than his awful word, I AM GOD. Philosophers try to solve the mysteries of the universe by their empty dissertations: fools: they are like the infant that cries to have the moon for a plaything' Christ never hesitates. He speaks with authority. His religion is a mystery; but it subsists by its own force. He seeks, and absolutely requires, the love of men, the most difficult thing in the world to obtain. Alexander, Caesar, Hannibal conquered the world, but had no friends. I myself am perhaps the only person of my day who loves Alexander, Caesar, Hannibal. Alexander, Caesar. Charlemagne and myself founded empires; but upon what? Force. Jesus founded his empire on Love; and at this hour millions would die for him. I myself have inspired multitudes with such affection that they would die for me. But my presence was necessary. Now that I am in St. Helena, where are my friends? I am forgotten, soon to return to the earth, and become food for worms. Whit an abyss between my misery and the eternal kingdom of Christ, who is proclaimed, loved, adored, and which is
extending over all the earth. Is this death? I tell you, the death of Christ is the death of a God. I tell you, JESUS CHRIST IS GOD."
What Josephus Said about Christ
Considered authentic by many scholars, but some think it may have been an interpolation. Josephus was a Jewish historian, A.D. 37-100, born and educated in Jerusalem, a general in the Jewish army.
"There was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works. He was Christ. Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, condemned him to the cross. He appeared to his followers alive again
the third day."
On a previous visit to Jerusalem (5:9), Jesus had healed an important man on the Sabbath, for which, and his claim that he was the Son of God, they attempted to stone him (John 8:52-59). He now proceeds to work a still more notable Sabbath miracle (9:14).
Jesus declares himself to be the Shepherd of mankind, that is, of as many of mankind as will accept him as their Shepherd. It is a beautiful metaphor, ever cherished by Christians, of Jesus' tender and devoted care of his people.
There is an interval of two months between verses 21 and 22. The Feast of Tabernacles was in October. Jesus' visit to that Feast is covered by John 7:2 to 10:21. Now it is the Feast of Dedication (December). In the interval, it seems, Jesus had gone back to Galilee, and North, and was Transfigured.
Where Jesus had spent eight months at the opening of his public ministry (John 3:22). He was there probably about two months. It was a thickly populated region, with many prosperous Roman cities, under Herod's rule, out of reach of the Jerusalem authorities. (Covered by Luke 11 to 18 inclusive.)
Probably about a month before his own death. It was his third raising of the dead: Jairus daughter (Mark 5:21-43), the widow of Nain's son (Luke 7:11-17); and Lazarus, climaxed by His own, nevermore to die. The miracle brought the Sanhedrin to a final decision to kill Jesus (53). Jesus therefore retired to the wilderness of Ephraim, about 12 miles north of Jerusalem, to await, in quiet with the Twelve, the Passover.
John places this supper on the day before the Triumphal Entry (12), which could be Saturday evening (see further on Mark 14:3-9). It was probably about a month after he had raised Lazarus from the dead. They were a rich family. 300 pence, or shillings, in our money is about $50. Only wealthy people can afford $50 bottles of perfume.
Jesus probably had spoken of his coming Crucifixion. Mary, kindhearted, compassionate, thoughtful, lovely Mary, perhaps, noticing a look of pain in his eyes, said to herself, "This is no parable. He means it." And she went and got the rarest treasure of her household, and poured it on his head and feet, and wiped them with her hair. Perhaps not a word was said. But he understood. He knew that she was trying to tell him how her heart ached. Jesus appreciated it so much that he said that what she had done would bi told of her wherever his name would be carried to the ends of the earth and to the end of time.
Bethany is about two miles from Jerusalem, on the east slope of the Mount of Olives. It was Jesus' abiding place when he visited Jerusalem. From the hills of Bethany Jesus ascended to heaven.
Chapter 12:9-19. The Triumphal Entry. (See on Matthew 21:1-11.)
Chapter 12:20-36. The Greek's Desire to See Jesus. It is not stated when, but is thought possibly to have been on Tuesday, in the Temple as the determined hostility of the rulers was becoming manifest. Peoples from distant lands brought him their homage. It occasioned a sort of soliloquy-prayer-conversation on the necessity of his death. How he dreaded it!
Chapter 12:37-43. Their Unbelief. Why, in spite of the overwhelming evidence of Jesus' miracles, the rulers of the Jewish nation would not believe on Jesus, is one of the knottiest of Scripture problems. John's answer is that it was in fulfillment of Scripture.
Chapter 12:40-50. Jesus' Final Temple Message. Probably as he left at the close of Tuesday, never again to enter.
(See more fully on Matthew 26:17-29)
Jesus Washes their Feet (13:1-20). This was occasioned by their contention among themselves as to which of them were to have the chief offices in the Kingdom. That had been one of their standing problems (see on Luke 9:46-48). In spite of Jesus' repeated statements that he was going to be crucified (see on Mark 9:30-32), which they
somehow, even to the last, took to be parables, they seemed to think that the Triumphal Entry, five days before, portended that it was about time for him to erect the throne of a world empire in Jerusalem. Jesus finally had to get down on his hands and knees and wash their feet, the menial service of a slave, to burn into their minds that he had called them to Serve, and not to Rule. Oh, how the Church has suffered through all the centuries because so many of its leaders have been consumed by the passion to be great! Powerful organizations and high offices have been created to satisfy men's worldly and selfish ambitions. Great churchmen, instead of humbly serving Christ, have used the name of Christ to serve themselves.
Jesus Points out the Betrayer (21-30). So shrewdly had Judas kept his secret that no one of them suspected him. (See on Mark 14:10-11). Judas knew that Jesus knew his secret. But with a heart of steel he went forward with his dastardly crime.
Jesus' Final Farewell to the Twelve (13:ll to 77:26), Judas gone. These four chapters are the tenderest words in the Bible. Chapter 14 was uttered while yet at Supper. 15, 16 and 17, while on the way to Gethsemane.
He knew the end had come. He was ready for it. Instead of calling it "crucified" he called it "glorified" (13:31). He dreaded the pain, but kept his eye on the joy beyond the pain.
They were mystified at his statement that he was leaving them, What could he mean? Had he not told them over and over? We think his heart must have ached for them more than it did at the thought of his own suffering.
Peter, suspecting that Jesus meant he was going on a dangerous mission, offered to follow even at the cost of his own life. Jesus reminded Peter that he did not realize what he said.
The best loved chapter in all the Bible, the one that goes with us as we near the valley of the shadow. Jesus, as a master workman, is preparing the heavenly palace for the glorious day when he will receive his Bride, the Elect of all the Ages, unto himself. But the Bride also needs to be made ready. The Church must be gathered, nurtured and perfected, to be made fit for the mansions of God. The people, as well as the place must be prepared. As Jesus departs to make ready the Eternal Home, he promises to send the Holy Spirit to train, comfort, and lead the saints on the homeward way.
1. "Coenaculum," name of traditional place of Last Supper, possibly the home of Mary the mother of Mark; From here, about 8 or 9 in the evening, he went to Gethsemane, a mile distant, indicated by dotted lines.
2. Gethsemane, Here he was in agony for 2 or 3 or 4 hours. Then he was arrested, and taken to the High Priest's House, in the same vicinity where he had eaten the Last Supper.
3. High Priest's House. Here Jesus was kept from midnight to daylight. Condemned, mocked, spit upon, denied by Peter, and at daylight, officially sentenced and sent to Pilate.
4. Pilate's Judgment Hall, called the "Tower of Antonio'" Pilate tried to escape responsibility, and sent Jesus to Herod.
5. Herod's Palate. Here he was mocked, Sent back to Pilate.
6. Again at Pilate's. Scourged, and sentenced to Crucifixion'
7. Calvary, just outside north wall, where he was crucified.
8. Garden Tomb, where he was buried.
The ideas ever and anon appearing in these precious chapters are that the disciples Love One Another-, that they Keep Christ's Commandments, that they Abide in Him, that they must expect Pruning and Persecution, that it was necessary for him to go away, that the Holy Spirit would take his place, that their sorrow would be turned
to Joy, and that in his absence Wondrous Answers to their Prayers would be granted. The Blessed Master going into the depths of his own sorrow and suffering was doing his best to comfort his bewildered disciples.
He closes his tender farewell by commending them to God, praying both for himself and for them, as he turns away to tread the winepress ALONE. Remembrance of his pre-human existence, and its "glory" (5), gave him courage. He prayed for his own (9), not for the world. He came to save the world, but his special interest was in those who believed on him. He drew a definite line between those who were his and those who were not. This runs all the way through John's writings.
Told also in Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-50 and Luke 22:47-53. It was about midnight. The Roman garrison, consisting of a cohort of soldiers, about 500 or 600, led by the chief captain, with emissaries from the high priest evidently thinking they were on a dangerous mission, were guided by Judas to the place of Jesus' retreat. As they
streamed out of the East Gate, down the Kedron road, with lanterns, torches and weapons, they were visible from the garden where Jesus was. As they approached, Jesus, by his unseen power, caused them to fall to the ground, to make them understand that they could not take him against his will. To make Jesus' identification certain, Judas pointed him out by kissing him.
Chapter 18:12 to 19:16. Trial of Jesus. (See on Mark 14:53).
It occurred in the court of the high priest, as Jesus was being condemned. Peter had just been willing to fight the whole Roman garrison alone. He was not a coward by any means. He deserves some credit. We can never know the whirl of emotions that tore
at Peter's soul that night. As Peter was vehemently denying that he knew Jesus, Jesus turned and looked at him. That look broke Peter's hear
See also notes on Matthew 27:33-56; Mark 15:21-41 and Luke 23:32-49. The legs of the robbers were broken (32) to hasten death, which otherwise might not have occurred for four or five days.
Jesus was already dead when the spear pierced his side, after being on the cross six hours. Some medical authorities have said that in the case of heart rupture, and in that case only, the blood collects in the pericardium, the lining around the wall of the heart, end divides into a sort of bloody clot and a watery serum. If this is a fact, then the actual immediate physical cause of Jesus' death was heart rupture. Under intense pain, and the pressure of his wildly raging blood, his heart burst open. It may be that Jesus, literally, died of a heart broken over the sin of the world. It may be that suffering for human sin is more than the human constitution can stand.
Possibly there may here be a mystic parallel to Genesis 2:21-22. As God took from Adam's side, in sleep, that from which He made a bride for Adam, so He took from Jesus' side, in sleep on the cross, that from which He made the Church, the bride of Jesus.
Joseph and Nicodemus, both members of the Sanhedrin, secret disciples-secret in the hour of Jesus' popularity-now, in the hour of his humiliation, came out boldly to share with Jesus the shame of his cross. All hail, Joseph! All hail, Nicodemus!
The "Holy Shroud." The Scientific American of March, 1937, contained an article by a French scientist about a sheet of linen cloth that was in a Roman Catholic church at Turin, Italy, which he believed to have been the actual winding sheet of Jesus' body. He described it as being 14 feet long, 3 feet 7 inches wide, with negative images of the front"and back of a full-grown human body indicating that the man was laid on one half, and the other half was folded over lengthwise. The figures, he claimed, are not paintings, but images produced by ammoniac vapors, given off in great abundance in
sweat produced by intense suffering. The scourge marks, the wound in the-hands, on the head, and in the side, are plainly visible, with evidence that serum and blood flowed from the wound. It is unmistakably the image of a man crucified, with every detail dovetailing with the Scripture account, and with the countenance of a man of noble appearance. It first appeared in France in 1355, with notices that it had been seen in Constantinople 1204. However, we do not know for sure whether it is a fake or the real shroud of Jesus.
"In the place where Jesus was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new tomb wherein was never man yet laid," This means that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was very close to the place where he was crucified. (See under Mark 15:21-41.)
General Christian Gordon, 1881, found at the west foot of the "Skull Hill" a "Garden." He set gang of men to digging, and, under 5 feet of rubbish, he found a tomb of Roman times, cut in a wall of solid rock, with a trench in front where the stone rolled to the door.
The tomb is a room 14 feet wide, 10 feet deep, 7 1/2 feet high. As you enter, there are, at the right, two graves, one next to the front wall, and one next to the back wall.
They are slightly lower than the floor of the room, with a low dividing wall between. The front grave seems never to have been completed. Indications were that only the rear grave had ever been occupied, and that with no marks of mortal corruption. The tomb is sufficiently large for a company of women and two angels to stand inside, with room at the head and feet where an angel could sit (Mark 16:5; John 20:12). A window where, at dawn, the sunlight would fall on the occupied grave. Every item fits the Scripture account.
Further, according to Eusebius, the Roman Emperor Hadrian, in his persecution of the Christians, A.D. 135, built a temple of Venus over the tomb where Jesus had been buried. Constantine, the first Christian Emperor, A.D. 330, destroyed this temple of Venus. General Gordon, in the debris which he cleared away from the tomb, found a shrine-stone of Venus. He found traces of a building that had been erected over the
tomb. Above the tomb entrance, two recesses characteristic of Venus temples.
Further, in a vault adjoining the tomb, a tombstone was found, inscribed, "Buried near his Lord."
So, all in all, there seems to be a very good basis for the opinion that this "Garden Tomb" was the actual spot where Jesus was buried, and from which He came forth ALIVE. Therefore, to Christians, it is the holiest spot on earth, the place whence came Assurance of Life that Shall Never End.
Other women were with her. (See on Matthew 28:1-8, and note on "Order of Events" under Mark 16.)
Told also in Luke 24:12.They may have been lodging nearer than the other disciples, probably at John's home, where Jesus' mother also was staying (19:27).
This was his first appearance (Mark 16:9-11). The other women had gone. Peter and John had gone. Mary is there alone, weeping as if her heart would break. No thought that Jesus had risen. She had not heard the angel announcement that he was alive. Jesus himself had repeatedly said that he would rise the third day. Somehow she
had not understood him. But, oh, how she loved him! And now he was dead. Even his body was gone. In that moment of grief Jesus stood by her, and called her name. She recognized his voice, and cried out in ecstatic joy. Jesus not dead, but alive!
A little later he appeared to the Other Women (Matthew 28:9-10).
That afternoon he appeared to the Two (Luke 24:13-32).
And to Peter (Luke 24:33-35).
That evening, in Jerusalem, Thomas absent (24). This appearance is recorded three times: here, and in Mark 16:14 and Luke-24:33-43. (See notes on those passages.) Jesus was in the same body, with the wound marks in his hands, feet and side; and he ate food. Yet he had power to pass through walls, to appear and disappear at will. "Whose soever sins you forgive" (23. See Matthew 16:19).
A week later, in Jerusalem, Thomas present. No modern critic could possibly be more "scientific" than Thomas.
Here is the author's unequivocal statement that his purpose was to demonstrate and illustrate the Godhood of Jesus.
Their Slowness lo Believe that Jesus had Risen
They were not expecting it, although Jesus had repeatedly and plainly told them that he would rise on the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:9, 23; 20:19; 26:32; 27:63; Mark 8:31; 9:31; Luke 18:33; 24:7). They must have taken his words to be a parable with some mysterious meaning. When the women went to the tomb it was, not to see if he had risen, but to prepare his body for permanent burial.
John alone, of all the disciples, believed at the sight of the empty tomb (John 20:8).
Mary Magdalene had only one thought, that some one had removed the body (John 20:13, 15).
The report of the women that Jesus had risen appeared to the disciples as "idle talk" (Luke 24:11).
When the Two from Emmaus told the Eleven that Jesus had appeared to them, "neither believed they them" (Mark 16:13).
Peter reported that Jesus had appeared to him (Luke 24:14). But still they believed not (Mark 16:14).
Thus, Jesus had repeatedly foretold it. Angels announced it. The tomb was empty. His body was gone. Mary Magdalene had seen him. The other women had seen him. Cleopas and his companion had seen him. Peter had seen him. Still the group as a whole did not believe. It just seemed to them incredible.
Then, when Jesus appeared to the Ten that night he upbraided them for their hard-hearted unwillingness to believe those that had seen him (Mark 16:14). Still they thought he was only a ghost, and he invited them to look closely at his hands, side and feet, and to "handle" him. Then he asked for food, and "did ear before them" (Luke 24:38-43; John 20:20).
After all that, Thomas, gloomy, doubting Thomas, was sure that there was a mistake somewhere, and did not believe till he personally saw Jesus a week later (John 20:24-29).
Thus, those who first proclaimed the story of Jesus' Resurrection were themselves totally unprepared to believe it, determined not to believe it, and came to believe it in spite of themselves. This renders untenable any possibility that the story was born of an excited and expectant imagination. There is no conceivable way to account for the origin of the story except that it was an ACTUAL FACT. We, too, one day, by His Grace, shall Rise.
DeWette: "Although a mystery which cannot be dissipated rests on the manner of the Resurrection, the Fact of the resurrection can no more be brought into doubt by honest historic evidence than the assassination of Caesar."
Edersheim: "The Resurrection of Christ may unhesitatingly be pronounced the Best Established Fact in history."
Ewald: "Nothing is more historically certain than that Jesus Rose from the Dead and appeared again to his followers."
John A. Broadus: "If we do not know that Jesus of Nazareth Rose from the Dead, we do not know anything historical whatever."
The disciples had now returned to Galilee, which Jesus had told them to do (Matthew 28:7, 10; Mark 16:7). He had appointed a certain mountain (Matthew 28:16), and probably had set the time. While waiting, they resume their old business. It may have been at, or near, the same spot where two or three years before he had first called them to become fishers of men (Luke 5:1-11). This time, as at first, he gave them a miraculous haul of fish. He may have intended it as a symbolic hint of the great success of the redemptive movement among men which they were about to initiate.
"The third time" (14), that is, to the assembled disciples, the other two being those of 20:19, 26. Counting the individuals to whom he had appeared, Mary Magdalene, the Women, the Two, Peter, it was his seventh appearance.
"More than these" (15). These things? Or, these men? The masculine and neuter forms of the Greek word for "these" are the same. There is no way to tell in which sense it is here used. "Do you love me more than these other disciples love me?" Or, "do you love me more than you love this fishing business?" Was Jesus twitting Peter
for his three-fold denial? Or, was he gently chiding him for returning to the fishing business? We are inclined to think the latter.
"Lovest thou me?" (15, 16, 17). Jesus uses "agapan." Peter uses "philein." Two Greek words for "love." "Agapan" expresses a higher type of devotion. Peter refuses to use it. The third time Jesus comes down to Peter's word.
"Feed my sheep" (15, 16, 17), three times in variant forms. The idea seems to be something like this: "Peter, do you love ME more than you love this fishing business? Then you better be giving your time to the care of my flock; to my business, Peter, rather than to yours."
Jesus' Prophecy of Peter's Martyrdom (18-19). It had come to pass long before John wrote this. (See note on I Peter.)
The Author's Identification (24). A specific statement that John the Beloved Apostle was the author of this book.
Many Other Things (25). An hyperbole, but certainly a forceful description of the good deeds of the Saviour's earthly life.
Later he appeared to the Eleven, in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20). At a time and place unknown he appeared to James (I Corinthians 15:7 ).
Final appearance and Ascension, at Bethany (Luke 24:44-51).
The Five Most Important Chapters in the entire Bible we consider to be Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 and 21, because they tell of the Most Important Event in human history, the Resurrection of Christ from the Dead, capstone of the whole Bible.
The Resurrection of Christ from the Dead is the ONE MOST IMPORTANT item in the whole fund of human knowledge: the grand event of the ages, toward which all previous history moved, and in which all subsequent history finds its meaning. The story of it has plowed through the centuries, and changed the face of the earth.
(See note on I Corinthians 15.)
Is It a Fact? Did he really rise from the dead? If he did not, what became of his body? If enemies stole it, they surely would have produced it, for they stopped short of nothing to discredit the story, even to the murdering of those who told it. If friends stole it, they would have known they were believing a lie; bur men do not become
martyrs to what they know to be false.
One Thing Is Certain: those who first published the story that Jesus had risen from the dead BELIEVED it to be a fact. They rested their faith, not only on the empty tomb, but on the fact that they themselves had SEEN Jesus ALIVE after his burial; not once, nor twice, but at least ten recorded times; and not singly, nor alone, but in groups of two, seven, ten, eleven, five hundred.
An Hallucination? Could it not have been an ecstasy? a dream? a fantasy of an excited imagination? an apparition? Different groups of people do not keep on seeing the same hallucination. 500 people in a crowd would not all dream the same dream at the same time. Moreover, they were not expecting it. Considered it an "idle tale" at first (Luke 24:11). Did not believe it till they had to.
Only in a Swoon? Could it not be that Jesus was not really dead when they buried him, and that he came to again? In that case, weak and exhausted, he could scarcely have removed the heavy stone door and gotten out of the tomb. Besides he had new powers that he had never manifested before-to appear and disappear through locked
doors. The eleven (or 120?). in a group, personally saw him slowly rise from the earth, and disappear behind the clouds.
The Records Tampered With? Could it not be that the resurrection was latter addition to the story of Christ, invented years later to glorify a dead hero? It is know, from historical records outside the Scripture, that the sect know as Christians came into existence in the reign of Tiberius, and that the thing that brought them into existence was their belief that Jesus had risen from the dead. The resurrection was not a later addition to the Christian faith, but the very cause and start of it. They rested their faith, not on records, but on what they had seen with their own eyes. The records were the result of their faith, not the cause of it. Had there been no resurrection, there would have no New Testament, and no Church.
What a Halo of Glory this simple belief sheds on human life. Our hope of resurrection and life everlasting is based, not on a philosophic guess about immortality, but an historic fact.