John 15:7-13

Image for Cal Staggers's blog post on John 15: 7-13 - a focus on interpreting and analyzing the textI’ll be covering a few more verses of Jesus’s parable about the vine and branches that he discusses with his disciples in this post.

v7: Christ reiterates that the disciples must “remain in Him” in order for His “words to remain” in them. He then states that they may ask whatever they wish and “it will be done” for them. Jesus is telling the disciples the positive results of remaining faithful to him and how when they ask for something that is “in Jesus” (according to what He approves), what they ask will be delivered. While he says these desires will be fulfilled, Christ does not specify how or when. Everything Jesus’ followers ask for “in Him” will be granted, but maybe not in the way or timing that they envision, but in accordance with the way that God knows is best.

v8: God’s desire is that the disciples grow in their faith and others realize that they are disciples of Christ.

v9: Christ goes on to talk about love, stating He loves his disciples as His father loves Him, which focuses on the emotional connection between them and the need to be loving. He ends this verse with another reminder about the necessity of remaining “in” one another, in order to keep this love front and center in their lives.

v10: Jesus moves on to repeating His theme of to “remain”. If the disciples remain with Him, He’ll remain in them, blessing them and showering them with His love. Christ also compares the disciples’ relationships with Him to his relationship with God.

v11: Moving on from love, Christ discusses the “joy” He feels in regards to His relationship with His disciples. He highlights another benefit they will receive from their relationship with Him, mainly that of having complete joy from their relationship with Him and the Father.

v12: Once again, Jesus stresses the importance of love, commanding the disciples to love each other as He loves them. This type of love is meant to be unconditional and forgiving, which goes beyond normal human love and requires Jesus empowering them. Jesus wants the disciples to practice the ideal kind of divine love He presents and to show that love to the rest of the world.

v13: Finally, Christ states what is one of the most well-known verses in the Bible: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This verse has been referenced countless times and is a defining factor of modern Christianity – to show others kindness and grace while practicing the type of love Christ has toward other people in the world.

JOHN 14:27-31

v27 Jesus is talking about leaving His peace with the disciples as He leaves them and goes to the Father.   But this is given as part of the context of Him speaking about believers who love Him and keep His Word, so He’s speaking to all faithful believers.  This is hugely encouraging and it’s taken me until my later years to really believe it.  I didn’t consider myself a fearful person in my younger years, but now looking back I see that I’ve been fearful during many times.  I sure don’t think that, now, “I’ve arrived,” but by necessity I’ve learned to rely more on God and less on myself and, gee, guess what?… peace has increased greatly.

The power of God’s peace comes from the fact that He’s infinite and can do anything He wants and, thankfully, He wants what’s best for us.  Even if our immediate circumstances look less than best, God sees the bigger picture and we can trust Him with what we don’t see or haven’t even considered.

v30 I wonder if the angel Gabriel was keeping Satan at bay until God decided it was time to let him kill Jesus’ body?

John 14:18-26

v18  I once thought that this verse referred to Jesus coming back in the 2nd Coming, but in context I now see that Jesus is referring to our daily living here and now in the church age.  It seems odd at first that He would say that we’re not fatherless orphans due to the fact that Jesus, the Son is coming to us – I’d think that he would say that it’s because the Father is coming to us; but a few verses earlier (v10), Jesus says that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him, so this ties nicely.
Going back to v16, we see that the only condition to receive the Holy Spirit is to become a believer (“the world cannot receive” Him).  Afterward, the Holy Spirit is with all believers “forever” and without condition – we don’t have to be obedient to have Him in us.  However, in v.21 & 23 we see that the Jesus and the Father disclose Themselves, come to, and make Their abode/home only to those believers who love Jesus, learn his commandments and keep them.  If we do that, then we will have the Big 3 – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – all living in us! Wow, what an incentive to learn & live His Word!
v19 Jesus is predicting His death but that He will continue to live.  He’s giving the disciples information that they don’t have to be afraid when Jesus is crucified because He will defeat death.  Because Jesus will raise Himself from the dead, He will prove that He can raise them and all believers from the dead as He promises He will do.  After all, if Jesus can’t raise Himself from the dead, how can we expect Him to be able to raise us?  But, of course, the disciples still don’t understand that truth yet.
v24 Now that’s convicting.  We can SAY that we love Jesus, and might even have gushy feelings for Him; but, if we don’t keep His words, we do not love Him.  Thankfully that’s not a permanent condition, at anytime we can increase in our living for Him and loving Him.
v25 Jesus is physically abiding with and making His home with the disciples – highlighting the significance of His just saying in v23 that He and the Father will spiritually abide with all faithful believers.
26  I take this verse literally.  Before reading the Bible, I try to remember to ask the H.S. to teach me as I read.  And there have been times that I need to remember something –  and have asked the H.S. to please bring it to mind.

John Chapter 11

cal staggers lazarus

When & Where: Time has passed since the last passage and this is a completely new story about Jesus. We will see that Jesus must’ve been located up north in Galilee (v 7). And we will see that this was not too long before Jesus’ last Passover (v 55)

This is a great story showing the deeply personal side of Jesus.

v2 This is interesting that John wrote about Mary as if everyone would know who she is, but he hasn’t mentioned her or the ointment story in his own gospel.  I guess he didn’t mention her earlier because it was a discipleship story and doesn’t match the purpose of John’s gospel.

This must be the incident mentioned in Luke 7:37 (the other ointment story is at the Last Supper/First Lord’s Supper, which hasn’t happened yet).  In that story, it’s said that Mary was a woman known as a sinner, which probably implies that she was a prostitute.  Jesus is such a great lover of damaged people!

v6 “Therefore” must mean that Jesus stayed in place and didn’t go help BECAUSE He loved Lazarus, Martha & Mary.  How unexpected!

v6: Let’s do some math:

v 11 & v 15 indicate that Jesus stayed in place until Lazarus died. v 6 says that took 2 days to happen after the messenger arrived. v 17 says Jesus arrived 4 days after Lazarus had been put in the tomb.  So it must take about 4 days to walk about 90 miles from Galilee to Bethany, which is – v. 18: about two miles outside of Jerusalem (not the other Bethany – Bethany beyond the Jordan – which is where John the Baptist was baptizing).

Had Jesus left immediately when the messenger arrived with the news, Lazarus would have died in the middle of Jesus’ journey and it might have appeared that Jesus tried but couldn’t get there on time.  Jesus stays in place to make sure there is no mistaking that the coming miracle wasn’t a clean-up job.

v 16 It’s good to hear this about Thomas, most descriptions are given about Peter and John.

v 19 These “many of the Jews” must’ve come from Jerusalem since it follows v 18.

v 22 Is Martha hinting that she’d like Jesus to raise Lazarus right now?

I love v 25 – 27.  This shows that the definition or role of Christ, Son of God = the one who guarantees eternal life.  This is helpful in other passages that use “Christ” (Greek) or “Messiah” (Hebrew) as shorthand for “the One who gives eternal life.”  In modern day, that connection has been lost, which is why someone saying that they believe Jesus is Son of God does not mean they have eternal life like it would have in Jesus’ day.

v 32 Mary says the exact same words that Martha said in v 21.

v 35 I think you’ve pointed out before how much love Jesus has for people, crying with/for them even though He knows he’s going to cure the problem.

v 40 In the Bible, God tells us to do things that we don’t understand, especially when we’re new believers, as these people were.  If we do them, even if we don’t understand, God promises us we’ll see the glory of God, which I suppose can be allowing the Holy Spirit to fill our lives more than if we disobey.  As an example, God tells women that their role is silence at the Lord’s Supper – but as far as I know, He does not give a reason why anywhere in Scripture.  So we then have a choice: obey or disobey? See God’s glory or not see?

v43 Is this what we will hear when Christ descends into the clouds and calls us to Himself?  Miraculously, each of us hearing our own name when He calls us?

v 46 It’s so hard to imagine people as hard-hearted as this, snitching on the fella who they know the Pharisees want to capture.

v 51 God put in place this religious leader; and as we read elsewhere, all government leaders, whose hearts he turns like a river, their decisions dictated by Him.  Including the very leaders who will later kill Jesus.  This should make me not worry one iota about our leaders today making boneheaded decisions – they serve the bigger purpose of doing God’s will (even though I don’t understand it, so does that mean as I don’t worry I’ll see the glory of God, receive His peace?).

v 54 Ephraim is not too far north of Jerusalem.

v 55-57 This would be great suspense if we were reading this for the first time, not knowing the outcome.

John Chapter 6

cal staggers john6Where:  Jesus left Jerusalem and went “to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.”  Don’t really know exactly where, probably not Bethsaida because of another story coming up about that place.  I guess just some place close to the shore ‘cuz of getting in a boat later.  Maybe Hippos?  That’s directly across from Tiberias, which comes into play later.

When:  Either the 2nd or 3rd yearly Passover Feast of Jesus’ public ministry

v. 2  Do the masses think the circus has come to town? …or do they know that Jesus has come from God?  …do they know that Jesus IS God?  Probably all three in the shape of a funnel, with the many that are the least faithful filling the wide top – and the few that are the most faithful filling the narrow bottom.

v. 4  I suppose that this passage’s mentioning that the Passover was at hand serves the purpose of letting us know that the multitude had come from far places to do the mandatory celebration of the feast in Jerusalem and therefore are a long way from their homes and from their food.  Jerusalem is set up to handle selling food to that kind of crowd, but not the countryside.  What to do?

v. 8-9  Peter’s brother, Andrew, must think that Jesus can feed with a miracle because of 1. the suggestive way he asks the question and  2. The original version asks this in a present tense (the asterisk I mentioned yesterday), indicating that the question is significant.

v. 10  Why mention that there was much grass?  A picture of Jesus as the Shepherd tending to His flock in a pasture of abundance?

v. 11  It’s pointed out that everyone ate as much as they wanted (not just what they needed).

v. 12 I’ve never noticed the phrase:  “that nothing may be lost”

As our Shepherd, Jesus meets our needs fully, but only one day at a time?  Like the Old Testament manna – gathered for that day only without being saved in a jar – and then God would provide again the next day.  That explanation doesn’t really hit the nail squarely though about the exact word “lost.”  Oh well.

v 21  So cool.  After speaking to the eunuch in Acts, Peter is immediately transported to another place in a manner just like this.  Will we have this ability when we get our glorified bodies?  Not really sure how this applies to today.  In a similar story to this, Jesus calms the storm and takes the disciples through it to shore – and He can do that in our lives today when we go through difficulty.  He normally doesn’t make difficulty just disappear like in this passage, but I guess this may be a picture that He can do so.  However He does it though, we must be “fellows in the same ship:  in fellowship” with Him (okay that one may not be Biblical, but I couldn’t resist).

v. 28-29  Jesus tells the people, do not work to row across the lake for another free meal (that must’ve been some Really good bread He multiplied!), but in order to find out how to have eternal life.

v. 53-54 metaphor for believe, repeating what He just said

v. 56 we are eternally secure

v. 66 Jesus is like a razor blade, there’s no riding the fence – you slice either one direction or the other.  The more clearly that He is presented, like here, many people quickly slice to unbelief.  This is the most clearly and bluntly He’s spoken of Himself!  These people that left Jesus in their unbelief are part of the bigger group of disciple/students that had been following Him for quite awhile.  This lets us know that today there can be people in churches studying and following Jesus but who don’t believe this one truth that Jesus just presented about Himself.  And this is the one and only truth that gives us eternal life and that is so neglected in churches today (at least according to my conversations with several preachers).

v. 71 and v. 64 taken together is proof that Judas was an unbeliever (duh).

John Chapter 5

Cal Staggers ch5So, the Samaritans were the underclass and the royal official mentioned here is, well, royal. Couple that with Jesus saying it’s better to be poor because then it’s easier to have faith, and we come up with an application that, generally speaking, we should want to be poor. I’m not real crazy about that application, but I must say that I’ve learned to be closer to God during my need than I have been during my abundance.

On to Ch. 5: v. 2 “there IS in Jerusalem…” The sheep gate is an entry into the temple –  showing that this was written before Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. No big deal, but some people seem adamant about this being written when John was in his 80’s while in exile on the island of Patmos.

v. 6:  After throwing rocks at my NASV translation not adhering as close to the majority text as the NKJV, I have to point out a benefit. Most translations give the past tense, since these events happened in the past. My translation does too, but it will also give an asterisk when: “Greek authors frequently used the present tense for the sake of heightened vividness, thereby transporting their readers in imagination to the actual scene at the time of occurrence.” When I see an asterisk I read it to myself in the present tense, which is fun AND it’s like the suspenseful music in a drama show: when it cues up, you know something good is about to take place.

v. 29:  Believers aren’t saved by good works, we are capable of doing good works because we’re saved. Nonbelievers do only evil works.

v. 36:  Jesus says here and elsewhere that His miracles are the reason people should believe in Him (so I guess I shouldn’t put down the above royal official’s needing a miracle too much). It’s odd that we in the church today don’t use the miracles to convince people to believe, instead we use John 3:16 and other verses that say believing in Him is how to have eternal life and then we don’t give the proof. Some churches do point to the cross to say that Jesus died for our sins, and that’s the reason we can believe in Him. However, the real proof is on the 3rd day afterward when Jesus resurrected Himself, as well as all the other miracles. After all, if Jesus couldn’t save Himself, how could we expect him to save us? But He did save Himself and proved that He can save us, too.

John 4

Cal Staggers Jesus-and-Woman-at-WellWhen:  the last passage in John 3 was sometime after the first Passover in Jesus’ ministry – and John 4 picks up sometime after that

Where:  Jesus was last noted as being in Aenon near Salim (3:23) which is up near Galilee – but now time has passed he’s been back in Judea.  And now He leaves Judea and goes back to Galilee through Samaria.

4:4 says he HAD to go through Samaria – he didn’t have to logistically because Jews always went around Samaria to avoid the Samaritans, so he must have HAD to go thru to accomplish some other purpose – which we’re about to discover.

v. 6 Jesus gets to Jacob’s Well (near the highway at almost the mid-point in Samaria) at around noon.

v. 10 All we have to know to have eternal life is to know the gift and the Giver!

v. 24  How do we apply v. 24 today?  Here’s a thought:  instead of worship being about a place (like Jerusalem or a church building) or a process (like sacrificing animals or serving in the church), it’s a relationship. Just as discipleship should follow belief, serving God should follow fellowship with Him. I look back at big swaths of my life when I was so busy working in the church that I had only a small amount of time in close fellowship with God.  Serving others is good, but it cannot interfere with or reduce the amount of time spent with God (or it’s not worshiping in spirit and truth?).

The woman at the well sowed, the disciples reaped and the result was many Samaritans believed. Is this an example of v. 24 worshiping in spirit and truth?

Now Jesus is off to Cana, just outside his hometown of Nazareth.

This passage is interesting:  just like when we read “saved” we must ask “saved from what” — also, when we read “believe” we must ask “believe what.”  Context is everything.

v. 48 believe: for eternal life (the purpose of the signs and wonders).

v. 50 believed: The man believed what Jesus just said, that his son lives.

v. 53 believed:  for eternal life as in v. 48 – which is the purpose of telling this story (v. 54).

The Story of Nicodemus

Cal Staggers NicodemusThe story of Nicodemus (the original Nick at Night) begins at 2:23 – the later inserted chapter break obscures that.

So it’s the week of Passover and Jesus is still in Jerusalem performing miracles and people are believing in him, but Jesus doesn’t entrust Himself to them because he knows many are believing but not becoming disciples – the story of Nicodemus is given as an example of that.

Verse 2 and later clips about the Pharisees is fascinating.  Nicodemus says that the Pharisees KNOW that Jesus is sent from their God, so apparently they are extremely prideful and think that their way is better than God’s way and later even want to kill God’s Messenger, His Son.  Jesus will tell a parable about that very thing.

v. 3 & v. 7 The phrase “unless one is born again” can be translated “unless one is born from above,” which ties in nicely with John the Baptist’s statement in v. 31.  (the NKJ version uses “heaven” in v. 31 instead of “from above” which the NAS version does – so the tie-in isn’t apparent in the NKJ).

v. 5:  The word “Spirit” can also be translated “Wind” which is a cool word picture:  we are born of water and the wind, both being pictures of the Holy Spirit.  v. 8 finishes out the poetic word picture, converting Wind back to Spirit

v.14:  2 Corinthians 5:21 says that God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf.  The serpent, a picture of sin, was lifted up by Moses – and Jesus became sin and was lifted up on our behalf.

v.21:  Nic became a believer but a secret one at this point and was not a disciple, for fear of the Pharisees.  When Jesus dies and Nic & Joseph publicly take His body for burial, Nic graduates to verse 21-style discipleship.

v.24  John the Baptist is thrown into prison almost immediately after Jesus takes the stage – this will be important to remember later because John T B doesn’t think this should happen to him since he’s doing God’s work.  After being thrown in jail, he even doubts whether Jesus is really the Messiah – therefore he doubts whether he has eternal life!  And this is John the Baptist!  When John T B’s disciples ask Jesus whether He’s really THE Dude, Jesus sends back the answer of yes — and then immediately says that no man is greater than John T B.  That is one of the most encouraging stories in all the Bible for all people, who doubt and stumble.

v. 30 This should be OUR attitude.  We tend to ask, ask, ask God for requests, but really it’s all about Him not us.  I’m created to serve Him, not the other way around.

v.36  The NAS version has a VERY unfortunate translation: saying, “…but he who does not “OBEY” the Son shall not see life…”  It gives “BELIEVE” as an alternate translation in the small print.  This is one more instance of the NKJ translation giving a closer translation to the original than the NAS.

More Bible Verses

Cal Staggers Bible Studies

Here are some Bible verses from around the web that I’d like to share here.  I hope you enjoy them.

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” – Phillipians 1:9-10

“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.  But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense – Jesus Christ the Righteous One.” – 1 John 2:1

“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” – Romans 5:3-4

“Live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” – Peter 3:8

“God has chosen you to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.  We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” – Colossians 1:27-28

“Jesus said, ‘I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.” – John 10:28-30

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:55-57.

Some Thoughts on John Chapter 2

Cal StaggersWhere:  Cana, which is very close to Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth, just west of the Sea of Galilee

When:  On 3rd day after his baptism/kick-off of his public ministry – so this must be immediately after his being tempted by Satan in the wilderness

Verse 11 says this is the beginning of his signs/miracles.  John 20:30 (next to last chapter in John) just after the last recorded miracle, says “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;” so everything between 1:11 and 20:30 are a list of Jesus’ miracles given for the purpose of the next verse:

John 20:31  “…but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

So the purpose of John is to tell people how to have eternal life – which is by believing Jesus’ promise to give it.  Gee, that is so much simpler than the man-made “plan of salvation” or “being good” or “not being TOO bad.”  Those aren’t even measurable, so using those ideas mean nobody would ever know if they have eternal life!

1:3-4 has puzzled me.  Jesus’ mother wants Him to perform a miracle, something that He’s never done as a man (that’s recorded anyway).  So she must know that His public tour has begun.  Jesus acts like He doesn’t want to do it, but then does it anyway.  Why doesn’t He want to do it?  Why does He give in if He doesn’t want to do it?  The other side of the coin is that God usually doesn’t force Himself on people, so maybe He was waiting on a request in order to begin?

Then his family goes to Capernaum, which is on the north side of the Sea of Galilee.  The Passover is at hand – so Jesus’ public ministry began with a Passover, had 2 more, and ended with a Passover =  3 years.  He clears out the temple on this first Passover and another gospel records that he cleared out the temple on His last Passover.  He has passion for his Father’s house!  And at this point the temple still had the presence of the Holy Spirit.

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