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 13 18-38

cal staggers peter6

v18-19 & 21 are talking about Judas.  v20 seems out of place.  Is it an indirect way of saying that whoever receives Judas, sent by Satan, receives Satan?  Perhaps not eternally, but in a given situation when someone like Judas is being influenced by Satan?

v23-25 John is the youngest of the disciples and he’s hanging on Jesus like a kid – great picture of how intimate we can be with Him – and Peter, who’s older, is saying “pssst, get Jesus to tell us who it is” instead of asking himself.

v26-29  Jesus tells them He’s going to show them who it is, then He shows them – and nobody gets it. I know we get the benefit of reading this a jillion times so we do get it, but the disciples are really coming across as doofuses here.  I guess what it shows is how much respect they had for Judas, seemingly a really good guy (the most trusted person is assigned to keep the money), so it went over their head.  Maybe it also warns us how bad people can be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

v30 I love the double poetic meanings that John gives:  just a blunt, “and it was night” – both in time of day and spiritually.

v34-35  The old commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself.  Now Jesus increases the threshold greatly:  we’re to love with a perfect love just as Jesus loves perfectly.  We cannot do that in our own strength, which is why I guess God waited to “up the ante” until He gave us the Holy Spirit.

And THIS is how He says men will know we belong to Him, NOT by doing miracles.  Later we’re told that loving one another is a bigger work than miracle.  That’s counter-intuitive since it seems that miracles would be a better sign; but I suppose loving some of the people we know IS a true miracle!

v36-38  Just before going up the mountain for Jesus’ transfiguration, He told the disciples that Peter is a rock on which the church will be built – but now He foretells Peter’s denials.  That should encourage us that we can fail and still be used by God to accomplish great things.

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 10

cal staggers JesusShepherdCh 10 is a continuation of the time, place & people of Ch 9.

v9 Saved must mean both from hell and from daily trib cuz of next verse.

v10 Thief is Satan.

Jesus came that we might 1. Have life (eternal) and 2. Have it abundantly (fellowship/discipleship).

v12-13 Picture of false teachers and the religious leaders.

v16 Other sheep = Gentiles. One flock = the church.

v20 These must be either hirelings (or sheep who don’t hear?).

v21 Trying to become sheep who hear.

v22 Another party!

v23 If you visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the portico of Solomon is near the southeast corner of the whole mount, I think.

v24 MAN these guys are dense.

v25 Wow, Jesus was able to hold the sheep story and continue it a long time later.

v28-29. This may be the best passage on eternal security.  We can’t even snatch ourselves out of the Father’s hand – great reminder that those who fall away from believing still have eternal life.

v32. Jesus is so cool!

v34 Jesus is quoting Psalm 82:6, and I think David is speaking (god is with a small “g”). Jesus is really pulling a mind-twist on these guys – and it’s a mind twist on me.  I don’t follow David, so I can’t really follow Jesus’ meaning here – other than to use the Pharisees’ supposed love of the scriptures against them.

v38 Boy, the theme of this book keeps getting repeated: that the works/miracles that Jesus does are why He can be believed.

v40 Jesus walks to Bethany beyond the Jordan which is just above the Dead Sea on the east side of the Jordan.

John Chapter 9

cal staggers blind man

v 1-4 We’re so used to life being all about “me, me, me” that at first it seems harsh that this man would purposefully be born blind by God and live blind for many years “just” for the purpose of this moment:  which is so that Jesus could cure his blindness and that the works of God could be seen by him and by others.  I’m sure there must be a good lesson in this for us all – that we should be grateful for a frailty that we have if it is what drives us to believe in Jesus for eternal life or if it drives us to Him for fellowship.  Reading ahead, this cured blind man definitely becomes a disciple, to the point that he’s willing to be thrown out of the synagogue for siding with Jesus.

v 6  Why go through the trouble of spitting on ground, making clay to use when at other times he heals with a word?  Maybe it’s a picture that, at Creation, He made man from clay – and this is a picture of Him finishing making this man, pointing back to Him in His role as Creator.

v 7 There must be significance in pointing out Siloam means Sent – wish I knew what it is.

v 9 Okay, this a Monty Python scene:  some neighbors are talking about the not-blind man right in front of him saying, “no, looks like him, but it’s not him” and the whole while the cured man is standing in front of them saying, “I am the one!”

v. 22 Being put out of the synagogue means also being kicked out of one’s job, out of the place where shopping was done and losing one’s friends.  It’s a big deal.

v13-34  I love this guy.  I guess their position is equivalent or greater than being the Pope today – and here is this pion lecturing them.  A huge thing just happened to him and he’s watching them nitpick a detail and completely miss the big picture.  At first they denied a miracle happened (v18) and they lost that argument, so then they say Jesus is a sinner (v.24).  The cured man refutes that argument and they don’t have another argument so they just throw him out of the synagogue.

The big picture, I guess, is that we’re all born blind and without eternal life until the day that Jesus opens our eyes and we believe in Him for eternal life.  And also that it is good to stand up for Jesus, even if it means being persecuted.

v38 Wow, now I read that this guy didn’t become a believer until AFTER being thrown out.  The lesson still holds, though, and it makes his boldness in pointing out the obvious to the Pharisees even more vivid.

I guess it also clarifies the steps:  1. Jesus does a miracle  2. a person sees that miracle, proving they can believe what Jesus says   3.  Jesus says He is the Messiah/Christ (which was understood more clearly back then that the Messiah/Christ was the One who guaranteed eternal life)   4.  person believes in Jesus for eternal life

In my comments up above I was skipping from step 1 to step 4

v41  Jesus tells the Pharisees the exact opposite of what the Pharisees told the blind man.  The Pharisees told the blind man that because he’s blind, he has sin –  & they see, so therefore think that they have no sin.

However, Jesus tells the Pharisees that if they were blind (indicating that if they knew that they needed to rely on Jesus), they would have no sin (because He removes penalty for sin).  He also tells them that, “since you say ‘we see'” (meaning they think they’re good and don’t need Jesus) their sin remains.

I wrote in my Bible here “II Corinthians 4:4,” which supports this.

John Ch. 7 & 8 Bible Study

cal staggers john8Chapter 7

When: sometime after the previous Passover.  I noted that particular Passover was either the  2nd or the 3rd one in Jesus’ 3-year ministry because when reading all of John, it’s not clear to me which one it is – His 4th/last Passover begins in Chapter 12

Where:  He’s back in Galilee based out of his hometown.

v. 2 I’m beginning to think the Jews are part cajun – they party and feast all the time.

3 – 5 it’s hard to believe that Jesus’ own brothers didn’t believe and even wanted Him to go into Jerusalem where they indicate that they knew He would be killed.

v. 6 & 8  His time is not yet at hand / has not yet fully come – means the time to be killed.

Chapter 7: Verse 53 The Pharisees each went to his home, supposedly to search the Scriptures/God’s Word to find a way to condemn Jesus.

Chapter 8

8:1  While the Pharisees did that, Jesus, Who is God and Who wrote the very scriptures they are searching, went to the Mount of Olives to talk to God Himself.  What a great contrast.

4-5:  The Pharisees caught the woman in the very act of adultery, so they must have set it up themselves as a way to do what follows to Jesus (did they devise this plan during their search mentioned in 7:53?).  Also indicates that they did not bring the man, with whom they must have arranged this ploy, since the Law would’ve also condemned him.

6:  John 18:31 shows that the Roman law did not allow Jews to put anyone to death.  So the Jews think they’ve arranged the perfect trap, making Jesus disobey either God’s law or Roman law.

So cool: It was Jesus’ finger that wrote the 10 Commandments into the stone tablets (Deut 10:2) , which is the basis of all the law.  Here they’re trying to use the law against Him and he’s writing on the ground with His finger, seemingly creating a picture of them trying to use the Law against the very Man/God who wrote it.

11: The woman must’ve been a believer.

15:  Continuation of adulteress story:  Jesus’ first coming was not for the purpose of judgement, He’ll do that later (at the Great White Throne Judgement).

18:  Jesus’ signs are what His Father gave Him to do, so the signs are the Father’s witness (John 5:36)

v. 24 & v. 28  The translators of your NKJV Bible and of my NASB version insert “He” after “I am.”  If it is left out, having just “I am” as it is in the original version presents the name God gave Himself early in the Old Testament.  Doing it that way seems more powerful.

v. 30-31  These are great verses to point out the difference between being a believer and a disciple.

v. 33 “They” is referring back to the unbelieving Pharisees of v. 13 & v. 22.

v. 41 Jesus was born out of wedlock, but He was not born out of fornication – which they did not understand.

As an aside, it’s interesting that Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, is absolutely not mentioned anywhere after the story of Jesus staying behind in the temple at age 12 when his parents looked for him for a couple of days. Joseph must not be around at all since he is in none of the subsequent stories — and because from the cross, Jesus told John to take care of Mary.  Did he die?  The Scriptures don’t say.

v. 58  There’s His name again:  “I Am”.

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.

return to top of page

Copyright © Cal Staggers ·