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 14: 13-17


v13-14 Many people end their prayers in “in Jesus name I pray, Amen,” and it’s because of verses 13 & 14. This practice has the appearance of passing a magic wand over our prayers to make sure Jesus will do what we want.  However, asking: “Make me a lottery winner, in Jesus name I pray, Amen.” likely won’t make us lottery winners, so there’s something wrong with this thinking.

Instead, these two verses are placed in the context of Jesus telling us to love one another in the church and telling us to keep Jesus’ commands.  So our asking Jesus to do something in His name refers to asking Him to empower us to do something that He already commanded us to do.  He has given us His “power of attorney” in these areas.

For example, He commands husbands to love our wives.  So if we honestly ask Jesus to give us love for our wife, He has promised us to do it – no ifs or buts – it’s a guarantee.  And we are commanded to control our tongue.  Paul says that is the most difficult thing in the world to do, but if we ask Jesus to empower us to do it, He guaranteed us He will!  How cool is that?

v15  This is a helpful verse showing that love is an action not a feeling.

v16-17 Looking ahead to v26, we see that the Helper is the Holy Spirit; meaning we also get help from the Holy Spirit, too!  What an amazing verse.  I tend to think about the love it took for Jesus to leave His throne to come to earth as a man and to suffer and die – all for us.  But I don’t give enough thought to the fact that the Holy Spirit is just as much God as Jesus – and He, too, sacrificed by coming to dwell in each believer.  His main location is described as seven flames before the heavenly throne.  Now for all eternity, He will also dwell in church-age believers.  Now that’s sacrificial love from a God who didn’t even have to create us, but did so and also sacrifices Himself in these ways for us.

John Ch. 13: 1-17

cal staggers Gospel_of_John_Chapter_13-1

You may have noticed that I’ve been skipping over what seems to be straight-forward and obvious in order to try and dig out what isn’t.  That’s probably not the best way to write out a study, but we’re going so fast that’s what I’m focusing on.

V1. Nice double meaning: “loved them to the end,” meaning both: loved them to the end of His life on earth, and He loved them to the utmost.

V4. On a practical basis, after walking in sandals down dirty roads to someone’s house, washing feet needed to be done before entering (which the host or his servant usually did, or someone who didn’t mind lowering himself to that menial chore – and which, apparently NONE of the disciples wanted to do for the others in this incident) and especially before eating – because who wants to recline at a low table with the next guy’s nasty feet in your face?  But, of course, Jesus has a bigger purpose in mind, an object lesson.

Peter is so impulsive – he’s my next favorite disciple after John.

V6. Jesus says that what He’s doing, Peter (and probably all the disciples) does not understand – which means it’s something OTHER than serving one another (which is the usual explanation of this passage).  But apparently He’s not teaching us to serve, so what is the lesson?  We get a hint in…

V10. So “bathing” also means “completely clean” and is different than “washing feet”.  We can figure out what “bathing” means because in v.2 we read that Satan is influencing Judas, who is not a believer.  In this verse Jesus says the group is completely clean, but not everyone is clean. Someone is not saved and is still dirty in their sins which must refer to Judas.  Dirt is a picture of sins.  Therefore, having taken a bath means to believe in Jesus for eternal life and for forgiveness of sins.  Once we do that we’re completely clean of our sins and never need to bathe again.

But we still need to figure out what washing feet means.  In verse 8 we see that Jesus tells Peter that if He doesn’t wash Peter’s feet, Peter can have “no part” with Jesus.  “No part” is a synonym for fellowship.  And we saw that dirt is a picture of sins.  So it appears that as we walk through life, our feet get dirty with daily sins.  Jesus must forgive us of our ongoing sins on an ongoing basis so that we can have continued fellowship with Him.  This is true even though our one-time bath cleansed us of our “positional” sins and gave us eternal life.

V14-15. Jesus tells the disciples that they should wash each other’s feet just as Jesus washes our feet.  Meaning that we should forgive each other as He has forgiven us.

V16. We shouldn’t think that we’re better than Jesus and that we don’t have to forgive someone, anyone, else.  Jesus has forgiven us of a life-time of sins that killed Him, so how can we be so arrogant as to not forgive someone else of what may seem to be the worst offense possible against us, but which is in reality a speck compared to what Jesus forgave us for (pretty convicting!).

But does Jesus just automatically wash our feet?  No.  We have to confess our sins to Him first.

We see in this concept spelled out in Matthew 6:12, the part of the Lord’s Prayer in which we ask, on a daily basis, our Father in heaven to “forgive us of our sins.”

And this also ties into one of my favorite promises in the Bible – I John 1:9:  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.”  Which lets us know that all we have to do is to confess the sins of which we’re aware, and then God will forgive us of ALL our sins, even the ones of which we don’t know.  And Jesus promises in John 13 that our fellowship with Him will continue.  Pretty cool.

V17. If we do this, we’ll be “blessed,” also translated as “happy!”

John Chapter 12

cal staggers Gospel_of_John_Chapter_12-3

How swell – v1 gives us the when and where:  just before Jesus’ fourth (and last) Passover in Bethany, which is just outside Jerusalem.

v3. I was wondering why the “therefore” is present just after saying that Martha was serving and Lazarus was reclining – and then realized, that IS the reason. It was custom in those days that whenever a guest showed up that a hospitable host (or if rich, their servant) would clean a guest’s feet of the dust and dirt accumulated from walking to their house.  However, neither Martha nor Lazarus did that. Similar to the Luke 7:37 passage when Mary did this for Jesus early in His ministry, she again cleans his feet with nard and with her hair.

v7. I’ve always assumed that Mary used the entire amount of perfume and that Jesus is saying in this verse to let her “keep it” meant to let Mary keep this custom right then, which would be a mystical reading.  But I see now – it’s not that at all – it’s very literal.  Jesus is telling Judas to let Mary keep the perfume (what’s left) instead of giving it for the poor because she will need it when Jesus dies.  I looked around and found that indeed Mary did this, as described at Luke 23:56.

I’m finding that with more and more study of the Bible, that literal meanings come alive and there’s no need to assume or create a mystical meaning as a way to explain what I or anyone else does not understand.

v10.  It’s amazing that God chose this people group, knowing how they would treat Him. However, He also knows the end and that they will turn back to Him one day.

v13.  Regarding football, I forget which famous coach said that, One year, a town will name a street after you and the next they’ll run you down it.  Seems human nature doesn’t change.

v20. This verse about the Greeks’ request and:

v23. This verse about Jesus’ reply don’t seem to match

I suppose Jesus reply means that He has more important work to do, which is getting on with His dying for sin, so that He doesn’t have time for a gawking-meeting with these Greeks.

v26. Maybe this is a more direct answer to the Greeks and to all who want to see Jesus – they and we need to follow His instructions given here.

v31. Sin & Satan are judged at the cross.

v32. Jesus must be lifted up on the cross to draw everyone to Himself.

v35-36. Jesus seems to be telling these people that if they don’t respond and believe now while Jesus was there, that their heart may become so hard that they’ll never believe.

v42. Nicodemus still falls in this group.

v47. Jesus is referring to sayings of eternal life (as we will see in v50).

v48.  Just like the ideal courtroom judge today does not use his opinion or emotion, but instead enforces the law before him – at the Great White Throne Judgement of unbelievers, Jesus perfectly enforces the rules that are already in place.

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 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).

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.

Gospel of John – Chapter 1

Cal StaggersRecently, I have come across some notes from when my brother and I started studying John together.  I thought it might be appropriate to share them here on my Bible Studies blog:
Dear Brother,
I’m glad we’re going to study John together!  Here are some miscellaneous thoughts I had while reading the first chapter.
I’m in the middle of reading the first chapter and thought I’d ask:  what version of the Bible are you reading?  I’m reading the New American Standard that I’ve had since 1985 or so, and that Dad gave me the first time I went to church with him when visiting from Dallas.  The New King James is my favorite because it is closest to the Majority of Manuscripts (and therefore more accurate), but my NAS is so marked up, I can’t change over!
Something I’ve begun doing recently while reading is to think about WHERE and WHEN what’s being written happened.  When doing this, it is helpful to have a Bible with a map of the New Testament-era Israel.  1:28 says these things happened in Bethany beyond the Jordan.  My map shows that as being on the east side of the Jordan River very close to the Dead Sea.  So the priests and Levites must’ve walked about 10-12 miles to get to John the Baptist.
Going back to 1:12 – it’s way cool that when we become believers, we become God’s children.  Since earthly fathers are damaged people (as are we all), it can be hard to think of that as a good thing – but He’s a perfect Father who provides perfectly and we usually don’t understand that whole construct.  I don’t know if it’s a function of age or being more consistent in reading/prayer for the last couple of years, but my relationship to God has expanded from just Father/Son to also include a friendship element that’s exciting.  I hope I don’t move away from that and Him!
1:43 Jesus decides to head back to Galilee – a 4-day walk (found in chapt 11) and 3 disciples are from Bethsaida which is on the NE corner of the Sea of Galilee.

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