John 15: 5-6

 In this passage it’s helpful to remember that Jesus is not speaking to unbelievers here – but that His audience is the 11 disciples and by extension all believers seeking to live in discipleship.

 v5: At first I thought this was just a restatement that we can do nothing of worth without the power of Jesus, and I suppose it is, but it also clarifies for the first time that THE disciples (and  all believers seeking to live in discipleship) are represented by the branches.  This verse also repeats and emphasizes that disciples have a choice to continue to abide or not to abide.

v6:  Jesus gave two classes of believers in v2 – those that dry up because they’re not abiding in Jesus and bearing fruit; and those that do abide and bear fruit. Jesus now switches from talking about the second group and talks about the first group.

If a believer stops abiding, that branch is thrown away – which is a picture of being outside of fellowship with Jesus.  The branch/believer stops abiding in fellowship first, then the vine/Jesus follows through by removing fellowship.  When that branch is then thrown away, it dries up – a loss of spiritual vitality.  These branches are now not good for anything, so they’re gathered up and cast into the fire of discipline.

 This whole picture has been so misunderstood as talking about unbelievers going to hell because of the knee-jerk reaction to think that every reference to fire is a reference to hell – most times the Bible is referring to discipline here on the earth in this life.

John 15: 1-4

Where:  Jerusalem – they just arose from being in the Upper Room for…
When:  The Last Supper/First Lord’s Supper during Jesus’ last Passover and just before going to the Garden of Gethsemane to be betrayed
v1+: This continues the discussion of Jesus telling the disciples to not be fearful that He is leaving, because as they and any believer loves Him and keeps His commands, Jesus and the Father will abide with us (along with the Holy Spirit who is with us regardless of our obedience) and we will be able to do great works, such as exhibit love.
You explained the meaning of the word fruit well – as you say, in the Bible sometimes it refers to words and sometimes it refers to works and we have to determine which by the context.  Here it is the works that Jesus discussed in Chapter 14.
So we are the branches that receive our source of power from Jesus the vine.  The Father is the vinedresser Who deals with us according to what He sees that we need.
v2: I was taught that “He prunes it” is better translated as “He cleans it” (which is indeed given as the alternate translation in my NAS Bible).  So there are two classifications of branches:  those that do not bear fruit, which the vinedresser takes away; and those that do bear fruit, which the vinedresser cleans – or disciplines in order to stimulate growth – so that these branches may bear even more fruit.
Hmmm, there’s no classification of believer that does not receive some sort of discipline.  I don’t know why I’m always surprised to read that – I know it’s true that we’re to consider it all joy when we encounter various trials, and that we definitely will have trials to make us more Christ-like – however, some part of me must think there’s an escape clause.  But there’s not during this lifetime.
I guess it’s helpful to point out (I just looked this up in the dictionary) that “discipline” is not only “punishment for the sake of enforcing obedience and perfecting moral character,” BUT also “to train or develop by instruction and exercise, especially in self-control.”  So this is a good synonym for cleaning the vine because God allows trials to happen to people even when they’re not disobedient for the purpose of making us better vines.
v3: The alternate translation of “He cleans it” flows well with v. 3 when Jesus tells the 11 disciples that “You are already clean” – and He says that’s because of the word which He spoke to them.  So it appears that words are discipline for sensitive hearts.  His words pointed out their sin and pointed them to Jesus – and His word/Bible does that for us if we’re sensitive to Him.
v4 : So we have to be at home with/stay in fellowship with Jesus in order to have good works – seemingly good works are not fruit at all if they’re not done in His strength.

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: 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 14: 1-12

cal staggers Preach-Bible-John

v1 is a continuation of 13:38 (which is obscured by the later-inserted, man-made chapter break), so after Jesus tells Peter that he’s going to deny Him, he doesn’t berate Peter – instead He encourages Him!  I was about to type that some of the denominational churches I’ve visited would tell Jesus He’s wrong for that, but then I would be just as judgemental as they were (hmmm… I still managed to work that in).

v2 We’re only in heaven for a snap, and then the 1000-year reign of Christ will wrap up the Old Testament era that got put on hold when the Jewish nation didn’t believe – so I think we should take this verse as a reference to the New Heaven and Earth when all believers will be in the New Jerusalem.  The city will be a 1,500-mile cube and that’s where our dwelling place will be (that’s a really quick draw from Revelation).

v3 Jesus is pulling out the stops on encouraging Peter and us.  And when you have an eternal perspective, you can describe Rapture through the New Jerusalem in one sentence.

v5  You’d think that Thomas would see that our Father’s house is in heaven – however now that I type that, I realize that, eternally speaking, it isn’t in heaven – it’s in the New Jerusalem.  So maybe Thomas is more honest than most of us in saying that he doesn’t get it.  The Father’s House is in a different time not in a different place, since Thomas is standing in the right place (after creation is remade) just not in the right time.

v6 I love straight-forward statements like this that let other “ways” know that they’re not the way at all.

v9 One benefit to Philip and the other disciples asking questions like this is that it gives Jesus opportunities to explain things to them that we all need to hear.

v11 Again we see that the purpose of Jesus’ miracles is to lead people to believe that He’s the Father’s son and to believe His promise of eternal life.

v12 Now this is a cool verse: “…the works that I do shall he do also” – it doesn’t say that our physical works will be as good as His, but just that we shall have physical works. “And greater works than these shall he do” – What we can do is even greater than the miracles that Jesus did, which means that the love we have one for one another (as He just explained in 13:35) is greater than His miracles.  That’s hard to imagine!

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 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 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.

return to top of page

Copyright © Cal Staggers ·