STUDY IN THE BOOK OF JOHN
Written by: Jackson, Bill Posted on: 05/12/2003
Category: Bible Studies
STUDY IN THE BOOK OF JOHN
by Bill Jackson
. It is fitting that a basic course in the Bible should have the Gospel
of John as its theme. John is known as the disciple whom Jesus loved, and his
name brings to mind the idea of loving communion with the Lord Jesus.
Although nearly 2000 years have passed since the earthly life of our Lord, He
is still waiting to share the same love with those who will follow Him. It is
to this end that this Bible course is dedicated. Each lesson will consist
of a scripture portion for you to read, with some notes from the passage.
Please read the verses at least twice, then read the notes and answer the
questions. After answering the questions, you may check them with the Answer
Key after Lesson 7. If you have any points that you have a question about,
please write. We are glad to enter into discussion on any of the Bible
truths. God bless you as you study His Word!
The Gospel of John in a nutshell
Read: John 1:1-14
. We see the Lord Jesus revealed to us as the Word, or expression, of
God. His eternal being with the Father is majestically unfolded in verse 1.
. In verse 3 we see the Lord Jesus as Creator; in verse 4 as Life-
giver. This life is more than mere physical being, as this is the Light of
men. Verse 9 tells us this is the True Light for all.
. Previous to the Incarnation (which means the Word made flesh, see
verse 14), although the Light of Christ did shine in the darkness of the
world, the Light was not known. This leads us to the beginning of the
manifestation of this True Light.
. We see a witness raised up to testify of the true Light. He was John
the Baptist, and although the Bible plainly states that he was not that Light,
he gathered men together under his powerful preaching to tell them not of
himself - but of the coming Light, the Lord Jesus Christ.
. But even though He was heralded by John, and even though He gave
life-giving Light, our Lord was not accepted by many. Verses 10 and 11 are
among the saddest in scripture; not only that the world as a whole did not
receive Him - even His own people turned their backs on Him.
. So it has always been, and so it is now. Most men choose their own
ways rather than His, and while He has stamped His image upon two thousand
years of history, the Lord Jesus Christ is, to the vast majority of the human
race, an unknown Person.
. We can take heart that some did receive Him, and became Sons of God.
Those of His early followers, including the writer John, testified that they
saw His Glory, for He was full of Grace and Truth. The remainder of the
chapter gives ample evidence of this wonderful Grace of Jesus.
. Today there are still men that see His Glory. Poverty, war, hatred,
violence, trouble; all these were present in the first century when the Light
of the world dawned upon the Judean hills. Some, only a comparative few saw
that Glory. The world has not changed very much since, for amid all the
problems and perplexities of the 20th century living, some (but very few) see
His Glory and are blessed.
. Becoming His Sons involved a miracle never before revealed to the
world. Those who believed (trusted) in Him were born of God. Ordinary men
received a New Birth, and in the initial revelation of this phenomenon (we
shall read more of it in Lesson 3), God plainly illustrates the New Birth by
telling us what it is not.
. (1) It is not "of blood", that is, you cannot inherit the New Birth
as you inherit other features and tendencies from your parents.
. (2) It is not "of the will of the flesh", that is, it is not the
normal tendency for any person in the world. Left to ourselves we couldn't
experience the New Birth.
. (3) It is not "of the will of man", that is, no man can decree,
when, where or how you will receive the New Birth. It is not dependent on any
act by any other person.
. In the simplest terms, to be expanded later, we are plainly told that
it is to be "born ...of God." No nobler birth can be mans, and treasures yet
to be unfolded in God's Word will make it clear how all can enter into this
grand experience and truly become sons of God.
QUESTIONS (Answer True or False.)
1. John's Gospel clearly states that Jesus is the Eternal Son of God.
2. John the Baptist was the Light of men.
3. Everyone eagerly received the Light of Christ.
4. Those who received Christ became sons of God.
5. In order to receive the New Birth, we must rely on the co-
operation of men.
6. Those who receive the Lord Jesus Christ see His Glory.
7. We are God's children because we have Christian parents.
Mary's only command
Read: John 2:1-11
. From verse 11 of this chapter we can see the purpose of Jesus' first
miracle. It was to manifest His Glory so His disciples would believe in Him.
. Besides this primary importance of the miraculous changing of water
to wine, it is interesting to see the role that Mary the mother of Jesus
played in this. It is one of the few times between the birth and Passion of
the Lord that she is mentioned. The words that she spoke in John 2 contain
the only command that Mary ever uttered.
. Any Bible student, whether Protestant or Catholic, will admit the
important part Mary played in bringing the Lord Jesus Christ into the world.
It will therefore be very helpful to contemplate the importance of her only
. Mary's first statement, "they have no wine" (v. 3) gives us a good
indication of her practicality. She was no mystical, ethereal creature; she
was a down-to-earth woman, seeing a small but real need.
. So often we tend to think of Bible heroes walking around with halos,
as if they were of another world and didn't know the realities of this one.
Jesus didn't walk around with a light shining on His head and neither did
Peter or Mary. True holiness is demonstrated by a life of dedication to God,
not a halo.
. Mary classed herself with humanity and saw human need, just as she
spoke on the "Magnificat" (Luke 1:46-55) of her need of a Saviour. Thus she
counted herself a sinner, not in the sense of great wickedness, but as one who
shared the lot of all mankind. As St. Augustine said, "Mary was more blessed
in having Jesus as her Saviour than in giving Him birth.
. Jesus' retort to Mary sounds abrupt, but His addressing her as
"Woman" carries no idea of disrespect. Jesus said it was not yet time for Him
to perform a miracle, and yet a moment later a miracle was performed. Is this
a mistake? Did Jesus act solely because Mary had pointed out the need?
. A look at these few verses will convince us that neither of these is
true. We know He made no mistakes, and we can see that His response to Mary's
initial plea was negative.
. Our attention must be focused upon verse five, which is the key.
This verse contains the only command that Mary ever gave: "Whatsoever He
saith unto you, do it." To this statement Jesus gave full and immediate
response, thereby demonstrating important truths about His power.
. First, we see that His miraculous power came into operation in
response to obedience that was prompted by faith. Imagine drawing water and
carrying it out to the table as if it were wine. But in doing so, it became
manifest that it was wine!
. In this light, we see Mary as the one who drew attention to Jesus,
and made it clear that it was reliance on Him that would meet their need.
Anyone who is looking to a church, its sacraments, or to their own good works
as a means of salvation would do well to take heed to Mary's only command!
. We also see that Jesus' miraculous power does not come into operation
automatically whenever there is a need. Were this true, all sinners on earth
would be instantly be converted.
. A MIRACLE OF GRACE TAKES PLACE WHEN THE NEED FOR SALVATION IS
RECOGNIZED AND THE REMEDY IS APPLIED IN OBEDIENCE TO THE WORDS OF JESUS.
. The command of the Virgin Mary was that we should obey the words of
Jesus, and that we should rely on Him to perform in our lives that which we
need. The greatest miracle is the true conversion of a sinner to God. In
this we see the same principles as were present at Jesus' first miracle at
(1) RECOGNITION OF A NEED. John 2:3 - "they have no wine." This
pictures man's need of salvation, as Romans 3:23 says, "all
have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
(2) UNDERSTANDING THE CONSEQUENCES. As shortage of wine would
have ruined the feast, sin ruins the lives of men. (Romans
6:23 -- "the wages of sin is death.")
(3) OUR ONLY HELP IS CHRIST. As He met the need at Cana, ÿPeter
says,"Who his own bare our sins in his own body on the tree"
(1 Peter 2:24). John adds "the blood of Jesus Christ His Son
cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
(4) BECAUSE OF OUR FAITH IN HIM WE BECOME CHILDREN OF GOD. It is
not because of our background, good works or church attend-
ance (see John 1:12).
QUESTIONS (Answer True or False)
1. Jesus turned the water into wine because Mary asked Him to.
2. John 2 records Mary's only command in scripture.
3. Mary did not need salvation because she was sinless.
4. Sin is a destructive force and results in death.
5. As long as we are sincere, we will get to Heaven.
6. Everyone needs salvation; the Bible says, "all have sinned."
7. The blood of Jesus Christ can wash us clean from all sin.
The new birth
Read: John 3:1-16
. In chapter one, John outlines some basic facts about the New Birth by
telling us what it is not. By emphasizing that this operation is not of man's
doing, he clearly establishes the fact that the New Birth is supernatural. It
is not the act of a minister, a priest or a church - it is an act of God.
Having the foundation laid, now the Lord Jesus gives personal application in
. In John 3:3, Jesus said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see
the Kingdom of God." The necessity of this New Birth is repeated in verses 5
and 7. If our Lord was so careful to underline the importance of the New
Birth, it is worth our while to find out what it is.
. Without this experience no one can get to Heaven. Unless each of us
is born again, we will never see God's Heavenly Kingdom.
. Nicodemus had a hard time understanding the New Birth (see verse 4),
and so it is today. Many very educated men cannot understand the simplicity
of this regenerative act of God.
. As we have already seen, the New Birth is not Baptism. It is not
making resolutions, however sincerely. It does not come to a person because
of the station on life which he was born, or because of inherited religious
beliefs. It is a supernatural Act of God.
. Jesus plainly stated that one must be born of water and the Holy
Spirit - but if some kind of a "water birth" administered by man was needed to
get spiritual life, it would not be a supernatural Act of God. And the Word
of God is very plain that the New Birth is supernatural.
. It is very easy to understand that man becomes a natural creature
when he has a natural birth - the birth by water. Having had this natural
birth and being a natural man, he must now have a spiritual birth - a New
. Jesus says plainly, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and
that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit" (John 3:6). By the natural
(water) birth man becomes natural; by the spiritual (Spirit) birth, man
becomes spiritual. As the natural birth brings a natural life, so the
spiritual birth gives man a spiritual life, the life of God.
. How to receive this spiritual birth which is the New Birth (being
born again) is outlined in John's Gospel, chapter 3, verse 16. This verse
should be memorized, as it contains the heart of the Gospel.
. To be spiritually dead is to perish. In John 3:16 we read of those
who do not perish; instead, they have a wonderful Gift called Everlasting
. WHY? - Because they have received the New Birth, and as they were
once dead in their sins, they have been brought to life by the New Birth.
They have become spiritually ALIVE when once they were DEAD.
. HOW? - By believing in (or trusting in) the Lord Jesus Christ. No
work that I can do, nor any ceremony performed over me can do the job. Jesus
alone can save, and I must trust Him to do it. Anything else that I may be
trusting - good works, alms, sacraments, saints, prayers, all must be seen to
be lacking. If we have faith in these things to help to save us, we cannot be
fully trusting in the Lord Jesus. Since His Sacrifice was infinitely able to
save, nothing can be added to His work, so we must trust Him alone.
. Truly trusting in Him means to place my whole reliance on Him for
salvation. As the poet puts it:
. "Upon a life I could not live;
. Upon a death I could not die;
. On Another's Life, Another's Death
. I stake my whole eternity."
QUESTIONS (Answer True of False)
1. Jesus repeatedly told us the New Birth is necessary.
2. Nicodemus had no trouble understanding all Jesus said.
3. Man receives natural life from his natural parents in his first birth.
4. This natural life is governed by natural laws; spiritual birth is governed
by spiritual laws.
5. A person is born again when he truly trusts Christ as his Saviour.
6. The New Birth is Baptism in water.
7. John 3:16 teaches that everlasting life is a gift.
How to avert God's judgement
Read: John 5:19-27
. The message of the Gospel according to John is one of great hope and
promise. In chapter one we found out that we can become true children of God.
In chapter two, we saw the Lord Jesus as the One Who can meet every need -
material and spiritual. In chapter three, we studied the New Birth - God's
supernatural act that makes us His Children when we receive Jesus as our
. Now we are going to look at Judgement, and at first, this seems a
reversal of the theme of the promise of everlasting life, and in vivid
contrast is the fact that there is eternal judgement waiting for some. We can
only understand the introduction of this sober thought when we realize God's
motive for speaking of judgement is to tell us how we will be able to avert
. Judgement is mentioned three times in the nine verses; in verses 22
and 27, we are told that God the Father has committed all judgement to the
Son. In between these two verses, in verse 24, we have one of the most
wonderful statements that ever fell from the lips of Jesus. Note it carefully
one phrase at a time.
. "Verily, Verily (truly), I say unto you" - these words point ahead to
the importance of the coming statement, and its complete trustworthiness.
Jesus indicated He is going to say something of vital importance.
. "He that heareth my word" refers to the message of the Gospel (the
Good News), which the disciples of Jesus were told to preach to the world.
This is still being faithfully proclaimed today. It is not man's word; it is
God's infallible Word.
. "Believeth on him that sent me" tells us the importance of our
believing the testimony that God gives concerning the saving power of Jesus
Christ. God never bears witness to any saving power in a church or Christian
minister. There is one Saviour from sin; He is the perfect Saviour. The
sacrificial death of Jesus was sufficient to take away sin, and God declares
in His Word that Jesus died for us, in our place, as our Substitute. Because
He took the punishment we deserved, we can receive the free gift we do not
deserve. A gift from God is freely given, not merited or earned. God's Word
tells us plainly that His salvation is a gift.
. "Hath everlasting life" - this speaks of present possession of a life
that is eternal, and cannot pass away. Nothing can take it away or destroy
it, for it comes from God and is everlasting.
. "Shall not come into condemnation" (the Catholic version says "cometh
into judgement") - this means there can be no thought of hell or purgatory for
those who have heard His Word and believed the testimony that God has given
about Jesus Christ. Instead of living our lives in dread of what may be
awaiting us in eternity, we are confident - not in ourselves, but in the
perfection of Him Whom we trust for everlasting life.
. "Is passed from death to life" refers to what we studied in the last
lesson - the New Birth. We were spiritually dead, and when we receive the
Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we are reborn; we are brought supernaturally
from death to life. In the last part of verse 24 we are assured that a person
who has looked to Jesus Christ for salvation has already passed from death
(where we receive a gift we do not deserve).
. That gift is eternal life, and once we have received this gift we are
truly converted to Christ and eternally secure because of His sacrificial
death for us, and the miracle of the New Birth that operated in our lives as
we place our trust for salvation completely upon Jesus Christ alone.
QUESTIONS (Answer True or False)
1. God desires that all of us escape His Judgement for sin.
2. The words of Jesus in John 5:24 are completely true.
3. His promise is to those who respond to the Gospel message.
4. God tell us in His Word that we are saved by a human priest.
5. The church is God's means of salvation.
6. When we are born again, we pass from death to life.
The Bread of Life
Read: John 6:31-55
. This is one of the most important lessons of our study. We have
learned basic truths concerning salvation. Every chapter of John's Gospel
contains precious teaching about how we can escape the consequences of sin. We
can be children of God, born again by His supernatural power, as we hear His
Word and trust Jesus as our Saviour from sin. We understand salvation by
seeing it from different aspects. If we read John 4, we see Jesus pictured as
the Water of Life. Now, in John 6, we see Him as the Bread of life, and we
are taught how to partake of HIm. John 6:54 is important; it teaches us that
we must partake of Christ, and it portrays this in literal terms - eat His
flesh and drink His blood.Some tell us this speaks of the Mass, where there is
claimed to be a literal eating and drinking of Christ in Holy Communion. If
this were true, it would be necessary for one to take Holy Communion only once
in a life time. Verse 55 says that if we eat His flesh and drink His blood we
HAVE (present tense) everlasting life. If Jesus literally meant eating and
drinking, He surely meant everlasting life - a life that would be eternal and
never-ending. When a person receives everlasting life, he has that which can
never pass away; therefore once a person truly eats the flesh of Jesus and
drinks His blood they are eternally saved. Literal terms are used because this
partaking of Christ is more than a shadow or a symbol. It is a glorious
reality, and far surpasses any religious experience such as the Jews were used
to. For them, religion was going to worship once a week, reciting prescribed
prayers and doing religious deeds. Partaking of a person's very existence was
foreign to their thoughts, but Jesus said this was necessary if they were to
have eternallife. Jesus further explained His words in verse 63 when He said,
"It is the spirit that quickeneth (or bring life); the flesh profiteth
nothing." So it's a spiritual partaking of Christ - but it is so real that it
completely differs from anything we had previously known in our life. John
6:33 had told us, in introducing this thought, that Jesus is the bread of God,
and that He gives life. This prepares us for the idea of partaking of Him,
and thereby receiving everlasting life. Look carefully at John 6:35, for this
sums up the whole truth God is bringing to us here. "He that cometh to me
shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." Here both
thoughts are expressed - eating and drinking. Here is positive assurance to
the partakers - shall NEVER hunger; shall NEVER thirst! Here is clearly set
out the conditions to be brought to this place of everlasting life and full
assurance. "He that comes to Jesus" - in coming we of necessity leave other
things behind. We must turn from our sin; the Bible calls this repentance.
We must forsake the things we had relied on for salvation, even though they
were religious and good things. Perhaps they are the things we have always
relied on for salvation - prayers, masses, confessions, pennances, indulgences
- all things must be left behind when coming to Jesus. The same is implied
when we speak of believing in Jesus. This does not mean to believe something
about Him; it means to trust Him completely, to have full reliance on Him and
Him alone for our salvation. If you are trusting old religious observances
they must be scrapped if you are to truly partake of Christ, and receive His
free gift of everlasting life.
QUESTIONS (Answer True or False)
1. Although seen from different aspects, God has only one plan of salvation.
2. Knowing Christ as Saviour is more than ordinary religious experience.
3. We can drink Jesus' blood when we take Holy Communion.
4. Jesus said it is the Spirit that gives life.
5. Anyone who truly comes to Jesus will never hunger spiritually.
6. If we truly trust christ, there is nothing else upon which we rely.
7. In John 6:55, Jesus was speaking about the Sacrifice of the Mass.
He died for me
Read: John 19:17-30
. We have studied various aspects of salvation, and have learned much
concerning how this gift can be received. Now in this lesson we are going to
view the great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ - the actual purchase price
of this great salvation.
. This part of the life of Jesus is often called His Passion - which
simply means His sufferings. While the sufferings on the Cross are unique,
they are a climax to a life of suffering which began when Jesus Christ left
Heaven's Glory and, for our sakes, became man.
. The events surrounding Calvary burst upon our viewing of the life of
our Lord suddenly, but this was no unexpected event as far as He was
concerned. He knew man would fall, and therefore He ordained the death of
Christ before the world was created.
. In chapter 18, we can read of Peter's denial, of Jesus' appearing
before Annas, Caiaphas and Pilate and of the release of Barabbas, who the Jews
chose instead of Jesus. In the beginning of chapter 19, we find Jesus still
before Pilate, and we read of His being mistreated by the Roman soldiers.
After making efforts to release Him Pilate gave in to the Jews and delivered
Jesus to them for crucifixion.
. An account of His journey to Calvary follows, and it is interesting
to note that, in scripture, it does not record the three times Jesus was said
to have fallen beneath His Cross, nor does it mention any meeting with
Veronica or Mary.
. Jesus was crucified between two thieves, and in another Gospel we
read that one of these, in the hour of his death, asked the Lord Jesus for
salvation, which was graciously granted him.
. The soldiers parted His garments and gambled for His coat, all in
fulfillment of prophecy. From the account in the four Gospels, we find that
33 Old testament prophecies were fulfilled in the Passion of Jesus.
. Jesus' mother was standing by the Cross with two other women and the
Apostle John. Mary's husband Joseph had most likely died before this event,
and the brothers of our Lord mentioned in scripture were unbelievers. With
the loving care of a son to his mother, Jesus indicated his desire that John
should henceforth treat Mary as his own mother, and John readily obeyed.
. Now that His last earthly tie was taken care of, Jesus said, "I
thirst." Many Bible students see in this statement the full agony of Christ,
literally suffering the pains of hell for our redemption. And Jesus in
reality did become our Substitute - dying the death we deserve to die so that
we, trusting in HIm, might receive the benefits of this perfect sacrifice for
sin - His Gift of eternal Life!
. Jesus then said, "It is finished." And indeed it was. His
redemptive death on the Cross fulfilled, Jesus commended His Spirit to His
Father and died.
. And the wonderful trust that comes echoing down the centuries - HE
DIED FOR ME!
QUESTIONS (Answer True or False)
1. God's great salvation is a free gift.
2. John's gospel tells us of Jesus meeting St. Veronica.
3. Jesus was crucified between two thieves.
4. Much Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus died.
5. Jesus asked John to care for His mother Mary.
6. Jesus died on Calvary as my substitute.
7. Jesus' death and resurrection completed God's plan of redemption.
Jesus' parting words
Read: John 20:21-31
. John, chapter 20 begins with the wonderful news of Jesus'
resurrection from the dead. His Sacrifice was complete, and its full
acceptance by God was verified by the resurrection. As He met again with
the disciples who could hardly believe the good news, Jesus spoke some
important words. Obedience to His instructions brings success to His Church.
. First, He gives them His salutation of "Peace." They had been
troubled and distressed; He assures them that in Him they can have peace - and
He says the same to believers today. Then He makes the remarkable
statement that He is sending them as the Father sent Him. There could be no
higher calling, and we note that it is all the disciples that are gathered
here, not just the eleven apostles. Breathing upon them, He speaks of the
receiving of the Holy Spirit, and then He gives them the actual power to remit
and to retain sin. We can see here in verses 21-23 three thoughts linked
(1) the commission to go preach the Gospel;
(2) the promise of power of the Holy Spirit; and
(3) the authority to remit and retain sin.
. These should never be separated on our thinking; they all go
. Looking at the other recorded Commissions of the Lord Jesus in the
other Gospels, we see striking similarities.
. In Matthew 28, we see the commission to go (v.19) and this going is
dependent on the power of God. The authority is given to make disciples and
to teach them the truth (v. 19, 20).
. In Mark 16, the commission is given in verse 15, the promise of the
power of the Holy Spirit in verse 17, and the fact that they can proclaim this
gospel with full authority in verse 16: "He that believeth (the gospel you
preach) shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be condemned." We see
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