27.4 John – In Secret

The serpent in the garden was described as being crafty.  When we sin, we often think we, too, are very crafty in our secrets and lies.  We think our sin is secret and doesn’t impact anyone else.  We think our sin is secret and not evident to others.  We think our sin is secret and doesn’t affect our relationships, especially our relationship with God.  But secrets are never truly secret – it is all just a crafty deception by the father of all lies that leads us to believe that we are crafty deceivers too.

I thought of this as I thought about Joseph of Arimathea working secretly.  Let’s see how that went.  Pilate knew, since he had to ask.  The soldiers knew, since they would have had to lower Jesus from the cross.  The servants of J of A knew, because they would have been tasked with helping move the body.  Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council knew, since he came to help.  His servants knew, since he probably didn’t lug 75 pounds of spices by himself.  The apostles knew because some of the women followed and observed where he was being buried.  The Jewish rulers of the law knew because they requested Pilate post Roman guards at the entrance to the tomb, obviously also knowing which tomb.  The Romans also knew which tomb to stand guard.  God knew.

At this point, I’m not quite sure who wasn’t in on this secret!

Just a point to keep in mind when you look at the “secret things” in your own life.

My Answers:

Joe, member of the council, good and upright (see description of Job: blameless and upright), from Arimathea, Judean town, waiting for the kingdom of God, had a grave.  Nick, Pharisee, member of Jewish ruling council, came to Jesus at night, asked q’s about being born again, J3:16 spoken to him.  Tried to get Jesus a more fair trial, but shouted down.  Neither man confessed following Jesus because of fear – “they loved human praise more than praise from God.”

They lost the ability to interact with Jesus.  They could not sit at his feet and learn, instead they had to hide in the shadows.  They were not a witness to others but sided with those who murdered Jesus.  They gained guilt by association.  They gained membership into the leadership council, but without any true voice in the council.  They gained status and praise of men.

They risked being chastised and shunned by the religious leaders.  They risked being outed to them by others.  They risked being identified with Jesus followers.  They gained a place in history for their kindness (after the fact).  They gained the ability to repent of their part in Jesus’ murder and make minor restitution.  We don’t know their future

fear of censure or ridicule by others.  Fear of being labeled with a lie.  Fear of mis-acting or mis-speaking. Prayerfully and boldly.

27.3 John – Dead or Alive

It makes sense to us, but it is a fact worth stating: to raise from the dead you must first truly be dead.  Our lesson this week does a nice job of looking at the evidence of this fact.

First is the fact that someone died on the cross.  For the Roman soldiers, this execution was not their first rodeo.  They knew a lot about crucifixion, execution and death.  The new the signs of life and of death having experienced it over and over again.  They not only pronounced him dead by observation, but initiated a more thorough bodily exam by piercing his side with a spear while he still hung on the cross.  The direction of the spear into someone suspended above the soldier would have pierced into his diaphragm, lungs and possibly even to his heart.  If he was still alive, air would have gasped through the wound from the lungs, blood would have pulsed out through the cut arteries, the man would have cried out, moaned, or at least reflexed from the incision.

Second, the body was taken down from the cross and buried.  But, before he was placed in a tomb alone for three days he was wrapped and packed in spices by two individuals who had permission from Pilate and who cared about the murdered man.  If he was still alive, they would have seen evidence and would not have placed him enshrouded in a sealed tomb by himself.  They would have whisked the body away to provide medical treatment, not left it in a tomb.

Third, now that it is established that someone died and was buried, could it have been someone other than Jesus.  Now this gets into a great conspiracy theory.  But when and how could the switch have been made.  When he was arrested Judas clearly knew who Jesus was and gave no indication by his subsequent suicide that he pointed to a counterfeit.  Peter’s response to the arrest is not in keeping with them masquerading someone else as Jesus, nor do the actions of the Apostles following the arrest.  Jesus, once in custody, does not leave the hands of the soldiers, so there is a consistent chain of custody.  Even in Pilate’s quarters, he is still surrounded by the guards who torture and mock him.  When he is on the cross he speaks to His mother and John who recognize Him and His voice.  Other women are present.  The Jewish Leaders, who have observed Jesus repeatedly and who watched Him ride in triumphantly less than a week before, recognize Him and believe He is Jesus of Nazareth.  Furthermore, even after He has died, all believe He is the one in the tomb, the Romans who post guards, the Jews who request the guards, the women who go the day after Passover to finalize preparations of His body, the Apostles who run to the empty tomb.

The fact that Jesus lived is cross referenced in many different writings, biblical and other historic documents and all attest to His life and death without dispute.

I think the evidence would support the fact that Jesus died on the cross.  We’ll discuss the evidence of what happens next another day.

My Answers:

1. Roman soldiers knew about death on a cross.  2. His side was pierced and blood and water flowed out.  Depending on how deeply they pierced it may have pierced his lungs or heart as well.

To rise from the dead he had to be dead

No broken bones, not left until morning, pierced for our transgressions

Pierced for our transgressions, crushed for iniquities, our punishment was on him.  The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (scapegoat but He is the High Priest) – They will look on the one they have pierced and mourn, a fountain will be opened to the house of David to cleanse them from sin and impurity


27.2 John – Perfect Planning

In today’s lesson we see the stark contrast between man’s planning and God’s planning.  First, let’s look at the day from God’s planning, and then compare it to man’s.

At the moment of creation (and before if time existed), God knew that His creation would fall to sin and that a savior would be required, a savior who would need to be both fully God and fully part of the creation, man.  When He placed Adam and Eve in the garden He allowed free will, meaning they had to choose to obey or not, meaning there had to be a path available to disobedience.  He knew the serpent would tempt them.  When it happened He told them of His plan to send a son of Eve to crush the serpent’s head.  The books of the bible that we call the Old Testament, from this point forward, all point to that savior, the Messiah, the promised one, the King from the house of David, the scape goat, the pascal lamb, the sacrifice of blood in the garden to provide a covering of sin and as prescribed in the law through Moses.  Foretold over and over again through the prophets.  He knew Rome would overtake the Jews, introducing the torture and death of the cross.  He planned for His son to be born 33 years before.  He planned His ministry to begin three years prior.  He said over and again through Jesus the hour had not yet come, until, He announced in John 12 that the hour had now come.  He died on the cross at the exact moment on the exact day at the exact place that had been foretold and reminded year after year, the moment the Passover Lamb was killed outside of the gates of the city of Jerusalem.

On the other hand, after rushing out to capture Jesus the night before the Jews who captured Jesus and demanded His execution realized the process of crucifixion normally took 3 days and it was getting into the afternoon of the preparation day of the Passover and they needed to “speed things up”.

The next time we grow impatient with “God’s timing”, I think we need to keep in mind the depth of His plans versus the shallowness and naiveté of our own.

My Answers:

To speed up their death (couldn’t prop themselves up to breath so they would die quicker).  The Sabbath was near (started at sundown) and they did not want to be in defiance of the law about leaving a body hanging on a pole overnight nor did they want to come into contact with a dead man.  Either would make them unclean.

It was all for show.  Outward appearances, not inward transformation.  They were receiving all of their rewards and bringing others to harm through false teaching.

His willingness to die.  If Christ did not die he could not have risen again.  If Christ had not died, the price for my sins would be left unpaid.  If Christ had not died He would not have been obedient to His Father


26.5 John – Scapegoat

In Leviticus 16, the Day of Atonement is outlined.  As you might recall, this is the one day of the year, Yom Kippur, that the high priest alone goes behind the curtain in the temple and enters the holy of holies.  This is the day when an atonement is made for the entire nation, all of God’s children.

In past lessons we have discussed how Jesus is the Lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb as foreshadowed in the Passover, magnified by the fact that he dies at Passover, at the hour the lamb would be killed.

But what about the goats in Lev 16.  Two goats are selected.  One is sacrificed as an offering to the Lord.  The other is the scapegoat.  The scapegoat is taken out of the city.  The high priest lays his hands on the scapegoat, transferring all the sins of the people onto the goat.  It is then released, alive, into the wilderness.

Not only do all past events point to Christ, but this one, in particular, is relevant because of what we read about happening at Jesus’ death in Mark 15:38, where the curtain of the temple is torn in two from top to bottom.  This is the curtain that separated the holy of holies, the place that could only be approached on the Day of Atonement, the day of the scapegoat.

But there are 2 goats and only one Jesus, right?  Yes, but, and here is where it gets kind of deep, Jesus is both.  Jesus is fully man and fully God.  Jesus, the man, is sacrificed and killed, as an offering to the Lord.  Now, keep in mind, an offering is like a gift.  The slain animal now belongs to God, like any gift given to someone else.  It no longer belongs to itself or to any man (more on this in a moment).  Jesus, spirit of God, is also the second goat, the scapegoat.  The one taken outside the city.  The one whom all sin is transferred to, ALL SIN!  The one that cannot be killed but instead is released into the wilderness.  How did John word it?  “With that, he (Jesus) bowed his head and gave up his spirit”.  His spirit went, alive, because the spirit of God cannot die, into the grave, for 3 days.

Now, we haven’t gotten there yet in our reading, but after 3 days the really amazing thing happens.  After 3 days the spirit of Jesus returns and claims the body of Jesus.  Now, keep in mind, that body no longer belongs to any man, it was a gift to God.  For Jesus to claim that body once again is a testament that He is God.  He took our sins, carried them into the wilderness, left them in the grave, returned and accepted the sacrifice of his own body delivering it, ultimately, into heaven.

My Answers:

He bowed his head and gave up his spirit – it was finished and/when He died.
by bowing his head and giving up his spirit

curtain torn in two from top to bottom

The payment for sin has been paid in full

26.4 John – Into Home

I absolutely see and get that Jesus honored both his Father and his mother from the cross.  The fact that He was on the cross was to honor His Father in Heaven, that is why He drank this cup.  And, by speaking from that cross to charge John becoming a son to Mary, His mother, He cared for and honored his mother.

But, I think there is also a gift in this for John and for us.

John 19:26-27 record this brief exchange and the result of it.  It says, “He (Jesus) said to her (Mary), “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple (John), “Here is your mother.”  From that time on, the disciple (John) took her into his home.”

Let’s think about that.  John had a mother.  Tradition holds that her name was Salome.  She was married to Zebedee and had, at least, 2 sons, James and John, both apostles of Jesus (the sons of thunder).  We know she too was a follower of Jesus and a bold woman who loved her sons (she asked Jesus to grant them a special place in his kingdom sitting at his right and left).  Tradition also holds that was Mary’s relative (sister/cousin) and the one referred to as being at the cross (John 19:25) along with his mother, his mother’s sister (Salome), Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.

But when Jesus gives John a calling, a mission, an instruction, he goes all in.  Notice that it does not say he checking in on Mary periodically, or that he sent her a check every month, or that he helped organize her affairs with her.  Instead, it says, “from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

What a blessing that must have been to John.  To live with the mother of our Lord.  To daily share a house with this woman who had been blessed above all women to be touched by the Holy Spirit and give birth to (and raise) our savior.  What a blessing to have such a clear calling and pronouncement from the Lord, a mission, a direction.

But what about us?  How do we approach the work that God gives us to do?  Do we phone it in?  Do we keep it at a distance, separating church from work or church from home?  Do we go serve in a food kitchen and call it good?  Or, do we bring it home?  Do we embrace it and the people God gives us to shepherd and make them part of our family?  We do find joy in being with them, sharing life and love of our Lord together?

My Answers:

John focused exclusively on what Jesus said and the instruction he provided to Mary and John.  The others painted the bigger picture.  John was the zoom lens of Jesus’ heart

Cared for his mother (and John), took on suffering even though He was King and Holy

Altruism is one of the greatest witnesses because it is contrrary to the “survival of the fittest” mindset

26.3 John – Job

All of the stories of the bible point, either directly or indirectly, to Jesus.  In today’s lesson on Jesus being tortured, suffering and being stripped and hung on the cross, we see some of these.  The questions and the notes demonstrate the parallels between Adam and Eve’s need to be clothed to hide from God after sin entered the world and how Jesus was now stripped bare with nothing hidden from God or man.  But the other story that came to mind for me was Job.

Job 1 starts with an interesting and unique story.  The angels appear at the throne of the Lord and accompanying them is Satan.  Satan indicates that he has been “roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it” (the image of the prowling lion comes to mind in his words).  The Lord said to him, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him.”  Job is judged by the Lord to be “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”.  Satan replies that this is not surprising, hasn’t God “put a hedge around him?”  But, Satan states, if you “stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, he will surely curse you to your face?”  The Lord then give Satan permission over Job, everything he has is in Satan’s power, except, Satan is excluded from “laying a finger” on him.

We know the story, Satan takes his best shot, not only taking all earthly things from him, but even sending him false counselors who encourage him to deny and curse God.  But Job persists.

This comes to mind because of the question, why did Jesus have to suffer?  The payment for sin is death, right?  It doesn’t say it is suffering and death.  God did not say to Adam and Eve, if you eat of this fruit you will suffer physically and then die, He just told them they would die.  Jesus’ death is the payment for sin.  So why did He have to suffer?  Why did God allow it?

I think we see these answers in Job.  Jesus could be described exactly as Job was.  There is no one else like him.  There never was and never will be until He comes again.  He is blameless and upright.  He is a man.  He fears (and loves) God and shuns evil.  He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness after fasting, but did not give in to sin and instead turned repeatedly to scripture.

But, where God held limits on how Satan could torment Job, He removed all the stops with Jesus.  Satan could not physically harm Job, not “lay a hand on him.”  But with Jesus, He was beaten, mocked, spit on, cursed, stripped, paraded, taunted, betrayed.  And, yet, just as the foreshadowing of Job prophesied, He remained completely without sin.

The message to us in Christ’s suffering is the fullness of His love and commitment to God.  It is probably true that we all have our breaking point, where, with enough pain and torture we become willing to lie to do anything to make it stop.  We hate that part of ourselves, but recognize it is there.  And, no one would blame us or hold it against us when we break.  We are only human.  But, even in that, even at His breaking point, Jesus stayed completely without sin.

This is critically important because the payment for sin is death.  If Jesus, fully man, had sinned, any sin, even sinful thoughts, then his death would be the payment for his sin.  But by remaining fully without sin, despite facing every trial that ever faces man, his death was not payment for his sin, but a substitutionary payment for my sin and yours.  To the beginning to the end of his life as a man, Jesus remained “blameless and  upright.”

My Answers:

He was stripped and left naked on the cross

clothing covered our recognition of sin to hide from God, filthy rags, the things we “acquire” have no meaning

He not only was willing to step down from heaven, he gave up everything for us.  We stripped Him, but He gives us robes to wear to our wedding with him


26.2 John – Signs of the Truth

Before Jesus was born a sign appeared in the heavens, a star.  Wise men from other lands, non-Hebrews, men referred to as “Magi”, saw this sign and the truth of its meaning was revealed to them.  They travelled from afar and, as recorded in Matthew 2, “during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.””

At Jesus death a sign was placed above Him.  It was a sign written in three languages, plain for all to see and understand.  A leader, a wise man given the responsibility of being a judge, Pilate, wrote the sign which read, “The King of the Jews”.

How interesting that at both ends of Jesus’ life on Earth, God sent outsiders, non-Jews, to proclaim the message of His Son, the Messiah, the King.  It is interesting as well to see the Jews response.  In Matthew 2, we read that “when King Herod heard this (question from the Magi) he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.”  In John 19 we read that the chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.””

In Luke 4 and Mark 6, we read Jesus’ words that “no prophet is accepted in his own hometown.”

But the Jews, even the high priests, those who should have known the best, did not listen, even to outsiders.  Instead they wanted to substitute the signs of the truth with lies.  From the beginning to the end they were greatly disturbed.  What an interesting reaction by people who claimed to seek and desire the fulfillment of God’s word to, in turn, reject it when it happens and instead of rejoicing be disturbed by it.  Instead of seeing the truth, they instead sought to re-write it into a lie.  Jesus never claimed to be the King of the Jews, even though He was (and is).  He did not ever attempt to force His sovereignty onto others, but instead offered a home.

But don’t we sometimes do the same thing as the Jews.  We pray for God to intervene, to keep us safe, to protect our families, to bless our churches.  And when He does, we ignore it and write it off as luck or circumstance or good fortune.  When we have miracles occur in our lives, we are often the first to say, “well, I don’t want to claim that I heard God…”  or “I don’t want to say that this for sure was God…”.  When we doubt, are we hedging?  When we doubt God’s hand, are we, even if just in our minds, substituting a lie for the truth?

First comes faith, then comes certainty.  If it was the other way around, it would not be faith.  It is not faith to trust in the laws of nature, to “believe” in gravity or that fire will burn.  Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Faith is the bridge from hope to confidence and from blindness to assurance.  The Jews chose to not accept faith.  The signs were there, and despite having hope, they were blinded by their own lies that they could not see what was written, “The King of the Jews,” was the truth.

My Answers:

Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews, written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek, they wanted it to say that he claimed to be king of the Jews

PS: King of all Nations
Matt: Magi saw prediction of the king of the Jews, ruler who will shepherd Israel
J4: Jesus is the Savior of the World
J6: The bread is my flesh which I give for the life of the world
J11: Caiaphas’ word: better for Jesus to die, not just for nation but all scattered children
Rev: With you blood you purchased for God persons of every tribe, language, people, nation

The charge of our legal indebtedness