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

25.5 John – Passover

I’ve written about this before, but understanding that the Jewish calendar is not a linear device always marching forward, but instead is seen as an ascending helix, a spiral staircase, where one event aligns just above another time and time again.

This is one of the things that makes the synchronicity between Passover and Jesus death so rich.  John the Baptist announced Jesus as “The lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”.   Jesus’ death would occur on the day of Passover and, like the pascal lamb, He was the sacrifice, whose blood is the mark of salvation, for death to pass over the people who have received the seal of the blood of the lamb.  No bone would be broken.  No flesh would be left, all would be consumed by the grave that very day.   The lamb spent 3 days in the house before being sacrificed.  Jesus spent 3 years in his ministry and time of teaching in the temples throughout the land.

This was not coincidence.  The date of Jesus’ death was set in ancient Egypt.  The date of the arrival of the Holy Spirit was set at Mount Sinai.  All dates through all of history have pointed to these events, not simply foreshadowing but prophesying in truth to the specifics.  All dates since are not just remembrances and celebrations, but continue to build on this pivotal moment layer upon layer until the day when Jesus comes again in glory.

It is very easy to look down on the Jews who brought Jesus to Pilate, or even to look down and chastise or condemn Pilate himself.  But in so doing, we take our eyes from the real truth.  Our position in not to look down on these people, but to look up to our Lord, who

  1. accepted to hang on a cross so that he could pay the price of our sins and
  2. ascend in body into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father to
  3. come again in the clouds to call all believers home to paradise for all eternity

Our viewpoint or perspective for all of these events isn’t to look down on anyone else, but to drop to our knees and look up to our Lord and Savior.

My Answers:

God’s is just and true and accurate.  God, because of the act of Jesus, declares sinners innocent, whereas Pilate declared the innocent to death.

Passover was when the pascal lamb was slaughtered in observance of the night that the angel of death passed over the people of God.  This was a foreshadowing of the night that Jesus would be the sacrifice and His blood would pay the price of sin for all believers.

Thank you!

25.4 John – Sinking a boat

How big of a hole does it take to sink a boat?  Without some pump to bail out the water, you wouldn’t need a very big leak, just a drip would, over time, let drop after drop of water in, filling the hull and pulling the boat under water.

This is how the sin of rejection of the truth works as well.  Both Pilate and the Jews had developed a nice little habit of rejecting anything that didn’t match their world view, true of not, they ignored it.  It may have been true for someone else, but it wasn’t truth for them.  For the Jews, this hole became pronounced with John the Baptist.  For Pilate, it may have been from the day he moved into the palace dealing with this odd group of religious fanatics.

Drip, drip, drip.

What truths do we reject?  What is our view of the bible?  Is it unerring scripture or a collection of stories and fables?  Do the words of scripture apply to us or are some outdated for our modern society?  What do we rationalize away?  Tithing?  Love your neighbor?  Honor your father and mother? Sexual immorality?  Having no other Gods?

Does anyone else hear a dripping sound?

Can I point out one other interesting observation?  Both Pilate and the Jews thought they could project their holes onto Jesus.  The holes in the difference between what they said and what they did.  The holes in the difference between what they claimed to believe and how they lived.  The lies, the sins.  They could just cast all of these onto Jesus, kill Him, and let Him sink…  The drilled into His pure vessel with lies, with torture, with hatred.  And, Jesus allowed it all to happen.  He took on their holes, not only theirs but yours and mine as well and the holes of all people of all time.  He took them all and he took in the water of the sins and allowed it to take him under, down, into death.  But, our all knowing God did not craft His Son as a normal boat, he built him as a submarine, and after 3 days, he would remove all the sins and raise back up, not only fully restored but glorified and “holy”, but still showing the signs of being pierced for our transgressions.

My Answers:

Pilate chose to turn because of fear of loss of status or position if politically accused of not toeing the line of Roman rule.

He knew Jesus was not guilty and this was a sham, but went along.  He declared Him innocent, then beat Him and offered to set Him free, when He should have been free anyway.  He did not declare Him guilty, but turned Him over to be murdered (with the implicit approval of the state).  He yielded to mob taunts and pressures because of His own tenuous hold on His position and power.  However, He also did everything exactly as God ordained and allowed – with or without Pilate, Jesus would have been crucified.

The truth has been revealed through His word and the power of the Holy Spirit.  But, what about the days I don’t read the bible, fail to pray, fail to love others and shine the light like I should?  Am I too busy “just living” to live for Christ?

25.3 John – Truth in the House

I read an interesting thought the other day that I believe was written by David Jeremiah.  He commented about the Inn-Keeper when Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem who had no room for them in his home and, as a result, how he had missed out.  He had missed out of being present at the birth of the Son of God.  He missed out on being in the presence of angels singing praises.  He missed out on hearing the first breath of Jesus when he took on the body of a man.  Instead, this was something that happened outside of his door because he was too full, too busy, not enough room.

And look at Pilate.  Here he has the King of the Jews, the Son of God, in his palace.  He has the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with the Messiah, God Incarnate.  And what does he ask?  He asks only about the things that occupy his current busy life.  Are you a king, a ruler, are you one of them, against them, what is the decision I am going to have to make.  He is consumed by his world, his position, his role, his job.  Even if, as some commentaries say, Pilate thought Jesus may have been a manifestation of a Roman god, he does act like it.  Jesus replies that his kingdom is not of this world, but Pilate asks not questions about Jesus’ kingdom in another world/heaven.  Jesus says he came into this world to testify to the truth, but instead of asking about this truth Pilate throws out a rhetorical question of “what is truth?”

But what about you and me?  Not only do we have the word of God in our home, in the form of the bible, but we also have the spirit of God living in us.  Yet, we stay so busy.  We talk with God most of the time only about things in this world.  We ask for favor and blessing in business deals, in conflict with neighbors, with money, with sickness.  We go for days at a time without opening our bibles.  We go for weeks looking just like every other busy business worker, parent, neighbor, citizen, with so much to do, added to all the more by “church obligations.”

What if instead of following the footsteps of the inn-keeper or Pilate, we take a little time and follow the example of Mary and just pour out praise and love on Jesus and sit at his feet?  What would life like that look like?

My Answers:

Are you the king of the jews?            Is that your own idea or did others talk to you about me?
Am I a Jew?
Your own people handed you over…What is it you have done?        My kingdom is not of this world
You are a king then (implied question)             You say that I am a king, in fact I was born to testify to the truth.
What is truth?

Jesus is not only a King, but He is the Messiah, the King from Heaven.  He came into this world to testify to the truth and all His words and actions are true.

He is sovereign and He is true.  Truth is real, not relative.  Jesus is pure and solid.

25.2 John – Animosity and Superiority

How would you feel if the people who were under your rule and command refused to step into your house because it would make them unclean, yet still came to you asking/demanding you to do their bidding?  Would you think it was childish? Quant?  Would it make you angry?  Defensive?

This is what we see in this opening scene of our lesson today.  The Jewish Leaders, predominantly the Pharisees and their Teachers of the Law show up early in the day, unannounced, to Pilate’s palace, a mob who has now been up all night and probably growing in size as people wake up and come out to see what is going on.  But to talk with them Pilate must come out to stand on his front step since they won’t come in.

They bring him this man who is defacto guilty because they say so and they wouldn’t have brought him to Pilate if he was not, so just go ahead and declare Jesus guilty already because we say so.  Again, if you are in Pilate’s shoes, how would this make you feel as the judge and commander of these people?

I’m certain this is not the first time Pilate and the Jews have clashed.  Clearly the animosity has built over time as each asserts their superiority over the other, Pilate as a Roman, the Jews as “God’s people.”  You hear it in the tone of the Jewish leaders.  You hear it in Pilate’s quip to Jesus, “Am I a jew?”  You can almost hear him spit out the word.

But Jesus is not a part of any of these.  He speaks only the truth to Pilate.  He is a King, but His Kingdom is not of this sinful world.  He has committed no wrong, broken no law and certainly not any that Pilate has jurisdiction over (i.e., Roman law vs Jewish religious law).  He does not claim to be anything he is not.  He does not speak down to Pilate (or to the Jews other than to say they had sinned).

But frustrated Pilate sends Jesus, whom he is declaring to be innocent, off to be flogged.  Is this evil and wickedness manifested?  Is it a release of the pent up anger and fury at the Jews?  Is Jesus even at this point serving as the scapegoat for the sins and conflict of the people?

My Answers:

They wanted to eat the passover meal.  To enter his palace would have made them unclean and they would not have had time to become ceremonially clean before passover

The jews did not have the authority to execute Jesus (not that this fact had not prevented them from plotting to beat or stone him in the past).  This caused Jesus’ death to be on the cross.  If the Jews had gone outside of Roman law and taken things into their own hands, Jesus would have been beaten, stoned or stabbed, not crucified.

prayer – I have good intention to pray for others, but don’t organize myself enough to follow through.
Church and Bible Study commitments – do I use these as excuses for being too busy to invest time in others?

24.5 John – Three Words

I love the beauty of words in the Gospels especially in situations of parallels like we see in John 18.

When the soldiers come for Jesus, he goes out to them and asks who they seek.  When they answer, He responds with three words, “I Am He”.  Twice he says these words and twice they fall back through the power of these three words.  On the third time, He is taken and the disciples flee and darkness is at hand.

When John is hiding in the midst of the soldiers he too is confronted and he too responds with three words, “I am not.”  Twice it is recorded that he says these three words and upon the third denial the cock crows as prophesied by Jesus.

Jesus, though captured, walks and speaks in the light of truth.  John, though free, hides in the darkness attempting to blend in with those who betray Jesus.  Jesus, though showing extreme restraint, is fully in control.  Peter has lost control of his tongue and his will and his confidence and his strength.

What three words will you choose when confronted about your faith?  Will you fall into Peter’s temptation of “I am not.” And assume a position of weakness in the face of darkness.  Or will you follow the example of Jesus and profess, “I Am His”?

As Jesus shows, the path of following Him is not an easy path.  The world will hate those who profess they belong to Him because they first hate Jesus.  But, it is the right path.  It is the path of perpetual light.  It is the path that allows us to walk side by side with Jesus and be with Him for all eternity.

It is also the path that Peter turns back to, as chronicled in the book of Acts.  It is the path he followed when he enters the house of Cornelius.  It is the path that leads to his own death on a cross, and it is also the path that leads to his name being written on one of the 12 foundation stones of the New Jerusalem as noted in Revelation 21.

What three words do you choose?  Jesus Loves Me? I Am His?  Jesus, forgive me?  Lord save me?  I am saved?

My Answers:

Fear, concern, reaction.  He ran away from the Lord and tried to hide among those persecuting Him.

Stay with Jesus no matter what.  Avoid those who persecute Jesus.


It was Jesus’ most recent prophecy.  The entire night was about the fulfillment of prophecy, both old and new.

24.4 John – A slap in the face

While Jesus is in the “court” of Annas, one of the men present doesn’t like the words or tone that Jesus is using and physically rebukes Him by slapping Him in the face.

This horrifies us to think of a man, any man, raising his hand to slap God in the face.  But is this really so different than the slap in the face of Peter’s denial of Jesus?  In John 13 Peter argued with Christ that he would die rather than deny Jesus, but in these same verses where Jesus is being physically slapped by a member of Anna’s court, Peter is in the act of denying Jesus.

Isn’t it something each of us do when we argue with God?  When we decide we know more about how things should be and begin thinking of prayer as giving direction to God to “get on board’ with our plans and back us up?  Isn’t it what we do when we use God’s name in vain?  When we try to bargain with God in prayer?  When we say one thing and do another?  When we profess to be in the light, but secretly turn to the darkness as soon as no one is looking?

I think part of the reason this scene in the courtyard is so striking to us is because we too often see that our place in the narrative is not Annas, not Jesus, not the soldiers by the fire or the girl by the gate, but the 2 people we relate to the most are Peter and the slapping courtier.

But, these two men also provide a contrast in what they do after the slap.  Peter repents and turns back and becomes a cornerstone in the church, whereas the man in Annas court would have been one calling for Jesus’ crucifixion and not an individual we ever hear of becoming a part of the church.

Just because we have sinned, even as grievous of a sin as slapping Jesus in the face with actions or words, we have the opportunity to follow the example of Peter, repent and become restored and strengthened and to strengthen others through the process.

My Answers:

Arrogant, illegal, pompous, evil

He was truthful through and through.  He did not shy from the truth and pointed out that He taught openly daily.