Through the Bible in a Year: John 10-12

Sorry I’m late with this! I was up late last night (almost) finishing it, and I wanted to review it after a good night’s rest because I was getting too tired to trust my writing. Chapter 12 was partially done; I’ll put it up in a few minutes when I’m finished with it.

This Week’s Readings

Monday, June 25: John 1:1-3
Tuesday, June 26: John !:4-3
Wednesday, June 27: John 4-6
Thursday, June 28: John 7-9
Friday, June 29: John 10-12

Next week we will finish the Gospel of John, then cover more Psalms and Proverbs on Thursday and Friday.

The overall year’s plan is here.

John 10

In chapter 9, Jesus talked about having the Word of God within so that we could hear God’s words. Here in chapter 10, the illustration is a different, but the message is the same. Now he is talking about sheep who know the Shepherd’s voice. These are the same ones who have the Word of God within them. They recognize the voice of the Shepherd, and they follow him; however, they will not follow a stranger, for they do not recognize his voice (verses 4-5).

To those who are not his sheep, Jesus says, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, these testify of me. But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep" (verses 25-26, NASB).

There are some theological issues we should address here, too. Verse 27, where Jesus says that no one can pluck the sheep out of his hand, is used as an "eternal security" verse quite often. Eternal security teaches that once we believe, we are going to heaven, and nothing can happen that will change that. Verse 27 doesn’t say that. It does say that once we believe, nothing can take us out of his hand. That is true, but this verse says nothing about those who walk away; who by their own volition do not stay in his hand.

I once heard a radio preacher quote John 10:27 as a "clear" verse that we ought to listen to and believe. He was contrasting it with 2 Peter 2:20-21, which, he said, was a "difficult" verse that we should interpret in the light of clear verses like John 10:27.

Let me post 2 Peter 2:20-21 here for you. Do you find anything difficult to understand about this verse?

If after they have escaped the pollutions of this world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, their final end will be worse than their beginning. It would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

What’s difficult about that verse is that the radio preacher didn’t believe it. It wasn’t difficult to understand. It simply didn’t fit his theology—his "traditions of men"—and so he chose to interpret it "in the light of" a verse that did fit his theology.

It is true that nothing can snatch us from Jesus’ hand and the Father’s hand. It is true that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even principalities and powers, nothing present and nothing that shall be (Rom. 8:38-39). If we continue in the faith, grounded and settled in it, then Jesus is going to present us to his Father as a trophy of grace, blameless and without fault …if we continue in the faith … (Col. 1:22-23).

It would be nice if we didn’t have to issue such warnings, but it is human nature to turn the grace of God into a license for sin. The remedy for that is to use the Scripture to reprove, rebuke, exhort, and instruct in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). We must be reminded to continue in the faith. When Paul and Barnabas returned to the churches they had started, the Scriptures sums up their message to those churches in just one sentence: "… strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that through many troubles we must enter into the kingdom of God" (14:22). Christians, even good and godly Christians, need to be exhorted and encouraged (Heb. 3:13).

In verse 30, Jesus says that he and the Father are one. The Jehovah’s Witnesses like to argue that this simply means that he and the Father are in spiritual unity. John 14:30 is not a "Trinity" verse, they say. It’s a little more complicated than that, as we talked about Monday when we looked at John 1:1, but basically they are correct. You and I, assuming that we are both New Covenant disciples possessed by the Spirit of God, are told to be as one with each other as the Father and Son are (Jn. 17:20-23).

In fact, even the source of our unity is the same. The Father and Son are united in their very nature. According to Scripture, we escape the corruptions of this world because we partake of that divine nature. We are empowered and united by the very nature of God. Christianity should be a supernatural religion!

That’s more than a theological position. It’s a command (Php. 1:27-2:4) and a necessity: The Father and Son are one, and we must be one exactly as they are one if we expect the world to believe the things that we say! (Jn. 17:20-23).

John 11

This chapter is famous for the resurrection of Lazarus.

There are many things we can learn from this passage, and if you let your mind work on this passage repeatedly (like a cow repeatedly chews on the cud), then you will get much more out of it than I could possible cover in this small commentary. I do want to highlight a couple things.

Jesus waits two days, on purpose, after he hears that Lazarus is sick. He knew that he would have to raise Lazarus from the dead (vv. 6,11).

Despite the fact that Lazarus was four days dead, Jesus is in no hurry. He wants to talk to Mary, apparently away from the crowds and mourners, and he simply waits right where he talked to Martha for Mary to arrive (v. 30). Most of us, in such a tense situation, would have been in a hurry even if we knew the things Jesus knew, which is that Lazarus was dead and that Jesus would raise him from the dead.

It’s entirely possible that the reason Jesus wanted to see both Martha and Mary was to make sure that they had real faith, which would help him. He questioned Martha about her belief in him, and Mary volunteered her faith, "Lord, if you had been here he would not have died" (v. 32). He had experienced the people of Galilee being so unbelieving and so opposed to the work of God that his ability to work miracles there was impaired (Mark 6:5).

In verse 35, the shortest verse in the Bible, we are told that Jesus wept. Jesus was not weeping because Lazarus was dead. He was weeping over Mary’s tears, and he loved not only Mary, but also the crowd, which he longed to gather under his wing as a chicken does her chicks (Matt. 23:37).

At Rose Creek Village, we like to apply verse 44 to new believers. Just as Lazarus came out of the tomb in grave clothes, needing to be unwrapped, so those who are newly come to Christ are still in need of the removal of layer and layers of burial cloths put on them from their previous life. We must help them escape their old grave clothes and come into the freedom of Christ. Those grave clothes come in many forms, including false beliefs, fears, insecurities, self-righteousness, etc.

In verse 49-51 we are granted an unusual look into how prophecy works. Caiaphas, who refused to hear the Word of the Lord even after Lazarus had been raised from the dead, was moved by the Spirit of God to prophesy because he was the high priest, even though he himself was not aware of it!

John 12

A lot of modern movies and stories like to portray Judas Iscariot as a basically good man who hoped to provoke Jesus to reveal his great power by betraying him. The apostle John didn’t believe that. He believed Judas was a thief and stealing from the money bag (v. 6).

We should remember that Jesus had his reasons for keeping a son of the devil among his disciples. It should help us when we begin to wonder about imperfect churches and some of the people that are in them. We need to obey God, and if there is wickedness in the midst of the church, the wicked man must be removed (1 Cor. 5:7-8,13). But where we have situations where we cannot obtain repentance, nor can we get others to carry out proper church discipline, then we should remember that even Jesus had a Judas with him.

In verse 10, we see how remarkably and persistently blind the chief priests were. They were going to try to kill Lazarus! Again!

Note verse 16. I know I point out verses like this every chance I get, but I think it’s important. Many Christians wander off into speculative prophecy about end times, and they are always wrong in their predictions–always. Many messages from God, especially long term prophecy, are not meant to be understood in advance. They are for the time that the prophecy occurs, at which time they will "remember that these things were written."

In verse 20, the Greeks mentioned are Gentiles. There is a similar word (similar in Greek) that refers to Greek-speaking Jews and is used in Acts 6:1. That word is generally translated Hellenists, but it is not used here (ref). These Greeks came up to worship at the feast, so they were in some stage of being converted to Judaism.

They wanted to see Jesus, and Jesus’ answer to them is cryptic, but full of meaning if we understand why he answered in this way. The time of the Gentiles had not begun. In Paul’s letters, Paul explains that the bringing in of the Gentiles to be part of the Israel of God was a great mystery hidden since the foundation of the earth (Eph. 3:2-6; Col. 1:25-27). It was not time for the Greeks to see him yet. The time had come for Jesus to be glorified. He would soon move from his individual physical body to his corporate body, consisting of many members, the church. There the mystery of the bringing in of the Gentiles would be fully visible. The "wealth of the glory" of that mystery among the Gentiles is "Christ in us." That is what the Greeks needed to see, and that is why Jesus responded by talking about his death. He mentions that he is to be glorified, and he explains how they will find him. They must fall into the ground and die like a grain of wheat. They must believe and follow him. Then they will find him, but coming to see his physical body now, on the way to the cross, was not the right thing.

Let’s talk about verse 31 a moment. The ruler of this world is cast out? Is the ruler of this world really cast out? The apostles would still cast out demons after the resurrection. Today we are still locked in battle with the devil, and John tells us that the whole world lies under his sway (1 John 5:19).

The answer to this puzzle is that in Christ, the devil’s power over us is broken. We are transferred from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col. 1:13). The ruler of this world is cast out in Christ. As we enter Christ, as we live as part of his kingdom, the authority of the devil is no more. We can simply resist him, steadfast in the faith, and he will flee from us (Jn. 4:7).

Before Christ, we are slaves to the spirit that is in this world. We may not know it, but it is nonetheless true. We were all dead in our trespasses and sins, and we were all moved by that great deceptive spirit, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:1-3).

In verse 36 we are told again about the fact that the night is coming. The great light that not only rules the day, but makes it day, is departing this life. Jesus calls his hearers to believe in him so that they may become children of light and thus light the night that is coming. We are the lesser light that rules the light. We must live as children of light, exposing the unfruitful deeds of darkness (Eph. 5:8-14).

In verse 40, let’s address predestination again briefly. Did God harden the hearts of those who did not believe out of capriciousness? He just randomly chose some to harden and some to enlighten?

Not at all. It is as many as he foreknew that he predestined, not as many as he decided to rescue from perishing. We are told repeatedly that God wants everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). God hardens those who will not listen, who choose their own way. He taught us through his Word, Jesus, that we are not to throw pearls before pigs nor give that which is holy to the dogs, and he gives that advice because that is what he does. He doesn’t waste his time with those who refuse to hear. Because he’s God, he doesn’t have to block his own ears and not listen to them. He blocks their ears.

In verses 42 and 43, we read first a positive comment about some of the Pharisees, that many secretly believed in him, but then we read a negative one: They loved the approval of men over the approval of God.

Verses 44-50 ought to move our hearts. Jesus is saying, "Listen, this is not my idea. This is my Father’s idea. I do the will of the Father, and I have come here to save you. I’m the Servant who is going through all this trouble … for you! I know that the Father is offering eternal life, so here I am showing you the way to eternal life through great suffering and effort on my part."

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