Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: John's Gospel Studies|
INTRODUCTION to Chapters 15 to 21
This is the fourth in this Series of these studies in John's Gospel. If you have read the previous three Series you will remember that we observed in the Introduction that the fourth Gospel is quite different from the first three Gospels (known as Synoptic Gospels). The writer John wrote very much later than the other three writers and he doesn't seek to simply recount the same events as the Synoptic Gospels, but instead seeks to convey something of his growing understanding of the wonder of who Christ is.
Most of the action is these Studies takes place in Jerusalem . John picks up on what happened when Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the various feasts:
This Set of Studies
Previously we left Jesus, having arrived in Jerusalem for the final time at the Passover, speaking to his disciples at the “Last Supper”. In these Studies we will be moving fairly quickly through these last seven chapters of John so that we can take in all of the events from the Last Supper right through to the resurrection appearances. In doing that we will find our emotions turned different ways as we observe the awful details that led up to the Cross and then the incredible events following it. These are terrible and then glorious chapters. Pray for grace to read them!
PART 1 : " Last Supper "
In these next two chapters consider the following thought: when you are about to leave friends just before a crisis, you want to leave them with the most important issues that are on your heart for them. So far in the Last Supper teaching, Jesus has been seeking to prepare the disciples by warning them about what is going to happen, and reassure them that it is all in his plan and purpose. In these next two chapters he seeks to convey crucial principles that he wants them to hold onto in the years ahead. Watch for them.
Chapter: John 15
Passage: John 15:1-8
A. Find Out:
1. What is Jesus and what is his Father? v.1
2. What happens to the two different branches? v.2
3. What did Jesus tell them to do and why? v.4,5
4. What will happen if you don't do that? v.6
5. If we do it what also may we do with what result? v.7
6. What is the Father's twofold desire? v.8
Observe these three ideas or concepts that Jesus gives us in this picture. First, of REMAINING in Jesus (older versions speak of “abiding in”). Essentially it means living in the close presence of Jesus at all times, focused on Jesus, receiving from him at all times like a branch receives strength and life from the main trunk or stem. This is to be the very nature of our lives, totally dependant on him; that is the main idea of the vine and its branches.
Second, there is the idea of PRUNING. In natural life, for a vine to flourish it needs to be cut back or pruned regularly so that it will develop new growth and subsequently fruit. Unless there is a cutting back there will not be new growth and therefore no fruit. Therefore the Lord will trim us back, restrict us, remove bits from us, all so that we will grow more and become fruitful, yet when He does that we probably object because we like things “as they are”!
Third, there is the idea of FRUITFULNESS. God's intention is that we will be fruitful, producing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22,23) or the fruits of service, and it will only come by a close walk with Jesus, only come from allowing the Father to cut back the hard, unproductive, dead parts of our lives. Will we gratefully let Him do it?
1. Remaining close to Jesus is the key. Reflect on what that means.
2. Being pruned produces new life. Am I producing new life?
A. Find Out:
1. How is love demonstrated? v.9,10
2. Why has Jesus told them this? v.11
3. What did he command them to do and how? v.17,12
4. How is that demonstrated? v.13
5. What are they now, and why? v.14,15
6. Who chooses who, for what purpose, and with what result? v.16
Yesterday we saw Jesus instructing the disciples to remain close to him , and now he says stay in my love. They had seen him living out his life, remaining in the constant awareness of his Father's love, responding to His Father, and obeying all He said. That living in His love was a specific thing; it was obeying everything Father said, giving up all his own personal desires to the desires of the Father (because Father knows best). Very well, says Jesus, I've demonstrated it, so you do it too, and you'll find it brings you immense joy. There is nothing else like flowing in the Father's love!
Look, he continues, you'll demonstrate it by the way you love one another and lay down your lives for one another, just like you've seem me do it for you. Love is practical, so do it! Once you were my servants, but now you are more than that, you are my friends, because you know and understand these things now that I've told you them.
Don't forget, he continues, I chose you, with a purpose, to produce fruitful lives which will affect and change the world, as you live out this life of love in closeness to me and my Father. When you do that, you will know our heart and, therefore, the things you ask us will be in accord with our desires and so we'll give you whatever you ask, as you ask with this understanding.
1. Love is very practical. Are we demonstrating it?
2. Closeness of relationship brings understanding and fruitfulness.
A. Find Out:
1. What should we remember when what happens? v.18
2. Why might the world hate us? v.19
3. What had Jesus taught them? v.20a
4. So what will be the result? v.20b
5. Why will they treat us this way? v.21
Having just taught the disciples how to live within the Church, Jesus now moves on to cover what they may expect from living in the world. His approach is very simple: the world has hated me so it will hate you! Let's unpack this.
Why did “the world” hate Jesus? Well “the world” here refers to godless, self-seeking, unrighteous humanity. When the disciples came to Christ they ceased to be part of “the world” as it is described here. However, many people were still part of “the world” and Jesus was a threat to their self-centredness and so they crucified him. Similarly, we will be a threat to them, so they will oppose us as well. While we stay quiet and inoffensive, we will not be a threat, but as soon as we let Jesus live through us and we start confronting their godlessness, even though we do it full of his love, then the opposition will come.
Religious authorities, civil authorities and the people, all reacted against Jesus because he exposed their darkness. Therefore they sought to get rid of him. Similarly, they will seek to get rid of us when we are Jesus to them. This is a stark fact of being a Christian, it's not a persecution complex, it's just a hard spiritual reality that godly lives provoke persecution! (see 2 Tim 3:12)
1. Jesus was opposed and rejected by godless men and women.
2. When we are Jesus to them, godless men and women will reject us.
A. Find Out:
1. Why, first of all, are the people guilty of sin? v.22
2. What does hatred of Jesus also mean? v.23
3. Why, secondly, are the people guilty of sin? v.24
4. How did Jesus view this? v.25
5. What does he say the Holy Spirit will do? v.26
6. What does he say they must do? v.27
Jesus has just warned the disciples again that persecution will come to them. Because he has been rejected they will be rejected. But be quite clear about this, he continues, those who reject me are guilty. They are guilty of rejecting the truth in two ways: first they heard Jesus' words and rejected them, and second, they saw Jesus' miracles and rejected them. So it's quite clear: they are guilty of sin. The Lord had warned, prophetically in the Old Testament, that this would happen. They did it then and have done it now!
But Jesus isn't simply passive about this. He's not going to sit back and do nothing about it, for when Father sends the Holy Spirit, the Spirit will continue testifying of me, he says, and you must continue working with Him, testifying about me.
Merely because there is rejection and opposition that doesn't mean you should give up. The Holy Spirit will be there carrying on His work, so we should simply keep on, doing that same work, testifying about Jesus. Our temptation so often, is to give up when there is opposition, but Jesus in this passage is encouraging us to push on and keep on with the work as the Holy Spirit enables, despite the rejection, despite the opposition. Keep on! Keep on!
1. Those who oppose the kingdom are guilty of sin.
2. The Holy Spirit will keep on despite them. So should we!
A. Find Out:
1. Why was Jesus telling them these things? v.1,4a
2. What will happen, why, & what will men think they are doing? v.2,3
3. What was he telling them and what did they feel? v.5,6
4. Why was it good for him to go? v.7
5. What will the Spirit do? v.8
6. How will that be worked out? v.9-11
Jesus confirms yet again that they can expect opposition after he goes, opposition even to death, but he tells them he has warned them about it so when it happens they won't be surprised or put off.
He also confirms that he is going to leave them but says that they should see it as a good thing, for unless he goes the Spirit can't come. When the Spirit comes he will show the world their guilt. That will come in three ways. First, He will show them their guilt because of their sin of unbelief over Jesus. He will show up unbelief. Second, He will reveal Jesus' righteousness when he is raised from the dead and shown to be the Son of God, and that will again show up man's guilt of rejecting the Son of God. Finally He will reveal the works of the enemy, contrasted by the works of Jesus, and the enemy will stand exposed for what he is.
Observe the two areas of activity that Jesus speaks about. First, the activity of the world as it opposes godly men and women; yes that is negative in many ways. But note also the activity of the Holy Spirit as He comes and continues the work of God, basing it on Jesus, using him as the means of revealing the sin of unbelief, the righteousness of God, and the evil of the enemy. That is very positive activity!
1. The world will continue to oppose Jesus - in us.
2. God will continue His work of conviction - through us!
A. Find Out:
1. What did Jesus say he had to say? v.12
2. So how would he provide for that? v.13a
3. On what basis will He speak? v.13b
4. On what basis will he speak Jesus' words? v.14,15
5. What did Jesus say would happen to him? v.16
6. What was the disciples' reaction to all this? v.17,18
Having said all that he has said so far, Jesus continues by saying, well I have so much more I would like to say to you but you aren't ready to hear it yet, but don't worry, when the Holy Spirit comes He will carry on speaking my words. They are Jesus' words because all Jesus' words come from the Father, and so because the Spirit's words come from the Father also, it will be just like it is Jesus continuing to speak. The Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of Jesus (as he is referred to elsewhere) simply continues the work of Jesus which, in this context, is to teach his followers. Thus today Jesus continues to speak to us by means of His Spirit within us.
Then, yet again, Jesus makes reference to his imminent departure and again the disciples appear confused and unable to understand what he is saying. Time and again Jesus had told them what was going to take place (see Mt 16:21, 17:22,23, 20:18,19, 26:2, Jn 13:33, 14:2,28, 16;5) and again and again they had great trouble taking it in (see Mt 16:22, Jn 13:36, 14:5), although on at least one occasion they did seem to understand (see Mt 17:23b). Perhaps it just seemed so impossible that they thought it would happen some other way from that which he appeared to be describing.
1. The Holy Spirit continues to teach us today.
2. Jesus' words sometimes DO seem so difficult to comprehend.
A. Find Out:
1. What was Jesus picking up on? v.19
2. What did he say they would do? v.20
3. To what did he compare it? v.21
4. So what did he say would happen? v.22
5. What would then happen? v.23
6. So what does he encourage them to do, with what result? v.24
Jesus directly addresses their confusion but again not using detailed, specific language, but instead indirect language. He tells them what is going to happen by warning them what they would feel. There will come a time when they will grieve (after his death) while the world rejoiced (having got rid of him), but that would be followed by a time of rejoicing (after his resurrection). It's a bit like a woman in labour, he says, when she goes through a time of anguish but that is followed by a time of rejoicing. The anguish is necessary to reach the rejoicing, and so it will be in what is coming.
When it is all passed, they won't ask Jesus anything (because he won't be there) but instead they will ask the Father directly, and coming as Jesus' emissaries they will ask in his name, and therefore the Father will give them what they ask in this capacity and in this way. The result? Great joy! Joy is to be a part of our experience, but it is not some haphazard intangible thing, it comes as we obey him, flow with him and are fruitful (15:11), know him (16:22), receive from him (16:24) and live in understanding of his purposes (17:13).
1. The grief of the Cross was necessary to enable the rejoicing of the
resurrection to come. So it is in our lives.
2. Knowing him, being fruitful, receiving from him and understanding his
A. Find Out:
1. How had Jesus been speaking and how would he speak? v.25
2. Who would they ask in the future and why? v.26,27
3. What did Jesus then say of himself? v.28
4. How did that seem to the disciples? v.29,30
5. How did Jesus respond and what did he warn them? v.31,32
6. How may they have peace? v.33
Again and again Jesus had been speaking about what was going to be happening shortly but for a number of reasons the disciples didn't seem to be able to understand it. One of the reasons was that Jesus had kept using figurative language, the meaning of which seemed to evade them. A possible other reason might have been that their minds simply rebelled at the thought of Jesus leaving them and being crucified. However now he speaks more directly.
First, he says there will be coming a time when he will speak directly about the Father (possibly after the resurrection, certainly after Pentecost). At that time they will ask (not him asking for them), and they will ask the Father directly in Jesus' name, because they will know the Father loves them and will have confidence, on that basis, to ask (which all indicates it is more likely to be after Pentecost that he is referring to). Then he says directly that he came from heaven and will return to heaven. Somehow the disciples now appear to understand, although how much they actually understood is questionable. This seems to make them think it will be all right, but Jesus warns them it isn't and before it is all finished they will be scattered.
1. The Christian faith doesn't require that we have full understanding of
everything, simply that our hearts are right with Jesus.
2. Some understanding IS necessary, but it doesn't stop us failing!
In this first group of 8 studies we have seen Jesus :
A close walk with Jesus that bears much fruit is the aim. Yet there will be times when opposition arises from the world and even from religious groups, because of that close walk. There will also be times (if the disciples example is anything to go by!) when we will be confused and misunderstand. Yet despite the opposition, despite our lack of understanding Jesus will win though. He HAS decreed it!
1. We need to maintain a close walk with Jesus
2. Only then will we be fruitful as he wants us to be
3. A sign of our obedience will be our love for one another
4. Opposition from the world is part of our inheritance
5. The Holy Spirit is sent to help, guide and teach us
6. Sometimes everything is not crystal clear
7. Yet in all things, Jesus is still Lord.
Thank the Lord that despite opposition or misunderstanding, he is still the Lord.
PART 2: "Prayer”
In this next Part simply watch out for the different things that Jesus prays and asks for. A highly significant prayer.