Berean Bible Study Notes

John 12-17: Summary



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We've spent a long time on these last chapters, called "the Upper Room Discourse." (A really long time) So, it seems best to do a quick summary of what we've gone through.

Let's back up one step and notice what has happened so far in this very important week, the most important week in the history of the world:

The Anointing of Jesus and the Triumphal Entry (our previous study of John 12)

The Anointing at Bethany (See also Matt 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9)

John 12:1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

 

So, we start out with it being six days before Passover. Now, technically, Passover is Nisan 14, but the meal is eaten that evening, which is the start of Nisan 15. The lambs were killed on the 14th, but the meal was eaten when the next Hebrew day was beginning. So, the evening of the Passover was actually the beginning of the next day. That evening - morning thing can be very confusing. So, here's how you count it:

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

Where each box meets is sundown. So, they arrive the 9th of Nisan, six days before Passover. Supper that evening was actually the beginning of Nisan 10.

Sixth day: 9/10 Fifth day:10/11 Fourth day:11/12 Third day:12/13 Second day:13/14 First day:14/15

You can figure out from the text (which I won't take time to do here) that the next day is Sunday, so this is Saturday evening, and Jesus is anointed before the events of His final week. Jesus has three roles - Prophet, Priest and King. During His life on earth, He was acting as prophet. This anointing marks the transition from Prophet to Priest:

Exodus 30:30 And you (Moses) shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests. 31 "And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations. 32 It shall not be poured on man's flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. 33 Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.'"

The priests, and especially the High Priest, had to be anointed before he could begin his work. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of that, so, of course, He is anointed. It was during that anointing that Satan enters Judas, and he decides to betray Him.

The next thing that occurs is the Triumphal Entry:

John 12:12 The Triumphal Entry

The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:

"Hosanna! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!' The King of Israel!"

The people are skipping a step. Before He is King, He will be Priest. There is a great deal going on here during this "Palm Sunday" parade into Jerusalem, and I encourage you to review it.

The remainder of John, chapter 12 is about the Jews' rejection of Jesus and their subsequent blinding. There, too, there is a whole lot going on, so please, take the time to review the conclusion of John 12. This whole section is speaking of a change that has occurred:

John 1:11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.

It almost seems a contradiction, doesn't it? It is speaking of two things here. First, His own did not receive Him, in a corporate sense. The Jews, as a whole entity, rejected Jesus. However, But as many as received Him, shows that many, individually, did believe. It's bigger than it seems on the surface. There is a switch, here. God goes from dealing with the Jews as a nation to dealing with the believing remnant. Now, that doesn't mean that there was ever a time when there wasn't individual faith. However, now, the nation is not punished because of the idolatry of its leaders. If you remember your Old Testament, you can think of any number of times when Israel was. Perhaps an easier way to think about this is just to remember the switch from Old Covenant to New Covenant. The Old Covenant was made with the nation and required the obedience of the nation. The New Covenant is made with individuals.

As we go through the summary of the Upper Room Discourse, this is what I want you to remember of what came before. There has been a change, because His own did not receive Him. As we enter chapter 13, this change has already occurred, and Jesus' whole discussion is going to be about what things will be like now. Pay attention to those "nows" in the Bible! They are there for a reason. The way things are going to be for the church while we wait for Jesus' return is not the same as it was for the nation of Israel. For one thing, in the church, there is neither Jew nor Gentile in God's sight.

OK, we have Jesus' very last words in public. These are the very last things He says to the world at large:

John 12:44 Then Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

The Upper Room Discourse

The Upper Room Discourse, found only in John, is specifically for believers. It tells us the "what next" of our Christian life - what will fill our lives with meaning as we wait for Jesus to return. When we look at why John wrote his gospel:

John 20:30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

That "having life in His name" is what the Upper Room Discourse is all about. The whole thing starts this way:

John 13:1 (NKJV) Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

So, Jesus and His disciples celebrate the Passover meal together. In the midst of the meal, while Judas is still present, Jesus gets up and washes their feet. Lots and lots of symbolism there and in the language that is used. You can review what happened here.

Now, step back for a bit and look at the larger picture that John (through the Holy Spirit's guidance) is painting in the last couple of chapters. In John 12, we saw the Triumphal Entry, as Jesus intentionally presented Himself as the King of the Jews at the exact time (or at least time period) specified by Gabriel to Daniel. We saw the rejection of the Jews and the discussion of their blinding/hardening. We saw Gentiles seeking Jesus after the Jews rejected Him, and Jesus saying, in effect, now, this is the way it's going to be. (Remember to pay attention to those "nows" in the Bible. They usually mean that a change of some kind has come.) Then, we jump to this scene with the disciples and the foot washing. Jesus is going to spend a long time discussing how things should be among believers until He returns. So, the very first thing He shows us is that believers will humbly serve each other, helping each other wash from the sin of daily living. And, that that will actually make us happier!

OK, next, Jesus identified His betrayer, and Judas heads out to do his thing:

John 13:26 Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it." And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, "What you do, do quickly." 28 But no one at the table knew for what reason He said this to him. 29 For some thought, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus had said to him, "Buy those things we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor.

30 Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.

Everything from this point on is said only to believers, because Judas is gone. The first thing Jesus does next is give them a new commandment:

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

Jesus warns Peter that he is going to deny Jesus, and then Jesus jumps into talking about heaven:

John 14:1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

We had a whole study on heaven, with lots of verses to think about. Jesus' answer to a troubled heart is to concentrate on heaven. Paul told the Colossians and Corinthians something similar:

Col 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

OK, just to review, here's where we are so far:

So, here's where we are so far:

Jesus' teachings about life among believers in the spiritual kingdom

1. Humbly serve each other, helping each other wash away the sin of daily living.

2. Love each other as Jesus loved - with a greater love than you have for yourself.

3. When you have troubles in this world, remember that a specially-prepared place in heaven waits for you.

 

Next, Jesus talked about His second coming, using language right out of the ancient Jewish Wedding Ceremony. You can review that here. He also talked about "receiving us to Himself," which we also call the rapture, and we went through a lot of things about that in this study. The disciples are unclear about exactly WHERE Jesus is talking about, and when they ask, Jesus answers:

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

This was the sixth of the seven "I AM" statements in the Gospel of John:

John 6:48
I am the bread of life.

John 8:12
I am the light of the world.

John 10:9
I am the door.

John 10:11
I am the good shepherd.

John 11:25
I am the resurrection and the life.

John 14:6
I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

John 15:1
I am the true vine.

 

We are so incomplete, but Jesus reaches into our incompleteness with His answer: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. He is telling us not to worry about not knowing. Just follow Him. Trust Him. Allow Him to lead you and be Lord of your life. The rest will all take care of itself.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

So much packed into that. Our study itself could never do it justice, but it's worth reviewing.

Jesus goes on to talk about prayer:

John 14:12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

This will come up again and again in His talk. Then, He tells the disciples to keep His commandments, but He ties it to the Holy Spirit:

John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

It's not a conditional statement. It's not "Keep my commandments and if you do, I will send the Holy Spirit." No, it's "I will send the Holy Spirit to help you keep my commandments." There was a lot of ground covered in that study, and you can review it here.

By the end of chapter 14, we had covered these things:

Jesus' teachings about life among believers in the spiritual kingdom

1. Humbly serve each other, helping each other wash away the sin of daily living.

2. Love each other as Jesus loved - with a greater love than you have for yourself.

3. When you have troubles in this world, remember that a specially-prepared place in heaven waits for you.

4. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life. He is the answer to all your worrying. Trust Him.

5. Pray in Jesus' name. Confidently come before the Father, dressed in Jesus' righteousness.

6. The Holy Spirit dwells in us to lead us, teach us, comfort us, open the Scriptures to us.

7. If you love Jesus, keep His commandments. The Holy Spirit will help you do that.

In chapter 15, Jesus talked about being the true vine:

John15:1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser."

He goes on to say something that sounds a bit alarming in English:

John 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

The NIV was even more alarming:

John 15:2 (NIV) He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

However, the Greek is actually "lifts up," and the picture Jesus is painting is of a grape vine that is trailing on the ground and needs to be lifted up into the sun. If you're familiar with grapes, you know that the ones that are allowed to grow along the ground bear no fruit at all. There are big, long vines, lots of leaves, but no fruit. If you want to get fruit, you've got to lift those vines up and gently tie them to wires, so they're exposed to the sun. The branches aren't going to do that for themselves.

If a branch, (a believer), is not bearing fruit at present, the Father will "lift up" that branch from the ground where it's been trying to do its own thing, into the light of His Son. In other words, He will expose hidden sins, He will bring conviction about poor priorities, He will call that person back into fellowship with Himself.

So, the way to understand this is not "cut off" or even "take away" but "lift up." If you have a New King James Version Bible, you'll see that alternate translation in the notes. How does He do that? Through the Spirit, working within you.

You can read more about the vine and the branches, and bearing fruit in the study we did on that.

Now, that first verse in chapter 15:

John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

is the seventh of the seven "I AM" comparisons in the Gospel of John. Somehow, the picture that Jesus is painting of Himself is complete with that statement:

John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Now, every one of these ties back to the burning bush, and the great "I AM":

Exodus 3:13 Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?"

14 And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel,'I AM has sent me to you.'" 15 Moreover God said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.'

Taken together, the seven statements are somehow a complete picture of who Jesus is. I believe it will take all eternity to fully understand all that is being said in those verses. It would be a very valuable study to take each metaphor and trace it through the Bible. I think even the order the statements were given is probably important.

So, who is Jesus? He is the Bread that we need to feast on, the Light for our path, the only Door to enter, the Shepherd who leads, seeks and comforts, the Resurrection which awaits us, the Way, the Truth, and the Life to trust in, and the Vine who nourishes us and in whom we need to abide.

Next, Jesus calls us to abide in His love:

John 15:9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

That "loved" is the verb agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o). It's the love that is totally given over to something - the total concentration of your being. That's the way the Father loved Jesus, and that's the way Jesus loved us. We need to abide or remain (NIV) in that love. In this verse, Jesus is not calling us to love that way (He does other places), but is calling us to abide or remain in HIS love. We went through that word last time. It is meno (men'-o). It means to remain constant, to remain faithful to. There is even an element of waiting patiently in the word. The word, as it's used here, is in the active, aorist, imperative tense. Active, so it's something that we are doing and called to do. It's a conscious thing, something to work at. But, it's the aorist, so there's an element of it that's outside of time altogether. And, it's imperative, so this is a command.

How did Jesus love us? He gave up His life for us. Even more than that, He suffered eternal punishment for us. If the punishment for sin is eternal separation from God, then somehow, in a way we cannot understand, that is what Jesus suffered. We just can't get it, because we live inside of time, but somehow, Jesus suffered eternal - as in forever and ever - punishment for us. If that's the punishment for sin, than that is what Jesus did.

I am absolutely convinced that if you were the only person in all of history to believe that - the only one who would be saved by His sacrifice - He would have done it anyway, just for you. You need to hold onto that truth and live that truth. That's how you abide in HIS love. To believe that Jesus loves you that much will change you forever.

John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

Our English can be so confusing. This really sounds as though doing what Jesus calls you to will cause you to cling to His love. The "keep" is tereo {tay-reh'-o}, and it is in the aorist tense. So, don't put the emphasis on the "if," put the emphasis on the "keep." If you do keep Jesus' commandments, you WILL abide in His love - because only by abiding in His love will you be able to keep His commandments. Do you follow? It's like back in chapter 14, when Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word." That "love" is the agapao love. If you love Jesus like that, you WILL keep His word.

Jesus talks about keeping His commandments a number of times. You'd think it would be seven, but it's five. For those of you that like to play with numbers, five seems (not as clearly as some things) to imply grace. If that's true, it really fits here, because we will never keep His commandments perfectly. Yet, we are under grace, just the same.

Jesus goes on to talk about joy:

John 15:11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."

So, what is biblical joy? It doesn't seem to necessarily be a feeling. Job must have been crushed at all he lost, but he still worshipped. It seems to flow from the Holy Spirit. In fact, it's listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:23 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Biblical joy seems to be more about God's promises of our future than our present circumstances -- more about who He is than who we are, and what we're feeling. It seems to rely on God's strength and in our confidence in Him.

Next, Jesus talked about our works as Christians, for which we'll be rewarded:

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

You'll find that same idea in Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

And you'll find that in 1 Corinthians:

1 Cor 3:12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

And He talks about prayer again:

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

 

Then, Jesus warned of persecution:

John 15:18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you ,'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

We had a whole lesson on why persecution is a blessing.

Then, Jesus spoke again of the Holy Spirit:

John 16:5 "But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. 8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

The Holy Spirit comes to convict us of sin, to teach us and give us understanding of the Scriptures, to glorify Jesus, to give us gifts, to make us more and more like Christ, and for many other reasons. The Holy Spirit does not call attention to Himself, but to the Father and our Savior. We went through many verses in our study on the Holy Spirit.

Finally, in the end of chapter 16, Jesus comforts His disciples and us:

John 16:20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

And speaks again of asking in His name:

John 16:23 "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

1. John 14:13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

2. John 14:14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. (very next verse after above)

3. John 15:7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

4. John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

5. John 16:23 And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.

6. John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

7. John 16:26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

Ask - that the Father may be glorified. Ask - when you remain in Jesus and His words remain in you. Ask - so that you can bear fruit that remains. Ask - that your joy may be full. Ask - because you have loved Jesus and believe that He came from God.

John 16:26 In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; 27 for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came forth from God.

Let's not leave that thought too quickly. The Father Himself loves us.

Rom 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out,"Abba, Father ."

The last thing we went through, was of course, Jesus' prayer to His Father in John 17.