Berean Bible Study Notes
This is the conclusion of what we started in John 18 and continued last time with John 19-20. By going through all the Gospel accounts, you can see what is the same and what is different.
Why four Gospels? It does not seem to have occurred to the minds of many to ask such a question. That we have four Gospels which treat of the earthly ministry of Christ is universally accepted, but as to why we have them, as to what they are severally designed to teach, as to their peculiar characteristics, as to their distinctive beauties - these are little discerned and even less appreciated. It is true that each of the four Gospels has much in common to all: each of them deals with the same period of history, each sets forth the teaching and miracles of the Saviour, each describes His death and resurrection. But while the four Evangelists have much in common, each has much that is peculiar to himself, and it is in noting their variations that we are brought to see their true meaning and scope and to appreciate their perfections.
In Matthew, Christ is presented as the Son of David, the King of the Jews, and everything in his narrative centers around this truth. This explains why the first Gospel opens with a setting forth of Christ's royal genealogy, and why in the second chapter mention is made of the journey of the wise men from the East, who came to Jerusalem inquiring "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?", and why in chapters five to seven we have what is known as "The Sermon on the Mount" but which, in reality, is the Manifesto of the King, containing an enunciation of the Laws of His Kingdom.
In Mark, Christ is depicted as the Servant of Jehovah, as the One who through equal with God made Himself of no reputation and "took upon Him the form of a servant." Everything in this second Gospel contributes to this central theme, and everything foreign to it is rigidly excluded. This explains why there is no genealogy recorded in Mark, why Christ is introduced at the beginning of His public ministry (nothing whatever being told us here of His earlier life), and why there are more miracles (deeds of service) detailed here than in any of the other Gospels.
In Luke, Christ is set forth as the Son of Man, as connected with but contrasted from the sons of men, and everything in the narrative serves to bring this out. This explains why the third Gospel traces His genealogy back to Adam, the first man, (instead of to Abraham only, as in Matthew), why as the perfect Man He is seen here so frequently in prayer, and why the angels are seen ministering to Him, instead of commanded by Him as they are in Matthew.
In John, Christ is revealed as the Son of God, and everything in this fourth Gospel is made to illustrate and demonstrate this Divine relationship. This explains why in the opening verse we are carried back to a point before time began, and we are shown Christ as the Word "in the beginning," with God, and Himself expressly declared to be God; why we get here so many of His Divine titles, as "The only begotten of the Father," the "Lamb of God," the "Light of the world" etc.; why we are told here that prayer should be made in His Name, and why the Holy Spirit is here said to be sent from the Son as well as from the Father.
Again, this whole study is going to be mostly Scripture. This is all from THE NEW KING JAMES VERSION, Copyright © 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.
In the last study, the last thing we covered was the commissioning of the apostles:
The Apostles Commissioned - John
John 20:19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Seeing and Believing - John
John 20:24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."
26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" 27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing."
28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
29 Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
That You May Believe - John
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.
Breakfast by the Sea - John
John 21:1 After these things (After what things? This likely refers back to the John 20:24-29 section, with "Doubting" Thomas) Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing."
They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?"
They answered Him, "No."
6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught."
11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, "Who are You?" — knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.
14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.
Jesus Restores Peter - John
John 21:15 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o)Me more than these?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love phileo (fil-eh'-o) You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs."
16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o) Me?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love phileo (fil-eh'-o) You."
He said to him, "Tend My sheep."
17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love phileo (fil-eh'-o) Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love phileo (fil-eh'-o) Me?"
And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love phileo (fil-eh'-o) You."
Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.
18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish." 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."
The Beloved Disciple and His Book - John
John 21:20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?" 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?"
22 Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."
23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?"
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. (Note that there is no Ascension here)
Reminder of the ending of Matthew:
The Great Commission - Matthew
Matt 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
The ending of Mark:
The Great Commission - Mark
Mark 16:14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
Christ Ascends to God's Right Hand - Mark
Mark 16:19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
The ending of Luke
Jesus Appears to His Disciples - Luke
Luke 24:36 Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." 37 But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."
40 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 But while they still did not believe for joy, and marveled, He said to them, "Have you any food here?" 42 So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb. 43 And He took it and ate in their presence.
The Scriptures Opened - Luke
Luke 24:44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."
The Ascension - Luke
Luke 24:50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
A little more from Acts
Acts 1:1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, 3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
The Holy Spirit Promised
Acts 1:4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." 6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
Jesus Ascends to Heaven
Acts 1:9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
Paul even made Jesus' appearing to people as part of the Gospel:
1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
For discussion -
1. Why does John seem to end his book in the last verse of John 20 and then add more stories in John 21?
2. In John 21, John specifically mentioned the number of fish and that the net did not break. Why? Contrast that with this story in Luke:
Luke 5:4 When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch."
5 But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net." 6 And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
3. What is the Holy Spirit showing us through pictures of fish and nets?
Four Fishermen Called as Disciples
Matt 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." 20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
The Parable of the Dragnet
Matt 13:47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
Just for fun:
Curious properties of 153
There has been theories as to what this
number represents. Some say it’s the number of nations during
the end times, or the number of different types of people Christ
gathers together into the Kingdom of God, etc.
But the most interesting theory in my opinion is found in Grant Jeffrey’s book "Unveiling Mysteries of the Bible." The book says that a Christian army officer, named Lt. Col. R. Roberts, made a discovery more than a century ago. He too was curious about the odd number of 153 fish.
Roberts discovered that the four Gospels record precisely 153 individuals who were specifically blessed by Jesus Christ. These divine blessings through their personal encounters with Jesus Christ included salvation, divine healings, resurrections, as well as those persons who were personally blessed through witnessing Christ supernaturally bless their friend or loved one (such as Jairus and his daughter).
Mr. Jeffrey goes on to list the 153 people who received a direct blessing from Jesus Christ, including the 70 disciples, 11 apostles, 10 lepers, 4 brethren of the Lord, the palsied man and bearers, the Centurion, Lazarus, Mary, Martha, the blind men, the demon-possessed man, Nicodemus, Peter’s mother-in-law, etc.
Between the 4 Gospels the total of these blessed people does add up to 153. It’s unlikely that this number of 153 is a mere coincidence. It clearly demonstrates that the Lord numbers and watches over every individual who places his faith and trust in Him.
As Jesus states in Matthew 10:29-31 "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (NIV).
The Gospel of John
Over the last three years, we've been studying the Gospel of John. It's not a simple book, but one that will take eternity to really know all that is there. Every story is there for a reason. Everything that is spoken of is chosen for a purpose. The order of things is important. I learned a lot, but there is so much more to explore.
What did you learn? What will you take away from the last three years? What can you share with others?
Thanks for being part of our John study!!