It seemed as if it were yesterday that I was in Israel, although it has been 11 years since my visit. I can’t imagine all the changes since then. At the time they had recently discovered the Pool of Siloam, which was exciting to see. Would love to go back someday and see their progress!
It has been during our BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) study of John that has given me so much more depth and understanding of all I had seen while in Israel. As I was reading each chapter of John, I knew I had to try and capture, through my pictures, of all the places Jesus walked as John tells us about him. Let’s begin near Bethany, near the Jordan River, as John the Baptist tells the people of the coming of the Messiah.
Lesson Overview of John Lecture 1
1 Jesus and His work to restore God’s kingdom are at the heart of all Scripture.
2 Only Jesus can bring about true spiritual transformation.
3 God gives us His Word so that we may believe in and follow HIm.
In The Book of John we learn about what Jesus’s life was like here on earth. It seems as if John did most of his writing toward the end of his life. Before following Christ he was a fisherman. Through John we learn that Jesus’ ministry was approximately 3 years. It is believed that through the Holy Spirit John’s writing was fine tuned.
It was all so overwhelming when I was in Israel in 2006, because I didn’t have the knowledge and depth of understanding of Jesus’ work, nor of salvation, as I am learning now. That is what makes BSF so awesome and intriguing. It is the depth of studying Jesus’ life that makes me want to dig deeper and know more. I never know where the discussion will go, nor what mystery will be uncovered about Jesus and my relationship with Him. As I began the study of John, I was learning more about Jesus and the main principles of his teaching, rather than “surface” learning.
Lesson 1 Lecture – John 1:1-18
John 1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
How many times have I read or heard this passage, yet I never really considered and internalized, the depth of the words “the light” until this study.
God and Jesus may be separate in personhood, but they are common in nature. Eternal, equal, separate, yet the same.
1 The Word Jesus – the eternal Word, the Life and Light – is distinct in person yet one in character with God.
Here is a man, John The Baptist, who knew exactly who Jesus was. He was sent by God to witness to the true life and the true light. Witnesses were held to a high value in the day of the Old Testament. Eye witnesses were valued and trusted. (My thoughts wander at this point which leads me to the question, where did I go wrong? Shouldn’t I be held to a high value today; to be trusted with the truth of Jesus; to be a witness to others? I know many people are, but I know I have failed in many ways. No matter how many times I want to tell people about what I’m learning about Jesus, I don’t always have the words. OK… Nanc, so turn to Him and ask!)
Remember: All the attributes of Christ is shared with God. God created the world and all in it. Just think, without Him there was NOTHING! John 1:4 says: That life was the light of the world, then sin entered, which became darkness. Yet, those who turned to Jesus see the Light of the World.
An analogy was given in BSF: Have you ever been in Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota? You really never understand what “dark” means until you are there and the guide turns off the light. There is no light filtering in at all. You see nothing. Without God; there is nothing but darkness.
I, for one, do not want to see the darkness. Lord, let me see your light shine from within me! I truly strive to be a true witness and shine the Light of God, but it’s not always easy.
Every person John used as a witness in the Book of John pointed to the truth. Why was it so difficult for others to see Jesus as the true Messiah? It is the same today, unfortunately: Received by some and rejected by others. He was, and is, not recognized for who he was.
John 1:16 And from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
Jesus shows us Grace again and again and again. Jesus offered to die for ALL of us. He didn’t do it for just one person, or one nation, or one country. It was atonement once… and for ALL.
2 The Witness and the Choice – The testimony of a believer’s life should point others to the Truth.
Jesus was fully God. Then he came to earth to dwell, in human flesh. To see Jesus is to see God.
3 Jesus is fully God and fully man.
Belief is to stand in the gap of understanding. One can choose to believe until God makes it clearer. Trust in His timing. Pray and ask God to show you the fullness of His Grace and Truth. (I am learning this is an important part of salvation. Completely trusting God and asking Him for clarification when I don’t understand! Another aspect of that is patience, above all. It is always in His Time.)
Lesson 2 Lecture – John 1:19-51
John 1:19 And this is the testimony of John (The Baptist), when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.””Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
When asked if he was the Prophet, with a capital P, it could have been another way of trying to see if he was the Messiah. Moses had promised a prophet long ago in Deuteronomy. Yet the Pharisees could not see that Jesus was The One.
In order to help others, one must become a Child of God. You walk in the path God created for you, allowing Him into your heart. Pharisees thought they were one with God because they followed the law. Yet, it was as if they had a checklist, making sure it was complete when it came to God.
When John was writing his Gospel, there was no separation of religion and state, which was called a Theocracy. Because of this the Jewish leaders watched John The Baptist carefully. He was baptizing Jewish people, but at that time it was only Gentiles who needed baptizing. Jewish people thought they were clean and didn’t need it. It would seem they had a problem with anyone doing anything different. Their hearts and minds were empty. Food for Thought: What about me? Have I dug deep enough?
1 When you are sure of your identity in Christ, you are an effective witness.
Let’s look at sin. What is sin? Sin really is anything that offends God. Jesus willingly died on the cross for our sins. He was God, without sin!
It was also noted that Jesus and John The Baptist were related; probably about six months apart. Luke, Chapter 1, talks about Elizabeth, John’s mother.
John 1:32 And John bore witness:”I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.”
Can you just imagine seeing this for yourself? John The Baptist testified that he saw the Chosen One, the Lamb who would take away the sin of the world. He never questioned this at all… he chose to believe it was God’s divine intervention and he knew.
If you know the Old Testament, the washing of water was a way for the Israelites to be ceremonial clean. However, it is important to remember, water baptism does not save… only Jesus can save.
2 The Lamb of God takes away the sin of all who trust in Him.
Spend your time with Jesus and get to know him by reading The Word. If you think you are not qualified to speak about Jesus just because you think you don’t know enough about him, think again!
I used to think just like that, even when I first started BSF in February 2014. In fact, I have encouraged several people to attend BSF and some have said to me “I don’t know enough about the Bible to go to BSF.” The reason you attend BSF is to learn about Jesus and The Word of God. For me, had I not been invited and gone to BSF that first time, I would never have learned all I’ve learned. It has been a blessing for me. Frankly, I knew I was not disciplined enough on my own, nor did I realize the depth of study one does in BSF. I come home from the discussion and lecture and now I cannot wait to start my lesson!! The more I learn, the more I want to know. Not “surface learning”, but a deep, thought-provoking study. Believe you me, it was not that way at first. I was discouraged and thought I would never “get” it. I felt I didn’t belong because I didn’t know enough, and I didn’t think I would ever learn. After the first 4 or 5 weeks, though, I could hardly wait for Wednesday to roll around! Needless to say, I am not the only one who thinks like this, yet when you are going through it, you feel as if you are. Don’t let that stop you!
Jesus promises his disciples that he would be The Way. Today, He invites you to come and see.
3 Jesus invites us to know him.
No one comes to the Father except through Jesus. Dig deeper and get to know him fully.
John 1:33-36 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” Jesus Calls the First Disciples 35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
John 1:43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.”
Lesson 3 Lecture – John 2:1-25
John 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
I love the saying: To God Leave The Worry. (It wasn’t so long ago that I didn’t know how to do that. It is amazing how different your mindset is when you let it go, leave it to God.)
Here the followers and Jesus’ Mother, Mary, were in Cana for a wedding. It is the Jewish culture where wine means Joy. Wine gladdens the heart (Psalm 104:15) In moderation, of course. A wedding feast in those days would go on for a week. Everything had to be perfect.
It was at the wedding that Jesus turned the water into wine. I think his mother knew how special Jesus was. Yet, when Mary told Jesus, “They have no wine”, and he told her in John 2:4 “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.”
I often wonder what exactly was Jesus thinking then. Did he think to himself, “This is not my problem, I don’t have to do anything about it.” I have to be realistic, this could be what I (and many of us, I’m sure) would say today. That was not Jesus’ way.
Instead, Jesus tells the servants to fill the jars with water. The servant brings the cup to the wedding host and the host declares that it is the best wine. Yet, no one else knew about Jesus turning the water to wine, except the disciples, his mother, and the servants. These servants saw a miracle in what Jesus had done. What do you think was going through their minds? There is no doubt that Jesus brings us all the best Joy and a saving relationship through Him. The wine represents His blood, which washes our heart!
So, the deep question is, “When exactly did the water turn to wine?” Was it wine when in the jars? Or did it turn to wine when it was poured in the cup? No one really says, except for the fact Jesus uses the word cup when he describes the upcoming suffering on the cross. It could very well be a picture of a new Covenant replacing the old. Jesus died on the cross to rid the sins for all of us.
1 Jesus transforms the ordinary into abundant life and endless joy.
Ask yourself this question: Have I run out of hope, love, direction, peace? When I seek His Glory, His provision, and His Power, I allow it to increase my belief and my faith!
John 2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.
John 2:13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
The picture above is referred to as the teaching steps, where Jesus did much of his teaching when in Jerusalem.
It was after this it was The Feast of the Tabernacle. People had to sacrifice a lamb without blemish. If they had to come a long way, they would usually buy a lamb from someone there. Unfortunately, here is where human greed takes over. Making the $$’s was more important than being one with God. They were selling them in the Temple courts.
Jesus was upset when he entered and found they had compromised sacredness. When reading this when I was younger, it was so easy to think of this as being “then” and over “there”, but doesn’t this happen today as well? I didn’t even have to think about it. I bent my head in sorrow, and humility, as I think of “things” more often instead of doing what is right with God.
When Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in 3 days” he was talking about his body, not the physical temple. He is our Temple and his earthly body was the dwelling place of God. His body, our Temple, gives us unhindered, uncluttered access to God.
Questions to ask oneself: He is the way, the truth and the light. Is there something in my way hindering me from worshipping God? What do I need to clear, or un-clutter, out of my life to have an un-obstructive view of God?
2 Jesus’ cleansing power clears the way to God.