In John 8 Jesus called his enemies “sons of the devil”. He then describes Satan as a murder from the beginning, a liar, and the father of lies. Although Jesus had much to say about Satan, most professing Christians today do not even believe in the existence of Satan as a real spiritual being with a personality. However, understanding Satan is critical to understanding the condition of the world around us, the cause of suffering, and even the mission of Jesus. In this lesson we explore the nature of Satan, where he came from from, tactics he uses, and how we can defeat him with God’s help.
Jesus tells the Jews who believe in him that if they abide in his teaching, they will be set free. Those who hear him are puzzled; they are already free men and have never been slaves! But Jesus is speaking of spiritual slavery: being enslaved to sin. In this lesson we explore the freedom Jesus offers us, which is much different from what the world (and many Christians today) are seeking.
Jesus boldly announced, “I am the Light of the world.” Why did he say that? Was there some prophecy in the Old Testament Scriptures that spoke of a great light that would come? And in what ways is Jesus similar to light? In this lesson we explore the great theme of light versus darkness in the Scriptures, and its powerful implications for how we live our lives and how we share our faith to a world in utter spiritual darkness.
In the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus famously tells the woman that He does not accuse her. This has been used to justify a “Who am I to accuse anyone?” attitude of tolerating sinful lifestyles in the modern church. In this lesson we take a deeper look into this story, to get a clearer picture of who Jesus is: willing to extend mercy; yet insisting on repentance. We also consider an example of how this story was used to challenge and instruct leaders in the early church.
The Jews are wrestling with the question of whether Jesus is the Christ. On the one hand, he is performing miracles and teaching powerfully. On the other hand, the prophets had written that the Christ would come from Bethlehem (in Judea, in the south); however it appeared to them that Jesus was from Galilee (in the north). In this lesson we look at how Jesus fulfilled prophecies that speakboth about Bethlehem and Galilee: the great king to come who would also bring light into a dark world.
What a marvel to listen to Jesus teach the crowds! In this passage, Jesus uses the Old Testament to confront hypocrisy, reveal His identity as the Christ, and promise the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. His enemies were confounded; others were convinced and began to follow Him. There are lessons here for us as well, including God's provision of "rivers of living water," which alone can quench our spiritual thirst and satisfy our souls.
If Jesus came into the world to demonstrate God’s love and grace, why would He be hated? Jesus says He was hated by the world, “Because I testify of it that its works are evil.” If we grasp this aspect of Jesus’ character and ministry, it will have profound implications for our own lives and our churches. When you follow in His steps and do not cave in to modern culture, be ready to be hated by the world.
In John 6 Jesus tells his followers that whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood will have eternal life. This teaching offended many of Jesus' followers and many "walked with him no more." Why was this teaching so offensive? What did Jesus mean by it? Certainly, this was meant figuratively and not literally, right? This lesson also examines the Lord's Supper, what one early Christian called "the medicine of immortality."
Jesus is challenged to show a sign like Moses did, to provide bread from heaven (recalling the manna story from Exodus). Jesus counters by teaching that He is the true bread who came from heaven, who gives life to the world. In this lesson we look at the significance of this important teaching, and also consider how two passages within this text have been taken out of context by Calvinists and many evangelical Protestants, with tragic consequences.
In the first part of John 6, Jesus feeds 5,000 men (plus women and children) and then walks on the water, calling Peter to do the same. The first miracle caused those who witnessed it to proclaim that Jesus was the Prophet foretold in Deuteronomy 18; the second caused Jesus' apostles to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God. These stories are filled with important lessons for us, including what we are to do today with such miracles, foreshadowing of these miracles in the Old Testament, how Jesus handled adversity, and teaching on (and a vivid example of) saving faith.
After healing a man on the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies want to kill Him for violating the Law of Moses. Instead of speaking to defend himself, Jesus points to five witnesses who will testify on His behalf, beginning with John the Baptist. His last witness is Moses, of whom Jesus declares “he wrote about Me”. In this lesson we consider the testimony of the five witnesses to support the claims of Jesus and the Christian faith.
Jesus spoke in John 5 about the physical resurrection of the dead (bodies coming out of the graves). This was an extremely divisive subject among the Jews. Jesus and Paul maintained that it was plainly taught in the Old Testament; but where? Here we answer that question and continue a deep discussion on the resurrection begun in the previous message. This is a lesson that illustrates God’s power, challenges our faith, and reveals the importance of our bodies (and what we do with them).
In John 5 Jesus’ enemies accused him of “working” on the Sabbath in healing a paralyzed man. In His response, Jesus “doubles down” and puts himself on the same level as God. Jesus also tells his opponents that the Father has committed to Him, the Son, the role of judging all men. In this lesson, we take a look at an aspect of Jesus many prefer to avoid: Jesus, the great Judge of all men on the Last Day. This carries important implications for several areas of our lives. Here Jesus also introduces teaching on the resurrection of the dead: considered a foundational teaching in the early church, yet commonly misunderstood among Christians today.
In John 4 and 5, and throughout the New Testament, we read about Jesus, the apostles and others performing miracles, healings, and signs. These can easily be passed over and dismissed. Yet, why did Jesus (and others) perform miracles and signs? What are we to learn from these miracles? If someone were to work signs and wonders today, would that be a clear sign that God was behind what they were doing? We will seek to answer these and other questions through the stories of the healing of the nobleman's son (John 4) and the paralyzed man at the pool (John 5).
In John 4 Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well and has a noteworthy discussion with her. This passage has often been used to depict Jesus as the Great Women's Liberator. But, is this really what this passage teaches us? We will dig into the history of the Samaritans and their relationship with the Jews to gain insight into the liberation Jesus offers to all people of all the nations. We are also introduced to "living water", and called higher as we learn of Jesus' food: to do the will of the Father.
This passage of Scripture contains perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible: John 3:16. We look at this verse in its context, which not only shows how badly the verse is twisted and misunderstood by so many today but also reveals a message and means of salvation that will be hated by the world. It was for this message, which includes repentance from sin and Jesus as the only means to salvation, that Jesus was murdered. Will we, as Jesus' followers, be willing to proclaim the same message, with similar results? The lesson concludes with John the Baptist's example of humility as a spiritual leader, an upward call to us all as we strive to carry out God's work during our short time here on earth.
In John 3, Nicodemus encounters Jesus at night and is told that to enter the Kingdom of God, a person must be born of water and spirit. Nicodemus, a good-hearted teacher of Israel who will later stick his neck out for Jesus, is confused about what it means to be born again. Such is the case for so many Christians. This lesson deals with water baptism, an extremely controversial topic for much of the church today. We take a close look at Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments that address water baptism, as well as at some of the stumbling blocks that make baptism such a difficult teaching for so many.
In John 2 we read two stories: Jesus performing his first miracle at a wedding in Cana and Jesus clearing out the temple. Jesus would go on to perform many miracles; why did He begin with turning water into wine? We also look at whether Christians should drink alcohol, and how we should relate to disciples who have different convictions on this. In the second story, we are challenged to imitate the zeal Jesus had for his Father's house, as well as the zeal of other heroes of faith in the Scriptures. Finally, we see Jesus proclaiming to skeptics that there would be one sign of His authority: His resurrection from the dead on the third day, the foundation of the Christian faith.
In this lesson we discuss the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, which is mentioned in all four gospels. Why was Jesus' baptism necessary? Jesus then encounters his first disciples, and gives Simon the new name, ‘Peter’. What was the significance of that? We explore this question, the source of great controversy related to claims made by the Roman Catholic Church. Finally, we are introduced to Nathaniel, a good-hearted skeptic whose conversion still inspires us today to lead other truth-seekers to the Stairway to Heaven!
John the Baptist identifies Jesus as "the Lamb of God". Why a lamb, and not some other animal? Does this simply mean that Jesus was meek and harmless, or is there more to it? How would John's hearers have understood this expression? In this lesson we look at what this would have meant to John’s hearers, and the profound implications for all those who want to follow Jesus today.