The Jewish leader Caiaphas hands Jesus over to Pilate to be questioned, tortured and murdered. When we consider that Jesus' life was characterized by kindness to the poor, healing the sick, and a message of love for all mankind, why was it that so many people wanted to kill him? This lesson seeks to answer this question, involving Jesus as a witness to the truth. The lesson also addresses whether some sins are greater than others, which appears to be assumed in Jesus' exchange with Pilate.
Are there independent historical accounts to confirm the people and events mentioned in the New Testament? In fact, there are, including accounts written about the high priests Annas and Caiaphas, before whom Jesus appears just before he is crucified. Understanding these can equip us to help those who are seeking to learn about the Christian faith. This lesson also addresses the claim (by some) of "secret teachings" of Jesus, which include old, gnostic teachings repackaged today in beliefs such as the "laws of attraction."
Judas, accompanied by armed troops, discovers Jesus and the eleven other apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane. After Jesus identifies himself, Peter draws his sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. This short scene is packed with lessons for us including: the danger of greed, a remarkable but little-known prophecy regarding Judas, and Jesus’ teaching on nonresistance.
In John 17, Jesus prays that His followers may be one as He and the Father are one. The goal of this unity was so that the world might know that God sent Jesus and loved the world as God loved His Son. Sadly, not only does this unity not exist today, but most Christians ignore this central (and extremely difficult) teaching. This lesson takes a hard look at Jesus' expectations regarding unity, what Christian unity does and does not look like, and provides an example from history to inspire us to strive for the unity Christ prayed for before His death.
Jesus has much to say in his farewell discourse. In this passage, we learn more about Jesus promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus also speaks directly about His departure and return. Jesus then begins to pray, with a focus on the glory He shares with the Father and His longing to return to His Father's glory. Jesus' words have practical and significant application to our own lives and understanding of God.
In John 15, Jesus promises that the world will hate His followers. In this lesson we look at what Jesus had to say about persecution, including why the world will hate His disciples. We also look at examples of martyrdom and accounts of Christian persecution in the early Church. May Jesus' teaching on persecution and the faithful witness of the Church through history strengthen those Christians suffering around the world today. May it also prepare us in the West for persecution that may await us in the coming years.
Jesus, the Son of God, through whom the universe was made, opens the door in John 15 for everyone to become His friend. But what does it mean to be Jesus' friend? What blessings did Jesus promise to give His friends? And what did Jesus say was required to be His friend? This lesson answers these questions, and reveals how our friendship with Jesus is directly related to the effectiveness of our prayers, the depth of our love for others, and being saved at the end.
A third of the world's population calls itself Christian. Yet most believe that following Jesus and making it to heaven does not actually require obeying what He taught. In John 15, Jesus provides an allegory of the Vine and the branches, a beautiful picture of how to understand our relationship with Jesus and what is required by us to be saved in the end. Grasp this teaching and you will also understand the blessings available to anyone who abides in Christ and allows himself or herself to be pruned by the Gardner. In just ten verses, this teaching may also do more to demolish the foundation of Reformation Theology than any other passage of Scripture.
The night before Jesus died, He promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would teach them “all things” and guide them “into all truth”. The idea that the faith was handed down to the apostles complete, with no improvements or changes to follow later, has revolutionary implications for the church today. In this lesson we will examine other New Testament passages that confirm this teaching. We also will consider attempts to make the modern Christian faith “more progressive” by incorporating popular teaching on radical feminism and homosexuality.
In this lesson we continue our study of the Holy Spirit. We turn to important passages from the Old Testament that reveal the Spirit as the guide on our journey from spiritual slavery, through the Wilderness of this life, to heaven. We also look at the critical role of the Spirit in guiding the writers of Scripture: the basis of our confidence in the Bible as the inspired Word of God.
Before Jesus leaves His followers, He tells them that the Father would send them a Helper, the Spirit of Truth and that this Spirit would be in them. In this lesson we look at the relationship of the Spirit with the Father and the Son, the personality of the Holy Spirit, whether the Spirit actually lives in us, and the danger of quenching the Spirit. We also look at several images that can help us understand the Spirit's role as guide, comforter and protector in our lives individually and collectively as the Church.
In this lesson we take a deep look at the relationship of the Father and the Son, addressing misunderstandings and providing analogies used by the early Church to help us understand the mystery of the trinity. We also consider what Jesus might have meant when He promises we will do greater works than Him, a statement that should challenge the fruit of our lives. Finally, we consider what Jesus means (and does not mean) when He says “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”
The night before He is killed, Jesus comforts his disciples, telling them He would prepare a place for them, that they would later join Him at that place, and that they knew the way to get there. Thomas objects, saying the twelve did not know where Jesus was going, nor the way to get there. Like Thomas, many Christians are confused about their ultimate destination and the way to get there. In this lesson, we look at Jesus' simple and plain teaching regarding our destination, the way we get there, and the radical implications of this teaching on our lives of Christ's followers.
The evening before He went to the cross Jesus told his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another….” In this lesson we explore what was new about that command. In the process, we demolish some popular misconceptions in the modern religious world concerning the meaning of the Greek word agape (the word rendered love in that passage).
At the Last Supper, Jesus identifies his betrayer by dipping a piece of bread and then giving it to Judas Iscariot. This followed Jesus' statement, “He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against me”, where He quotes a line from Psalm 41. In this lesson we explore the significance of that statement by Jesus, and the detailed prophecies related to the manner in which Jesus would be betrayed. Prophecies like these strengthened the faith for early Christians like Ignatius, who gave up his life as a martyr for Christ.
Jesus said, “I did not come to judge the world”. While many today use that statement to justify tolerating all kinds of sin in the church, is that what Jesus meant? In this lesson we also look at the famous incident where Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Afterward, He called them to follow His example. Did Jesus intend for us to take that command literally (washing each other’s dirty feet), or figuratively (performing the most humble acts of service for one another). Or should we do both?
John tells us plainly that many failed to follow Jesus not for lack of faith, but because "they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." Loving men’s praise (over God’s) is a problem for many of us today as well. In this lesson we look at inspiring Biblical heroes whose commitment to pleasing God brought severe persecution. We also consider tragic counter-examples of those who disobeyed God because they wanted to please people. The lesson concludes with challenges in specific areas, for each of us to lead a courageous life devoted to pleasing God rather than people.
With his death approaching, Jesus uses two puzzling figures of speech to explain both how He would die, and why He had to die. In the course of doing that, He reveals a great mystery that applies also to us: a seed must die in order to produce a great harvest. Jesus then goes on to quote from Isaiah, revealing a wonderful window into the divinity and pre-existence of the Son of God.
All four gospels record Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. Is there special significance in this event? In this lesson we take a look at donkeys in the Bible, the prophecies foretelling Jesus' donkey ride, and how this story can be used to bring others to faith in the Christ.
Judas was most famous for betraying Jesus. However, his underlying sin was greed. His love of money led to deceit, betrayal and other terrible sins. In this lesson we take a wide-ranging look at what the Bible has to say about the sin of greed, and examine both good and bad examples of Biblical characters. We also consider how to respond when we uncover greed in the hearts of religious leaders, and the importance of uprooting greed from our own lives.
After Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead, the Jewish leaders see Him as a growing threat. They convene the council at which Caiaphas, the high priest, speaks. In making the case to kill Jesus, Caiaphas unknowingly utters a prophecy: it is better for one man (Jesus) to die than for the whole nation to perish. In this lesson we look at related prophecies that one man would die for many; and that death would bring catastrophic consequences to the Jewish nation, which were fulfilled in AD 70. We also consider whether God can speak and act through wicked people.
In chapter 11 we have reached the mid-point of John’s Gospel and are rewarded with Jesus’ most remarkable miracle to date. In this story we witness the tremendous faith of Martha and come face to face with Jesus’ humanity and divinity, as he responds to the loss of his friend Lazarus and raises him from the dead. This lesson calls us to trust in God’s timing, to get serious about prayer, and to be prepared for our own death and resurrection.