31 January 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 13:1-30

In his gospel, John jumps straight from Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem to the Last Supper. This was special meal was held on the evening before Jesus’ crucifixion.

Jesus knew that the time of His suffering and death was approaching. He was eating dinner with His disciples and was preparing them for what was about to happen. Jesus got up from the table and washed the disciples’ feet. He took the place of a servant. Washing others’ feet was a task reserved for servants. Jesus is worthy of all praise and exaltation. But He also humbled Himself to serve others and ultimately to die for them.

Peter was humbled and questioned Jesus’ actions. He refused to let Jesus wash his feet. He didn’t want Jesus to serve him. “Are you going to wash my feet?” Peter asked. “You shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Then Peter declared that he was all in – he wanted Jesus to wash his whole body not just his feet! Jesus taught His disciples that those who had a bath still needed their feet washed. This is a beautiful word picture – those who are saved (clean from a bath) still need to be cleansed of their daily sins (have their feet washed).

Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, but Jesus still loved Judas and washed his feet.

Then Jesus explained what He had just done. He instructed His disciples (and us!) to humble themselves and wash each other’s feet. He promised blessings when they obeyed Him. The command is not to physically wash others’ feet but to humbly serve others. We should serve others without expecting anything in return. And Jesus set the ultimate example for us to follow.

Next Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him. The disciples wondered who the betrayer was going to be. Jesus said He told the disciples about the betrayal in advance so that they would believe in Him even more when the betrayal happened.

John asked Jesus who would betray Him. Jesus said it was the one to whom He gave a dipped piece of bread. This usually was a sign of honor at a dinner party. Jesus gave the bread to Judas. Judas took the bread, and Satan entered Judas to completely influence him. Then Jesus told Judas to do it quickly. Judas left. Judas chose to allow Satan to enter him and influence him. Jesus gave Judas an opportunity to repent and change.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus displays His love with humility and grace. To whom do I need to display God’s love in an act of humility and grace?
  • Jesus knew His identity, and it didn’t prevent Him from humbling Himself to serve others. Because our identity is in Christ, we can serve in humility and grace.
  • Here are a few practical ways to “wash the feet of others” – show genuine love, forgive, pray, encourage.
  • Jesus understands what it means to be betrayed by one of His closest friends.

This Week’s Memory Verse
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:14-15 NIV

26 January 2017

24 January 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 12:1-50

In John 12, we see Jesus attending a dinner party and entering Jerusalem just days before His crucifixion.

Simon, a former leper, hosted a dinner party with Jesus as the honored guest. Also in attendance were Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Simon could have been the father of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus since Martha served the dinner guests.

During this event, Mary broke a bottle of expensive perfume and anointed Jesus with it. She poured it on His head and His feet. Then she used her hair to wipe His feet. Mary put herself aside and ignored the culture of the day to express her love for her Savior. Mary focused on Jesus not the sacrifice or the people around her.

Mary spared no expense, she had a gentle and quiet spirit, she was humble, she put her affection for Jesus on public display. She was single-mindedly focused on Jesus.

Judas and the other disciples were angry at Mary’s action. Judas publicly objected and criticized her. He said the perfume could have been sold and the money could have been given to the poor. Judas selfishly wanted to take some of this money. Jesus defended her. He said Mary did what was right; she was preparing Him for His coming burial.

A large crowd gathered in Bethany to see Jesus and Lazarus. The chief priests plot to kill Jesus and Lazarus. But many Jews believed in Jesus.

The next day (Sunday), Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey. The crowd responded by waving palm branches and laying their robes on the ground. They celebrated and welcomed Jesus as their King.

But Jesus was not the king the people were looking for. They wanted an earthly king to reign forever on earth. Jesus entered Jerusalem peacefully with the ultimate goal of death on the cross.

Then Jesus made several announcements. Here are just a few:

  • He announced that the hour of His suffering and glorification had come.
  • He announced that the hour of His enemy’s judgment had come.
  • He announced that His soul was troubled because He knew what was to come.
  • He announced that belief in Him is belief in the Father.
  • He announced that His followers are to die to self and live for Him.

Jesus called His disciples to deny themselves, to take up their crosses, and to follow Him. This means we renounce our self-preferences and fully obey Him.

Now we begin to follow Jesus through His final days on earth.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus is King, and He deserves all honor, glory, and praise.
  • Are you among the committed, among the watchful crowd, among the curious, or among the critics?
  • Do you outwardly praise and honor Jesus? Can people tell that you are a Christian based on your words and actions?

This Week’s Memory Verse
Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:25 NIV

19 January 2017

17 January 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 11:1-57

In John chapter 11, Jesus demonstrated His love for one family – Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He knew them intimately. He considered them to be His friends.

Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus that Lazarus was sick. Jesus responded that this sickness would not end in death. Jesus waited two more days before going to visit the family in Bethany. Jesus waited to show that He operated on God’s timetable.

Jewish tradition said a dead person’s spirit hovered over the body for three days. On the fourth day, the body would begin to decay; the person was certainly dead. By waiting two days, Jesus could bring life into a hopeless situation. All of this would help develop the faith of the people who would witness this miracle.

Just because Jesus delayed His response didn’t mean He stopped loving this family. Sometimes a delay from God is an opportunity for us to grow and develop our faith.

Jesus finally arrived in Bethany. Lazarus had been dead for four days. There were many mourners there.

Martha met Jesus as he arrived. She had a conversation with Him. She said Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had been there. Martha demonstrated her faith by saying that Lazarus will rise on the last day. Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would rise then and now.

Jesus proclaimed Himself the resurrection and the life. He asked Martha if she believed. She professed her belief that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Then Martha went to Mary and told her that the teacher was there. Mary quickly ran out. The mourners followed her, thinking she was going to the tomb to mourn Lazarus. Mary brought the mourners to Jesus.

Mary fell as Jesus’ feet. She also said Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had been there. Jesus was deeply grieved. He was angry about what sin and death have done to His people. Jesus asked to be taken to Lazarus’ tomb.

Jesus wept. He was human. He knew what it meant to grieve and to lose a loved one.

Jesus comforted Martha with words of truth. He comforted Mary with sympathy. He comforted the mourners with action (“take me to him”).

When they arrived at the tomb, Jesus instructed the mourners to roll away the stone. Jesus reminded them that He would reveal His glory. They moved the stone. Then Jesus prayed aloud and thanked God. He invited the people into God’s presence.

Jesus commanded Lazarus to come out of the tomb. Lazarus emerged from the tomb. Jesus instructed the people to remove Lazarus’ grave clothes and let him go. Jesus allowed other people to participate in this miracle.

After this miracle, some mourners believed in Jesus. Others told the Pharisees about what happened. The Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

The Sanhedrin began to plot to kill Jesus. This prevented Jesus from being able to walk around freely. So He withdrew with His disciples. Soon His time of suffering and death would arrive.

Things to Think About
  • Jesus has the power to give life to a physically dead person and to a spiritually dead person.
  • A delayed response from the Lord does not signify abandonment.
  • God operates on His own timetable.
  • What are you waiting for God to do? How is God developing your faith as you wait for Him?
  • Jesus comforts those who mourns.
  • Jesus has power over life and death.
  • What is your response to Jesus’ power?

This Week’s Memory Verse
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 NIV

12 January 2017

10 January 2017

BSF 2016-2017: John 10:1-42

Welcome back to our study of John! Before our Christmas break, we saw Jesus heal a man who was blind from birth. Chapter 10 is a continuation of that story.

In this chapter, Jesus used the picture of a shepherd and his sheep to explain how His sheep recognize His voice, how He knows His sheep by name, how His sheep follow His voice, how He leads His sheep, and how He keeps His sheep secure for all eternity. Jesus used this illustration because the Jews and the Pharisees would have understood what it meant to be a shepherd and what it meant to shepherd animals or people.

The first sheepfold (10:1-6) would have been common in a Jewish village. Multiple herds were in this sheepfold. The gatekeeper could have been a hired person who watched over all of the sheep. When each shepherd came to gather his sheep, he would speak to gather his sheep (who knew his voice). The gatekeeper opened the gate for the shepherd to gather his sheep. An unfamiliar voice sent the sheep running, but a familiar voice brought the sheep to the shepherd.

Anyone who entered the sheepfold by another way was a thief and a robber. This described the Pharisees because they were stealing God’s people with deceit and violence.

The second sheepfold (10:7-10) would have been in an open field. It was a pen built with large stones and a small opening. The sheep in here would have belonged to one shepherd living in the open country. The shepherd lay on the ground at the opening and became the gate. He protected his sheep in the pen. Jesus is the gate. He is the only way to get to the Father.

Next Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd. In this context, “good” means “model;” Jesus is the model shepherd.

Jesus said that He owns His sheep. He takes care of His sheep because He loves them. He protects them from danger. He knows the sheep. He knows their names, their natures, and their needs.

Sheep are unintelligent, defenseless, in need of the care of a shepherd, prone to wander, must be searched for and brought back, peaceful, and useful for the shepherd. The shepherd used his staff to collected lost and wounded sheep. He used his rod to fight off enemies, not to beat or punish the sheep.

Jesus mentioned “other sheep” to be brought into the “one flock” under the “one shepherd.” The other sheep are Gentiles, the one flock is the Church, and the one shepherd is Jesus.

Jesus explained that He had the authority to lay down His life and take it up again. No one can take His life from Him. Jesus promised to lay down His life for His sheep, and He gives us eternal life in the future and abundant life now.

About two and a half months later, Jesus was in the temple courts. The Jews demand that Jesus plainly tell them who He is. He said that His works and miracles testify to His identity. He said they did not believe Him because they are not His sheep.

Jesus explained how to identify His sheep – they listen to His voice, they are known personally and fully by Him, they follow Him, and they have eternal life. His sheep are never snatched out of His hand.

The Jews again wanted to kill Jesus and picked up stones to stone Him. They said they wanted to kill Him because He was blaspheming – calling Himself God. Jesus responded with Scripture. He asked them to believe His works even if they ignore His words. This would have helped them see that God the Father sent Him.

Jesus escaped arrest. He went across the Jordan river to John the Baptist’s followers. Many of John’s followers believed in Jesus because of John’s testimony.

Things to Think About
  • We are loved by our Maker, kept by our Savior, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus knows His people fully and loves them unconditionally.
  • Jesus lays down His life to provide eternal life for His people.
  • Believers are eternally secure in Jesus Christ.

This Week’s Memory Verse
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15 NIV

05 January 2017