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John 12:1-8 – Mary annoints Jesus at Bethany

 

In John 12:1 we read that Jesus arrived in Bethany “six days before the Passover.” This would have been on the Sabbath before His death. There are some that do not believe that Jesus would have made a long trip from Jericho to Bethany, but as we have seen elsewhere, Jesus was not concerned about with keeping the laws such as the Sabbath so it is not an issue that he had done this on the Sabbath. Also is He had left for Bethany early on Friday and arrived early on the Sabbath, He would have not violated the Sabbath law. Either of these answers I have no issue with.

 

A bigger issue many have with this is that of a chronological nature. It deals with the time of this supper and the anointing. Many argue that this banquet is the same that we read about in Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9 in the home of Simon the leper. Close reading of these Scriptures will show that although there are similarities in the passages John’s account as we see in 12:1 is on the Sabbath six days before prior to Passover. In both Matthew and Mark, the anointing occurred on the following Tuesday. Another area that shows these are two separate events is in John 12:3 it is the feet of Jesus that are anointed, where in Matthew and Mark His head is stressed.  (Matthew 26:7; Mark 14:3) This would not be an issue to have two separate events because it was common to have a number of banquets surrounded around the Passover because it was a festival that was important and friends were present form all over. (Deuteronomy 16:16)

 

When burying the dead, the Jews would typically anoint the body, wrap it in the grave clothes, and then anoint the body in the grave clothes a second time. The first anointing that is recorded by John was done by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea in John 19:38-40, but it was recorded in the synoptic Gospels the women who witnessed the burial went home and prepared spices and returned to the tomb Sunday to finish the anointing that the men began. (Matthew 27:61; 28:1; Mark 15:47-16:3; Luke 23:55-24:1) So in both type and fulfillment John records only the first anointing and the synoptic Gospels only record the second. Jesus was the fulfillment of the type of Passover Lamb. What is interesting is that the four days according to Jewish reckoning between the first and second anointing coincide with the four days between the initial selection and the final approval of the lamb for slaughter. (Exodus 12:3-6) Judas Iscariot contacted the Sanhedrin following the second anointment and made the arrangements to betray Jesus. (Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11)

 

It was common to give a banquet for a means of honoring a guest in the Near East. Both of the anointing’s may have occurred at the same place since it is believed that Simon the leper was the father of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. In John’s gospel we find Martha portrayed as serving, Mary is found at Jesus’ feet where she is usually portrayed and Lazarus probably hosting the meal sat at the table with Jesus.

 

At some point during the dinner Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with “a pound of expensive ointment (perfume) made from pure nard.” (John 12:3) Looking at the description in John we see the word murou (ointment) is a generic term that would be a liquid perfume and nardou (nard) which would have derived from the Sanskirt term nalada which refers to a particular very fragrant plant grown in India. This plant may have been grown in or around Syria but the word pistikes which means faithful, reliable or genuine would suggest that this as the real thing most likely imported from India. This was an ointment that was used for both bodies and wine.  The pound of ointment would have cost about 300 denarii, which is the equivalent of six months’ pay. This may have meant that this ointment would have been in Mary’s family for some time and used only sparingly for special occasions.  John uses the adjective polutimou which means very costly.

 

If you can imagine growing up and smelling your favorite food your grandma made or the way her house smelled or a particular perfume a loved one wore, you can imagine when John wrote about this sixty years later he probably still had that smell of the fragrance of that very expensive perfume. He remembers the scent that filled the room and he wrote in John 12:3, “the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”  In the second anointing of Jesus it was the disciples who questioned why so much money was spent when the money could have been given to the poor, but here it is only Judas Iscariot who voiced his concern with this. John also points out that Judas was not concerned for the poor because he was a thief (kleptes) and was only concerned for himself. The second part of verse 6 gives a hint of Judas’ activities, the verb used is ebastazen which means to carry, beat or lift in the sense of taking away from. This is kind of in our context of embezzlement because Judas was not only in charge of the finances but he was stealing from the disciples as well.

 

Jesus defends Mary’s actions when He said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you will always have with you, but you do not always have me.” It seems that Mary may have taken Jesus’ talk about His death serious in which she may have first learned of at His feet in Luke 10:39-42. Jesus emphasized to His disciples to care for and help the poor. Here He is explaining to them that He alone is the center of their faith and their focus should be on Him. This would be especially the case when they are spending the last moments with Jesus as a man prior to His exalted form after His resurrection.

 

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The Gospel of John part 2

In the opening prologue John recorded it to lay the theological foundation of his Gospel in which he presents Jesus as the Logos (Word) who was sent from God. In 1:18-19 we see He was sent as the light and life for man.

Looking at the prologue we read its poetic structure. It begins with “In the beginning was the Word.” We see that His essence was the Word and this is in relation to God, to creation and to humanity. In the beginning speaks of His eternity and pre-existence. The Word was with God speaks of His equality and His personality. The Word was God speaks of His essence and His deity. In the beginning means continuing to be, anytime you find a beginning the Word already existed.

In verse 14 we read that the Word that existed in the beginning became flesh. Why was this necessary? Because in verse 18 we read no one has seen God at any time and there was a need for God to reveal Himself.

The second phrase of verse 1 says, “The Word was with God.” This phrasing testifies to the distinction between God the Father and Jesus while emphasizing the close intimate relationship between the Father and Son. Jesus had inherent glory, in verse 14 it says “we beheld His glory.” This glory Jesus (the Word)has is the same glory God the Father has. What kind of glory is found in verse 18, “the only begotten God,” we saw His glory because He was (is) God.

The third phrase is one that Jehovah Witnesses get wrong. In their text they write, “The Word was a God,” which would show that the Word, Jesus, is only a lesser God that God the Father (Jehovah). The problem is the Greek text does not put the definitive article in front of God. The problem is they want to put a in front of God here but it is not in other verses if the text such as verses 6, 12, 13, 18 when the text refers to God the Father. The fact is the Word (Jesus) shares the same quality, character, and essence of God. John here shows the distinction between God the Father  and God the Son while still emphasizing their unity in all other regard.

The Word was God, so what would you expect if you saw God? Verse 14 says, “His glory which is full of grace and truth.” If Jesus is full of grace and truth He matches the attribute of the God of Moses because He has all the attributes of deity. In verse 18 it says, ” He hath declared.” Jesus is the exegesis of the Father, He has declared Him.

There are 4 chapter ones on the deity of Christ. John 1, Romans 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1. All of these first chapters speak on the deity of Christ. You can see Christ in action as the Creator.

John 1:4 says “In Him was life,” the Word is the source of life, both physical and spiritual. John uses the word life 36 times in his Gospel. In John, Jesus’ ability to grant life to those who walked in darkness or death is a key issue. Jesus has this ability because He was there in the beginning. Jesus is the agent of creation, in relation to humanity Jesus is the life of creation, the origin and He is the light of revelation (salvation).

In Him was life and His life was the light of men (4). The light continues to shine in spite of what happens in the person of Christ and His death. The light continues to shine and the darkness could not stamp it out. The light shines in the darkness, this is a prominent theme in the Gospel of John. Darkness has no chance of victory over the light, light is not simply the absence of darkness, but spiritually it is the enemy of darkness.

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The Gospel of John Part 1

Whenever I speak with a new believer or a person who is interested in the Christian faith I usually point them to the Gospel of John. The reason is because there is so much biblical theology within it and it is the “holy of holies” of the four Gospels.  This does not mean that the other Gospels are not important because they are also very important but John’s Gospel is simple in its language and very profound in its meaning.

First off the Gospel is unique in that it has a prologue as well as an epilogue. The prologue (John 1:1-18) is highly theological and introduces all the major themes in the book. The Gospel also has three major sections, 1. Christ’s revelation to Israel (John 1:19-12:50) which has seven signs within the book. It also has a private section (John 1:19-2:11) in relation to John the Baptist, the Disciples, and the first miracle (wedding feast in Cana).  2. Revelation to His Disciples (John 13:1-17:26) which includes the upper room discourse, prayer of the High Priest Jesus before He dies and revelation to the disciples. This is also the core teaching of the book. There are more “red letters” or Jesus speaking in this section of the book than any other. In chapters 13-15 Jesus gives instruction and in chapter 17 Jesus gives intercession. One of the chapters I love to read over and over is chapter 17. It is a wonderful prayer and it includes Jesus praying about us. 3. The redemption for the world (John 18:1-20:31), which we read of His death, resurrection. In John 20:31 we read the purpose statement of John, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” This is why this Gospel is known as the Gospel of belief. However the word belief or faith is not found in this Gospel as a noun, belief in John is not a concept (belief, faith) it is an action (believe, believing).

The purpose of the Gospel of John is that John recorded a select number of signs and sayings of Jesus in order to persuade his audience that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, who could give them eternal life if they would believe in Him. In this Gospel the signs always go with the sayings, and the structure of John goes back and forth from private to public. It starts out private (1:19-2:11), than public (2:12-12:50), than private (13:1-17:26), than public (18:1-19:42), than back to private (20:1-31) kind of like an accordion style. In the public sections there are three festivals that occur within them, the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Feast of Dedication (Hanuka).

In this Gospel there are seven miraculous signs:

  1. Turning water into wine chapter 2
  2. Healing the nobleman’s son chapter 4
  3. Healing the infirm man  chapter 5
  4. Feeding the 5,000 chapter 6
  5. Walking on water chapter 6
  6. Giving sight to the blind man chapter 9
  7. Raising of Lazarus chapter 11

There are also seven Messianic claims, and the signs always authenticate the sayings.

  1. I Am the Bread of Life chapter 6, this goes along with the feeding of the 5,000.
  2. I Am the Light of the world chapter 8, and in chapter 9 we see Jesus giving sight to the blind man.
  3. I Am the Door of the sheep chapter 10
  4. I Am the Good Shepherd chapter 10
  5. I Am the Resurrection and the Life chapter 11, three times the Gospels show Jesus bringing people back to life.
  6. I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life chapter 14, the dominate theme is life.
  7. I Am the True Vine chapter 15

Jesus offers spiritual life in His name. Christianity at its core is a Book (the Bible), a Person (Jesus), and an experience in order to have biblical Christianity you must have all three.

In the prologue of John he recorded it to lay the theological foundation for his Gospel in which he presented Jesus as the Logos who was sent from God as the Light and Life for man.  (John 1:1-18)

 

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John 14:28: Responding to Jehovah Witnesses

One of the verses that Jehovah Witnesses try to say shows that Jesus is not God is John 14:28. John 14:28 says, “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” So if Jesus is God why did He say the Father is greater than I?

Here in this verse Jesus is saying that His position is different fro God the Father, not His nature. In Hebrews 2:9 the writer says that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels. The author is explaining Psalm 8:5 here. In Galatians 4:4, we see that as a man Christ was under the law and so was for His time on earth a little lower than God the Father in position only not nature. During His time as a man He never lost His deity as God.

Jesus is in no way saying that He is inferior to the Father, because earlier in the gospel of John He repeatedly claims equality with Him. In John 17:5 during His prayer before His death Jesus says, “Father glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Jesus is asking God to raise Him to the same position He had before entering into the world.

Another way to look at this verse is to take my son and I. We are both of the same nature, Man, but our position in the family is different. I have greater authority than he does but yet our natures are still the same. So Jesus’ nature is the same, but He in His Incarnation was sent by the Father.

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What do Jehovah Witnesses believe?

Many Jehovah Witnesses say they are Christians but they do not believe in some of the core doctrines of Christianity. Here I will write a few of their beliefs and you can decide for yourselves if they are Christian.

First the founder of the Jehovah Witnesses is Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), and later Joseph Rutherford (1869-1942). They began in 1879 in Pennsylvania, and have their headquarters to this day in Brooklyn, New York.

They are restricted to only read Watchtower publications and can only read from the New World Translation which is interpreted by them.

What do they believe about God? They believe one-person is God, they call him Jehovah. They do not believe in the Trinity, and they believe that Jesus is the first created thing by Jehovah.

They do not believe Jesus is God, and before he lived on earth he was Michael the archangel. They believe that Jehovah made the universe through him, and that he lived on earth as a perfect man. They believe that Jesus was crucified on a stake (not a cross), he was resurrected as a spirit, and his body was destroyed. They also believe that Jesus returned already invisibly in spirit in 194, and that he will not return in the second coming. They do somehow believe that one day Jesus and angels will destroy all non-Jehovah Witnesses.

What do they believe about the Holy Spirit? They believe that He is not God and that He is impersonal. They believe He is an active force from Jehovah and invisible.

They have a works based salvation which includes earning salvation by going door to door. Also to attain salvation you must be baptized a Jehovah Witness. They also believe that salvation in heaven is limited to the 144,00, and sadly for them that number has already been reached.  So what then happens to them when they die? Well the 144,000 live as spirits in heaven the rest who are the righteous or the great crowd live on earth, and must perfectly obey God for 1000 years or they will be annihilated.

 

This is just a brief overview of some of their beliefs to help you know what the people knocking at your door believe. We must stand strong and read the Word of God daily and not be afraid to talk to them and share the real gospel of Jesus Christ to them.

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Do the four Gospels contradict each other? Resurrection..

Many non-Christians attack the gospels and say that they contradict one another when it comes to the account of the resurrection of Jesus, is that true? Why do they believe this?

One of the reasons why non-Christians attack the accounts of the resurrection is because it is a fundamental truth of Christianity and is the most important event in history that shows irrefutable evidence that Jesus is the Son of God, just as He said He was. Non-Christians know if they can attack the resurrection of Christ, or get us to doubt it than they can prove that Christianity is false.  The resurrection not only validates that Jesus is God, but it also shows that all of Scripture is true as well.

The resurrection events in the gospels is sometimes hard to piece together but we must remember a couple things. First when the resurrection happened imagine how chaotic this event would have been. Knowing Jesus died on the cross many of His followers were scared and many of them left in different groups, and I am sure that many of them visited His tomb on several different occasions hoping that what He said about His resurrection was true. Secondly, I don’t believe that the gospel writers at the time were worried about writing every single detail or even the order in which everything happened. Look at the news today or even an event that maybe you have witnessed yourself. If you were a witness to a robbery or a car accident I am sure you would have a completely different account of what happened or even the order in which it happened, but the one fact that would stay true and constant is that an accident or a robbery did happen. Just like with the resurrection, the different accounts do not discredit the resurrection the absolute fact is that it DID happen. This is one of those situations where if the gospels were in complete and perfect harmony with one another than it would be said that the writers conspired with each other or copied off one another, but if they believe they contradict one another they will say it is unreliable and therefore can not be trusted. Without going into great detail here I will try and give a timeline as to the way to harmonize the gospel accounts of the resurrection and I hope this will help you. If you would like a more exhaustive list please let me know. This list will only deal with the accounts of those who visited the tomb and saw Jesus on the resurrection morning:

1) Three women went to the tomb (Luke 23:55-24:1)

2) They find that the stone was rolled away (Luke 24:2-9)

3) Mary Magdalene leaves to go and tell the disciples (John 20:1-2)

4) Mary, the mother of James, sees the angels (Matthew 28:1-2)

5) Peter and John arrive and look in the tomb (John 20:3-10)

6) Mary Magdalene comes back, sees the angel and then sees Jesus (John 20:11-18)

7) Mary, the mother of James, comes back with other women and see the stone rolled away (Luke 24:1-4)

8) These women also see the angels (Mark 16:5; Luke 24:5)

9) They are told by the angel that Jesus has risen (Matthew 28:6-8)

10) They leave and met by Jesus, they worship at His feet (Matthew 28:9-10)

 

As I wrote earlier this is not an exhaustive list of how the gospels compliment and not contradict each other, this actually happens a lot. Each of the gospels give a testimony of Jesus from different perspectives, but they tell the same story. So when someone tries to tell you that the gospels contradict one another and attempt to discredit the Bible point out to them that they are actually in harmony with one another and any differences they may find are minor in details and many times new information is provided from one account to another. These are accurate accounts of Jesus and are all “breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16).

 

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John 15:1-8

When we read John 15:1-8 we read about Jesus using vines and branches to speak about important aspects of salvation and discipleship. Here is the seventh I Am in the Gospel of John and He says, “I Am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” (John 15:1, ESV) The vine, specifically grapevine was very common in Israel, in fact “vineyards were so plenteous that the vine became the national symbol of Israel.”[1] We read in John chapter 14 of the indwelling of the believer and Jesus (John 14:2).[2] In this same sense Jesus is saying He is the vine and the disciples are the branches. A “branch is not a self-contained entity, and neither is a Christian disciple.”[3] Every Christian believer must be a disciple to the world showing that Christ abides in them. We are given the great commission to go out and preach the Gospel to all, if we are not producing “fruits” we will not be able to have an effective witness. The Father who is the vinedresser “prunes” us that we might produce good fruit. When we fail to produce good fruit we will not grow in our Christian walk and we will become worthless like dead wood to the Father. As Morris writes, “The purpose of growing vines is to produce grapes, not foliage.”[4]

When Jesus said “I Am the true vine” he was saying that He is the only way to true salvation. When He says He is the true vine He also “implies there is a false vine.”[5] The central theme here is “abide” and “fruit” and if we abide in Him we will bear much fruit. Many use John 15:6, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned” (ESV) as saying a Christian can lose their salvation. I do not believe that this is what it is saying. In my opinion I think He is talking about those who profess to be followers but who are not sincere in their belief. These people will eventually be identified by their non-fruit bearing. Walvoord writes, “The burned branches refer to professing Christians who, like Judas, are not genuinely saved and therefore are judged.”[6] I do not believe a “true” follower of Jesus can lose their salvation. In John 10:28-29 Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (ESV) When we have true repentance and salvation we are guaranteed that salvation through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and nothing will ever be able to separate us from Him. (Romans 8:38-39)

Bibliography

Borchert, Gerald L. The New American Commentary Volume 25A – John I-II. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2007.

Carson, D. A., and D. A. Carson. The Pillar New Testament Commentary: The Gospel according to John. Edited by A.; Gordon D. Carson. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company, 1990.

Dallas Seminary faculty ; editors, John F. Walvoord, and Roy B. Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Cook, David C., 2003.

Morris, Leon. Jesus Is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company, 1989.

Towns, Elmer L. The Gospel of John: Believe and Live. United States: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1990.

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