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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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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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Jehovah Witnesses Part 1

It is inevitable you are sitting outside or in your house on a Saturday enjoying your day off and two or three people nicely dressed come up to you or knock on your door and ask you if you would like some of their literature from their church. You quickly realize they are Jehovah Witnesses. Many people tell them no thanks, or tell them they already know Jesus and close the door and are afraid to engage them or talk to them. These are souls that could be saved, they are people who are misguided and need to realize that Jesus Christ is Lord and that they need to accept Jesus as their Savior for their salvation, just as we Christians have. It is important to #1 know what they believe and the history of the church and #2 know Scripture enough to be able to show them their error and to know where their belief is contrary to the Word of God.

I will be taking some of their beliefs straight from the Jehovah Witness website, as well give the history of the organization. The most important belief we have as Christians is our belief in Jesus. We believe that Jesus is the central figure of Christianity. Jesus is God, the second person of the Trinity. He is the Word of God (John 1:1), He is God in the flesh (John 1:14), 100% fully God and 100% fully man (the God-man). Jesus was more than a prophet or a teacher. Jesus had to be God to pay our debt, and He had to be man so He could die on the cross for our sins. Salvation is only available through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through me (Jesus). (John 14:6)

Now that we have that cleared up what do the Jehovah Witnesses believe and who is Jesus to them. This is taken straight from their website JW.org:

“Yes. We believe in Jesus, who said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) We have faith that Jesus came to earth from heaven and gave his perfect human life as a ransom sacrifice. (Matthew 20:28) His death and resurrection make it possible for those exercising faith in him to gain everlasting life. (John 3:16) We also believe that Jesus is now ruling as King of God’s heavenly Kingdom, which will soon bring peace to the entire earth. (Revelation 11:15) However, we take Jesus at his word when he said: “The Father is greater than I am.” (John 14:28) So we do not worship Jesus, as we do not believe that he is Almighty God.” (www.jw.org)

Do you see anything wrong with this statement of faith? Look at the end of this statement. “So we do not worship Jesus, as we do not believe that he is Almighty God.” Really……The verse they reference for this is in John 14:28 when Jesus said, “The Father is greater than I am.” Jesus is not speaking here about His nature, or His essential being Jesus in John 10:30 said, “I and the Father are one.” This is Jesus’ claim of Deity and a reference to Deuteronomy 6:4. So Jesus in John 14:28 is talking about the great humiliation He suffered in becoming a human being. In Philippians 2:7 it says, “but He emptied Himself taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (ESV) Christ emptied Himself or set aside willingly of His heavenly glory He once had with the Father. He completely submitted Himself to the will of the Father, while not ceasing to be God. He did not empty Himself of His deity as God and He did not exchange His deity for humanity. So in this verse He is speaking of His incarnation that the Father was greater than He was. While Jesus took the “nature of a servant being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7) the Father was in a state of glory in heaven. Jesus’ position was different from God the Father, not His nature.  Reading John 14:28 in full context as well you can clearly see Jesus is telling His disciples that He is going back to His Father in heaven, Jesus is going back to the place He had with the Father “before the world existed.” (John 17:5) Jesus knew He would be soon leaving the humbled position on earth to return to His position of glory.

Jehovah Witnesses complete denial of Jesus being God and denial of the Trinity is the number one reason why they are not Christian.

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Biblical Worldview

The Book of Romans has always been a great source of Christian living.
Paul writes about everything from the natural world, human identity and relationships to culture in the book of Romans. Romans tells us that God has no favorites and that He loves us all with an everlasting love. Even though we are all sinners and miss the mark there is salvation for us and that salvation comes from Jesus Christ, who paid for the past, present and future sins of mankind. Romans also tells us how we can be dead to sin and at peace with our loving God. Romans chapters 1-8 are essential chapters for us as Christians to witness to unbelievers. God created the universe, and everything was created perfectly.
We know that God created the natural world because Paul says, “From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see His invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20) God reveals Himself and His qualities through His creation. The natural world we see is part of God’s general revelation to us, which through this general revelation no one has an excuse for not believing in God. God is known to us instinctively (Romans 1:19), and through His beauty of the natural world He reveals Himself to us. Our human identity can be found in that we were created in the perfect image of God.(Genesis 1:26)
Sin entered the world and was passed on to all of us with the fall of Adam. (Romans 5:12) Through this sin we find that “All have turned away from God; all have gone wrong. No one does good not even one.” (Romans 3:12, NLT) We were called and chosen to come to Him and receive His glory. (Romans 8:30) We all fall short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23), but we are redeemed when we accept Christ’s gift of salvation then we are restored back to the true image of God. (Ephesians 4:24) Our true human identity is in Christ and we should be followers of Him and strive to live as He did. God wants us to have peaceful human relationships.
He wants us to “live in peace with everyone, as much as possible.” (Romans 12:18, NLT) When we sin we not only sin against God but we sin against each other. Like Paul we have an obligation to spread the good news of salvation to as many people that we come in contact with. We will never be able to repay God’s eternal gift of salvation that is given to us, so we should demonstrate out thankfulness to Him by loving and serving others as Christ did. The human relationships in Romans is not always good. In their sin they abandoned God, made idols and gave up to their own desires. They distorted the natural use of what God gave them. They refused to acknowledge God and gave into every temptation of sin, greed, hate, murder and other wickedness. (Romans 1:24-30) Paul writes this letter to the Romans to inform that no one is righteous enough to avoid the wrath of God. Romans touches on the culture because it is Paul’s desire to take the message of the Gospel to everyone, Jew or Gentile.
In Romans chapter 4 Paul writes about the fact that salvation is by faith in Christ alone. This was hard for the Jewish readers to understand who were still under the Mosaic Law. Paul uses two examples in Romans 4 that reference Abraham and King David to help the Jews see that they can find God’s favor without the Law. Abraham had a deep faith in God “so God declared him to be righteous.” (Romans 4:3, NLT) Paul wrote this because he knew the Jews were proud to be children of Abraham, so Paul used this to help show them that Abraham was saved by faith and not the law. Paul also wrote, “King David spoke of this, describing the happiness of an undeserving sinner who is declared to be righteous: “Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose sin is no longer counted against them by the Lord.” (Romans 4:6-8, NLT) King David was a sinner and did horrible things including adultery and murder. He was forgiven and declared to be righteous through faith and not the law. In my opinion the first eight chapters of Romans is about the believer being free from the law and offered the gift of salvation.
It shows us that everything was created perfect in the natural world by God until man in his human identity fell to sin. It was in that sin that we fall short of God’s glory and plan for us. God being the loving God He is gave us a way out of our sin, a free gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. We are called to be witnesses and establish relationships with others to spread the good news of our salvation and to love each other as Christ loved us. The culture when Romans was written is different than it is today but we are instructed to evangelize to the world just as the disciples did. We need to live out our commitment to Christ and to always trust in the Lord to guide us in our daily walk. We can also learn from Romans that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and not by our works. We cannot work our way into heaven. It is good for us to do good acts for our neighbors, family and friends this is how Jesus taught us to be, but without us acknowledging that we are sinners and that we have no hope of salvation without believing in and confessing Christ as Lord of our lives all of our good works will be for nothing.
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