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John Bible Study, Day 4: Angry Jesus

Today’s passage: John 2:13–24

Focus verse: “Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:16)

When you think of Jesus, what image comes to mind? 

Is it Jesus, meek and mild? The little children gather around him and he gazes at them, his eyes brimming with compassion. 

In another scene, Jesus stands on a boat near the shore. He instructs the people who flock to hear his counter-cultural words that remove judgment and emphasize love.

Another image is Jesus as the Good Shepherd—our Good Shepherd. He cares for his sheep, feeds the little lambs, and protects the flock from danger.

For the one sheep that wanders off and gets lost or hurt, Jesus searches for it, finds it, and carries it back to the fold in his gentle, loving arms. Oh, to be safe in the arms of Jesus, secure in his embrace.

We celebrate Jesus who feeds the hungry, heals the hurting, and gives hope to the hopeless. We uphold his example and want to be more like him.

And even when the mob comes to arrest Jesus, he does not resist them. He does not seek his freedom or call an army of angels to rescue him. He goes with them without complaint.

Later, when on trial, accused and facing death, he says nothing to defend himself. He stays silent and accepts his fate.

This is how I view Jesus.

Yet Jesus has another side, one that’s easy for us to forget. It’s a physical Jesus, intense, one consumed with zeal. 

In Jerusalem for the Passover, Jesus goes to the courtyard of the temple. He finds people conducting business instead of worshiping God.

Some sell the cattle, sheep, and doves needed for the various sacrifices. Others serve as a currency exchange. They make a nice profit for their efforts. Though both enable worship, they don’t belong in the temple courts, at the very doors to the temple.

Incensed at how they have disrespected his father’s house, Jesus fashions a whip. He drives the merchants out of the temple’s courtyard, including their animals. He overturns the tables of the money changers, scattering coins everywhere. “Get out! My father’s house is not a marketplace!”

No one tries to stop him. They scurry away.

Is this an example that gives us permission to get violent for God? No. Remember that Jesus is God. His actions promote worship that respects his Father and the temple as a place of worship and connection.

Instead, this passage serves as a reminder to not let money and the world’s activities encroach on our worship time and our worship space.

Questions:

  1. When you think of Jesus, which of this lesson’s images come to mind? 
  2. What practices might we do today that make Jesus just as angry?
  3. How does your zeal compare to Jesus’s?
  4. How willing should you be to make a ruckus for Jesus?
  5. What must you do to not let money or worldly activities detract from your worship?

Discover the foreshadowing of this event in Psalm 69:9. What insights can you glean from this passage?


Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

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John Bible Study, Day 3: Jesus’s First Miracle

Today’s passage: John 2:1–12

Focus verse: He revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11)

Consider the miracles Jesus performs. He heals people with broken bodies, casts out evil spirits, and even raises dead people to life. Whatever their situation, Jesus makes their life better—much better.

Yet his first miracle, right after he calls Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael to follow him, includes none of these grand supernatural signs.

Jesus’s first miracle is less astounding. Compared to his other incredible wonders, his first one is trivial. Yes, it’s still a miracle. We shouldn’t lose sight of that. Yet on the scale of supernatural significance, this one ranks near the bottom.

What is this miracle? Jesus makes wine from water at a party.

Here’s the situation.

Three days after Jesus calls his first disciples, they attend a wedding celebration. Mary, Jesus’s mother, is present too. Midway through the reception, social disaster strikes. The groom runs out of wine. 

This isn’t a life-or-death situation, but only a public embarrassment. Yes, the people will remember what happened, that the man didn’t give them enough to drink. They’ll talk about his shortsightedness and failure to care for his guests.

The man’s failure could come up at every wedding for years to come. It will form the basis for how the people in this town regard him and his bride. For years they’ll carry the stigma of running out of wine and disrespecting their guests.

Having nothing left to drink jeopardizes no one’s well-being. In fact, since many have already drunk too much, they may be better off not drinking any more.

Mary, aware of what happened, edges up to Jesus and whispers, “They ran out of wine.”

Jesus dismisses her concern in a way that seems disrespectful, but she ignores his apparent disregard for the groom’s plight. Instead, she instructs the servants, “Do whatever he says to do.” She’s done what she can and trusts Jesus to do what she cannot.

Despite telling Mary that he doesn’t want to get involved, Jesus acts. He tells the servants to fill six large jugs with water. Together they will hold well over one hundred gallons. They follow his instructions, and he tells them, “Take a sample to the master of ceremonies.”

The master takes a sip of the water, which Jesus has miraculously turned into wine, and commends the bridegroom for saving the best for last. This is unlike the typical practice of serving the best wine first and holding back the lesser quality vintages for when people have drunk enough not to care.

Jesus’s disciples see what he did, turning water into wine. In doing so, he reveals his power to them. Based on this, his disciples place their trust in him.

Questions:

  1. What does Jesus turning water into wine tell us about him?
  2. Do you think Jesus will help us avoid embarrassment today, like he did for the groom?
  3. Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus said to do. How willing are you to obey whatever Jesus tells you to do?
  4. Why do you think Jesus performed miracles? 
  5. Do you believe the miracles Jesus did can still happen today? Why?

Discover some of Jesus’s other miracles in John 4:39–54, John 5:1–15, John 6:1–2, and John 9:1–7. What insights can you glean from these passages?

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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John Bible Study, Day 2: Jesus and John the Baptist

Today’s passage: John 1:15–51

Focus verse: John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” (John 1:23)

We first meet John the Baptist in John 1:6. (Remember, John the Baptist is not the author of the book of John. John, the disciple of Jesus, is.)

John the Baptist comes to tell us about the light of Jesus so we might believe in him. In fact, God wants us all to believe—not that everyone will, but so that everyone has an opportunity to. Salvation isn’t a given. It’s a choice. 

After this opening passage in the book of John about Jesus being Word, life, and light, we now return our attention to John the Baptizer.

John’s purpose, his ministry, is to point us to Jesus, preparing people to accept and follow him. John isn’t the light. He serves as a witness pointing to the light (John 1:7–8).

Here are a few things John the Baptist says about Jesus:

  • Jesus existed long before John. Though we understand this because John writes that Jesus created our world, the people John addresses aren’t aware of this detail. Explaining that Jesus comes before John hints at Jesus’s eternal nature (John 1:15).
  • Jesus will bless us with his abundance (John 1:16).
  • The law, God’s commands of right behavior and proper worship in the Old Testament, comes from Moses. In contrast, Jesus will offer grace and truth instead of rules and requirements (John 1:17).
  • No one has seen God, except for the Son of God, who is also God (John 1:18). If John’s statement that Jesus is God and God’s Son is confusing, consider that Jesus later says this about himself too (John 17:21–22).

Though some people who come to hear John the Baptist assume he’s their long-expected Savior, he insists he is not. Nor does he claim to be Elijah or even the Prophet (John 1:19–21), even though he embodies the prophesied return of Elijah and is a prophet too. 

Instead, John quotes Isaiah’s prophecy about someone who will call out from a desolate place. This person will tell people to get ready to receive their Lord—that is, their Savior, Jesus the Messiah. John baptizes those who believe what he says.

The next day Jesus arrives. As soon as John the Baptist sees Jesus, he proclaims, “Look! Here comes God’s Lamb who will take away our sins. Though I baptized you with water, he will baptize you with Holy Spirit fire. I confirm Jesus is the chosen one sent by God.”

Questions:

  1. What do you think about the line that “salvation isn’t a given. It’s a choice?”
  2. How can we understand that Jesus is God and also God’s Son?
  3. How does John’s baptism differ from Jesus’s?
  4. What do you think about Jesus being the Lamb of God? 
  5. How do you understand being baptized with Holy Spirit fire?

Discover more about Jesus coming to John the Baptist in Matthew 3:13–17, Mark 1:9–13, and Luke 3:21–22. What insights can you glean from these passages?

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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John Bible Study, Day 1: Jesus: The Word, the Life, and the Light

Today’s passage: John 1:1–14

Focus verse: In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:4)

The book of John opens with a most moving passage. It’s lyrical, it’s evocative, and it is exquisite.

In this poetic prelude of John’s Gospel, he calls Jesus the Word, and asserts that the Word is God. This means Jesus is God. While some people may think it’s an overreach to claim that the Word refers to Jesus, keep reading.

To remove all doubt, John later states that this Word becomes human to join us on earth. Jesus becomes a man to live among us. Jesus, as the Word, shows us his glory as the one and only Son from Father God. Jesus overflows with grace and abounds in truth.

He is the Word sent to us from God.

We often assume the Word of God means Scripture. But remember that the New Testament of the Bible didn’t exist until several centuries after Jesus’s death and resurrection. Because of this, we should consider God’s Word as his spoken Word, more so than his written Word.

What if Jesus is more than the metaphorical Word? What if he serves as the actual Word of God? Yes, Jesus is the Word.

John also writes that in Jesus is life. Jesus is present when time begins and takes part in forming our existence. In fact, without Jesus, creation cannot occur. Physical life flows through Jesus at creation. In the same way, eternal life emanates through Jesus now.

Jesus comes so we may have life and live with abundance (John 10:10). This theme of life recurs throughout the book of John, with his writing mentioning life in forty-one verses, more often than any other book in the Bible.

The life of Jesus, and the life through Jesus, gives us light. Just as the sun that Jesus created illuminates our physical world, the light that Jesus gives off now illuminates our spiritual world.

This light shines for us in the darkness that surrounds us, exposing the evil in our world. Best of all, this light of Jesus overcomes the darkness, pushing it away. This means good is stronger than evil. God is more powerful than Satan. Hold on to this truth. Don’t forget it.

Jesus is the light. As the light—our true light—he comes into our world to save us. Though many do not recognize him or accept him, everyone who receives him and believes in his name become children of God, born of God.

Because of Jesus we’ve been born into the physical realm, and through our belief in him we are born a second time into the spiritual realm.

Take time to contemplate John’s profound opening to his biography, revealing Jesus as the Word, the life, and the light.

Questions:

  1. What does it mean that Jesus is the Word?
  2. How does the Word of God impact your life each day?
  3. What does it mean that Jesus is life?
  4. What does it mean that Jesus is the light?
  5. How does knowing that Jesus took part in creation inform our understanding of him?

Discover what else John says about the Word of God in 1 John 2:14, Revelation 1:1–2, Revelation 19:12–13, and Revelation 20:4. What insights can you glean from these passages?

Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.


Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.


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Bible Study

Bible Study Introduction: The Gospel of John

The Bible has four biographies of Jesus. They’re each named after their author: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We often call these accounts Gospels because they proclaim the good news about Jesus.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke have many similar passages and accounts of the same events. Some sections match, while others are close. John differs from the other biographies of Jesus.

As a result, the Gospel of John has more unique content than the other ones. Because of this, we can gain rich insights into the life and ministry of Jesus that the other three authors don’t cover.

John was a disciple of Jesus and part of his inner circle (along with Peter and John’s brother James). This makes John an eyewitness to what he recorded.

His poetic writing is ideal for those who want to mull over his words. (In the same way it can frustrate readers who want information in a quick, easy-to-digest manner.)

John’s writing invites us to slow down, take our time, and consider the text. As you read John, contemplate his words with awe and cherish them for their layers of meaning.

Although Matthew, Mark, and Luke mention John often in their writing, he never refers to himself by name. (Do not confuse this John—Jesus’s disciple—with another John, John the Baptist.)

John, however, refers to himself a few times as “the one Jesus loved” or “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” We could view this as an overconfident self-assessment.

But remember that John is one of the three disciples in Jesus’s inner circle, so this self-identity cannot be too far off. We might do better to understand John’s indirect references to himself as an act of humility. He doesn’t want to call attention to himself.

The book of John opens with a powerful poetic passage. His words have a mystical allure. We’ll cover this lyrical text in Day 1.

Questions:

  1. Which of the four Gospels to you like best? Why?
  2. What do you know about the Apostle John?
  3. What verses have you memorized from John?
  4. What are your favorite passages or stories in John?
  5. What do you hope to learn as you read and study John?

Discover more about John in John 21:20–24 and Galatians 2:9. What insights can you glean from these passages?

Read the next lesson.


Use this Bible study for your small group, Sunday school class, family discussion, or personal study. Come back each Monday for a new lesson.

This post is an excerpt from:

Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John

Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.