The Gospel of John – Lesson 38 – John 14:15-31

15 “If you love me, hold on to my commands. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see him or know him. You know him because he stays with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will see me no longer, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 The one who has my commands and holds on to them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I too will love him and show myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, what has happened that you are going to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will hold on to my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 The one who does not love me does not hold on to my words. The word that you are hearing is not mine, but it is from the Father who sent me. 25 “I have told you these things while staying with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I told you. 27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, and do not let it be afraid. 28 You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 “I have told you now before it happens so that, when it does happen, you may believe. 30 I will not speak with you much longer, because the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me. 31 But I want the world to know that I love the Father and that I am doing exactly what the Father has instructed me. “Get up. Let’s leave this place.”

Jesus made it clear to his disciples they were not to be idle after he left them to return to his heavenly Father. If they truly loved him they would show their love. That doesn’t apply only to this little band of men who gathered with Jesus the night before he died. The Christian life is an active life. Our Lord wants all his disciples in every age to continually show their love for him. Jesus made it clear how we show our love to him. Those who love him will keep his commands. God gave his commands to his people when he gave the Law at Mt. Sinai. (See Exodus 20) It is true that Jesus fulfilled God’s commands for us perfectly. But that doesn’t mean that the Ten Commandments have been abolished. They are God’s commands to all his people for all time. But because of Jesus, these commands have a new purpose for us. We don’t keep God’s Law out of fear that God will punish us. We keep them to show our love to him for all he did for us.

Jesus promised to give us some special help that is necessary for us to keep his commandments. He promised that he would ask his heavenly Father and he would give us a special Counselor who would be with us forever. This Counselor is “the Spirit of Truth.” (The Holy Spirit) The Spirit comes to us through the Gospel in Word and Sacrament. As he comes to us through these means, several important things will happen.

Jesus said that soon the world wouldn’t see him any longer. But his disciples would see him. We don’t see Jesus with our eyes. But we do see him through the eyes of faith. The Spirit creates this faith in us through Word and Sacrament. Through this faith, we believe that Jesus is true God, just as our heavenly Father is true God. We believe that Jesus came from the Father to carry out the work of our salvation. Jesus said that those who love him will hold onto his Word. Through the Word and Sacrament to Holy Spirit will also daily work to keep us in faith in Jesus Christ. Even though we don’t physically see Jesus, we believe that he is always working for the good of all his people.

As we hold onto our faith in Jesus he promises he will give us peace. The peace Jesus gives isn’t worldly peace. In this world peace is only temporary. Two nations that are at war, sign a peace treaty to end hostilities between them. But that peace only lasts as long as both sides maintain their end of the deal. The peace Jesus gives us is different. Jesus called it “my peace.” God’s peace is perfect, just like everything else about God is perfect. Jesus gives us perfect peace with God by removing all our sins. Sin put us in a state of war with God. With our sins removed all our hostilities with God are ended. God forgives us completely for the sake of his Son. Our peace with God is a lasting peace because Jesus is the source of our peace.

Jesus closed this portion of his message to his disciples by telling them “the ruler of the world is coming.” He was referring to Satan. How can Satan be the ruler of this world? Certainly God is in full control of all things. But Satan ensnares many people with his lies and temptations. Even powerful nations submit to his will. But the devil has no power over Jesus. He was about to do his worst to the Son of God, by tempting people to arrest Jesus, torture him, and finally kill him. But all this would play into God’s hands. Our Lord would use these events to fulfill the promise that the offspring of the woman (Jesus) would crush the head of the serpent (Satan). (Genesis 3:15) The Holy Spirit works in us so that we know Jesus has triumphed over the devil for us. He will not overcome us as long as we remain in Jesus. With that, Jesus told his followers it was time to leave the Upper Room in Jerusalem and begin the final battle that would result in forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation for us.

Discussion Questions

1 – What will those who love Jesus always want to do?
We will want to obey his commands. God gave us the Ten Commandments to show us what his will is. His commands are summarized this way. God wants us to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. He also wants us to love our neighbor as much as ourselves.

2 – What special helper does God send to be with his believers?
Jesus called him the “Counselor” and the “Spirit of Truth.” The Holy Spirit comes to us and continually reminds us of the things Jesus taught us. He uses the Means of Grace (The Gospel in Word and Sacrament to lead us to faith in Jesus and to keep us in that faith always.

3 – Why should Jesus’ followers be glad he returned to the Father?
This would indicate that Jesus has completed the mission he came to earth to accomplish. He completed the work of our salvation by his death and resurrection. Our Lord Jesus has now moved on to the next part of his work, which is to rule over everything for the good of his people. Even though we don’t see Jesus, he is daily protecting us and working in everything for the good of those who love him.

4 – What did Jesus want his disciples to know about his impending separation from them?
A time of trouble was coming. Satan would seem to be in control, as the enemies of Jesus would arrest him and put him to death. But Jesus made it clear that the devil had no power over him. Jesus would use his suffering and death to defeat his enemies and to give eternal life to all who trust in him. Jesus loved his heavenly Father and us so much that he was willing to undergo any suffering in order to carry out his Father’s will.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to:

The Gospel of John – Lesson 37 – John 14:1-14

“Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions.If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that you may also be where I am. You know where I am going, and you know the way.” “Lord, we don’t know where you are going,” Thomas replied, “so how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. If you know me, you would also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that is enough for us.” “Have I been with you so long,” Jesus answered, “and you still do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I am telling you I am not speaking on my own, but the Father who remains in me is doing his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me. Or else believe because of the works themselves. 12 “Amen, Amen, I tell you: The one who believes in me will do the works that I am doing. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me for anything in my name, I will do it.”

Jesus had just dropped some crushing news on his disciples. He was going to be leaving them soon. One of them was going to betray him. Peter was going to disown Jesus three times in one night. Can you just imagine what must have been going through the disciples minds after hearing all that? What are we going to do Jesus? Shouldn’t we all just get out of town now before these terrible things happen? Jesus, why won’t you take us with you wherever you’re going? Surely there must be a better way than the one Jesus just described.

Jesus had a completely different response in mind. He told his disciples not to be troubled. These were not mere empty words of comfort. Jesus’ words were backed by the unlimited power of God. All the disciples needed to do was to trust in Jesus and in his heavenly Father. Everything that was about to happen to Jesus, had been prophesied in the Holy Scriptures. In the short term, it was necessary for Jesus to suffer many things. This suffering would cause much grief for his disciples. But he explained that their grief would quickly be turned to joy. The disciples needed to trust that everything that was about to happen would serve God’s good purpose.

The reason that Jesus was going away was to prepare a place for his disciples in his Father’s house in heaven. This promise wasn’t meant only for the little group of disciples gathered with Jesus for the celebration of the Passover. Heaven has plenty of room. A place is waiting for all those who trust in Jesus Christ as their only Savior. That means he wants you to have a place there also. Jesus’ words don’t indicate that he is currently supervising a massive building project in heaven. He went away and prepared a place for us by his suffering and death on the cross. As he stated in verse 6 “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus needed to sacrifice himself to take away all our sins. Nothing sinful can live in the holy presence of God. We cannot remove our guilt by our works. Jesus prepared a place for us by shedding his own precious blood to wash us clean of all our sins.

Jesus also provided comfort by promising that his separation from us is only temporary. Jesus gave his life to prepare a place for us. He will make sure that we get to our new home. He will come back to take us to be with him where he is. He may come for you before his return on the Last Day. The souls of those who die in faith in Jesus will immediately go to be with their Lord in heaven. On the Last Day he will return to raise all the dead and reunite their body and soul. On that day everyone will stand before the Judgement Throne. Jesus will take those who are his to be with him where he is. Then body and soul, we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Jesus made it clear that he and his heavenly Father are in full agreement on this. When Philip asked to see the Father, Jesus made it clear in verse 11 “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.” Jesus’ works prove this to be true. The miracles he did show that he is true God. He is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father (and the Holy Spirit). All three persons of the Triune God are in full agreement on everything. They fully agree that all who place their trust in Jesus Christ will have a place waiting it God’s eternal house.

Jesus also tells us that those who follow him will do the works he has been doing. In fact, he said we will do even greater works. This doesn’t mean that we will do miracles like Jesus did. Jesus did allow his first disciples to do miracles. If God chooses to give someone else that ability, that is his decision. But the greatest work we do is to share the good news of Jesus.  Jesus came to preach and teach that he is the true Son of God who came as the promised Savior of the world. The greater thing we will do is proclaim to the world that Jesus has completed the work of salvation. Through our prayers, offerings, and personal testimony we will share in the work of bringing the good news of Jesus to every nation. Our Lord Jesus has prepared a place for us in heaven. He gives us the privilege to point others to Jesus so they may believe and have a place in heaven also.

Discussion Questions

1 – Jesus told his disciples not to be troubled. These were not empty words of comfort. Why didn’t they need to be troubled and why don’t we need to be troubled either?
Jesus told his disciples (and us) to trust in God and to trust in him (the Son of God). Everything that was happening to Jesus was going to serve God’s purpose. God promised at the fall into sin, that he would send a Savior to crush the devil and to undo the damage sin and the devil had accomplished. Jesus was now about to bring that promise to completion. In doing so he would prepare a place in heaven for all who trust in him as their Savior.

2 – What did Jesus mean when he called himself “the way and the truth and the life?”
Jesus is the way to our heavenly Father. No one can come to him except through faith in Jesus. Jesus came to proclaim the saving truths of God’s Word and to fulfill those truths by his life death and resurrection. He is the source of physical and spiritual life. All who believe in him have eternal life.

3 – What did Jesus teach us as he answered Philips’ request to see God the Father?
Jesus is true God, just as the Father is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Those who have seen Jesus have also seen the Father. Those who hear Jesus’ words are also hearing the words of God the Father.

4 – How did Jesus prove that he is true God?
Jesus pointed to the miracles he did. Only God could do such powerful miracles. Jesus could also point to the way he fulfilled all the promises of the coming Messiah in the Holy Scriptures. Scripture testified that the Messiah is true God. Therefore, Jesus is also true God.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to:

The Gospel of John – Lesson 36 – John 13:18-38

18 “I am not talking about all of you. I know those I have chosen. But this is so that the Scripture may be fulfilled: ‘One who eats bread with me has raised his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this right now before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may believe that I am he. 20 “Amen, Amen, I tell you: Whoever receives anyone I send, receives me. And whoever receives me, receives the one who sent me.” 21 After saying this, Jesus was troubled in his spirit and testified, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: One of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples were looking at each other, uncertain which of them he meant. 23 One of his disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. 24 So Simon Peter motioned to him to find out which one he was talking about. 25 So leaning back against Jesus’ side, he asked, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus replied, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread, after I have dipped it in the dish.” Then he dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do more quickly.” 28 None of those reclining at the table understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Because Judas kept the money box, some thought that Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the Festival,” or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. 31 After Judas left, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify the Son in himself and will glorify him at once.” 33 “Dear children, I am going to be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. 34 “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, so also you are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you!” 38 Jesus replied, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Amen, Amen, I tell you: The rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times.”

Jesus had just shown an amazing act of love to his disciples. The Son of God got down on the floor and washed their feet. This washing pointed ahead to the spiritual washing he was about to give them and all of us by his death on the cross. But before it was time for this to happen Jesus had some important things to tell his disciples. His message will take us all the way to the end of John 17. But this message wasn’t meant only for the twelve men gathered with him to celebrate the Passover. His instructions are important for us and for all his followers today. Jesus began by sharing some difficult news.

The first troubling news Jesus had to tell his disciples was that one of them was about to betray Jesus. Imagine how hard this news must have hit the other disciples. They had been with Jesus for three years. They had been through so much together. They learned many things from Jesus. They witnessed his miracles. They believed that he is the true Son of God. They knew he was the “Christ” (the anointed one chosen by God to be our Savior). How could any of them even consider betraying Jesus? But that is what was about to happen. Judas Iscariot had already taken money from the chief priests and the teachers of the law to betray Jesus into their hands. (See Matthew 26:14-16) Jesus always knew this was going to happen. He quoted Psalm 41:9 to show this betrayal had already been prophesied in the Holy Scriptures. When Jesus exposed Judas as the one who would betray him the disciples still did not comprehend what was happening. But Jesus said that when these events took place the disciples would be further convinced that Jesus is the Christ because he promised this would happen.

The second piece of troubling news that Jesus delivered was that he was soon going to be leaving his disciples. Where he was going they could not follow them at the time. No one could walk the path of suffering and death that Jesus was about to walk. It was necessary for him to pay the debt of our sins completely alone.

Such news didn’t sit well with Peter. He didn’t want to believe he couldn’t follow Jesus anywhere he went. Even if Jesus was going to his death, Peter believed he could stay with him and endure everything his Lord endured. In response, Jesus revealed one more piece of difficult news. Peter’s faith was going to be put to the test that same night. Peter wouldn’t be up to the task. Three times that very night he would be called on to confess that he was a disciple of Jesus. On all three occasions he would deny that he even knew Jesus.

The news Jesus had to share with his disciples must have been difficult to hear. But Jesus also had some important good news to share. As soon as Judas departed, he announced “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify the Son in himself and will glorify him at once.” Everything was happening exactly as God planned. It was necessary for Jesus to suffer and die alone. His suffering would be beyond our ability to fully comprehend. He would suffer while carrying the unimaginable burden of our sins. But Jesus foretold that he would be successful. God would be glorified as his plan of salvation was completed perfectly. All who trust in Jesus as their Savior would receive full pardon for all their sins and become heirs of eternal life. God is glorified by every soul that is saved and comes to eternal life. Through faith in Jesus we will also one day stand before the heavenly throne of our Lord and offer eternal thanks and praise to him for bringing salvation to us.

Discussion Questions

1 – Why did Jesus warn his disciples in advance that one of them was about to betray him?
Jesus indicated that when the betrayal occurred his disciples would believe that Jesus is the promised Savior. Even in the face of Judas’ sin, our Lord would achieve a good purpose. He would use this betrayal to bring himself to the cross where he won full pardon for all our guilt.

2 – What happened to Judas when he took the piece of bread that Jesus used to identify him as the betrayer?
We are told that Satan entered his heart. Judas rejected his Savior. He was now fully under the control of the devil. Judas would carry out his betrayal of Jesus. Later he would commit suicide. He died in his sins and he will suffer eternally because he rejected Jesus as his Lord and Savior.

3 – Jesus called his command to “love one another” a new command. God has always commanded that we love one another. Why did Jesus now call it a new command?
Because Jesus has fulfilled the Law for us, we now carry out God’s commands to show our thanks and love to our Lord. We love one another because out Lord first loved us.

4 – What important role does loving one another play in our Christian lives?
Jesus said that when we love one another we are showing that we are disciples of Jesus. As we love one another we give glory to God and encourage one another to do the same.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to

The Gospel of John – Lesson 35 – John 13:1-17

Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved those who were his own in the world, he loved them to the end. By the time the supper took place, the Devil had already put the idea into the heart of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God. He got up from the supper and laid aside his outer garment. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who asked him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “You do not understand what I am doing now, but later you will understand.” Peter told him, “You will never, ever, wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” “Lord, not just my feet,” Simon Peter replied, “but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus told him, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet, but his body is completely clean. And you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 Indeed, he knew who was going to betray him. That is why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 After Jesus had washed their feet and put on his outer garment, he reclined at the table again. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me Teacher and Lord. You are right, because I am. 14 Now if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 Yes, I have given you an example so that you also would do just as I have done for you. 16 Amen, Amen, I tell you: A servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

It was one of those moments that makes us stop and stare. The Son of God, the almighty creator and ruler of all things got down on the floor and washed his disciples’ feet. Washing the feet of dinner guests was a common practice at this time in history. But normally such a task would be given to a servant. Secondly, didn’t Jesus have bigger things on his mind? John recorded that Jesus knew it was time for him to leave the world. He was about to suffer and die to take away the sins of the whole world, including yours and mine. He also knew that the devil had worked in the heart of one of Jesus’ own disciples to betray him. With all this going on, couldn’t the lowly task of washing feet be given to someone else?

Simon Peter felt that way at first. He knew Jesus is the Son of God. Surely God should not be on the floor washing the feet of human beings. But, the Son of God didn’t come to this world to be served, but rather to serve. (Matthew 20:28) As he washed his disciples feet, he pointed ahead to a much greater washing that was about to occur. Jesus was about to serve us by going to the cross to shed his own precious blood to cleanse us of all our sins. When Peter objected to Jesus washing his feet, our Lord patiently explained to him “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” If Jesus does not cleanse us of our sins, we are left to make atonement for our guilt by ourselves. That is a debt we could never pay. Only Jesus can wash us clean and make us acceptable before God.

But Jesus had more to teach as he washed the disciples’ feet. He made clear that not all of them were clean. He knew that Judas was about to betray him. Although Jesus knew it was necessary for this betrayal to happen, he tried to call Judas to repentance. After Judas betrayed Jesus, he had every opportunity to return to the Lord. (See Matthew 27:3-5) Judas had no one to blame but himself that he betrayed Jesus and placed himself under God’s judgment

Our Lord Jesus also sets an example for all his people. The Son of God took on the role of a servant in order to save us. As God’s redeemed children we should be ready to serve one another out of love for our Lord and for each other. As Jesus said, “Amen, Amen, I tell you: A servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.”

Being a servant isn’t something most people dream of doing. Being in a position of power seems much more attractive. But our Lord tells us that his true disciples will follow his example of humble service. We see it as a joy when our Lord presents those opportunities to help others. In those times when humble seems undesirable, look again at the example of Jesus. See how he humbled himself to serve you with everything you need for eternal life. Those opportunities to serve are our chances to show our thanks and love to our Lord for his humble service that saved us.

Discussion Questions

1 – Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples on the night before he died. Why was it necessary for him to celebrate the Passover?
Before Jesus could be our Savior, he needed to perfectly fulfill all of God’s Law. God demanded that the Passover Feast was to be celebrated annually by the nation of Israel. (See Exodus 12) Also, the Passover pointed ahead to the coming of the promised Savior. The Passover Lamb symbolized the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. On Good Friday Jesus would bring to fulfillment what the Passover pointed ahead to.

2 – What did Jesus mean when he told Peter “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me?”
Jesus pointed ahead to the next day when he would shed his blood on the cross to wash us clean of our sins. If Jesus didn’t wash our sins away then we have no part with him.

3 – What did Jesus mean when he said “You are clean, though not every one of you?”
Jesus showed his divine knowledge of everything. Jesus knew Judas had already taken money to betray him into the hands of his enemies. Judas was trying to put on a good front by pretending to still be a follower of Jesus. But the Son of God looked into Judas’ heart. He was well aware of the hypocrisy of Judas. Without Jesus, Judas had no hope of salvation. But Jesus also knew the rest of his disciples believed in him. He already knew his sacrifice on the cross would be successful. Through faith in Jesus as their Savior, they were already clean of their sins.

4 – How are we blessed when we follow Jesus’ example of humble service?
Serving one another as our Lord Jesus commanded blesses us in several ways. It is always a blessing to follow the example of our Savior. We are blessed with the chance to show our love and thankfulness to Jesus for all he has done for us. We are blessed to know we have helped someone else in their time of need. Sometimes, our faithful service may also inspire others to give glory to the Lord by serving one another. (See Matthew 5:16)

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to

The Gospel of John – Lesson 34 – John 12:27-50

27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, this is the reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” A voice came from heaven: “I have glorified my name, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said it thundered. Others said an angel talked to him. 30 Jesus answered, “This voice was not for my sake but for yours. 31 “Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be thrown out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate what kind of death he was going to die. 34 The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Scriptures that the Christ will remain forever. So how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Then Jesus told them, “The light will be with you just a little while longer. Keep on walking while you have the light, so that darkness does not overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become sons of light.” Jesus spoke these words, and then went away and was hidden from them. 37 Even though Jesus had done so many miraculous signs in their presence, they still did not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet, who said: Lord, who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 For this reason they could not believe, because Isaiah also said: 40 He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes, or understand with their heart, or turn—and I would heal them. 41 Isaiah said these things when he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him. 42 Nevertheless, even many of the rulers believed in him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing him, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue. 43 For they loved praise from people more than praise from God. 44 Then Jesus called out, “The one who believes in me does not believe in me only, but in him who sent me. 45 And the one who sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that everyone who believes in me would not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words but does not hold on to them, I do not judge him, for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words does have a judge. The word which I spoke is what will judge him on the Last Day, 49 because I have not spoken on my own, but the Father himself who sent me has given me a command regarding what I am to say and what I am to speak. 50 And I know that his command is eternal life. So the things I speak are exactly what the Father told me to speak.”

We all probably face this situation multiple times in our lifetime. We have a job to do. We know the work is going to be very hard and perhaps even painful. We don’t want to do the job. We might put it off as long as we can. But finally we must face the task at hand. The work needs to be done. Jesus found himself in that situation. His purpose for coming to Jerusalem on this occasion was so that he could be handed over to his enemies to suffer, and die, and have his body placed in the grave. Jesus hadn’t put off his assignment from his heavenly Father. He had waited until the appointed time to go to Jerusalem. Now the time had come. Jesus’ soul was troubled by the suffering and death he needed to endure. His assignment was made even more difficult by the fact that he needed to endure all this while carrying the crushing burden of the sins of the world. It’s not hard to imagine why Jesus was troubled. He is true God, but also true man. His human nature would suffer in ways no other human being has ever suffered.

But Jesus knew there could be no avoiding this painful task. Only he could be sufficient sacrifice to pay for our sins and the sins of the whole world. Instead of asking to be spared from his task, Jesus prayed that by his work he would glorify his heavenly Father. God the Father answered his Son in a powerful way. A voice from heaven said, “I have glorified my name, and I will glorify it again.” God the Father was glorified as Jesus fulfilled God’s Law in our place during his entire earthly life. God would glorify his name again as Jesus died and rose again from the dead to defeat sin, death and the devil. God is also glorified with every soul that believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior and comes to eternal life in heaven through faith in Jesus.

Jesus was about to make the ultimate sacrifice for all of humanity. But John proclaimed the sad reality that most of the people rejected Jesus. Jesus urged the people in Jerusalem to walk in the light of salvation while he was still with them. But the words of Isaiah 6:9-10 said that although the people would see the miracles and hear the message of salvation, they would refuse to understand the truth. According to Jesus, those who reject him will face God’s judgment on the Last Day. Without Jesus, they will remain in the darkness of sin and be sentenced to an eternity in the torments of hell.

John does record that Jesus’ work did bear fruit. According to verse 42, there were many who heard Jesus’ message and believed. We praise our Lord that he graciously caused his message to be proclaimed to us. By the grace of God we heard and believed. We are no longer living in the darkness of sin and unbelief. We walk in the light of salvation Jesus brings. We have God’s sure promise. Because of Jesus, we will see God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and dwell with them eternally in heaven.

Discussion Questions

1 – Why would God the Father speak audibly from heaven when Jesus asked that God would glorify his name?
Jesus said the God’s voice was for the benefit of the people. They needed to see that Jesus had brought glory to his Father by the perfect life he lived on earth. Now God would be glorified again as Jesus completed the work of salvation and won eternal life in heaven for all who trusted in him.

2 – What was Jesus speaking about in verses 31-32 when he said “Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be thrown out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself?”
God had promised in the Garden of Eden that a Savior would come to crush the head of the serpent. (Genesis 3:15) That time had come. Jesus would suffer and die, but he would be triumphant. Satan would be defeated. After Jesus died and rose again many would believe in him and have eternal life.

3 – Why would God finally blind the eyes and deaden the hearts of some so they will not believe the truth about Jesus?
God’s grace and mercy are beyond our comprehension. But when people totally harden their hearts against God again and again, God will finally give them over to their unbelief. We see an example of this when God finally hardened the heart of Pharaoh the unbelieving King of Egypt in the days of Moses. (See Exodus 10:20 – 11:10)

4 – What does Jesus teach us about the relationship he has with his heavenly Father? (Verses 44-50)
They are in perfect agreement on everything. It was the will of both God the Father and God the Son that Jesus would come into this world to carry out God’s plan of salvation. They are in perfect agreement on who will receive eternal life and who will be eternally condemned. As Jesus said in verse 50, “And I know that his command is eternal life. So the things I speak are exactly what the Father told me to speak.”

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to

The Gospel of John – Lesson 33 – John 12:12-26

12 The next day, the large crowd that had come for the Festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 Taking palm branches, they went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written: 15 Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look! Your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt. 16 At first, his disciples did not understand these things. But when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and that they did these things for him. 17 The crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead kept telling what they had seen. 18 This is another reason a crowd met him: They heard he had done this miraculous sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see? You are accomplishing nothing. Look! The world has gone after him.” 20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew. Andrew came with Philip and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Amen, Amen, I tell you: Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it continues to be one kernel. But if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 Anyone who loves his life destroys it. And the one who hates his life in this world will hold on to it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, let him follow me. And where I am, there my servant will be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

Everyone wanted to see Jesus. It’s not hard to understand why. The crowds that traveled with Jesus from Bethany wanted to keep on seeing Jesus after they witnessed how he raised Lazarus from the dead. The people of Jerusalem wanted to see Jesus. They heard about this powerful miracle and all the others that Jesus performed. Perhaps Jesus would do more miracles in their presence. Some Greeks who were in Jerusalem for the Passover wanted to see Jesus. They even approached Philip, one of the twelve disciples to see if he could get them an audience with Jesus.

As Jesus approached Jerusalem, the crowds who wanted to see him said the right things. “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” With these words, the people acknowledged that Jesus is the Savior that God promised to send. They confessed he is the true King of Israel. The word “Hosanna” literally means to “save.” But it soon became evident that the people really didn’t understand the work Jesus came to do. The people of Israel wanted a savior who would be a powerful king to make Israel into a great nation as they had been in the days of David and Solomon. They wanted someone to drive the Roman Empire out of their nation so they would be free again. As Jesus entered Jerusalem on the day we now call Palm Sunday, they believed Jesus could be the one God promised to send. Jesus already demonstrated his great power in all the miracles he did. Surely this man was the Savior they were looking for.

But Jesus taught that he came for a different reason. Jesus is the Savior God promised. But he wouldn’t establish his kingdom through great military victories. To be the Savior and King the people needed Jesus needed to die. Jesus used the example of a kernel of wheat to explain his mission. For a seed to achieve its purpose it needs to be buried in the ground. There the seed ceases to be a seed. It sprouts and grows and finally becomes a plant that produces wheat. In the same way, Jesus needed to die and be buried in the ground. Then he would rise again. The result would be a harvest of many souls who believe in Jesus and receive eternal life with him in heaven.

Like the Greeks who came to Philip, we want to see Jesus also. We’re not looking for a Savior who will give us a carefree and prosperous life on earth. We know that our life here will often be the opposite. To truly see and follow Jesus means we are ready to take up our cross and follow him. Jesus gave himself fully to the work of saving us, even though it cost him his life. We are ready to endure hardships in order to do the work our Lord gives us. We know that this life is only a temporary existence. By the grace of God, we see Jesus as the Savior who died and rose again. He is our eternal King who came to save us from our sins and to make us part of the harvest of souls that will one day join him forever in heaven.

Discussion Questions

1 – Look at the greeting the people shouted to Jesus as he approached Jerusalem. What were they confessing about Jesus with these words?
The word “Hosanna” means “save.” Whether the people understood it or not they were asking Jesus to be their Savior. When they called him “he who comes in the name of the Lord” they were confessing he is the Christ, the one whom God had promised to send to destroy the devil and his work. When they called him the King of Israel they confessed that he was descended from the line of David. He came to establish the throne of David forever as God had promised. (See 2 Samuel 7:16) This doesn’t mean he will establish an earthly kingdom. He reigns over all creation now and he will reign for all eternity in heaven.

2 – What did the disciples fail to understand at first when Jesus entered Jerusalem? (see verse 16)
They failed to see that Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday was in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. Later, by the work of the Holy Spirit, the disciples saw that all this was further proof that Jesus is the Savior God promised to send.

3 – Some Greeks visiting Jerusalem wanted to see Jesus. What was Jesus trying to teach them in his response to their request? (See verses 23-24)
Jesus wanted everyone to understand that the reason he came to earth was to die and rise again. By his great sacrifice and resurrection he would win forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation for all who trust in him as their Savior.

4 – What lesson did Jesus want to teach us in verses 25-26?
Jesus wants us to understand what it means to follow him. Our focus will not be on this world and all that it offers. This is only our temporary home. Those who are focused only on this world have no place with Jesus in the life to come. Rather we want to focus our lives on following Jesus, by doing the will of God. God’s will is that we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our Savior and that we will show our love for God by striving to do his will in the world, even if it means we will suffer hardship for doing so.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to

The Gospel of John – Lesson 32 – John 12:1-11

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, the hometown of Lazarus, who had died, the one Jesus raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there. Martha was serving, and Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about twelve ounces of very expensive perfume (pure nard) and anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was going to betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He did not say this because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief. He held the money box and used to steal what was put into it. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She intended to keep this for the day of my burial. Indeed, the poor you always have with you, but you are not always going to have me.” A large crowd of the Jews learned that he was there. They came not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus too, 11 because it was on account of him that many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.

Mary and Martha and Lazarus had much to be thankful for. Lazarus had died. Jesus showed his almighty power as he raised Lazarus from the dead and gave him back to the grieving sisters. They also were privileged to have Jesus as a guest in their home on earlier occasions. As they heard Jesus teach, this family was brought to trust in him as their Savior. Through this faith, they could be certain that death would not separate them. They would all one day live together with their Lord in heaven. Now the family wanted to offer their thanks to the Son of God. They could never fully repay Jesus for what he did. But they showed their thankfulness at a special meal that was given six days before the Passover.

Matthew 26:6 and Mark 14:3 records that the dinner was held in the home of Simon the Leper. We don’t know anything about this man. The title “leper” would suggest that at one time Jesus must have healed him from leprosy. Simon obviously wanted to show his thanks by hosting this dinner for Jesus at his home. Martha thanked Jesus in her own way. She took charge of serving the meal. Mary had another plan in mind to show her thanks and love to Jesus. Many people at the time wore sandals or they went barefoot. Obviously feet would become quite dirty by the end of the day. It was a common courtesy for the host to wash the feet of his guests when they entered his home. Mary went above and beyond the call of duty. Nard was one of the finest imported perfumes at the time. A bottle of nard would have been beyond the means of most people to afford. Mary used the expensive perfume to wash the feet of Jesus. Then in a show of total humility and service to her Lord, she wiped his feet with her hair. Truly Mary offered her best to Jesus.

But not everyone was impressed with Mary’s actions. Judas Iscariot; one of Jesus’ own disciples criticized Mary. He argued that the perfume was worth three hundred denarii. That was about one years’ wages at the time. Judas reasoned that the perfume could have been sold with the proceeds going to help the poor. On the surface, Judas’ argument might sound reasonable. But the Holy Spirit gives us insight into the thoughts of Judas. John was divinely-inspired to record that Judas didn’t care about the poor. He was the keeper of the disciples’ treasury. Satan was already at work in Judas. He was stealing from the treasury to supply his own desires. Proceeds from the sale of expensive perfume would have meant more money for Judas to indulge himself with. That love for money was going to cost Judas dearly in the near future. He betrayed Jesus into the hands of the Jewish Sanhedrin for 30 pieces of silver. When he realized what he had done Judas was filled with remorse and he went out and hanged himself. (See Matthew 27:1-5)

The Son of God saw through Judas’ hypocrisy. Jesus immediately told him to leave Mary alone. Jesus’ answer taught several important lessons. First, he predicted his own impending death. Secondly, Jesus was not saying that helping the poor wasn’t important. He indicated that there would always be poverty in the world. As Christians we will have many opportunities to help those in need. We should do so as our Lord gives us the means and the opportunities. Finally our Lord emphasized that God should always come first in our lives. Using our finest gifts to worship and honor our Lord is never a waste.

There are a couple important lessons here for all of us. We look to the example of Judas. His love for money had obviously been at work in his heart for some time. The longer we allow sin to linger in our hearts, the stronger it becomes. Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” As the desire to sin grows stronger it will finally weaken and destroy faith in Jesus.

We also can learn from the lesson of Mary. All that we have is a trust from our Lord God. We want to use our gifts, talents, and treasures to bring glory to God. We remember how Jesus gave his best to save us. Out of love and thankfulness to him, we want to use our best to glorify him.

Discussion Questions

1 – Mary used a costly gift to honor Jesus. Why did Judas object?
Judas offered the excuse that the expensive perfume that Mary poured on Jesus’ feet could have been sold with the proceeds being given to the poor. The Holy Scriptures give us the insight that Judas did not care about the poor. He frequently used the money in the disciples’ treasury for his own purposes. He looked at the expensive perfume as a means to provide more money for himself.

2 – The example of Judas reminds us there will be hypocrites among God’s people. What can we learn from this example from God’s Word for how we deal with hypocrites?
We cannot read hearts, so we cannot know who the hypocrites are. Instead we should follow the example of Mary. Use the gifts our Lord has given us to bring glory to him. Let the Lord deal with those who are hypocrites in his own time.

3 – At first glance, Jesus appears to be insensitive toward the poor in verse 8. What is our Lord really saying?Jesus indicated there will always be poor people in the world. We should pray for them and provide assistance to them according to the means God has blessed us with. But we should always remember to put our Lord first in our lives.

4 – According to verses 10-11, how far were the wicked religious leaders in Jerusalem willing to go to keep their positions of authority?
They not only wanted to kill Jesus, they also wanted to kill Lazarus. Since many people heard how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead they wanted to see both Jesus and Lazarus. The chief priests were angry because this miracle was leading many more people to Jesus.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to

The Gospel of John – Lesson 31 – John 11:45-57

45 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. They asked, “What are we going to do, because this man is doing many miraculous signs? 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him. Then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 You do not even consider that it is better for us that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but, as high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not only for that nation, but also in order to gather into one the scattered children of God. 53 So from that day on they plotted to kill him. 54 Therefore Jesus no longer walked about openly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew into a region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim. And he stayed there with his disciples. 55 The Jewish Passover was near, and many went up to Jerusalem from the country to purify themselves before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus and asking one another as they stood in the temple area, “What do you think? He certainly won’t come to the Festival, will he?” 57 The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where Jesus was, he should report it so that they could arrest Jesus.

As the high priest of Judea, Caiaphas should have been Jesus’ most loyal follower. The office of high priest was instituted by God at the time of Moses, to be a mediator between God and his people. But by this time in history, the office of high priest was little more than a political office. The Roman governors in Judea frequently removed high priests from office if they weren’t submissive enough to Rome. The Romans had removed Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas from the position of high priest and gave it to his son-in-law.

Caiaphas was an enemy of Jesus. He presided over Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin. He even declared that Jesus had spoken blasphemy when he proclaimed himself to be the Son of God. Caiaphas showed his opposition to Jesus in our Scripture reading as well. The Sanhedrin met to consider what to do about Jesus. He had just raised Lazarus from the dead. Word of this and the many other miracles Jesus did were spreading everywhere. More people were putting their faith in Jesus. The Sanhedrin feared that the Romans would hear about the excitement Jesus was causing. If the Sanhedrin couldn’t keep the people under control, the Romans would do so themselves. They would likely remove the chief priests and Pharisees from their position of authority. They would probably also execute many people in the process.

Caiaphas immediately took charge of the situation. His focus was purely political. He wasn’t going to allow this son of a carpenter from Nazareth to put their positions of power in jeopardy. He proclaimed that Jesus needed to die. His reasoning was that it was better for this one man to die than that a whole nation should perish at the hands of the Romans. The decision was made. The Sanhedrin began looking for an opportunity to put Jesus to death.

But God showed his total control over the situation. God used the words of the high priest for prophetic purposes. Jesus was going to die. The Son of God was going to give his life so that we would be spared from the judgment that our sins would have otherwise brought on us. Romans 6:23 said “For the wages of sin is death, but the undeserved gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because we are sinners we earned death. Our physical death in this life would have been followed by eternal death in hell. But Jesus placed himself under God’s judgment in our place. He endured the pains of hell on the cross that ended with the sacrifice of his own life. Because the Son of God perished on the cross and rose again from the grave, we and all who trust in him as our Savior will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

God displayed his total control of the situation in another way. Jesus needed to die. But his death would not take place until the time God had chosen. Jesus still had work to do. He withdrew to a remote region where he would continue to proclaim God’s Word despite his enemies’ best efforts to destroy him. But Jesus didn’t stay in this area for long. We’ll see in our studies of the next chapter of John, how Jesus entered Jerusalem to fulfill the prophecy God made through the unbelieving Caiaphas.

God has many enemies in the world, who openly speak against the message of salvation he brings us in the Holy Scriptures. But as we see with the example of Caiaphas that God cause even his enemies to achieve his purpose. Caiaphas’ prophecy was soon followed by Jesus arrest and death. But all this happened so that we would not die in our sins, but rather that we would receive the gifts of forgiveness of our sins and eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.

Discussion Questions

1 – What were the results of Jesus’ miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead?
Many of the Jews who witnessed the miracle believed in Jesus. However when word of this miracle reached the Sanhedrin they became alarmed. They called a meeting where it was decided that Jesus must be put to death. No matter what Jesus taught or what miracles he did they continued to harden their hearts against him.

2 – What did Caiaphas the high priest mean when he said it was better for one man to die for the people than for the whole nation to perish?
Caiaphas was focused on worldly matters. He felt it was better for Jesus to be killed rather than for the entire nation to face possible destruction at the hands of the Roman Empire. What he didn’t realize was that God used him to prophesy about the work Jesus was going to do. Jesus was soon going to give his life to take away our sins. Because of this we won’t have to suffer eternal torment in hell.

3 – What are some other ways God uses his enemies to achieve his purpose?
God sometimes uses pagan nations to provide protection for his people. (Example: Egypt during the time of Jacob) God has also used his enemies to carry out his judgment when his people rebel against him. (Example: Babylon took Israel into captivity after they refused to repent of their sins) God also uses even pagan governments to provide peace and order in society. (Example: The Roman Empire in the time of the apostles)

4 – What was on the minds of many of the Jews as the Feast of the Passover approached?
They wondered if Jesus would come to Jerusalem for the Passover. Many of them doubted that he would come since the Sanhedrin had decided it was necessary for Jesus to die. Jesus did stay away from Jerusalem for a short time. But he knew the time was approaching quickly when he needed to go to Jerusalem to complete the work of our salvation. No death threat could keep Jesus from doing what he was sent to do.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to

The Gospel of John – Lesson 30 – John 11:17-44

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the Last Day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. 26 And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” 28 After she said this, Martha went back to call her sister Mary. She whispered, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet gone into the village, but was still where Martha met him. 31 The Jews who were with Mary in the house consoling her saw that she got up quickly and left. So they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. 34 He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 38 Jesus was deeply moved again as he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. Martha, the dead man’s sister, told him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, because it has been four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The man who had died came out with his feet and his hands bound with strips of linen and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus told them, “Loose him and let him go.”

Why did Jesus wait until Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days before he finally arrived on the scene? Couldn’t he have come sooner and spared Mary and Martha the grief they were now feeling? Couldn’t he have spared Lazarus from the suffering he must have endured in his final days? Jesus could have done any of those things. But our Lord had an important lesson to teach his followers. It was necessary for Lazarus to die that our Lord could teach us more about himself and the salvation he brings. Let’s learn from the Son of God as he brings comfort and deliverance to those who mourned over the death of Lazarus.

Mary and Martha both knew who Jesus is. Martha confessed that he is the Son of God. She also confessed that Jesus is the Christ. The title Christ means “The Anointed One.” He is the one chosen by God to fulfill the promise of a Savior. Mary and Martha both knew Jesus has amazing power. Both confessed that if Jesus had arrived sooner he could have prevented the death of their brother. But in their grief the sisters seem to have forgotten the full extent of Jesus’s power. Jesus made clear to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish.” Now Jesus was about to back up those words with power.

Before we see the power of God in action, we need to look at another important truth Jesus revealed about himself. Sometimes people believe God is far away from us. He has no time to care about our day to day problems. Jesus proved that isn’t true. Notice how he responded to the grief of Mary and Martha. He was filled with compassion when he saw Mary weeping. When he arrived at the grave of Lazarus he shared their grief as he also wept. Our Lord is concerned for us in our times of trouble. He personally joins us in our grief. He wants to help us through those difficult times.

Jesus did more than share in their grief. He completely took it away. He called on his heavenly Father with full confidence that his Father would hear him and do what he asked. Then Jesus called to Lazarus to come out of the grave. Death had no choice but to obey. It immediately released its’ victim. Lazarus came out of the grave. God had preserved his body from decay. He came forward, fully restored and ready to continue his life.

What does Jesus teach us in all of this? Our Lord doesn’t promise that he will bring back our loved ones from the dead so they can rejoin us on earth. Such a resurrection would only be temporary. Lazarus had to die again eventually, as did Mary and Martha and all the others who witnessed Jesus’ miracle. Jesus promises something much better. He is the resurrection and the life. He has full control over death. He will raise us up on the Last Day and give eternal life in heaven to all who trust in him. When he raises us up, all traces of sin will be removed from us forever. Death won’t be able to claim us again. As he promised, “Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish.”

Discussion Questions

1 – We often think of Martha as the woman who urged Jesus to tell her sister Mary to help serve the guests rather than listen to Jesus teach. (See Luke 10:38-42) What do we learn about Martha in our Scripture reading?
Martha had clearly spent time learning from Jesus as well. She confessed he is the Christ, the true Son of God. She also believed in the resurrection to life everlasting through Jesus.

2 – Where do we find comfort as we see Jesus weeping at Lazarus’ tomb?
Our Lord is a personal God. He desires to have a close relationship with us. He shares our grief. He cares about us in our times of trouble and he will deliver us.

3 – What was the main reason for Jesus’ prayer?
He did this for our benefit so that we would believe that Jesus was sent to us by his heavenly Father. We believe and we have life in his name.

4 – What does Jesus teach us by raising Lazarus from the dead?
He is the resurrection and the life. He has full authority over life and death. He does not promise to raise our loved ones from the dead in the same way he raised Lazarus. But he does promise that he will raise us up from the dead on the Last Day. He promises to give eternal life to all who trust in him as their Savior.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to

The Gospel of John – Lesson 29 – John 11:1-16

Now a certain man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother, Lazarus was sick, was the same Mary who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick!” When Jesus heard it, he said, “This sickness is not going to result in death, but it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed in the place where he was two more days. Then afterwards he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, recently the Jews were trying to stone you. And you are going back there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? If anyone walks around during the day, he does not stumble because he sees this world’s light. 10 But if anyone walks around at night, he stumbles because there is no light on him.” 11 He said this and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 Then the disciples said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will get well.” 13 Jesus had been speaking about his death, but they thought he was merely talking about ordinary sleep. 14 So Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (called the Twin) said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go too, so that we may die with him.”

It’s always hard when someone close to us becomes seriously ill, especially if the illness is one that could be fatal. When the Son of God became true man to live among us, he experienced what it was like to have a close friend become seriously ill. Lazarus lived in the village of Bethany along with his sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus had been a guest in their home before. (See Luke 10:38-42) When Lazarus became seriously ill, John records that Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus “Lord, the one you love is sick.” The ancient language of the Bible had several words that were translated “love.” The word for love that was used in this case emphasized a close friendship. Mary and Martha now appealed to Jesus to assist his close friend,  knowing that as the Son of God, Jesus could help them through this time of serious trouble.

But if Jesus had such a close friendship with Lazarus, why did he respond to the news of Lazarus’ illness the way he did? If you found out someone who was a close friend was seriously ill, wouldn’t you go and visit if it were possible. Even if you couldn’t visit, you’d probably at least send word expressing your concern and telling your friend that you’re praying for them. Yet Jesus did nothing initially other than to speak to his disciples about the situation.

Here we should look closer at what Jesus said to his disciples. It might seem confusing at first because we know Lazarus did die. If we do a literal translation of Jesus’ words from the original language of the Bible his statement goes like this: “This sickness is not to death but for the glory of God in order that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Jesus didn’t say that death wouldn’t occur. But death wouldn’t be the final victor. Jesus would be glorified which would also bring glory to God the Father. God was in full control, death would only be used to achieve God’s purpose.

For further insight into Jesus’ actions consider how verse 5 tells us that Jesus loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus. Here the original language of the Bible used a different word for “love” than the one used in verse 3. In this case the word means the unconditional love that our Lord shows to us. He loves us because he chooses to love us. God wants us to have eternity with him in heaven. The special unconditional love described in verse 5 moved Jesus to act in the way that was best for Lazarus and his sisters, even if it would cause them a time of sadness.

Finally, two days later, Jesus decided it was time for them to go to Judea. The disciples were stunned by the news. The last time they were in the area, the people tried to kill Jesus. Why would Jesus want to go back there now? Jesus made it clear that Lazarus had died. Jesus had waited until the proper time to go, in order to carry out his Father’s will. He announced his intentions to go and awaken Lazarus. In doing so he would strengthen the faith of his disciples, as well as the faith of Lazarus and his sisters.

Clearly the disciples’ faith needed a boost. Thomas saw no hope in the situation. He was devoted to his Lord to the extent that he was willing to accompany Jesus and to die with him. But he failed to trust that Jesus was in full control of the situation and that God would be glorified by what he was about to do.

We don’t always see God’s divine purpose when a loved one dies or when we are put in what seems like a dangerous situation. But remember, Jesus loves us, just as he loved Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. His love for us is also unconditional. He may allow us to suffer hardship for a little while. But ultimately he will use even such troubles to strengthen our trust in him. Let us always be ready to follow Jesus, even unto death, knowing that an eternal crown of life is waiting through faith in Him.

Discussion Questions

1 – When Jesus heard about Lazarus, he said this had happened so that God would be glorified. What did he mean by that?
Everything Jesus did was according to his Father’s will. God’s will is that we would come to believe in Jesus as our Savior and to come to eternal life in heaven. Whenever this happens, God is glorified. In this case, Jesus knew that he would raise Lazarus from the dead. God would be glorified as many people would turn to Jesus after seeing him do this powerful miracle.

2 – When Jesus announced they were going back to Judea, his disciples tried to dissuade him. They were afraid they would all be killed if they went back there. What did Jesus say in response?
Jesus was following his heavenly Father’s timetable. He needed to keep working during his time of public ministry. Jesus didn’t worry about death, because he knew his time hadn’t come yet. No enemy could arrest him and condemn him to death before God the Father allowed it.

3 – What comfort did Jesus give us concerning death in verse 11?
He first of all, said Lazarus was sleeping. Death is nothing more than a temporary sleep for our bodies. Jesus also said he was going to awaken Lazarus. Jesus has full control over life and death. He could call Lazarus from the grave and death would have no choice but to release him. In the same way, Jesus will one day call our bodies from the grave so that body and soul, we will dwell with our Lord forever.

4 – Jesus plainly told his disciples in verse 14 that Lazarus was dead. He also said he was glad for the disciples’ sake that he was not there at the time. Why would he say that?
Jesus said he was glad he was not there so that his disciples would believe. It was time to teach the disciples that he has full authority over death. By displaying this power, his disciples would become all the more certain that Jesus is the true Son of God. This miracle and all the other things Jesus said and did are recorded that we may trust in him as well. (See John 20:31)

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to