The Gospel of John – Lesson 51 – John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she left and ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved. “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb,” she told them, “and we don’t know where they put him!” So Peter and the other disciple went out, heading for the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and got to the tomb first. Bending over, he saw the linen cloths lying there, yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was following him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there. The cloth that had been on Jesus’ head was not lying with the linen cloths, but was folded up in a separate place by itself. Then the other disciple, who arrived at the tomb first, also entered. He saw and believed. (They still did not yet understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to their homes. 11 But Mary stood outside facing the tomb, weeping. As she wept, she bent over, looking into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels in white clothes sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She told them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they have laid him.” 14 After she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not know it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Supposing he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you carried him off, tell me where you laid him, and I will get him.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and replied in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means, “Teacher”). 17 Jesus told her, “Do not continue to cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father—to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” She also told them the things he said to her.

Awhile back I remember reading about a product called Horse Blinders for Humans. The product is designed to help people focus on their work in a busy office or factory. These blinders can be placed around the head or attached to eye glasses to block vision to either side. Some models also include headphones to help reduce noise distraction. These blinders are supposed to help people keep their eyes and ears focused on the task at hand.

Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John all seemed to have a different kind of blinders on as the events of the first Easter morning unfolded. John records that Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb early in the morning on the first day of the week. From the other Gospels we learn that other women accompanied her on this journey to anoint the body of Jesus. John doesn’t deny that there were other women involved in this early morning trip. John merely focused on the account of Mary. When Mary arrived at the tomb she found the large stone blocking the entrance had been rolled away. The body of Jesus was missing. But Mary focused only on the fact that she saw Jesus die on Good Friday. She ignored the earlier promises Jesus made that he would rise again on the third day after he died. As she went and reported her findings to Peter and John she formed the conclusion that someone must have taken the body of Jesus away. She was blinded to the possibility that Jesus had risen from the dead, just as he promised.

After hearing the news of the empty tomb from Mary, Peter and John investigated the situation themselves. Sadly they began their investigation with the same spiritual blinders that limited Mary’s vision. There was no denying that the tomb was empty. The burial cloth wrapped around Jesus’ head and the linen clothes around his body were left in the tomb. But Jesus’ body was nowhere to be found. John indicated that he believed what he saw. But he also added that he and Peter still did not understand from the Holy Scriptures that the promised Savior would rise from the dead.

We have an advantage over Mary, Peter, and John. As we read the account of the first Easter, we know how the story will end. The tomb is empty because Jesus fulfilled his promise to rise again from the dead. Death could not hold the Son of God for one moment longer than what God decided. Jesus’ death served God’s purpose. By his death, Jesus washed all our sins away. Now his resurrection was necessary to defeat death for us. But even though we know this, we sometimes live with spiritual blinders on also. We despair over our sins rather than repenting and trusting that Jesus won our forgiveness. We worry about death, rather than trusting that Jesus overcame death for us when he rose from the grave. We worry about the future rather than trusting our future is in heaven through faith in Jesus.

Jesus knew how to open Mary’s eyes to the truth. He appeared to her and spoke her name as she wept at his empty tomb. In our next lesson we’ll see how Jesus removed the spiritual blinders from his disciples. Praise to our Lord that he has also opened our eyes to see the truth of our crucified and risen Savior. What joy fills our hearts whenever we hear the good news that Jesus Christ is risen. Your Lord Jesus invites us to believe that everything he achieved through his resurrection, he achieved for you. He personally speaks your name as he calls you to believe that one day you will also see your risen Savior face to face. You won’t ever have to take your eyes off him. You will behold the joy of his great love for you forever.

Discussion Questions

1 – What assumption did Mary make when she found Jesus’ tomb empty?
Mary saw Jesus’ dead body on Good Friday. She believed he still must be dead. She assumed that someone must have stolen Jesus’ body.

2 – John records that he saw the empty tomb and believed. But he also indicated that he and Peter still didn’t fully understand. What didn’t they understand?
The Holy Scriptures testified that the promised Savior must suffer, die, and rise again. Jesus also testified several times that this must happen to him. The disciples failed to understand that Jesus had to die and rise again because all this was necessary for their salvation.

3 – Mary knew Jesus very well. Why couldn’t she recognize Jesus when she first saw him alive again?
Jesus used his divine power to keep Mary from recognizing him until he was ready to reveal the truth to her. The same thing happened when Jesus appeared to his two followers on the road to Emmaus. (See Luke 24:15-16)

4 – Jesus told Mary, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father—to my God and your God.” What important truths can we learn from these words?
Because Jesus has completed everything for our salvation, God is now our Father. We can approach our God in prayer with full confidence that he is our loving Father, who will always hear and answer us. Because he is our Father, he fully forgives us of all our sins for the sake of his Son Jesus. As Jesus ascended to his Father, we can be sure that one day Jesus will come back to take us to his Father’s house where we will dwell in eternal peace and joy.

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 50 – John 19:31-42

31 Since it was the Preparation Day, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses over the Sabbath (because that Sabbath was a particularly important day). They asked Pilate to have the men’s legs broken and the bodies taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man who was crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other man. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear. Immediately blood and water came out. 35 The one who saw it has testified, and his testimony is true. He knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 Indeed, these things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 Again another Scripture says, “They will look at the one they pierced.” 38 After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him remove Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave him permission, he came and took Jesus’ body away. 39 Nicodemus, who earlier had come to Jesus at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-two pounds. 40 They took Jesus’ body and bound it with linen strips along with the spices, in accord with Jewish burial customs. 41 There was a garden at the place where Jesus was crucified. And in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 So they laid Jesus there, because it was the Jewish Preparation Day, and the tomb was near.

During the week of the Passover celebration, the Passover Feast was celebrated on Thursday. Friday was known as Preparation Day. The purpose of this day was to make preparations so everything would be just right for the special Sabbath Day celebration that went from Friday evening until Saturday evening. One preparation that needed to be done was all the dead had to be buried before the Sabbath. Those who were being crucified sometimes hung on the cross for hours or even days before they died. So, in order to hasten death, the legs of the victim were sometimes broken. Without their legs to support their body weight the victims would quickly suffocate.

Everything had to be just right according to God’s plans also. When the Roman soldiers looked at Jesus on the cross, they saw that he was already dead. There was no need to break his legs. But, just to make sure he was dead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear. Blood and water came out from the wound. Some have tried to speculate on the significance of the blood and water. Others have questioned whether this is medically possible. Still others said this flow of blood and water means that Jesus’ heart was pierced by the spear. All this is speculation that only takes away from what is important in this account. Jesus, the Son of God was dead just as he promised. The events described in this text also fulfilled two prophecies in the Holy Scriptures. That Jesus’ bones were not broken was prophesied in Psalm 34:20. Zechariah 12:10 prophesied that “They will look at the one they pierced.” Everything about Jesus that Scripture promised was still happening even after he died.

Another prophecy that needed to be fulfilled were the word of Isaiah 53:9. “They would have assigned him a grave with the wicked, but he was given a grave with the rich in his death, because he had done no violence, and no deceit was in his mouth.” To carry out this prophecy, God chose two unlikely individuals. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus received permission from Pilate to remove Jesus’ body and to bury it. Both these men were members of the Jewish ruling council. Most of the Jewish Sanhedrin had worked together to see that Jesus was condemned to death. But Joseph and Nicodemus had no part in this. (See Luke 23:51) If no one had claimed Jesus’ body, it would  have been thrown into a pit reserved for unclaimed victims who died by execution. Instead, Matthew 27:60 tells us that Joseph laid Jesus’ body in his own new tomb that was cut in the rock. Only those who were wealthy to afford the expense of such a tomb. This was Joseph’s gift of love to his Savior.

Nicodemus contributed a mixture of spices to Jesus’ burial. Jewish burial customs at the time called for the body to be wrapped in strips of linen cloth along with the spices. From the Gospels we learn that some of the women who followed Jesus also witnessed his burial. There was no time for them to do anything more before the start of the Sabbath. They would wait until the day after to the Sabbath go to the tomb and anoint the body of Jesus with spices and perfumes.

We also learn from Matthew 27:62-66 that the leaders of the Jews were afraid of Jesus’ promise that he would rise again on the third day. They feared that Jesus’ disciples would steal his body and claim he had risen. They petitioned Pilate to make the tomb secure until after the third day. In response, a large stone was put in front of the tomb. The tomb was carefully sealed, and a guard was posted. Sinful human beings did their best to keep Jesus in the tomb. But nothing could hinder God from carrying out the completion of his plan of our salvation. Everything happened to this point exactly as God planned. Jesus was dead and buried. The stage was now set for his glorious resurrection.

Discussion Questions

1 – Why did the Jews want the bodies of the crucified men to be removed from the crosses before the day was over?
The celebration of the Passover Sabbath began that evening. In preparation for this special day bodies of all the dead needed to be buried before the Sabbath began.

2 – Breaking the legs of those hanging on the cross was meant to hasten their death. Why was it important that Jesus’ legs were not broken but instead that they pierced his side with a spear?
That Jesus’ legs were not broken fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 34:20 which said, “He watches over all his bones; not one of them will be broken.” Jesus’ side being pierced fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 12:10. “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace, who pleads for mercy. Then they will look at me, the one they have pierced.”

3 – Nicodemus assisted Joseph in the burial of Jesus. How had Nicodemus grown in faith since we first met him in John 3?
In John 3, Nicodemus had to come to Jesus secretly at night. Now he openly confessed his love for Jesus as he brought spices to carry out the Jewish burial customs.

4 – Looking back on Jesus’ suffering and death in John 19 what do we learn about our Lord’s love for us?
The Son of God willingly gave himself over to suffering and death while carrying the guilt of our sins. In doing so Jesus won the forgiveness of all our sins. He allowed himself to be placed in the grave so that he could also defeat death for us. Jesus did all this because he loves us, and he wants us to have eternal life with him in heaven.

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 49 – John 19:17-30

17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to what is called the Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him with two others, one on each side, and Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate also had a notice written and fastened on the cross. It read, “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that ‘this man said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” 23 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier. They also took his tunic, which was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 So they said to one another, “Let’s not tear it. Instead, let’s cast lots to see who gets it.” This was so that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. So the soldiers did these things. 25 Jesus’ mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene were standing near the cross. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother!” And from that time this disciple took her into his own home. 28 After this, knowing that everything had now been finished, and to fulfill the Scripture, Jesus said, “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was sitting there. So they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished!” Then, bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.

So it all came down to this. The Son of God took on human flesh and came to mankind to rescue us from sin, death, and the devil. Human beings responded to God’s mercy and love by condemning Jesus to die the death that was reserved for the worst criminals. No one would listen to the obvious evidence that Jesus was innocent of all charges brought against him. No one would carry his cross for him until a man named Simon was forced to do the work. (See Luke 23:26) The only earthly possession Jesus had left (his clothing) was taken away and gambled for by the Roman soldiers. The crowd gathered at the cross hurled insults at Jesus. (See Mark 15:29-32) Mark records that even Jesus’ heavenly Father needed to abandon his Son on the cross so Jesus would suffer God’s full judgement against our sins completely alone. (See Mark 15:34) Who could have blamed the Son of God if he finally decided enough was enough. He had every right to use his divine power to come down from the cross and to force human beings to pay the penalty for their own sins.

But during the final hours before Jesus died we can’t help but marvel at the incredible love Jesus shows to us. He came to save us from our sins. To the very end, Jesus carefully fulfilled every detail that was necessary for our salvation to be complete. Jesus’ mother and his disciple; John were there at the cross. Joseph was dead by this time. Jesus, as the oldest son in the family was supposed to see to the care of his mother. Although, Jesus would always watch over her, he gave John the responsibility to visibly be with Mary and to provide for her. This act is a more than a tender moment that warms our heart. Jesus also thinks of us with this action. For our salvation, Jesus needed to fulfill the Law of God throughout his entire life. That obligation didn’t go away in the final hours of his life. It was necessary for our salvation that Jesus perfectly obeyed the Fourth Commandment and all God’s other commands. Jesus honored his mother for her sake and for ours.

Jesus had one more task to carry out. As he reached the final moments of his life it’s not surprising that Jesus was thirsty. But as he asked for something to drink, he wasn’t thinking of his own needs. John points out that even here our Savior was fulfilling Scripture. Psalm 69:21 said, “For my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” Everything written about Jesus in the Holy Scriptures had to be perfectly fulfilled down to the smallest detail. Even as he asked for a drink, Jesus completing everything just as it was foretold about him.

At this point, Jesus knew that everything he went to the cross to accomplish was completed. Jesus had one more thing to say. After he received the sour wine offered to him he called out “It is finished.” With these words, Jesus announced to us that nothing turned him aside from his mission. The anguish he endured, the cruel mocking he faced, and even the rejection by his own heavenly Father were not too much for Jesus to overcome. Jesus carried his mission on to completion. Jesus’ words proclaim that our sins are fully forgiven. There is nothing more we need to add to what Jesus did perfectly. There are no sins that his sacrifice didn’t atone for. There will never be a time when the grace God showed us will run out. Believe that in Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven now. Believe that they are forgiven forever.

If you ever find yourself doubting your salvation, if the guilt of your sins seems like too much to bear, if you ever feel worthless or unloved, then look to the cross. Listen to Jesus as he takes his dying breath. Believe that God loved you enough to give his own Son to save you. Believe that in Jesus Christ you have been fully pardoned of all your guilt. Believe that Jesus is your only Savior. Believe that he has completed the work of your salvation for all time.

Discussion Questions

1 – Crucifixion involved terrible physical pain. Yet this was only the beginning of Jesus’ suffering. What might we miss if we dwell only on the physical horrors of Jesus’ suffering and death?
Remember that Jesus was enduring all this while carrying the full burden of our sins and the sins of the whole world. Jesus also needed to endure rejection by his own heavenly Father while he hung on the cross so that he would endure all of God’s anger against sin completely alone.

2 – What is the significance of the soldiers taking Jesus’ clothing and dividing it among themselves?
This also was done to fulfill the Holy Scriptures. Psalm 22:18 said “They divide my garments among them. For my clothing they cast lots.”

3 – What did Jesus mean when he proclaimed “It is finished” as he died?
John 1:29 proclaimed that Jesus is “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus announced from the cross that he had completed this task. He knew that God that Father was fully satisfied with his Son’s sacrifice. Our guilt is fully taken away now and for all time.

4 – What important truth did the last part of verse 30 confess?
After Jesus said “It is finished” we’re told that “Bowing his head, he gave up his life.” Death didn’t claim Jesus. Jesus willingly gave himself over to death. Jesus always said it would be this way. He said in John 10:17-18, “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life so that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it up again. This is the commission I received from my Father.” Death didn’t have the power to take Jesus’ life away from him. Nor would death have the power to stop Jesus when it was time to rise again on Easter morning. The Son of God proved again that he has full authority over life and death.

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 48 – John 19:1-16

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns and placed it on his head. Then they threw a purple robe around him. They kept coming to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they kept hitting him in the face. Pilate went outside again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” So Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and guards saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” Pilate told them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He went back inside the palace again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate asked him, “Are you not talking to me? Don’t you know that I have the authority to release you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over me at all if it had not been given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate tried to release Jesus. But the Jews shouted, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar! Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar!” 13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside. He sat down on the judge’s seat at a place called the Stone Pavement, or Gabbatha in Aramaic. 14 It was about the sixth hour on the Preparation Day for the Passover. Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your king!” 15 They shouted, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Should I crucify your king?” “We have no king but Caesar!” the chief priests answered. 16 So then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away. 

This section of God’s Word primarily focuses on two men. There is the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ. At first glance, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine both these men would rather have been just about anywhere else other than where they were. Pilate had dealt with plenty of trials where the death penalty was demanded. Pilate was like the Supreme Court for the land of Judea. If he declared someone worthy of death, there wasn’t a higher court in the land to appeal to. Only those who possessed Roman citizenship could appeal their case to Caesar in Rome.

Pilate wasn’t afraid to hand down the death penalty. But he wanted nothing to do with the trial of Jesus of Nazareth. The Jewish leaders wanted him dead. Pilate clearly saw that Jesus didn’t deserve to die. But outside the Judgement Hall was an angry mob demanding that Jesus must be crucified. Pilate didn’t need a riot on his hands. He tried quieting them down by having Jesus flogged and abused by the Roman soldiers. That only made the crowd more angry. He tried to convince them Jesus was innocent. They wouldn’t listen to the evidence.  All the while, Pilate was growing more fearful. He was afraid of the accusations that Jesus called himself the Son of God. He was afraid when he was accused of being “no friend of Caesar.” Jesus called himself a king. The people stated that anyone who called himself a king was an enemy of Caesar. Pilate didn’t want to condemn an innocent man to die. But despite the great authority he had as Roman governor, Pilate seemed almost powerless to do anything other than what the crowd demanded.

Looking at Jesus’ situation, doesn’t it seem like he’d rather be anywhere else other than where he was? Imagine the pain and humiliation he was enduring at the moment. The Son of God took on human flesh in order to be the Savior of the world. But this was how the world responded to their Savior. The beating, the flogging and the mocking were bad enough. Things were only going to get worse when they nailed Jesus to the cross. Jesus looked powerless to stop any of this. But we know appearances are deceiving. The Son of God had the power to drive his accusers, his tormentors, and his judge to their knees in utter pain and terror. He had the authority to walk away from all his trials at any moment, and no one could have stopped him.

Jesus had the power to be anywhere else he wanted to be. But instead he chose to stay right where he was. Jesus wanted nothing more than to carry out God’s holy will. God’s holy will was that sinners like you and I should be saved from our guilt and inherit eternal life in heaven. Jesus couldn’t bring in a substitute to do the work for him. No human being has the power to save themselves from their sins. No human being could carry the burden of their own guilt before God, much less carry the burden of anyone else’s guilt. Only the sinless Son of God can carry our burden for us.

Despite the agony that Jesus endured on the day of his death, there was nowhere else that our Savior wanted to be. The only path to salvation for you and I required Jesus to be declared guilty of our sins and to pay the penalty we deserved. Pilate found a way to get out of the situation he was facing by sending an innocent man to die. As soon as the crowd got what they wanted they left the governor alone and journeyed to Calvary to watch Jesus die. But Jesus didn’t try to get out of the situation he was in. He carried our sins all the way to the cross for us and for our salvation.

Discussion Questions

1 – What did Pilate hope to accomplish by having Jesus tortured and mocked by his soldiers?
He obviously hopped that the people would decide Jesus had suffered enough and they would agree that he should go free. This didn’t work because the Jewish leaders had stirred the crowd up with their false accusations against Jesus. Nothing short of a death sentence would satisfy the crowd.

2 – Why would Pilate become more afraid when they heard people say that Jesus called himself the Son of God?
Romans worshipped many gods and goddesses. Roman mythology contained stories about gods and goddesses having children with human partners. Pilate may have wondered if Jesus were one of those offspring. Pilate sadly believed in false gods rather than understanding that there is only one true God and that Jesus is the true Son of God.

3 – When Jesus refused to answer Pilate’s question, the governor reminded Jesus that he had the authority to put him to death. What did Jesus clarify about Pilate’s authority?
God is the ruler over all things. All authority comes from God. Pilate had no authority over Jesus unless God gave it to him. God was in full control of the situation, not Pilate. Everything that was happening at Jesus’ trial would ultimately serve God’s purpose.

4 – What sinful admissions did the chief priests make in answer to Pilate in verse 16?
They declared that they had no king other than Caesar. They were totally rejecting God’s promise in Psalm 2 that he would install his own Son as King. By rejecting Jesus, the Jews were putting their trust in earthly authorities rather than God. They were turning away from the only means of salvation that God allows.

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 47 – John 18:28-40

28 Early in the morning, the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium. They did not enter the Praetorium themselves, so that they would not become ceremonially unclean. (They wanted to be able to eat the Passover meal.) 29 So Pilate went out to them and said, “What charge do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate told them “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews said, “It’s not legal for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This happened so that the statement Jesus had spoken indicating what kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled. 33 Pilate went back into the Praetorium and summoned Jesus. He asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight so that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here.” 37“You are a king then?” Pilate asked. Jesus answered, “I am, as you say, a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38“What is truth?” Pilate said to him. After he said this, he went out again to the Jews and told them, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 39 But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at the Passover. So do you want me to release the King of the Jews for you?” 40 Then they shouted back, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” (Now, Barabbas was a rebel.)

There was no surprise in the outcome of Jesus’ trial before the high priest. The Jewish Sanhedrin wanted to be rid of Jesus. They decided Jesus was worthy of death even if they had no charges to bring against him. When they arrived at the residence of the governor, the members of the Sanhedrin put on an outward show of being ceremonially clean. They refused to enter the home of a Roman Gentile. According to rabbinical law this would have made them unclean for the remainder of the Feast of the Passover. But in all this they failed to see how spiritually unclean they were as they demanded the death of the sinless Son of God.

The Roman governor initially did what he should have done in the situation he faced. He demanded to know what charges were brought against Jesus. But the Jews had no interest in a fair trial to determine Jesus’ guilt or innocence. They wanted Pilate to simply accept their word that Jesus was guilty and deserving of death. Pilate quickly decided that this was a matter he didn’t need to be involved in. He tried to pass the trial back to the Jews. But the Sanhedrin wanted Jesus to die. Only the Roman government could hand down the death penalty.

Pilate tried questioning Jesus. Jesus responded by showing he did not come to establish an earthly kingdom. God’s kingdom isn’t limited by geographical boundaries. Our Lord’s kingdom is his gracious rule over all things for the good of his people. Jesus testified to the truth that all people are sinful and deserving of God’s eternal judgement. But God is rich in mercy. He sent his Son to pay the price to rescue us from our sins. All who believe in the truth that Jesus Christ is our only Savior have the promise of eternal life with him in heaven.

But Pilate responded with words that ring loud and clear in the post-modern world of today. He asked “What is truth?” So many people today want to believe there are no absolute truths. They will say that what is true for you may not be true for me. Such an attitude has had its effects in religion. Things that the Word of God clearly defines as sin are increasingly being viewed as acceptable behaviors. People want to say that there are many different ways to heaven even though Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Left to ourselves we would also question even the core truths of the Holy Scriptures. It is only by the Holy Spirit working through Word and Sacrament that we believe the truth of God’s saving message.

One truth was evident to Pilate. Jesus had done nothing deserving of death. He went back outside and reported his findings to the Jews. Pilate tried to set Jesus free by using a custom he observed at the time of the Passover. He always released one prisoner to the crowd. A criminal named Barabbas was in custody at the time. From the four Gospels we learn this man was guilty of murder and rebellion. Surely the people would want Jesus set free rather than a man who was a danger to society. But the plan failed. The leaders of the Jews stirred up the crowd to the extent that they demanded Barabbas should be set free instead of Jesus.

The truth was there for all to see. Jesus had proven by his powerful words and actions that he is the true Son of God and the Savior of the world. But sinful mankind sneers in response, “What is truth?” Here we give all thanks and praise to our Lord that he has opened our eyes, hearts, and minds to see and believe the truth about Jesus. He offered no defense at his trial. He knew that our salvation depended on his suffering and death. He carried out his mission to the very end. We put our trust in Christ alone. We believe in him and live.

Discussion Questions

1 – Look at the conversation between the Jewish leaders and Pilate. What statements make it clear they had no interest in a fair trial of Jesus?
When Pilate asked what charges they were bringing against Jesus they offered none. They demanded that Pilate accept their word that he was a criminal. They also demanded that a convicted criminal (Barabbas) should be released, rather than Jesus who was innocent.

2 – Throughout history many people have looked for God to set up a great earthly kingdom. What did Jesus say in response?
He told Pilate that his kingdom is not of this world (see verse 36). This world is only a temporary home for us. Our Lord Jesus graciously rules in our hearts and lives. His goal is that all people should repent of their sins and believe in him as their Savior.

3 – What tactics did Pilate try in order to set Jesus free?
He tried to have the Jews put Jesus on trial themselves, but they refused because they could not hand down the death penalty. Pilate reported that he found no reason to bring a charge against Jesus. The people refused to accept his findings. Finally he offered to release one prisoner to them, which was his custom at the time of the Passover. But the people demanded that Barabbas would be released rather than Jesus.

4 – What does the response of the crowd show us about the hold that the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh can have on people?
Barabbas was a hardened criminal. Jesus was innocent of any crime. It made no sense to release a criminal and to kill an innocent man. But that is what sinful human beings demanded in the trial of Jesus. They wanted an innocent man to die to serve their purposes.

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 46 – John 18:13-27

13 First they led him to Annas, because he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year. 14 Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews, “It is better that one man die for the people.” 15 Simon Peter and another disciple kept following Jesus. That disciple was known to the high priest, so he went into the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus. 16 But Peter stood outside by the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out and talked to the girl watching the door and brought Peter in. 17 “You are not one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” the girl at the door asked Peter. “I am not!” he said. 18 The servants and guards were standing around a fire of coals that they had made because it was cold. While they warmed themselves, Peter was standing with them, warming himself too.  19 The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in a synagogue or at the temple, where all the Jews gather. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why are you questioning me? Ask those who heard what I told them. Look, they know what I said.” 22 When he said this, one of the guards standing there hit Jesus in the face. “Is that how you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus answered, “testify about what was wrong. But if I was right, why did you hit me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.  25 Simon Peter continued to stand there warming himself. So they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not!” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Peter denied it again, and just then a rooster crowed.

After he was arrested, Jesus was first brought to Annas for questioning. Then he was brought before Caiaphas. We notice one apparent discrepancy in our Scripture reading. Verse 19 refers to Annas as the high priest. Verse 24 gives that title to Caiaphas. Actually this seeming contradiction is easily explained. Annas had served as the high priest for a number of years. But the Romans removed him from office and gave the position to his son-in-law; Caiaphas. Many Jews apparently didn’t approve of the Romans actions. They still considered Annas the high priest. That is likely why John gave the title to both men.

John doesn’t record many of the details of Jesus’ trial before the high priest. But from the information provided by the four Gospels we can see that the trial was no trial at all. Annas questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teachings. Jesus correctly answered that he hid nothing. His teachings were well known. But Jesus was struck in the face by a guard for telling the truth. It is evident the high priests and the Sanhedrin weren’t interested in finding out the truth about Jesus. They wanted to be rid of him and they would do whatever was necessary to make sure that happened.

While Jesus was on trial, another trial was going on in the high priest’s courtyard. Peter and another disciple (most likely John) followed at a distance after Jesus was arrested. John was known by the high priest, so he was able to gain admittance for Peter into the courtyard. Peter was recognized by some of the others who were in the courtyard. Peter was asked three times if he was one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter forgot his bold words made earlier that same night. He swore that he faithfully follow Jesus and that he would even give his life for his Lord. (See John 13:37) Instead he now shamefully denied that he even knew Jesus each time he was questioned.

After Peter’s third denial we’re told that the rooster crowed. This fulfilled Jesus’ own prophecy that Peter would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. (See John 13:38) After this Luke records how Jesus showed great mercy to Peter. Jesus turned and looked directly at his wayward disciple. Then Peter remembered that Jesus foretold this would happen. Jesus’ look was a call to repentance. Peter went outside and wept bitterly. (See Luke 22:61-62)

It’s easy to criticize the Jewish leaders who blatantly ignored the truth that Jesus is the true Son of God. They falsely accused him, beat him, and demanded that he must die even though they had no valid charges to bring against him. It’s also easy to criticize Peter for openly denying Jesus even though he promised to stand firm in his faith and follow his Lord no matter what. But how often haven’t we also denied our Lord Jesus? Have we failed to confess Jesus when we had the opportunities? We didn’t want to risk being criticized for our faith in this sinful world that increasingly rejects Jesus. How often haven’t we joined in sinful activities just because everyone else was doing the same thing? How often haven’t we put Jesus on the bottom of our priority list because we had too many other things to do? Then we are denying Jesus just as Peter did. Then we are also no better than the Sanhedrin. Our sins condemned Jesus to death, just as their sins did.

But our Lord Jesus shows us his great mercy. He looks at us through his Word. His Law condemns us of our sins and drives us to repentance. His Gospel calls on us to look at Jesus’ suffering and death. Be comforted as you weep the tears of repentance. Believe that Jesus endured all these things for you. Through his death you are forgiven. No sin was too great for Jesus to overcome. Trust that because of Jesus, your salvation remains certain.

Discussion Questions

1 – What prophecy had Caiaphas made earlier about Jesus?
He said, “It is better that one man die for the people.” (See also John 11:49-50) Caiaphas said this for political reasons. He was afraid that the Romans might intervene if Jesus stirred up the people. But he didn’t realize he was actually prophesying that Jesus would give his life for all people to save us from our sins.

2 – As Jesus was arrested, Peter followed at a distance. He wanted to know what would happen to Jesus. But what poor judgement did Peter show as he entered the courtyard of the high priest?
Peter entered a place where he would be surrounded by Jesus’ enemies. Peter thought he was strong enough to endure whatever temptations he would face. But instead, when he had the opportunity to stand up for his Savior, Peter’s faith failed him. He denied knowing Jesus three times.

3 – What does this example teach us when we are faced with temptation?
We should never assume that we are strong enough to stand up against temptation by ourselves. We have given in to temptation many times. Instead we should do our best to avoid those situations where we know we will face temptation. When we do face temptation, we should pray to our Lord for strength to say “no” to sin. Finally, when those times occur that we give in to temptation, we repent of our sins and trust that in Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

4 – What was the significance of the rooster crowing after Peter’s denial of Jesus?
This completed the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy that Peter would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. (See John 13:38)

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 45 – John 18:1-12

After saying these things, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden. He and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who was betraying him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas took the company of soldiers and some guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and came there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who are you looking for?” “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus told them. Judas, the betrayer, was standing with them. When Jesus told them, “I am he,” they backed away and fell to the ground. Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” “Jesus the Nazarene,” they said. “I told you that I am he,” Jesus replied. “So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill the statement he had spoken: “I did not lose any of those you have given me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath. Shall I not drink the cup my Father has given me?” 12 Then the company of soldiers, their commander, and the Jewish guards arrested Jesus and bound him. 

And so it begins. The promise God first made to fallen mankind in the Garden of Eden was about to be fulfilled. A Savior needed to come to crush sin, death, and the devil. The Son of God had prepared for the fulfillment of this promise by containing himself in a human body and living his entire time on earth without sin. Now it was time for Jesus to place himself into the hands or sinners and to allow them to inflict the most horrifying tortures on him that they could. After Jesus left the Upper Room in Jerusalem, where he celebrated the Passover with his disciples, they traveled to a garden called Gethsemane. John doesn’t record the details of Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane or the things he told his disciples while they were there. This information was already covered in the other Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Instead, John describes how Jesus again showed that he is the Son of God and his complete willingness to go through everything that needed to happen for our salvation.

Why did Jesus choose to go to Gethsemane? During his last several days in Jerusalem, Jesus didn’t look for accommodations in town. Each night he took his disciples out to this same place. Jesus knew that Judas the betrayer was going to lead a company of soldiers to arrest him. Jesus didn’t try to hide. He wanted to be found so he could be arrested and begin the battle for our salvation. Jesus went to the most obvious place for Judas to look for him.

When his captors arrived, Jesus went to face them alone. Here again he provided convincing proof that he is the Son of God. When his captors declared that they working looking for Jesus of Nazareth, he replied, “I am he.” With those words, the Son of God displayed his power for all to see. His captors backed away and fell to the ground, utterly helpless. Jesus could have forced them to stay on the ground while he walked away. He could have filled them with such pain and terror that they would have fled the scene with no desire to ever challenge Jesus again. He could have ended their lives in a moment. Jesus proved to Judas and to all who were gathered there that he was in total control of the situation.

But Jesus would not walk away from his assigned task. His Father’s will needed to be carried out. Jesus again stated that he was the one they were looking for. He attached the demand that those who were with him must be allowed to go free. Jesus knew it was necessary for him to suffer the penalty our sins required completely by himself. No one could help him carry his cross. He also knew that everything must be fulfilled as God decided. Jesus promised earlier in John 6:39 that none of those given to him would be lost. Jesus made sure this happened before he was arrested.

Finally, Peter could take no more of the situation. He drew his sword and injured a servant of the high priest. But Jesus immediately stepped in and put an end to the fight. The Son of God didn’t need Peter to save him. Jesus already proved he could cast the whole contingent of soldiers to the ground with no help from anyone. Jesus needed to save Peter, just like he needed to save all of us. For that to happen, Jesus needed to drink the cup of suffering his heavenly Father put before him. There would be no more delays. Jesus healed the servant of the high priest whom Peter injured. (See Luke 22:51) Then he gave himself into the hands of his captors.

As he was being arrested Jesus said, “Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour—when darkness rules.” (Luke 22:53) The powers of darkness would have their time of triumph. The Son of God offered no resistance as they did their worst to him. But as Jesus allowed this to happen, he already knew the outcome of the battle. He would drink the cup his Father gave him. By his suffering and death, the powers of darkness would be defeated. Even in the midst of what seemed like a crushing defeat, the Son of God triumphed. As a result, we triumph as do all who stand firm on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ and the salvation he brings.

Discussion Questions

1 – Even though Jesus was about to be arrested, how did he show his total control over the events in the Garden of Gethsemane?
Jesus showed that those who wanted to arrest him had no power over him. As he said the words “I am he,” he forced his captors to fall to the ground. Jesus also said he was going to drink the cup his heavenly Father gave him. God had always planned the events of Jesus suffering and death would happen. Jesus’ captors didn’t force Jesus to submit to the brutal treatment he was about to endure. Jesus willingly allowed these things to happen for our salvation

2 – Jesus drove all his captors to the ground with a few simple words, yet they refused to put their trust in him. What does this tell us about our faith in Jesus Christ?
Scripture says “No one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:3) Saving faith in Jesus is a gift that only the Lord God can give us. We do not come to faith in Jesus by our own decision.

3 – Verse 9 said that Jesus didn’t lose any of those his heavenly Father gave him. What comfort can we take from the way Jesus took care of his disciples at the Garden of Gethsemane?
Our Lord Jesus not only protected his disciples at the time of his arrest, he protects all of his disciples for all time. Jesus promised at the end of Matthew 28 that all authority in heaven and earth belong to him. He will be with his followers to the very end and finally take those who trusted in him to be with him in heaven.

4 – Peter thought he was helping Jesus by drawing his sword and fighting against Jesus’ captors. What lesson did Jesus need to teach him?
Jesus didn’t need Peter to save him. The almighty Son of God could have easily defeated his captors or anyone else who stood against him. If he truly wanted help he could have called on his heavenly Father to send him thousands of angels. (See Matthew 26:53) But Peter needed to understand that he needed Jesus to save him. Jesus needed to drink the cup of suffering and death to take away Peter’s sins, just as we needed Jesus to drink this cup to save us.

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 44 – John 17:13-26

13 “But now I am coming to you, and I am saying these things in the world, so that they may be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. The world hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I am not asking that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the Evil One. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I also sent them into the world. 19 I sanctify myself for them, so they also may be sanctified by the truth. 20 “I am praying not only for them, but also for those who believe in me through their message. 21 May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me. 22 I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one: 23 I in them, and you in me. May they become completely one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am so that they may see my glory—the glory you gave me because you loved me before the world’s foundation. 25 Righteous Father, the world did not know you, but I knew you, and these men knew that you sent me. 26 I made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love you have for me may be in them and that I may be in them.”

In this section of God’s Word, Jesus continues his prayer to his heavenly Father before he and his disciples depart for the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus already knew the outcome of the time of suffering he was about to endure. He would endure bitter anguish and death unlike anyone has ever or will ever endure. But he also knew that his mission would be successful. He would rise from the dead and return triumphant to his heavenly Father. This was God’s plan from eternity. Everything would happen just as God decided. But there were some difficult days ahead for Jesus’ followers. Jesus would soon be leaving this world to return to his heavenly Father. But his disciples would remain in a world where many people would hate them just as they hated Jesus. His disciples needed some real encouragement. That is what Jesus prayed for in this final portion of his prayer.

Please notice that Jesus is also praying for you. In verse 20 he said that he prayed “For those who believe in me through their message.” This prayer extends to all Jesus’ followers for all time. What does Jesus ask for as he prays for you? First he wants you to be filed with joy. He has given you his Word to show you that he endured the cross and the grave for you. Because of Jesus, you aren’t of this world just as Jesus is not of this world. No matter what your sins are, Jesus gave his life to forgive them. Be filled with joy knowing that this world is only your temporary dwelling place. Heaven is your home, where you will be with Jesus forever.

Why doesn’t Jesus take us to heaven now? We’ve probably all asked that question many times in our lives. Especially in difficult times, we wish we could just leave the troubles of this world behind and go to our eternal home now. But now is not the time. We still have work to do. Jesus is sending us into the world, just as he sent his disciples into the world. Jesus sent a messenger into our lives to bring us the good news of the Gospel. He wants us to now pass on that saving good news. For that work, we are going to need some real protection. Satan will try everything he can to lead us astray. He will accuse us of our sins. He will show us how guilty we are and how we deserve God’s judgement. He will try to tell us that God could never love us after everything we’ve done. On other occasions he will try a different approach. He will tell us that our sins aren’t that bad. Just keep doing whatever you want. Surely God won’t be mad at you after all the good things you’ve done.

Jesus prayed that his heavenly Father would protect us from the devil. He prayed that God would, “Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth.” (Verse 17) The word “sanctify” means to “make holy.” God’s Word protects us from the devil through the Law by telling us not to believe the devil’s lies. Our sins do condemn us before God. We aren’t good enough for salvation by our works. But then he also protects us through the Gospel. He tells us again not to believe the devil’s lies. Your Lord loves you despite your sins. Jesus took away your guilt so that you are now made holy in God’s eyes. God’s Word destroys protects you from the devil by making you holy and keeping you holy through faith in Jesus Christ.

Finally our Lord wants us to be one with him. Just imagine that. The Son of God wants to be united with sinful human beings like us. He wants us to see his eternal glory and share in that glory with him in heaven. Such unity is not achieved by the ecumenical efforts of some church bodies today. We don’t become united by saying we’re all one no matter what we believe. We’re not united by saying all religions worship the same God or that God will ultimately take everyone to heaven. Remember the words of Jesus in John 14:6. “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.” We are united with God only through faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Don’t look for any other way to be united with God. Stand firm in Christ alone. Trust in the gracious promises he has given you in his Word. Believe that no one comes to eternal life in heaven except through him. Then you will be filled with joy that cannot be taken from you. Then you will be ready for the day when your Lord will take you out of this world to your true home in heaven.

Discussion Questions

1 – How does our Lord protect us from the attacks of the devil?
He protects us through his Word. The Word of God defeats the devil’s accusations by assuring us that our sins are fully forgiven in Jesus Christ. The devil has no more power to accuse us. When he tries to weigh us down with the guilt of our sins, we can answer with the good news of the Gospel, which assures us of our salvation in Christ alone.

2 – What important truths does Jesus teach us about his Word in verse 17?
Jesus said “Your Word is truth.” The Holy Scriptures are completely without error. God does not lie. Every word he speaks to us is the truth. We can trust that all his promises for us never change. His Word is also powerful. We are sanctified “made holy” through the Holy Scriptures. The Gospel in Word and Sacrament is the means our Lord chooses to bring us to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

3 – What special assurance does verse 24 bring to you?
Jesus wants you to be with him and to see him in his heavenly glory. Jesus does more than just wish for this. Jesus did everything to accomplish his goal through his life, death, and resurrection. Trust in him as your Savior and you will one day go to be with him and share in his glory.

4 – What strong promises about his work did Jesus make at the conclusion of his prayer?
Jesus made his heavenly Father known during his time on earth. He continues to make God known to us as he sends his Word out into the world. Through Jesus Christ, the love of God remains in us.

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 43 – John 17:1-12

After Jesus had spoken these things, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you. For you gave him authority over all flesh, so that he may give eternal life to all those you have given him. This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me at your own side with the glory I had at your side before the world existed. “I revealed your name to the men you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me, and they have held on to your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me, and they received them. They learned the truth that I came from you. They believed that you sent me. 9“I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, because they are yours. 10 All that is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine. And I am glorified in them. 11 I am no longer going to be in the world, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by your name, which you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept those you gave me safe in your name. I protected them and not one of them was destroyed, except the son of destruction, so that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

Jesus’ quiet time with his disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem was coming to an end. Soon he would head to the Garden of Gethsemane where the final battle for our salvation would begin. But, before he departed, Jesus looked up to heaven to speak to his heavenly Father in prayer. Jesus needed to pray for himself, for his disciples, and for us and all who would one day trust in him as our Savior.

Jesus knew what was about to happen. He was about to endure sufferings that we cannot begin to comprehend. We can’t fathom the crushing burden of sin that was placed on Jesus. We can never fully understand the sorrow Jesus would feel as his own heavenly Father needed to reject his Son, so Jesus could face all of God’s anger against sin. But the Son of God did fully understand that all these things needed to happen. Our salvation depended on it.

Jesus didn’t complain about the unjust treatment he was about to receive. He didn’t ask for his suffering to be removed or even reduced. He prayed that God the Father would glorify his Son and that Jesus would glorify his heavenly Father. Jesus would be glorified when his mission was brought to a successful completion through his suffering, death, and resurrection. The power of Satan would be crushed as God promised after mankind fell into sin. (Genesis 3:15) The Father would also be glorified because he sent his Son to do this gracious work for our salvation, Both Father and Son are glorified with every soul that comes to eternal life in heaven through faith in Jesus.

Jesus also prayed for his closest followers who were there with him on that night. They spent the better part of three years with Jesus. They heard his teaching. They saw his miracles. God graciously worked in them so that Peter could boldly confess the faith they all shared, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) Jesus prayed for these men. He protected them for the last three years from all harm and danger. But now his time in the world was almost over. But the disciples would remain in the world. Jesus lovingly placed them into the hands of his heavenly Father. He prayed that his Father would continue to protect them. This wouldn’t mean they would never suffer. Most of the disciples eventually died martyr’s deaths. But Jesus prayed that his Father would protect them that they would remain one in faith and finally come to the eternal inheritance Jesus won for them.

Sadly one of the disciples would be lost. Psalm 41:9 foretold, “Even a man who was at peace with me, a man whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has raised up his heel to step on me.” Judas wasn’t lost because Jesus’ divine protection failed. He was lost because his love of money caused him to reject Jesus to satisfy his greed.

Notice that Jesus’ prayer also applies to us. In verse 9 we hear that Jesus prayed for all whom God the Father gave him. We have heard Jesus’ teachings in the Holy Scriptures. The Holy Spirit convinced us through Word and Sacrament that Jesus is the Christ. He is the true Son of God. He brought glory to his Father and himself by winning our salvation also. He continues to place his divine protection over us, so the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh will not overcome us. By the grace of God through faith in Jesus we remain united as one with all those who share this precious trust with us.

Discussion Questions

1 – Before Jesus departed for the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed to his heavenly Father. What was the main focus of the opening portion of Jesus’ prayer?
Jesus prayed that he would bring glory to his heavenly Father by completing the work of saving us from our sins. He prayed that his Father would glorify him by allowing him to successfully complete his mission by his suffering, death, and resurrection.

2 – What did Jesus teach us about eternal life in verse 3?
Eternal life comes to us through faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. This means we believe that Jesus Christ is true God, who also became true man in order to carry out our salvation. We confess that we could do nothing to save ourselves because we are sinners. Jesus alone completed the work of our salvation when he gave his life to forgive us of our sins. He then rose again to give eternal life to all who trust in him. There is no other means by which we are saved.

3 – Jesus prayed for his disciples. How had these men become his followers?
Our Lord graciously revealed himself to these men through the saving message he proclaimed. By the grace of God these men believed the truth. Convinced by God that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, they held onto his message so that they remained disciples of Jesus.

4 – It has been said that, “Christians are in the world but not of the world.” How would you explain that statement?
We are residents of this world. But this world is only our temporary home. We look forward to the day when our Lord Jesus will return to take us to our true home, which is heaven.

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 42 – John 16:17-33

Therefore some of his disciples asked one another, “What does he mean when he tells us, ‘In a little while you are not going to see me, and again in a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going away to the Father’?” 18 So they kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he’s saying.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you trying to determine with one another what I meant by saying, ‘In a little while you are not going to see me, and again in a little while you will see me’? 20 Amen, Amen, I tell you: You will weep and wail, but the world will rejoice. You will become sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth has pain, because her time has come. But when she has delivered the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, because of her joy that a person has been born into the world. 22 “So you also have sorrow now. But I will see you again. Your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. 23 In that day you will not ask me anything. Amen, Amen, I tell you: Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask, and you will receive, so that your joy may be made complete. 25 “I have told you these things using figurative language. A time is coming when I will no longer speak to you using figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I am not telling you that I will make requests of the Father on your behalf. 27 For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am going to leave the world and go to the Father.” 29 “Yes!” his disciples said. “Now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative language. 30 Now we know that you know everything and do not need to have anyone ask you anything. For this reason we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Now do you believe? 32 Listen, a time is coming, in fact it is here, when you will be scattered, everyone to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not going to be alone, because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you these things, so that you may have peace in me. In this world you are going to have trouble. But be courageous! I have overcome the world.”

In our previous lesson Jesus told his disciples he had much more to tell them that they couldn’t bear to hear at the moment. (See John 16:12) We can see evidence that the disciples were already reaching the limit of what they could take in at that time. Jesus told them that in a little while they wouldn’t see him anymore, but then in a little while they would see him again. What did Jesus mean by a little while? Where was he going? How long would he be gone? When would they see him again? Didn’t Jesus realize how much his followers needed him? Jesus saw their confusion. He saw they needed some encouragement. Jesus gave them the truth they so badly needed to hear. It is a truth we continue to need to hear today.

Jesus once again used an earthly example to get his point across. When a woman goes into labor it can be an extremely painful experience. Until her child is born there seems to be no end to the pain she is experiencing. But once the baby is born her pain is quickly forgotten. She is filled with happiness as she holds her new child in her arms for the first time. Jesus’ disciples would be filled with agony as Jesus died on the cross. Think of John who stood at the foot of the cross and watched Jesus’ life slip away. All the while John must have felt great pain knowing there was nothing he could do to help Jesus. But imagine the joy John and the other disciples felt when they saw Jesus alive again. Their joy couldn’t be taken away. It was necessary for Jesus to die to fulfill the task given to him. But once he rose from the dead, he can never die again.

Notice that Jesus used a double “Amen” twice in our Scripture reading. He is saying “Yes it shall be so” twice to emphasize this will happen. Nothing can stop his promises from being fulfilled. The first double “Amen” made it clear that the disciples sorrow when Jesus was taken away would only be temporary. They would soon see him alive again and their joy would never end.

The second double “Amen” is followed by this promise: “Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask, and you will receive, so that your joy may be made complete.” This doesn’t mean that you can ask God to make you the wealthiest or the most powerful person in the world and he will give it to you. What Jesus is saying is that by his death and resurrection he is forgiving your sins so you can to come directly to your heavenly Father in prayer. Your Father in heaven will graciously hear your prayers. He will always answer by giving you what is best for you to have. This will make your joy complete. God never gives a bad answer to our prayers. God’s answer is always perfect. His answer will provide you what you need to remain on the path to eternal life that Jesus won for you.

Notice the results of the explanation Jesus gave his disciples. Their confusion was cleared up. They believed that Jesus came directly from God. He is the Messiah that God promised to send. They still had much to learn. Jesus told them this. A severe trial was waiting just ahead of them. They would all abandon Jesus in his time of need. But they didn’t need to despair. Jesus would triumph. His victory would be their victory as well. They would soon have the peace of knowing that eternal life in heaven was made certain for them by the work of Jesus.

We can take heart also. Jesus gives us the warning that we will often have trouble in this world. This will be true of all who follow Jesus. But be courageous. Jesus has overcome the world for you. He has taken away your guilt. Heaven is your home. Be at peace knowing that soon your joy will be made complete. Jesus will return to take you to the eternal home he prepared for you.

Discussion Questions

1 – How would the disciples’ grief soon be turned to joy?
The day after Jesus spoke these words he died on the cross. But their grief would be short-lived. Soon after Jesus would rise from the grave with the sure promise that all who trust in him as their Savior have eternal life in heaven.

2 – How does Jesus turn our grief into joy today?
Sin will cause much pain for us. Especially sin condemns us and tells us we have no place with God. But our Lord turns our grief to joy with the assurance that all our sins are paid for. Nothing can happen in this world that can ever separate us from God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.

3 – What change did Jesus bring in our relationship with God the Father?
As sinful human beings we had no right to approach God. We had no place in his presence since God his holy and we are not. But Jesus made us holy as he took away our sins. He has opened the way for us to approach God in prayer. We don’t need to approach him in terror. We come to him boldly and confidently as children can approach a beloved father.

4 – What assurance does Jesus give to us when we suffer in his name?
Jesus has already triumphed over the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh. Because he triumphed, we will triumph also. We stand on Jesus and the salvation he brings. This is a sure foundation that God’s enemies cannot overcome.

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