Week 12: The Gospels, Part 2

Assigned Reading

DAY 1: John 8-10; Luke 15

Jesus ministers to a woman caught in adultery. Jesus teaches that he is the light of the world, sent by the Father to bring life to those who believe; he warns, “unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (8:24). Jesus explains that the one who commits sin is a slave to sin, but promises to set sinners free.

When the Jews boast that they are children (descendants) of Abraham, Jesus rebukes them for being children of the devil because they refuse to believe in him and seek to kill him. The Jews try to stone Jesus when he claims to be the eternal God, greater than Abraham himself.

Jesus heals a blind man and explains that the man was born blind “that the works of God might be displayed in him” (9:3).

Jesus teaches that he is the good shepherd and will lay down his life for the sheep (i.e. on the cross). The Jews try to stone Jesus again when he states “I and the Father are one,” thus claiming to be God.

Luke 15 records three of Jesus’ parables; each illustrates the same message: God rejoices when lost sinners repent and come home. Matthew Henry notes that the popular Parable of the Prodigal Son (v.11-32) “will be while the world stands, of unspeakable use to poor sinners, both to direct and to encourage them in repenting and returning to God.”

DAY 2: John 11-13; Luke 22:17-20

Jesus teaches that he is the resurrection and the life, then raises his friend Lazarus—the brother of Mary and Martha—from the dead. Some of the Jews believe, but others plot to kill him because they see Jesus as a threat to their influence and authority. Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, inadvertently prophecies that Jesus will die a substitutionary death for the sins of his people. Mary anoints Jesus with costly oil, and Jesus says that it is for his burial.

Jesus arrives at Jerusalem and makes his “Triumphal Entry” into the city while riding on a donkey, fulfilling a prophecy from Zechariah 9:9. The crowd waves palm branches and shouts “Hosanna!” which means, “Salvation has come!” Jesus teaches that he (the Son of Man) must be lifted up (i.e. on the cross) so that like a grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, he may bring forth much fruit (i..e. bring many to salvation).

Although many people refuse to believe in him, Jesus explains that he came to save the world, not to judge the world; those who reject Jesus actually reject the Father and will be judged “on the last day” if they persist in their unbelief.

Jesus washes the feet of the disciples and foretells that one of them (Judas Iscariot) will betray him. Jesus gives his disciples “a new commandment”:  “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (13:34). Jesus foretells that Peter will deny him three times before the rooster crows.

Luke 22:17-20 records how Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper and teaches that the new covenant is sealed by the blood he will shed on the cross.

DAY 3: John 14-16

Jesus tells his disciples that he will go to heaven to prepare a place for them and one day return so that they can be with him forever. Jesus teaches, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (14:6). Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit—another “Comforter” (KJV) or “Helper” (ESV)—to dwell within them.

Key Concept — Indwelling of the Holy Spirit: Jesus said that the Holy Spirit was with his disciples “and would be in them.” Acts chapter 2 records how, after Jesus left the earth, the disciples stayed in Jerusalem and prayed until the Holy Spirit came. Since then, everyone who is born again by the Spirit is immediately indwelled by the Spirit. Romans 8:9 explains, “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (emphasis added). See also 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Galatians 4:6.

Jesus teaches that he is the true vine: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (15:5). Those who do not abide in Christ are “thrown into the fire” (15:6), i.e. hell; however, Jesus assures us that if we keep his commandments, we will abide in his love, that our joy may be full. Jesus warns that his disciples may be hated by the world because he too was hated by the world.

Jesus teaches on the work of the coming Holy Spirit. Although Jesus tells his disciples they will endure sorrow and hardship, he promises them joy and peace, and offers the encouragement, “I have overcome the world” (16:33).

DAY 4: John 17-19

Chapter 17 records what is commonly called “The High Priestly Prayer.” After praying for himself as he prepares to face the cross, Jesus intercedes for his disciples and for all believers in all times. This is one of the few places where we have a window into Jesus’ communion with the Father. After Jesus completed his earthly ministry, he ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father and continue to intercede for us until the day when he returns to gather his saints to heaven.

Chapters 18-19 record the betrayal, death, and burial of Jesus. After Judas Iscariot hands Jesus over to a Jewish mob in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus is forced to stand trial before religious and civil authorities. Pilate, the Roman governor, finds Jesus innocent, but the Jews demand that he be crucified. Pilate has Jesus flogged—severely beaten within an inch of his life—hoping to appease the crowd, but the Jews still shout “crucify him!” (19:15). Jesus is crucified while his family and followers look on, and cries “It is finished” (19:30) before breathing his last breath.

Key Concept — “It is Finished”: The basis of our salvation is the finished work of Christ. The debt we owed to God because of our sins was “paid in full” by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. His one-time atonement for sin is sufficient for all people of all times. If we ask God to forgive us on the basis of Christ’s atonement, we will be saved. Our good works do not contribute to our salvation—the work is finished!

Jesus is buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, one of Jesus’ disciples; Nicodemus (who we now learn has decided to follow Jesus, cf. John 3) helps to prepare the body for burial.

Additional reading (recommended): Psalm 22

DAY 5: John 20-21; Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 24:44-53

On the first day of the week (i.e. Sunday morning), Mary Magdelene sees that the stone that covered Jesus’ tomb was rolled away. John is the first to believe that Jesus has risen from the dead, and soonafter Jesus begins appearing to his disciples, including Thomas who refuses to believe unless he sees the nail prints in the hands of Jesus. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (20:29). Jesus continues to eat with and instruct his disciples for forty days.

Key Concept – The Resurrection: Nearly every time that the gospel is preached in the New Testament, the resurrection is appealed to as corroborating evidence. In 1 Corinthians 15:11, Paul contends that the resurrection is a matter of “first importance” and a historically verifiable fact. In addition to his disciples, Jesus appeared to more than 500 people at one time, most of whom were still alive at that time of Paul’s writing and could have been questioned about what they saw. The New Testament records eyewitness testimony for all generations. If Jesus rose from the dead, his teachings must be true. Do you believe? “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

Matthew 28:16-20 records “The Great Commission” given by Jesus to his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

Luke 24:44-53 records Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit; afterwards, Jesus ascends into heaven in the sight of his disciples.


Study Exercises

When exercises require a written response, either (1) record your answers in a journal or (2) email your answers to a pastor or class leader who can give you feedback.

    1. What questions do you have about this week’s reading?
    2. The Jews tried to stone Jesus when he said, “before Abraham was, I am.” In light of Exodus 3:13-14, who was Jesus claiming to be?
    3. Jesus teaches in John 14:6 that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” How does this compare to the popular idea that there are many paths/religions that lead to God and that anyone who is a “good person” will go to heaven?
    4. According to John 14:15, what is the test of whether or not we love Jesus? How does this compare to what Jesus said to Peter in John 21:15-19?
    5. According to John 15:26, 16:8, and 16:13, what is the work of the Holy Spirit in the world?
    6. Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus as one who was pierced, crushed, oppressed, afflicted, chastised, cut off, and slaughtered for our sins; it mentions his wounds, stripes, anguish, sorrow, grief, and affliction. Research Roman flogging and crucifixion, and write a few paragraphs about what it would have been like for Jesus to endure these sufferings.
    7. Although Jesus was crushed on the cross, he rose again in victory. In light of Genesis 3:15, who was actually defeated on the cross?
    8. Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. What six people or groups of people does Paul say that Jesus appeared to after his resurrection?
    9. If you have become a disciple of Jesus, you have also been called to make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20). Write down the names of three people that you would like to (1) lead to faith in Jesus and (2) take responsibility for discipling.
    10. Copy the Apostles’ Creed, an ancient statement of Christian beliefs, into the front or back of your hard copy of the Bible:
      I believe in God the Father Almighty,
      maker of heaven and earth;
      And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
      who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
      born of the Virgin Mary,
      suffered under Pontius Pilate,
      was crucified, dead, and buried;
      the third day he rose from the dead;
      he ascended into heaven,
      and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
      from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
      I believe in the Holy Spirit,
      the holy catholic* church,
      the communion of saints,
      the forgiveness of sins,
      the resurrection of the body,
      and the life everlasting. Amen.
      *Note: “catholic” means “universal,” i.e. God’s people in all times and places, and is not to be confused with the Roman Catholic Church.