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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


Gospel of John Daily notes

John 19:7: The satisfaction of the law.

John 19:7: The satisfaction of the law.

“7 The Jewish leaders insisted, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.’ NIV

”We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

There is no doubt that Jesus died because He claimed to be God. Whatever other reasons His enemies may have given; whatever other charges they brought, this was why they wanted Him dead. He claimed divinity, and that was just beyond the pale. He was a blasphemer and too bad for this world. That was their viewpoint. (Don’t forget that in the resurrection and ascension a ‘higher court’ was overturning the human verdict.)

It is ironic that Jesus died ”because he claimed to be the Son of God.” The truth is, only the Son of God could die for our sins. The hymn writer got to the heart of the matter:

”There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.”

It was not their law! We have a way of calling ours what really belongs to God. For example we speak of ‘my’ church, or ‘our’ church, and we often behave like it is. But it’s not ours. And it was not their law. It was (and is) God’s law. According to this law we must die. We have broken it. We are ‘criminals’ before the law of God. But Jesus became the willing substitute to die in our place, taking for us the punishment our ‘crimes’ deserve.

God has a law and according to that law we must die. But now we can live because of the sacrifice of Jesus.

This is amazing grace.

PRAYER: ”Thank you Jesus for your love for me; thank you Jesus for your grace so free.”

John 19:8-10: Silence is golden.

John 19:8-10: Silence is golden.

“8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. ‘Where do you come from?’ he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 ‘Do you refuse to speak to me?’ Pilate said. ‘Don’t you realise I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’ NIV

”…but Jesus gave him no answer” (9b)

Here’s a saying I heard a few years back: ”No answer was the stern reply.” There is a place for such silence in human interactions.

There is no doubt about who is in control here and it is not Pilate. Silence can be intimidating. Pilate was no doubt used to people flattering him or fearing him, and perhaps a mixture of both. But Jesus was not scared of him, and that was possibly unnerving for Pilate. He wasn’t used to this. He seems out of his depth; way out of his comfort zone; thrown to some extent by the unique and mysterious figure stood before him – a man who ”claimed to be the Son of God” (7). I think Pilate sensed something very different in Jesus.

There is ”…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). It takes wisdom to know the difference.

We are not obligated to reply to every question.

We certainly don’t have to answer immediately.

On the other side of this, when asking questions of other people we can be too quick to fill in the silences. Perhaps It makes us feel awkward or embarrassed. But learn to let the question hang in the air sometimes.

Silence can be powerful.

”Know this, my beloved brothers, let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” (James 1:19; see Ecclesiastes 5:2)

John 19:1-6: What fear can do.

John 19:1-6: What fear can do.

“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they slapped him in the face.Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.’ When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify! Crucify!’But Pilate answered, ‘You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.’ NIV

It is obvious that Pontius Pilate was afraid (8), and fear can be a dangerous thing. 

”Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

Out of fear, Pilate went along with the crowd (18:40 – 19:1). He was swayed by the loudest voices (12, 13). As powerfully as the voice of conscience spoke to him, the voices in the angry mob registered more deeply. He was scared. He sought to save his life (12) – to protect what he had: position, influence, privilege etc. But He lost it. He heard the implicit threat in their shouted words, and he backed off. He wanted to save Jesus; but he wanted his life in the governor’s palace even more.

Out of fear, Pilate did not live up to his deepest, truest convictions. He knew that Jesus was innocent (4,6). He was without excuse. The Lord should not have been ”flogged” (1), let alone crucified. Pilate knew something important and true about Jesus, but He did not act according to that knowledge. There was a credibility gap between what his head and heart most assuredly knew and where his feet went. Does this remind you of anyone. I heard Rick Warren highlight a problem we have in the evangelical world, namely that we know far more than we do.

I was thinking also that there is a form of ‘worship’, where we repeatedly gather and use the right words, and we try to dress Jesus in ”purple” robes of praise, but it will be like a slap in the face to Him if our hearts are not right. From such outward forms, without real power, may God the Holy Spirit deliver us.

John 16:25-33: On top of the world!

John 16:25-33: On top of the world!

“25 ‘Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, 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 entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.’29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, ‘Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.’31 ‘Do you now believe?’ Jesus replied. 32 ‘A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.33 ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ NIV

Here is a truth you will discover sooner or later if you haven’t already done so: people can be fickle. You will probably, in the course of your lifetime, be wounded, and feel let down by and disappointed in people who you thought were your friends. You loved them, and served them; you treated them kindly and courteously, and then one day you find yourself bleeding copiously from a ‘knife wound’ they inflicted on you. And it hurts so much. Sometimes the cut goes that deep you feel you will never recover. At least, you can’t imagine the scar fading.

Many years ago, as a rather naive eighteen year old, I asked a Ugandan student in Bible College how he found people in the UK. His deadpan response was, ”People are people brother.” As someone said, ”The best of men are men at best.” We are all fallen, flawed and frail and capable of damaging as well as being damaged. ”People are people”.

In this world Jesus had trouble – terrible trouble. He soaked up the hatred and violence of His enemies. But He was also badly let down, when ‘push came to shove’, by his closest friends. He had spent around three years with these men, and poured His life and love into them. He had given Himself unstintingly to them. Even as they were telling Him that they were beginning to ‘get it’; that they were starting to understand His specialness, His uniqueness, He knew that they were about to let Him down big time.

”Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it – saving your own skins and abandoning me.” The Message.

Like Jesus we will have trouble in this world. It will come predominantly from an antagonistic culture. But probably too much will come our way from fellow disciples who ought to know better. (Yet, knowing the worst about ourselves, we are not surprised, even if we are saddened.) How do you deal with this? Jesus points the way by example and word:

  1. Remember you are never alone. The Father will not abandon His beloved child.
  2. Recognise that in Jesus, the ‘Prince of Peace’ there is peace. ‘He is our peace’. In this world we will have trouble. But there’s a deeper reality: first and foremost we are in Jesus
  3. Realise that Christ is the Victor and we share in His victory. I believe that in one version Jesus, having spelled out that in the world His disciples will have trouble, goes on to say, ”But cheer up. I’m on top of it.” That’s important to remember. In fact, never let it out of your sight.

John 16: 17-22: Any Answers?

John 16: 17-22: Any Answers?

“17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,” and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ 18 They kept asking, ‘What does he mean by “a little while”? We don’t understand what he is saying.’19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, ‘Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me”? 20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” NIV

”Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said…?” (19) The Message.

Questions, questions, questions! It is not wrong to ask questions. Rather it is natural and normal to have them. Life throws up scores of questions.

It’s not wrong either to talk with fellow disciples about our questions. The essence of fellowship is ‘sharing’, and we can and should open up our hearts, our thoughts to one another. We really can help each other.

Neither is it wrong to try to ”figure” out what Jesus means. God has given you a wonderful brain. It is a remarkable gift. We are told that we don’t come anywhere close to fully utilising its capacity. So, by all means, please use the grey stuff between your ears. Be a thinking Christian…

…but do this PRAYERFULLY.

It is a big mistake to ask questions that pertain to Jesus, His Word and His work, and not ask Him WHEN HE IS WITH US. It is sad when we run the church by committee meetings and brainstorming sessions and good ideas, but do not pray – or, at least, pray only perfunctorily:

”If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

Sometimes we just don’t do the obvious:

”Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant…” (19) The Message.

So why don’t we?  Is it that we think the Lord might ‘find fault’ with us; might scold us for our stupidity or ignorance? Might be somewhat annoyed or irritated? 

Jesus is willing to explain to us as much as He wants us to know. He doesn’t unveil every mystery of course, but He is alive, and He speaks to His followers. I thought about entitling this piece ‘Any questions?’, but in the end I went for ‘Any answers?’ His answers are far more important than our questions. We will not always find what He says to us easy to bear, but we can trust Him to be truthful. Whatever pain may lie in the short term, over the long haul the outlook is glorious. The Christian story is a ”happy ever after” story.

And a day is coming when we will have all the answers we need.

But for today, what pressing, burning questions do you need to lay at Jesus’ feet? Come – He bids you, and at His door you will see the ‘welcome’ mat.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord Jesus that you speak to your disciples still today, and that you are willing to help. Please forgive me for the many times I try to work through stuff on my own. I ask today for your wisdom with regard to…(fill in the blanks yourself), and I trust that I will be given help and understanding. Thank you Lord.

John 16:12-16: The promised Holy Spirit.

John 16:12-16: The promised Holy Spirit.

12 ‘I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.’ 16 Jesus went on to say, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.’NIV

There are many true things we can say about the Holy Spirit.Here are three further points:

  1. The Holy Spirit reveals truth (13, 15). We would not have a Bible without the Holy Spirit, and we cannot understand it without the Spirit. In Ephesians Paul prays that the ”eyes” of the hearts of the believers will be opened. Such revelation is made possible only by the Holy Spirit. He gives us ‘eyes to see’. In a sense every Christian testimony says, ”Once I was blind, but now I see.” We are brought out of darkness into marvellous light. We need this passage to understand the doctrine of inspiration; to grasp how the apostles were able to accurately remember the words and works of Jesus, write up the story, and interpret it’s meaning.
  2. The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus (14). Jim Packer writes in his book, ‘Keep in step with the Spirit’ about ”the floodlight ministry” of the Spirit of God. He says that when floodlights are working properly you are not aware of them, only of the building being illuminated. So it is with God’s Spirit. He does not glorify Himself. He puts the spotlight on Jesus. 
  3. The Holy Spirit enables us to ”see” Jesus (16). Although the Lord has physically gone from the earth, and is now at the right Hand of the Father, all who have the Spirit are able to ”see” Him. He is vividly real to us.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, please help me to see Jesus more clearly, to understand God’s Word and to glorify the Lord by life and lip.

John 16:5-11: The Supreme Counsel for the prosecution.

John 16:5-11: The Supreme Counsel for the prosecution.

“5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, “Where are you going?” Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” NIV

I believe I once read somewhere that the great and effective Victorian preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, used to say to himself,every time he was entering the pulpit, ”I believe in the Holy Ghost.” He knew where his strength lay.

Today’s passage says at least three things to us:

  1. Have confidence in the Holy Spirit. He has a job to do, and He will do it. You can be sure of that: ”When he comes, he’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted.” (The Message) He causes people to see fundamental spiritual realities. Believe in His presence and activity in the world, even though you do not see Him. He is at work. You may or may not be a preacher, but every Christian should share Spurgeon’s confidence in the Holy Spirit.
  2. Don’t confuse your role with that of the Holy Spirit. It is not your work to change people. Some  folks seem to see it as their life’s assignment to put everybody else right. If that’s you, you are wrong! Christian wife, you are not asked to do the Holy Spirit’s work with reference to your unconverted husband. And to any Christian husbands with unregenerate spouses, it’s exactly the same message to you. Christian parents, much as you love your children and want to see them in God’s Kingdom, you can’t push them in by force. You can’t badger and bully them into submission. This is not the God appointed way. Please get this: it is not your job to bring another human being under conviction of sin. This task is definitely the domain of the third Person of the Trinity. It’s not the case that we have nothing to do. We have already seen the ‘double testimony’ in (15:26, 27). Jesus said about the Spirit, ”he will testify about me”. But He went on to say, ”you also must testify…” We do have to co-operate with the Holy Spirit in pointing to Jesus, but He is supremely ‘the Counsel for the prosecution.’ Spirit-filled witness is your job; conviction of sin is His unique work.
  3. Look for what the Holy Spirit is doing in every situation you find yourself in. He is working in people and situations where it may appear to the outward eye that nothing promising is happening. Only this morning, I heard a testimony given by a highly influential pastor. He told a story of how as a youth he was totally reprobate. He said he loved his sin. But then his life began to cave in. A friend invited him to a Christian meeting. After attending for a while he bought himself a Bible (‘The Authorised Version’, because that was the one in use in that particular church!) and it began to come alive to him. He was soundly converted. Again, as you read the Book of ‘Acts’, you get the impression time after time that the church is playing ‘catch up’ with the Holy Spirit. They are discovering what He is doing, and joining Him in it. That makes for effective mission. As someone said, the Holy Spirit is ”President” and not just ”resident”.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, as I understand you here, I believe you are saying that I; that we who make up your church today, are in a more advantaged position than were the disciples who lived with you during your earthly life. This is a remarkable, mysterious truth, but we have your Holy Spirit within us. How wonderful. Thank you Lord for your abundant provision.

John 16:1-4:Loving honesty.

John 16:1-4:Loving honesty.

“‘All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you,” NIV

In order to help people, you can’t always tell them what they want to hear. There are times when the only way to protect is by proffering loving honesty. Jesus knows what His disciples need to hear and WHEN they need to hear it (4). You can feel Jesus’ love for His disciples in the content and timing of these words.God has a way of preparing our hearts for times of trouble ahead. I’ve heard people say that they can cope with bad news better when they know precisely what the diagnosis and prognosis are; when they can look what they are facing squarely in the eye. When there’s a vague sense of threat hanging in the air it’s much harder to deal with.

When ”the time comes” they will remember that Jesus knew all about it and prepared them in advance (4). This will strengthen their confidence in Him. It points to the Lordship of Jesus. He (and they) may be under threat, but He is definitely in control.

What had Jesus already told His disciples to keep them ‘on the straight and narrow’?    Here are a few things:

  1. They will be hated (15:18). They are to expect animosity, violence and even death itself. Look how that theme continues here (2);
  2. They will be hated because of their relationship to Jesus (15:18, 20, 21). But the hatred of Jesus, and His church, is irrational (15:25). It is also inexcusable (15:22);
  3. This hatred springs from spiritual ignorance (15:21; 16:3);
  4. In the face of hatred and danger, they ”must” testify to Jesus (15:27). But they are not alone (15:26). The Holy Spirit will do the work. So there is a balanced picture of warning and encouragement. Some people did wholeheartedly obey Jesus’ teaching (20b) so they could anticipate some degree of success.

Let’s be careful to spell out the cost of discipleship to potential (and actual) followers and ask them to count it. And don’t be surprised if you find the Christian life hard; if you find yourself and your message opposed; if you should be socially ostracised. Expect it. If it’s not your experience now, it no doubt will be at some point. Keep going, trusting in the reality of the Holy Spirit. Remember, Jesus knows, and He is in charge of all things.

John 15:26-27: The evangelistic imperative.

John 15:26-27: The evangelistic imperative.

“26 ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” NIV

”And you also must testify…”

It is an imperative for a disciple of Christ to ”testify” to Him. We who have been called into relationship with Jesus; who know Him; who spend time with Him – we are to testify to Him.

But the testimony spoken of here is a double testimony. It is the witness of the Holy Spirit and that of the disciple. In fact, the Holy Spirit is the primary witness. His testimony is mentioned first.

In the first place He testifies about Jesus to us, so that we may know Him more and more.

But, secondly, He testifies about Jesus through us. He is the great evangelist in our world; the foremost missionary and witness to Christ. Without Him all our efforts to spread the gospel will fail.

I like to think, as an illustration, of a gloved hand. To the outward eye it looks like the glove is moving, touching, picking things up.But in reality it is the hand in the glove doing the work. The hand and glove have become as one.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I pray that the Holy Spirit will so fill my life that I become a powerful witness to Jesus. I ask in Christ’s own Name.

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