Home thoughts from

Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


John’s Gospel

John 18:28-32: True to life.

John 18:28-32: True to life

“28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, ‘What charges are you bringing against this man?’30 ‘If he were not a criminal,’ they replied, ‘we would not have handed him over to you.’31 Pilate said, ‘Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.’‘But we have no right to execute anyone,’ they objected. 32 This took place to fulfil what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die.”

There is a story, probably apocryphal, about a preacher who wrote a note to self at a particular point in the margin of his manuscript. It said, ‘Argument weak; shout louder!’

There is something so true to life as we know it in this reading. When Pilate asked the Jewish leaders what charge they were bringing against Jesus, they didn’t answer his question. Instead they bridled; they got prickly. ”If he were not a criminal…we would not have handed him over to you” (30). Their argument was flimsy (in fact they didn’t have a leg to stand on), so they ratcheted up the volume. Doesn’t this resonate with what we know of life? Maybe in conversation with someone you expose the weakness of their position. But instead of conceding the point; rather than proving teachable, they get angry instead and come out fighting. By trying to shout louder than anyone else they fight to bolster their untenable position.

But Pilate’s further words revealed what was truly going on (31, 32). They weren’t interested in truth. They didn’t want to be bothered with the facts. They just wanted Jesus dead. The Jews did not have the power of the death penalty, so they needed the rubber stamp from Rome.

The gospel account emphasises the point that Pilate knew he was punishing an innocent man (29, 38). Jesus was sacrificed to the malice of His enemies and the expediency of the Roman governor. Whatever truth was, Pilate was not sufficiently concerned about it to lose his job.

Yet even against such a dark back drop the truth shines out that God is in control (32). He always is. So shout as loudly as you wish. You will never get rid of Christ. Even when you think you’ve succeeded, you will find that He is back come the third day!

John 14:15-24: ‘Love does’.

John 14:15-24: ‘Love does’.

 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” NIV

Bob Goff wrote a book entitled ‘Love does’. 

Jesus clearly stated that love for Him will show itself in action – in obedience to His teaching (15, 23, 24). In addition, He made a wonderful promise of fellowship with the Father and Himself for those who walk in loving obedience.

In Bishop J.C. Ryle’s book ‘Holiness’, he has a chapter headed ”Lovest thou me?”. It is based on Jesus’ challenging question to Peter (John 21:16). Here is an extract from this wonderful and practical chapter: 

”If we love a person, we like to please him. We are glad to consult his tastes and opinions, to act upon his advice, and do the things which he approves. We even deny ourselves to meet his wishes, abstain from things which we know he dislikes, and learn things to do which we are not naturally inclined, because we think it will give him pleasure. Well, it is just so between the Christian and Christ! The true Christian studies to please Him, by being holy both in body and spirit. Show him anything in his daily practice that Christ hates, and he will give it up. Show him anything that Christ delights in, and he will follow after it. He does not murmur at Christ’s requirements as being too strict and severe, as the children of the world do. To him Christ’s commandments are not grievous and Christ’s burden is light. And why is all this? Simply because he loves Him.”

Prayer: Help me Holy Spirit to love Jesus more and more.

John 13:18-30 Ask Jesus

John 13:18-30 Ask Jesus

“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture:‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spiritand testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas,the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” NIV

This passage ends in a dramatic fashion with the short sentence: ”And it was night” (30). It was night in more ways than one. It was a time of deep darkness as  the diabolically inspired Judas (27a) went out to do his worst. But Jesus is in total control. That is the feel; the tone of this section. Judas may go out to betray Jesus, but he goes out at the Lord’s command (27b).

So today’s reading affirms that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’

It also encourages us to:

Ask Jesus (22-26): become someone who enquires of the Lord, as David did in his best moments. Pursue this relationship with a real, living Lord Jesus who speaks. Where you do not know; where there are mysteries, you can ask Him. He’s not obliged to give you an answer, but He may well choose to do so. Even here, where He answered Peter, it seems the disciples still didn’t fully understand. But that, I feel, is a reflection on their dullness yet again. We see a Jesus who responds with words to our words. ”You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2b). Ask Jesus.

Here is something else for us to grasp:

Jesus knows (18, 19). He knows the Scriptures better than we do (18) and can give sparkling insight into them. He knows the future much better than we do (19, 21, 26, 27b). Someone said we should be very interested in the future because we will spend the rest of our lives there! Well, some people try to peer into the future in dark, unbiblical ways that are outlawed in Scripture. We should stay well away from that kind of thing. But in the Bible the Lord has revealed what He wants us to know about the future. There are prophecies yet to be fulfilled. And if Jesus wants to prepare you for anything in your personal future, He has ways to do that.

PRAYER: Yet again Lord Jesus I must confess to you my slowness to pray and to ask for all that I can have from you. Lord please fight against all the enemy’s stratagems to keep me off my knees, and help me to do all I can to resist him.

John 11: 7-16: ”Let us go…”

John 11: 7-16: ”Let us go…”

7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” NIV

There comes a time to get up and go when God shows you the clear path of duty. Get up and go and take others with you, to learn, and to help meet the need you have become aware of.

  1. Go – if it is God’s will – even though it may mean danger (8). Don’t let fear stop you doing the right thing. Don’t allow the discouraging words of others to keep you pressed up against the buffers when you should be rolling down the track.
  2. Go – if it is God’s will – according to the ”light” He gives you (9, 10). If God gives you ”light” on a matter, that is not merely for scribbling a note in your journal. Chances are He’s giving you something to DO. You may need further light on the timing of the action you are being shown. But the basic principle is, if God shines ”daylight” on your path, walk in it.
  3. Go – if it is God’s will – even though the company may often be disappointing (11-13, 16). The disciples repeatedly failed to understand Jesus – like here, where they thought He was saying that Lazarus had just dropped off: ‘ ”Master, if he’s gone to sleep, he’ll get a good rest and wake up feeling fine.” Jesus was talking about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about taking a nap.’ (The Message.) And Thomas’ words (16) may have been full of courage, but they sound rather gloomy and resigned, and may have spread negativity like a cloak around the others. (Thomas was also ”called Didymus”, which means ‘twin’. We don’t know who his twin was, but I can sometimes feel that I am!! I can be so negative and doubting.) We are called to partner with fellow Christians, and we can regularly feel disappointed with one another. We are sinful by nature, and even though we are being changed, the sin repeatedly shows through, and we hurt each other. But as much as other people may disappoint me, when I look in the mirror I frequently see a disappointing reflection. As someone said, in the church we are ”Building with bananas.” We are all a bit bent out of shape. Jesus takes us with Him on His mission. We may let Him down, and fail each other; but the call remains to pull together for the sake of the Kingdom.
  4. Go – if it is God’s will – though the challenge is huge (14, 15). It doesn’t get bigger than raising the dead, but Jesus is more than equal to it, even though we are not. As William Carey said, ”Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.” If God is for us…!!!
  5. Go – if it is God’s will – but go in His timing (6). It may be hard for people to understand God’s timescale; but He knows what He is doing. Trust Him. There’s a purpose, and one day you will see the other side of the tapestry, whereas now you see only a mass of tangled threads.

Just one final thought. The disciples did misunderstand Christ here (12, 13). Nevertheless, throughout the New Testament, death, for the believer, is spoken of in terms of ”sleep”. Bishop Thomas Ken wrote:

”Teach me to live that I may dread,

The grave as little as my bed.”

John 11:1-6: Tell Jesus.

John 11:1-6: Tell Jesus.

“Now a man named Lazarus was ill. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay ill, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is ill.’When he heard this, Jesus said, ‘This illness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was two more days,” NIV

Jesus had people in His world who got sick (1) Such an experience isn’t unique to you and me. The Lord knows and cares and understands how it feels when you have those close to you who are suffering. Jesus, it seems, had such a special relationship with Lazarus, that the unwell man could be referred to simply as ”the one you love” (3). The fifth verse seems to underline Jesus’ love for each member of this family. It was a personal love for ”…Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” It is important that we, the readers, should grasp something of His heart for these dear three, because, superficially it could be appear that He was uncaring (6). But the Lord’s delays are not necessarily His denials.

The people written into the gospel story are real people (2). They are not pain free. They do not float on soft, fluffy white clouds, far above the rugged rigours of real life. The Bible shows that those with great love for Jesus are not thereby exempt from suffering. They are not inoculated against tears (33).This Mary had a great heart (2). It throbbed with immense love for Christ (2; see 12:3).But it was also a heart full of love for her nearest and dearest; a soft and tender heart I believe. How precious it is to know that we can tell Jesus (3). Whoever it concerns; whatever the need, tell Jesus. Bring to Him all the pain and sorrow and earnest desires of your heart. ”What a Friend we have in Jesus…Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

But sometimes, Jesus may allow things to happen in your life and mine where it may look like He doesn’t love us. We know the Word states that He loves us, ”Yet…” (6). There is a ”Yet” that comes into our experience, and we have to take it by faith that He loves us while life seems to proceed in an unloving-looking direction. In reading this story it’s important to see that Jesus didn’t say that Lazarus would not die, but that death would not be the end of the matter (4). If Mary and Martha (and Lazarus) looked for healing, they were not wrong to do so. But they got far more than they asked or thought (Ephesians 3:20).

If people say that sickness can not be for the glory of God, let them be educated by verse 4.

And if you are praying and waiting for an important answer to come through, and you’re wondering why it’s got held up on the spiritual A1, do take on board that God’s delays are not necessarily His denials. In fact, as Ronald Dunn writes, He ”sometimes answers later in order to answer better.”

Prayer: I confess, dear God, that I can become impatient. But I know I need to accept that your timescale is not the same as mine. You graciously answer my prayers, but it has to be your way not mine; and your time, not mine

John 10: 31-42: ‘Liar, lunatic or Lord?

John 10: 31-42: ‘Liar, lunatic or Lord?

“31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’33 ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’34 Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are ‘gods’? 35 If he called them “gods”, to whom the word of God came – and Scripture cannot be set aside – 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’ 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptising in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, ‘Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.’ 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.” NIV


I once heard a preacher say that, whatever the human reasons given for the death of Jesus; the real reason He died was because He clearly claimed to be God, and His opponents realised this (33). For them, this was blasphemy. So Jesus had to die. (Although our passage again intimates that they could not take His life from Him before God’s appointed time: verse 39. As we have seen, Jesus had the authority to both lay down His life and take it up again: verses 17, 18). When Jesus declared that He was the good shepherd, that was tantamount to claiming equality with God, who is portrayed as the Shepherd of Israel in the Old Testament.

It has often been pointed out by writers, like C.S. Lewis, that a man who made the sort of claims Jesus made could not be just a good man. Either He is who He says He is, or we have to say something terrible about Him. Basically, when you consider the claims of Christ, you are shut up to three possibilities: He’s either, mad, bad or God; liar, lunatic or Lord. In His days on earth, many believed in His Lordship (40-42), and many still do.

It is also encouraging to note that, in later days, there was fruit from John the Baptist’s ministry that he never knew about (40-42).So, as someone rightly observed, judge each day, not by the harvest, but by the seeds sown.

John 9:24-34: Simple courage.

John 9:24-34: Simple courage.

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. NIV

The blind man’s parents passed the ball to him. Once he found it at his feet, he did not lack ideas for what to do with it. He showed considerable pluck, and took the clerics on – even toying with them it seems (27). They had no good arguments against his healing or against his words, so they did what people often do in such circumstances. They picked up mud and threw it. I pray that faced with hostile people, I will not hide, but stand up for Jesus, and offer my testimony. They may wipe their secularised boots all over it, but let them hear it.

Within this passage you can read the famous statement of (25): ”One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” This is the story of every Christian. Through the telling of this story we too are gradually being brought to see Jesus, who is ”the light” (5; see also 1:4,5). He is opening our blind eyes.

PRAYER: Lord, I know I can all too easily play the coward. So please give me the courage I will always need to stand up for you.

John 9:13-23: The cost of discipleship.

John 9:13-23: The cost of discipleship.

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”The man replied, “He is a prophet.”18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders,who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” NIV

Religious people can become so concerned about the meticulous observance of their self – made rules that they don’t care about people. Instead of rejoicing over a remarkable healing of a man with congenital blindness, the Pharisees pursed their lips, shook their heads, and got very angry with Jesus for doing this miracle on the Sabbath. With Jesus, there was a pattern of such happenings (see e.g. Chapter 5).He would not allow His compassion to be tied up by their rules. Jesus knew that at the heart of the Sabbath there lies God’s heart for saving people. He was clear in His thinking that it was a day for doing good to others. But religion stinks!

The healed man’s parents make a fascinating case study. They were not as supportive of their son as you might expect them to be. To be excommunicated from the synagogue would mean not only loss of status within the Jewish community but loss of many other privileges. They were probably fearful for their livelihoods, and even their lives. There is a cost involved in discipleship. Jesus urged people to count that cost before embarking on a course to follow Him. This pair took out their ready reckoners and decided it just wasn’t worth it. They couldn’t afford it. They were hardly lovingly supportive of their son. They pushed him to the front where he could take the flak and not them. Christianity costs!

Revelation is often progressive. It takes time. By the end of the chapter, this wonderfully healed man will come to a fuller understanding of who Christ is (35-38). But even here he is on his way (17b). It’s a beginning. His spiritual eyes are gradually opened.Let’s be patient. Give people time. Above all, give God time. ”When surrounded by fear and anger, the only way through is to glimpse whatever we can see of Jesus, and to follow him out of the dark and into the light.” Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone’, p.139. Jesus enlightens!

PRAYER: Lord God, I pray that no threat or fear will ever make me disloyal to you.

John 9:1-12: A walking display case.

John 9:1-12: A walking display case.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.“I don’t know,” he said.” NIV

The purpose of a believer’s life is to be a ‘display cabinet’ for the work of God (3; cf. Matthew 5:14-16, 1 Peter 2:12, Psalm 18:28a).The work of God is transformative (8,9). Under the touch of Jesus Christ, some people change so much that they are barely recognisable as the same person. This is to His glory.

Like Jesus, we only have a brief life span in which to illuminate the world with heavenly light; to reflect the glory of Jesus – like the moon lit up with the rays of the sun (4, 5). We don’t have equal amounts of ‘sand’ in the egg timers of our lives, but this sand is running through. It is right to want to make your days and hours and minutes count. ”Only one life. ‘Twill soon be passed. And only what’s done for Jesus will last.”

Jesus’ work is creative. There is no evidence of a canned or pre-packaged approach with Him (6, 7 and 11). Jesus healed many people of a variety of conditions, but He didn’t have one way only of working. He did what He saw the Father doing. He kept in step with Him. That resulted in an enormous creativity of approach. Be prepared! Jesus may work in ways that take you totally by surprise.

It’s interesting that Jesus told the blind man to go and wash in the ”Pool of Siloam” (7) – a word which means ”Sent”. One of the themes in John’s gospel concerns the fact that Jesus was sent into the world by the Father, and the cure for spiritual blindness lies in His God-given mission.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you want to make my life a display case for your glory. May it be.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: