Friday, April 29, 2011

Bible Study John 19:17-42 The Death of Jesus & Your Verdict

Q1 What can you tell about the Crucifixion of Jesus from John 19?
  1. Jesus carried His cross as first v17. The other gospels recorded that Jesus, being too weak after the great torture, fell and the Romans just picked one from the crowd, Simon of Cyrene,  to carry for Jesus (Mat 27:32).
  2. The location is Golgotha, meaning a Skull v17-18.
  3. Two others, between Jesus, were crucified with Jesus v19. Luke 23:39-43 told us more about these two men and their conversation with Jesus.
  4. There was an inscription placed by Pilate, in Aramaic, Latin and Greek (the common languages then so that who ever was there could understand), "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" v21.
  5. Jesus' outer garments were divided into four parts and given to the soldiers v23. The inner cloth, the tunic, seamless (good quality and likely expensive) was given by drawing of lot to a soldier v24.
  6. John mentioned it was to fulfill the scripture Ps 22:18. (Ps 22 had an accurate description of the death of Jesus which we shall see).
  7. John was the only disciple to be with Jesus most of the time. The others had gone hiding. 
  8. At the cross, Jesus' mother, the mother's sister, and Mary Magdalene were there as well. v25.
  9. Jesus asked his disciple John to take care of His Mother Mary. John did that from then on. v24-27.
  10. Jesus said "I thirst" and sour wine on a hyssop branch was given to Jesus. See Ps 51:7.
  11. After Jesus tasted the sour wine (vinegar), he said "It is finished" and gave up His spirit v30.
  12. Since the next day was Sabbath with the Passover, they did not want the dead bodies to defy their holy day. So they wanted all three of them to be dead and buried before end of day. The usual practice to hasten the death is to break the leg bones so that there would be not support for the upper body and cause dead by inability to breath. They broke the legs of the other two. But when they came to Jesus, they found him already dead. So no bone was broken v33. But a smart Alex soldier pieced Jesus to make sure he was doubly dead. Blood and water comes out to show that Jesus was indeed a man and there were no acting as some others claimed later. v34
  13. John specifically mentioned these two unusual events as fulfilling the scripture written in that the: Exo 12:46 Num 9:12 as the passover lamb;  Psa 22:14 pour out as water, Psa 34:20 no bones broken.Zech 12:10 The Coming King. John wanted us to believe in his testimony about Jesus - The Son of God, the Messiah v35.
Q2 What is the significance of the inscription "Jesus, King of the Jews"?
  1. For Pilate, may be he wanted to show his last respect for Jesus as he at least understood Jesus was someone special with a Kingdom. It was also a warning to the Jews who wanted to rebel against the Romans. 
  2. For the religious leaders, they were not so happy. They did not recognize Jesus as their King at all. They wanted Pilate to change it to "He said he is the King of Jews" v21.
  3. For the common people, it is to tell them that Jesus was the Messiah, the son of King David who would become King forever. Those who studied the Old Testament, the Jews and the Gentiles, this inscription offer yet another evidence that Jesus was the Messiah.
Q3 How was Jesus buried?
  1. Two secret disciple of Jesus showed up. 
  2. Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus and was granted v38. 
  3. Nicodemus (of John 3, the Night Visitor) came to help to embalm the body with 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes v39.
  4. They bound Jesus with line cloths with the spices v40
  5. They put Jesus in a new tomb v41.
Q4 What is your verdict about Jesus? Who is He?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bible Study John 19:1-16 Pilate Outsmarted

In the last chapter, Pilate tried to save Jesus by offering an exchange - Robber vs Jesus. It did not work. Pilate tried again.

Q1 What was Pilate's 2nd attempt to free Jesus? Did it work? Why not?
Pilate got Jesus flogged John 19:1 thinking that his suffering will gain the sympathy and claim the anger of the Religious Leaders. In  Chinese 36-Strategies, that will be strategic#34 Suffer in the Flesh to Gain Trust and Acceptance. Pilate even re-iterate that he found guilt in Jesus. v4.

It did not work. They wanted Jesus to be crucified. Pilate still could not understand the issue about Jesus. They wanted Jesus death. They did not want Jesus to be their King. Their reason for wanting Jesus' death was because Jesus claimed he was Son of God which could not be possible as Jesus was truly a man; a man that had the support of the common people and a mirror that reflected their wrong doings. If they let Jesus live, they were likely to loose their influence and authorities over their people. Jesus as a big threat to their survival. They also misunderstood Jesus thinking that He wanted to established His political kingdom here and could incur the wrath of the Romans to got them destroyed. (The Romans actually did destroyed Jerusalem later in AD 70).

Q2 What did Pilate think of Jesus ?
Pilate was shocked, more afraid, when he heard the charge was about Jesus calling himself Son of God. He must have felt some kind of power, dignity, or authority when he encountered Jesus, even in chains. He knew Jesus, even if he was not God, he must be at least a good and a man of authority of some sort. It was better not to touch Jesus just in case He was God. v12 told us that Pilate sought to release Jesus.

Q3 What was Pilate 3rd attempt to free Jesus?  Did it work? What did it tell us about Pilate?

He brought Jesus out and asked the people should he crucify their King. I don't understand the logic of this. Pilate is projecting his own thought on the Religious People. He found Jesus to be man of authority and goodness and if it were up to him, he would let Jesus go free. Pilate should read up any book on communication. He must first understand others to be understood. (Stephen Covey Habit#5). He did not address the real issue of the Religious Leaders. Most likely he could not even if he knew.

Pilate actually has the authority to crucify or free Jesus. Otherwise the Religious leaders would not have bothered to come to him. The Religious Leaders might be able to punish Jesus in different ways, like ex-communications, but not by death. Pilate did not have the guts to do it. He was trying to gain support of them as well.

But now he got himself into a corner - the Religious Leaders said they had no king by Caesar v15 and v12 anyone who made himself king opposes Caesar.

We can also see the evilness of the people at work. To achieve their objective of crucifying Jesus, they can said and anything even against their inner belief.

Q4 Is Pilate guilty of crucifying Jesus?
The answer is yes but is of second degree. Jesus said in 19:11 "Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin."  It was a sin nonetheless. He had the power to say no and yet he gave the consent to crucify Jesus. He may did the wonderful thing of watching his hands off this crucification as recorded in Mat 27:24 but he was guilty in the eyes of God. He could of course be forgiven if he finally believed in Jesus as the Son of God. But we don't know whether he finally did believe. He did get bold enough to reject the Religious Leaders request to change the inscription.

Q5 What can we learned from this passage?
  1. Seek first to understand the motivation and thoughts of the people and then you can communicate your proposal and get it understood.
  2. If you don't know what to do, ask God for wisdom.
  3. Be bold to take up and exercise your authority when it is called for. Don't be a people pleaser and fail to do the right thing.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bible Study John Chapter 18:28-40 Conversation Between Pilate & Jesus

Q1 What was the intention of the Religious Leaders about Jesus? How can you tell?
Their intention was to killed Jesus.
  1. The reason they brought Jesus to Pilate was for him to sentence Jesus to death. They had no power to sentence Him as revealed in 18:31.
  2. They told Pilate they had their reasons else would not have brought Him in 18:30. It showed their arrogance and lack of respect even for Pilate. They were essentially wanting Pilate to rubber stamp their decision. By implication from Pilate's conversation with Jesus recorded in 18:33, the accusation must be about being "King of the Jews". It was probably a distortion created by Pilate himself since he see it as a matter of the Jews. The accusation that the Religious Leaders had on Jesus was His claim as Son of God, the King of all, the Creator. Pilate reduced it to King of Jews.
  3. They asked for Barabbas, a robber to be freed instead of Jesus. Barabbas was probably the first man freed by the substitution of Jesus. It was not his choice but the religious leaders. Nevertheless, he benefited from it because of Jesus.
Q2  How did Jesus witness to Pilate?
  1. Get a personal commitment. from v34 of your own or hear say to v37 so you are a king.
  2. Tell the Truth:
    1. v36 My Kingdom is not of this world.
    2. v36 They would fight for me. 
    3. v37 I came to bear witness to the truth.
    4. v38 Everyone who is of the truth listens to me.
  3. Give an Opportunity for Commitment.
    1. Pilate said "What is the truth?" - He was forced to consider the proposal of Jesus.
    2. He found Jesus not guilty (of trying to build a kingdom on earth to over-throw the Romans). His purpose was not political.
Q3 What great idea did Pilate came out to save Jesus? Did it work? What did that say about Pilate? What can we learn?
  1. Great Idea - Substitute for Jesus.  He offered a bad guy, a robber, Barabbas in exchange for Jesus. 
  2. It did not work. The Religious Leaders just wanted Jesus' death. They wanted to legalize it with Pilate's consent.
  3. It show that Pilate did not fully understand the issues at hand. He thought it was a small matter that can be settled easily. In the next study, we shall discovered more about Pilate's character.
  4. The lesson for us is that for any issue, please dig deeper to find the intentions of people and then you can come out with good solutions. Failure to understand the true intentions will result in proposals that fail.
Lesson Learned:
  1. The persistence of evil.
  2. The witnessing of Jesus - Personal and Truth.
  3. The Need for Understanding of Intention to Solve or Mediate Issues.

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Bible Study John Chapter 18:13-27 Trial at High Priets & Peter Denials

    There are two major events recorded here.
    1. The Trails by High Priests - Annas, Father-in-law of High Priest Caiaphas.
    2. Peter's Three Times Denials of Knowing Jesus.
    They arrested Jesus, or more accurately, Jesus gave himself to them, and they brought Jesus to Annas and then to Caiaphas(v24). We had the hearing with Annas but not with Caiaphas recorded in this chapter 18.

    Q1 Described the hearing with Annas. What was the conclusion? Did they find any thing wrong with Jesus' teaching?
    1. The ex-High Priest Annas questioned Jesus about his teaching and his disciples.
    2. Jesus challenged them to ask the people who heard him at public. 
    3. One officer struck Jesus for his rudeness.
    4. Jesus challenged them to point out what wrong he did say.
    5. They have no answers. They could not find a valid reason to charge Jesus.
    6. So they bound and send Jesus to Caiaphas. 
    7. Mat 26:57-68, Mar 14:53-65, Luk 22:54-65 recorded for us what happened at the hearing with Caiaphas. They found none and finally nailed Jesus for admitting the truth that He is the Son of God (Mark 14:62). It is the very sin of Adam wanting himself  to be the judge of right and wrong without the full knowledge and understanding.  (note: the most convenient way to study gospels is to read the Harmony Gospels. You can get it by downloading e-Sword
    8. Caiaphas also believed in sacrificing one Jesus for the whole nation. John 18:15.

    Q2 Describe the three denials of Peter. Can you explain what happened to the courageous Peter that cut off Malchus' ear?
    1. At the door of Annas' house when asked by the servant girl.
    2. Warming himself with the servants and officers when asked by one of them.
    3. Asked by a relative of Malchus.
    Our courage changes with the situations. In the past, Peter was with Jesus and His disciples. Now, Jesus was captured and Peter was all alone (may be with John that came in and out and recorded for us what happened inside the trial and the denials of Peter in the outside courtyard). It also show that Peter was not mature then. A mature person should maintain his stand and commitment irrespective of the circumstances. After the coming of the Holy Spirit, we shall find a very different Peter in the Book of Acts. We are, just like Peter, basically cowards without the Holy Spirit within us.

    Even David, in Ps 27, started with confidence, but went through some doubts, and eventually encouraged himself to hang on by waiting on the Lord.

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Bible Study John Chapter 18:1-12 Arrest of Jesus

    It is good that the corresponding verses in other books of the gospels be read too to get a more complete picture of the event. The references are Matthew 26:14-16, 36-56; Mark 14:10-11, 32-50; Luke 22:39-53.

    The sequence of events recorded by John, the first hand witness, contained more details than the others, and is shown as the mind map below:

    Q1  There are 3 persons and 2 groups of people, can you identify them?
    1. Jesus
    2. Disciples
    3. Judas
    4. Soldiers
    5. Peter
    Q2 Who and what did each person or group do? Can you imaging what were they thinking?

    P1 Jesus
    Jesus, Son of God, knew His mission well and having decided to take up the bitter cup, was bold and loving. His bold approached the soldiers and told them that it was He that they wanted and to let the others go. His boldness, some said his anointed power, fell the soldiers. A demonstration of His power and authority that He withhold. He rebuked Peter's violent action and healed the injured Malchus whose ear was cut off by Peter. His mission to die for men is not be stopped by His personal suffering. Love and righteousness may sometimes cause us to suffer. Will we be willing to suffer for love and righteousness?

    P2 Disciples 
    Despite many the warnings given by Jesus, as revealed by the related passages, they did not seems to know the urgency of the time. They slept when Jesus asked them to keep watch. At this end times approaches, as evidence by the frequency and serious of earthquakes, wars within and between nations and sectors of people, increased of knowledge, global traveling to and fro, will we be sleeping as well?

    P3 Judas
    The betrayal of Judas did not just happen. It occurred long before as recorded in John 12:6 that he was a thief. Now that he discovered that Jesus was not going to set up any kingdom but to die, he decided he better take care of himself and cash out by betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver before it was too late. Evil people are smarter at exploiting the situation than the people of light (Parable of the Unjust Stewards). This need not be so.

    P4 Soldiers
    They were just acting under instructions of the Chief Priests and the Pharisees. They never knew their job could be so shockingly easy. They met no resistance. They needed not search or given chase. They were wondering who this Jesus was. Why were they not impressed by the miracle healing of Malchus's ear? May be some of them later found Jesus as He said He was.

    P5 Peter
    He slept instead of praying. He was still acting on impulse of the flesh. This time even cutting off the High Priest's servant ear. He was going to stop Jesus for going to the cross again. It was natural for Peter to protect his master. His boldness changed to denial of Jesus 3 times later.