Category: Sermon Notes

Sermon notes

Introduction to the Gospels: Mark: Session #2


“The Early Ministry of Jesus” (Part 1)

Mark 1:14-2:28

  1. The First Disciples   (1:15-20)
  2. Jesus and Demons   (1:21-39)
  3. Jesus First Healing   (1:40-44)
  4. Jesus Heals a Paralytic   (2:1-12)
  5. The Calling of Matthew   (2:13-17)
  6. Jesus and the Law   (2:18-28)

Introduction to the Gospels: Mark: Session 1


The Gospel of Mark. (Session One)

 Outline of Mark’s Gospel

  1. Prologue                                             Mark 1:1-13
  2. Jesus’ Early Ministry                       Mark 1:14-3:6.
  3. The Galilean Ministry                      Mark 3:7-6:6
  4. Beyond Galilee                                  Mark 6:7-8:21
  5. Toward Jerusalem                           Mark 8:22-10:52
  6. Teaching in Jerusalem                    Mark 11:1-13:37
  7. Jesus Faces Death                            Mark 14:1-15:47
  8. The Resurrection                              Mark 16:1-8
  9. Addendum                                         Mark 16:9-20

i. Authorship and Date of Writing

ii. The Synoptic Problem

iii.  Purpose of the Gospels

  • John:  Jesus is the Divine/human incarnation of God in Whom we must believe to have eternal life. (universal)
  • Mark:  Jesus is the Suffering Servant Who ministers on our behalf and gave His life as a ransom for sinners. (Romans)
  • Matthew:  Jesus is the Old Testament fulfillment of Messianic prophecy of a promised King sent from God.  (Jews)
  • Luke:  Jesus is the perfect Son of Man Who came to minister to and save people through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Greeks)

iv. Difficulties in Mark


“Free to Change” – Galatians 1:11-24

Free to Change * Galatians 1:11-24

We live in a world of change opportunities.  Browse the internet or magazine covers in the store or book titles on Google, and you will encounter hundreds of offers to change: a better marriage, be better parents, be a better you, lose weight, be happy, gain muscle, get a Beach Body, remodel your home…

One of the great freedoms we receive in Christ is the freedom to change.  So many people feel that their life is “stuck” where they are:

  • Past failures that hamper us and CONTINUE to define us
  • Past efforts that discourage us and ATTEMPT to limit us
  • Past fears that haunt us and THREATEN to torment us
  • Past relationships that trap us and TRY to restrict us

Our own mind can tell us that trying to change is futile.  A new book called Chatter written by a neurologist deals with the internal conversations we continually have with ourselves that can severely hamper us.  We get trapped in ‘stinkin thinking;’  cycles of  bad memories discourage us;  wounding words spoken by parents or those in authority still influence us.

We have tried to change before, and it didn’t work.  Our past distorts our present.  Our fears raise their heads.  Lies permeate our thoughts.  Why make the effort?  Maybe even people close to you tell you it’s useless… or you’ll always be





…a failure?

But the Gospel brings us freedom and power to change!  And no greater example of that freedom to change exists than in the testimony of a former Jewish rabbi named Saul of Tarsus, or as we most commonly know him, Paul the Apostle.

One of the things we learn as we hear Paul’s heart and story, is the power our testimony has to impact other people.  While your story may not be as dramatic as Paul’s was, (actually few are), it is still your story.  You need to know that more people will respond to the Gospel by your testimony than by your efforts to argue or reason someone into a decision.  People will reject your arguments.  They cannot ignore your testimony, and the way that following Jesus has affected and transformed you.

In the Book of Revelation we read, And they have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.  (—Rev 12:11)

Paul wrote later in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “If any one is in Christ they are a new creation…old things have passed away and behold, all things have been made new.”  In the passage in Galatians 1, Paul begins telling us his testimony of how he knew this was true.

TEXT. Galatians 1:11-15

The Origination of Paul’s Message

a. Not from man.

b. Began in God

The conversation that spurs Paul sharing something of his life’s experience was a challenge to his authority as an apostle.  By definition, there are no “new” apostles.  An apostle was a person who had spent time with Jesus on earth, who walked with Him and followed Him, and who then encountered Him in His resurrection.

The apostles, by the way, were younger men.  It is thought that Peter was probably the oldest, and he was just about Jesus’ age which puts him in his early 30’s.  Paul may have been a little older, but probably not by a lot.

But the early Christians knew and respected these men.  They had walked with Jesus and were eyewitnesses of His ministry for three years!  An apostle was one  “sent out” with a message.  The word “apostle” literally means “sent one.”  They were apostles of Jesus, sent with His message of hope into the world.  (Acts 1:21-26)

Apostles, however, were not limited to the Christian community.  The Jews also had their own apostles, sent with messages into various settings and situations as they were authorized by their leaders.  This maybe helps us understand Paul’s early statements that he was an apostle sent, “not from men, but from God.”  (Gal 1:1)

That opened the door for him to explain how it was that he could consider himself an apostle sent from God rather than from men.  The Jewish legalists were undermining Paul’s credentials and credibility with the Galatians by challenging his apostolic claims.   And so the claim that his message “was not from man…but by revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1:11-12).

The Conversion of Paul

Paul’s grace story is truly dramatic and amazing.  It is not, by the way, normal.  It is not to be used as a measuring stick to evaluate the genuineness of our conversion.  Paul was changed from a terrorist into an apostle.  We cannot imagine the depth of change that had to take place in Paul’s life.

a. Our need of grace

We all need grace to change.  Paul was a fervently religious man.  As we learn elsewhere, he was a member of one of the most radical and highest ranking groups in Judaism.  And he took his God, his religion, and himself very seriously.  His testimony is the example of a person running headlong in one direction, being confronted, and then turning and going in the opposition direction.

He “persecuted (forced into silence) the church.”  Even those who didn’t know Paul personally knew of his reputation.  Let’s imagine for a moment, that Osama bin Laden was still living.  And not only living, but still wreaking havoc through acts of terrorism.  Then one day, something incredible happens to him in the desert.  He has a vision of the resurrected Christ, and then he disappears for some time.

A couple of years later, we get a flyer that says, “The former terrorist, Osama bin Ladin would like to come to your church and share his incredible testimony of miraculous transformation.”  This man, fervent and fanatic for the religion of Islam, who took countless thousands of lives of American people in the name of Allah, now wants to come and preach to you about Jesus.  Would you trust this?

Your reluctance was the same reluctance people felt about Paul.  They knew him as Saul, the fire-breathing Jesus-hating rabbi who had been authorized by the Jewish authorities to kill, imprison, torture, and harass believers…and he did it zealously and proudly.  He believed he was serving God as he did this.

But now, he comes as Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ, preaching peace and love and mercy and grace and forgiveness of sins.  People didn’t want to let him forget what he once was.  The reality is, he never forgot.  And for some, we can’t let go of what we once were.  The deeper our sin, the greater our gratitude for the grace of God.  We know how much we needed to be forgiven.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Corinthians 15:9–10)

Jesus said, “He who is forgiven much, loves much.” Paul was forgiven much.  He needed grace, and found that grace given freely in Jesus.

b. God’s offer of grace

But this fervent, Jewish rabbi who was living and breathing hatred for all things Christian and who wanted to destroy anything remotely connected to this renegade Jesus, was changed by God’s grace.  “But God, who caused me to be born, called me by His grace…”. “To reveal His Son in me….”

When God calls us, it’s not like you calling.  You can call your children to the dinner table, and they can say “just a minute!”  And in just a minute they still aren’t there.  “Ill be right there…”   Or you can call someone you need to talk to and get put on hold.  You know what I mean.

But when God calls, you don’t say “just a minute.”  It stops you in your tracks.  The call and the deed are simultaneous.  The strength to do what He calls comes.

What stopped Saul, the angry and violent rabbi in his tracks, was a vision of the risen Christ just outside of Damascus.  Acts 9 tells us it happened in the middle of the day,  the risen Lord appeared to Saul.  As we understand it, only he saw Jesus…none of those with him.  The appearance and power of the resurrected Jesus knocked him to the ground, and He said, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting ME?”

And because of  that encounter with Jesus, Saul came away a new person with a new mission and direction in his life.  He was transformed…changed by the grace of God.   This is probably an opportune moment for me to ask you:  Has your life been changed by the grace of God?  A few thoughts occur to me from this:

Gospel Driven Change

  1. When we wrestle with God, God wins. Perhaps, like Paul before he met Jesus, you are fighting against God.  Maybe the idea of the existence of a God bothers you.  Perhaps Christian people annoy you, and you really don’t know why.

Maybe you’ve given up on the idea of following Jesus because you’ve been hurt by the behavior of Christians or by a church.  And all of this has left you disillusioned about the claims of the Bible.  And yet, something inside you wants it to be true, wants it to be real.  You feel empty or just feel alone in the universe.

  1. When we lose the battle, life begins. My life began; my transformation began on the floor of my youth pastor’s home midnight, Dec 26, 1974 when I finally surrendered to God’s call in my life.  I walked out his door a different person that I was when I walked in.  I was changed by the grace of God.  My doubt, my confusion, my rebellion, my pride, my sin fell off of me like chains.
  1. When new life begins, a testimony emerges

i. Not a sermon—just talk

ii. Not complicated—be simple and clear.

iii. Not an argument—just tell your story (“Can I tell you…”)

iv. Not long—be brief. Two-three minutes.  (All the useless stuff on insta) 1 billion registered users on Instagram in 2020

v. Not confusing—be logical (before Christ, conversion, life since)

vi. Not about you—glorify God! (v 24)

People aren’t coming to church to become Christ followers…they are being touched by your story…your testimony…your witness to them…the life you’re living.  SHARE YOUR STORY!  You work where they are; you live where they do; you go to school with them.


  1. When transformation comes, change is not always quick but it is real

Gritty hope.  Endurance…

i. The unlearning curve. Paul had to rethink his whole life!  “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

ii. Time in obscurity (14 years, Gal 2:1). Obscurity is a great location for a degree in following Jesus.  Our day of instant notoriety for some who were famous before coming to Christ is not healthy.  I’m suspicious of any leader who hasn’t spent time in obscurity.

iii. Taught by Jesus, not by men. Learn to read the Bible

“Coming Back to Grace” – Galatians 1:1-11

Coming Back to Grace”  *  Galatians 1:1-11

Galatians is like the balance pole that trapeze artists carried.  Its purpose was to keep them from falling off one side or the other and plunging to an injury or even death.  Paul was seeing the Galatian Christians lose their spiritual equilibrium…a balancing act we all have to master.

A lot of things come at us as believers that can knock us off balance if we’re not careful.   On one side, we can fall off into a legalistic mindset and belief system, believing that our own work is what pleases God or is truly what He requires.

On the other side is a life of license, a disregard for the truth and standards set forth in God’s Word leaving us to determine for ourselves what good and evil are.  It cheapens grace.  As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, it is “forgiveness  without repentance,  forgiveness without a cross.”  These are people who consider themselves “spiritual,” but have no use for the Bible.  They apply Jesus to themselves like an app on a phone that offers some inspiration on living your best life now.

So, what does the tightrope look like?    How do we know we are keeping our balance?  How do we know we are standing on the real Gospel, and not a distorted one?  (BTW, the word “gospel” was not a spiritual or religious term…it was a word that simply meant “good news.”)


Accept the truth of reality.

We are, by nature, born into a world that will one day be ground zero of God’s judgment and wrath against sin.  We are by nature children of wrath.  The world we live in is broken by our sin.  We can’t put it back together, and ultimately God will judge it.

Whether we are aware or not, we desperately need to be rescued, and we cannot rescue ourselves.  God has done everything necessary to accomplish our rescue, by sending His Son to save and deliver us.  But we’re like people who are asleep in a burning house and unaware of the smoke and flames threatening us.

(NEO/Matrix) Like the lead character in this movie, the human race lives in a kind of deluded, dreamlike existence, blinded by our sin, until by grace God opens our eyes and we see what is really us, and to the world.  Every person is impacted by this, and lives with a death sentence.  “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”  (Tightrope walkers find a fixed point to focus on)

Trusting that there is no other means of rescue than Jesus is what saves us.  We cannot save ourselves, or anyone else.  Having confidence that what the Bible says about why Jesus came and what Jesus did is true, and He really died “for our sins” a death for us on Calvary…He was buried…and He physically rose from the dead on the third day to deliver us, literally, to “rescue” us from this present evil age.

We will keep our balance if we stay focused on the simple Gospel:  We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone.  That is the balance we must cling to without letting go.  Accepting reality helps us keep our balance.


Address the Danger of a Distorted Gospel

You know, Paul was really intolerant about this.  “Let those who preach another Gospel be accursed.”  Those are hard words, especially in a culture that now tolerates ANYTHING…except intolerance.  Tolerance is the highest virtue and intolerance the greatest evil in our culture today.  He called those who came promoting legalism “troublemakers.”  He said, “I am amazed that you are so quickly turning….”  This means they were changing allegiance.  If your team is losing, you go out to the kiosk, but the jersey for the other team.

But think about it.  Add something to the vaccine formula or take something out of it.  now what?  People will die.  Or they will think they’re vaccinated but they’re not.  Paul knew there was only one “vaccine” for sin…the sacrifice of Jesus.

The Jewish proselytizers had come to “fully convert” these new believers to full acceptance by God, they taught, by teaching them Jewish religious system; a system filled with rituals and rules and self-effort.  They came and loaded the new Christians down with burdens of law and man-made rules and rituals that they themselves couldn’t keep.  It disrupted the delicate balance of the Galatian Christians.

Paul’s campaign against the Jewish proselytizers was successful.  But while the Jewish form of legalism doesn’t threaten the church today, other forms do.  The flesh is incurably religious, and we are continually looking for ways to justify ourselves by our own works.  So, we add our own “man-made” rules and treat them like they are from God, and judge others when they don’t do it our way.

“Contend” (agonize, struggle)  for the Gospel…(Jude 3)

The problem of a distorted Gospel, whether we add to it or take from it. “It is not a gospel.” “No Gospel at all.”


Adhere to the Gospel You Received

THE Gospel of Jesus Christ, the GOOD NEWS about Jesus, is that He has come to rescue us and bring us salvation by grace…and we receive it through faith.  If we lose that simple perspective, we will lose our balance.

1).  The Gospel-centered Proposition

There is a truth to the Gospel…a rational, propositional process… that’s the only way people could “distort/pervert/reverse” it.  “My truth….Oprah and Prince Harry and Meagan’s interview….telling ‘their truth.’  New York’s governor Andrew Cuomo apparently has a version of “his truth” that stands in conflict with statistics.  Which is “truth?”  Truth is an objective, verifiable reality…not a picture of reality we create.

Jesus did not say “I am a way, a truth, and a life…or I am my truth…” but “the truth” without which no one can come to the Father.

2).  A Gospel-centered illumination

(Seeing the truth…hearing the truth….first time…It’s why when you try to tell someone what you know to be so wonderful and true about Jesus, they look at you like you’re crazy, or more…they’ll stare at you with the eyes of a corpse.  We are dead in trespasses and sins.

This is how people who are not Christians can sit through a church service unmoved even though they have heard truth, heard the Gospel that can set them free.  That’s how many of you did that for years and years until your eyes opened.

The first thing we begin to see is ourselves in honest light.  We see our sin, and even our desperation.  But then, like for the very first time, we see God for Who He is, that He loves us and stands ready to forgive us and that is what changes us….forever.

3).  A Gospel-centered adoration

We love God for Who He is…want to spend time alone with Him…”Who, having not seen, yet we love…”. God pursues us…it is not because we have done good things that He pursues us, but because of His own nature and love for us.

If we are working for our acceptance and salvation, we will only love God for what He does for us…feel like that is what we deserve….forsake and be disappointed with God when He doesn’t pay up.

So maybe today you are feeling a stirring inside of yourself that you can’t explain or understand.  Maybe you have begun to have your eyes opened to truths you thought you knew,  but now they’ve come alive.

What do you do?  You trust it.  You trust it.

Blondin was one of the most famous high wire artists of all time.  He had walked across Niagara Falls on a thin wire hundreds of times. Occasionally, he would up the ante and would juggle some balls or push a wheelbarrow across the wire as he walked.  And then he would come back to the crowd, and ask them “Do you believe I can do that again?”  They would roar back, YES!  Then he would single out a man or woman, and say “Do you believe I can do it?”  Again, YES!  “Do you believe I could do it with a person in the wheelbarrow?”. YES!  And then he’d ask, “Would you get in the wheelbarrow with me?”

Some say, “OF course I believe what Jesus did on the cross, and I believe he was resurrected.”  But have you ever “gotten in the wheelbarrow?”  Are you willing to stake your life on it…your eternity?

“Legalism, License, or Liberty” Galatians 1:1-9

GALATIANS: “Legalism, License, or Liberty”

Galatians 1:1-9

Are you a free person?  I’m not asking if you’re an American.  I’m not even asking the fundamental evangelism question “have you trusted in Jesus as your Lord and Savior?”  I’m asking, “are you living out your freedom in Christ?”

In his book Traveling Light, the late Eugene Peterson wrote,

Living in the land of the free has not made us free; we are a nation of addicts and complainers.  Being provided with freedom of religion has not made us free; coercive cults and enslaving superstitions still proliferate.  Assembling with people in church and listening to ringing proclamations of freedom—“He whom the Son sets free is free indeed!”—has not made us free.  Our churches are attended regularly by the inhibited, the obsessive-compulsive, the fearfully defensive—enough of them to provide outside observers with a stereotype.

We will begin a journey today that will take us several months to conclude.  My prayer is it will lead us to a place of practically living out the freedom that is ours in Christ!

“The Letter to Galatians” is probably the earliest, meaning the first writing we have in the New Testament.  It may also be one of the most important.  Galatians historically has changed individuals and started movements unlike any other letter!

Like our nation’s Declaration of Independence or Constitution, it is a document that guarantees your freedom and defines what that looks like.  However, even though you have privileges from this document that affect your life every day, very few Americans have ever really, seriously thought much about it…or even read it.

In the same way, Galatians is a charter of our freedom in Christ.  And in the same way, very few Christians have ever taken the time to read the six chapters that make up this letter, let alone to seriously think through its implications.  So, we’ll take some time over the next few months (off and on) to walk through this important book of the Bible with the goal of more completely embracing the freedom we have in Christ.


Galatians starts out as an affirmation of faith, but it is also a defense of Paul’s authority as an apostle.  Though there is a doxology, there are no individuals named or well-wishes offered.  Most New Testament letters start with a personal greeting.   There is just this white-hot urgency to Paul’s words.  He has no time and no words to waste.

Galatians was written to address a very urgent situation in a specific time.  But while that is true, it has application to us today.  One said that all the great love songs ever written were written to one person, yet the whole world loves them.

Paul’s heart was broken for those who had just come to Christ, found freedom in Him, but were now returning to their former ways which led back to spiritual captivity.  A key statement of the letter is “for freedom Christ has made us free…why submit again to a yoke of bondage?”

In our work with prisons, we have encountered the word “recidivism.”  It speaks to the rate at which freed inmates of our prison system eventually return to be reincarcerated.  The rate in the US in 2020 was 50%.  It tells us that many who have spent years inside the prison system never learned how to survive and flourish outside.  Though the prison system says they’re free, they never really learn to flourish in that freedom.

We can find ourselves in the same spot as those returning prisoners; who prefer chains to freedom; bondage to liberty.   The threats to our liberty fall under two broad headings:


The practice of legalism, which leads to frustration

Legalism, in a simple definition, is trying in our own energy and through our own rules to make ourselves righteous before God.  It is adding to the Gospel.   Grace says, “There’s nothing you can do to make God love you less; and there’s nothing you can do to make God love you more.”  He loves you perfectly, just as you are.

But while we might agree, and we may even buy a coffee mug with that on it, far too few live like it in actual fact.  We don’t believe “there’s nothing we can do to make God love us less,” so we live in condemnation for everything we do wrong.  Then we set out trying to be as religiously and morally pure as possible to satisfy that insatiable voice.  That’s one version of legalism.  Just trying not to get it wrong, lest we lose the love and approval of God.

Others might hear, “…nothing….make God love you more,” but we don’t believe that either, and set out trying to add to the simple Gospel that says, “all that we need to do to receive the love and approval of God is trust Christ’s finished work at the cross.”  So, we add lists and rules and regulations…a list of rules and dos and don’ts we try to keep…as if they were handed down by God.  (The Jewish Torah added 613 rules to the law of God.)  We aren’t much different.  Avoiding certain activities, subscribing to the right political views, reading the right authors, doing really good things but making sure they end up on Instagram, all fall in the definition of legalism.  This is the false gospel of good works.

Legalism isn’t a private thing.  Legalists need others to embrace their lists of “don’t do this” or you’ll be condemned or “do that” and God will really love you in a special way.  They need to be seen adhering to that list, as the Pharisees Jesus condemned who “love to be seen giving alms to the poor and being heard saying the loudest prayers and giving large sums in the offering. Legalists need you to join them in alternately feeling condemned for falling short or feelings superior for getting it right.  We lock ourselves in bondage by our practice of good deeds to get God’s approval.  And we never know if it’s enough.

The promise of license, which leads to futility

 If legalism adds to the simple Gospel of grace which says Jesus + nothing=freedom, the promise of license takes away from the Gospel.  “Jesus?  I don’t believe in a God.”

Human nature does NOT like to be constrained.  We do NOT want to be controlled.  We want to set our own boundaries, our own priorities, and live for our own self-fulfillment.  The issue of transgender (the “t” in LGBTQ)  and sexual identity is one way of throwing off the constraints we feel are placed on us as human beings.  “Who are you to tell me I have to be a man…or a woman…”   That is called “license.”  In other words, “I alone have the right to determine my life and my identity on my own terms, without the constraints of cultural restrictions or religious or moral limitations.”

You know, we are limited, finite beings.  We have no control over which body we are born in, or no control of the parents or family we’re born to.  You can’t control the race you are born from, or the parents you are born to, or the country you are born in…the place of your birth.  “God establishes these things.”

Nor do we have control over our gender.  It’s a limitation that we have now come to feel we have the right to throw off, or in reality that we MUST throw off, chemically or surgically,  if we’re unhappy about it because that is how freedom is now defined.    We must “live our truth” and “be our authentic self,” which almost always means going public with a hidden life of LGBTQ.   But now our culture is making heroes out of those who do this.  See the appeal to impressionable young people who don’t know who they are?

But this “other gospel” is secular society’s version of the good news which states “You can be whatever you say you are.”  “Live your truth.”   That’s the culture’s new gospel,  that’s the “other gospel”  that is now mainstream.  But like other false gospels, it promises freedom but leads to bondage…a life of insecurity and loneliness and as one trans- gendered man admitted, “a fear of never being forgiven.”   This is how it goes when we try to root our identity in ANYTHING or ANYONE but Jesus, Who created us as we are.  He is the only One Who can give us identity, meaning and purpose.  Anything less is a fake gospel, which leads those who follow it to futility.

A position of liberty, which leads to freedom.

There is one path between; a path that leads to liberty, a truth that truly makes us free.  And that path, that truth, is embracing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is a path of self-denial to gain true fulfillment and true freedom.  There is a right way to believe this: “Who has bewitched you?”  Believing correctly matters.

Another gospel won’t work.  Adding to the Gospel, as we seek to do when we become legalistic, won’t work.  Taking from the Gospel in license is following “another Gospel,” and not the Gospel that leads to freedom.

Paul said, “If anyone preaches another gospel…” than the one he preached….” let them be accursed.”    (Another of a different kind.)

2+2=4.  I think that’s still correct.  So, does 2+5=4?  No, that is adding to the total.  Does 2+1=4?  No that’s taking away from the total.  While part of the formula is intact, if we add to or take away from the truth of the simple equation 2+2=4, the answer is wrong.  It may be wrong by one digit, or it may be wrong by 5,000 but it’s still wrong!

The right answer is “I take Jesus; Jesus alone…add nothing to that simple equation: Not good deeds, not religious rituals, not being from a Christian family or even a church membership.  Simply Jesus Christ, alone.  By faith I receive Him.  Jesus is our justification.

The right answer is “I take Jesus; Jesus alone…taking nothing away by living for my own fulfillment and self-actualization.  Taking nothing from the simple equation:  Jesus plus nothing = freedom.  Jesus plus nothing=life.  Trusting Jesus, and that’s all.

Well, what do I need?  Nothing…but your need.  We need rescuing.  God did not throw a rule book into the sea as we were drowning.  He sent His Son, Who was born like us, and Who died to save us.

“Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” Your hands are empty and free that you might simply cling to Jesus.  That’s freedom.  That’s liberty.   That’s life!

Galatians Sermon Notes 01

GALATIANS: An Introduction

 Of all of the letters penned by the Apostle Paul, few shine brighter than the Letter to Galatians.   According to much contemporary New Testament scholarship, Galatians is likely the first letter written by Paul, despite its location in our New Testament canon of Scripture.

It may also stand as one of the most important.  Clearly, it is a frontal attack on the insurgent Judaism preying on the early New Testament communities that Paul founded in Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe.   Paul was alarmed and angry that the Jewish interlopers were feeding on the young sheep in the fold.

A part of his frustration came as these enemies of the faith had begun to erode confidence in the new disciples in HIS credibility as an apostle.  (1:11-2:14). His defense of his apostleship also provides us with an amazing autobiographical sketch of his life and calling.


The letter went to a region of Asia Minor which Paul visited on his first missionary journey.  The name “Galatians” (Gauls) applied to Celtic people, wherever they settled in central Asia Minor.  It is difficult therefore to pinpoint the location of the churches Paul founded and for which this letter was originally intended.

Culturally, the Gauls were considered a warlike and barbarian people.  Uprisings among their tribal groups constantly tormented their Roman conquerors.  In 230 BC, the Gauls were conquered by Greece and contained in the area of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey).  It was considered a victory of Hellenistic civilization over barbarianism. The area was later conquered and annexed by the Roman empire between 6 BC and AD 4.

This said, the area of Galatia had a colorful background.  Hardly known as a cultural center, the people seemed open to receiving the Gospel that Paul preached.  Apparently did not stay long enough in any region of Galatia to firmly establish them in their newfound faith.  No pastor/elder/leader was addressed in the letter, so it may be safely assumed there were none since the missionary team headed by Paul returned intact.

In reading Acts 16:6,  the missionaries Paul and Silas found themselves searching for a place where the Spirit of God had opened a door for them to enter Europe.  They finally did so through Macedonia. (“they went through the Phrygian and Galatic region, having been forbidden to speak the word in Asia”).  From there passage would have been possible into the Galatic region.

Galatia is again mentioned in Acts 18:23 as Paul returned west on the way to speak the Word in Ephesus.  But neither circumstance in Acts 16:6 or 18:23 allow for the possibility that Paul visited the Northern Galatian area, since to do so would have been virtually impossible from Lystra and the Cilician Gates where they started.

This gives birth to what is often referred to as the “South Galatian” theory, which indicates that the Galatian congregations were established on Paul’s first missionary journey.  This in turn is evidence that the letter to the Galatians was written early in Paul’s ministry. In fact, many believe, this was the first letter from the Apostle Paul.


Unlike any other letter from Paul, Galatians begins with urgency and with great energy.  The appeal and question, “who has bewitched you” gives us an idea of the concern Paul feels.   While most pastors would understand using that kind of phrase with one person who wanders from the faith, few of us have had the experience of addressing this to an entire group.

From inferences drawn from the letter itself, we can detect that a group (probably Jewish) had come in and begun teaching that to be true followers of Christ, they must be circumcised.  (This, notably, would have discouraged many from continuing further).

They also taught observance of special days (festivals, Sabbaths) that were peculiar to the Jews.  From Paul’s encounter with Peter in Galatians 2:11-14, we can also see that certain food laws were instituted.

All told, a number of typically Jewish laws and restrictions were being introduced to the new and impressionable Christ followers in Galatia.  This legalistic addition to the Gospel Paul referred to as “another Gospel,” or one which was not a Gospel at all.

Paul’s determination was to clarify the Gospel as he had presented it, to drill down into bedrock the basic claims of the faith, and to refute and reject the claims being made by the Jewish “troublemakers” (his words).

Galatians goes further and deeper into the true purpose of the Law and the place of the Spirit and the evidence of walking in the Spirit in later chapters.  All in all, the deep problems which prompted the letter aside, it is one of the most foundational documents we have in our Bible.



  • Scott, J S, Dictionary of New Testament Background, (IVP)
  • Bruce, FF.  New International Commentary of the Greek New Testament: Galatians
  • Morris, Leon.  Galatians: Paul’s Charter of Christian Freedom

Jesus’ Initial Ministry in the World (Part 1)

Book of Signs 

Chapter 1:19-12 (Raising of Lazarus)

“The Early Ministry of Jesus”       (John 1:19-4:54)

One of the really obvious things we encounter when we talk about John’s Gospel and compare it to Matthew, Mark and Luke is that there are some seeming contradictions or conflicts that occur in timeline, and location, or even in repetition of events the other Gospels may have reported occurring only once.

Part of the question involves how we see the issue of the inspiration of Scripture.  Could John have had access to the other Gospels in some written form?  Obviously by the late 90’s the Gospels would have been in circulation for almost forty or fifty years by the time John wrote.

How did inspiration happen?  Did the Holy Spirit just land on them like on Jesus during His baptism and just pour out all the words?  Or was there a sense in which God worked through the Gospel writer’s life experiences and the historic setting of the day?  Did John know he was writing “the Gospel of John” or was he writing for his own reasons?

I think the latter is true.  God worked IN the inspired writer but also THROUGH them to bring the Biblical books into focus.  It was a very Divine process…(“ all Scripture is God-breathed…”) but it was wed with a very human process.  Both were in play.  God’s fingerprints are all over the Gospels, and yet the Holy Spirit limited Himself to the writer’s ability to write, and to the writer’s life experience and the writer’s experience with Jesus and memory of it.

So why would John NOT just repeat all the things MML wrote?  Well two reasons:

  1. They already wrote it and it’s already been said and commonly circulated
  2. John had a totally different purpose and new audience he was targeting

For instance, there’s a lot more material about John the Baptist in John’s Gospel.  That’s because the disciples of John the Baptist were still influencing people in John’s day.  He had to confront that and deal with it as an issue.

So the circumstances drive which content made it into the telling of the story of the Gospel.

i. The Testimony of the First Disciples (John 1:19-51)

The first eighteen verses of John 1 introduce Jesus to us from a Divine perspective.  We learn from the descriptive terms where Jesus came from, why He came, and what would happen when He appeared.

The rest of the Chapter is also an introduction, but this time from a human perspective.  I mentioned there are 22 or 23 titles for Jesus found in John 1.  But the only one Jesus ever chose to use for Himself is the term “Son of Man.”

The human introduction in John 1 covers a period of seven days.  From the ministry of John the Baptist to the wedding of Cana in the beginning of Chapter 2, one week elapses.

A:  The Controversial Ministry of John Baptist

The Jews came (beauraucratic, not the common Jews) to interrogate John as to whether he was claiming to be Messiah.  They essentially asked seven questions: (vv 19-25)

  1. Who are you?
  2. What then?
  3. Are you Elijah?
  4. Are you the prophet?
  5. Who are you?
  6. What do you say about yourself?
  7. Why are you baptizing?

John’s answers were amazing, but humble.  He could have taken offense and gotten angry about their challenges.  But that wasn’t John.  That was why Jesus referred to him as “the greatest in the Kingdom.” (Matt 11:11)

He was humble as a little child.  Their questions were accusatory and condescending.

On Day 2 of this week, Jesus appeared.  (vv 29-34). He was then baptized by John.  John knew seven things about JESUS:

  1. He knew he was to prepare the way for Jesus
  2. He knew that Jesus takes away the sin of the world
  3. He knew he was to show Jesus to Israel
  4. He knew he was to baptize Jesus
  5. He knew Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit
  6. He knew Jesus was the Son of God (of exact character and nature)
  7. He knew Jesus was the son of Mary, were humanely related cousins

What does John teach us about how to be a witness?  (1) Focus on Jesus, not religion, not denomination, not church.  (2) Be humble. (3). Be authentic.  People want to know first if YOU believe this…believe ur belief

Day 3, we encounter the first testimony of the disciples.

They followed Jesus first as a Rabbi, or a religious teacher, when John the B pointed to Him as the Lamb of God.  We see the arrival of the first disciples, Andrew and John.

Day 4, Jesus determines to go on a three day journey to Cana, where a marriage (family member?) was taking place.  On the way (Day 5) He acquired two more disciples, Phillip and Nathaniel.  Jesus poured intently into twelve men.  That says something to us of our own priorities.  Nothing replaces the individual, one-on-one, life on life transformation of discipling people.

Day 6 they traveled and arrived at the wedding in Cana.  Day 7 surrounds Jesus and Mary at the wedding.  The disciples were not just passive.  They were witnesses of the life of Jesus.  (Flying car). They saw Him, heard Him, and watched God work in Him.  They were His witnesses.  So are we.  (“Jehovah’s Bystander”)

ii. The First Sign: Water into Wine   (John 2:1-11)

Jesus is, with this miracle, demonstrating His authority as Creator.  That it is happening at a wedding is significant, because the imagery of wedding, of the Bride and Bridegroom, points to the last chapter of the Bible.

The wedding of a virgin, according to Jewish tradition, would begin on a Wednesday.  That means it was probably Friday or Saturday when Jesus appeared with the disciples.  Weddings were days long in Jewish custom.

Jesus would have been accompanied, by then, by six disciples:  the four we met earlier and then John, the writer of the Gospel, and his brother James.

Ok Jesus was not rude to Mary…”woman” a term of respect…”What do you and I need to do?” “What would you have me do for you?”

Sign….pointing to something better that was coming

Water jars…used for religious ritual; purification 9-10 gallons.

108-180 gallons…miracle of substance but also of time?

Miracle was not for it’s own sake.  It pointed to a greater reality.

Some saw the miracle on it’s face…it was an incredible thing!  But others began to see with eyes of faith that something greater was happening.

iii.  The Temple Cleansing   (John 2:12-25)

If the miracle at Cana’s wedding was a sign of Jesus’ authority over creation, the cleansing of the temple was a picture of Jesus’ authority over the Jewish religion.  This was “HIS FATHER’S” house.

It was Passover; the first that Jesus and His disciples attended in Jerusalem.  For the Jew, attending Jerusalem…particularly Passover… once a year was mandatory if at all possible.  Jesus would probably have been on many other occasions.

While the other Gospels seem to point to only one visit by Jesus to Jerusalem, there are implications, even in the Synoptics, that there were several.

When He cleansed the Temple:

  1. He “cast out” the money changers and their sacrificial animals.  Jesus was making way for the only acceptable sacrifice:  Himself.
  2. He purified the Temple that was representative of His Father’s presence to the nations.  It was not primarily a reminder to the Jews of God’s presence, but a picture to the nations.
  3. He prepared the way for the teaching that HE was the temple…”destroy this temple.”  By now, the temple renovation had been underway 46 years and would not be completed until 63 AD, only to be leveled by the Romans in AD 70.
  4. By His coming, Jesus was “overturning” and “disrupting” the present Jewish system of religion and ritual.  The cleansing here and the week of His passion showed this clearly.
  5. Jesus’ human emotion on clear display here…angry
  6. When the religious authority asked for a sign as His authority to do this, Jesus pointed to His resurrection as the only sign they needed.

iv. Nic at Night. (1,000) (John 3:1-21)

Obviously sincere, but concerned about being seen with such a controversial person, Nicodemus came to Jesus by night.  Flashed his resume.

(vv 4-13). The New Birth

(vv 14-21) The Love of God

  1. The Reality of God’s Love. (vv 14-16)
  2. The Reason Jesus Came (vv 17)
  3. The Result of Belief (v 18)
  4. The Response of Man (vv 19-21)

v.  Jesus and John the Baptist  (John 3:22-36)

The Humility of John’s Ministry and Misunderstandings

(vv 22-30)

The Honoring of Jesus

  1. His Supremacy (v 31)
  2. His Testimony (vv 32-34)
  3. His Authority. (vv 35-36)

These statements were from John’s own mouth, reminding those who still insisted on following John as the possible real Messiah, that he was not.

vi. The Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-42)

Jesus departed (“sent Himself away; went away”) from Judea into Samaria.  Jesus rested (“after extreme toil”).  Jesus was human.  He experienced all that we experience, even our temptations, yet without sin.

The Samaritans were despised by the Jews, and had their own temple and their own worship on Mount Gerizim.  This goes back to the history of Israel when the father of King Ahab conquered the hill of Shemer and the center of worship was moved there for the northern Kingdom.  Rabbis taught that “to eat with a Samaritan was to eat swine’s flesh.”  No friendly relationship here!

Jesus transgressed:  Racial distinctions; (Samaritans came from five tribes or people groups in Mesopotamia); religious distinctions (sat and spoke with a Samaritan); gender distinctions (initiated conversation with her).  The truly religious Pharisee would not even speak to his wife in public!

Jesus pointed to Himself as the water of life

Jesus did not condemn this woman, married multiple times

Jesus diagnosed the woman’s emptiness and thirst

Jesus taught about true worship, without condemning her for following the wrong one

  1. Jesus first built the faith of this outcast woman
  2. He then built the faith of His own disciples
  3. Then He built the faith of a Samaritan city

vii.  The Second Sign:  The Nobleman’s Son   (John 4:43-54)

Authentic faith is not spiritual curiosity but commitment

Samaritans were curious about Jesus, but curiosity is not belief.  People today are spiritual…I saw a number of posts the other day after people had the “spiritual” experience of looking at the Wolf Moon.

Authentic faith is not emotional feeling but informed belief

The Nobleman who’s son was dying did not base his son’s survivalon a feeling.  He believed “what Jesus said…”

Authentic faith is not a single decision but a growing dependence

Saving faith is not a momentary flash of emotional experience, but a genuine, trusting and growing dependence upon Jesus as your Lord.  The nobleman first believed in the spoken Word of God as his son was healed.  But then he believed in the incarnate Son of God, and was saved.  This act of faith was placed in contrast to the Galileans who only believed because of the Sign.

John is pointing to a pattern of Jesus’ ministry that modeled the Great Commisson:

  • Jerusalem:  Nicodemus
  • Judea. (4:1-3)
  • Samaria. (4:4-42)
  • Uttermost Parts (4:43-54)—-Gentile nobleman’s son/belief with household

Prologue: John 1:1-18

PROLOGUE   John 1:1-18

“The Revelation of the Word of God”

His Deity  (1:1-2)

“Who Was Jesus?”

How is Jesus to be understood?  Did he stride out of the wilderness 2000 years ago to preach a gentle message of peace and brotherhood? Or did he perhaps advocate some form of revolution?  When did he realize his mission would end with death upon a cross?  Did he view himself to be the promised Messiah?  Did he understand himself to be both God and man?

Ostling, Time

For those who say that Jesus did not see Himself as God, the opening verses of John 1 correct their view.  “Confusion about the deity of Christ is inexcusable, because the biblical teaching regarding it is clear and unmistakeable.  Jesus Christ is the pre-existent Word, Who enjoys full face-to-face communion and divine life with the Father, and is Himself God.” (MacArthur)

It’s important for us to keep straight in our thinking that Jesus was not created.  When He was born in Bethlehem, a body was provided for Him, born of a virgin, conceived by God in Mary’s womb.  “A body you have prepared for me…I have come to do your will O God.” for “When all things began, the Word already was.” (Continuous action)

We have to wrestle a bit with the idea of Jesus as “the Word.” What exactly does that mean?  “Logos” in the Greek, (“logic”) the idea of Jesus as “the Word” of God hits us as a little strange.

What do words do?  Well, words can strengthen a nation for war, as Winston Churchill showed us during WW 2.  Words can change the direction of our lives, as some of you have known when you said, “I do.”

But words also reveal.  God tried to tell us Who He was in the Old Testament.  But here as Jesus enters history and time, He SHOWS us by His Word.

It was by the Word of God that the world, and in fact that all of the material and even spiritual aspects of creation came into existence.  What do we see over and over in Genesis 1?  “And God said….”

Those of us who have used the phrase, “well sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me,” have never been on the receiving end of a critical parent, or a verbally and emotionally abusive spouse, or have never read hurtful and untrue comments on Facebook that amount to bullying.

Words have power.  The Hebrew people knew this.  They would literally duck if someone starting cursing at them!  Words have power.

To the Hebrew person, words had energy and an independent existence.  It’s still true of folks living in some parts of the east today.

If you have read or heard the story of Isaacs blessing of Jacob which he was deceived into doing, and you hear the “unblessed” brother Esau begging his father for any word of blessing, you see something of this.

Words have consequences.  Jesus said that we would be held accountable to “every idle word” we speak.  We are responsible for the use of our words.

But to the Greek reader, the word “logos” meant “reason” or “wisdom.” It was the “logos” in Greek thought that brought order and meaning to the world.  They never understood what it was or where it came from, but they did not deny it’s existence.

His Creation  (1:3)

God created through His Word, Who was Jesus.  Jesus was the agent of God’s creation, both in the beginning and as Jesus, the Word of God personified and incarnated, the Word of God was inseparable from God as your words are inseparable from you.

Before the world or anything in all creation was brought to existence, Jesus existed.  Jesus was God!  God has always been like Jesus.  One little girl, after encountering some of the more difficult and violent places in the Old Testament, felt the need to defend God’s actions.  “These things happened before God became a Christian!”

Revelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, O God, to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things and by your will they were created.”

All things came into existence by Him.  Not a firefly, a sunset, a sunrise or an amoebae exists without Jesus bringing it to life.

His Illumination   (1:4-5)

John now introduced two words that will come back many times in the Gospel. The words are “LIFE” and “LIGHT.”  Jesus does two things by His coming:

1). He brings LIFE.  Jesus is LIFE.  “The wages of sin is death…”  We lost life with God because of sin.  We are separated from God when we are spiritually dead.  Eternal punishment is eternity separated from LIFE with God.  “We are dead in trespasses and sins…but alive because of the grace of God.”  Death, by definition, is “the inability to respond to life.”  Physical death is separation of the spirit or soul from the body.  Life is no longer present.  Jesus came to call that which was formerly dead to life.  A Christian is someone who was once a spiritual corpse but is now alive with resurrected life.

You know, eternal life (and John deals with that term later) begins at salvation and never ends.  It doesn’t stop when your body dies.  Life never returns to death when Jesus brings it.

The word “LIFE” is tremendously important in John’s Gospel.  Thirty five times, the word “zoe” or “life” appears.  Fifteen times the statement “to have life” appears.  Fifty references exist in total about LIFE.

2). He brings LIGHT.  “The light shines in the darkness…”. John uses the word for darkness that means “the realm where God is not loved.” This darkness is a darkness that is the natural realm of those who do not want to do good.”  The light shines in that darkness and brings illumination.  In the letter of 1 John, he talks about those who prefer to stay in the darkness and not walk in the light.   Jesus brought enough light for every man.  No one needs to remain in darkness unless they choose to do so.

His Forerunner  (1:6-9)

John came to point people to the Light that was Jesus.  It’s interesting that people need to be directed to the light.  You would think that people who are walking in darkness would welcome it!  And yet, people don’t do they?  They become accustomed to living in darkness.  Their eyes become acclimated to the dark.  Do you know there are fish that are found in pools of water is some of the deepest, darkest caves that don’t even have EYES?  What do they need eyes for?  There’s nothing to see in the darkness.  But we need to be pointed to the Light, and John makes clear that HE isn’t the Light, but he knows where the Light is, or better, WHO the Light is.

John was “SENT” (apostelo) from God.  One of the big debates among the religious authorities of the time was who John was.  He had huge crowds that would come to the Jordan River, near the wilderness, to hear him preach and see him baptize.  He had a following of disciples that we run into several times later in the New Testament.

Once when Jesus was confronted by the Pharisees over something He did that made them mad, they demanded to know, “Where did you come from?”  Jesus turned the question around on them and said “Was the baptism of John from God or from men?”  This caused them a problem.  If they said, “From man,” the people would riot against them.  But if they said, “From God,” then Jesus would say “then why didn’t you believe what he said about me?”

His Rejection   (1:10-11)

So Jesus came to bring LIFE and LIGHT.  Why would people not want that?  Wouldn’t you want LIFE if you were dead, and LIGHT if you were blind?

But “He came to His own, and His own (People) did not receive Him.” However, their rejection of Him opened the way for the offer of salvation to be offered to “Whosoever will…”. “As many as received Him…”  That’s you.  That’s me.  We are the “whosoever.”. We are the “as many…”

His Offer   (1:12-13)

John uses the word “teknon” to describe our new birth in Christ.

In John 3 when Jesus talks to Nicodemus…(“born again…”)

Paul uses the term “huion” which is more a legal term.  John emphasizes birth into Jesus.  We are regenerated, “born again” into the family of God.

Paul emphasizes the legal phrase because his emphasis on salvation is more focused on adoption than new birth.  Both are different dimensions of the same reality.  We are made new, made part of a new family, a new community, we come into a new relationship with God…no longer as slaves and subjects but as children in a new family.

His Incarnation   (1:14)

Jesus did not come simply to dwell in a human shell.  He BECAME flesh.  When He was born physically through Mary, He received a body that is STILL alive today.  When you go to Heaven one day, you will see the very body of Jesus that was crucified for you, and that was resurrected.

If Jesus wasn’t human He couldn’t be tempted

If Jesus wasn’t human He couldn’t be an example to us

If Jesus wasn’t human He couldn’t die for us.

“…the humanity of Jesus is not a miracle of nature, but a marvel of grace.”

(JI Packer)

His Witness   (1:15-18)


“pitched his tent”  “set up his tabernacle” among us


The visible presence of all the excellence of God’s character and nature.  No one could stare directly at the glory.  Often it was accompanied by a dark cloud that kept the glory from blinding those who looked

Fullness of grace and truth….we do not behold Him now through signs and images and symbolism.   Now we behold all the fulness of God (which dwelt bodily in Jesus).  Everything you will ever need to see and know of God is seen bodily // physically in Jesus.

  1. The Gospel is a rescue story, and Jesus is the rescuer
  2. The Gospel is a promise and Jesus is the fulfillment of it
  3. The Gospel is a grace story, and it is grace that leads us home

Cowper “God Works in a Mysterious Way”.  Struggled with depression, and guilt, and darkness his whole life.  On Jan 1, 1773 Cowper tried to commit suicide.  It was also on Jan 1 1773 that John Newton’s congregation sang the song “Amazing Grace” for the first time!  Newton wrote the stanza that said, “Through many dangers, toils and snares…”  with his friend, William Cowper in mind.  He had tried numerous times to convince Cowper that all of his sin had been covered by the grace of God.  He had hoped that singing the stanza of this song Newton had just written would persuade his friend to trust in the grace of God.

Introduction to the Gospel of John Part 2

The Prologue

The Word became flesh….”. Christianity is a strange religion.  It is a religion of a sort, but it doesn’t tell us how to find God.  It doesn’t even tell us how to escape the world, as in “this world is not my home.”

It is actually the story of how God, our Creator, entered our world through a body of flesh in the person of Jesus the Christ.  Jesus is the full Presence of God in our midst and in our world Who came to dwell with us.


  1. Jesus, the Eternal, Incarnate Word of God  (John 1:1-18)
  2. Jesus’ Initial Ministry in the World  (John 1:19-10:42)
  3. The Preparation for the Crucifixion  (John 11:1-12:50)
  4. Preparation of the Disciples for Jesus Death  (John 13:1-17:26)
  5. Arrest, Trial, Crucifixion, and Resurrection   (John 18:1-20:31)
  6. Epilogue: The Restoration of Peter Authentication of the Gospel  (John 21:1-25)

PROLOGUE                 John 1:1-18

“The Revelation of the Word of God”

  • His Deity                      (1:1-2)
  • His Creation                 (1:3)
  • His Illumination            (1:4-5)
  • His Forerunner            (1:6-9)
  • His Rejection               (1:10-11)
  • His Offer                      (1:12-13)
  • His Incarnation            (1:14)
  • His Witness                 (1:15-18)

Introduction to the Gospel of John Part 1

Who was the Author?

Without getting into the deep weeds of the debate, let me just say that there has been quite a bit of disagreement about exactly which “John” was the writer of this Gospel.

  • John the son of Zebedee (brother of James)
  • John the Elder
  • Disciples of John the Apostle wrote down the things he said

Only self-reference to author is “the disciple whom Jesus loved” or “the beloved disciple.”

Many of the eye-witness accounts are first-hand, inner circle kinds of reports

While it is safe for us to say that the beloved disciple was John son of Zebedee, other Biblical authorities make a case for this being a different John.  But there is ample references to make us fairly confident that John was one of the “sons of thunder,” the sons of Zebedee though other sources indicate it could have been a “John” who was not an apostle but who also followed Jesus and later became a church leader named “John the Elder.”

Why was John Written?

  • Gnosticism growing in influence: Pushing back against false theology
  • Provide a more non-Jewish theological framework
  • Fill in gaps in timeline and events not recorded before
  • Give an identity to an exiled community of Christians

What are the Distinctives?


What’s Missing?

Much if not all of the Galilean ministry of Jesus is missing

What’s Added?

  • Miracles:
    • Water into wine
    • Healing of man at Pool of Siloam
    • Conversion of woman at the well
    • Encounter with adulteress woman
    • Raising of Lazarus
  • Discourse at Lord’s Supper (Chapters 13-16)
  • Prayer in Chapter 17
  • Encounter with Peter in John 21

The Key Words in John

  • Life
  • Witness
  • Light
  • Truth
  • Believe
  • I Am
  • Father
  • Spirit

The “Signs” in John

  • Water into wine (John 2:1-11)
  • Healing of Capernaum officer’s son (John 4:46-54)
  • Healing of paralytic at Bethesda (John 8:1-15)
  • Feeding 5,000 (John 6:5-14)
  • Jesus walking on water (John 6:16-24)
  • Healing the blind man (John 9:1-7)
  • Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-48)

The “I Am” Statements

  • I AM the bread of life (John 6:35)
  • I AM the light of the world (John 8:12)
  • I AM the door of the sheep (John 10:7)
  • I AM the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)
  • I AM the good shepherd (John 10:11)
  • I AM the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6)
  • I AM the true vine (John 15:1)

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