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John 3:16

This week I am writing a different than normal. This is a little bit more of an update about what is going on in my life and how pieces of John Chapter 3 are influencing me. This week is not a full out description of what each section means, but a little bit more of a testimonial of what it is meaning to me. As always, if you would like to follow along with my reading, you can visit BibleGateway.com for any translation you seek.

I would say that the main focus of John 3 is to discuss the idea of everlasting life, given through the salvation of Jesus and the Lord. Granted, there are other important ideas within this text and the chapter literally cannot be summed down into one sentence, but I believe that for the purposes of this blog that is all that needs to be mentioned.

One of the most famous verses from the Bible is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” A very powerful phrase, I think most people would say. This week I decided to focus on this one phrase and what it means in my life. However, that took a little bit of research (for I didn’t know what ‘begotten’ meant). Begotten is the past participle of beget, which means, literally, to father or to sire (most definitely adds a little bit of emphasis on how important Jesus’ relationship to God was, and vice versa).

Lately, I have been getting a bit more involved with my church. I am still part of the worship team (and I am actually playing this weekend) which is still a blast. But I have also gotten more involved with a Bible study on Monday nights and a Men’s ministry on Thursday nights. I’ve noticed, in each of these places the concept of everlasting life and God’s relationship with us is always coming up. Many of us are seeking to find, understand and have an effective relationship with the Lord. Even some of us are still trying to get our heads wrapped around this idea that ‘God so love the world.’ We do not understand this because some of us have never experience a relationship that has unfailing love.

John 3:16 always causes me to question my relationship with God. I see that God has a complete devotion to me, so I ask myself, “Do I have a complete devotion to the Lord?” Then I realize that the following lyrics seem important to me:

Closer by Sanctus Real

I’m not satisfied in this lifetime
I’m following you to the other side
There’s nothing that can change my mind
You’re all I need

You’re the only tie that binds my heart
Away from you I’m falling apart
We need to be closer than we are
You’re all I need

So what can I do to get closer?
I know there is more my heart can bear
I give you control ’cause I need you
To take me there

Like a bird flying southI’m seeking you out
And there’s no rope that can tie me down
I’m running home, I’m a slave set free
You’re all I need

So what can I do to get closer?
I know there is more my heart can bear
I give you control ’cause I need you
To take me there

I am waiting
Draw me closer
I am waiting
Make me stronger
I am waiting
Draw me closer

So what can I do to get closer?
I know there is more my heart can bear
I give you control ’cause I need you
To take me there(2x)

I am waiting
Draw me closer

I feel that there is a lot more to unpack with John chapter 3, but I think the task right now is to focus upon our own personal responses to an idea of everlasting life and an unconditional love. So, how does this verse affect your life and what is your response to hearing that “God Loves You” ?

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Chapter Two

Now to start the study of John 2. For this chapter, I am using two translations, the New King James Version (NKJV) as well as the New International Version (NIV). If you do not have reference to look on with, you can visit BibleGateway.com for any translation you would like.

This chapter is a bit shorter, at least in comparison to chapter one, and can be separated into two parts, verses 1-11 and verses 12-25. The overall idea of the chapter, I feel, is to start a person’s faith in Jesus. Today, our world constantly questions the qualifications of people…how they are able to do the job…what makes them special…why they are gifted in certain areas. I think we all can admit that we have been skeptical of people who claim absolute truths and I believe that it was no different in Jesus’ day. The first chapter in the book of John sets up the coming of Jesus and the announcement that He is the Messiah, but now that this is placed, it causes questions and doubt for new Christians. Essentially, it raises questions:

Why is Jesus the Messiah and not someone else?

What makes people think He is ‘our lord and savior?’

If He is so powerful, why doesn’t He prove it?

This is where chapter two of John comes in; it begins to combat with these doubts by explaining the occurrences in Jesus’ life.

Verses 1-11 take on the first part of the future miracles Jesus shows during his lifetime, at a wedding, He turns water into wine. Of all the miracles that Jesus could have first done in order to show who He is, such as raising the dead or healing the sick or the blind, Jesus starts small. He starts with turning ordinary water into incredible wine. When I first heard this story, it made me question the relevance of it. I didn’t see what was so great about turning water into wine. I mean, yeah it is a miracle, but what symbolism was behind it? In all honesty, it seemed kind of ridiculous to me.

But then I started to think about it. In other places of the Bible (such as the story where Jesus meets the lady at the well), He offers people the water of life, or living water, that will quench their thirst. During the last supper, Jesus offers up the wine and brings forth the tradition of communion, where the wine becomes the blood of Jesus. I feel that this miracle of turning water into wine was not only for Jesus to show His abilities as the son of God, but also to create a metaphor for offering water to quench our thirsts, which turns into His blood that He gave on the cross for our sins. When the bridegroom states in verse 10, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now” (2:10, NIV) it furthers this idea that Jesus has so much more to offer…He has what we thirst for.

Verses 12-25 also deal with later parts of Jesus life and shows Jesus as knowing about His final death. He states, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (2:19, NKJV) and only a few verses later, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body” (2:21, NKJV). Jesus predicts His resurrection, for He knows His purpose in everything that He was doing and people followed Him for it. Jesus made people believe by talking and showing miracles. It makes me wonder, how was He able to do that?

It is mind boggling to me that someone could cause people to follow them with only speaking a few words to a person, or showing them a miracle that they do not understand. If you are still feeling skeptical about the miracles and words of Jesus, I would like to ask you to do two things:

First, re-read the post where we discussed chapter one and remember the insights you gained through that. Think about how those words made you feel and how do you feel now? What is making you feel that way? Is it the skepticism of water being turned into wine? If that is holding you up, try moving past that and working with the deeper meaning of it all.

Second, pray about your frustration. I think there are a lot of things in the Bible that we have trouble understanding and comprehending, so ask God to help you figure out the pertinence behind His word.

From what I have discovered though, it takes faith to help us understand the deeper meanings in the actions of Jesus. We can’t simply get caught up in the physics of a situation, for God doesn’t appeal to any physical bounds (after all, He caused a virgin to have a baby…I don’t think changing water into wine is much more of a challenge).

From the book I am using a resource for this study; I would like you to think about the following: “Ask God to change the stagnant water of your life into vibrant wine” (P. 14).

What stagnant water is in your life right now?

So, this is the first post of this very exciting task of bringing the study of John in the New Testament to so many people across so many mediums. Before getting into things however, I would like to ask:

If you are a first time visitor to this site, please take the time to read the “About” section headed at the top of the blog before reading the blog posts or beginning discussion. This provides information on the purpose of this blog as well as information about me. Also, if you do not have a Bible to look at during my discussion and would like to, please visit the Link and Resources tab at anytime, or visit BibleGateway.com.

So, let’s begin…

I started this study by reading John 1 in the New King James Version initially, and then read it a second time in the New Living Translation.  This chapter of John mainly focuses on Jesus, the Word of God, coming to Earth and people beginning to follow Him, the Messiah. In verses 1-5, the chapter states the initial existence of God and His word. Verses 6-9 set up the appearance of John the Baptist who “was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.” (NKJV) Verses 10-18 explain Jesus becoming flesh and walking amongst the people on this Earth and the ‘testament’ John the Baptist (not the author of the book of John) gives to help the people follow Him.

This is the first portion of this chapter and is, in my opinion, one of the most confusing portions (especially in older translations, such as the King James version). The repetition of the first few verses is hard to understand, but after getting through those sections, I found some of utmost importance…”In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (1:4, NKJV). I believe this is an important part to the beginning of this gospel, to show people that Jesus was life and will provide life for them if they are willing to accept it. Then, in verse 14, the characteristics of Jesus appear…grace and truth.

I have always felt that people often have misunderstandings to what the Bible actually says versus what Christians or other people tell them. I think that people get wrapped up in the Ten Commandments given by Moses and focus on the wrath of God rather than, as verse 17 states, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”(NKJV) I propose to you, that as you read further into this study to maintain this open-mindedness and don’t get wrapped up in what other people tell you, but rather what the Bible is telling you and what Jesus is telling you.

Verses 19-34 focus on the testament of John the Baptist who is questioned of his importance/relation to the Lord, where he is asked if he is the Messiah or a Prophet. He responds with saying “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the LORD”‘” (1:23, NKJV). John the Baptist pushes people towards Jesus and the Word of God. But what is the significance of this?

I feel that this section is very pertinent to our relations in society today. Perhaps we do not use the same wording, but often we lean on things, hoping that they can provide us with happiness, security and safety, but then are disappointed when they fail. When the people ask John the Baptist if he is the Word, it is a relation of how we unconsciously are seeking for our safety blankets from the hardships of the world. Today, we fall into pits and traps that never provide us with anything but pain in the end. But John asks us to seek refuge in Jesus, not in him. In modern language, he asks us to lean on God and not on our vices, or that money that keeps failing us, or that relationship that is always hurting us, or that addiction that is pushing everyone else away.

The last portion of the first chapter is verses 35-51. Mostly, this section focuses on Andrew, Simon, Philip, Nathanael and another disciple, whom John never names, beginning to follow Jesus. Andrew (who initially hears John the Baptist talk about Jesus), tells Simon that they have found the  Messiah and they meet Jesus. Nathanael questions how Jesus knows him, and Jesus replies with, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” (1:48, NKJV) and Nathanael instantly believes that Jesus is the Messiah. However, Jesus questions his belief based on only being told.

The most interesting situation in this section, in my opinion, is when Jesus approaches Philip (1:43) and simply says “Follow Me” and Philip drops everything to follow Him. It is such a blind following of faith that I think many people would be put off from it, but I believe that the purpose of John 1 is to show that we should drop everything and follow Jesus and He will show us love and grace.

Well, that is my basic information of John 1 and my basic interpretation. Here are a few of the questions that I felt would be most beneficial to this discussion that I developed as I was working through this study:

  1. What area of John 1 do you find most helpful in your life?
  2. What do you know about God after reading this?
  3. What questions to you have about God’s character?

The book that I am working with provides this challenge for chapter 1, this is something I really feel passionate about doing:

“Take one specific action this week to demonstrate Jesus’ love to others who don’t yet know Him” (p. 11).

I hope that your action provides you with the joy of knowing God’s love for others and knowing His love for you.