John 18:1-27 Study Notes

This morning I had the privilege of teaching on John 18:1-27.  This is a passage I had preached a sermon on some time ago, so the notes were the same and can be found by clicking here.

In addition to the notes, there was a sermon that proved very helpful by C.H. Spurgeon called ‘Human Inability’ and that can be located by clicking here. 

I hope you enjoy the notes!

PJW

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Preparing Yourself and Your Family for Sunday

It’s no secret that sometimes arriving on time Sunday morning, not being distracted in service, and leaving “on time” after church are a few of the things that every one of us struggles with as it relates to Sunday mornings.

I have recently read several columns and pointers on preparing for Sunday morning.  I think this is CRUCIAL.  We need to create a cheerful and Godly environment and clear expectations within our minds and among the members of our family in the lead up to a Sunday morning.  Below is one article by David Matthis that addresses this.   There are other good ones out there as well, like this one by John Piper here. For now, check out what Matthis has to say, I think you’ll profit from it…

 

Oh, Behave! Conduct Worthy of the Gospel in Corporate Worship

Other Christians. Can’t do corporate worship without them, and yet sometimes it feels like we can’t really do corporate worship with them either.

How nice would it be if everyone would just mind their manners in weekend worship? So thinks our old self.

Let’s admit it. We’re tough on others, easy on ourselves. We assume others should give us the benefit of the doubt—which is the very thing we don’t give to others.

“She’s the reason I’m distracted,” the old self tells us.

“If he weren’t singing so loud—and so off key . . . “

“If they would just get off their iPads and smart phones. I’m sure they’re all doing emails, or social media, rather than looking at the Bible text or taking notes.”

We love to blame our neighbor, or the worship leader, for our inability to engage in corporate worship. But the deeper problem usually belongs to the one who is distracted. Few things are more hypocritical than showing up to a worship gathering of the Friend of Sinners and bellyaching that other sinners showed up too.

Checking Our Own Souls

If there is gospel etiquette for the gathered church, it starts with evaluating my heart, not their actions. Frustration with others’ distracting behavior—whether in the pew in front of me, or on the stage—is deeper and more dangerous than the nonchalance or negligence that sidetracks others.

Of course, there are rare exceptions when someone really is totally out of line. Such as the guy who brought his own tambourine one week. But even in the occasional instance where someone’s worship conduct is seriously out of bounds, what if we started by asking ourselves some hard questions?

  • If love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), might God be calling me to look past this distraction I perceive?
  • Am I really applying John 13:34-35 (“love one another”) to fellow Christians in weekly corporate worship? If we can’t apply John 13:34-35 when the church is gathered, are we really going to apply this elsewhere?

The principle of walking in line with the gospel (Galatians 2:14) in corporate worship looks like this: In grace consider others enough to refrain from distracting them, and extend grace to those who you find to be distracting. Here are a few suggestions for how to think well of and for others in corporate worship.

1. Arrive early.

Not only does early arrival keep you from distracting others by coming in late after the service has started, but it also enables you to greet others and extend to them a welcome as they arrive. Ain’t no shame in coming early for some social time. God’s happy when his children love each other.

Also, arriving early (rather than late) helps us remember that the whole service is worship, not just the sermon. Even though we’d never say it, sadly we sometimes function as if everything before the sermon is some added extra or just the warm up for the preaching.The worship really begins when the preacher ascends to his pulpit. It’s fine if we miss the first few minutes of singing. No big loss.

2. Park far, sit close.

This is one practical way to count others more significant than yourselves, and look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4). Parking far leaves the better spots in the lot for those arriving after you, and sitting close leaves the seats near the doors easily accessible.

3. Participate heartily.

“Heartily” is an attempt to communicate a balanced kind of engaged participation—not being a mere spectator and not being that guy singing with the out-of-control volume. The problem of over-participating speaks for itself (quite literally), but in regard to under-participating, note that you are actually robbing others of the value of corporate worship when you don’t engage. Your presence is a part, and your voice is a part as well. The experience of corporate worship is enriched when all the attendees participate.

4. Smile.

I’m not counseling you to fake it or put on airs. Corporate worship is a time for gladness and excitement, not dourness and mere duty. Try to make the most of your morning before attending corporate worship, and let your gladness be contagious. Like George Mueller, seek to get your soul happy in Jesus, and ask God for help to spill over some of your soul satisfaction on others.

5. Stay late and engage others.

Come on the look for people, transition Godward in the worship gathering, and leave on the look for others. Some of the most significant conversations in the life of the church happen immediately after worship gatherings. Relationally, this is one of the most strategic times during the week to be available and on the lookout for

  • new faces you can make feel welcomed
  • old faces you can connect with
  • hurting people you can comfort
  • happy people you can be encouraged by

Sometimes you just gotta go after a service. We get it. That’s okay. There are special events, or unusual demands, or seasons of life with small, antsy children. But if you’re bouncing out the doors every week as soon as possible after the services ends (or even before it’s over), you’re at least not making the most of corporate worship.

6. Come to receive from God and give to others.

This is the banner over all the other charges. Come to corporate worship on the lookout for feeding on God and his grace, and on the lookout for giving grace to others. Come to be blessed by God, and to bless others. Receive from him, give to them.

We’re prone to get this backwards. We come to worship thinking that we’re somehow giving to God, and we subtly expect we’ll be receiving from others. We desperately need to turn that pattern on its head.

The God we worship is one not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). And when he came in the flesh, he did so “not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Beware coming to corporate worship to serve God. But by all means, come on the lookout to serve others. Worshiping God and building up others aren’t mutually exclusive but come to their fullness together.

We give to one another as we together come to receive from God our soul’s satisfaction. We kill both the vertical and horizontal of corporate worship when we come looking to give to God and receive from others.

 

2-12-12 Study Notes

1:19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

  • The men would have come from the Sanhedrim, which was the high council of the Jews at the time.  This council was composed of both Pharisees and Sadducees, and was in charge of the religious affairs of the Jewish people, along with other things (cf. Barnes Notes), though I’m not sure exactly what else fell under their purview.  It seems likely that they would have been a sort of representative voice for the Jewish people to the Roman occupiers.

1:20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”

  • His correct answer here assumes that they asked the question, or at least meant to ask the question as to whether or not he was the Christ.
  • Barnes says that this is the true mark of a gospel minister, “all Christians, and especially all Christian ministers, however much they may be honoured and blessed, should be willing to lay all their honours at the feet of Jesus; to keep themselves back and to hold up before the world only the Son of God. To do this is one eminent mark of the true spirit of a minister of the gospel.”

1:21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

  • Note the two different people they mention here.  They mention Elijah (Malachi 4:2-5), then they mention “the Prophet”, this is the prophet that Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.”  The Jews thought of this prophet as someone who would arise prior to the Christ, but they were wrong.  The Christ (Jesus) and the Prophet spoken of this in passage are actually one in the same.
  • Calvin notes that, “But in this passage John has a different object in view, which is, to show that he has no special message, as was usually the case with the prophets, but that he was merely appointed to be the herald of Christ.”
  • So there is a sort of comparison between an expected Prophet and John the Baptist here.  John denies that he is the prophet saying “no”, but Christ later will say that he is the greatest of the prophets (Matt 11:9) and fulfilled the role of Elijah as well (Matt. 11:14; Mark 9:13).  He is a combination of the two, so to speak, though he has no specific prophetic message.  As Calvin states, “The distinction lies in this, that the voice crying, that a way may be prepared for the Lord, is not a prophet, but merely a subordinate minister, so to speak; and his doctrine is only a sort of preparation for listening to another Teacher. In this way John, though he is more excellent than all the prophets, still is not a prophet.”
  • So it is appropriate to say that Christ Himself was perhaps the ultimate prophet that Moses was speaking of.  In fact, Peter makes this very clear in Acts 3:19-22 when he says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.”

1:22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

  • Note how they demand that he must give some kind of account.  They really seem pushy.  It is obviously a test of John that God is allowing to bring Himself glory.  We will all face this moment, when people see the way our lives are changed as a result of Christ’s work in us.  The question will inevitably come, but what we say on behalf of Christ is a matter of obedience.  Will we give honor and glory to Him?  Or will we shrug off the compliment and puff ourselves up?  What our response is to this question shows how gospel-focused our lives really are.

1:23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

  • This phrase is referring to John’s mission to prepare the hearts of those men and women who would be soon hearing the message of the Christ.  He is making their hearts and paths (so to speak) straight.  He is baptizing them in a baptism of repentance in preparation for the gospel message.
  • This was not the same kind of baptism that we receive today.  When we are baptized today we do so as an outward signification and identification with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Those who had been baptized in the baptism of John were not identifying with the coming Christ, but rather showing an outward desire for repentance.

1:24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) [25] They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

  • The reason this was such a poignant questions was because it was unusual to baptize Jews the way John was baptizing them.  It was customary to baptize proselytes (converting gentiles), but it was not customary to baptize Jewish people who by their natural descent from Abraham would not have been considered so unclean as a pagan gentile.
  • Baptism, then as now, was a sign of cleansing and repentance and John was here adding something to the normal religious rites and order, and this (combined with his popularity) were worthy of attention from the highest officials.

1:26-28 John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, [27] even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” [28] These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

  • It is significant to note that the sandal of a man was a very dirty and disgusting piece of clothing.  Slaves weren’t even required to unleash the sandal off their master’s feet, because that was considered below a slave and ill treatment.  Such was the humility of John. How unlike the typical young pastor in popular evangelical circles!  Instead of grabbing for the brass ring, he got down on his face and counted himself unworthy to even touch the dirty sandal of the man coming after him.

How do we teach this to our children?  If you were to tell your children on the way home today that you learned about how Jesus was and is the Word of God, what would you say?

EXAMPLE:  This morning we learned more about the mission of John the Baptist.   John was a man who was sent from God to prepare the hearts of the people of Israel for the coming of their Messiah.  Who was the Messiah (savior) they were looking for?  (JESUS).  Right! Jesus.  And John’s job was to help all of the people of Israel repent of their sins and prepare their hearts to hear what Jesus was going to say.  Do you know what it means to “repent?”  Well, to repent means to “turn” from your sin and your wrong actions and ask God to forgive you.  That’s what John the Baptist was sent by God to do!  Just like the people of Israel were supposed to repent of their sins and ask for forgiveness, we do the same, by asking Jesus to forgive us of our sins.  Only Jesus can forgive us of our sins, because only Jesus died and paid the penalty for our sins.