Sunday, December 29, 2013

Missing graphics

The site that was hosting the graphics shown here was deleted by its owner, so the graphics are (currently) missing. How-some-ever (as Pogo the Possum would say), they will be back soon, prolly this week. If I get some time, I may improve the lot.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Jesus’s birth

This is the outline of the lesson from 2013-12-22. Note that one of the references in the table under “Rant” is incorrect, and I have been too lazy to correct it. There was some discussion about what Mary’s “character” must have been like to submit to God’s command; I found myself in the minority here, but I let it go.


We look at Christmas too sweetly. When we consider the brutality of the whole thing we should be in awe of just how far the creator of the universe stooped to save us.

Why did he do this?

John 1:14 Galatians 4:4–5 Matthew 5:17 Galatians 3:24
1 Timothy 1:15 John 9:39 Matthew 20:28 Mark 10:45
Luke 19:10 1 John 3:5,8 Hebrews 9:26

It was not ultimately about the baby. To paraphrase Fozzy Bear in the Muppet Movie, there’s a hundred babies around. From exaltation of being God the Son in the presence of the God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, he came and was born in a borrowed stable and slept in a hay trough wrapped up in rags.


  • READ Luke 1:26–33
  • SAY In verse 30, the angel describes Mary finding “favor” with God. The word for favor is also the word for grace. This phrase echoes Genesis 6:8: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” But if it’s grace, then it’s nothing Mary could deserve intrisically, and it’s nothing she could earn. That’s the whole point of grace.
  • Sometimes we concentrate on Mary, or the baby, or even the hardship, or Joseph, or a hundred things. What does the angel concentrate on?
    • The greatness of the Savior
    • The fulfillment of prophecy
  • READ 1:34
  • What is Mary’s point? (As delicately as I know how to say it: This is a natural law she understands.)
  • READ 1:35–38
  • Mary understood the humiliation she was in for, and she somehow decided that she could stand the reproach.
    • We aren’t going to have a new Messiah any time soon. But are we willing to bear the scorn of our neighbors for the sake of Christ?
    • SAY Hebrews 11:24–25: “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.”
  • ASK Do you consider Mary blessed? Why? (v. 45, what Elizabeth says)


  • READ Luke 1:46–55
  • ASK What phrase shows up over and over in Mary’s song: (He has)
  • ASK What has he done:
    • looked on Mary’s humble situation
    • done great things for her
    • shown strength
    • scattered the proud
    • reversed the situations of the weak and the powerful
    • reversed the situations of the hungry and the full
    • helped his servant Israel.
  • ASK What does Mary think she has done? (Nothing)


  • READ Luke 2:1–7
  • ASK What strikes you here?
    • My main thing: Even though Mary & Josephe lived in the wrong place, God made arrangements for them to be in the right place.
Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hark, the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn king!”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The time has (finally) come

This is the outline for the lesson of 2013-12-01. Something weird happened: We actually got through it all.
One disturbing thing: If you look at my previous outlines, you see lots of places where I wrote “ASK,” but there are none of those in this outline. I still managed some questions for the class, but figuring out where I asked them is left as an exercise for the reader. (I’ve always wanted to write that!)


  • Up to now, we have worked our way through most of Jesus’s public ministry. What we will be looking at through February will almost all be contained within a single week. It was a busy week.
  • In chapter 11, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, demonstrating Jesus’s authority over death.
  • But before that, Jesus already said one of the most important things you must understand about his own death. READ John 10:17–18
    • Jesus wasn’t killed by the Romans.
    • Jesus wasn’t killed by the Jews.
    • READ Isaiah 53:10

Annointed for burial

  • READ 12:1–3
  • READ 12:4–8
  • The perfume
    • Factlet: Nard was imported from northern India. The transportation alone increased the price.
    • 300 denarii was roughly equivalent to $20,000. (based on $8.00/hr in a 6 day work week).
      • Trivia: This is about the price of 10 bottles of Clive Christian Number 1.
    • The “pound” John mentions is a Roman pound, i.e., 12 ounces.
  • Judas wasn’t a good guy until Satan entered into him (chapter 13) — he was already bad.
  • Jesus explains why it was okay for Mary to do this.

Entry into Jerusalem

  • READ 12:12–16
  • Just unraveling all the Old Testament quotations and allusions in John’s gospel would take a lifetime.
  • READ Psalm 118:25–26
  • “Hosanna” means “Save now,” so even that is a quote from the psalm.
  • The palm branches were a symbol of the revolution in which Judas Maccabeus kicked the Gentiles out of the temple. This made the Jewish leadership nervous.
  • The reaction of the Pharisees: READ 12:19. And what should happen next?

The time has come

  • The world (i.e., Gentiles) came to Jesus.
  • READ 12:20–21
  • The thing the Gentiles said was written or engraved on the preacher’s side of Charles Spurgeon’s pulpit where he could see it when he preached.
  • It is uncertain whether Jesus’s reply was for Andrew and Philip or for the Greeks. But it was important:
  • READ 12:23
    • Up to now Jesus was concious that his time had “not yet come.”
    • READ John 2:4 (Wedding at Cana)
    • READ John 7:30 (Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths))
    • But now his time has come.
  • READ 12:31–33
    • Jesus has said this “lifted up” thing before (3:14, 8:28). Here, John makes it explicit that Jesus is talking about his own crucifixion.
    • Jesus is also pointing out that this was prophesied. The Jews who knew their O.T. could not miss the reference to READ Isaiah 52:13.
  • Paul understood what Jesus meant about the time being right: READ Romans 5:6
  • Repeat from earlier:
    • Jesus wasn’t killed by the Romans.
    • Jesus wasn’t killed by the Jews.
    • Jesus put down his life himself to pay for our sins.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Power over death

This is the outline of the lesson from 2013-10-24. We got to almost none of it.

Lazarus dies

  • READ 11:1–4
  • READ 11:5–8
  • READ 11:9–12
  • READ 11:13–16
  • SAY In verses 5–6, different translations have 2 different flows to what Jesus did:
    • Jesus loved them, but he waited.
    • Jesus loved them, so he waited.
    • ASK Which way do you think it is? (So, because he knew it would lead to greater glory for God.)
  • ASK In verse 8, what were the disciples concerned about? (Jesus being killed.)
  • ASK In verses 9–10, what’s all that about daytime, light, darkness, stumbling etc? (Jesus is the light, so going with him is the way not to stumble.)
  • ASK In verse 16, what do you think about Thomas’s attitude?

Jesus arrives

  • READ 11:17–19
  • READ 11:20–22
  • ASK Does Martha’s statement in verse 22 sound like anything else we’ve read in John’s gospel? (Sounds just like Mary in chapter 2)

Who is Jesus?

  • READ 11:23–24
  • READ 11:25–27
  • SAY The teaching of resurrection at the end of time was not something Jesus introduced that they had never heard before. After all, the Pharisees believed in it. Where did they get it? From places in the O.T. like Daniel 12:2: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
  • Jesus goes through this Q&A with Martha, and finds her belief is correct about the final resurrection and about himself. But something more spectacular is coming …
  • READ 11:28–32
  • READ 11:33–37
  • ASK In verse 33, how do your Bibles say “deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled”? SAY In the original language (and some English translations) it says Jesus was angry. ASK Why was he angry?
  • ASK Have you ever felt like Martha and Mary? Have you felt like Jesus let you down? Have you wondered why sickness, death, loss? SAY It is okay to feel that way.

The sign: Lazarus is raised

  • READ 11:38–40
  • READ 11:41–44
  • ASK If Jesus didn’t need to pray out loud, but it was for the benefit of the crowd, did he really need to “cry out with a loud voice” for Lazarus to come out of the grave?
  • It’s really tempting to find some kind of moral to the story. But the point is this: Jesus has authority over the grave.
  • That’s why he said in 10:17–18: “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”
  • This is the Jesus we believe in. This is the reason we have hope.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Light and Blindness

Here‘s the lesson from 2013-11-10. I was really concerned to separate the (related) ideas of sins (things we do or don’t do) and sin (our condition since Genesis 3).

Sin leads to suffering (but not sins)

  • SAY Remember a few months ago when we were working our way through Job?
  • ASK What was the central idea Job’s “friends” had? (There’s a one-to-one correspondence between sin and suffering.)
  • READ 9:1–2
  • SAY Apparently, Jesus’s disciples apparently thought Job’s friends were right. But Jesus had a different idea.
  • READ 9:3–7 (Mandatory Eye Roll)
  • SAY Jesus repeats what he said in chapter 8: “I am the light of the world.”
  • ASK Why mud (or clay or whatever)? (Many commentators: Jesus is repairing a man with the substance all men were made of, Genesis 2:7 tells us it was from the “dust of the ground”; also, “Adam”, which means “man” is in Hebrew a pun on “red earth” or “red clay.”)
  • ASK If there were no sin in the world, would the man have been born blind?
  • SAY We use the word “sin” in 2 distinct ways:
    • Things we do.
      • This was the view of the disciples (and Job’s friends).
      • They wanted to connect some particular action of sin to the man’s blindness.
      • If this were true, it would be really convenient: You would know who the real sinners are.
      • Be glad this isn’t so. Consider yourself. Do you want to suffer in direct relation to your spiritual condition?
    • The condition of all humans (except Jesus) since the Fall (Genesis 3).
      • Romans 5:10 starts with “For if while we were enemies …”
      • We were enemies of God.
      • It is this natural condition of being God’s enemy that allows suffering in the world.
      • This is what Christ died to save us from.
      • Part of our charter is to exhibit God’s mercy on the suffering of people inside and outside the visible church. This recalls God’s mercy to us and to the whole world.

Divided Pharisees

  • READ 9:13–17
  • I know which group of Pharisees I’d rather be in. But I worry that I am actually in the other group.

Cowardly parents

  • READ 9:18–22
  • ASK What do you think of how the parents responded?
  • ASK Why do you think the parents were afraid? Possibilities:
    • Social position
    • Place in the economy
    • Being in church is good for business

Forcing the hand

  • READ 9:24
  • When the Pharisees said “Give glory to God,” they were essentially threatening to stone the man.
    • In Joshua 7, after the Israelites were defeated at Ai, when the man who had kept and hidden treasure from Jericho was found, Joshua told him, “Give glory to God.” Then the man confessed.
    • The leaders of the Jews were telling him, “This is really serious.”
  • READ 9:25–27
  • Did you hear the Mandatory Eye Roll?
  • READ 9:28–29
  • Where does authority come from?
  • ASK If authority comes from God’s word — as the Pharisees said (!) — why should they have paid attention to Jesus? (Because he was fulfilling prophecy.)
  • READ 9:32
  • The man understands this. If I were blind, just one of the OT scriptures I would know by heart would be Isaiah 29:18: “In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.” SAY Giving sight to the blind was a sign of the Messiah, and the Pharisees refused to see it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Light of the World

This is the outline for the lesson from 2013-11-03. (I didn’t teach on 2013-10-27 because I was serving elsewhere.)

Woman caught in adultery

  • READ 8:2–11
  • We love this story.
  • ASK Does it matter what Jesus wrote in the sand?

Light of the world

  • Get the picture:
    • This is happening on the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles.
    • This was one of the 3 most important holidays in Israel.
      • It was to help the people remember the Exodus, and living in tents for 40 years.
      • They built 3-sided shelters out of branches and lived in them for a week.
      • It was also foreshadowing Jesus coming: READ John 1:14. SAY (Depends on translation read) “dwelt among us” is literally “pitch his tent with us.”
      • On the last day of the feast, there was a ceremony where people gathered around 4 enormous candelabras and poured out water, recalling both the pillar of fire and the water coming out of the rock. When that happened, Jesus stood up and said …
  • READ 8:12
  • This started an argument with the Pharisees.
  • Jesus: I am the light of the world (v 12).
  • Pharisees: Your testimony is not valid (v13).
  • READ 8:14–19
  • SAY depends on translation, true vs valid — admissible as evidence.
  • ASK Why did Jesus say his testimony was valid? (His Father was backing him up.)

Lifted up

  • READ 8:28–31
  • ASK What does “lifted up” mean here? (The cross)
  • ASK What does John mean when he says “many believed in him”? Were they saved, the way we think of it? (I don’t think so. Just as in John 6 Jesus’ words about “eat my flesh” and “drink my blood” chased a lot of people away, that kind of thing is going on here.

A big “if”

(Derived from Tom Nettles)

Shallow belief can be easily dislodged.

  1. Real disciples abide in Jesus’ word. READ 8:31–32.
  2. False disciples continue to be slaves of sin. READ 8:34–36.
    • This does not mean that if you have an ongoing problem with a particular sin that you are not one of Jesus’ disciples. If you agree with God about the nature of the sin, and if you are remaining in the word — reading your Bible regularly & working to understand it — your obligation to sin — your slavery to it, is cancelled.
  3. False disciples are not spiritual children of Abraham. READ 8:39–40. ASK What are the “works” Abraham did? (READ Gen 15:6)
  4. False disciples are children of Satan. READ 8:44a. What your will is — what you want and what you decide to do — shows who your father is.
  5. False disciples dishonor Jesus, who does honor the Father. READ 8:49.

Jesus declares himself to be God

  • READ 8:56–58
  • We aren’t going to understand the Trinity. But we should try to get an arm around what is revealed. Right now, we just need to see what he was claiming.
  • Jesus has said “I am” a bunch of times already, and as we continue to go through John’s Gospel, we’ll see him say it a bunch more.
    • Sometimes he used it as in “I am the light of the world”; sometimes he used a different comparison.
    • Back in verse 24, he said it without a comparison, and they just asked “Who are you?” In verse 24, your Bible may have italics for “I am he”: Jesus was saying it here and they seem to barely notice. So he spends the rest of the chapter just getting them to this point, to get them to see who he was saying he was.
  • And when they understand it: They try to stone him. (v 59)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It’s not about the bread, it’s about the Bread

This is the outline for the lesson I taught on 2013-10-20. We mostly skipped the section on The Water, but other than that it was pretty much according to plan. As it says in the notes, there was no way to get through the whole chapter in 30–35 minutes. And I did’t bring up the stuff Jesus says about election at all.


This is one of the most important chapters in the whole Bible. This is where Jesus starts dividing people (“bringing a sword”) by his declaration of who he is. When he proclaimed the Gospel to the people who enjoyed the miracle, some “disciples” turned away.

There’s no way we can get through all of it.

The miracle of the bread

  • ASK What good is a sign if you don’t read it?
  • READ 6:1–6
  • READ 6:7 (200 deniarii would be 8 months wages for a common laborer.)
  • READ 6:8–10
  • READ 6:11 (As much as they wanted.)
  • READ 6:12–14
  • SAY The people saw the sign, but they didn’t read it. They didn’t realize it pointed to Jesus. To show this, READ 6:15.

The water

  • Jesus went up the mountain to be alone, and he sent the disciples ahead to Capernaum.
  • READ 6:18–19
  • They were afraid when they saw Jesus.
  • READ 6:20–21
  • When he spoke, they were glad.
  • This was a sign for the disciples, and if we’re disciples, it can be a sign for us.
    • When the sea is rough, the creator of the sea can come to us.
    • When he makes his presence known, be glad and let him into your boat.

The sign of the Bread

  • The people get into boats to chase Jesus down.
  • READ 6:25–26
  • Why did they go looking for him? (Free food!)
  • READ 6:27 What did Jesus tell them? (Physical food is temporary.)
  • READ 6:28–29
  • … And then they ask for a sign: READ6:30–31
  • And they hold up manna as the example!
  • SAY It’s easy to critisize: But they still didn’t get it.
  • SAY This is not the first time someone in John’s Gospel didn’t get the point:
    • Nicodemus: “born again/born from above”
    • Woman at the well: Where is this water?
    • Now these people with the bread. So Jesus explains it to them:
  • READ 6:32–33
  • READ 6:34 Yeah! We want that!
  • So Jesus explains the metaphor:
  • READ 6:35–37
  • SAY Here at last is our great Savior: Everyone who comes to him is saved by him, and is kept by him. READ 6:39–40

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Healing

This is the outline for the lesson of 2013-10-13 on John 5. We spent a lot of time discussing the issue of John 5:3b–4 not being in some bibles, added in a footnote in some, bracketed in some, just there in some. We will have to revisit this issue in John 8. Most of the stuff in the middle got skipped (due to time constraints), and I finished up listing the 4 witnesses from the last section.

The healing

  • READ 5:1–5
  • READ 5:6–9
  • Point out that v.3b–4 is not in the oldest manuscripts, and there are reasons to believe it was added later to explain v.7. Mention book: Cold Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace (regarding reliability of the Bible).
  • SAY If others got to the water before this man, there must have been other people there. ASK (Uncomfortable question) Why did Jesus bypass all the others?
  • READ 5:10–14
  • Things we can learn so far:
    • Jesus went where the need was.
    • He met the need.
    • We can do the same.
    • We are nice, middle-class Americans in nice, middle-class houses. It’s tempting to say the needs are “over there.”
    • But our neighbors have needs, too.

The sign

  • SAY It appears Jesus left the man with the miracle. But in John’s gospel, the miracles Jesus performs aren’t just wonders, they are signs. ASK Where is the sign in all this?
  • READ 5:15-18
  • The sign was for the leaders of the Jews (Pharisees & Saducees), not for the man who was healed.
  • This is the beginning of the opposition to Jesus from the Jewish leaders who would eventually ask for his execution.

Jesus’ authority

  • Jesus tells the leaders that they are right about him: He is claiming to be equal with God.
  • READ 5:19–24
  • Back in verse 14, Jesus told the man he healed to “stop sinning.” But here he tells what is required for eternal life:
    • Hear the Gospel.
    • Believe it’s true.
    • READ Romans 10:14

The 4 witnesses to Jesus

  • John the Baptist: READ 5:33–35
  • The works (miracles -> signs): READ 5:36
  • The word of the Father (at Jesus’ baptism, at the transfiguration): READ 5:37–38
  • The Old Testament: READ 5:39, 45–47. Mention book: Jesus On Every Page by David Murray

Monday, October 7, 2013

Increasing belief

This is the outline of the adult lesson I taught on 2013-10-06 on the last part of John 4. I stuck pretty close to the outline this time.

The Samaritans

  • READ 4:39–42
  • They believed because of her testimony …
  • then they believed because they heard the word from the Word themselves.
  • This is the way it should work:
    1. Your testimony may be enough for people to believe in Jesus in some measure.
    2. But it doesn’t stop there. People must encounter Jesus in his Word for themselves.
    3. Which brings me to one of my primary goals for the class: To get each of us to interact with Jesus as he is revealed in the Bible.
      • Not some flight of fancy based on our feelings about him, but …
      • … interacting with the text inspired by the Holy Spirit.
      • This comes from my conviction that the Bible is the only place to get the truth about God.
  • ASK What does the phrase Savior of the world mean?
  • ASK Who did Jesus talk to in Chapter 3? (Nicodemus)
  • ASK Who did Jesus spend time with in the first part of Chapter 4? (Samaritans)

The official’s son

  • READ 4:45–48
  • ASK Why did the people of Galilee welcome him? (Signs & wonders)
  • ASK What were they missing? (the signs were there to point to Jesus.)
  • SAY One of the problems in modern English is the word you. In English, it’s both singular and plural. (It would be much simpler if everyone were a Southerner and said you for singular and y’all for plural.) In verse 48, when Jesus says “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe,” he is (in Greek) saying y’all both times. ASK Why? (He’s not rebuking the official’s request, but commenting on the Galileans generally.)
  • About the official: He worked for Herod the Tetrarch, a cultural Jew who worked for the Romans as a governor over 4 cities or regions. I.e., this official was either a Roman soldier or a civil servant.
  • READ 4:49
  • Now we find out what the official thinks: “All this is interesting, but come heal my son.” He insists on keeping to the point.
  • READ 4:50
  • The man believed enough to go.
  • READ 4:51–53
  • When he got the news that confirmed his son’s healing, it seems emphatic: he himself believed.
  • SAY Before he got confirmation, he believed the miracle. But after he got confirmation, he believed the sign.
  • Increasing belief
  • The spread of the Gospel:
    • ASK What kind of person was Nicodemus? (Jew)
    • ASK What kind of person was the woman at the well? (Samaritan)
    • ASK What kind of person was this official? (Gentile)
    • Does this sound familiar? READ Acts 1:8

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Come again, Jew?

This is the outline of the lesson I taught on 2013-09-29 on the first part of John 4. The outline is a lot more organized than my delivery, which was a mess, like ”my dog chewed it up and found it distasteful and spit it out and that’s the order it came out in” mess. The pictures are from Wikipedia and under their media license.

The Scripture

  • READ

It’s not about water.

  • Samaritans: These were leftover Northern Kingdom folks, the poor who had not been carried off by the Assyrians. They intermarried with others brought in by the Assyrians. The Jews, from the Southern Kingdom, considered them to be like that famous song by Cherilyn Sarkisian: “Half-breed”.
  • Jacob’s Well: It’s still there today. You can go there and get water from the Greek Orthodox church on the site.
  • Here we have a woman from Samaria coming to the well at the “sixth hour.”
    • Either noon (Hebrew time) or 6pm (Roman time).
    • The hottest part of the day either way: Think about the summer weather here: It is really hottest in the summer from early afternoon up to 6–8 oclock.
    • She’s coming to the well when no one else does. (We learn why later.)
  • Jesus asks for water.
  • “Come again, Jew?”
  • Jesus: You should be asking me for “living water.”
    • This was a common phrase meaning spring water or stream water.
    • But Jesus means something else.
  • ASK What does she think is going on? (she thinks it’s about the water.)
  • Jesus says: Fetch your husband.
Husbands 5
Live-in Current
Other liasons Likely
  • This is why she came to the well in the hottest part of the day: The half-breeds considered her beneath them.

It’s not about this mountain

  • Jesus agrees about the husbands.
  • “Hey! You must be a prophet!”
Samaritans say Worship here.
Jews say Worship in Jerusalem.
  • Weirdness: Samaritan worship is still practiced with animal sacrifice, etc., around Mt Gerizim.
  • What does Jesus say about Jewish worship vs. Samaritan worship? (The Jews have it right so far).
Jesus says Those who receive the gift of God (v.10) don’t need a location. It’s not about the location, it’s about Spirit and truth.
  • ASK Does this mean it doesn’t matter how we worship?

Sowing, reaping, and belief

  • Jesus tells them, look at the fields: They’re ready for harvest!
    1. 36: The sower and the reaper rejoice together.
    • ASK What’s going on here? (Someare sowing, some are reaping all the time).
  • The people of the town:
    • Believe on account of what the woman says,
    • and later believe because they’ve heard from Jesus himself.
    • ASK What’s going on here? (Her testimony starts them believing, then the Word strengthens their belief.)
    • “Savior of the world” — not just the Jews.
    • ASK Who is so low as to not be worth it in terms of taking the Gospel to them?

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Nick at Nite

This is the outline of the lesson I taught on 2013-09-22 on John 3. Sorry for the cute title. I don’t know what came over me …

Preliminary: Signs

  • ASK What are signs for? (to point to something else)
  • ASK Is there such a thing as a sign for the sake of a sign?
  • In chapter 2, in the water-to-wine miracle, John referred to the miracle as “the first his signs.”
  • John tells us in chapter 20 that Jesus did a lot of miracles. John just picked out a few to tell us about.
  • John calls the ones he picked out “signs”.
  • With water into wine, the point seems to me to be that the new is better than the old.

The scripture

  • READ 3:1–4
  • READ 3:5–8
  • READ 3:9–12
  • READ 3:13–15
  • READ 3:17–19
  • READ 3:20–21


  • Nicodemus recognized that the signs Jesus did could only come from God.
  • John has only told us about 1 sign so far, so Jesus is doing more.
  • “Born again” vs. “born from above”: Original language can mean either. Nicodemus takes it one way, but Jesus apparently meant it the other way.
  • ASK What does Nicodemus think he means by “born”?
  • ASK What about born? What is Jesus getting at?
  • ASK What does the wind have to do with it? What’s with “blows where it wishes”? (“wind” and “spirit” are the same in Greek)


  • Obviously, Nicodemus doesn’t get it.
  • ASK Why does Jesus seem to expect Nicodemus to get it?
  • READ Ezekiel 37:1–10 (This seems to cover both “born” and “wind”)

Why did it have to be snakes?

  • ASK What’s with the bit about snakes in v. 14? (Numbers 21)
    • The people grumble.
    • God sends fiery snakes.
    • God commands Moses to make a bronze snake.
    • Everyone who looks to the snake lives.
  • That is the context for 3:15–16
    • Jesus will be lifted up on the cross.
    • Everyone who looks to him is saved.
  • ASK In v. 17, why didn’t God have to condemn the world? (v. 18: it’s condemned already).
  • ASK Why is the world condemned already? (Hasn’t believed.)
  • ASK Why hasn’t it believed? (Loves darkness/evil)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Christianity vs other religions

What separates Christianity from Mormonism? And from Buddhism? And from Confucianism? And from New Age-ism? In a word: Archeology. None of those religions depends on history that can be verified independently. Christianity does.

Scientific archeology is a young discipline (less than 150 years old). As more and more of the ancient Near East is dug up and handled scientifically, the more proof of the basic historical narrative of the Bible is confirmed.

We don't put our faith in archeology, but archeology confirms our faith.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My heart is broken

I don’t mean that I’m sad. Or that I have coronary issues.

What I mean is that I’m unable to have perfect affection — proper, God-honoring affection — for anything. Every like and dislike, every desire and disgust, every craving and contentment, all the jonesing and resignation is flawed. Some days are better than others. But then I read in the Bible, “Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”

This makes me despair.

Then I read, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

In the person of Jesus Christ, who was “crucified according to the Scriptures, and was buried and raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” --- and this in real time and space, not as some bit of undigested beef --- God paid for my broken heart with His own.