November 05: John 11 – 15
|November 5th||November 6th||November 7th||November 8th||November 9th|
|John 11||John 12||John 13||John 14||John 15|
This week’s readings begin with the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Across the gospels there are only 3 accounts of Jesus raising someone from the dead:
- Jairus, the synagogue ruler’s daughter appears in all 3 of the synoptic gospels: Matt 9:18-26, Mark 5:22-43 and Luke 8:40-56
- The widow’s son at Nain only appears in Luke 7:11-17
- Lazarus at Bethany only appears in John 11:1-44
John’s account of Lazarus being raised from the dead is given a significant amount of space in John’s gospel but no mention in the other gospels. This is probably because the other gospels were written while Lazarus was still alive. John is clear in his gospel that the religious rulers were just as determined to kill Lazarus as they were to kill Jesus (John 12:10). It is interesting to note that none of the accounts about Jairus’ daughter give the location of her village. Maybe for the same reason?
Jesus loved Lazarus’ family and often stayed with them. He knew their pain when he heard of Lazarus’ death but did not respond immediately (John 11:6-7). His 2 day delay had a specific purpose: God’s timing. In John 11:9-10 Jesus gives a choice: to walk in the light of day or to stumble in the night. Jesus always walked in the light of His Father’s will and never stumbled in the dark. His delay was in obedience to His Father.
Jesus could have healed Lazarus, however the raising of Lazarus was an essential display of His power – Jesus not only has power to heal, but He has power over death! Jesus declared I am the Resurrection and the Life.
This resurrection sparked an extravagant sacrifice – ½ litre of very expensive perfume – £24,000 according to today’s average salaries – being poured over Jesus’ feet. And an extraordinary procession – the triumphant entry into Jerusalem. John very clearly links these events together. One miracle but far reaching effects!
This sets the scene for the next phase of John’s account – the Last Supper. This whole sequence of events has Jesus unpacking his heart to his friends. A new style of leadership – servant leadership. A new way of relating to God – through direct prayer. A new commandment – to love another. Jesus is getting the disciples ready for life with him in a different way – through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Each of these events divided people’s opinions:
- The extravagant worship offended Judas causing him to betray Jesus
- The triumphant entry offended the Pharisees causing them to determine to kill Jesus no matter what
- The washing of the feet offended Peter causing him to challenge Jesus
Yet Jesus called us to remain in him, not to separate ourselves. That only together could we produce fruit that lasts (John 15:5-6).
Questions to consider
- In your family/household discuss what it means to have eternal life.
- How much are you willing to sacrifice for Jesus?
- Washing feet was done by the lowliest of servants yet Jesus showed his servanthood by washing his disciples feet. What task would you consider as lowly that you could do for others?
- In John 14:12 Jesus says that we will do even greater things than Him, are you ready? Are you full of the Holy Spirit?
- How much do you love those around you that you are willing to give up your own time to see them saved?
Background History & Author
The only clues to the author of this gospel is “the disciple Jesus loved” phrase that is regularly used and the highly personal nature of the interactions with Jesus. Clearly someone with a Jewish background and very detailed knowledge of Jesus’ life. The Apostle John is generally accepted as the author of this gospel.
The waves of persecution against the church and particularly against the leaders, the apostles, made this 4th gospel very important. Most of the apostles were martyred before the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70AD. With only Matthew (died ~74AD) Philip (died ~80AD) and John living past this event. John’s gospel was probably written around 85-90AD.
John was probably the youngest of the 12 apostles. He together with his brother James were fishermen working for their father Zebedee on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 4:21-22). From the testimony of all 4 gospels John was part of Jesus’ inner core of 3 (Peter, James & John). John probably operated as Jesus’ personal assistant, sometimes having more detailed knowledge than even Peter did (John 13:22-24). He was one half of the “sons of thunder” a nickname Mark records Jesus giving the brothers James and John (Mark 3:17).
A major indicator of the relationship John had with Jesus is that Jesus handed John the responsibility to look after his mother Mary as he was dying on the cross, despite his brothers being alive. John looked after Mary until her death 15 years later, restricting his ministry to the Jerusalem area until then.
After Mary’s death John went to Ephesus where after Paul’s death in 68AD he became the overseer of the region including the 7 churches mentioned in Revelation. During the Domitian persecutions in 89AD he was boiled alive in oil but because that failed to kill him, he was then exiled to the Island of Patmos. Emperor Narva released him and John returned to Ephesus where he remained until his death aged 94 in 100AD.
He is also the accepted author of the 3 epistles of John as well as the book of Revelation.