John tells the Good News about Jesus
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Gospel of John
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
Most people agree that John, Jesus’ *disciple, wrote the 4th *Gospel.
John’s father was called Zebedee. And John had a brother called James, who became also one of Jesus’ *disciples (Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19-20; Luke 5:10). The family fished on Lake *Galilee. Zebedee owned a boat. He employed men to help with his business.
Jesus called John and James: the ‘sons of thunder’. Thunder is the loud noise that we hear during a storm. Perhaps he gave them this name because they became angry quickly. For example, they wanted God to destroy a village in *Samaria. This was because the people there had not wanted Jesus to enter the village (Luke 9:52-56).
Simon Peter, who was their partner in the business, became also a *disciple of Jesus (Luke 5:1-11). Simon Peter, James and John were Jesus’ special friends. They were the only *disciples with Jesus when he raised Jairus’ daughter from death (Mark 5:37). On another occasion, Jesus took Simon Peter, James and John up a mountain. There, they saw him as he talked with Moses and Elijah. They heard God’s voice. God said that Jesus was his Son. And they must listen to Jesus (Mark 9:2-12). And on the night before Jesus died, John and Simon Peter made the arrangements for the *Passover meal (Luke 22:8).
So John knew Jesus very well.
John did not refer to himself by his name in his *Gospel. However, there are many references to ‘the *disciple whom Jesus loved’. John did not mention this *disciple’s name. Many people think that this *disciple was John.
Some people think that John himself did not write the 4th *Gospel. They suggest that another person recorded John’s memories about Jesus. Most people agree that the author wrote this *Gospel about AD 85-90 but not later than AD 100. (‘AD’ refers to the years after Jesus was born. It is now AD 2006, although we do not write AD.) So AD 100 was 100 years after Jesus’ birth. John was a very old man then. It is possible that he dictated his *Gospel to another person. This was usual in the first century AD. Paul dictated some of his letters to his *churches. Someone else wrote the words for him.
Perhaps John wrote the words of his *Gospel himself. Or perhaps someone else recorded the stories that he told. It does not matter. We know that the 4th *Gospel contains John’s memories and ideas about Jesus.
John wanted his readers to believe ‘that Jesus is the *Messiah, God’s Son’ (John 20:31). That is why he wrote his *Gospel.
Matthew, Mark and Luke recorded many *miracles in their *Gospels. But John chose to record only 7 *miracles. He called them ‘*signs’. A *sign is something that gives evidence. The *miracles gave evidence that Jesus is God’s Son.
John also emphasised that Jesus was human. John recorded that Jesus was tired (John 4:6). John also recorded that Jesus needed food (John 4:31). Jesus was very sad when his friend Lazarus died. At that time, Jesus cried (John 11:35). On another occasion, Jesus became angry with the people who did business in the *Temple (John 2:15). And John also recorded that Jesus was *thirsty (John 19:28).
Jesus was not half human and half God. He was completely human and completely God, too.
Many people agree that John emphasised this for a particular reason. In the early *church, some people were teaching false beliefs about Jesus.
One group taught that Jesus was not really God. They said that he was just a man. They believed that the *Holy Spirit entered him at his *baptism. But before he died, the *Holy Spirit left him. Another group taught that Jesus was not really a man. They said that he did not have a physical body. They believed that he was a spirit. And they believed that he only seemed to be human. Both these groups were wrong!
John and the other *disciples had lived with Jesus for about three years. John knew that Jesus was a real man. Also John had seen the *miracles that Jesus did. John watched Jesus die on a *cross. And John had also seen Jesus after he (Jesus) had become alive again. John knew that Jesus had defeated death. And John had seen Jesus rise up to heaven.
So John knew that Jesus was a real man. But Jesus was and is also God’s Son. John wrote his *Gospel to prove this.
In many ways, John’s *Gospel is different from the other three *Gospels. John did not include any stories about Jesus’ birth or his *baptism. John only recorded 7 *miracles, which he called ‘*signs’. John did not include any parables (stories which Jesus told to teach something about God). But John recorded many long speeches that Jesus made.
The writer Eusebius (about AD 260-339) believed that John knew about the other three *Gospels. But when he read them, John had not yet written his *Gospel. He was still just talking to people about his life with Jesus. John agreed that the other *Gospels were true accounts.
But Jesus was already *preaching before King Herod put John the *Baptist in prison. The other *Gospels did not include an account of this. They recorded much about what Jesus did in *Galilee. Also, they recorded what Jesus did in *Jerusalem just before his death. But Jesus went to *Jerusalem at other times, too. So John provided the facts that were missing from the other *Gospels. He used information that they did not have. John’s account did not disagree with the other *Gospels. It added different information, so that we can understand more about Jesus.
The second century writer, Clement, from Alexandria, called John’s *Gospel a ‘*spiritual *Gospel’. In some ways, he was right. John did not record just facts about Jesus. John had thought much about what Jesus had said. And John had thought much about the *miracles that he had seen. He wanted to explain the *spiritual meaning of Jesus’ words and acts.
But John also included many physical details. For example, the loaves that Jesus used to feed 5000 people were ‘*barley loaves’ (John 6:9). He recorded the distance that the *disciples had travelled across the lake (John 6:19). And he remembered how the smell of the *perfume filled the house at Bethany (John 11:32). These details do not seem important. But they are memories of a person who was present at these events. So John’s *Gospel is not just a *spiritual book. It is the personal account of someone who had seen these events.
Verses 1-2 The *Word here means Jesus. Jesus has always existed. He existed before he was born to Mary (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38 & 2:1-7). Before he lived on the earth, he was with God. He was God.
Jesus was with God the *Father, even when God created the world. And Jesus himself is God the Son. But there are not two Gods. There is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4). This might seem difficult to understand. But Jesus himself said, ‘I and the *Father are One (one God)’ (John 10:30).
Verses 3-4 God created everything by means of the *Word. To create means ‘to think of something and then to make it’. This means that Jesus caused everything to exist. He gave *life to everything that God created. The word ‘*life’ is very important in John’s *Gospel. He used this word more than 35 times. In John’s *Gospel, ‘*life’ does not mean the period between birth and death. It does not mean just to have a physical body that is alive. It means that our spirits become alive too.
*Life is the opposite of death. When we *believe in Jesus as our *Saviour and our *Lord, he gives us *eternal life. Jesus lives in us now by means of the *Holy Spirit. When we die, we will not separate from him. We have *eternal life. This means that we will live with him in heaven.
But we must understand what it means to *believe in Jesus as our *Saviour and our *Lord.
1. We must believe that Jesus is God’s Son.
2. We must obey him.
3. We must believe that he died on our behalf. All of us deserve a punishment because of our *sins. But Jesus had this punishment instead of us.
4. We must confess our *sins to God.
When we believe all of this, we have his *eternal life in us.
‘Light’ is another important word in John’s *Gospel. He used it 21 times. Jesus called himself ‘the *light for the world’ twice (John 8:12; 9:5).
We need light to see our physical surroundings. Light shows us what things are really like. But John was not writing about the physical light that comes from the sun. He was writing about *spiritual *light. This *spiritual *light shows what we are really like. We have all done wrong things. But Jesus, who is the *light, shows us how to live. We need to follow the *light. This means that we must let Jesus guide us.
Verse 5 In John’s *Gospel, darkness means everything that is evil. *Sin is like darkness. It is *spiritual darkness. It is the opposite of God’s *light, who is Jesus.
‘The darkness has never understood the *light.’ People who do not *believe in Jesus do not understand his words. They do not recognise that he is God’s Son. They cannot understand what he offers to us all. They cannot understand why they should obey him. But in order to understand about Jesus, a person must first *believe in him!
‘And the darkness has never made the *light disappear.’ There have always been evil people in the world. But nobody has been able to destroy Jesus. People *crucified him. But he became alive again. When the *disciples told this good news about Jesus, people put them in prison. But the good news spread across the world. Even today, people hurt and kill *Christians. Such people want to destroy the *church. But the *church continues to grow. More and more people are hearing the good news about Jesus. The *light of Jesus continues to shine in the darkness. The darkness will never defeat it.
Verses 6-7 John the *Baptist was a *prophet. A *prophet is a person who speaks God’s messages to people. Luke included the account of John the *Baptist’s birth in his *Gospel (Luke 1:5-25, 57-66).
John the *Baptist lived in the desert. Crowds came to hear him speak. John the *Baptist told them that the *Messiah was coming. He told them how to prepare for this event. They had to be sorry about their *sins. Then, he *baptised them in the river called Jordan. This showed that they wanted to be *clean in their *hearts. This meant that they did not want to do bad things again.
Verse 8 John the *Baptist was not God’s *light. He was not the *Messiah. In his *Gospel, John emphasised this. Like all teachers at that time, John the *Baptist had his own *disciples (John 1:35). Perhaps some of these *disciples were saying that John the *Baptist was as important as Jesus. So, in his *Gospel, John wanted to emphasise that John the *Baptist was not as important as Jesus. God sent John the *Baptist to show people who Jesus was.
John the *Baptist was not the *light. But we can say that he reflected the *light. This was because he told people about Jesus. We can reflect God’s *light, too, when we tell people about Jesus.
Verse 9 Only Jesus can show us how to live. Only Jesus can guide us. So he is the genuine, perfect *light for all people.
Verse 10 The *Word has been in the world since the beginning. The *Word caused everything to exist. It is clear that God has made the earth. He continues to look after it. We can see this in the variety of plants and animals. We can see this in the beauty of nature. It is also clear that God made us. We are able to think and to reason. We can appreciate music and art. We have a conscience. None of this happened by chance. But still some people do not recognise that God is in the world. Even when God came into the world as a man, people did not recognise him. And even today, many people do not realise who Jesus is.
Verses 11-14 The *Word, who has always existed, entered the world at a particular point in time. He came to *Israel, the nation that God had chosen to be his special people. The *Jews knew all the *prophecies about the *Messiah. These *prophecies were in their *scriptures, which is the *Old Testament. The *Jews expected the *Messiah to come. They were waiting for him. But when he came, most of them *rejected him. They did not recognise him as the *Messiah. But some of them realised who Jesus was. They *believed in him. Like these people, when we trust Jesus, our spirits are born again. Then we become God’s children.
It does not matter where we are born. It does not matter where we live. God wants people from everywhere in the world to become his children. It does not matter how old or how young we are. Anyone who trusts Jesus can be born again (verse 12). When we *believe in Jesus, we join God’s family. We become new people in our hearts, our minds and our spirits. We will want to obey God. We will be calm in our minds and our hearts, even when bad things happen. We will know that God loves us. We will know that he is very close to us always.
‘We saw his *glory (verse 14).’ John and the *disciples had lived with Jesus during his time on earth. They had seen him do wonderful things by God’s power. They had seen God’s qualities in him. The *Greek word ‘saw’ means ‘to look carefully in order to understand something’. John was not writing about an idea or a dream. He had actually seen God in the form of a man.
‘It was the *glory of the *Father’s only Son (verse 14).’ All *Christians are God’s children. But there is only one person who has always been God’s Son. Jesus has a special relationship with his *Father.
Jesus was human, like us. But he had always existed, although not as a human person. He had been with God the *Father in heaven, before he was born. He showed us the truth about God. He showed us how much God loves us. God is kind to us, even when we do not deserve it.
Verse 15 John the *Baptist had told the people that the *Messiah was coming. When he saw Jesus, he recognised him as the *Messiah. John the *Baptist emphasised that Jesus was much more important than himself. Although Jesus was a man, he had always existed. John the *Baptist realised this.
Verses 16-17 When we trust Jesus, we will receive many *blessings. We cannot earn these *blessings. We do not deserve them. They are God’s free gifts to us.
God gave the *Law to Moses so that the people knew how to behave. The *Law emphasised God’s perfect moral standards. Nobody could obey all of the *Law’s rules. It was too difficult. However, Jesus emphasised that God wanted to forgive us. When we trust Jesus, God will forgive us.
Jesus did not come to replace the *Law. He came to make it complete. Before he came, people followed a set of rules. But we follow a person, Jesus. We have a relationship with him. He guides us to do the right things. He shows us how to please God. And also he gives us the power to obey God. This is because he lives in us by means of his *Holy Spirit.
Verse 18 God had spoken by means of Moses and the *prophets. But nobody had ever seen God. People knew only partly what God was like. However, by means of his Son, God had come down to earth.
Verse 19 John the *Baptist was an unusual man. He lived in the desert. He wore clothes that he had made from camels’ hair. He ate strange food (Matthew 3:4). His father Zechariah was a priest. Before John was born, an *angel had appeared to Zechariah. *Angels are God’s servants. They live with him in heaven. They bring messages to people from God. This *angel had told Zechariah that he would have a son. This son would do special work for God. He would have the *Holy Spirit in him from the time that he was born.
John the *Baptist was not a political leader. But he was a powerful man, because many people listened to his message. He told them to *repent and to receive *baptism. They saw that God had given authority to him. Therefore, they obeyed him. The people recognised that he spoke God’s instructions to them.
So when the *Jewish leaders heard about John the *Baptist, they sent some priests to him. These priests were very important, and they came with their helpers. The priests worked in the *Temple in *Jerusalem. The *Temple was the important place where the *Jews came to *worship God. The priests made *sacrifices and offered gifts to God on the people’s behalf. The priests had a very important job, so the people respected them.
Probably, the priests came to see John the *Baptist for several reasons. They were the leaders of the *Jewish religion. So perhaps they wanted to know if John the *Baptist was teaching wrong beliefs. They needed to know if he was a genuine *prophet. Also, perhaps they were jealous because John the *Baptist was popular with the people.
Verse 20 The *Jews were eager for the *Messiah to come. Most *Jews expected him to be a great military leader. They expected him to lead *Israel’s armies and to defeat all their enemies. Sometimes, men would pretend to be the *Messiah. They would persuade men to join them and to fight against the *Roman rulers. But the *Roman rulers always overcame them and punished them.
John was a very popular man who had God’s authority. So it was natural to think that he might be the *Messiah. But immediately, John said that he was not the *Messiah.
Verses 21-22 Elijah was a great *prophet. We can read about him in 1 and 2 Kings in the *Old Testament. Elijah had not died naturally. God had taken him up to heaven in a strong wind (2 Kings 2:11). The *Jews believed that Elijah would return. Then he would tell people that the *Messiah was coming soon. This was John the *Baptist’s message. But John the *Baptist told them that he was not Elijah.
God had promised to send another *prophet to the *Jews. This *prophet would be even greater than Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15). This would be the greatest of all *prophets. The *Jews referred to this person just as ‘the *Prophet’.
Verse 23 The priests wanted to know who John the *Baptist was. But instead, John the *Baptist emphasised why he had come. He spoke a *prophecy from the Book of Isaiah (40:3). John the *Baptist called himself merely ‘someone who shouts in the desert’. He wanted people to concentrate on his message, not on himself. He wanted them to think about the *Messiah, not about John the *Baptist.
Verses 24-25 The *Pharisees were a group of *Jews who were experts on the *Law. They believed that people had to obey every part of the *Law. The most important *Jewish teachers had added many new rules to the *Law. This was so that people had rules for every situation. The *Pharisees said that these new rules were just as important as God’s rules in the *Law.
If a person wanted to become a *Pharisee, he had to make a special promise in front of three witnesses. He had to promise to obey the *Law. And he also had to promise to obey all the extra rules, in addition to the rules that God had made.
However, many *Pharisees became proud. They thought that they were better than other people. Both Jesus and John the *Baptist argued with them. This was because the *Pharisees obeyed the *Law for the wrong reasons. They wanted to impress other people. And the *Pharisees wanted people to think that they (the *Pharisees) were clever and important. They wanted people to think that they were very good. But they did not really care about God or about other people.
They wanted to know why John the *Baptist was *baptising *Jews.
Verse 26 John the *Baptist used water to *baptise people after they had *repented. They washed their bodies to show that they wanted to be *clean inside their hearts and minds. This did not mean that God had forgiven their *sins.
But the person who could forgive their *sins was coming soon. Actually he was among them, in the crowd. But they did not recognise their *Messiah.
Verse 27 Later, Jesus said that John the *Baptist was the greatest of all the *prophets (Luke 7:28). But John the *Baptist said that he was not good enough to be Jesus’ slave! We should be humble like John the *Baptist. Nobody is good enough to be Jesus’ slave. Jesus is God’s Son. We should always remember this when we serve him. We should never be proud. We should not think that we are important. However, Jesus calls us his friends, not his servants! (See John 15:14-15.) This is so wonderful.
Verse 28 John referred to two places called Bethany in his *Gospel. This Bethany was a village near to the river called Jordan. The other Bethany was near to *Jerusalem (John 11:18).
Verse 29 When John the *Baptist saw Jesus, he called Jesus ‘God’s *Lamb’. This is a very special name. It helped to explain why Jesus had come to the earth. Probably, John the *Baptist used this name for two main reasons.
Every morning and evening, the priests *sacrificed a *lamb in the *Temple. The *lamb was a *sacrifice for the people’s *sins (Exodus 29:38-42). Their *sins deserved punishment. So the *lamb died on their behalf. But the priests had to offer this *sacrifice twice daily, because people *sin all the time.
However, God provided the perfect *sacrifice: his Son, Jesus. When Jesus died on the *cross, he received the punishment for everybody’s *sins, for all time. People do not need to *sacrifice animals because Jesus was ‘God’s *Lamb’. If we believe this, we can ask God to forgive us. And if we are sincere, God will forgive us.
Also, John the *Baptist was probably thinking about the *Passover. At the *Passover, the people remembered the night that the *Israelites had left the country called Egypt (Exodus 12:11-13). God had told each family to kill a *lamb. Then, he told them to spread the blood on the entrances to their houses. That night, all the Egyptians’ oldest sons had died. (Egyptians were the people who lived in Egypt.) But the *Israelites’ oldest sons had lived. God had seen the *lambs’ blood on their houses, so he protected them. The *lambs’ blood had saved them from death.
In the same way, Jesus’ blood saves us from death. When we *believe in him, we will live in heaven after our death. Also, the blood of Jesus, God’s *Lamb, protects us from bad things. When the devil attacks us, we can have this protection. We need just to pray that the blood of Jesus will protect us.
Verses 30-34 Jesus was John the *Baptist’s relative (Luke 1:36). So John the *Baptist had probably known Jesus since they were children. But at that time, John the *Baptist did not understand that Jesus was the *Messiah. However, after Jesus’ *baptism, John the *Baptist did understand who Jesus really was.
The other *Gospels describe Jesus’ *baptism (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). But John did not record it. Perhaps he knew that people were already familiar with this story. So instead he wanted to emphasise the meaning of Jesus’ *baptism.
Jesus never *sinned. He was always good. So he did not need *baptism to show that he had *repented. But at Jesus’ *baptism, something special happened. John the *Baptist saw the *Holy Spirit come down from heaven. And he realised that Jesus was the *Messiah, God’s Son. The *Holy Spirit was like a white bird. The *Holy Spirit stayed with Jesus.
John the *Baptist said that Jesus would *baptise with the *Holy Spirit. After Jesus had returned to heaven, he sent the *Holy Spirit to the *disciples and other *believers (Acts chapter 2). The *Holy Spirit filled them and he gave them power to tell people the good news about Jesus. Also many other *believers received the *baptism in the *Holy Spirit (for example, Acts 10:44-48).
Jesus *baptises *believers in the *Holy Spirit still. We have only to ask him. When we receive the *Holy Spirit, we will also receive *spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). The *Greek word ‘to *baptise’ can mean ‘to flood’. When Jesus *baptises us in the *Holy Spirit, the *Holy Spirit fills us completely, like water in a flood.
Verses 35-37 Two of John the *Baptist’s *disciples left him and they followed Jesus instead. John the *Baptist expected this to happen. He had emphasised that Jesus was greater than himself. Then, he pointed out Jesus again to these two *disciples. But John the *Baptist was doing the work that God had sent him to do. He was pointing out who Jesus was. He wanted people to follow Jesus, not himself.
Verse 38 Jesus asked the two *disciples a very important question. He asked, ‘What do you want?’ It is a question that Jesus asks us, too. Some people want to get a lot of money. They want to buy a lot of things. Some people want to have an important job. Some people want to have power over other people. Some people want to have security.
But other people want to know God. They want to serve him and to obey him. They want to have the *peace that only he can give. They want this more than anything else. And they realise that a right relationship with God matters more than anything else.
However, the two *disciples did not answer Jesus’ question. Perhaps they did not really know what they wanted at that time. Instead, they asked him where he was staying.
Verse 39 Jesus answered, ‘Come and see.’ He invited them to spend time with him and to learn from him. He invited them to become his *disciples.
‘The time was about the 10th hour.’ The *Jews counted time from 6 o’clock. So many Bible teachers think that John means 4 o’clock in the afternoon. However, the *Romans said that the day started at midnight. So other Bible teachers think that John means 10 o’clock in the morning here.
Verse 40 Andrew was one of these two *disciples. The author did not name the other *disciple. It is likely that the other *disciple was John, the author of the *Gospel. This passage contains many details, such as the time when the *disciples met Jesus (verse 39). Also, John was writing in *Greek. But he recorded several words in *Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke. Perhaps he wanted to record the exact words that he had heard. When he met Jesus, everything changed for him. So he would remember everything about that wonderful day.
Verse 41 Andrew was very happy that he had found the *Messiah. Immediately, he wanted to tell this good news to his brother. But Andrew did not just tell Simon about Jesus. He brought Simon to meet Jesus. We should be like Andrew. If we know Jesus, we want other people to know him too. So we must tell people about him. We must introduce them to Jesus.
Verse 42 Jesus gave a new name to Simon. He said that people would call Simon ‘a rock’. Jesus meant that Simon’s *faith would be very strong. People would trust him. He would support people and he would help their *faith to increase. But Simon did not have all these qualities when he first met Jesus. Jesus was not describing Simon as Simon was then. Jesus was describing the kind of person that Simon would become. To emphasise this, Jesus did not often call Simon by the name ‘Peter’. In fact, we read about this only once during Jesus’ life on earth. But when Simon became a leader of the *church in *Jerusalem, everyone called him ‘Peter’.
Jesus knows the kind of person that we could become. But, like Simon, it takes time for us to become that person. God will allow us to have troubles and difficulties. We may be weak and we may fail often. We may make wrong or foolish decisions. But God will work for our benefit. He will teach us, and he will guide us. We must let God do this. We must give ourselves to him completely. We must allow him to rule over every part of our character and our circumstances. Then we will become the kind of person that God wants us to be.
Verses 43-44 John the *Baptist *baptised Jesus near Bethany which was in *Judea (a *province). Afterwards, Jesus decided to leave *Judea and to travel to *Galilee (the northern *province). He met a man called Philip there. Philip became Jesus’ *disciple. Philip was probably Andrew and Simon’s friend. They were all from Bethsaida, a town in *Galilee. Like Andrew, Philip wanted to tell the good news about Jesus to other people. So Philip went to find his friend called Nathanael.
The other *Gospels do not mention a *disciple called Nathanael. But they do mention a *disciple called Bartholomew, who was Philip’s friend. John did not mention Bartholomew. So it is likely that the names Nathanael and Bartholomew refer to the same person. Bartholomew was really a second name, which meant ‘Ptolemy’s son’. So probably Bartholomew’s first name was Nathanael.
Verses 45-46 Philip was very excited because he had found the *Messiah. But Nathanael was surprised that Jesus was from Nazareth (a town in *Galilee). Nathanael was from Cana, a town near to Nazareth. We do not really know why Nathanael insulted Nazareth. Perhaps the *Jews did not like the town because some *Roman soldiers were staying there. Or perhaps Nathanael thought that the *Messiah would come from a more important place than Nazareth.
However, Philip did not try to argue with Nathanael. Instead, he invited Nathanael to see Jesus for himself. We can learn from this. We cannot persuade people to become *Christians. We can argue with them about religion. But it is better just to tell the good news about Jesus. We can tell people what Jesus has done on our behalf personally. We can tell them that we know Jesus as our friend. He gives us *peace, whatever may happen to us. We can invite them to *believe in him. Then, they will know his power and his love. He will be their friend, too.
Verse 47 Jesus had never met Nathanael. But Jesus knew about him. He knew Nathanael’s character and attitudes. Jesus knows everything about us, too. He knows the good things and the bad things about us. We cannot hide anything from him. But still he loves us. Still he wants us to be his friends and to follow him.
Verses 48-50 *Fig trees have many leaves, so they provide much shade. People often sat under a *fig tree. There, they would think about God and the *scriptures. This was a common custom. Probably, Nathanael was doing this before Philip found him. Nathanael was surprised that Jesus knew this. It convinced Nathanael that Jesus was God’s Son and *Israel’s king. But Jesus said that Nathanael would see greater things than this. In fact, all the *disciples would see greater things. They would see how God would mend the relationship between himself and people. God would do this by means of Jesus’ death.
Verse 51 This strange description may be a reference to Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:12). In this dream, Jacob saw a ladder that reached from earth to heaven. God’s *angels were going up and down on this ladder. Jesus is like this ladder, because he connects people to God. He opened the way to God. He did this by means of his *sacrifice of himself. But Jesus did not mean that *angels would actually climb on him. *Angels take messages to and from God. So Jesus meant that we can speak to God only by means of himself. Jesus is the only real connection between heaven and earth.
People’s *sin has ruined their relationship with God. And, since the first people, everyone has *sinned. But Jesus, by his death, would mend the relationship between people and God. Jesus does this for everyone who trusts him.
Jesus often referred to himself as ‘the Son of Man’. He did not explain what this meant. But the name has more than one meaning. It could refer to ‘the Son of Man’ in the book of the *prophet Daniel (Daniel 7:13-14). Daniel had a vision (a dream that God gives to a person when they are awake). He saw ‘someone like the Son of Man’ who ‘came with the clouds of heaven’. God gave this ‘Son of Man’ the power and authority to rule over everything in the world.
But ‘the Son of Man’ meant usually just ‘a human person’. Already Nathanael had called Jesus ‘God’s Son’ (verse 49). Just after this, Jesus called himself ‘the Son of Man’. It reminds us that Jesus was God. But he was also human.
Verses 1-3 Weddings were very special occasions. After the ceremony, the people went to a party. This party continued for a week. The guests ate and drank together. Everyone was very happy. But if there was not enough food or drink for the week, the bride and the bridegroom felt great shame. It was their duty to provide plenty.
It seems that Mary, Jesus’ mother, was a special guest at this wedding. There was a tradition that the bridegroom was John himself. This tradition also recorded that his mother Salome was Mary’s sister. We do not know if this is true. But Mary had some responsibility for the wedding, because she worried about the wine. And she had the authority to give orders to the servants.
Verses 4-5 Probably, Mary’s husband Joseph had died. This would explain why Jesus lived with his mother and his brothers until he was 30 years old. As he was the oldest son, it was his duty to look after the whole family. So Mary expected that Jesus would help her to get some more wine. Then the party could continue. And the bride and the bridegroom would not be ashamed.
But Jesus was thinking about other things. He said, ‘My time has not come yet’ (verse 4). He was the *Messiah, but he had not shown this yet. So ‘my time’ could refer to the time when he would do this. Or it could refer to his death on the *cross. Jesus knew that he had come to the earth for a special purpose. He never forgot this.
But still Mary was sure that Jesus would help. So she told the servants to obey his instructions.
Verse 6 John was not writing only for the benefit of the *Jews but also for the benefit of the *Gentiles. So he explained why there were pots of water in the house. The *Jews believed that to touch certain things made people *unclean inside their hearts and spirits. So they washed their hands before and during a meal to make themselves *clean again. Also they washed their feet before they entered a house. However, these 6 pots held a very large quantity of water. So it was not likely that the water was for people to wash their hands and feet. It was more likely that the water was for a ceremony called the Mikvah. The Mikvah was a ceremony for women who had had a baby, or after menstruation (when a woman bleeds monthly).
Verses 7-8 Jesus told the servants to fill the pots with water. Then he told them to take out some water. And he told them to give it to the host. The word ‘host’ here means the man who was responsible for the party. He was like a chief waiter. Jesus had made the water change. It had become wine!
The servants obeyed Jesus’ strange instructions. However, they did not know what would happen. Sometimes, we do not understand why Jesus asks us to do a certain thing. But when we obey him, something wonderful happens.
Verses 9-11 People always drank the best wine first at a wedding. But Jesus’ wine was even better! So the host thought that the people had been drinking the cheaper wine first instead.
This *miracle showed that Jesus had power over nature. It showed that he spoke with authority. And wonderful things happened when people obeyed him.
Verse 12 Capernaum was an important city. It was by the shore of Lake *Galilee. It was on a major route for trade. It had a *Roman garrison (building where soldiers live). People paid their taxes to the *Roman government in Capernaum, too. Matthew was collecting taxes when Jesus asked him to become his *disciple (Matthew 9:9). Several of Jesus’ other *disciples lived there (Matthew 4:13-19). Jesus stayed in Capernaum while he was *preaching in *Galilee. However, he said that the people there did not have much *faith (Matthew 11:23; Luke 10:15).
Verses 13-15 Jesus and his *disciples travelled south to *Jerusalem for the *Passover. The *Passover was the most important *Jewish *festival. The *Passover *festival happened every year in the spring.
Many *Jews travelled to *Jerusalem to offer *sacrifices in the *Temple at the *Passover.
4 *courtyards surrounded the main part of the *Temple. The outer *courtyard was called the *Gentiles’ *Courtyard. This was where the merchants and the *moneychangers did business.
The merchants sold animals for *sacrifices. Animals for *sacrifices had to be perfect, without a mark or a spot on them. The *Temple employed officials. These officials examined the animals that people brought for *sacrifices. But the officials were not fair or honest. They accepted only the animals that people had bought from the *Temple. They *rejected any animals that people had bought from places outside the *Temple. So this forced everyone to buy animals from the *Temple. But these animals cost much more than usual. They were very expensive, so that the merchants made a big profit.
This was not the only thing that was unfair. Every *Jew had to pay a tax to the *Temple. This tax paid for the daily ceremonies there. But people had to pay this tax with special coins. So when visitors came, they had to go to the *moneychangers. The *moneychangers took the visitors’ coins and gave them the special coins. But the *moneychangers charged the visitors a lot of money for this service. Like the merchants, the *moneychangers were greedy and they made a big profit.
The merchants and the *moneychangers did not care that the *Temple was a holy place. They did not come to *worship God there. They came to earn a lot of money for themselves! They charged the people too much for their services. They were unfair to the people who had come to *worship God.
When Jesus saw them, he forced them all to leave the *Temple. He was very angry. The merchants and the *moneychangers did not respect God’s house. And they did not respect the people who came to *worship him there.
Verse 16 Matthew, Mark and Luke also recorded this incident. They reported Jesus’ words slightly differently. Jesus said that God’s house had become a place for thieves to hide. But Mark added some extra words. Jesus also spoke some words from Isaiah 56:7: ‘People will call my house a place of *worship for all nations.’ ‘All nations’ referred to the *Gentiles.
The merchants and the *moneychangers did business in the *Gentiles’ *Courtyard. *Gentiles who wanted to *worship God came into this *courtyard. The *Jews allowed them to do this. But they did not allow the *Gentiles to go any nearer to the main *Temple. So, for the *Gentiles, this *courtyard was the only place in the *Temple where they could pray. But it was very difficult to pray because it was so noisy! So *Gentiles who wanted to *worship God could not do this. Probably, this was another reason why Jesus was angry.
People offered *sacrifices so that God would accept them. But these *sacrifices of animals did not solve the problem of human *sin. Many of the *prophets had written about this (for example, Isaiah 1:11-17; Jeremiah 7:22; Hosea 5:6). People had to offer *sacrifices often because they continued to *sin. Jesus had come to end the old system of *sacrifices of animals. He had not come to change God’s *Law. He had come to complete what God’s *Law asked people to do. This was because he was the perfect *sacrifice. His death solved the problem of human *sin. He died on behalf of everybody. He suffered the punishment for all our *sins.
Verse 17 These words were from Psalm 69:9.
Verse 18 Jesus’ words and acts caused a shock to the *Jewish leaders. Only someone who had God’s authority had the right to do this. So they asked Jesus to prove whether or not he had God’s authority. They asked him for a *sign; that is, a *miracle.
Verses 19-21 The *Temple was the place where God lived among his people. The *Jews knew that God was everywhere. But he was present in a special way there in the *Temple.
The *Temple was on a hill above the city. King Solomon had built the first *Temple there in 959 BC. (‘BC’ refers to the time before Jesus’ birth. So 959 BC means 959 years before Jesus’ birth). But *Israel’s enemies had destroyed Solomon’s *Temple several centuries later. The *Jews built another *Temple in 516 BC. Then in 28 BC, the ruler Herod the Great started to add many more walls and buildings to it. This third *Temple was magnificent. It had taken 46 years to build.
But Jesus was not referring to the *Temple that Herod had built. Jesus meant that God had come to live among his people in a new way. God was living among them as a man. This man was Jesus. His body was the new *Temple. This was what John meant in John 1:14.
Jesus knew that the people would kill him. So he said, ‘Destroy this *temple.’ But he knew also that he would defeat death. On the third day after his death, his body would become alive again. This is the meaning of ‘I will build it again in three days.’
Verse 22 But on this occasion, nobody understood what Jesus really meant. It was only after his *resurrection that the *disciples realised the real meaning of his strange words.
Matthew, Mark and Luke’s accounts of this incident are towards the end of their *Gospels. They recorded that it happened during the final week of Jesus’ life. But we must remember that John emphasised what Jesus did in *Jerusalem. He recorded that Jesus went to *Jerusalem several times and he even stayed there for several months. But Matthew, Mark and Luke emphasised what Jesus did in *Galilee. They only recorded his final visit to *Jerusalem.
All 4 accounts of this incident record the same main facts. They are all accurate descriptions of what happened in the *Temple. But the writers wanted to emphasise what happened and why. When the incident happened was less important to them.
However, there is another explanation. Perhaps Jesus chased the merchants and the *moneychangers out of the *Temple on more than one occasion. So perhaps John’s account is a record of what happened on a different occasion.
Verses 23-25 Many people *believed in Jesus because he did *miracles. But they did not have a real *faith that would last. They *believed in him for the wrong reasons. They saw that he had power. They wanted to know how they could benefit from this power. Jesus knew this. When there was trouble, they would not continue to *believe in him. Jesus knew this, too. They were following him because he was popular. They would leave him when he became unpopular. Some of them would probably oppose him.
Jesus knows what is in everyone’s hearts. He knows if our *faith is real and sincere. He knows if we really love him. It is not always easy to follow Jesus. Other people may hate us or even hurt us because of our *faith in him. But when we know Jesus personally as our friend, our *faith will always be real and sincere.
Verses 1-2 Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a group of 70 *Jewish leaders, plus the *High Priest. The *Romans ruled the *Jews. But they allowed the *Jewish leaders to make decisions about certain legal matters and also matters about their religion. These 70 *Jewish leaders came from rich and important families. Nicodemus was also a *Pharisee (see note on John 1:24-25).
There are two possible reasons why Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night. Perhaps he did not want the other *Jewish leaders to know that he had spoken to Jesus. Jesus was not popular with the *Jewish leaders. He often argued with them in public. But perhaps there was another reason. *Jewish teachers taught that the best time to study God’s *Law was at night. Jesus was very busy all day. He was a popular teacher and crowds followed him. So maybe Nicodemus wanted to discuss important *spiritual matters in private, when Jesus was alone.
Verses 3-4 The other three *Gospels contain many references to God’s *kingdom. But this verse is the only place where we read the phrase ‘God’s *kingdom’ in John’s *Gospel.
God’s *kingdom is not a country that has borders. It is not in one particular place. Perhaps the best description of God’s *kingdom is in the *Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). This is the prayer that Jesus taught us to say. In this prayer, we ask for God’s *kingdom to come to the earth, so that everyone will obey God. The *angels in heaven obey God. We ask that this will happen on the earth, too.
The writer William Barclay said that God’s *kingdom is a society. In this society, people do everything that pleases God. God’s *kingdom has begun already. Because when a person *believes in Jesus, they join God’s *kingdom. In the future, God’s *kingdom will come completely to the earth. This will happen when Jesus returns to *judge the world. Evil things will not happen then (Revelation chapters 21 and 22).
Jesus told Nicodemus that there is only one way to enter God’s *kingdom. A person has to be born again. These *Greek words can mean also ‘born from above’. This is because Jesus was not talking about the birth of our physical bodies. He was talking about our spirits.
When we *believe in Jesus, we are sorry because of our *sins. We realise that we can never be good enough for God. We know that our *sins deserve punishment. But Jesus suffered that punishment on our behalf. He has paid the price for our *sins. So when we accept him as our *Lord, God forgives our *sins. And he accepts us. Then the *Holy Spirit enters us and God begins to change us. Our spirits are born again! Our spirits become alive. We know that God is real. We love him and we want to please him. We become different people inside our hearts.
Everyone who has been born again belongs to God’s *kingdom. It does not matter where a person lives in the world. It does not matter whether that person is rich or poor. It does not matter whether that person is young or old. The colour of that person’s skin does not matter. God accepts everyone who *believes in his Son, Jesus.
‘I tell you the truth’ (verse 3). Jesus used the phrase ‘I tell you the truth’ often, when he wanted to emphasise very important statements.
Verses 5-7 ‘By means of water and the *Holy Spirit’ (verse 5). Jesus said that a person needs two births. The first is the natural birth of the body. This happens by means of one’s parents. The second birth is a *spiritual birth. Only the *Holy Spirit can make this happen.
We cannot get this new *life for ourselves. Only the *Holy Spirit can give it to us. It is a gift from God (see Romans 8:16; 1 Corinthians 2:10-12; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6).
Verse 8 Jesus said that the *Holy Spirit is like the wind. Actually, the words for ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ are the same in both *Hebrew and *Greek. Like the wind, the *Holy Spirit is invisible (something that we cannot see, although it is there). Like the wind, the *Holy Spirit can go anywhere and everywhere. Like the wind, we can feel the effects of the *Holy Spirit. And like the wind, we cannot control the *Holy Spirit.
We cannot explain how the *Holy Spirit gives to us this new birth. It is a mystery. We can never really understand it. We just know that it is true. It happens!
Verses 9-11 Nicodemus was a very clever man. He knew the *Scriptures well and he taught people about them. But he did not understand what Jesus was teaching him. Because he was clever, he realised this. He was wise enough to ask Jesus some questions. Nicodemus really wanted to learn and to understand. Jesus explained things to him, because Nicodemus was honest and sincere. However, people do not have to be clever to *believe what Jesus said. They just have to have *faith in him. His words are all true!
Jesus used the plural ‘we’ in verse 11. Some people think that he was referring to the *disciples. But the *disciples had known Jesus only for a short time. So perhaps Jesus was including God the *Father and the *Holy Spirit with himself.
Verse 12 Nicodemus did not understand what Jesus meant about the second birth. But Jesus had explained it well. The word ‘you’ in this verse is plural. So Jesus was referring to everyone who did not understand him.
Although the second birth is a *spiritual matter, it happens here on the earth. But some people did not understand this. So they would not understand the things that happened in heaven. (See also John 12:44-50.)
Many people today do not understand what Jesus taught about *spiritual matters. It is not because they are not clever. Often, it is because they do not want to understand. Perhaps they are too proud. Or perhaps they are too lazy!
Paul wrote about this matter in his letter to the *church in Corinth (an important city). He wrote that the *Holy Spirit helps us to understand *spiritual matters. If the *Holy Spirit is not present in a person’s spirit, that person cannot understand *spiritual matters (1 Corinthians 2:13-16).
But when we understand, we have to do something about it. It affects us. We must choose whether to obey Jesus or not.
Verse 13 Jesus, the Son of Man, is the only connection between heaven and earth. He was in heaven but he came down to live with us on the earth. After his death and *resurrection, he returned to heaven. And now he lives in our spirits by means of the *Holy Spirit.
Verses 14-15 This verse refers to an incident in the *Old Testament (Numbers 21:8-9). The *Israelites were wandering in the desert. They had complained about God. So he sent many snakes to punish them for their bad attitude. The snakes bit and killed many people. Then God told Moses to make a metal snake. He told Moses to put it on the top of a pole. When the snakes bit the people, the people had to look up at the metal snake. If they did this, they would not die.
*Sin is like a snake’s bite. A bite poisons our bodies. And *sin ruins our lives. But God has provided a way to cure us. He has provided a way to save us from *sin and death. Jesus said that people would lift him up, like the metal snake. He was referring to the time when they would put him on the *cross. They would lift him up on the *cross for everyone to see.
We must look up at him on the *cross. In other words, we must trust him, because of what he did on the *cross. We must believe that he will save us from *sin and death. For the *Israelites, the only way to cure the snake’s bite was to look at the metal snake. And the only way to free us from the results of our *sin is to look at Jesus on the *cross. When we look at the *cross, God rescues us from the results of our *sins. In other words, we must trust Jesus to save us from the punishment for our *sins. He died so that God would forgive us. There, at the *cross, Jesus took away our *sin.
Verse 16 This is probably the most famous verse in the Bible. It expresses in only a few words what *Christians *believe. It tells us the main reason why God sent his Son to die on our behalf. There are several reasons why God did this.
He did it because he is fair. If people do wrong things, they deserve a punishment. So Jesus suffered our punishment in our place.
He did it because he is *holy. God cannot accept us, because we *sin. But Jesus, who never *sinned, took our place. He died instead of us. When we believe this, we receive Jesus’ *righteousness as our own. So when God looks at us, he chooses to see Jesus’ *righteousness instead of our *sin.
But this verse emphasises the main reason why God sent Jesus to die. It was because God loved us all so much.
Love is more than just one of God’s qualities. His nature is love. God does everything because he loves. God’s love always reaches out to us, the people that he has made. God’s love is never selfish. He gave to us the most precious thing that he had: his only Son.
‘*Eternal life’ does not mean just life that continues without an end. Many people have miserable lives. Many people are poor, or hungry, or ill; or they suffer with pain. It would be bad if this kind of life continued without an end. But *eternal life means the wonderful *life that God gives to us by means of Jesus. He gives it to us now. It is our promise that we will live *forever, even after our death. In *eternal life, there is no more death, or disease. There is no enemy or *sin. Bad things do not happen. Our life on the earth is only a short part of our life with God. After we die, we will live this wonderful *life with him always.
*Eternal life is God’s free gift to us. We cannot earn it. There is only one way to receive it. We must *believe in Jesus. ‘To *believe in’ means more than just to know that Jesus is God. Even the devil knows that! (For example, Luke 4:33-34; James 2:19.) It means that we must trust Jesus completely. Only Jesus can save us from the results of our *sins. We must let him rule every part of our lives completely. He has a plan for each one of us. We must believe that all his words in the Bible are true. We must obey him. We must believe that he gives us the power to change our characters. He will make us become more like him, if we let him.
Verses 17-21 God sent Jesus to rescue us from the results of our *sins. He did not send Jesus to punish us. But that does not mean that everyone will avoid punishment. It is our choice. Jesus showed us the bad things that we do. He is the meaning of the *light from heaven. But some people prefer to continue to *sin. They do not want to change what they do. So they do not want to know Jesus. They *reject him and they *reject the *Christian message. However, other people become *Christians because they want to change. They do not still want to hide their *sin. Instead, they want to obey God and to do good things. So they are happy to come to Jesus.
Verses 22-30 At this time, both John the *Baptist and Jesus’ *disciples were *baptising people. But they were in different places. However, it seems that more people were going to Jesus instead of to John the *Baptist. And it seems that John the *Baptist’s *disciples were worried about this. Probably, they did not like it because they were loyal to their teacher. Probably, they expected him to be jealous of Jesus.
But John the *Baptist was not jealous. He knew that God had given him a special job to do. He had to prepare people for the time when the *Messiah came. John the *Baptist had to guide people to Jesus. So because people were going to Jesus instead of him, John the *Baptist had been successful. This did not upset him and he was not jealous. He was very happy!
To show what he meant, John the *Baptist talked about a wedding. It is very likely that he chose this idea on purpose. In the *Old Testament, writers often used the idea of a wedding to show how God loved his people, called *Israel. The writers wrote that God was like a bridegroom. *Israel was his bride. This is because he had chosen *Israel to belong to him in a special way. He wanted *Israel to be loyal to him.
Also, in the *New Testament, the *church is called ‘the bride of *Christ’ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-32).
So John the *Baptist said that his situation was like a wedding. Jesus was like the bridegroom because he was the most important person. John the *Baptist was like the bridegroom’s friend. At a *Jewish wedding, the bridegroom’s friend had many duties. For example, this friend arranged the wedding and he sent out the invitations. But he had one special duty. He had to guard the bride’s bedroom. He did not allow anybody to enter. He opened the door only when he heard the bridegroom’s voice (verse 29).
So John the *Baptist was pleased because he had done his duty. People were coming to see Jesus, God’s Son. John the *Baptist wanted this to happen. As Jesus became more important, John the *Baptist would become less important. This did not matter to him. He had obeyed God and he had done his work well.
Verses 31-36 These may be the words of John the *Baptist. Or they may be the words of John, who wrote this *Gospel. Often, in this *Gospel, it is difficult to know when the author has added his own words. But this does not matter. The passage is very important anyway.
It emphasises clearly that God’s Son is superior to everyone, even to the greatest human teacher. Human teachers know only what it is like to live in this world. So they can speak only ‘the world’s language’ (verse 31). But Jesus knows what heaven is like. He had come from there to the world. He returned to heaven after his *resurrection and he is there now. He came to tell us the truth about God. God himself sent his Son. And God’s Son knew God’s thoughts, so he spoke God’s words.
In the *Old Testament, the *Holy Spirit came and remained with certain people. This was so that they could do special work for God. Now, all *Christians have the *Holy Spirit in them. But the *Holy Spirit was in Jesus in a special way. Because Jesus was God, there were no limits to the *Holy Spirit’s power in him (verse 34).
But not many people believed what Jesus told them. However, the people who did believe received *eternal life. This is still true today. Anyone who *believes in Jesus has *eternal life. They have it now, not just after their death. They can enjoy the wonderful quality of life with God from the moment that they *believe in Jesus.
However, we must remember that there is a choice. If people do not *believe in Jesus, they have chosen to *reject God. They have *rejected his gift of *eternal life. They have chosen death. God loves them. But it is their choice that God *condemns them. This is because they have *rejected his love.
God designed people so that we would be able to make decisions for ourselves. He does not force us to *believe in Jesus. He does not force us to receive *eternal life. He offers it to us. But we must choose it or *reject it. That is why it is important to tell people about Jesus. But it is their choice whether they *believe in him or not.
Verses 1-3 Jesus had just started his public work. But already some *Jewish leaders were opposing Jesus. Probably, they were jealous because he was so popular. Later, Jesus argued with these leaders in public. But he knew that, at this particular time, it was not right to do this. So he left *Judea.
Verse 4 *Galilee was in the north. The most direct route was through *Samaria. The journey took about three days. But most *Jews would not go this way. They preferred to travel round *Samaria. This journey took twice as long. This was because the *Jews hated the *Samaritans. The *Samaritans hated the *Jews, too. They had been enemies for centuries.
However, the *Jews and the *Samaritans shared the same *ancestors. About 720 BC (years before Christ), *Israel’s enemies had entered *Samaria. They had defeated the *Israelites who lived there. Then they had taken most of these *Israelites to another country. They had brought many foreigners to *Samaria. It was not possible to take all the *Israelites away. Some *Israelites had remained in *Samaria. And they had married the foreigners, who *worshipped false gods.
The *Jews did not allow their people to marry foreigners who *worshipped false gods. Their *Law did not allow this. So the *Israelites in *Samaria lost their right to be called *Jews.
However, Jesus did not avoid *Samaria. Instead, he chose to travel through it.
Verses 5-6 These verses emphasise that Jesus was human, like us. He was tired from the long journey. He needed a drink, too. So he sat down by Jacob’s Well while his *disciples went into the town.
This well was on a piece of ground that Jacob had bought (Genesis 33:18-19). The well was very deep, so Jesus could not get a drink from it with his hands.
It was about the 6th hour. Many Bible teachers think that John means midday. However, other Bible teachers think that John means 6 o’clock in the evening here. (See note on John 1:39.)
Verses 7-9 A *Samaritan woman came to the well. The well was the place where women gathered to talk together. But it was likely that they would refuse to talk to this woman. They would not respect her, because she had been married many times. And now she was living with a man who was not her husband (verses 17-18).
But Jesus talked to her. This was very unusual. She was a *Samaritan, and *Jews did not usually talk to *Samaritans. Also, this *Samaritan was a woman. Strict *Jewish teachers would not speak to a woman in public. Some *Pharisees even closed their eyes when they saw a woman in the street. The *Pharisees would have thought that this particular woman was very wicked. But Jesus did not care about what people thought. He cared about people!
The woman was very surprised when Jesus asked her for a drink. This was because usually *Jews would not talk to *Samaritans. But Jesus needed something that the woman had. He needed a drink of water. And Jesus had something that the woman needed, too. But she did not realise this.
Verses 10-12 Jesus offered to her ‘the water that gives *life’. He did not mean physical water. The ‘gift’ (verse 10) that he referred to was God’s *Spirit. This was what the *Greek word for ‘gift’ always meant in the book of Acts. The ‘water that gives *life’ means the *Holy Spirit. Jesus also linked the idea of water and the *Holy Spirit in John 7:37-39.
Our bodies need water to stay alive. And our spirits need the *Holy Spirit to stay alive, too. The *Holy Spirit is like a fountain in us. The *Holy Spirit supplies us with everything that we need to live as *Christians every day.
But the woman thought that Jesus was referring to physical water. The *Greek words for ‘the water that gives *life’ also meant water from a stream, rather than still water. Of course, water from a stream was better than still water. It was cleaner and clearer.
So the woman asked Jesus how he could get any water without a bucket. She thought that he would not use her bucket. She thought this because he was a *Jew. She also thought that Jesus was insulting the *Samaritans’ well. They were proud of it because Jacob had made it. But Jesus seemed to say that he was greater than Jacob. This was because he could provide better water. Of course, Jesus was much greater than Jacob. And he could provide something much better than physical water. He could provide *eternal life for those who asked him.
Verses 13-14 In his reply, Jesus explained the difference between physical water and the water that he was offering. Our bodies get hungry and *thirsty. But our spirits get hungry and *thirsty too, for God. When we drink water, we are soon *thirsty again. The water only gives us temporary satisfaction. But the water that Jesus offers, (the *Holy Spirit), gives us permanent satisfaction in our spirits. We have the *Holy Spirit inside us always to give us what we need *spiritually. And we know also that we have *eternal life by means of the *Holy Spirit.
Verse 15 However, the woman did not understand that Jesus was talking about *spiritual matters. She did not want to come to the well every day. She wanted an easier life. But Jesus does not offer us an easier life. Instead, he offers to change us inside our hearts. He helps us to overcome our problems and difficulties.
Verses 16-18 Suddenly, Jesus changed the subject. The conversation became personal. The woman had to think about her past and also her present situation. Neither was good. She had been married 5 times. The *Jews did not approve of people who married more than three times. Also, this woman was living with a man who was not her husband. And Jesus knew all about her. But still he talked to her. He offered her the gift of *eternal life.
Verses 19-20 The woman said that Jesus was a *prophet. This was because he knew about her situation. Then she quickly changed the subject of the conversation. Perhaps it had become too personal for her!
She started to talk about the correct place to *worship God. The *Jews and the *Samaritans both *worshipped God, but there were differences between their religions. The *Samaritans’ *scriptures consisted of the first 5 books of the Bible, which contained the *Law. The *Jewish *scriptures included many other books: the whole of the *Old Testament. The *Samaritans believed that the mountain called Mount Gerizim in *Samaria was the correct place to *worship God. But the *Jews *worshipped God in the *Temple in *Jerusalem.
Verses 21-26 However, it did not matter where people *worshipped God. It was their attitude that mattered.
‘God will save the world from the results of *sin by means of the *Jews’ (verse 22). God had chosen the *Jews to be his own special people. He had promised to *bless the whole world by means of the *Jews (Genesis 12:3). In the *Old Testament, the *prophets had reminded the *Jews that they belonged to God in a special way. The *prophets had also written about the *Messiah, who would come from King David’s family. The *Samaritan woman probably knew these *Jewish *scriptures. But she did not realise that the *Messiah was speaking to her! (verse 25)
Jesus said that God was looking for people to *worship him. But he wanted them to *worship him sincerely. We can *worship God anywhere. He is *Spirit. This means that he is everywhere. It does not matter where we *worship him.
But God sees inside our minds and our hearts. He knows if we are *worshipping him with our spirits as well as with our bodies. He knows why we are *worshipping him. Some people *worship God for the wrong reasons. Perhaps they just want him to do something for them. Or perhaps they *worship him because it is their duty. But they do not really want to *worship him.
But God wants people to *worship him because of who he is. The *Holy Spirit helps us to *worship God like this. So we need to ask for the *Holy Spirit’s help.
Verse 27 Jesus’ *disciples were surprised that Jesus was talking to a woman. This was because of the *Jewish teachers’ rules (see note on verses 7-9). But the *disciples did not dare to ask him about it. During their time with Jesus, he did many things that surprised them. And he often surprised other *Jewish teachers too. But the *disciples realised that Jesus had special authority from God. He did not obey the rules that people made. He obeyed only God.
Verses 28-30 The woman wanted to tell her neighbours all about Jesus! She was in such a hurry that she left her pot next to the well. Her words convinced the people, so they wanted to meet Jesus, too.
Verses 31-34 The *disciples had gone into the town to buy food. They were all hungry because of their long journey. So they were probably worried because Jesus did not want to eat.
Jesus was completely human. He needed to eat and to drink. But food was not the most important thing to him at that moment. He told them, ‘I have food to eat.’ He was not referring to actual food. He was referring to his work for God. This was the most important thing to him. This was what satisfied him more than anything.
But the *disciples did not understand what he meant. They thought that he was talking about actual food. In John’s *Gospel, often conversations that Jesus had were like this. Firstly, Jesus said something that the person or people misunderstood. For example, Nicodemus misunderstood what Jesus meant about a second birth (John 3:4). And the *Samaritan woman thought that Jesus was talking about actual water (John 4:13-14). Then, Jesus slowly explained the real meaning until the person or people understood.
In these verses, he explained to the *disciples what was most important to him. Even as people need food to live, Jesus needed to do God’s work. It was as essential to him as food. Many times in his *Gospel, John wrote that God sent Jesus. Jesus never forgot that he had special work to do for God. This work would finish with Jesus’ death on the *cross and his *resurrection.
Verses 35-36 The *Jews had many proverbs. Proverbs were wise things that people said. And the *Jews often wrote them down so that they could remember them. Jesus repeated a common proverb: ‘4 months must pass before the harvest’. It meant that people could not harvest crops immediately. They had to wait for seeds to grow after they had sown them. The grain was not ready to harvest for several months.
Sychar was in a region where many fields of grain grew. This region is still famous because of its grain. So Jesus told his *disciples to look at the fields near to them. Again, Jesus was using familiar, physical things to explain *spiritual principles (see John 2:1-11; 4:7-13).
The *Samaritan woman had just rushed away to tell people about Jesus. And immediately, they were coming to find him. So some experts suggest that, at that moment, the people from Sychar were coming through the fields. This was because Jesus was not talking about an actual harvest of grain. He explained that he was talking about a harvest of people. These people were not just the *Jews. They were all the people who *believed in Jesus. The workers were those who worked for Jesus, to spread the good news about him.
Jesus needs people to work for him today. People who work for Jesus are glad. They are doing God’s work. They get ‘good wages’ because God rewards them. ‘Good wages’ does not refer to money in particular. It refers to any of God’s *blessings. All the workers are happy at the same time, because it is always time for the harvest. We may tell someone about Jesus. At that time, it is as if we are sowing a seed. We have to wait for a seed to grow. But we do not always have to wait for people to *believe in Jesus. There are people who are ready to *believe immediately. We must not miss any opportunity to share the good news about Jesus.
Verses 37-38 Then, Jesus reminded them about another common proverb (wise things that people said). A person cannot gather a harvest unless someone has sown the seeds first. The ‘other people’ that Jesus referred to were probably the *prophets in the *Old Testament and John the *Baptist. They had prepared the people to *believe in the *Messiah, Jesus.
We need to remember this when we tell people about Jesus. If someone *believes in him, we should not claim the honour for ourselves. Perhaps other people prepared that person to *believe. Or perhaps we tell someone about Jesus, but that person does not *believe in him. However, we must not allow this matter to disappoint us. That person may hear about Jesus again and then that person may become a *Christian. We may never know that we prepared that person to *believe. *Christians are like a team. We work together with the same purpose: to spread the good news about Jesus. Sometimes we see the results of this. And sometimes we do not see the results.
Verses 39-42 The woman did two things. She told other people about her personal experience of Jesus. Then, she invited them to meet him themselves (verse 29).
We can learn from this. When we tell people about Jesus, our personal experience of him is very important. Because when a person becomes a *Christian, that person is not merely agreeing to follow the rules of a religion. In fact, that person is beginning to know Jesus as a personal friend. So we must introduce people to Jesus, so that they can know him in this way, too.
The *Samaritans asked Jesus to stay in the town so that they could know him better. They *believed in him because they had met him. He had spoken to them. They had their own personal experience of him. They did not *believe just because of what the woman had told them. A person cannot know Jesus by means of another person’s experience of him. We must tell other people what Jesus has done for us. But also we must invite them to meet him and to have their own personal experience of him.
The *Samaritans called Jesus ‘the *Saviour of the world’ (verse 42). This name for Jesus appears only in this verse and in 1 John 4:14. But John did not make it up. In the *Old Testament, people called God ‘*Saviour’. Many *Greek gods were also called ‘*Saviour’. And at the time that John wrote his *Gospel, the *Roman *Emperor was called ‘*Saviour of the world’. But only Jesus deserves this special name. He is more than just a good man, or a wise teacher. He is the only person who can save people from the results and the power of their *sins. Jesus saves us from the punishment that we deserve. He changes our characters from bad to good, so that we become more like him. He gives to us real hope for the future. And the hope that Jesus gives will never disappoint us.
Verses 43-45 After his short stay in *Samaria, Jesus left Sychar and he continued his journey to *Galilee. Jesus had lived in *Galilee since he was a child. His family lived there still. It was his ‘own country’. And the people there were pleased to see him. But he said another proverb (see note on verses 35-36): ‘Everywhere, people respect a *prophet, except in his own country.’ There are two possible reasons for this.
1. *Judea was the real home of every *Jew, because *Jerusalem was there. But the *Jewish leaders in *Jerusalem were not pleased to see Jesus. So, when Jesus referred to ‘his own country’, perhaps he meant *Judea and especially *Jerusalem.
2. The people in *Galilee greeted Jesus gladly because of what he had done in *Jerusalem. They had heard about the *miracles and they wanted him to do *miracles for them. However, perhaps Jesus knew that their *faith was not sincere. Perhaps they only wanted to meet Jesus because they wanted to get something from him. Perhaps they did not care who Jesus really was. Perhaps they did not care why he had come to the earth.
Verses 46-47 The news about Jesus and the wonderful things that he had done had spread through *Galilee. This was why an official travelled from Capernaum (a town in *Galilee) to see Jesus in Cana. Capernaum was about 32 kilometres (20 miles) from Cana.
Probably this official worked for Herod Antipas, who was the ruler of *Galilee. Herod ruled on behalf of the *Roman government. This official had a very important job. So probably it surprised people that he had travelled so far to see Jesus. Before his public work began, Jesus was a carpenter (a man who makes things from wood). But the official did not care what people thought. His son was dying. And the official knew that Jesus could help his son. The official was humble. He had legal authority over Jesus. But still the official called Jesus ‘Sir’ (verse 49). People thought that the official was more important than Jesus, because of his important job. But the official made himself less important. He realised that Jesus had a different kind of authority.
Verses 48-49 It seems that a crowd had gathered. This is because the word ‘you’ (verse 48) is plural. Jesus knew that these people just wanted to see a *miracle. So perhaps he spoke these words to the crowd. Or perhaps he included the official, to see if his *faith was sincere. The official could have become angry. He could have left. That would have meant that his *faith was not sincere. But instead, the official stayed. Again, he asked Jesus to come with him to Capernaum. He wanted very much for Jesus to cure his son.
Verse 50 But Jesus did not go with him. Instead, Jesus told him that his son would live. The official’s *faith was sincere, because he trusted Jesus completely. He could not see that his son was well again. But he believed Jesus’ words. So he obeyed Jesus and he returned to his home immediately.
This is real *faith: to believe in a *miracle before we see it happen. Jesus hears us every time that we pray to him. We must believe that he will answer our prayers. He can do much more than we can imagine! (See Ephesians 3:20-21.)
Verses 51-52 It did not matter that the official’s son was about 32 kilometres (20 miles) away in Capernaum. Jesus was able to cure him by means of the authority of his words. When Jesus lived on the earth, he could be only in one place at a particular time. But distance does not affect Jesus’ power. His power has no limits! We can pray to him anywhere. He will hear us and he will answer us. We can pray for people and situations on the other side of the world. He can answer our prayers. And we can never be so far away that he cannot help us!
‘at the 7th hour’. Many Bible teachers think that John means 1 o’clock. However, other Bible teachers think that John means 7 o’clock here. (See note on John 1:39.)
Verse 53 It is wonderful to see how much the official’s *faith had increased. Firstly, he had believed that Jesus could help his son. So he had asked Jesus to come with him to Capernaum. Secondly, he had believed Jesus’ words that his son would live. He had obeyed Jesus and returned to his home. Thirdly, he saw what had happened to his son. Then he *believed in Jesus completely and his family also *believed.
Verse 54 This *miracle affected more than just one man and his family. It was a *sign for all people. This includes us, as we read about it. It teaches us about the nature of genuine *faith. Firstly, we must believe Jesus’ words in the Bible. Then we shall see *miracles happen.
Verse 1 All adult *Jewish males had to go to three *festivals. These *festivals were called the *Passover, *Pentecost and the *Festival of Shelters. Many experts on the *New Testament think that John was referring to *Pentecost in this verse. In his *Gospel, John showed that Jesus attended these special *Jewish *festivals. Jesus followed the rules about this. It is clear that he loved to *worship God with his own people.
Verse 2 The pool called Bethzatha was well-known. People believed that the water there had the power to cure people. The pool was in the city, near to the hill where the *Temple was. Archaeologists (people who dig to find ancient buildings and objects) have uncovered it in recent times. Tourists visit it today. So we know that John’s description of it is accurate.
Verses 3-4 After John wrote his *Gospel, people made copies of it. Then, people made copies of these copies. And that is why we can read the *Gospel today. This is how all ancient books have come to us. The *New Testament books are some of the most accurate ancient books that we have. Experts know this because they compare all the different copies of the *New Testament books. People made these copies at different times and in different places. But they are almost completely the same. This proves that they are accurate copies of the original books.
However, sometimes some copies leave a verse out, or have extra verses. Verse 4 is an extra verse that appears in some copies of John’s *Gospel. The verse is: ‘They were waiting for the water to move. Sometimes, an *angel of the *Lord came down. The *angel would stir the water. After this, the first person to get in the pool became well again.’
So this was the reason why so many sick people were lying near to the pool. They believed that *miracles could happen there.
Verses 5-7 But Jesus did not cure all these people. Instead, he spoke to just one man. Jesus knew what was inside the man’s heart. He knew that the man had *faith.
Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be well. This seems like a strange question, because the man had been ill for 38 years. But Jesus wanted to get the man’s attention. He wanted the man to look at him. This was necessary to make the man’s *faith become alive. Then, Jesus could cure him. This reminds us about how we make our *faith become alive. We must look towards Jesus on the *cross. We do not do this with our physical sight. We do it in our hearts and our spirits (see note on John 3:14-15).
Verses 8-10 Jesus told the man to do what seemed to be an impossible thing. He told him to stand up. The man had been ill for 38 years and probably he was lying down during all that time. But nothing is impossible for God. The man got up and he began to walk immediately!
The people who were watching would have been very surprised. But the *Jewish leaders were angry. This was because the man was carrying his mat on the *Sabbath. This was not wrong in God’s *Law. God had simply told the *Jews that they must not work on the *Sabbath. It was a special, holy day (Exodus 20:8-10). But the *Jewish leaders had added many extra rules about the *Sabbath. These rules explained what ‘work’ meant. The *scribes had a list of 39 different types of work. The man was carrying his mat. This was a type of work.
Probably, however, they were using this as a mere excuse for their anger. Probably, they were jealous of Jesus. They could see that God’s power was working through Jesus. And they knew that God’s power was not working by means of their own efforts to follow their strict rules. The *Jewish leaders were not pleased that the man was well again after 38 years. So they told him that he was doing something wrong.
Verses 11-14 The man had a reason why he was carrying his mat. He said that Jesus had told him to do it. But the man did not use Jesus’ name, because he did not know Jesus. So the man only knew Jesus as the man who had cured him. And Jesus had gone immediately. Probably, he did not want to attract the crowd’s attention at that time.
Instead, Jesus wanted to speak to the man in private. He found the man in the *Temple. Jesus told the man that he must not continue to *sin. Perhaps there was a connection between this man’s illness and a particular *sin. God’s power had cured the man’s body. Now he needed to *repent. He needed to ask God to forgive him. Then he would be well in his spirit, too.
Verse 15 After this, the man went back to the *Jewish leaders. He told them that Jesus had cured him. He wanted them to know that Jesus had done this wonderful *miracle. This was because the *Jews were eager for the *Messiah to come. They wanted him to defeat the *Romans. And such a *miracle showed that Jesus was the *Messiah. Probably, the man thought that the *Jewish leaders would be excited. But they were angry!
When Jesus cured people, sometimes he urged them to keep this a secret (for example, Matthew 9:27-31; Mark 1:40-45). He did this because they expected a different kind of *Messiah. They expected a military leader who would defeat the *Romans. Later, they even tried to force Jesus to be their king (John 6:15). But he escaped from them. He was following God’s plan, not their plan.
Verse 16 Jesus had done a wonderful *miracle. But the *Jewish leaders did not care about that. They cared only that Jesus had not obeyed one of their rules. But Jesus explained that God never stops his work. On the 7th day after God created everything, he rested (Genesis 2:2). But he rested only from his work of creation (that is, when God made everything out of nothing). If he had rested from all activities, the earth could not continue to go round the sun! God does not need to rest, because he does everything perfectly and without effort. However, people do need to rest. This is why God gave the *Sabbath as a special, holy day. But the *Jewish leaders had made it into a day when people had to follow many rules.
Verses 17-18 Jesus’ reply to the *Jewish leaders made them very angry. In fact, they hated him so much that they wanted to kill him. He said that God, his *Father, never stopped his work. So that was why Jesus had to work, too. Even on the *Sabbath, God continued to love people. So when Jesus cured people on the *Sabbath, he was doing God’s work. Jesus was saying that his work was really God’s work. And he was saying that he was *equal with God.
This upset the *Jewish leaders and it caused them to feel angry. They understood Jesus’ words. And Jesus was saying that he was God. The *Jews *believed in one God. But Jesus did not mean that he was another god. He was God’s Son and so he had a very special relationship with God, his *Father.
The *Jewish leaders had a choice. They could believe that Jesus was God’s Son. Or they could say that he was insulting God. It was a very serious crime to insult God. They chose to accuse Jesus of this crime.
We have the same choice today. Jesus said that he was God’s Son. We can believe what he said. Or we can say that his words are lies. We do not have any other choice.
Verses 19-20 In this passage, Jesus continued to explain more about his special relationship with his *Father. Jesus was *equal with God. But Jesus was also in complete unity with God. Jesus obeyed his *Father completely. So Jesus wanted only what his *Father wanted. All Jesus’ desires were the same as God’s desires. Jesus lived in the way that God wanted. Jesus did only what God wanted. When we look at Jesus, we are really looking at God.
Jesus obeyed his *Father because of the perfect love between them. And Jesus wants us to obey him, God’s Son, because then we are obeying God. We have unity with Jesus by means of the *Holy Spirit. So we must do only what Jesus wants. Our desires should be the same as his desires. Our relationship with Jesus should be like Jesus’ relationship with God, his *Father. We obey Jesus because we love him. When we have a decision to make, we should ask Jesus what to do. We should talk to him often, by means of prayer. Jesus prayed often. Then he knew what his *Father wanted him to do.
‘The *Father will show the Son even greater things to do than this’ (verse 20). Jesus had cured one man by means of a *miracle. But he would do even more wonderful things than this!
Verses 21-22 Most *Jews believed that, in the future, God would make dead people become alive. Then he would punish those who had done bad things. And he would reward those people who had obeyed his laws.
But verse 21 has another meaning. It could refer also to people who are *spiritually dead. Because after a person accepts Jesus as their *Saviour and their *Lord, they become *spiritually alive. Jesus gives *eternal life to them.
God has made Jesus the judge of every person who has ever lived on the earth.
Verse 23 Everyone has a choice. We can choose to believe that Jesus is God’s Son, our *Saviour and our *Lord. Or we can *reject him. But if we *reject him, then we *reject God also. We do not respect God if we *reject his Son.
Verse 24 We receive *eternal life when we decide to *believe in Jesus as our *Saviour and our *Lord. This new *life begins at that moment (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our physical bodies will die. But when Jesus returns to the earth, our bodies will live again. But we will not have the same kind of bodies. We will live with Jesus always (1 Corinthians chapter 15). So we ‘have already passed out of death and into *life’.
Verse 25 In this verse, Jesus was referring to people who were *spiritually dead. People who *believed in him received *eternal life. But he was also referring to people who were physically dead. When he was on the earth, Jesus made several dead people become alive again. He will come to the earth a second time. Then, all *Christians who have died will become alive again (1Thessalonians 4:16).
Verses 26-27 God had given the authority to Jesus to *judge all people. This was because Jesus was the ‘Son of Man’ (see also John 1:51). In the book of Daniel, there is a description of ‘someone like a son of man’ (Daniel 7:13-14). This person has authority over the entire world. A ‘son of man’ also meant a human person. Jesus was one of us, a human person, but he was also God. So he has the right to *judge us.
Verses 28-29 When Jesus returns to the earth, all dead people will become alive again, both *Christians and non-*Christians. (Non-Christians are people who are not real *Christians.) Death is not the end for non-*Christians. All those who have chosen to *reject Jesus during their lives will not live with him always. They will spend all the future apart from him. They chose this when they refused to *believe in him.
Verse 30 God is completely *holy and perfect. He knows everything about everyone. He knows everyone’s personal situation. We can hide nothing from him. And he loves everyone. When God *judges people, he will be completely fair. We can be confident about that. So Jesus’ judgement will be completely fair, because he has the same mind and the same heart as his *Father.
Verse 31 In this passage, Jesus spoke about evidence as if he was in a court of law. He wanted to convince people that he was speaking the truth about himself. He had said that God was his *Father (John 5:18). He had said that he had the power to give *eternal life to people (John 5:24). Also he had said that God had given to him the authority to *judge all people (John 5:27). With these statements, Jesus was saying that he was *equal with God.
But, in *Jewish law, the evidence of one person was not enough. At least two people had to give evidence that something was true. This was the proof that people wanted. So it was not enough for Jesus to say these things about himself.
Verses 32-35 However, he had other evidence that he was telling the truth about himself. ‘Someone else’ in verse 32 referred to God himself. And there was John the *Baptist. He had told people who Jesus really was (John 1:19-20, 26-27, 29-36). John the *Baptist had ‘*preached the truth’ (verse 33). He had shown that Jesus was the way to receive God’s *salvation. For that reason, Jesus approved of John the *Baptist.
Jesus compared John the *Baptist to a lamp. A lamp cannot produce light by itself. It needs someone to light it. In the same way, John the *Baptist was not the *light of the world. But God had sent him to tell people about Jesus. Jesus is the real *light of the world.
Jesus said that the *Jews were pleased to ‘enjoy his (John the *Baptist’s) *light for a short time’ (verse 35). Jesus meant that the *Jews listened to John the *Baptist for a short time. But John the *Baptist said things that were difficult for them to agree with. So they *rejected him. None of them helped him when Herod, the ruler of *Galilee, put him in prison.
Verse 36 However, Jesus did not need the evidence of a person. The *miracles proved that he was God’s Son, the *Messiah. Many people had seen the wonderful things that he had done. The *Jewish leaders had just seen him cure a very sick man. The *miracles showed that God’s power was in Jesus. Jesus was doing the work that his *Father had given him to do. This proved that God had sent Jesus.
Verse 37 Nobody has ever seen God. However, God’s power was working by means of Jesus. But the *Jewish leaders could not see this. They could not see this evidence of God’s work. Therefore, they did not believe God’s words, because they did not *believe in Jesus. Nobody can really know God if they do not *believe in his Son, Jesus.
Verses 39-40 The *Jewish leaders knew the *scriptures well. They studied them frequently. *Christians call these *scriptures ‘the *Old Testament’. In them, there are many *prophecies about the *Messiah. The *Jewish leaders knew these *prophecies well. But they did not recognise the *Messiah when he came. They cared more about the rules and the customs of their religion. And people, not God, had made many of these rules and customs.
This can happen still today. We must remember that we follow a person, the *Lord Jesus *Christ, not a set of rules. We must remember that only Jesus can give us *eternal life. We cannot earn it for ourselves.
Verses 41-44 Jesus did not worry about people’s opinions of him. The only opinion that mattered to him was God’s opinion. We can learn from this. If God approves of us, we must not worry about other people’s opinions of us. And we must never do anything just to please people, if God does not approve of it.
The *scribes and the *Pharisees wanted everyone to think that they were important. They wore special clothes. When they gave money to poor people, they wanted everyone to see. When they prayed, they wanted other people to notice them. When they fasted, they wanted everyone to know. (‘To fast’ means to choose not to eat for a time.) They did all these things for the wrong reasons. They wanted people to think that they were very holy. They wanted people to praise them for their goodness. But they were not holy or good. They did not do these things because they loved God. That is the only right reason to do them.
Verses 45-47 Moses had written these *scriptures that the *Jewish leaders studied so carefully. They believed that they were studying God’s words. They obeyed the *Law that God had given to Moses. But Moses had recorded *prophecies about the *Messiah as well as the *Law. For example, God had told Moses, ‘I will give my message to that *Prophet. And he will tell people *exactly what I have said. This message comes from me. So I will punish anyone who refuses to obey him’ (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). Moses recorded other *prophecies, too (Genesis 3:15; Numbers 21:9; 24:17). But the *Jewish leaders did not believe Moses’ words. They *rejected the *Prophet that Moses had written about. That *Prophet was Jesus, the *Messiah. So Jesus said that Moses himself would accuse them of this.
Verses 1-7 Often Jesus went away from the crowds to be alone. He needed time to pray to his *Father. And sometimes, he went away from the crowds with his *disciples. He needed time to teach them important things. On this occasion, it seemed that he wanted to get away from the *Jewish leaders. They had accused him and he had answered them strongly. But it was not yet the time for him to die. So he and his *disciples went back across Lake *Galilee to the other side.
But the crowd saw where he was going. So the people followed him on the land. They went round the north shore of the lake.
It was nearly the *Passover. So, many *Jews were travelling to *Jerusalem. Probably, many of them had joined the crowd who were following Jesus. So, when they found him on the mountain, the original crowd had increased very much in size. John recorded that there were 5000 men there. But probably there were really many more people, because he did not include the women and children in this number.
The crowd had been travelling for a long time. Jesus knew that they were tired and hungry. He would need to do a *miracle in order to feed so many people. He knew that too. But he wanted to see if Philip knew this. So he asked him this question on purpose (verse 5). Philip had lived in Bethsaida, which was the nearest town. So Philip would know where to buy food.
Immediately, Philip tried to think of a practical solution to the problem. He estimated the cost. But he realised that they did not have enough money to buy food for everyone! One silver coin was the amount that a workman could earn in a day. So 200 coins was about 8 month’s wages for one man. This was a lot of money.
Jesus wanted to make Philip’s *faith stronger. Philip had tried to think of a practical solution to the problem. But he had not included God in his solution. Jesus’ disciples did not have the resources to feed so many people. But the lack of resources does not stop what God can do!
Verses 8-13 But then a young boy gave what he had: his own lunch. But Andrew, like Philip, still could not understand what was possible for God to do.
Probably the *disciples had money with them, to buy food as they travelled. But because their money was not enough, they did not even offer it. However, this boy had much less than they had. In fact, he was probably poor. Only poor people cooked with *barley, which was usually food for animals. But still the boy offered what he had to Jesus.
Jesus took it and a *miracle happened. He thanked God for it. Then Jesus passed it to the crowd. Everyone there had enough to eat.
We can learn from this boy. Our resources are our time, our money and our possessions. Also we have the skills that God has given to us. We may not think that we have much to offer to God. But it is better to offer to him something rather than nothing. He will take whatever we offer to him. And he will do great things with it on behalf of his *kingdom.
After the meal, there was a lot of food that the people had left. We can learn from this, too. We can offer ourselves and our resources to God. Then he will do so much more than we can imagine.
Verses 14-15 ‘The *Prophet’ is a reference to the person about whom Moses *prophesied (Deuteronomy 18:15). He said that this person would be ‘a *prophet like me (Moses)’. By these words, Moses meant the *Messiah.
Moses had led the *Israelites out of a land where they were slaves. The *Jews were not slaves at the time of Jesus. But they did not rule in their own land. The *Romans, who were very powerful, ruled their land. The *Jews had to obey the laws of the *Roman government. Many *Jews hated this. They wanted to be free from *Roman rule. So they were looking for a leader who would defeat the *Romans for them.
Jesus had the power to do something that did not seem possible. The crowd had seen this. So they wanted to make him their king. They wanted a political and military ruler who would lead them to fight against the *Romans. They had the wrong idea about what the *Messiah should do. They wanted Jesus to help them with their plans. They did not want God’s plans. They wanted to use him for their purposes, but not for God’s purposes. So Jesus escaped from them. Later, in the *synagogue at Capernaum, he tried to explain more about who he was. He wanted them to understand better the real reason why he had come to the earth (John 6:22-59).
Verses 16-21 Jesus fed the crowd on the east side of Lake *Galilee. Then he escaped from them and he went up to the hills.
Probably, he wanted to pray to his *Father. But it had become night, and he had not returned. So the *disciples decided to cross the lake without him. It seems strange that they did not wait for him. But in Mark’s account of this incident, Jesus had sent them ahead of him (Mark 6:45). Probably, they had arranged to meet him later.
They got into a boat and they started to cross the lake. They were heading towards Capernaum. Many hills surround Lake *Galilee. It is deep. Because of this, sudden storms are common. Several of the *disciples had fished on the lake for their work. They were familiar with the weather on the lake. But these sudden storms frightened them still. (See also Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25.)
Then, when they were about half of the way across, they saw Jesus. The most direct route to Capernaum is about 10 kilometres (6 miles). Jesus was walking on the water towards them. This made them very afraid. They thought that he was a *spirit. (See Matthew 14:26; Mark 6:49.) They had seen him do *miracles. But they did not expect him to walk on the water. This surprised them very much. But as soon as he spoke, they were not still afraid. They wanted him to get in the boat. But another wonderful thing had happened. Suddenly, they had reached the place where they were heading. Their struggle was over. They were safe and Jesus was with them.
This account shows us how Jesus helps us, too. Bad things can happen to us suddenly, like the storm on the lake. We may feel that we have no control over our situation. We may think that we are struggling alone with our problems. But sometimes Jesus comes to us when we do not expect him. He may surprise us by the way that he comes to us. But Jesus can do anything! He protects us from bad things. We know that we are safe with him.
Verses 22-24 Jesus had surprised his *disciples when he appeared on the water. He also surprised the crowd. They knew that the *disciples had left in the boat without him. So the people were waiting for him to return from the hills. But then they realised that he was not coming back to them. So they crossed the lake in some boats that had come from Tiberias. Probably, these boats had come near to the shore in order to find shelter from the storm.
Verses 25-27 The people found Jesus on the other side of the lake. And they wanted to know how he had travelled there so quickly.
But Jesus did not reply to their question. Instead, he told them that they were concentrating on the wrong things. They had seen him feed over 5000 people with only a small amount of food. This was a wonderful *miracle. But they did not understand the real meaning of the *miracle. They saw only that Jesus had satisfied their physical hunger. They were concentrating only on the things of earth, not on the things of heaven.
Food is essential for our bodies. We need food to remain alive and healthy. But we are more than just bodies. We have spirits, too. And even as we have physical hunger, we have *spiritual hunger, too. When we are hungry for physical food, we feel empty inside our bodies. But also we can feel empty inside our hearts and our spirits. This is *spiritual hunger. Only God can satisfy it, because he created this *spiritual hunger in us. This hunger is the desire to know him and to love him. It is hunger (desire) for the *life that only he can give to us by means of his Son, Jesus.
Some people do not know why they feel empty inside their hearts and their spirits. And other people are not even aware that they feel empty inside their hearts and their spirits. They feel strong desires, but they do not know how to satisfy these desires. They may buy more possessions because they want to achieve this. Or they may work hard and look after their families. Or they may do activities that they enjoy. Or perhaps they do activities that they consider important. But still they cannot satisfy their desires. They want to live a life that pleases God. But their problem is that they do not know how. And they may not even realise that this is their problem.
Physical things can never satisfy *spiritual hunger. Physical things do not last. So Jesus told the people that they should desire to find *eternal life, instead. He told them that he could give *eternal life to them. That was why God had sent him to the earth.
We receive *eternal life when we *believe in Jesus as our *Lord and *Saviour. Then we can start to live a life that pleases God. This is how God intended us to live. When our lives please God, we are content, too. We realise that our lives have a special purpose. This satisfies all the desires in our hearts and our spirits. And this satisfaction lasts. We can be content always, whatever our circumstances.
It is not enough just to read or to talk about *eternal life. We have to receive it ourselves to know how wonderful it is.
Verses 28-29 Immediately, the *Jews thought that to get *eternal life they had to follow rules. Their religion had many rules already. So they were expecting Jesus to give them rules to obey. Then they could earn *eternal life for themselves.
But we can never earn *eternal life. We can never be good or *holy enough for God. *Eternal life is God’s gift to us. We must do just one thing to receive it. We must *believe in God’s Son, Jesus. We must have *faith in him. When we have *faith, we become God’s friend. We know that he loves us. We know that he wants to forgive us. *Faith is not a set of rules. But when we have *faith in Jesus, we want to obey him. Because he loves us, we want to love other people. We want him to guide us so that we do good things. We want him to control every part of our lives.
Verses 30-31 Jesus had told them that God had sent him. He had God’s authority. They had to *believe in him to have *eternal life. These were very impressive statements! Jesus did not use the word ‘*Messiah’ here. But really Jesus was saying that he was the *Messiah. The *Jews realised this. So they asked for proof.
They were thinking still about how he had fed them all with the bread and the fish. They connected this with the *manna that their *ancestors, the *Israelites, ate in the desert. *Manna was a special food that appeared on the ground at night (Numbers 11:9). It was white and it tasted good. When other food became available, the *manna did not continue to appear (Joshua 5:12). The *Israelites knew that the *manna appeared by means of a *miracle. And the *Jewish teachers believed that the *Messiah would cause *manna to fall from heaven again. They considered that *manna was God’s bread for them (Psalm 78:24; Exodus 16:15). Jesus had fed over 5000 people when he gave them real bread. Now the people wanted him to produce *manna from nothing.
Verses 32-34 Firstly, Jesus reminded them that ‘he’ in this *Scripture (see verse 31) referred to God, not to Moses. Again, Jesus referred to God as ‘my *Father’. But the *manna did not last. And it satisfied only their physical hunger. It was just a *symbol of the real bread from heaven. The real bread from heaven gives *life to people and it satisfies their *spiritual hunger. But the real bread from heaven is not physical food. Instead, the ‘real bread from heaven’ means God’s Son, Jesus.
Verse 35 In John’s *Gospel, Jesus made 7 important statements about himself. Each of these statements explained something about his nature and why he had come to the earth. The statements began with the words ‘I am’. This phrase had another important meaning, because ‘I am’ was also the name for God. God had told Moses that ‘I am’ was God’s name (Exodus 3:14). This name means that God has always existed. He will always exist. So Jesus used the words ‘I am’ on purpose in these statements. He wanted people to understand, by means of these words, that he is God. This is the first of these ‘I am’ statements.
Jesus is ‘the bread that gives *life’. Bread is the most important daily food in many parts of the world. It gives energy and strength to our bodies. It helps us to stay alive. But Jesus does more than this on our behalf. He gives to us the *life that comes only from God. God made us for himself. We can be really happy only when we know him as our friend and our *Father. Jesus makes this possible. When we receive Jesus as our *Lord and *Saviour, we can know God as our friend and our *Father. He satisfies our desire (*spiritual hunger and *thirst) for love.
Verses 36-37 Jesus emphasised the importance of *faith. The people had seen Jesus do a wonderful *miracle. But still they did not *believe in him.
However, Jesus will never *reject anybody who has *faith in him. They *believe because the *Father has caused them to come to Jesus. In other words, the *Father has given these people to Jesus.
Verses 38-40 Jesus wanted to do only those things that his *Father wanted. Everyone who *believes in Jesus is safe from the results of *sin. The results of *sin are death and not to be with God. But Jesus saves all who *believe in him from this. After they die, they will not remain dead. ‘The last day’ is when Jesus returns to the earth. Then he will raise from death all who have *believed in him. They will live again. And they will be with him always (see 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). This is what the *Father wants. So he wants everyone to *believe in his Son, Jesus.
Verses 41-44 When the *Israelites were travelling in the desert, they complained often to Moses (for example, Exodus 15:24; Numbers 11:1). And the *Jews who were listening to Jesus complained also. They knew that Jesus was human. They knew his mother Mary and Joseph, her husband, who had brought Jesus up. So they did not believe that Jesus had come down from heaven. They refused to believe that he was really God’s Son.
Verses 45-46 The *prophets had written about a time when God would teach all people himself (Isaiah 54:13; Jeremiah 31:31-34). But people had to listen to him and to learn from him.
Nobody has seen God, except for Jesus. But God speaks to us and he teaches us in many ways. He teaches us by means of the Bible, by our own experiences and by other *Christians. That is why it is so important to pray. And we should read the Bible daily. And also we must meet regularly with other *Christians to *worship God and to learn more about him together.
Verses 47-50 ‘I am the bread that gives *life!’ (verse 48). This was the second time that Jesus said these words. They are very important. The *Jewish leaders had wanted Jesus to prove who he was (John 6:30). They had wanted him to produce *manna. But Jesus provided something much better than *manna. *Manna was a physical substance. It did not last. Every day, the *Israelites had to get more of it to satisfy their hunger. They had to get more of it to keep themselves alive. But Jesus is the *spiritual bread from heaven. He satisfies our *spiritual hunger completely. He gives us *life of a wonderful quality that continues *forever.
Verse 51 Jesus did not mean that we must eat his physical *flesh to have *eternal life. He meant that we have to receive him into our spirits. When we eat, we take food into our bodies. We unite ourselves with the food! Then our bodies can continue to live. In the same way, we must unite ourselves with Jesus to receive *life in our spirits.
This is how we can unite ourselves with him:
1. We must believe that his death was a *sacrifice for us. The word ‘*flesh’ in verse 51 means Jesus’ human life. He died on our behalf, so that God could forgive us.
2. We must obey him. We must trust the *Holy Spirit to guide us. But we must not depend on our own strength to do what he wants. We must receive *spiritual strength and power from him.
Verses 52-59 The people did not understand what Jesus meant. He told them that they had to drink his blood. And these words upset them very much. *Jews would never drink blood. In fact, they would not even eat meat with any blood in it. Their *Law did not allow them to do this. They believed that the blood was the life of an animal or a person. The blood, and therefore the life, belonged to God (Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 16:23).
*Christians eat bread and drink wine together to remember Jesus’ death. The bread is a *symbol of his body and the wine is a *symbol of his blood. At his last meal with his *disciples before his death, Jesus gave instructions to do this (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:19-21). However, John did not include these instructions in his *Gospel. Many experts think that he included this passage instead. They think this because, in the same way, Jesus was referring to his body and blood as food and drink. And probably, he was explaining the meaning of the *symbols of bread and wine. To take bread and wine as Jesus’ body and blood reminds us that now our *sinful life has ended. And now we have *eternal life.
Verses 60-66 Jesus’ speech in the *synagogue was difficult to understand. But it was difficult also for his *Jewish audience to accept as the truth. Jesus was saying that he had come down from heaven. And he was saying that he would return there again. Also, he was saying that people had to eat his *flesh. And they had to drink his blood. This idea would have upset them very much.
But Jesus did not argue with them. Instead, he tried to explain that his words had a *spiritual meaning, not a physical meaning. People need the help of the *Holy Spirit in order to understand that they need God’s *life. It is the *Father who makes them come to Jesus. They can receive that *life only by means of the same *Spirit. Jesus’ words were from the *Spirit.
But his words caused many of his *followers to leave him. Probably, they had followed him because he had given physical food to them. They wanted him to use his power to defeat the *Roman rulers. They wanted a *Messiah who would fight their enemies. Also, what he said about himself upset them. It was a new idea and they did not want to understand it.
We can learn from this. Some of Jesus’ words are difficult for us to understand or to accept. But we should not *reject what he has said. Instead, we should ask him to show us what he meant. Also we should ask him what he wants to say to us personally by means of those words.
Verses 67-69 Jesus had chosen 12 men to be his special friends and *disciples. But they could not have understood everything that Jesus had said. This was because he had not yet died. And he had not become alive again yet. But they knew enough to trust him. Although they did not understand everything, they *believed in him. They knew that God had sent him. So they wanted to stay with him. Simon Peter spoke on their behalf. Nobody else could offer what Jesus offered. Only Jesus could give *eternal life.
People today have the same choice: to accept or to *reject Jesus. But there is nobody else who can give *eternal life to us. Only Jesus can give it to us.
Verses 70-71 Jesus knew that one of his *disciples would *betray him. In verse 70, the *Greek word for ‘devil’ means ‘somebody who accuses’. Jesus was referring to what Judas would do. Jesus said this because Judas would hand him (Jesus) over to the *Jewish leaders. And they accused Jesus of crimes against God and against the *Roman *Emperor.
Verses 1-9 The *Festival of Shelters (Leviticus 23:33-43) was one of the three most important *Jewish *festivals. The other two most important *festivals were *Passover and *Pentecost. The *Festival of Shelters happened in the autumn and it lasted 8 days. It was the time when the *Jews thanked God for the harvest. But they also remembered the time when their *ancestors had wandered in the desert. They had lived in tents as they travelled from place to place. God had always guided and protected them. So, every year at the *Festival of Shelters, the *Jews thanked God for this. They made tents or shelters from anything that they had. They ate and slept in these tents and shelters during the *festival.
The *Jews liked to remember how God had looked after them. They were still the people that God had chosen to belong to him in a special way. And they remembered that. And this made them feel very happy.
This particular *Festival of Shelters happened about 6 months after the *Passover that John mentioned in 6:2-5. Jesus had remained in *Galilee because the *Jewish leaders in *Judea wanted to kill him. But his brothers wanted him to return to *Jerusalem so that he would get more *followers. Probably they believed that he could do *miracles. But they did not have *faith in him yet. Perhaps it was difficult for them to believe the things that he was saying about himself.
We know that, later, some of Jesus’ brothers became leaders in the early *church. But this was after Jesus’ death and *resurrection. After that happened, they really *believed in him. But, at this time, they did not really *believe in him. They could not understand why he did not want a larger audience for his *miracles. So they urged him to return to *Jerusalem. Many *Jews were travelling there for the *Festival of Shelters. So Jesus would have a very large audience for his *miracles in *Jerusalem.
But Jesus listened to God rather than to the opinions of people. And he knew that it was not the right time for him to go. He did not do what he himself wanted. He did only what God wanted.
The ‘right time’ for Jesus to make more people notice him had not come yet. Some people would realise that he was the *Messiah. But then, they would expect him to save them from the *Romans. Also, the *Jewish leaders would want to kill him, because of what he said about himself. They would say that he had insulted God. Jesus knew that, in the end, he would die as a result. He would be a *sacrifice for all people. So he had to die at the *Passover, not the *Festival of Shelters.
‘The people in this world’ (verse 7) referred to people who did not *believe in Jesus. This included his brothers. Jesus was right about them. Most of those people wanted to arrest him and to kill him. (See verses 19, 25, 30 and 32.) Many people hate Jesus still today. They hate *Christians, too, because they are his *followers. Jesus warned that this would happen (John 17:14-15). But he will be with us always. He will never leave us (Matthew 28:20).
‘The people in this world’ hated Jesus because he made them become aware of their *sins. That is why people hate him still. But he did not just accuse them. He also offered them a solution for the problem of *sin. He provided the solution by means of his death on the *cross. Jesus himself is the solution to the problem of *sin.
Verses 10-13 Jesus’ brothers wanted him to go to the *festival with them so that he would gain more *followers. But Jesus refused. Instead, he went alone. Then, nobody would notice that he had come.
The people in *Jerusalem were expecting him to come. Already, they had started to argue about him. They had divided into two groups. One group believed that he was good. But the other group said that he was lying to the people. They meant that he was leading the people away from the *Law and from God himself. This was a serious crime. The punishment for this crime was death (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).
The *Jewish leaders who were the experts on the *Law and the *Jewish religion opposed Jesus. So people did not dare to say good things about him. The *Jewish leaders had the authority to punish anybody who opposed them. They could order that person not to attend the *synagogue. This was a very bad punishment for a *Jew.
Verses 14-15 Jesus did not want people to realise that he was there at the beginning of the *festival. But when the *festival was half over, he began to teach in the *Temple. The *Jewish leaders were surprised because he knew so much. Usually, *Jewish teachers had to study the *Law with one or more other teachers before they began to teach. Jesus had never done this. But he knew everything about the *scriptures.
Verses 16-18 Jesus had come from God. So he was not teaching ideas that he had just made up himself. He was teaching God’s ideas. People who really wanted to obey God would know this inside their spirits.
It is the same today. God shows people that Jesus’ words are true. But people must be sincere. They need to ask God to guide them. And then God will show them the truth.
Also, this is the way to know if a teacher is speaking the truth about God. A teacher’s words and ideas must agree with what is in the Bible. And teachers should point people to God and what he wants, not to themselves. This is what Jesus did.
Verse 19 The *Pharisees and the *scribes studied the *Law all the time. They had added many extra rules to it, too. They liked to think that they obeyed every rule. But Jesus accused them all. He said that they were not obeying the *Law. This was because they wanted to kill him. Of course, the *Law did not allow murder. This was one of God’s 10 most important rules (Exodus 20:1-17).
Verse 20 The crowd seemed very surprised when Jesus said this. Probably, most of them did not realise that their leaders intended to kill him.
Verse 21 Jesus contrasted his attitude and the *Jewish leaders’ attitude to the *Sabbath. He referred back to the time when he cured the man by the pool (John 5:1-18). He had told the man to carry his mat. To the *Jewish leaders, this was ‘work’. But the *Jewish leaders ‘worked’ on the *Sabbath, too. To obey Moses’ *Law, people had to *circumcise boys on the 8th day after their birth (Genesis 17:9-14; Leviticus 12:3). They always did this, even if the 8th day was the *Sabbath. They made an exception to the rules about the *Sabbath when they *circumcised boys. But they could not make an exception to the rules in order to make a sick person completely well again!
Jesus showed also that the *Jewish leaders were using the *Law to suit themselves. They emphasised the rules about the *Sabbath. And they emphasised how it was important to obey these rules. But they did not care about one of God’s 10 most important rules, because they were intending to murder Jesus!
Verses 25-29 Jesus knew that the *Jewish leaders were plotting to kill him. But he continued to teach in public. And the *Jewish leaders were not now arguing with him. Some of the inhabitants of *Jerusalem were surprised. They began to think that perhaps the *Jewish leaders had changed their opinion of Jesus. And perhaps the *Jewish leaders now believed that Jesus was the *Messiah.
There was a popular tradition that nobody would know the origins of the *Messiah. The tradition said that he would just appear suddenly. But everybody knew that Jesus came from Nazareth in *Galilee. However, they did not know Jesus’ real origins. Before he was born, Jesus existed with God, his *Father. His *Father had sent him to the earth. So Jesus was the only person who really knew God.
Many people started to *believe in Jesus. But the leaders wanted to arrest him. However, this was not the right time, because God would not allow it.
Verses 33-36 Jesus told the people that he would remain with them during a short time. But he knew that, in the end, the *Jewish leaders would arrest him. He knew that he would die on a *cross. But he also knew that his death was not the end for him. God would bring him back to life. After this, he would return to his *Father in heaven. But those people who did not *believe in him would not be able to go there.
The *Jewish leaders did not understand the meaning of Jesus’ words. They did not realise that he was talking about heaven. They decided that he was going to leave *Judea. There were many *Jews who lived in other countries. The *Jewish leaders thought that he was going to teach these *Jews. Or perhaps he would even go to teach the *Gentiles. Actually, in the end, the words of these *Jewish leaders would be right! But they did not realise this! In fact, after Jesus’ death and *resurrection, many *Gentiles would *believe in him. And, like the *Jews, they would belong to God in a special way, too.
Verses 37-39 At the *Festival of Shelters, the people prayed for rain so that their crops would grow. They also prayed about the *resurrection of dead people. On the last day, the priests poured out water and wine in the *Temple. This was the custom. So people would be thinking already about water and also about new *life.
In many passages in the *Old Testament, there are references to the *blessings that the *Messiah would give.
Jesus invited people to come to him if they were *thirsty in their spirits. Only he could provide satisfaction for their *spiritual *thirst. In John 4:10, Jesus used the words ‘the water that gives *life’ to mean *eternal life. In this passage, the words refer to the *Holy Spirit. Both meanings are right. When we accept the *Holy Spirit, he brings *eternal life.
When we *believe in Jesus, we receive the *Holy Spirit. The *Holy Spirit comes and lives in us. Then we have all the resources that we need to do God’s work. The *Holy Spirit is like a fountain that flows always inside our hearts and our spirits.
Jesus was speaking before his death and *resurrection. Afterwards, he returned to heaven to sit at the right hand side of his *Father, God. This was when he received his full *glory.
The *Holy Spirit has always existed, like the *Father and the Son. The *Holy Spirit is God, even as the *Father and the Son are God. But there are not three Gods. There is only one God. The *Holy Spirit was present with the *Father and the Son when God created the world (Genesis 1:2). And the *Holy Spirit has always been working in our world (Psalm 139:7; 2 Peter 1:21). But after Jesus returned to heaven, the power of the *Holy Spirit became available to every *Christian. Jesus taught more about the *Holy Spirit later (John chapters 14-16).
Verses 40-44 After Jesus’ speech, the people had different opinions about who he was. Some people said that he was the *Prophet or the *Messiah (see note on John 1:21 and 6:14). Both ‘the *Prophet’ and ‘the *Messiah’ meant the same person. So these people were correct. But other people said that Jesus could not be the *Messiah. They knew that he had come from Nazareth. So they thought that he had been born there, in *Galilee. They did not realise that he had been born in Bethlehem. So, in fact, the *prophecy that they mentioned (Micah 5:2) did refer to Jesus. But it seems that the people had decided already about Jesus. So the facts about where he was born did not interest them.
It is important to look at all the facts when we are searching for God’s truth. This is the right attitude to have when we read the Bible. We need to study everything that it says about a particular subject. Otherwise we may find that our beliefs are not correct. We may not have understood all the facts about that subject.
Verses 45-46 The *Romans ruled the countries where the *Jews lived. But they gave to the *Jewish leaders some authority over the *Jewish people. They allowed the *Jewish leaders to make judgements in affairs of religion and Moses’ *Law. The *Jewish leaders employed their own guards in the *Temple. The guards could arrest anybody who was causing trouble in the *Temple. Also they could arrest anybody who did not obey any of their rules. And they had many rules.
However, the guards could not think of even one reason to arrest Jesus. They listened to him in order to find evidence against him. Instead, his words impressed them so much that they were not able to obey their employers, the *Jewish leaders. So they returned without Jesus, although their employers would be very angry. The guards realised this.
Verses 47-49 The *Jewish leaders were very angry! They were very proud people. They believed that they were superior to the ordinary *Jews. And there was an important reason why they believed this. For much of their lives, they had studied the *Law and all the other rules. They thought that only they knew the truth about God. Because they did not agree with Jesus, they did not listen to him sincerely. Their minds and their hearts were not ready to receive the truth.
But many people in the crowd *believed in Jesus. So the leaders said that the crowd did not really know the *Law. They had not studied it, as the leaders had. Therefore, the leaders said, the crowd could not obey God properly. And they believed anything! The leaders said that God would punish the crowd for this.
Verses 50-52 But Nicodemus accused the other leaders. He himself was a *Jewish leader. But he said that they were not obeying the *Law. They had decided immediately that Jesus was guilty of a crime. They had not given him a proper opportunity to speak to them. This was not legal.
Nicodemus was bold. He did not care what the other leaders thought about him. He did not care if he did not continue to be popular among them.
Of course, the leaders knew that Nicodemus was not from *Galilee. But they wanted to insult him because he was helping Jesus.
Verses 1-6 The *Jewish leaders wanted a reason still to arrest Jesus. So they asked him a very difficult question. They brought a woman to him. This woman had had sex with a man who was not her husband. They had witnesses that she was guilty. She had not obeyed the 7th rule of God’s 10 special rules (Exodus 20:14). In Moses’ *Law, the punishment was death (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22).
If Jesus told them to kill her, they could report him to the *Roman rulers. They would do this because the *Romans did not allow the *Jews to *execute people. Only the *Romans could *execute people. So Jesus would be in trouble with the government and they could arrest him. But if Jesus told them not to kill her, he was not obeying Moses’ *Law. So the *Jewish leaders thought that it was not possible for Jesus to give a satisfactory answer. Whatever he said, he would be in trouble!
But Jesus did not answer immediately. Instead, he bent down and he used his finger to write on the ground. It was common for teachers to write or to draw in the dust. They often did this to explain something. But John did not record what Jesus was writing. Perhaps Jesus wanted to force the *Jewish leaders to repeat their question. Then perhaps they would realise that they were cruel to use the woman’s situation in this way.
Verse 7 When Jesus answered them, they could not say anything bad about his reply. He told them to obey Moses’ *Law and to punish the woman. So he was not saying that Moses’ *Law was wrong. When a person *sins, they deserve a punishment. But Jesus was also pointing out that everybody is guilty. Everybody has *sinned and therefore everybody deserves punishment.
The *Pharisees thought that they were less *sinful than ordinary people. They were proud because they studied the *Law much. They followed all the rules. But the word that Jesus used for ‘*sin’ in verse 7 could refer also to bad thoughts and desires. So none of them could say that they had never *sinned. And their proud attitude was a *sin, too.
After he had answered them, Jesus wrote in the dust again. And again, John did not record what Jesus wrote. But some experts think that it was a list of the *Pharisees’ own *sins, or perhaps God’s 10 special rules (Exodus 20:3-17).
Anyway, Jesus’ answer had the effect that he wanted. Slowly, the leaders who had accused the woman went away. After they had gone, Jesus spoke to the woman. Of course, Jesus himself had never *sinned. So, actually, only he had the right to *condemn her. Instead, he forgave her. That is God’s attitude to us when we *sin. If we sincerely confess our *sins to God, he forgives us immediately. He does this although we do not deserve it.
But before he let her go, Jesus warned the woman. He told her not to continue to *sin. Jesus was not saying that her *sin did not matter. *Sin always matters, because God hates it. God will always forgive us for our *sins if we are sincerely sorry. But we must not continue to *sin in the same way. God will help us to defeat *sin in our lives. We must ask him to do this.
(Many of the earliest copies of John’s *Gospel did not include this passage (7:53-8:11). It seems that 8:12 follows 7:52 more easily. Some other copies included it, but in a different place in the *Gospel. And some ancient copies of Luke’s *Gospel included it. However, some copies of John’s *Gospel did include it at this point in the *Gospel. This passage emphasises more reasons why the *Jewish leaders hated Jesus so much.)
Verse 12 If John 7:53-8:11 belongs elsewhere, this passage follows John 7:52. It was the *Festival of Shelters and Jesus was still teaching in the *Temple.
In John 1:4-9, John described Jesus as the *light that gives *life to everybody. In this verse, Jesus described himself as the ‘*light for the world’. His sentence started with ‘I am’, which was God’s special name (Exodus 3:14 – see note on John 6:35). But this *light does more than just guide us in the darkness. This *light actually makes the darkness disappear! However, we must continue to follow Jesus all the time. Every day, we should obey him and we should learn from him.
Verses 13-14 Again, the *Pharisees accused Jesus as if they were in a court of law. They did not believe Jesus’ words. Jesus did not have anybody else to prove that his words were true (see note on John 5:31). But only Jesus knew God’s plan for him. The *Pharisees did not know that Jesus came from heaven. They did not know that he would return there.
Verses 15-16 The *Pharisees did not understand who Jesus was. They had their own ideas about God and about their religion. They did not want to change these ideas. So, because they did not understand Jesus, they *judged him. That was easier than to believe that he came from God! While Jesus was on the earth, he did not *judge anybody. However, one day in the future, he will *judge everybody (John 5:27). He will not make mistakes, as other people make mistakes. His judgement will be fair always, because he thinks *exactly the same as his *Father. And God is never wrong. He is perfect in every way.
Verses 17-19 In *Jewish *Law, two witnesses had to agree that something was true. Then this proved that it was true (Deuteronomy 19:15). Jesus had two witnesses that his words about himself were true: himself and God, his *Father. But the *Pharisees thought that Jesus was referring to a human father. An absent witness was not legal. So they asked, ‘Where is your father?’
The *Pharisees did not have a full and true knowledge of Jesus. Otherwise they would have realised that he came from God. Also, they would have realised that people can know God only by means of Jesus.
Verse 20 This room was a public place for people to meet together. It would have been easy to arrest Jesus. But God, not people, controlled what happened in Jesus’ life. And ‘his time’ – that is God’s time for them to arrest him – had not come yet.
Verses 21-24 The *Jews were God’s special people. He had chosen to speak to them by means of people like Moses, David and the *prophets. But when God’s Son, Jesus, came to the earth, the *Jewish leaders did not recognise him. He came from heaven and he would return to heaven.
But because the leaders did not *believe in him, they could not understand this. They thought only about the physical world. Jesus said that they belonged to this world below. In John’s *Gospel, the ‘world’ refers to everybody and everything that opposes God.
The leaders did not understand *spiritual reality. They imagined that Jesus intended to kill himself. But he was not talking just about his own death. He was talking about where he was going after his death and his *resurrection.
They could not follow him because they refused to *believe in him. Therefore, they would die and God would not forgive their *sins. There is only one way that people can avoid the punishment from God for their *sins. That way is to *believe in the *Lord Jesus *Christ. When we *believe in Jesus, God can forgive our *sins. All that we have to do is to ask him. Then, if we are sincerely sorry, he will forgive us. We will receive his gift of *eternal life.
Jesus was urging the *Jewish leaders to *believe in him. If they *rejected him, they could not be with God in heaven, because of their *sins.
Verses 25-30 Again, Jesus emphasised that he did nothing without his *Father, God. He spoke his *Father’s words. He did only those things that pleased his *Father. To know Jesus is the same as to know God.
However, although the *Jewish leaders *rejected him still, many of the people *believed in him.
Verse 31 The *Greek words for ‘*believed in him’ have a different meaning from the same phrase in verse 30. This is because the author wanted to distinguish between two groups of people. The people that he referred to in verse 30 were sincere. They genuinely trusted Jesus. But the people that the author referred to in verse 31 did not have such a genuine belief. They were similar to those people who believed just because of Jesus’ *miracles. But Jesus did not trust those people, because they did not really want to obey him (John 2:23-25).
Some people today are like this group of people in verse 31. They may say that they are *Christians. They may attend a *church. But their *faith is not very important to them. Jesus is not the most important person in their lives. They may agree with the things that Jesus taught. But they do not allow this to affect their attitudes or their behaviour in their daily lives.
So Jesus spoke to this group of people next. He told them what to do if they really wanted to be his *disciples. They could not just agree with his message. That was not enough. They had to obey him. They had to do what he said all the time. His words had to guide them in every part of their daily lives.
Verse 32 When people follow Jesus, they will know the truth. This is because Jesus himself is the truth. He frees us from the results of our *sins. He frees us from death. He shows us how to have *eternal life with God. He shows us the ways in which we *deceive ourselves. He shows us how other people *deceive us. He shows us how the devil *deceives us.
The freedom that Jesus gives to us is real freedom. It is not the freedom to do just what we want. It is the freedom to serve God. Then, we can become the kind of people that God created us to be.
Verses 33-34 The people did not understand what Jesus meant. The *Romans ruled them. But they were not slaves. They were proud because they were God’s special people. However, Jesus pointed out that they were really slaves, not because of other people, but because of *sin. *Sin controls people. It guides what they do. It affects how they behave. Because of this, it causes people to act as if they were its slaves.
Verses 35-36 Jesus is God’s only, special Son (John 1:18). Only Jesus can stop *sin’s power over a person. Only he can say that they are not slaves still. And he also has the authority to let them join God’s family. Slaves do not belong to a family in the same way as a son. Slaves have no permanent place in the family. But a son is a real member of the family. A son knows that he belongs there always. And so, a son feels security about the future.
Verses 37-47 In this passage, Jesus’ words seem unkind. He called his audience the devil’s children. Jesus was speaking to a group of *Jews who were very angry with him. We must remember this. They had their own ideas about God. And they had their own ideas about their religion. They did not want to change their ideas. Jesus upset them because of the things that he taught about God and about himself. So to stop him, they wanted to kill him.
God had chosen Abraham to begin the *Jewish nation. The *Jewish nation belonged to God. They were God’s children because they belonged to him in a special way. The *Jewish people were Abraham’s *descendants, so they called Abraham their ‘*father’ (verse 39). But Jesus was speaking to people who were not behaving like Abraham. So Jesus said that they were not Abraham’s children. It was true that they were his physical *descendants. But *spiritually, they were not his real children. This is because real children should obey their father. And they wanted to murder Jesus because they hated him so much. Abraham was never wicked like that!
The people replied that God was their Father. They said that they were God’s real children. They said that they were not illegitimate. (‘Illegitimate’ means to be born from parents who are not married to each other.) They were probably referring to the *Samaritans here. The *Samaritans were half *Jewish. They were the *descendants of *Jews who had married foreigners in *Samaria. And those foreigners *worshipped false gods. Afterwards, the *Jews hated the *Samaritans because the *Samaritans were not loyal to the *Jewish religion. The *Jews were proud that they had continued to *worship the one real God. So they believed that they had a right to call him their *Father.
Jesus’ audience included *Jewish leaders who were opposing him. They refused to believe that Jesus had come from God. If they were really God’s children, they would have realised this. They refused to believe that Jesus had God’s authority. So Jesus said that their *father was not God. Their *father was the devil.
These men wanted to murder Jesus. God does not give people the desire to murder. It is the devil who does this. Also, this crowd refused to *believe in Jesus when he was telling the truth about himself. They were unable to recognise the truth. In fact, they hated Jesus, who is the truth. The devil was controlling them. Their proud attitude allowed him to do this. He was using them to oppose God’s truth, because the devil always opposes the truth.
The *Jewish leaders wanted to accuse Jesus of a crime. But Jesus had never *sinned. He is the only person who has ever lived a completely *sinless life. He always said and did the right things. This proved that he was God and also human.
The *Jewish leaders had never seen Jesus do anything evil. But they still refused to *believe in him. They would not listen to the truth that he told them. They would not listen to God’s words. So they could not be God’s children.
Verse 48 The crowd were becoming more and more angry with Jesus. They called him a ‘*Samaritan’ in order to insult him. They said this because *Samaritans were not real *Jews. The crowd also said that an evil *spirit was controlling Jesus.
Verses 49-50 Again, Jesus emphasised that he had come on his *Father’s behalf. He was in complete unity with his *Father. It was Jesus’ *Father who wanted people to respect Jesus. Jesus did not ask for this for his own benefit. If people want to respect God, they must respect his Son, Jesus.
Verses 51-52 The crowd did not understand what Jesus meant. People who obeyed him would ‘never die’. This is what he was saying. But this did not mean that they would live on the earth in their same physical bodies always. It meant that their spirits would never die. Physical death is not the end. When we *believe in Jesus, he gives us *eternal life. This is a special kind of *life that continues after our death. But we will still die physically. However, in the end, Jesus will return to the earth. So the people who are alive at that time will not die physically.
Verse 53 For the *Jews, Abraham was the greatest person who ever lived on the earth. This was because God chose him to start the *Jewish nation. All *Jews were *descendants of Abraham and his family. Also the *Jews respected the *prophets greatly. But Jesus was making himself more important than Abraham and the *prophets. Jesus’ audience wanted to know who he (Jesus) was.
Verses 54-56 But Jesus did not tell them who he was immediately. Instead, he told them again that he was not saying these things about himself for his own benefit. But his *Father was saying these wonderful things about him. God himself was showing them that Jesus was greater than Abraham and all the *prophets.
However, the crowd did not even know their own God. But Jesus knew God and he obeyed God.
‘Your *father Abraham was really happy to see me’ (verse 56). God promised Abraham that he (God) would *bless all the people on the earth by means of Abraham’s family (Genesis 22:16-18). Jesus was Abraham’s *descendant. And Jesus *blessed all people because he offered *salvation to everybody. Abraham knew that God’s promise would happen in the future. Some *Jewish teachers believed that God had shown to Abraham the future, and the *Messiah, in a vision. (A vision is like a dream. But a person who sees a vision is still awake.) This vision made Abraham very happy.
Verses 57 Again, the *Jews did not understand what Jesus meant. Abraham had died 2000 years before Jesus was born. So the *Jews thought that it was impossible for Jesus to see Abraham.
Verses 58-59 This verse reminds us of John’s words at the beginning of his *Gospel (1:1). Jesus himself said that he has always existed. Also, he said that he was God. It is not possible to misunderstand Jesus’ words here. This is because Jesus actually used God’s most *holy name: ‘I am’ (see note on John 6:35).
Certainly, the crowd did not misunderstand Jesus. They understood clearly what he meant. That was why they became angry suddenly. Jesus was saying that he was God. But the *Jewish leaders did not believe him. So they thought that he was insulting God. This was a very bad crime in the *Law. The punishment was death (Leviticus 24:16). So they picked up stones. They intended to throw these stones at Jesus until he was dead. However, he escaped from them.
This next passage is an account of how Jesus cured a blind man. But it also makes us think about *spiritual blindness. (Blindness usually means that someone cannot see. But *spiritual blindness is the result of *sin. It means that we cannot see (know) the truth about God.)
The *Jewish leaders were able to see Jesus with their eyes. They had physical sight. But they were unable to recognise him as the *Messiah and God’s Son. This was *spiritual blindness.
When the first man (Adam) *sinned, it affected all his *descendants. His *descendants were every person who has ever lived on the earth. Adam’s *sin separated him from God. Illness and death were also the results of Adam’s *sin.
So, because all people are Adam’s *descendants, everybody is born with *sin already in their hearts. This *sin separates us from God. It makes us all *spiritually blind. We are unable to free ourselves from our *sinful attitude and its effects. Only Jesus can cure our *spiritual blindness. Then we can see how bad *sin is really. We are able to see and to understand *spiritual truth.
Verses 1-3 When they saw this blind man, the *disciples asked Jesus a question. It was a common belief that illness was the result of *sin. So people thought that an ill person had *sinned greatly. Otherwise, people thought that the ill person’s *ancestors had *sinned greatly. So that is why the *disciples asked this question. It is true that the effects of *sin are always bad. If someone *sins greatly, this can affect their *descendants. The *Old Testament teaches this, for example, Exodus 20:5; Psalm 109:14.
This man had been born blind. So the *disciples believed that either he or his parents had *sinned. However, in this particular case, Jesus told them that the man’s *sins or his parent’s *sins were not the cause. This reminds us that good people suffer, too. And sometimes it seems that bad people do not receive any punishment. But problems can also provide an opportunity for God to show his power in a person’s life. In this man’s case, that is what actually happened. It reminds people for all time that Jesus can cure *spiritual blindness, too. Sometimes, when people suffer, God can use this as an opportunity to show his power in their lives.
Verse 4 The words ‘daytime’ and ‘night’ had a double meaning here. The ‘daytime’ probably referred to Jesus’ short time on the earth. When he was travelling with his *disciples, they were doing God’s work all the time. Jesus was teaching people about God. Jesus was curing people who were ill. Good things were happening because of Jesus, the *light for the world. But very soon, people would arrest Jesus. Jesus, the *light for the world, would die. This would be like the ‘night’.
Verse 5 Again, Jesus emphasised that he was the *light for the world (see also John 1:4-9 and 8:12).
Verses 6-7 Jesus did not cure the man immediately. The man had to do something first. He had to go to Siloam Pool and to wash the mud from his eyes. Because he obeyed Jesus, he received his physical sight.
This reminds us of an important lesson. Real *faith begins when we obey Jesus. Then we will see good results in our lives. And Jesus will give to us the gift of *spiritual sight. In other words, we will understand more about *spiritual truth.
Verses 8-9 Some people could not believe what had happened. The man seemed to be the same man that they had always known. But he was different because something wonderful had happened to him. It can be like this when a person starts to *believe in Jesus. The *Holy Spirit changes them inside their hearts. So although they have the same face and body, they seem very different. Their attitude and behaviour change. Their family and friends realise that something very important has happened to them.
Verses 10-12 The man did not really know Jesus. He knew only his name. But he had trusted Jesus enough to obey his instructions. And he knew that now he was able to see!
Verses 13-16 The *Pharisees argued among themselves about Jesus. Some of them said that he could not have come from God. They said this because Jesus had not obeyed the rules about the *Sabbath. He had made mud and he had cured the man. This was ‘work’. But other people thought that only somebody with God’s power in them could do such wonderful *miracles.
Verse 17 The man did not really know Jesus. It seems that the man had met Jesus only once. But the man knew that Jesus was very special. And the man thought that Jesus was a *prophet. However, the man did not *believe in Jesus completely. But after Jesus had spoken to him again, the man *believed completely in him (John 9:38).
Verses 18-23 The *Jewish leaders could not explain the *miracle. They knew that the man could see. But they refused to believe that he had been blind from birth. So they asked his parents about this.
But the man’s parents told the leaders that he was their son. And they told the leaders that their son had been blind from birth. They knew that he could see. However, they refused to say anything else about the situation because they were afraid.
The *Jewish leaders had decided to punish anybody who *believed in Jesus. They would not allow that person to meet with other *Jews in the *synagogue. Any *Jew would consider that this was a terrible punishment. The leaders had separated them from God’s people and also, they believed, from God.
The man’s parents did not want this to happen to them. So they told the leaders to talk to their son about what had happened.
Verses 24-25 The leaders had said that Jesus was not obeying the *Sabbath rules. They wanted the man to agree that Jesus was bad because of this. But the man could not agree because he knew hardly anything about Jesus. The man knew only that Jesus had cured his eyes. And the man was not afraid to tell this to the people.
If we are *Christians, we should be like this man. We may not be able to answer every question about Jesus. But we know what Jesus has done on our behalf. We know that he died to save us from the results of our *sins. And we know how he has helped us personally. We must not be afraid to share this with other people whenever we have an opportunity.
Verses 26-29 When the leaders continued to ask him questions, the man became impatient with them. They insulted each other. The *Jewish leaders again emphasised that they were following Moses and the *Law. It was true that God spoke to Moses. He gave the *Law to *Israel by means of Moses. The *Law showed people God’s standards. But it did not free people from the power of *sin. Only Jesus himself could save us from the power of *sin. And Moses himself *prophesied that Jesus (the *Prophet) would come. He said that God urged people to listen to his *Prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).
Verses 30-33 But the man continued to argue with them. He used the same argument as some of the *Pharisees (verse 16). He said that Jesus had certainly come from God. Otherwise, Jesus would not have been able to do such a wonderful *miracle. First, the man had said that Jesus must be a *prophet (verse 17). Now, in this speech, he added that Jesus had certainly come from God. The man’s *faith in Jesus was increasing all the time.
Verse 34 The *Jewish leaders had no answer to this. The man had been born blind. So they believed that he was a bad person anyway. (See note on verses 1-3.) They believed that they were good people themselves. This was because they tried to obey all the rules of their religion. So they became angry that this man disagreed with them. And because of his beliefs about Jesus, they would not allow him to attend the *synagogue. They forced him to be separate from other *Jews as a punishment.
Verses 35-38 The man had done a brave thing. He had refused to agree with his leaders. They had had more education than the man. They were experts on the *Law and the *Jewish religion. But still the man had refused to say bad things about Jesus. He had even argued with them that Jesus had certainly come from God. And now he was alone because the leaders had separated him from the people. But Jesus did not leave the man alone. He went to him immediately.
We may be in a similar situation ourselves when we talk about our belief in Jesus. We may lose friends or even our families. But Jesus will always help us and he will comfort us. Nobody can separate us from his love.
The man’s *faith was growing still. Jesus asked him if he *believed in the Son of Man (see note on John 1:51). The man showed that he was ready to *believe in him. But the man did not know who the Son of Man was. When Jesus told him, the man’s *faith in Jesus became complete. He *worshipped Jesus.
Jesus had given the man physical sight when he (Jesus) cured the man’s eyes. But the man received *spiritual sight also. This took longer. It happened while he was speaking to Jesus. Then he realised that Jesus was God’s Son. And he *worshipped him.
As we spend time with Jesus, we, too, understand more about him. When we pray to him, he shows us more of himself. And as we know him more, we *worship him.
Verses 39-41 Our beliefs about Jesus affect the judgement that we will receive. So really we choose our own judgement. If we do not *believe in him, then we have *condemned ourselves. But if we have *faith in him, he will not *condemn us.
When Jesus referred to ‘blind people’, he did not mean just physically blind people. Some people realise that everyone is naturally *sinful. So, they realise the effects of their *sin. And they know that they have a problem. Because of *sin, people cannot see (know) God’s truth. In other words, people cannot understand more about God as a result of their *sin. Such people may not be physically blind. But, *spiritually, they are ‘blind people’.
However, other people think that they understand all about God. They think that they understand *spiritual matters. But they do not realise that *sin makes them unable to see (know) the truth about God. They think that they are good. So they become proud. The *Pharisees were like this. Jesus said that they would remain guilty. He said this because *sin had made them *spiritually blind. But they would not agree with this. Therefore, they would not ask for help. They did not think that they needed it!
Jesus told many stories that would help people to understand about *spiritual truths. The other three *Gospels contain most of these stories. The stories were about familiar situations in people’s daily lives.
In chapter 9, people were arguing whether Jesus had come from God or not. Then Jesus told this story so that people could understand more about him. It helped to explain the reasons why he had come to the earth.
Verses 1-5 At night, *shepherds put their sheep into a *sheepfold. This kept the sheep safe from dangers, for example wild animals and thieves. Often, the *shepherd slept in the *sheepfold in order to guard his sheep.
*Shepherds often spent all day and all night with their sheep. They were able to identify each one. Each sheep had a name. The *shepherd used their names to call them in and out of the *sheepfold. This was necessary because sometimes several *shepherds used the same *sheepfold. Always the *shepherd walked in front of his sheep and they followed him. He could watch out for any dangers ahead. The sheep followed the *shepherd because they knew his voice. They would never follow a stranger, because they did not recognise a stranger’s voice. A stranger’s voice made them afraid.
The *Old Testament writers often referred to a *shepherd and his sheep when they wrote about the ideal king. An ideal king knows all his people really well. He protects them from dangers and from their enemies. He guides them and he leads them. They follow him because they trust him. In Psalm 23, David wrote the words: ‘The *Lord is my *shepherd.’ He compared God’s care for people to a *shepherd’s care for his sheep.
Jesus did not actually refer to himself as the *shepherd in verses 1-5. But he was comparing himself with the *shepherd. The thieves and strangers meant evil leaders who did not care about the people. In the *Old Testament, the *prophet Ezekiel used this same idea of *shepherds and sheep. He wrote that false leaders (‘*shepherds’) would scatter God’s people (his ‘sheep’) to different countries. But God himself would search for his sheep (Ezekiel 34:11). He would bring them back to himself. In this *prophecy, he was referring to Jesus, the *Messiah (Ezekiel 34:23).
Verse 6 However, the people did not understand what this story meant. So Jesus explained it further.
Verses 7-8 He said, ‘I am like the gate for the sheep.’ This was because the *shepherd was the means by which the sheep could enter the *sheepfold. The *shepherd provided the way to safety, away from danger. In the same way, Jesus is the only means by which people can come to God. He is the only way to receive *salvation and to be safe from the results of *sin.
False leaders may pretend to know other ways to come to God. But these false leaders are like thieves. Only Jesus can offer *salvation to us. When we follow him, he will protect us always. He will give to us only good things. We will be content, like sheep in green fields.
Verse 10 Jesus gives *life to us. He gives it to us immediately. This *life makes us content inside our minds, even when bad things happen to us. This *life continues even after we die.
The devil is like a thief. His purpose is to spoil and to ruin people’s lives. His plan is to *deceive people. So he tries to convince them that Jesus is not the only way to receive *salvation. He tries to make them believe that there is no punishment for *sin. He tries to *deceive people in many other ways, too. But when we *believe in Jesus, we are safe. The devil can never take away the *eternal life that Jesus gives to us. We have this wonderful gift of *life always.
Verses 11-13 A person who receives wages to look after sheep does not really care about them. The sheep do not belong to him. He is doing the job just to get money. He cares more about his own safety. So if there is danger, he will leave the sheep. But the *shepherd, who owns the sheep, really cares about them. When a wild animal attacks, the *shepherd will protect the sheep. The *shepherd will risk his own life so that his sheep will be safe.
Jesus used these familiar ideas to show how much he loved people. He loved them so much that he was ready to die instead of them. And this was *exactly what he did. He died to rescue us from the results of our *sins.
Verses 14-16 The *Greek word ‘good’ meant also ‘beautiful’ or ‘attractive’. This did not refer to physical beauty. It meant that Jesus had qualities that attracted people to him. This has been true always. Jesus attracts people to him still. Sometimes he does this even before they really know anything about him.
When we *believe in Jesus, we belong to him. He is like our *shepherd. When Jesus referred to ‘sheep’ in the previous verses, he was talking about the *Jews. His audience would already be familiar with this idea from the *scriptures (see note on 10:1-5).
But Jesus came also to *save the *Gentiles. The *Gentiles were the meaning of the ‘other sheep’ (verse 16). Jesus will *save everybody who *believes in him. Our nationality does not matter. All *Christians belong to God’s family. The *church all over the world has one leader (‘*shepherd’) and that is the *Lord Jesus *Christ.
Verses 17-18 The *Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus. And Jesus knew that he had to die as a *sacrifice to *save people. But this was all part of God’s plan. Nobody could kill Jesus unless he allowed it to happen. But he chose to die on our behalf. He gave his life because he wanted to *save us. Nobody forced him to do this. He obeyed God because he loved God. But Jesus’ *resurrection was also part of God’s plan. So Jesus knew that he would receive his life again.
Verses 19-21 C.S. Lewis, a 20th century writer, said that we can believe only one of three things about Jesus. Jesus said that he was God’s Son. If this was not true, then Jesus was either mad or wicked. A mad person believes things that are not true. A wicked person lies about something very important in order to deceive people on purpose. (To deceive means to persuade people that a lie is the truth.) So if Jesus was not mad or wicked, he was telling the truth. He was God’s Son.
Jesus’ audience had to make a decision about him, too. Some people in the audience said that he was mad or wicked. But other people recognised the truth about him. They believed him because of the *miracle that they had seen. Only God’s power could cure a man who was born blind.
Verses 22-23 *Hanukkah is a *festival that happens every year in December. At this *festival, *Jews remember the events that had happened in *Jerusalem 200 years before. A foreign king called Antiochus Epiphanes had defeated the *Jews. This king wanted to destroy the *Jewish religion. So he made the *Jews leave the *Temple. He and his people used the *Temple to *worship false gods. They even *sacrificed a pig to their gods there. (A pig was an *unclean animal to the *Jews.) This event upset the *Jews very much and it made them angry. One of their leaders, Judas Maccabeus, fought against Antiochus Epiphanes and his people. Judas Maccabeus defeated them and he made them leave the *Temple. Then the *Jews made the *Temple *clean again and they offered proper *sacrifices to God.
So at *Hanukkah, *Jews remember when Judas Maccabeus got the *Temple back from their enemies.
Verse 24 There were probably two main reasons why the *Jewish leaders asked Jesus this question. Perhaps, some of them really wanted to know if Jesus was the *Messiah. They believed that the *Messiah would defeat the *Romans. Then, the *Jews could rule their own land again. However, their idea of what the *Messiah would do was wrong. Jesus had not come to defeat human enemies. He had come to save people from the results of *sin.
But probably the other leaders wanted Jesus to say something against the law; either their own *Law or *Roman law. Then they would have a reason to arrest him.
Verse 25 But Jesus refused to answer them with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Instead, he spoke about the *miracles as evidence of who he was.
Verses 26-29 Then Jesus spoke again about the idea of the *shepherd and the sheep (verses 1-21). Jesus’ sheep meant all those people who *believed in him. But the *Jewish leaders did not believe him. They would not even believe when they saw the *miracles. So they were not his sheep.
Then, Jesus made a wonderful promise to everybody who *believes in him. He promised that he would always look after them. They would be with him always. Even death could not separate them from him (also see Romans 8:35-39).
This promise is for all *Christians. It is for us today. When we belong to Jesus, nobody can take us away from him. The devil can never take away our gift of *eternal life. Although our bodies may suffer, our spirits are safe. Like a *shepherd with his sheep, Jesus protects us. He keeps us close to him. But we must listen to him when we pray. We must trust him and we must follow him. We must obey him always.
Jesus was able to promise all this because God, his *Father, has given us to him. There is nobody more powerful than God.
Verses 30-31 Jesus is in complete unity with his *Father, God. They share the same thoughts and desires. They agree about everything. They share *exactly the same qualities.
The meaning of Jesus’ words in verse 30 was clear to his audience. His words would remind this *Jewish audience about Deuteronomy 6:4. ‘Listen, all you who are *Israelites! The *Lord our God, the *Lord is One (one God).’ So Jesus was saying that he is God. Certainly, that is what the *Jewish leaders understood. The punishment for anyone who said such a thing was death. People would throw stones at the guilty person until that person was dead (Leviticus 24:16). The *Jewish leaders were so angry that they wanted to do this immediately. What Jesus said was true. He was and he is God. But the *Jewish leaders did not believe him.
Verses 32-33 Jesus had never done anything wrong. He had done only good acts to help people. And he was doing the *Father’s work. But still the *Jewish leaders considered him only a man. So they wanted to punish him because he was making himself *equal with God.
Verses 34-36 These verses are not easy for people who are not *Jews to understand. But the *Jewish leaders would have understood completely what Jesus meant. In Psalm 82:6, *Israel’s rulers and judges were called ‘gods’. This was because they had the authority to make decisions about people on God’s behalf. They had special responsibility because they were doing God’s work. They had to be fair in the same way that God is always fair. So, in this *scripture, they were called ‘gods’ because God had chosen them to do his work on earth. In the same way, Jesus was doing God’s work, with God’s authority. In fact, Jesus was much greater than *Israel’s rulers and judges. He was God’s own Son. God himself had sent him to the earth.
Verses 37-38 Jesus had given a very clever answer. *Jewish teachers often used the *scriptures in this way when they were reasoning together. But Jesus did not expect his answer to convince them. Again, he spoke about the evidence of what he had done. The *Jewish leaders could argue with his words. They could say that he was lying. But they could not argue about what he did. They, and many other people, had seen the *miracles. The *miracles were God’s work. And the *miracles were fact. Only a person who had God’s power and authority could do such wonderful things. The *Father was ‘in’ Jesus because he was working by means of Jesus. And Jesus was ‘in’ the *Father because he was able to do these things on his *Father’s behalf (verse 38).
Verse 39 Jesus knew that very soon he would die in *Jerusalem. But it was not the right time yet. So he left *Jerusalem. It was not fear that caused him to leave. In fact, Jesus went away to prepare himself to return to *Jerusalem. He went to the place where John the *Baptist used to *baptise people.
Many people followed Jesus. They remembered what John the *Baptist had said about him. They realised that John the *Baptist’s *prophecies were correct. And, unlike the *Jewish leaders in *Jerusalem, these people were not proud. They were able to see and to accept the truth. Then they decided to *believe in Jesus, because of all the evidence.
Verse 1 Bethany was a small town to the east of *Jerusalem. The name ‘Bethany’ meant ‘the house of poor people’. Probably, it was a place where poor or ill people could come for help. Jesus had been there several times. He had special friends there: Lazarus, Mary and Martha.
Verse 2 This verse refers to an incident that John described later in his *Gospel (see John 12:1-8).
Verses 3-4 Mary and Martha knew that Jesus could help their ill brother. They had seen the *miracles that Jesus had done. But Jesus did not do what they expected. He did not go to them immediately.
Sometimes, when we pray, God seems to do nothing. It may even seem that he has not heard our prayer. But God always answers our prayers. When we ask him, he can make good things happen, even in a bad situation. But he does not always do this immediately. God always knows when it is the right time for him to act. This brings *glory to him.
Verses 5-6 Lazarus and his sisters were very special to Jesus. Jesus had stayed at their house, probably several times. He knew them well and he loved them. He knew that they were suffering. Lazarus’s illness would cause great strain to his sisters. So it may seem strange to us that Jesus did not go to them immediately. But, because he was God’s Son, he knew the right time to go.
Verses 7-8 Jesus waited two days before he returned to *Judea. He knew that Lazarus would be dead. And he knew that he would make Lazarus become alive again. So it was time to go and to do this great *miracle.
Jesus told his *disciples that he intended to return to *Judea. But he did not give a reason immediately. The *disciples were surprised because the *Jewish leaders in *Judea wanted to kill him.
Verses 9-10 But Jesus knew *exactly what God wanted him to do. So he would not be in danger at that time. It would be like someone who is walking in daylight. When we are following God’s instructions, our decisions are wise. It is as if we ‘walk in daylight’, too. But we may take risks without God’s instructions. That is like someone who is walking in darkness. It is dangerous!
Verses 11-14 The *disciples did not understand what Jesus really meant. When Jesus referred to sleep (verse 11), he actually meant death. But the *disciples thought that he was referring to natural sleep. So Jesus told them plainly.
Verse 15 If Jesus had been with Lazarus, Jesus could have cured him. But instead, Jesus stayed away until Lazarus was dead. This was so that Jesus could show his power and authority over death. Jesus became alive again after his own death. And Jesus also had the power to make other people become alive again after death.
Verse 16 People usually think of Thomas as the *disciple who doubted Jesus’ *resurrection (John 20:24-29). But, in this situation, Thomas showed that he was a brave and loyal *disciple. All the *disciples knew that it was dangerous to return to *Judea. They had tried to persuade Jesus to stay away. But Jesus had decided to go anyhow. So Thomas urged them all to go with Jesus, even if they had to die with him.
Elsewhere, Luke wrote about Mary and Martha in his *Gospel. He described a time when Jesus was a guest at their house. Martha was very busy. She was working hard in order to make everything ready for him. Mary was just sitting and listening to Jesus. Martha was angry because Mary was not helping her. But Jesus praised Mary because she chose to listen to him instead. The most important thing that we can ever do is to listen to Jesus. (Luke 10:38-42.)
However, in this passage in John’s *Gospel, Martha shows that she has a very strong *faith in Jesus, too.
Verses 17-22 Martha heard that Jesus was coming. So immediately, she went out to meet him. As Luke described, she did not want merely to wait. She preferred to do something.
Probably, it upset her very much that Jesus had not come sooner. She had *faith in his power to do *miracles. If he had come earlier, he could have cured Lazarus. She told this to Jesus. But she also believed that God could do anything. And he would do anything that Jesus asked.
Verses 23-24 Jesus promised to her that Lazarus would live again. But she thought that he was just reminding her about a common *Jewish belief about *resurrection (see, for example, Daniel 12:2-3). Most *Jews believed that, in the future, all dead people would become alive again. The *prophet Isaiah wrote about a time when God would make a new world (Isaiah chapters 65 and 66). God would give new bodies to all his people, past and present.
So Martha agreed. But it still upset her that this *resurrection would happen just in the future. It would not happen at that time in the present.
Verses 25-26 But Jesus was talking about both the future and the present. He said this because he had power over death. And everyone who *believes in Jesus receives *eternal life. Therefore, *Christians have *life that death cannot take away from them. Our physical bodies die, but our spirits have *eternal life. And in the future, we will have new bodies, too (1 Corinthians 15:35-58).
Verse 27 Martha’s *faith was strong and sincere. The words that she spoke about Jesus were simple and true. We should have this strong and sincere *faith in Jesus, too.
Verses 28-32 Jesus waited for Mary outside the village. When she met him, she was very sad. These events had upset her greatly. She said the same words that her sister Martha had said. She was not afraid to show Jesus how she felt. She did not hide her emotions. She was very honest about her feelings.
We, too, must not try to hide our emotions when we talk to Jesus in our prayers. He knows how we are feeling, anyhow. He wants us to be honest about this.
Verse 33 Jesus did not hide his emotions. He saw the people crying. And this ‘upset him very much’. The *Greek words for ‘upset’ are very difficult to translate here. The words describe strong emotions that include anger. John does not explain why Jesus felt like this. Perhaps he felt angry about the sadness (sad feelings) that death causes. He felt this way because of what he would do. He knew that soon he would defeat death. Perhaps he was angry that people did not believe in his power over death. Or perhaps he felt that some people were not genuinely sad. It was the custom for people to cry loudly at a grave anyhow. Sometimes, the relatives of the dead person paid people to do this!
Verses 34-35 When Jesus wept, however, it was genuine. The *Greek word for ‘wept’ is not the same as the *Greek word for ‘crying’ in verse 33. Probably, some of the people were crying just because that was the custom. But Jesus wept real tears because he felt genuinely sad.
Verses 36-37 The people knew that Jesus had loved Lazarus very much. He was one of Jesus’ special friends. But, like Mary and Martha, the people could not understand why Jesus had not cured Lazarus. They did not believe that Jesus could do anything after Lazarus’s death. They knew that Jesus did *miracles. But they did not even imagine that he could make Lazarus become alive again.
Verses 38-39 It was a common custom for the *Jews to use caves as graves. Often, they put several dead bodies in one grave. They put a large stone across the entrance. This was because they did not want any wild animals to enter the cave. The stone also prevented a bad smell. So Martha was worried about the smell if anyone moved the stone.
Verse 40 But Jesus did not answer Martha about the smell. Instead, he encouraged her to have *faith.
Verses 41-42 Then Jesus prayed aloud. He did not need to pray aloud. But he wanted the people there to hear him. He prayed continuously to his *Father, God. He did only what his *Father told him to do (John 5:19). He knew that his *Father wanted him to make Lazarus alive again. He knew that this act would bring *glory to God. Probably, he had prayed continuously about this after he heard about Lazarus’s illness. So probably Jesus prayed about it before he came to Bethany. He knew that his *Father had heard his prayer. His *Father would do what Jesus asked him to do. Jesus knew this because his *Father had sent him to the earth. But Jesus wanted the people to realise this. So he spoke his prayer aloud.
Verses 43-44 Jesus had made other dead people become alive again (Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:42-43; Luke 7:11-15; 8:40-56). But Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. So when he walked out of the grave, it would have caused a shock to everybody!
It was the custom to bandage a dead body before the family put the body into the grave. Lazarus had these bandages still on. So Jesus told the people to unwrap him immediately.
This *miracle was the most important *sign in John’s *Gospel. Jesus brought Lazarus back to life physically.
Verses 45-53 Some of the people told the *Pharisees what Jesus had done. Perhaps they were excited about what this *miracle proved. It proved that he was the *Messiah. And so they thought that the *Jewish leaders would be pleased.
The *Jewish leaders met together. They needed to decide what they should do about Jesus. This was because they were not pleased. In fact, they were very worried. In order to understand why, we need to know some of the history of that time.
During about 100 years, the *Romans had ruled the land where the *Jews lived. But they allowed the *Jews to have a certain amount of freedom. They allowed the *Jews to follow the *Jewish religion and to keep their own customs and traditions. But the *Romans allowed this only if the *Jews did not cause trouble for the government.
So many *Jews, especially the leaders, wanted to stay friendly with the *Romans. They had good jobs and they were rich. Their lives were comfortable. But the *Romans had cruel punishments for anybody who opposed them. The *Jewish leaders knew this. And they did not want the *Romans to become angry. Then the *Jews would lose the freedom that they had.
However, many other *Jews hated the *Romans. They wanted to be completely free. They were waiting eagerly for the *Messiah to come. This was because they expected the *Messiah to lead them in a battle against the *Romans. They believed that he would defeat the *Romans. Then he would make the *Jewish nation important and powerful again.
So the *Jewish leaders were very worried about Jesus because many people were following him. And they thought that he might lead these people to fight against the *Romans. Then the *Romans would punish all the *Jews. (Actually, something like this happened about 40 years later. Some *Jews fought against the *Romans. So the *Romans attacked *Jerusalem and they destroyed the *Temple.)
The *Jewish leaders wanted to stop what was happening. They decided that there was only one way to do this. Jesus had to die!
It was Caiaphas, the *High Priest, who suggested this. John, the author of the *Gospel, pointed out that it was a *prophecy. This was because, in fact, Jesus would die on behalf of the *Jews. But he would not die to save them from the *Romans’ punishment. He would die to save them from the punishment that is the result of *sin. Also, he would die to *save all people who *believed in him, not just the *Jews. And he would unite all people who share the same belief in him.
However, Caiaphas did not realise that he was speaking a *prophecy. He thought that he was making just a political decision. He did not understand that his words had a different, *spiritual meaning. But God used him to say this, because he was the most important *Jewish leader at that time.
Verse 54 But Jesus knew that it was not time yet for him to die. So he went away with his *disciples. They went to a town outside *Jerusalem.
Verses 55-57 Many *Jews were arriving in *Jerusalem to prepare themselves for the *Passover. The *Jews had to do certain things before they could *worship God. For example, they had to wash themselves in a special way. And they might decide to offer *sacrifices.
Everybody in *Jerusalem was talking about Jesus. The people who had just arrived there were eager to see him. The *Jewish leaders also wanted to see him because they wanted to arrest him. So they ordered the people to talk to them if anybody saw him.
Verses 1-3 When Jesus returned for the *Passover, he stayed again with his friends called Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They had a special meal and Jesus was the most important guest there. Probably, they wanted to thank him because of what he did on behalf of Lazarus.
In some ways, the situation was similar to a different occasion that Luke described in his *Gospel (Luke 10:38-42 – see note on John 11:17-27). In Luke’s account, Martha was busy with practical tasks. But Mary sat with Jesus. She listened to him as he spoke. She was learning from him. Martha complained to Jesus because Mary was not helping her. But Jesus said that Mary was right. She knew what was more important.
In John’s account of this other occasion, Martha was doing practical tasks again. But this time she did not complain about Mary. However, Mary did something that would have caused shock to everybody there. She took a very expensive bottle of *perfume and she poured it over Jesus’ feet. It was the custom to put *perfume on a guest’s head. But it was not usual to pour a whole bottle of *perfume over a guest’s feet. And this particular *perfume was worth as much as some workers earned in a year!
Then Mary did something else that was very unusual. She uncovered her hair and she wiped Jesus’ feet with it. *Jewish women always covered their hair in public. Only prostitutes (women who sold their bodies for sex) did not cover their hair. So for Mary to show her hair like this would have offended people, too.
Verses 4-6 Judas was very angry. He considered that Mary had wasted the *perfume on Jesus. Judas thought that she should have sold it. Then poor people could have money from the sale of the *perfume.
However, Judas did not say this sincerely. He did not really care about poor people. He just loved money. Actually, he was stealing it from Jesus and the *disciples. Judas had many opportunities to steal because he looked after all their money. (Later, the *Jewish leaders paid him 30 pieces of silver to hand Jesus over to them.)
Verses 7-8 But Jesus did not agree with Judas. This probably surprised Judas and the other people there because Jesus always helped poor people. But Mary’s act of love had a *spiritual meaning. It was like a *prophecy. People poured expensive *perfume over a dead body before they put the body in a grave. So, although she probably did not realise it, Mary was *prophesying about Jesus’ death. Also, she was showing in public that she had *faith in him. She was giving him the best and most precious thing that she possessed.
Jesus was not telling people to spend money on him. And he did not tell people that they should not give to poor people. But Jesus was praising Mary because of what she did on this particular occasion. And he warned the people that, soon, he would not still be with them. But there would always be opportunities to help poor people.
Verses 9-11 The *Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus. They did not believe that he is God. So they thought that they had a reason to kill him. But Lazarus had not done anything! However, the fact that he was alive was evidence of Jesus’ power over even death. Nobody could deny the *miracle that Jesus had done. Lazarus himself was the chief witness. So the leaders wanted to murder Lazarus, too. This wrong attitude to Jesus had caused them to plot another evil act.
Verses 12-19 Many people had seen Jesus call Lazarus out of the grave. The news had spread quickly into *Jerusalem. So a large crowd went out to meet Jesus as he entered the city for the *Passover. They waved branches from a kind of tree called a palm. They shouted some words from the *scriptures, too (Psalm 118:25-26). The *Jews used the word ‘hosanna’ when they were asking a king to help them. It actually meant ‘save us now’. They used this phrase when they wanted the king to save them from their enemies.
So, when the crowd shouted, ‘hosanna!’ they were really greeting Jesus as their king. They were greeting Jesus as their *Messiah. They were showing that they expected him to defeat their enemies, the *Romans. But Jesus was not the kind of *Messiah that they were expecting! They expected somebody who would make *Israel become an important and powerful nation again. But Jesus did not enter *Jerusalem like a powerful leader. Instead, he was riding on a mere *donkey. The *donkey is an animal like a horse, but a donkey is much smaller. Poorer people rode on *donkeys instead of horses, because *donkeys were much cheaper. Jesus came to the people humbly, not proudly. The *prophet Zechariah had *prophesied that their king would come to them in this way. Verse 15 repeats his words (Zechariah 9:9). At that time, the *disciples were not thinking about Zechariah’s *prophecy. Jesus would ‘receive *glory’ (verse 16) when God made him become alive again. Then, later, Jesus returned to heaven. After this, the *disciples realised what this *prophecy meant.
Jesus had become very popular. But many of the people who greeted him that day did not remain loyal to him. They did not try to prevent his death a few days later. Probably, some of them even shouted, ‘*Crucify him!’ (John 19:15).
However, the *Pharisees were very worried because Jesus was so popular. It seemed that everybody was following him. So they said that ‘everybody in the world’ was following him! The *Pharisees choice of words shows their despair. But in fact, like Caiaphas’s words in John 11:50, the *Pharisees’ words were more accurate than they realised. This was because, in the future, people from countries all over the world would follow Jesus. But the *Pharisees were not trying to say that people in all nations would follow him. Instead, the *Pharisees were angry because so many people were following Jesus already.
Verses 20-21 Some *Gentiles followed the *Jewish religion. They believed in *Israel’s God and they *worshipped him at the important *Jewish *festivals.
Some of these *Gentiles who were *Greeks wanted to meet Jesus. Although Philip was a *Jew, he had a *Greek name. Perhaps that is why these *Greeks came to him.
Verses 22-23 Jesus’ reaction to Philip and Andrew’s request seems strange. He did not even mention the *Greeks. But he was answering them. He began to talk about his death and to explain it to them.
Jesus’ death was the only way that people could enter God’s *kingdom. And God’s *kingdom is for everybody who *believes in Jesus. It is not just for the *Jews. When Jesus died on the *cross, he provided the way for all people to receive *eternal life. He had spoken before about his ‘time’ (John 2:4). That time had come.
Verse 24 Jesus used a familiar situation in nature to explain why he had to die. There is only one way for a seed to produce more seeds. The seed must fall into the ground. Jesus compared this to his death. If the seed does not die, it will not produce more seeds. So Jesus had to die as a *sacrifice. He had to receive the punishment that we all deserve. Also he had to show that he had power over death. His *resurrection proved that he had *eternal life. He gives this *eternal life to everybody who *believes in him. These people are like the new seeds that the original seed’s ‘death’ produces.
Verse 25 This verse does not mean that we should want to die. It does not mean that we should not enjoy our lives. It means that we should live to serve God. We should not live just for our own pleasure and comfort. We should not find security in the things of this world.
Instead, we should want to do only what Jesus wants. We should not be selfish. We should not try to control our lives. We should let Jesus control our lives. Then we will be really free. We will be really happy. We will receive the gift of *eternal life. This wonderful *life begins when we first *believe in Jesus. And it continues after our death.
Verse 26 Jesus knew that he would suffer. People would *reject him and they would hate him. They would kill him in the cruellest way. We must expect some people to *reject us and to hate us. We may even have to die because of our beliefs. But when we follow Jesus sincerely, God will reward us. He will greatly respect all who are loyal to his Son. This is worth more than anything that this world could offer us.
Verses 27-30 Jesus knew what would happen to him. He knew that he had to suffer a cruel and painful death. He was a human person, like us. So it was natural for him to feel strong emotions at this time. But he also knew that he had to suffer. He had come to save us from the punishment that we deserve because of our *sins. There was only one way to do this. He had to receive our punishment instead of us. He had to pay the price for our *sins. That price was death.
Jesus was not afraid only of physical pain and death. He was afraid because he had to suffer *spiritually, too. Like the animals that the *Jews *sacrificed in the *Temple, he was dying on behalf of other people. Jesus was innocent, but he was suffering instead of guilty people. And everyone is guilty of sin. Jesus took upon himself every person’s *sins, whether they are past, present or future.
God is completely *holy. He cannot have a relationship with anything *sinful. So while Jesus was on the *cross, he was not united with God. Jesus had always been united with God. To be separate from God would cause him extreme pain in his spirit.
But Jesus obeyed his *Father completely. He wanted to do what his *Father wanted. This is what would bring *glory to God. When Jesus said this aloud, his *Father spoke from heaven. The *signs that Jesus had done had always brought *glory to God. Jesus did not need to hear the voice speak aloud. He heard his *Father’s voice in his spirit always. But the voice spoke aloud so that the crowd could hear God, too.
Verse 31 When Jesus spoke about ‘the ruler of this world’, he was referring to the devil. The devil is an evil *angel. A long time ago, he opposed God. He continues to oppose God and he is our enemy. He persuaded Eve, the first woman, not to obey God (see Genesis chapter 3). The devil tried to persuade Jesus to *sin. But Jesus refused (see Matthew 4:1-11).
The devil is powerful. But Jesus has much more power. When we *believe in Jesus, the devil does not rule us. We become God’s children and we belong to God’s *kingdom.
Jesus defeated the devil by means of his (Jesus’) death and *resurrection. He paid the price for our *sins by means of his *sacrifice on the *cross. He defeated death, which came into the world because of Adam and Eve’s *sin.
Verses 32-34 ‘People will lift me above the earth’ (verse 32). Jesus was referring to his physical death, when he hung on a *cross (John 3:14 and John 8:29). But the crowd did not want to believe that Jesus would die. Certainly, they did not want to believe that he would die like a criminal. They wanted him to lead them and to defeat their enemies.
Certain *scriptures promised that the *Messiah would live *forever (Psalm 110:4; Psalm 89:29; Psalm 89:36; Isaiah 9:7). So the people thought that he would never die. But the people misunderstood the meaning of these *scriptures. That is not what those *scriptures actually said. However, the *scriptures were true. Jesus is alive and he will always be the ruler of everything. Also, there were other *prophecies about how the *Messiah had to suffer and to die (for example Isaiah 53:5-9). But the crowd did not want to believe this.
‘The Son of Man’ (verse 34). See note on John 1:51.
Verses 35-36 ‘The *light’ that Jesus referred to meant himself. Soon, his time on earth as a man would end. Like a light, he guided people. He showed them the truth and he pointed them towards God. He wanted the people to benefit from this short time that he was among them.
Verse 37 The people had actually seen Jesus do *miracles. They were *Jews, so they prayed to God. They expected him to hear their prayers. They expected the *Messiah to come. But still they refused to *believe in Jesus.
In some ways, it is the same today. God has given to people the freedom to choose what they believe. People see that God answers prayers. They hear the good news about Jesus. But still they refuse to *believe in him. It is important to remember this when we tell other people about our *faith. We must tell people about Jesus and that they can only receive *salvation by means of him. That is our duty as *Christians. But people can choose to *believe in Jesus or to *reject him.
Verse 38 Isaiah lived about 750 years before Jesus was born. At that time also, the *Jews had many rules that they obeyed. These rules had become very important to them. Sometimes, it seemed that the rules had become more important to them than God himself. This verse is from Isaiah 53:1. The people at that time *rejected Isaiah’s message about God’s judgement and *salvation. They did not recognise God’s power in this message.
Verses 39-40 Isaiah’s words (Isaiah 6:10) are difficult to understand. It seemed as if God himself caused the people to *reject him. But that is not really what Isaiah meant. Isaiah had obeyed God. He had told the people *exactly what God had said about judgement and *salvation. And God had allowed them to *reject that message. Their decision was very foolish. But God did not force them to change their minds.
Sometimes people refuse to believe the truth during many years. So in the end it becomes impossible for them to believe it. It is as if their minds and their hearts have closed against it. God allowed these people to remain in this situation because it was the result of their own choice. And if people *reject God’s truth, they *reject God too. So God cannot help them. The *Jews who *rejected Jesus were like this. God allowed them to make a choice. He allowed them to remain in this situation.
Verse 41 Isaiah had a vision in which he saw God’s *glory. (See Isaiah chapter 6. A ‘vision’ is a special dream. This dream comes to a person when they are awake.) Jesus, God’s Son, shares God’s *glory. So when Isaiah saw God’s *glory, he saw Jesus’ *glory also.
Verses 42-43 But not everybody refused to *believe in Jesus. In fact, John recorded that many *Jewish leaders *believed in him. But they refused to tell anybody. They were afraid of the new rule that the *Pharisees had made (see note on John 7:10-13). They did not want the other *Jews to *reject them. They liked to be popular. They preferred to please people rather than to please God.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell people that we are *Christians. Our families and friends may *reject us. People may laugh at us. Some people may even hate us just because we *believe in Jesus. But Jesus expects us to be honest about our *faith in him. He expects us to tell other people. He will make us bold. He will tell us what to say. It is more important to please Jesus than to worry about other people’s opinions of us.
Verses 44-50 This passage records the final words that Jesus spoke to the people about himself. The next time that he spoke in public was at his *trial.
He repeated the most important parts of his message. He told them again that God had sent him to the earth. And when people looked at him, they were really seeing God. He reminded them that he was like a *light for everybody. (See John 1:4-5; 8:12; 9:5.) He gave them a choice. They could *believe in him and have his *light to guide them. Otherwise they could remain in their *sinful ways, which is like darkness.
Jesus emphasised that he had not come to *judge people. Instead, he had come to *save people. Everybody had *sinned. Therefore everybody deserves that God *condemns them. But Jesus came to *save us from this punishment.
On the last day, everybody will receive a judgement. People will receive either *salvation and *eternal life, or punishment. That punishment will be permanent. People will suffer in a place where they are separate from God. But people can now choose whether to receive *eternal life or to suffer punishment. If they *believe in Jesus, God will not *condemn them. But if they *reject Jesus and his message, they have chosen to remain guilty. Their own choice *condemns them. They deserve to receive a punishment instead of God’s gift of *salvation by means of Jesus.
Jesus was not just a good man who taught people his ideas about God. God told him *exactly what to say. And he spoke only those words. Jesus’ words are the words of God himself.
Verse 1 The next 5 chapters record Jesus’ words to his *disciples on the evening before his death. He knew what would happen to him. But his *disciples did not know. So Jesus wanted to prepare them for his death and *resurrection. He wanted them to remember, after these events, what he had said. He wanted them to know that he loved them. And he wanted them to know that his love for them would never end.
Jesus loves us in this way, too. His love on our behalf never ends. He came to the earth because he loved us. He died because he loved us. And because of his death and *resurrection, we can be with him *forever. Nothing can separate us from his love.
Verses 2-3 Like the other *disciples, Judas had been with Jesus during three years. He had listened to Jesus when he taught. And Judas had seen Jesus do *miracles. But the devil had put a wicked thought into Judas’ mind. And Judas had decided to do what the devil wanted. We do not know why. Many *Jews expected the *Messiah to fight against the *Romans. Perhaps Judas expected Jesus to do this. And so Jesus had disappointed Judas. Perhaps Judas even thought that he could force Jesus to fight. Perhaps Judas thought that Jesus might fight to prevent his arrest. Or perhaps Judas just wanted the money that the *High Priest paid him.
However, Jesus knew already that Judas would *betray him. He knew that this was part of God’s plan to *save people. Jesus knew that he had come to the earth for this purpose. He knew also that he would return to his *Father in heaven.
Verses 4-5 What Jesus did next would have surprised his *disciples. He washed their feet. Usually, a slave did this task. It was the custom for slaves to wash the feet of their master’s guests. The slaves would do this as soon as the guests entered the house. But Jesus did it during the meal.
He wanted to show his *disciples how to behave towards each other. He wanted to show them that they must serve each other. He did not just tell them what to do. He was serving them as he knelt down to wash their feet. He was their leader. But he did what a slave would do on their behalf. That is what Jesus wants *Christians to do. He wants us to serve each other. It is very important that leaders serve, too. We should be humble. We should not be too proud to serve other people. Jesus, God’s Son, did the job of a slave on behalf of his *disciples. We should always be willing to serve each other in any way.
When Jesus washed the *disciples’ feet, his action was also *symbolic. It pointed to Jesus’ death on the *cross. If we want to belong to Jesus, we must let him take away our *sins. He does this by means of his blood, which poured out on the *cross. It is as if *sin makes us dirty inside our hearts. But Jesus, by his blood, removes the *sin from our hearts. So Jesus’ blood makes us *clean inside our hearts. We cannot remove our own *sins. Only Jesus’ blood can do this. But we have to *believe in him and we must obey him.
Verses 6-9 The other *disciples did not say anything about Jesus’ act. But Peter did. Perhaps he was confused because he did not expect his master to behave like a slave. And perhaps he was unhappy because he would have preferred to wash Jesus’ feet, instead.
His reaction was like many people’s reaction to Jesus’ death. Many people prefer to do things for themselves. They find it difficult to receive anything from God. They are proud. They think that they have become good enough by means of their own efforts. They do not think that they need Jesus.
But Peter did want to belong to Jesus. In fact, Peter wanted to belong to Jesus completely. So Peter asked Jesus to wash his hands and his head, too.
Verses 10-11 We must believe that Jesus’ death has removed all our *sins. Then we will be like a person who has had a bath. We know that we are completely *clean inside our hearts.
However, even after we have become *Christians, we *sin sometimes. This is like when our feet become dirty. So we need to ask Jesus to remove these *sins. We say that we are sorry. We ask him to forgive us. If we have hurt another person, we should ask that person to forgive us. It is best to do this as soon as possible after we have *sinned.
The *disciples were ‘*clean’ because they *believed in Jesus. But Judas was not ‘*clean’. He obeyed the devil and he *betrayed Jesus.
Verses 12-17 Jesus showed the *disciples how to behave, not only with each other, but also with everybody. He was their teacher and their leader. And he was also God’s Son. Therefore, he was greater than any man or woman. But he served his *disciples. He made himself humble. He did a task that slaves did.
He wanted the *disciples to do the same. Of course, he was not referring only to his act when he washed the *disciples’ feet. He meant any kind of act that showed love and honour to other people. All *Christians must follow Jesus’ instructions about this. We must serve God and we must serve other people, too. Leaders especially should never think that they are too important to do dirty or unpleasant tasks. They should never be too proud to serve the people that they lead. (See also 1 Peter 5:1-6.)
Verses 18-19 Again, Jesus warned his *disciples that one of them would *betray him. He used words from Psalm 41:9.
Verse 20 When we tell people the good news about Jesus, we become his messengers (people who deliver messages). We are speaking on his behalf. So, if people accept us, they accept him, too. This is because he sent us. So they accept God the *Father, who sent Jesus to us.
Verses 21-22 Jesus’ words caused shock to the *disciples. They looked at each other. They tried to work out who would *betray him. But still they did not know who the person was. It was not clear. They allowed Judas to look after all the money, because they trusted him. They did not know that he intended to *betray Jesus. Judas did not seem guilty, because he hid his feelings well. Otherwise the other *disciples would have known what he intended to do.
Verses 23-25 John refers to the ‘*disciple whom Jesus loved’. This is the first time in his *Gospel that he does that. John never referred to this *disciple by name. Many people think that this *disciple was John himself.
At the *Passover, the *Jews did not sit at the table for the special meal. They lay on couches (long seats) next to the table. This was a *Roman custom. But slaves always sat or stood to eat. So, at the *Passover, this custom reminded the *Jews that they were not still slaves. God freed their *ancestors at the time of Moses. And that was the meaning of the *Passover.
This *disciple was leaning by Jesus on the couch (long seat). Because of his position close to Jesus, this *disciple was able to whisper to him. The other *disciples could not hear their conversation.
Verse 26 It was the custom to give a piece of bread like this to a special guest or friend. So Jesus was showing love and honour to Judas when he (Jesus) did this. Jesus knew what Judas intended to do. However, Jesus still loved Judas.
Verses 27-28 The devil knew that Jesus was God’s Son. So the devil wanted to kill Jesus. He thought that this would stop God’s plan to save people from the results of their *sins. Jesus had to die in order to do this. But the devil did not realise that. And the devil did not realise that Jesus would become alive again. So the devil did not stop God’s plan. And Jesus knew that the time had come for the most important part of this plan. He wanted it to happen quickly.
Verses 29-30 So Judas left the room and he went outside, into the darkness. His physical act, when he stepped from the light into the darkness, emphasised his *spiritual attitude. He had left Jesus, the *light for the world (John 8:12), to do what the devil wanted.
Nightfall was also important for another reason. *Jewish *festivals begin at nightfall. So at this moment, the *Passover began.
As soon as Judas had left, Jesus began to talk to the rest of his *disciples. He wanted them to know that he was leaving them. And he would return, but everything would be different.
Chapter 13:31 to the end of chapter 16 is a record of what Jesus told to his *disciples. These chapters contain some of the most important words that Jesus ever said. His words were not just for his *disciples. They were for all *Christians everywhere.
Jesus wants each one of us to know him personally, as he knows each one of us. He told his *disciples that they were his friends. He spoke to them as friends speak to each other. He wants each one of us to be his friend, too. If we love Jesus, we will want to obey him. In these chapters, Jesus gave instructions to all who follow him. Also he gave wonderful promises about the *Holy Spirit. Jesus was leaving. But the *Holy Spirit would continue to guide his people and to teach them.
Verses 31-32 Jesus knew that Judas was going to the *Jewish leaders. So Jesus knew that soon, he (Jesus) would die. It was God’s plan that his Son, Jesus, should die as a *sacrifice on behalf of all people. By means of his death, Jesus brought *glory to his *Father. His *Father brought *glory to Jesus when he (the *Father) made him (Jesus) become alive again. And Jesus received *glory when he returned to be with his *Father in heaven.
Verse 33 Although Jesus would die soon, he seemed excited. He knew about the *glory that he would receive. However, the *disciples did not understand this.
When Jesus went to heaven, they would not be able to follow him immediately. This was because they would not die immediately. So Jesus knew that they would be sad. They would be sad because they had separated physically. But they had not separated *spiritually. Later, Jesus explained how the *Holy Spirit would come to help them. And he would come to guide them.
Verses 34-35 But first, Jesus gave an important command to his *disciples and to all *Christians. He told them to love each other. ‘To love other people’ was not a new command (see Leviticus 19:18). But Jesus added something new. To love people as much as Jesus loved people was very different!
Jesus showed how much he loved us by means of his death. He became a *sacrifice on our behalf. He suffered the punishment that we all deserve. He loved us when we were *sinners. He continues to love us, even when we do bad things. He even loves people who *reject him. Jesus loves people in a way that is completely unselfish. That is the way that *Christians should love each other. This kind of love is more than just a feeling. We show it by means of what we do on behalf of other people. We should help people and we should not expect a reward. When people hurt us, we must not hurt them back.
Other people often watch how *Christians behave. They want to know if our *faith makes us different. Love is the evidence that we follow Jesus. Other people will notice this. They will realise that this kind of unselfish love is very special. And they may ask us about Jesus. They may want to know how and why we are able to love in this special way.
Verses 36-38 But Peter did not want to talk about this new command. Instead, he wanted to talk about Jesus’ statement that he was leaving them (verse 33). Peter seemed to think that Jesus was going to another place on the earth. So Peter could not understand why he could not come, too. He considered that he was one of Jesus’ most loyal *disciples. Peter said that he was ready to die for Jesus. In fact, later that same night, Peter denied that he followed Jesus. Peter told people that he did not even know Jesus!
It is easy to make big promises to God when we do not have trouble in our lives. We may just be boasting. (To boast means to praise oneself.) But God knows what is in our hearts. He knows whether our promises are sincere. We do not know always what we would do in a difficult situation. If we want to remain loyal to Jesus in every situation, we must show this in our daily lives. We must talk to him often. We must read the Bible. We must trust him to guide us. And we must obey him, whatever he asks us to do, whether big or small tasks. Then our *faith will increase and it will become stronger. We will have the strength to remain loyal to him always.
Verses 1-3 There are only a few verses in the Bible that describe life after death. We do not know all the details about *eternal life. But these verses contain wonderful promises about heaven. There will be room for everybody who *believes in Jesus. And he will prepare a place for each one of us.
*Christians do not need to be afraid of death. This is because it will be the beginning of a wonderful new *life with Jesus. We know that this is true. He has told us that it is true. We just have to believe him and to trust him. That is all that we need to do.
Verses 4-5 Thomas said the same thing that many people say. Thomas did not know the exact nature of the place where Jesus was going. So Thomas did not understand how he could get there. But Jesus was not referring to a physical journey. He was referring to a *spiritual journey which leads to God.
Verse 6 Jesus himself is the way that we follow to reach God. In other words, he is the only way that we can come to God. There is no other way. Some people say that other religions lead to God, too. This is not true. People cannot come to God by means of a religion, anyway. The only way to God is by means of a person: God’s Son, the *Lord Jesus *Christ. When we *believe in him, we are following the way to *eternal life with God. This way is available to every person on the earth. But each person is free to choose it or to *reject it.
Jesus called himself ‘the truth’ because he does more than just to tell us the truth about God. He actually is that truth! ‘The truth’ is not an idea. It is a person: Jesus *Christ, God’s Son.
Jesus is also ‘the *life’. He does not just give us *life. He shares his *life, which is God’s *life, with us. When we follow Jesus, we join our human lives with the *eternal life of God’s Son.
These words of Jesus are very important. Jesus was not like any other leader of the world’s major religions. He was much more than a great moral teacher. He did not just point towards God. Jesus was ‘the way, the truth and the *life’. And Jesus is still ‘the way, the truth and the *life’ today.
Verses 7-11 The *disciples had lived with Jesus for three years. They had heard him teach in public many times. Also he had taught them many things in private. They had seen him do many *miracles. They had seen his power over death, when Lazarus became alive again. But still Philip asked to see God the *Father.
God the *Father is invisible. (‘Invisible’ means someone or something that people cannot see with their eyes.) But Jesus showed us *exactly what God the *Father is really like. This does not mean in a physical way, because God is *Spirit. But Jesus showed us what God’s character is like. Everything about Jesus was like his *Father. Jesus’ words and his acts were God the *Father’s own words and acts. If the *disciples could not believe Jesus’ words, they had the evidence of the *miracles. Only God’s power could do such *miracles.
Anybody who wants to know God just has to look at Jesus. When we know Jesus, we know God.
Verse 12 Jesus had made dead people become alive again. No *miracle is greater than that. But Jesus did these *miracles during a short period of three years. While he was a man on the earth, his body could be only in one place at a particular time. But after he had returned to heaven, he would send the *Holy Spirit to his *disciples. Then they would all be able to do the same things that Jesus himself had done. And all *Christians, from that time to today, would be able to do these things, too. So ‘greater things’ refers to the quantity, not the quality, of the things that *Christians would do. And the good news about Jesus would spread across the whole world.
Verses 13-14 Jesus promised to do anything that *Christians ask. But he would do it only if it was in his name. We need to understand what ‘in his name’ really means. It means to know what Jesus wants us to do in a situation. So then we can ask for what Jesus would want to happen in that situation. Then we are asking with Jesus’ authority, as if we were Jesus himself. God will not grant our selfish requests. Jesus never made selfish requests. He asked only for what his *Father wanted.
We need to know Jesus better. Then we will know what he wants us to pray for. Then, if we ask, God will grant our requests. He will grant our requests even if they seem to be difficult or impossible! But he wants us to ask him. And as we see answers to our prayers, our *faith will increase.
This is a wonderful promise. And it is true. The only way to know this is to try it!
Verses 15-16 It is easy to say that we love Jesus. But there is only one way to prove that we love him. We must obey his commands. This is not always easy. For example, it can be very difficult to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). But we do not have to use only our own strength because God sent the *Holy Spirit to help us.
The word that we have translated as ‘helper’ has several meanings. It means more than somebody who assists us to do God’s work. The *Holy Spirit actually gives us the strength and the power to do things that we could not do alone.
The word means also ‘somebody who comforts’. The *Holy Spirit gives us the strength that we need in bad or difficult situations. The word had another meaning, too. It referred to a helper who acted as a lawyer in a court of law. This ‘helper’ helped the person whom people were accusing. The ‘helper’ explained what that person wanted to say about the situation. The ‘helper’ was on that person’s side, against the people who accused the person. So that person did not have to say anything. Instead, the ‘helper’ spoke on that person’s behalf. He persuaded the judge to let the person go free.
Jesus warned his *followers that they would have trouble because of their *faith in him. The leaders would oppose them and even arrest them. But the *Holy Spirit would help them (Mark 13:11).
When he was on the earth, Jesus spoke on behalf of his *disciples. For example, he prayed on behalf of Simon Peter. Jesus asked that Peter would not lose his *faith completely (Luke 22:32). And Jesus argued with the *Pharisees when they accused his *disciples because of the *Jewish law (Mark 2:23-28). When Jesus returned to heaven, the *Holy Spirit would do this. The *Holy Spirit would help the *disciples to know what to say in difficult situations. And the *Holy Spirit would remain with them always.
The *Holy Spirit always helps everybody who *believes in Jesus. All the promises that Jesus made about the *Holy Spirit were for all *Christians, past and present.
Verses 17-18 In this chapter and the next two chapters, Jesus taught more about the *Holy Spirit. After Jesus had returned to heaven, he sent the *Holy Spirit to live in all *Christians (Acts chapter 2). But many people do not know Jesus, so they do not know the *Holy Spirit either. They do not *believe in Jesus, so they do not have the power of the *Holy Spirit in their lives. But *Christians have this power, because the *Holy Spirit lives in them. The *Holy Spirit changes a person to become more like Jesus. And then that person can do the things that Jesus did, too.
‘The people in this world are not able to receive him’ (verse 17). In John’s *Gospel, the word ‘world’ often refers to everybody and everything that opposes God.
Although Jesus left the earth, he did not leave his *followers alone. He gave us the *Holy Spirit, who lives in us. And because the *Holy Spirit lives in us, we have Jesus with us always.
Verses 19-20 ‘On that day, you will know that I am in my *Father’ (verse 20). After Jesus’ *resurrection, the *disciples would really understand what this meant. And Jesus added something else. He said that ‘you are in me’. And he said that ‘I am in you’. These phrases mean that all *Christians are united with Jesus and therefore with the *Father, too. The *Father, the Son and the *Holy Spirit join with us. And therefore we join with God. We live in him by means of our *faith. We know his love and we love him. We want to obey him. And he helps us to do this by means of the *Holy Spirit. We live in him because he lives in us. This may be difficult for us to understand. This is because words cannot really explain such a wonderful mystery. But Jesus said that this would happen. So we can be confident that it is true. It happens when we *believe in him.
Verse 21 Again, Jesus emphasised how to prove that our love for him is real. If we love somebody, we want to please that person. So if we really love Jesus, we will want to please him. So we will want to obey him. We do not obey him because we are afraid of him. We obey him because we love him. And he gave to us the most wonderful promise. He will love us. And because we love him, his *Father will love us also.
Verses 22-23 The *disciples knew that Jesus was the *Messiah. And, like the other *Jews, they expected the *Messiah to free them from the authority of the *Roman rulers. Then everybody in the world would know who the *Messiah was. So the other *disciple called Judas (not Judas Iscariot) could not understand why Jesus would show his power to only a few people. However, after his death and *resurrection, the *disciples understood what Jesus meant.
But Jesus was not the kind of *Messiah that people expected. So, many people *rejected him. They chose not to know him. During 2000 years since, many people have heard the good news about Jesus. But some people have refused to *believe in him. They have *rejected him, too. So he does not show himself to them. He shows himself to those people who *believe in him.
This does not mean that we see him physically. But he shows himself by means of his words in the Bible. When we pray, we become more and more aware of him. And because of Jesus, we can pray to God the *Father, too. Jesus is living in us by means of the *Holy Spirit. We can know Jesus as our friend and we can talk to him about anything. He is real and he is alive!
Verse 24 We prove our love for Jesus when we obey him. And then we are also doing what God the *Father wants. We can be sure about this because Jesus’ commands are God’s commands. The *Father and the Son want *exactly the same things. Jesus’ message is God’s message.
Verses 25-26 Jesus promised that the *Holy Spirit would remind the *disciples of Jesus’ own words. The *disciples had lived with Jesus during three years. He had taught them many things. And we know much about what he taught. We can read Jesus’ own words in the *Gospels. This is because of the *Holy Spirit’s help. He helped the *disciples (and other people who were with Jesus) to remember. The *Holy Spirit then helped the authors of the *Gospels to record only what was true.
The *Holy Spirit can help us, too. When we read the Bible, he will help us. He will help us to understand it. In our daily lives, he will remind us of the things that we have learnt.
Verse 27 The *peace that Jesus gives to all *Christians is the only real *peace. To have this *peace does not mean that we will not have trouble. But we have this *peace even when bad things happen. We have this *peace when we are ill or in pain. We have this *peace when people *reject us. This *peace comforts us. It makes us remain calm when we have problems. We know that God is looking after us. So this *peace will stop our fears. God controls our lives, in the present and in the future. Nothing and nobody else in the world can give this *peace to us. Only Jesus can give it to us. He offers it to everybody who *believes in him. But we have to want it. And we have to receive it from him. We must not put our trust just in ourselves when we are in difficulties.
Verses 28-29 When Jesus was on the earth, he was unable to do many things because of his physical body. For example, although he was God’s Son, Jesus could be in only one place at one particular time. But the *Father does not have limits of time and space. So, in this way, the *Father was greater than Jesus was.
But Jesus would soon be with his *Father again. And then Jesus would not have physical limits. He was very happy to go back to his *Father. And Jesus wanted his *disciples to be happy on his behalf.
Verses 30-31 ‘The ruler of this world’ means the devil. He has some authority in the world because of Adam’s *sin (see note for John 12:31). But the devil has no authority over Jesus, because Jesus has never *sinned. And the devil has no authority over *Christians. Because we *believe in Jesus, his *righteousness becomes our *righteousness. Still the devil will try to make us do wrong things. He may attack us in different ways. But we must continue to trust and to obey Jesus. Then the devil will have no power over us.
Verses 1-8 Again, Jesus described himself by means of a statement that used God’s special name (‘I am’). This was the 7th time in this *Gospel that Jesus did this. (See note on John 6:35.) In this passage, he compared himself to a *vine.
In the *Old Testament, the *vine was a *symbol of *Israel (for example, Psalm 80:1-16; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 19:10-14). God had chosen the people in *Israel to belong to him in a special way. But the people in *Israel had not obeyed God. Often they had failed to *worship him properly. Sometimes, they had *worshipped false gods. Sometimes, they behaved as if their own rules about God’s *Law were more important than God himself.
But Jesus called himself ‘the perfect *vine’ (verse 1). Anybody who *believed in him, belonged to God in a special way. So, both *Jews and *Gentiles can join God’s people. They have to join themselves to Jesus. And they do this when they *believe in him.
When we *believe in Jesus, we are like the branches of a *vine. The good work that we do on his behalf is like the fruit. God the *Father is like the gardener who looks after the *vine. The gardener wants the branches to produce much fruit. He does whatever is necessary for this to happen. Sometimes, he must cut off parts of the branch. Otherwise, if he leaves a branch to grow, it will grow too long. It may produce leaves instead of fruit. Or, the branch may grow in the wrong direction. And then that branch will shade the other branches. So other branches would become weak, because they were not receiving enough light.
So, like the branches, we need God to remove everything that is wrong in our lives. We need him to guide us back when we follow our own way instead of his way. We need him to stop us so that we do not hurt other people. We may not realise that we are hurting them. At such times, we especially need God to stop us. We also need him to make us *clean inside our hearts. We cannot do this by our own efforts.
We produce our ‘fruit’ in many different ways. Our ‘fruit’ means the good results that we achieve on behalf of Jesus and on behalf of God’s *kingdom. Genuine *followers of Jesus will produce much ‘fruit’ in their lives. In order to produce ‘fruit’, we need to have a close relationship with Jesus. He is like the *vine. We must take our strength and energy from him. We do this when we spend time with him. So we must pray about everything. We must read the Bible often. We must obey him always. We cannot do his work if we separate ourselves from him. Then we would become like *useless branches.
Some people say that they *believe in Jesus. But they do not pray. They do not study God’s words in the Bible. They do not obey Jesus’ commands. Instead, they do whatever they want to do. They say that they are *Christians. But they do not achieve anything for God. Their lives do not show that they follow Jesus. They may even stop other *Christians who are trying to do God’s work. Such people do not have a close relationship with Jesus. So they are *useless. And therefore God will separate them from genuine *Christians.
In verse 6, Jesus warned what will happen to false *Christians. But immediately, he reminded us of his wonderful promise. This promise is for all of us who remain in a close relationship with him. He will do whatever we ask for in his name. And because we are united with him, our prayers will not be selfish. We will want to ask for only those things that he wants, too. His desires will become our desires. He will grant our requests. And the things that we do on his behalf will bring great *glory to God.
Verses 9-11 There is only one way to be really happy. We must remain in a close relationship with Jesus at all times. Jesus was joyful always because he was united with God the *Father. He knew that his *Father loved him completely. Jesus loved his *disciples as much as his *Father loved him. And Jesus loves all his genuine *followers in this special way. We can know his wonderful love all the time if we remain in a close relationship with him.
But Jesus emphasised that we must obey his commands. Then we will be happy inside our hearts, whether good or bad things happen. When we know Jesus’ love daily, our happiness does not depend on our situation. It depends on him. He will never leave us. And he will always love us.
Verses 12-13 Jesus loves us completely. When we know this, we want to love other people. Jesus loves us so much that he died to *save us. He said that, like him, we too should love other people. So, we should do whatever we can in order to help other people. We do not need always to do great things in order to show our love. For example, we might simply listen to other people. And that shows more love than if we always talk about ourselves. Or, we might help other people even when we have our own problems. We might spend time with other people when we would prefer to do something else. Or we might just do more things on behalf of other people than they would expect.
Verses 14-15 Jesus was the *disciples’ master and their *Lord. Therefore, he had the right to call them his slaves. But slaves do not know their master’s affairs. Instead, Jesus told them the *Father’s plans. And Jesus called them his friends. Jesus is our *Lord and our master, too. He is God’s Son. He caused everything to exist. He has the right to call us his slaves, too. He could demand that we obey him. Slaves do not have a choice. They must obey their master. But Jesus gives us the choice to obey him or not. He does not want us to obey him because we are afraid of him. He wants us to obey him because we love him.
Verse 16 Jesus’ *disciples made a decision to follow him. But they could make that decision only because he chose them. He has chosen us, too. If he had not chosen us first, we could not choose to follow him.
He has chosen us to work for him. He has chosen us to bring *glory to God by what we do. God’s Son has chosen each one of us to achieve good things for him. We are important to him.
Verse 17 Sometimes, people hate us just because we are *Christians. They may insult us because of our *faith in Jesus. It is very important that *Christians encourage each other. We must love each other at all times. Even if we do not always agree, we must always love each other.
Verses 18-25 ‘The people in this world’ refers to everybody who *rejects God (see also John 14:17). Before a person becomes a *Christian, that person is ‘in this world’. And the evil things in this world control that person’s behaviour. It is as if that person belongs to this world. But when a person becomes a *Christian, that person does not still belong to this world. Instead, such people belong to God’s *kingdom. They live in this world still, but they belong to Jesus.
People *rejected Jesus. They refused to *believe in him. And they refused to believe his message about *salvation. Moreover, they hated him. So they also hated everyone who followed him. People *reject Jesus still. He never hurt anybody. In fact, he never did anything wrong. But still many people hate him, although they have no proper reason. Therefore, they will hate us, just because we follow Jesus. People did not obey Jesus’ words. So they did not listen to what the *disciples said about Jesus. People still do not obey Jesus’ words. So such people are not likely to listen to us when we talk about Jesus.
In some countries, people *persecute *Christians. They may put *Christians into prison. They may hurt *Christians. Or they may even kill *Christians. The only reason for this evil behaviour is that *Christians *believe in Jesus.
People who do not *believe in Jesus also do not know God. God sent Jesus, his Son, to *save us. When a person *rejects Jesus, they are *rejecting also God, his *Father. They may believe in a god who is not Jesus’ *Father. But this god is not the genuine God. Therefore they do not know the only real God.
Many people saw Jesus do *miracles. Some of the *Jewish leaders saw Jesus do *miracles. Nobody denied that the *miracles had happened. That was not possible because so many people had seen them. But the *Jewish leaders did not believe that Jesus’ power came from God. So they hated him. That was why they were guilty of *sin. The words from these Psalms were a *prophecy that was happening. It is still happening. There are still people today who hate Jesus without a real reason.
Verses 26-27 Jesus warned his *disciples that people would hate them. But he did not leave them without hope. He gave a wonderful promise to them. He promised that the *Holy Spirit would come. The *Father would send the *Holy Spirit to them. The *Holy Spirit would show them all that was true about Jesus. Then, the *disciples could tell other people all about Jesus, too.
This promise is true for us, too. We can ask God to give us the *Holy Spirit. The *Holy Spirit will help us to understand who Jesus really is. The *Holy Spirit will help us to study the Bible. He will help us to pray.
Verses 1-3 Jesus warned that the *Jewish leaders would *persecute *Jewish *Christians. He did not want this to surprise his *disciples. They would continue to *worship God in the *synagogue because they were *Jews. But Jesus knew that the *Jewish leaders would not allow this, because of the *Christians’ *faith in Jesus. This was because the *Jewish leaders had *rejected Jesus. They did not believe that he was God’s Son. They thought that Jesus was insulting God. So they would think that God wanted Jesus’ *followers to die. And these leaders believed that to kill Jesus’ *followers pleased God. These leaders belonged to the only religion that *worshipped the one real God. But they did not really know him.
Verses 4-7 The *disciples were very sad because Jesus was leaving them. They could not think about anything else. They did not understand what Jesus’ death would mean. They had asked him about it before (John 13:36; 14:5). But they worried only about themselves. They did not know what to do after he had left them.
But Jesus had to leave them. He had to die. Otherwise, there would be no *salvation for us. He had to defeat death. Otherwise, there would be no *resurrection for us. And he had to return to his *Father in heaven, so that the *Holy Spirit could come to us. Then everybody who *believed in him could know him personally, by means of the *Holy Spirit.
Verses 8-11 Jesus explained what the *Holy Spirit would do. Jesus used the idea of a court of law (see note on John 14:15-16). The *Holy Spirit would convince the people in this world that they were wrong about three important matters.
1. *Sin. When people *reject Jesus, they are *rejecting God. This is *sin. The *Holy Spirit convinces people that they are guilty of this. If people realise this, they will confess their *sin to God. They will ask him to forgive them. They will accept Jesus as their *Lord and *Saviour.
2. God’s *righteousness. The *Holy Spirit shows to people that God is completely good and *holy. He is always right and fair. By our own efforts we can never be as good as God wants us to be. But Jesus is completely good and *holy. All that we have to do is to *believe in him. Then his *righteousness becomes our *righteousness. Jesus’ death and *resurrection made this possible. The *Holy Spirit came to us after Jesus returned to heaven. And the *Holy Spirit teaches us about God’s *righteousness.
3. God’s judgement. Jesus’ death on the *cross did not mean that the devil had defeated God. No! The *cross was the place where God defeated the devil *forever! Jesus’ death and his *resurrection took away the devil’s power over us. Jesus defeated both *sin and death. God has *judged and he has *condemned the devil.
Some people think that they can continue to *sin. They think that they can *reject Jesus. And that, if they *reject Jesus, there will be no judgement. But this is not true. Already God has *judged the devil, because the devil *rejected him (God). And in the future, God will *judge all people.
Verses 12-13 The *disciples still felt sad because Jesus was leaving them. Jesus had told them why, but they did not really understand. But he promised that the *Holy Spirit would show to them the truth of all his words. The *Holy Spirit would show to them the truth about who Jesus is. The *Holy Spirit would help them really to understand the truth about God. This was the same truth that Jesus had taught.
And this happened! After the *disciples had received the *Holy Spirit, they told the truth about Jesus to many people. They explained why he had to die on the *cross. They talked about his *resurrection and how everybody can have new *life by means of *faith in Jesus. They spoke with authority and power. They remembered the *miracles that he had done. They remembered also the exact words that he had spoken to them. They were able to understand what he meant. And the writers of the *Gospels recorded all this as the *Holy Spirit guided them. So we can be sure that the Bible is completely true.
The *Holy Spirit can help us, too. The *Holy Spirit will help us to understand what we read in the Bible. He will show to us how it affects us in our own lives. If we ask God, he will speak to us in our spirits. Particular words or passages of *scripture may then have a special meaning for us personally. The *Holy Spirit will guide us as we read. Also, he will help us to know what is right or wrong in our attitudes and our lives.
‘He will tell to you about what will happen in the future’ (verse 13). This did not mean that the *Holy Spirit would give to them the power to know everything about the future. But they would know what God wanted them to do. They would know that people would oppose them. But God’s message about *salvation would spread across the world.
Verse 16 Jesus knew that, a few hours after this conversation, he would die. Then, the *disciples would not be able to see him. But, three days later, he would show himself to the *disciples. He would be alive again and they would see him.
Verses 17-18 Jesus had warned them before about his death. But they did not understand that he was referring again to his death. They did not ask him what he meant. Instead, they talked to each other about it. Probably, they were tired because it was late at night. And Jesus had said many things that they did not understand. So they were confused.
Verses 19-20 So Jesus explained what he meant. He told them that they would feel very sad. The events that would happen soon would upset them greatly. Then they would be sad, because he would not be with them. But while the *disciples wept, many other people would be happy. They would be happy because they hated Jesus. They had wanted him to die. But the *disciples would not be unhappy for a long period of time. After three days, they would see Jesus again. Then they would be very happy, because he had defeated even death!
Verses 21-22 Jesus used a familiar example to show to them how they would feel. He compared the situation with the events during and after a birth. The woman has much pain during the birth. But after the baby is born, she is very happy. She is happy because a new life has begun. Jesus used this idea of a birth on purpose. We can have *life that was not possible before, because of Jesus’ death and *resurrection. Jesus suffered. But his pain produced new *life for the whole world.
Jesus promised that his *disciples would see him again. And nobody would be able to take away their happiness. This promise is true for us, too. When we know Jesus personally, he gives us joy inside our hearts. This happiness does not depend on our circumstances, or on what other people do. It depends on Jesus, who will never leave us. So nobody can take this happiness away from us.
Verses 23-24 Before Jesus’ *resurrection, people could approach God only by means of the priests. Only the priests could offer *sacrifices. But after Jesus’ *resurrection, this situation changed completely. Jesus became both the priest and the *sacrifice for all who *believe in him. All *Christians can approach God personally and he will accept us. This is not because of anything good that we have done. It is because of what Jesus has done. We can use Jesus’ name when we pray (see note on John 14:13-14). And God will answer our prayers. Then we will be happier than we can imagine.
Verses 25-30 Jesus had used many *symbols when he was talking to his *disciples. At the time when he was speaking, they did not understand the meaning. But after his *resurrection, and when the *Holy Spirit came, they understood. Already, at this time, they were beginning to understand. They believed that Jesus knew everything. He knew what people were thinking. And he knew what they were like inside their hearts. They had seen that Jesus had God’s power in him. So they believed that he had come from God. But when the *Holy Spirit came, their *faith would really increase much, much more.
Verses 31-32 Jesus had warned them that he had to die. He had told them that they would be very sad. Also he had told them that, after a short period of time, they would see him again. Then they would be very happy. He knew that, in just a few hours, people would arrest him. His *disciples would run away because they were afraid. They would leave him and they would hide themselves. It would seem that he would have to suffer alone. But actually, he was not alone because the *Father was still with him.
Verse 33 That night, Jesus had talked to the *disciples about many things. He had warned them, but mostly he had encouraged them. He had made some wonderful promises. They would have trouble, but they would only be alone for a short time. Then Jesus would return to them. Afterwards he would return to the *Father, so that the *Holy Spirit would live in them. The *Holy Spirit would be with them always, wherever they went.
These wonderful promises are for all *Christians. We will have troubles in this world, too. But Jesus has defeated the devil. And Jesus has defeated everything that is evil. He has defeated even death. We do not need to be afraid about anything. We can have this *peace in our hearts always, whatever happens to us.
The whole of chapter 17 records Jesus’ prayer. In his prayer, Jesus prayed on his own behalf. Then he prayed on behalf of his *disciples. Finally, he prayed on behalf of everyone who would become *Christians in the future. This includes us. Jesus prayed often. We know this because the authors of the *Gospels recorded this. But we have the words of only a few of his prayers. This is the longest of Jesus’ prayers that we have.
Verses 1-3 Already Jesus had made reference to his ‘time’ (for example, John 2:4; 12:23). That time had come, because that night, soldiers would arrest him. And a few hours afterwards, he would die on a *cross. This had to happen. It was the only way to save people from the results of their *sins. And when he became alive again, he defeated death. Then all who *believe in him will have new *life. This new *life continues after death, too.
There is only one way to receive this new *life that continues after death. In verse 3, Jesus explains it clearly. We must know God. It is not enough just to know that God exists. Even the devil knows this! We must know God as our *Father and our friend. We can know God in this way by means of his Son, Jesus *Christ. Then, we ask God to forgive us because of all the bad things that we have done. We tell God that we want to obey his rules. And we do not want to *sin. And he will forgive us, because his Son Jesus died on behalf of us. Jesus is our *Lord and our *Saviour. When we *believe in him, the *Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. We receive this new *life that goes on *forever. We become God’s friends instead of God’s enemies.
Verses 4-5 Jesus, God’s Son, has always existed. Before he came to the earth, he was in heaven with the *Father and the *Holy Spirit. So Jesus is God. And the *Father is God. And the *Spirit is God. But there are not three Gods. There is only one God.
Jesus did not remain in heaven. Instead, he was born on the earth as a man. He came to *save us. He obeyed God always. He did everything that God asked him to do. His life, death and *resurrection all brought *glory to God. Here, Jesus asked God to give to him again the *glory that they had shared in heaven. God granted this request. When Jesus returned to heaven, he took a position of honour and authority, next to God the *Father (Acts 7:55-56).
Verses 6-12 In John’s *Gospel, the ‘world’ refers to everybody and everything that opposes God. It does not mean just the physical earth. Of course, Jesus’ *disciples lived on the earth. They had physical bodies. But they did not belong to the ‘world’, because they had new *spiritual *life. Jesus had shown to them what God is really like. And they *believed in Jesus. So they belonged to God.
While they remained in the world, they would have trouble. People opposed Jesus, so they would oppose his *disciples, too. The *disciples would be in much danger, just because they followed Jesus. When Jesus was on earth with them, he looked after them. For example, the *Jewish leaders said that they (the *disciples) were not obeying the *Law. But Jesus spoke on their behalf (Matthew 12:1-8). Also he protected them *spiritually. He taught them to love and to obey God. He showed to them the truth about God. They belonged to God. So, when he left the earth, Jesus trusted God to protect them. He asked that they should be in complete unity with each other. He wanted them to love each other. Then they would be strong together, although the world hated them.
‘And my *disciples have brought *glory to me’ (verse 10). Jesus’ *disciples brought *glory to him because they showed his character. They had his qualities. They behaved like he did. They loved people like he did. People knew what Jesus was like because of his *disciples. All *Christians should bring *glory to Jesus.
‘This is the name that you have given to me’ (verse 11). Jesus, God’s Son, had the power and authority of God. The *Father had given this power and authority to Jesus. This is because the *Father, the Son and the *Holy Spirit are in complete unity with each other.
‘I did not lose any of them, except for one man’ (verse 12). Jesus’ *disciples belonged to him, as sheep belong to a *shepherd (see John 10:14-16). Sheep can wander and they can become missing. But Jesus kept all his *disciples safe. However, Judas Iscariot *betrayed Jesus. Judas had every opportunity to be a good *disciple. However, Judas chose to leave Jesus, in order to hand Jesus over to his enemies. There was a *prophecy about this (Psalm 41:9). And bad things happened to Judas (Matthew 27:3-10).
Verse 13 Although Jesus knew that his death was very near, still he talked about the complete joy that he had. And he wanted his *disciples to have this joy also. Jesus had this complete joy always, because he was always in complete unity with his *Father. It did not matter to Jesus that bad things would happen to him. Jesus knew that his *Father loved him. Jesus knew that his *Father would defeat death and the devil by means of Jesus’ own death and *resurrection.
We can have this joy, too. People may hate us. But we can be sure that God loves us. We know that we are very precious to him. Bad things may happen. But we can be sure that God will look after us. He will never allow the devil to defeat us. When we depend on God in all circumstances, this joy will become real to us. We will feel it in our hearts and minds.
Verses 14-16 In John’s *Gospel, the ‘world’ refers to everything and everybody that opposes God. And people who oppose God cannot belong to him. They belong to the devil, whether they realise this or not. The devil is God’s enemy. Therefore, people who belong to the devil hate Jesus. And they hate those people who belong to Jesus. That is why many people hate *Christians.
But Jesus did not ask his *Father to remove his *disciples from the world. Instead, he asked God to protect them from the devil. Jesus’ *disciples had to remain in the world, so that they could tell people about Jesus. They would spread the good news that Jesus *saves people. Some people would *believe in Jesus. They would accept him as their *Lord and *Saviour. But other people would *reject him. People needed to hear about Jesus, or they could not make a decision about him. Of course, the devil would attack Jesus’ *disciples *spiritually. But God would keep them safe.
Verses 17-19 The word ‘holy’ referred to something or somebody who was separate from other things or people. This was so that God could use the thing or the person for his special purposes. Jesus asked God to make his *disciples become holy because they belonged to him.
We cannot become holy by our own efforts. We can only become holy because of what God has done on our behalf: by Jesus’ death on the *cross. Holiness (a holy state) is God’s gift to us when we *believe in him.
Verses 20-26 After Jesus’ death and *resurrection, his *disciples told many people about him. They spoke in public about *salvation. They used Jesus’ name (see note on John 14:13-14) to do *miracles. The good news about Jesus spread quickly.
Later, the authors of the *Gospels recorded Jesus’ words and acts. The *church has continued to grow during the last 2000 years. *Christians have continued to teach each other about Jesus. People have translated the Bible into many different languages. We know about Jesus because of all this.
So this last part of Jesus’ prayer is on our behalf particularly. He prayed that all *Christians would love each other as one family. This can happen only when we are in a close relationship with God. Like Jesus’ *symbol of the *vine (John 15:1-17), we must remain in a close relationship with him. And we must love other *Christians. We are all God’s children. It does not mean that we must agree about everything. It does not mean that we must all *worship God in *exactly the same way. But we must *believe in Jesus *Christ. We must believe that the Bible is true. And we must love and respect each other.
It does not matter if we are old or young. It does not matter which country we live in. It does not matter if we have had a good education or not. It does not matter if we are rich or poor. We belong to Jesus. And we belong to each other. So we must help each other. We must pray on behalf of each other. We must encourage each other. This is a powerful way to show to non-*Christians that our *faith is real and genuine. (Non-*Christians are people who are not real *Christians.)
And the *Father loves us all as much as he loves his own Son! When we know Jesus personally, we can remain united with God all the time. And we can even share his *glory (verse 22).
In the original language of this book, Jesus used simple words to emphasise this close relationship with God. But it is difficult to translate the complete meaning of these words into EasyEnglish. For example, in the *Greek language, verse 23 begins, ‘I am in them. And you (the *Father) are in me.’ So Jesus lives in us by means of the *Holy Spirit (see John 14:23). We belong to Jesus. He leads us. He guides us. He provides for us. He cares for us. And he is always with us.
Verses 1-2 Then Jesus took his *disciples to a garden where there were *olive trees. They often went to this garden when they were in *Jerusalem. They probably went there when Jesus wanted to speak to them in private.
Verse 3 The *Romans ruled the *Jews. But they allowed the *Jews to arrest people because of minor crimes. So Judas brought guards from the *Temple to arrest Jesus. Probably, the *Roman soldiers came with the guards to help them if they had trouble.
Verse 4 Jesus knew that the guards had come to arrest him. He did not try to escape. He knew that soon he would die. But still he stepped forward to meet the guards. This showed that it was his choice to die. It seemed that he had no control over the situation. But, in fact, he was controlling events. These events were in God’s plan to *save people from their *sins.
Verses 5-7 Jesus said, ‘I am (Jesus).’ Actually, the word ‘Jesus’ is not there in the *Greek language. Jesus said ‘I am.’ These words had a strange effect on the guards and soldiers. They moved back and then they fell on the ground! Perhaps God’s power made this happen because Jesus was using God’s special name again. God’s special name was ‘I am’. He was saying in public that he really was God (see note on John 6:35).
Verses 8-9 Jesus told the guards to let his *disciples go free. Jesus died so that we can be free from the results of our *sins. His words remind us about this. He took the punishment for our *sins on our behalf. The *Gospel reminds us about the words of *prophecy that he had spoken earlier (John 6:39 and 17:12).
Verse 10 Simon Peter tried to protect Jesus. He attacked the *High Priest’s servant with a sword. But Jesus did not want this. Peter was trying to stop God’s plan, although he did not realise this. Also, Peter had hurt somebody on purpose. Peter’s behaviour was wrong. So Jesus told him to put away his sword. (Luke’s *Gospel tells us that then Jesus cured the servant’s ear, Luke 22:51.)
‘I must drink from the cup that the *Father has given to me’ (verse 11). The ‘cup’ was a *symbol. It referred to all the pain that Jesus had to suffer. He had to suffer so that he could *save us.
Verses 12-14 Immediately, the soldiers and the guards took Jesus to the *High Priest’s home. The *Jewish leaders were in a hurry. They wanted to *execute Jesus quickly, before the *Sabbath. But firstly, the *High Priest had to say that Jesus was guilty.
Annas had been the *High Priest before Caiaphas. So many *Jews considered that he had the same authority still as a *High Priest.
Verses 15-17 Some experts think that the other *disciple was John, the author of this *Gospel. Other experts think that it was a different person. Perhaps he was a *follower from *Jerusalem rather than from *Galilee. However, this *disciple knew the *High Priest. And so he was able to enter the yard of the *High Priest’s home.
The woman who was guarding the gate probably knew this *disciple, too. So she allowed Peter to enter with him.
Verse 18 But she recognised Peter as one of Jesus’ *disciples. Peter denied this. The leaders had arrested Jesus already. They would want to arrest his *followers, too. Peter was afraid of what would happen to him. So he lied to the woman. He wanted to stay near to Jesus. Peter wanted to know what would happen to Jesus. But Peter was not brave enough to say that he knew Jesus.
Verses 19-24 Before his *trial in front of the *Jewish leaders (Mark 14:53-65), Annas asked Jesus questions. Many *Jews considered that Annas was still the *High Priest. This was because the *High Priest’s job should have lasted for his whole life (see note on John 18:12-13).
Jesus was not afraid of Annas. Jesus told the truth to Annas. But, outside in the yard, Peter was not telling the truth. He was afraid, so he lied. Jesus was polite when he spoke to the *High Priest. But one of the guards became angry and he hit Jesus. However, Jesus remained calm. He told them to prove it if he had said something wrong. Of course, they could not prove it, because Jesus was telling the truth. So they sent him to Caiaphas, the official *High Priest.
Verses 25-27 Peter had tried to defend Jesus when the guards came to arrest him. Most of Jesus’ *disciples had run away. But Simon Peter, with the other *disciple, had followed Jesus to the *High Priest’s home. Peter could have run away at any time. But instead, he waited outside to see what would happen to Jesus.
However, he was very afraid. So, twice more, he said that he did not know Jesus. Jesus had said already that Peter would do this (John 13:38).
Sometimes, we may want to say that we do not know Jesus. This is because we are afraid. People may laugh at us or they may become angry with us. In some countries, it is not legal to be a *Christian. In such places, *Christians may go to prison because they *believe in Jesus.
It is a *sin for a *Christian to say that they do not *believe in Jesus. But there is no *sin that is too bad for God to forgive. We must remember that Jesus forgave Peter (John 21:15-17).
Verses 28-31 Pontius Pilate ruled *Judea *province on behalf of the *Roman government. He had the authority to *execute criminals. The *Jewish leaders did not have this authority. So they took Jesus to Pilate’s palace, because they wanted Jesus to receive this punishment.
But the *Jewish *Law did not allow them to enter a *Gentile’s house. If they did, then they would become *unclean. And they would not be able to *worship in the *Temple or to eat the special meal at the *Passover. The *Jewish leaders were trying to arrange Jesus’ murder. But they were worried about the minor rules of their religion! This showed that they did not really know God.
Verse 32 The *Romans killed criminals (except criminals who were *Roman citizens) by means of a punishment called the ‘*cross’. First, the *Roman soldiers would force the criminal to lie on a wooden *cross. Then the soldiers hammered nails into the criminal’s hands and feet. Then the soldiers lifted up the *cross and they fixed it in the ground. The criminal hung there until he died. It was extremely painful.
Jesus had said that people would lift him above the earth (John 12:32-33). This was a *prophecy about the manner in which he would die.
Verses 33-35 Immediately, Pilate asked Jesus if he (Jesus) was the king of the *Jews. Jesus wanted to know why Pilate had asked this question. Perhaps somebody had told Pilate that Jesus said this. Or perhaps it was Pilate’s own idea to ask this question.
The word ‘king’ had different meanings for different people. The *Romans allowed only people that they chose themselves to be kings. For example, they had chosen Herod to be a king. But for the *Jewish leaders, the word ‘king’ could have meant a leader of their religion: the *Messiah. Jesus did not deny that he was a king.
Verses 36-37 But Jesus was not the sort of king that Pilate was referring to. Jesus’ *kingdom was not a physical region or country. He was king over everybody who *believed in him. And he is still. He is our king when we allow him to rule every part of our lives. Everybody who obeys him belongs to his *kingdom. We live in the world still, so his *kingdom is also in the world, too. It is in the world, but it does not belong to the world. (See note on John 17:6-12.) Jesus came into the world to show to people and to tell to people the truth about God. When we believe this, we belong to his *kingdom. And so we do not belong to the world.
Verses 38-40 The word ‘truth’ means more than just what is morally right or wrong. ‘Truth’ means everything that is true about the nature of God and of men and women. The ‘truth’ is about why we exist. It is about God’s plan and purpose on our behalf. Jesus did not just speak about this truth. He showed this truth to us by means of his life, death and *resurrection.
But Pilate did not understand what Jesus meant by the word ‘truth’. Perhaps he did not really want to understand. We think this because he did not wait for Jesus to explain about truth. Instead, Pilate went back outside.
Pilate could not find any reason to *execute Jesus. Probably, Pilate thought that Jesus would not cause trouble for the *Roman government. So Pilate wanted to let Jesus go free. And Pilate wanted the *Jewish leaders to request this. Then, he could agree, because of their custom.
But the *Jewish leaders refused. Instead, they wanted Barabbas to go free. The other three *Gospels also mention Barabbas. From their descriptions, we know that Barabbas had led some *Jews in *Jerusalem to fight against the *Romans. He was also guilty of murder. Because the *Jews hated the *Romans, Barabbas was probably popular with them. So Jesus died instead of Barabbas. Barabbas deserved his punishment. But he became free because Jesus took his punishment.
We are like Barabbas, because we all deserve God’s punishment because of our *sins. But Jesus has taken the punishment that we deserve. His death has freed us from the results of our *sins.
Verses 1-3 The *Romans whipped people to punish them. This was a very cruel punishment, because the *Romans tied sharp pieces of metal to their whips. Some people even died because of their injuries. Perhaps Pilate thought that this punishment would be bad enough to satisfy the *Jewish leaders and the crowd.
But Pilate’s soldiers did more than just whip Jesus. They insulted him, too. They dressed him as a king. Purple was the colour that kings wore. And the crown of branches seemed like a king’s or a god’s crown. This was because kings wore crowns with metal points.
Verses 4-5 In fact, Jesus was God and the king of all. Even then, Jesus was still completely powerful and he had authority over heaven and earth. But as he stood there, he looked completely weak. However, still the *Jewish leaders wanted him to die.
It is difficult for us to understand why God’s Son should allow himself to become so weak. It is difficult to understand why he allowed people to insult him. And he allowed them to hurt him. But the reason is that he loved people so much. This was the only way really to show us his love on our behalf. He had to suffer. And he had to die in order to *save us.
Verse 6 Pilate insisted still that Jesus was not guilty of any crime. He wanted the *Jews to take the blame for Jesus’ death.
The *Jewish leaders then referred to their own laws instead of *Roman law.
Verses 7-8 For the first time, the *Jewish leaders told Pilate that Jesus had claimed to be God’s Son. (To claim means to say that something is true.) This made Pilate afraid. There are two possible reasons for Pilate’s reaction. Perhaps he was afraid that Jesus really was God’s son. And therefore, Jesus could use his special powers against Pilate if Pilate *condemned him. But there is another possible reason for Pilate’s reaction. The *Emperor called himself a son of a god. So it was a serious crime for anybody else to claim to be the son of a god. Perhaps Pilate thought that this was Jesus’ crime. So Pilate needed to ask Jesus more questions. Pilate wanted to know if this was true.
Verse 9 Pilate’s question was very important. Jesus had been born in Bethlehem. He had lived in Nazareth. But, actually, he had come from heaven.
Verses 10-14 But Jesus did not answer the question. He had done *miracles. He had talked much about God, his *Father. He had said that he was the only way to God. So he had already shown where he was from.
Pilate thought that he had complete control over the situation. This was because he could order his soldiers to *crucify Jesus. Or Pilate could let Jesus go free. But, in fact, God was in control of everything that was happening. Jesus knew this. He knew that God had allowed his arrest and his *trial to happen. He also knew that he had to die. He had to die so that he could save us. This was God’s plan. Pilate only had the authority to order Jesus’ death because God had given this authority to him.
Pilate had to make a decision about what would happen to Jesus. He believed that Jesus was innocent. But the *Jewish leaders and the crowd persuaded Pilate to *crucify Jesus. The *Jewish leaders hated Jesus so much that they plotted to kill him. Jesus said that this was an even greater *sin than Pilate’s *sin. However, Pilate could have refused to do what the *Jewish leaders wanted. But he gave in to their demands. So he, too, was responsible for Jesus’ death.
Pilate governed *Judea *province on behalf of the *Emperor. The *Emperor wanted Pilate to keep peace there. The *Emperor could not afford to have large armies in every *province that he ruled. So if anybody opposed *Roman rule, the ruler of that *province had to stop that person immediately. And usually the ruler did this by force. So it was Pilate’s job to keep peace in *Judea. The *Emperor wanted him to do this.
The *Jewish leaders told Pilate that Jesus had opposed the *Emperor. This was because of what Jesus had said. Jesus had said that he was a king. So if Pilate let Jesus go free, he (Pilate) was not loyal to the *Emperor.
Their words frightened Pilate. He was afraid that he might lose his job. The *Emperor might even kill him as punishment.
So Pilate brought Jesus out again, so that he could *judge Jesus in front of them all.
‘The time was about the 6th hour.’ Many Bible teachers think that John means midday. However, Mark 15:25 says that the *crucifixion began at 9 o’clock in the morning. So other Bible teachers think that John means 6 o’clock in the morning here. (That would be *Roman time. See note on John 1:39.)
Verses 15-16 Most of the *Jewish leaders hated the *Romans. They wanted to be free from *Roman rule. But they hated Jesus even more. Although he was their real king and their *Messiah, they *rejected him. They pretended instead that they were loyal to the *Emperor. So, at last, Pilate made his decision. He ordered Jesus’ death.
Verses 17-18 ‘Golgotha’ was probably a hill outside *Jerusalem. It was near a main road. Probably, it got its name because the *Romans *crucified many people there. Or perhaps the hill had the same shape as a skull (the bone of the head that protects the brain.)
The *Romans *crucified many people. It was a common punishment. It was very cruel. The soldiers forced the person to carry his own *cross through the streets. They wanted many people to see this. Such events reminded people how the *Romans punished criminals. And such events warned people not to oppose the *Romans.
The *Romans *crucified people in different ways. Sometimes, they tied the person to the *cross with ropes (very thick string). But they fixed Jesus to his *cross with nails. They hammered the nails through his hands and his feet. Then they lifted the *cross up and they fixed it in the ground.
Verses 19-22 The *Romans often wrote notices that described the person’s crimes. Sometimes, they hung the notice on the person’s neck. But Pilate put the notice on Jesus’ *cross, where everybody could see it. He wrote it in the three main languages, so that everybody could read it.
People think that kings should be strong and powerful. But, on the *cross, Jesus seemed very weak. He seemed to have no power whatever. Most people would think that the notice was a joke or an insult. The *Jewish leaders considered that it was an insult to them, too. But Pilate refused to change the notice. He did not really believe that Jesus was a king. However, although he did not realise it, his notice was true. Jesus really is the King of the *Jews. He is also the King of the *Gentiles. He is, in fact, the King of everybody and everything. And his death and *resurrection ended the devil’s authority over the earth.
Verses 23-25 When the soldiers *crucified Jesus, they took his clothing. This was the custom. They divided it between them. His *robe was the most valuable piece of clothing. It was not easy to tear, because somebody had made it with just one piece of cloth. The tailor (the person who made the *robe) had not sewn two pieces together. So the soldiers played a game to decide which of them should have it. Psalm 22:18, which John recorded in verse 24, was a *prophecy about this. Psalm 22 also contains other *prophecies about Jesus’ death.
Verses 26-27 Often, when people are suffering, they can only think about themselves. Although Jesus was suffering very much, still he thought about his mother. It seems that Mary’s husband, Joseph, had died. Jesus was Mary’s first son. So it was his duty to look after her.
We know that Jesus had brothers (for example, Mark 4:31). However, some *Christians think that this word ‘brothers’ refers instead to Jesus’ cousins. This is because the *Greek word for ‘brothers’ can also mean ‘cousins’. But, at that time, these brothers (or cousins) were not Jesus’ *followers. And it seems that only one *disciple had stayed with Jesus by the *cross. This was probably John (see note on John 13:23-25). Jesus trusted John. So Jesus told John to look after his (Jesus’) mother. And Mary went to live with John, as a member of his family.
This reminds us that all *Christians belong to one family. Therefore we should care about each other. We should love each other like mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.
Verse 28 Jesus’ death on the *cross was the most important part of God’s plan to *save people. Jesus knew this. He had done everything necessary to *save us. He knew that soon he would die.
But before he died, he spoke twice. Firstly, he said that he was *thirsty. There are three places in the *Scriptures that could refer to Jesus’ words.
1. Psalm 22:15. This is a reference to physical *thirst.
2. Psalm 69:21. This is a reference to the cheap wine that the soldiers gave to Jesus.
3. Psalm 42:2. This is a reference to *spiritual *thirst. The author wrote that his spirit was *thirsty for God. His spirit needed God like his body needed water.
Perhaps all three verses referred to Jesus’ words. He was physically *thirsty. But all our *sin had separated him from God. So his spirit was *thirsty for God, too.
Verses 29-30 The soldiers had cheap wine to drink while they were on duty. They gave some of it to Jesus.
‘I have finished my work!’ (verse 30). Jesus was speaking about all the work that he had come to do on the earth. These words are the translation of just one *Greek word. People wrote this word on a bill to show that somebody had paid it completely. Jesus had paid the price for the *sins of everybody in the world, past, present, and future. Before this, people had to *sacrifice animals. This was the only way to pay for *sins, so that God could forgive them. Then the people were *clean again and they could come to him. However, every time that they *sinned, they had to *sacrifice another animal.
But Jesus paid the full price for all *sins. We do not need to *sacrifice animals. Jesus became the only *sacrifice that we need. God will forgive everybody who *believes in Jesus. Although we may *sin again and again, he can forgive us. We must tell him that we have done wrong things. We must say that we are sorry. We must *repent. If we do all this, God will forgive us. Jesus has taken the punishment that we should have. His death has *saved us.
A person who was hanging on a *cross died very slowly. In the end, the body would sink down and the person would be unable to breathe. When Jesus turned his head down, he would not be able to continue to breathe. At that moment, Jesus had finished his work on earth. John was present at the *cross and he saw these things. Perhaps, at that moment, John realised that Jesus was ready to die.
Verse 31 The *Law did not allow the *Jews to let a dead body hang upon a *cross for more than a day (Deuteronomy 21:23). Also, the *Law did not allow them to work on the *Sabbath. The *Sabbath started on Friday evening, after it became dark. It was ‘work’ to take the dead bodies away. So the *Jewish leaders wanted to take the bodies away before evening.
When the *Romans *crucified a person, they put a piece of wood on the *cross, under the person’s feet. The *Romans did not want a criminal to die quickly. Because of this piece of wood, criminals would suffer for a long time before they died. They could support their own weight if they pushed up with their feet. This helped them to breathe. If they could not support themselves, the weight of their body made it very difficult to breathe. So, to make them die quickly, the *Romans would break their legs.
Verses 32-33 The soldiers did this to the two men whom they had *crucified with Jesus. But they realised that Jesus was already dead. They knew this immediately, because they had probably seen many dead bodies. So they did not break his legs.
When the *Jews *sacrificed *lambs at the *Passover, the *Law did not allow them to break any bones (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12). Jesus was the final *sacrifice for everybody’s *sins. He was called God’s *lamb. (See John 1:29.) The author John wanted to emphasise this. He also referred to two verses in the *scriptures which were *prophecies about Jesus’ death. The first one was Psalm 34:20 and the second one was Zechariah 12:10.
Verse 34 There are medical reasons why blood and water flowed from Jesus’ body. Many experts agree about the reasons for this. This would happen to a person who had died on a *cross. But it happened only after the person had died.
Some people say that Jesus was not really dead. They say that he had only become unconscious. (‘Unconscious’ means alive, but unaware; like someone who sleeps.) And he had woken up when he was in the grave. But the blood and the water were medical evidence that he was really dead. And somebody was actually a witness of this fact. Many people think that this person was the author John.
However, John also wanted his readers to understand the *spiritual meaning of these real, physical events. Jesus’ blood poured out so that we could receive God’s *salvation. In order that God will forgive us, we cannot have a *sacrifice without blood (Hebrews 9:22). The water reminds us about the new *life that Jesus offers to us. This new *life is possible only because Jesus *sacrificed his own life on our behalf.
Verse 38 Joseph from Arimathea (a town) and Nicodemus were both *Jewish leaders. Joseph could ask Pilate for Jesus’ body because he (Joseph) was an important man. Both men were *followers of Jesus. But they had followed him secretly. They had not followed him in public. This is the first reference to Joseph from Arimathea in this *Gospel. But John recorded Jesus’ long conversation with Nicodemus at night. Jesus talked about new birth and *eternal life (John 3:1-21). John mentioned Nicodemus again in John 7:50-51.
Verses 39-41 Myrrh and aloes were two kinds of spices. Spices were natural substances that people got from plants. They had a good smell. The *Jews put them on dead bodies to stop the bad smell of the bodies. Spices were very expensive. Nicodemus brought 30 kilos, which was a very large amount. Such a large quantity of spices would be extremely expensive. It was the amount that people used on a king. Nicodemus considered that Jesus was a king. So Nicodemus brought these expensive spices to prove this. He wanted to give Jesus the honour that a king deserves.
*Jewish graves were caves. People cut these caves out of rocks. The caves were big enough for two people to walk inside. People put the dead body on a shelf in the cave, after they had wrapped it in cloths.
It was hard work to build a grave like this. And it was expensive. So people would use the same grave several times. After they had put a body inside, they rolled a large rock across the entrance. This rock would make sure that thieves could not enter the grave. And the rock also kept the bad smell inside (see John 11:38-39).
But Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus put Jesus’ body into a new grave. Nobody had used it yet. It belonged to Joseph himself (Matthew 27:59-60). Joseph wanted to show that he, too, respected Jesus greatly.
Verse 42 Joseph and Nicodemus had to finish their work quickly. It was nearly evening, at the start of the *Sabbath.
Verse 1 This is the second reference to Mary from Magdala in John’s *Gospel. The other *Gospels tell more about her. Jesus made 7 evil *spirits leave her. She became his loyal *follower. She was probably the leader of the group of women who travelled with Jesus and his *disciples. These women paid for the things that they all needed. They looked after Jesus and his *disciples in a practical way. Mary from Magdala was present when Jesus died on the *cross. The other *Gospels tell us that some other women went with Mary to Jesus’ grave.
Verses 2-10 Mary was not expecting Jesus to become alive again. When she saw the open entrance, it upset her. She thought that somebody had moved the stone in order to remove Jesus’ body. So she ran to Peter and the other *disciple to tell them. They ran to the grave themselves to see what had happened.
The other *disciple, ‘whom Jesus loved’, is probably John himself. See John 13:23.
When he arrived, the other *disciple did not rush inside. He just looked in. He saw the position of the cloths. It seemed as if Jesus’ body had just passed through them. If somebody had stolen the body, they would not have left the cloths like this. But Peter rushed inside first. And he did not seem to realise the importance of these details.
When the other *disciple saw the position of the cloths, he ‘*believed’ (verse 8). He did not believe that Jesus’ spirit had gone to heaven. This *disciple believed that Jesus’ body had actually become alive again. But it was a new kind of *life, because his body was able to pass through material. It was not the same as when Lazarus became alive again. Lazarus’s body was the same as before. And his body would become old and he would die in the end. But Jesus’ body was not the same as it was before. He would never die again.
Both Jesus and the *scriptures said that after his death, Jesus would become alive again. But the *disciples had not realised what this meant before. They had not expected the grave to be empty. But the evidence for Jesus’ *resurrection was in the *scriptures and in the empty grave. The other *disciple examined the evidence and he *believed!
Jesus’ *resurrection proved that he was really God’s Son. He had defeated even death. For *Christians, death is not the end, but the beginning of a new *life with God.
Some people say that Jesus’ *resurrection did not happen. They say that the story is not true. But this passage is strong proof that the story is a true record of real events. John recorded that a woman first saw Jesus alive again. If he had made up the story, he would not have written this. This was because, legally, there had to be two male witnesses to an event. Then people would believe that it had really happened. They did not allow female witnesses in a court of law. However, John recorded what actually happened.
Verses 11-16 Mary was crying. And she could not stop. Even when she saw the *angels, she did not stop. She did not understand what had happened. She had expected to see Jesus’ body in the grave. But it had gone.
She certainly did not expect to see Jesus alive. Perhaps her tears made it difficult to see. Perhaps it was still dark. Whatever the reason, she did not recognise Jesus until he said her name. Then she recognised him. He used the *Aramaic form of her name. And she answered him in *Aramaic. It was the familiar language that Jesus and his *disciples spoke. The author John wrote his *Gospel in *Greek. But he recorded the actual *Aramaic words that Jesus and Mary used. This emphasised how personal this meeting was. John was very careful to include these details. He was repeating the report of somebody who was actually present there.
Jesus knows us all personally. He knows each one of us by our name. When we pray, he speaks to us in our mind and our spirit. Like Mary, we will recognise his voice (John 10:1-6). And we must answer him. He is our Teacher, our *Lord, and our King.
Verses 17-18 Jesus had not become alive again so that he could remain on the earth. He had not returned to life so that he could stay with his *disciples. He knew that, soon, he had to return to heaven. Then the *Holy Spirit could come, as Jesus had promised (John 14:15-31). So he could not stay with Mary in the garden. Mary had to leave too. She had an important message to give to the *disciples. Jesus was alive! She had seen him.
Jesus had called his *disciples ‘friends’ rather than ‘servants’ (John 15:14-15). But in verse 17, he called them ‘brothers’. Because of his death and *resurrection, they had become God’s children. God was their *Father, too. But he was their *Father in a different way from the way that he was Jesus’ *Father. This is because Jesus, the Son, has always existed with his *Father and the *Holy Spirit. Jesus is also God. But everybody who *believes in him receives the right to be called God’s child. God adopts such people into his family.
Verses 19-22 Although they had locked the doors, Jesus appeared among the *disciples. In some ways, his body was the same as before. He still had the injuries in his hands that the nails had caused. He still had the injury in the side of his body. But he was able somehow to pass through the walls and the doors. However, he was not just a spirit. Jesus had a real body. People could even touch him (Luke 24:37-39; John 20:27). But his body was different.
When God makes our bodies become alive again, in some ways we will be the same. But in other ways, we will be different too. This is a great mystery. (See 1 Corinthians 15:35-56.)
Two times, Jesus said, ‘I give *peace to you.’ This was the *peace that he had promised in John 14:27 and 16:33. Jesus’ death had made it possible to receive this *peace, because he had taken the punishment for everybody’s *sins. He had made it possible for God to forgive everybody who *believes in Jesus. Everybody who *believes in Jesus can receive this *peace.
Jesus wanted his *disciples to spread the good news of *salvation. His *Father, God, had sent him to the world in order to save people from the results of their *sins. In the same way, Jesus sent his *disciples to tell everybody about this. But they could not do this work alone. They needed what Jesus had. They needed God’s help. They needed him to guide them. They needed his power and authority. So Jesus gave to them the *Holy Spirit. He breathed on them. In *Hebrew and *Greek, the word for ‘spirit’ can also mean ‘breath’.
Later, immediately before he returned to heaven, Jesus told the *disciples to wait in *Jerusalem. He told them to wait for God to give the *Holy Spirit to them again (Acts 1:4-5). Jesus told them that God would *baptise them in the *Holy Spirit. John the *Baptist had already *baptised them in water. But the *baptism in the *Holy Spirit was something different. It would give them the power to serve God. Then, on the day called *Pentecost, the *Holy Spirit filled them in a public place. And they had power to do all that God wanted them to do (Acts chapter 2).
Verse 23 Jesus wanted his *disciples to tell people about *salvation. It was their responsibility to tell people about God’s *forgiveness. This is our responsibility, too.
God forgives everybody who *believes in Jesus. People can pray to receive Jesus as their *Lord and *Saviour. We can encourage them to do this. If they do this sincerely, God forgives them. We have the authority to declare this to them. So we bring God’s *forgiveness to them, on behalf of God himself (2 Corinthians 5:20).
But sometimes people may not be sincere when they ask for God’s *forgiveness. They may not really want to *repent from their *sins. They may want to use the power of Jesus’ name (see note on John 14:13-14) in a wrong way. Or there may be other reasons why they want to join the church. Jesus gave the *Holy Spirit to his *disciples. The *Holy Spirit would show them what to do in such situations. The *Holy Spirit would show them when God was forgiving a person’s *sins (see Acts 10:44-48). But the *Holy Spirit would also show them when God did not forgive a person. See Acts 5:1-10; Acts 8:18-24; and Acts 13:6-11.
If we had perfect knowledge about God, then our decisions about people would always be correct. And we would always know whether a person is sincere. We would know when God forgives a person. And we would know when God does not forgive a person. We would know these things by the power of God’s *Holy Spirit. But our knowledge is not yet perfect (1 Corinthians 13:9). So our opinions about people are not always correct. However, God does not often want us to accuse people. Instead, he wants us to teach people about *salvation. He wants us to encourage people to be sincere when they *repent. Then God will forgive them. We should only act otherwise if God’s *Holy Spirit directs us.
Verses 24-25 Thomas wanted physical proof that Jesus was alive. He refused to believe it unless he saw Jesus himself. Many people think of Thomas as the *disciple who doubted. This is not really fair. He was brave and loyal (John 11:16). But he needed to see before he could really *believe (see also John 14:5). And he was honest about this. If we have doubts about our *faith, we need to be honest, like Thomas. Then we can look for answers to our questions. When we find answers, our *faith will be much stronger. Even the *disciple whom Jesus loved had to see inside the empty grave. After he had seen, then he *believed.
Verses 26-27 Again, Jesus came to the *disciples in a room where they had locked the doors. His body was able to do things that had not been possible before. But his body was also real and physical. That was why he asked Thomas to touch his hands and his side. He still had injuries from the nails and the spear (a pole with a sharp metal point on it). But these injuries did not still hurt him. They showed to Thomas who Jesus was. And they reminded everybody of how he had died to *save people.
Verse 28 Thomas did not continue to doubt. Immediately, he had complete *faith in Jesus. In fact, Thomas was the first person to call Jesus ‘God’.
At the beginning of his *Gospel, John wrote that Jesus was God (John 1:1). After the events of Jesus’ life, death and *resurrection, Thomas was able also to declare this.
Verse 29 We cannot see Jesus with our physical sight. But we know that he lives. We can talk to him and we can listen to him in our minds, our hearts and our spirits. We know that he answers our prayers. The *Holy Spirit changes us inside our *hearts, so that we become more like Jesus. Jesus’ words in this verse are for us. He promises that God will *bless us. Although we have not seen Jesus physically, we *believe in him.
Verses 30-31 We know about some of the other *miracles that Jesus did. We know about these because they are in the other *Gospels. But, to John, the *miracles were always like *signs that pointed to the truth about Jesus. That was why John wrote his *Gospel. He was not recording just events in history.
Of course, these events had actually happened. But John wanted his readers to understand the meaning of these events. He did not want people just to read about Jesus and then do nothing. John wanted to convince his readers that Jesus was a man but also God’s Son. Jesus was the *Messiah that people were waiting for. Jesus had come to bring God’s *salvation into the world. He had come to give us new *life. John wanted his readers to *believe in Jesus when they had read all about him.
Some experts think that the author added this last chapter to the rest of the *Gospel later. Other experts think that somebody else added this chapter. They think this because John 20:30-31 seems to be the end of the book. But this chapter is in nearly every early copy of this *Gospel. Only one copy does not include it. So it must be important.
There were many other events in Jesus’ life that the author could write about. So the author had to choose carefully which ones to include in his book (John 21:25). So he included this one for good reasons. We shall realise this as we look at the chapter.
Verses 1-6 ‘The Sea called Tiberias’ was another name for Lake *Galilee. That night, Simon Peter had decided to go out to fish. This used to be his occupation before he met Jesus. The other *disciples joined Peter. They fished at night because that was the best time to *catch fish. But they did not *catch any fish. This was unusual. Probably, they felt tired, hungry and confused. They did not recognise Jesus’ voice when he shouted to them. However, they obeyed his instructions. And they caught many fish in the net.
Verses 7-8 Jesus had done a similar *miracle before (Luke 5:1-11). But, on that occasion, the net was so full that it had torn. Perhaps the *disciple whom Jesus loved remembered the previous incident. This may be why he suddenly recognised Jesus.
Immediately, Simon Peter put on his outer clothes and he jumped into the water. Perhaps he knew that he needed to speak to Jesus more than the other *disciples. The other *disciples had run away when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus. Only one *disciple, probably John, had remained. The other *disciples had not been loyal to Jesus. Perhaps Peter felt that he had been even less loyal. This may have been because he had promised to die for Jesus. But, only a few hours later, he had told people that he did not even know Jesus. He was afraid of what they would do to him. When he saw Jesus again, Peter probably felt very guilty about this. But he did not hide. Instead, he rushed to meet Jesus.
Verse 9 This account is more than just a story about when the *disciples were *catching fish. Like the other *miracles in John’s *Gospel, it is a *sign. It shows to us more about who Jesus is. And there are several things that we can learn from it.
Sometimes when we do work for God, we use only our own strength and skills. But we really need God’s help to guide us. The *disciples had worked hard by themselves all night. But they had no success. They needed Jesus to tell them what to do. They needed his power and authority. And when they obeyed him, a *miracle happened.
Already Jesus had fish, which he was cooking on a fire. So he did not actually need the fish that they had *caught! This teaches us an important lesson. Jesus can give us what we need. He does not need our help to do this. But we need his help to work for him.
Verses 10-14 When Simon Peter went to bring the net to the shore, there were 153 large fish in it. We do not really know why John recorded the exact number. But earlier, after Jesus had done a similar *miracle, Peter, James and John had become his *disciples. And then Jesus had told Peter that they would ‘*catch people’, not fish! (Luke 5:10-11). He meant that they would bring many people into God’s *kingdom. The *miracle that John recorded emphasised this. 153 was a large number of fish.
John’s *Gospel contains many details like this. These details remind us that the author was a witness at these events. He actually saw what happened. And his book is a record of the things that he saw.
Verses 15-17 After breakfast, Jesus walked away from the other *disciples (verse 20). He took Simon Peter with him. Jesus wanted to talk to Peter in private. In this conversation, Jesus called Peter by his original name: ‘Simon’.
Outside the *High Priest’s house, Peter had said three times that he did not know Jesus. So, three times, Jesus asked Peter if he (Peter) loved him (Jesus).
Jesus did this because of several reasons. He wanted Peter to know that he (Jesus) had forgiven him. Also Jesus wanted Peter to say aloud that he loved Jesus. This was the opposite of what Peter had said outside the *High Priest’s house. Jesus was giving Peter the opportunity to declare that he (Peter) was Jesus’ loyal *follower. But Jesus did more than just forgive Peter. Jesus gave Peter a very important job. This showed that Jesus trusted Peter. Even after what Peter had done, Jesus still trusted Peter.
The ‘*lambs’ and the ‘sheep’ that Jesus referred to meant his *followers. Jesus had called himself ‘the good *shepherd’ (John 10:11). He told Peter to look after his *followers. Peter obeyed this command. Soon after this, he became a leader of the *disciples and of the *church in *Jerusalem. Peter said that he loved Jesus. Then Peter obeyed Jesus to show that he really meant this. If we really love Jesus, we will obey him, too.
Jesus used two different *Greek words for the word that we translate as ‘love’ in this passage. In verses 15 and 16, Jesus used a form of the word ‘agape’. This refers to love that is completely unselfish. It means to love without a thought about our own desires. It means to love without a desire to receive any reward. ‘Agape’ describes the kind of love that God has for us. ‘Agape’ is the word that John used in John 3:16.
But the three times that Peter answered Jesus, he (Peter) used the *Greek word ‘phileo’. This refers to the kind of love that friends have. It means to care for somebody. It is a weaker kind of love than ‘agape’. Perhaps Peter felt that he was not yet ready to declare that kind of ‘agape’ love for Jesus. Once, Peter had said that he would die on behalf of Jesus (John 13:37). Perhaps Peter was remembering how, instead, he had lied to protect himself. In verse 17, Jesus used the word ‘phileo’, too. Perhaps he was saying, ‘Are you even my friend?’ Perhaps that was what upset Peter.
But Peter knew that Jesus did not really have to ask these questions. Jesus already knew how Peter felt. Jesus knows how we feel, too. He knows how much we love him. But still he wants us to tell him.
Perhaps we feel that our love for him is too weak. We can never love him as much as he loves us. If we ask, he will increase our love for him. But we must spend more time with him. We must *worship him, alone and with other Christians. We must learn more about him from the Bible. We must pray often. Then we will realise that our love for him is increasing. We will know him more. Our love for him will increase every day of our lives, if we let this happen.
Verses 18-19 This was a *prophecy about how Peter would die. There is a traditional story that the *Romans *crucified Peter because of his *faith in Jesus. Jesus was warning Peter about what would happen. But still Jesus asked Peter to follow him. Peter did follow Jesus, and he (Peter) became a great leader.
This passage gives us important information about the *disciple whom Jesus loved. As we have already said, that *disciple was probably John himself.
Some people in the early *church believed that John would live to see Jesus’ return to the earth. This idea started because of Jesus’ answer to Peter’s question (verses 21-22). But this idea was wrong. So John wanted people to know what Jesus had really said. John wrote down the exact words. Then people would know the truth. John’s death did not mean that Jesus would not return to the earth!
Verses 20-23 Jesus had just told Peter that he (Peter) would die because of his *faith. And Peter immediately wanted to know what would happen to the other *disciple (probably John). This was a very natural reaction. We often compare ourselves with other people. Perhaps we think that another *Christian is more clever or more *spiritual. Or perhaps we think that we have more problems than other *Christians. Or we may be jealous of other *Christians. But this is not the right attitude to have. Jesus told this to Peter. How John would die was not Peter’s affair. Peter just had to obey Jesus’ command to follow him.
It is the same for us. God has a different plan for each one of us. He has a special purpose for each one of us. We should not try to compare ourselves with other *Christians. Instead, we should just follow Jesus. Our lives and deaths will be different from other people’s lives and deaths. But if we follow him, we will all be with him *forever.
Verse 24 This verse is strong evidence that the author of this *Gospel actually saw these events. And, therefore, John was ‘the *disciple whom Jesus loved’. We cannot be completely sure about this. However, we can be sure that this record of events is completely accurate. This record comes from a person who actually saw the events. He was a witness to these events. And he wrote this book to tell other people about these events.
Verse 25 The other *Gospels describe many other things that Jesus did. But he did many more wonderful things that people did not write down. But perhaps John really meant that books could never tell to us everything about Jesus. It is important to read about him. But the purpose of this book is so that we will *believe in him. And then we will know him personally.
That is the purpose of John’s *Gospel.
ancestor ~ person in the past from whom one’s parents came.
angel ~ God’s servant who takes messages from God to people on the earth. Angels live with God in heaven.
Aramaic ~ the language that Jesus and many *Jews spoke. When they wrote, usually they used *Hebrew.
barley ~ a kind of grain. People made flour from barley for bread.
baptise/baptism ~ to put a person into water, or to put water on a person; it is to show that the person wants to obey God. *Christians receive baptism as a sign that they want to follow Jesus.
Baptist ~ a person who *baptises people.
believe (in) ~ to trust and to follow someone or something that you are sure is true.
believer ~ a person who *believes in Jesus as their *Saviour and *Lord.
betray ~ to give information about a friend to their enemy.
bless ~ to say or to do good things for someone. To guard and to protect from evil things.
blessing ~ a good thing that God does for us.
catch ~ to take fish from the sea, either in a net or by a line. Or, to bring people into God’s *kingdom.
Christ ~ the *Greek word for *Messiah.
Christian ~ a person who *believes in Jesus as their *Saviour and *Lord.
church ~ (1) All *Christians everywhere. (2) The members of a local group of *Christians.
circumcise ~ to cut off the skin from the end of the sex part of a boy or man. For the *Jews, it was proof that the person agreed to obey God’s laws.
clean ~ in the *Jewish religion this means something or someone that God accepts.
cockerel ~ a male chicken.
condemn ~ to decide that someone is guilty and that the guilty person should suffer punishment.
courtyard ~ an area outside a building. Walls surround a courtyard.
cross ~ two pieces of wood that someone has fixed together. *Roman soldiers fixed people to crosses in order to kill those people as a punishment. Jesus died on a cross. The cross is now the sign of the *Christian *church.
crow ~ to make a noise like a male chicken.
crucifixion ~ when they killed someone on a *cross.
crucify ~ to kill a person by means of a *cross. The *Romans often crucified people as a punishment.
deceive ~ to tell lies. To make people believe something that is untrue.
descendant ~ a future member of a family or a nation.
disciple ~ a person who wants to do the same things as another person and to learn from them. Jesus had disciples. John the *Baptist had disciples, too.
donkey ~ a small animal that people can ride, like a horse.
Emperor ~ the chief *Roman ruler.
equal ~ with the same qualities and importance.
eternal life (see also ‘life’) ~ a special and new *life that a person starts when they *believe in Jesus. This new life will be with Jesus always, without end.
exactly ~ completely right; completely the same; without any difference.
execute ~ to kill a person legally because they are guilty of a crime.
Father ~ God. Jesus taught us to call God ‘Father’. All *Christians are God’s children.
father ~ someone whom a person respects and follows; an *ancestor. The *Jewish leaders said that Abraham was their father. But Jesus said that the devil was their father, instead!
faith ~ to *believe in someone or something; to be really sure about the things of God and Jesus.
festival ~ when people meet together in public for a happy party to remember a special day or event.
Festival of Shelters ~ a *festival in the autumn, after people had harvested the fruit. People camped in tents to remind themselves of the time when the *Israelites had lived in the desert.
flesh ~ the soft part of the body, between the bones and the skin.
fig ~ a kind of small, sweet fruit.
follower ~ a person who accepts another person as their guide and their teacher; like a *disciple.
forever ~ always.
forgiveness ~ what a person receives when God forgives that person’s *sins.
Galilee ~ an area and a large lake in northern *Israel. The home area of Jesus and several of his *disciples.
Gentile ~ any person who is not a *Jew.
glory ~ everything that makes God great and beautiful. A bright light that comes from God or Jesus to show that they are beautiful and *holy.
Gospel ~ one of the 4 books at the beginning of the *New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They record Jesus’ life.
Greek ~ a person from Greece; the language in which the authors wrote the *New Testament.
Hanukkah ~ a *Jewish *festival that happens in the winter.
heart ~ the heart is a physical part of our body. But we also use this word to describe our emotions, for example, ‘she had a kind heart’.
Hebrew ~ the language of the *Jews. The *Jews wrote in Hebrew.
High Priest ~ the most important priest in the *Jewish *Temple.
holy ~ what God is like. God’s character: perfect, completely good with nothing bad in it. Separate from *sin.
Holy Spirit ~ one of the three persons who are God. The Holy Spirit is a person, but not human as we are. He lives and works for God. He is God, *equal with God the *Father and God the Son. He gives people the power to do what God wants.
Israel ~ name of the land that God gave to Jacob (who is also called Israel) and his sons (Genesis chapter 35). Also refers to the *Jews, the group of people whom God chose to belong to him in a special way.
Israelite ~ a person who lived in *Israel; a *Jew.
Jerusalem ~ the capital city of *Israel. It was the place where Israel’s early kings ruled. Later, the kings of the southern *kingdom called Judah ruled in Jerusalem.
Jew ~ a person who is born from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see the Book of Genesis); a person who follows the religion of the Jews.
Jewish ~ the word that describes a *Jew or anything that belongs to the *Jews. The ‘Jewish leaders’ were a group of important *Jews who lived in Judah.
Judea ~ the country where the *Jews lived. Judea is a *Greek and *Roman name for the southern *kingdom that is also called Judah. It is the region south of *Samaria. *Jerusalem was in Judea.
judge ~ to decide whether a person is guilty, usually in a court of law.
kingdom ~ a place or country that a king rules. God’s kingdom is where God rules. God is the king of all *Christians and all *Christians are in his kingdom.
lamb ~ a young sheep. The *Jews *sacrificed lambs. Jesus is called the ‘Lamb of God’ because he died on our behalf. He did this so that God could forgive our *sins.
Law ~ the rules that God gave to Moses for the *Jews.
life ~ the quality that a person has, because that person is alive. In John’s *Gospel, it means to be completely alive in our spirits. When we *believe in Jesus, we receive this life as a special gift. When we have this life, we can live to please God. It is the best way to live.
light ~ Natural light helps us to see physical things. But in John’s *Gospel, the word ‘light’ also refers to that which helps us to see (understand) *spiritual truths.
Lord ~ the name for God or Jesus in the Bible. It means that he is above all other things.
manna ~ special food that God provided for the *Israelites when they were in the desert.
Messiah ~ the *Jews’ name for the special servant of God. It means the person whom God sent to save people from the results of their *sins. Jesus is the Messiah.
miracle ~ wonderful works that only God can do by his power. A wonderful event that shows that a person’s message is from God.
moneychanger ~ a person who exchanged money for special coins when people came to pay tax at the *Temple.
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus on the earth. It is about the things that Jesus did. And it is about the things that he taught. It is also about the *church and what *Christians should believe.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the *Jewish *scriptures. The writers wrote this before the birth of Jesus.
olive ~ a small bitter fruit. Olives are green or black. People make oil from the fruit.
Passover ~ an important holy day for the *Jews. They eat a special meal on this day every year. This is to remember that God freed them. Before God freed them, they were slaves in the country called Egypt. This happened at the time of Moses. So Passover became an important holiday. At the time of Jesus, the *Jews came to *Jerusalem to pray in the *Temple. And families shared a special meal together.
peace ~ when a person is calm in their mind and in their spirit, even if they have problems.
Pentecost ~ a *festival when the *Jews thank God for their food.
perfume ~ a substance that has a lovely smell.
persecute ~ to do bad things to a person in order to oppose that person’s beliefs.
Pharisees ~ a group of *Jews who thought that they obeyed all God’s commands.
porch ~ a yard that has a roof for shade.
preach ~ to tell people the good news about Jesus *Christ. Jesus preached about who he was and about God’s *kingdom.
prophecy/prophecies ~ the words that a *prophet speaks or writes by God’s power. Often, they tell about events before they happen.
prophesy ~ to speak or to write God’s words.
prophet ~ a person who hears God’s words and tells them to other people. Some *prophets wrote books in the *Old Testament. Sometimes, they told about events before they happened.
province ~ a region that the *Romans governed. The *Romans divided the countries that they ruled into provinces.
reject ~ not to accept or not to believe in someone or something.
repent ~ to decide not to do bad things that you did before. To decide to do what God wants.
resurrection ~ to come back to life after death.
righteousness ~ moral goodness.
robe ~ a long, loose piece of clothing.
Roman ~ a person from Rome. Rome was an important city. The *Emperor and the government lived in Rome. Roman describes everything that belonged to Rome.
Sabbath ~ the Sabbath was Saturday; the 7th day of the week which is special to the *Jews. It was the day when the people had to rest from work (Exodus 20:8-11).
sacrifice ~ a gift to God to ask him to forgive *sins; or a gift to thank him for something. The *Jews killed animals as sacrifices. This word also means to make a sacrifice.
salvation ~ when God rescues us from the power and the results of our *sins.
Samaria ~ region between *Galilee and *Judea.
Samaritan ~ a person from *Samaria.
save ~ to rescue from the results of *sin.
Saviour ~ someone who will bring us back to God from the bad things that we have done. Jesus is the only person who can save us from the results of our *sins. However, sometimes people used the word ‘Saviour’ as a title (name) for rulers or false gods.
scribes ~ teachers of the *Law.
scripture(s) ~ the book of God’s holy words, the Bible, or part of it.
sheepfold ~ a place for sheep to stay at night. It has a fence round it to protect the sheep from wild animals and thieves.
shepherd ~ a person who looks after sheep as his job.
sign ~ the word that John often uses in his *Gospel to mean a *miracle. A sign gives evidence and it points to something beyond itself.
sin ~ not to obey God. Sins are the wrong things (or evil deeds) that we do against God and other people.
sinless ~ without any *sin.
sinner ~ someone who *sins.
Spirit ~ see *Holy Spirit.
spirit ~ there are good spirits called *angels. There are also evil spirits who work for the devil. They are alive but we cannot see them. Also, the spirit means the part of a person that continues to live after the death of the body.
spiritual ~ something that belongs to the spirit rather than to physical things.
symbol/symbolic ~ a thing that reminds us of something else, especially an idea or a quality. So we may use the symbol in order to describe that other thing. Something that is a symbol is called ‘symbolic’.
synagogue ~ the building where *Jews met locally to *worship God.
temple ~ a building where people went to *worship God. Jesus referred to his body as a temple. This was because God was living among people in his Son, Jesus.
Temple ~ the special building in *Jerusalem where the *Jews went to *worship God.
thirst/thirsty ~ when someone wants or needs a drink .
trial ~ the time when a prisoner is in court. The people there decide whether the person is guilty of a crime.
unclean ~ in the *Jewish religion, this means when something or someone is not right. God does not accept that person or that thing.
useless ~ a word that describes something that has no value or use.
vine ~ the plant that produces fruit called grapes. People make wine from grapes.
Word ~ the ‘Word’ is a special name for Jesus in John’s *Gospel (see notes on John 1:1-5).
worship ~ to give thanks and honour to God and Jesus. To show to him that we love him very much.
Pat Alexander (editor) ~ The Lion Encyclopaedia of the Bible ~ Lion Publishing
William Barclay ~ The Gospel of John (The Daily Study Bible) ~ The Saint Andrew Press
Kenneth Grayston ~ The Gospel of John ~ Epworth Press
D Guthrie & J A Motyer (editors) ~ New Bible Commentary (Third Edition) ~ Inter-Varsity Press
John Marsh ~ Saint John ~ Penguin Books
R V G Tasker ~ John: An Introduction and Commentary ~ The Tyndale Press
Tom Wright ~ John For Everyone ~ SPCK
Bible Versions: New International Version, Contemporary English Version, The Amplified Bible, The Good News Bible, The Life Application Study Bible
Dictionaries: The Concise Oxford, The Oxford Compact
© 2006, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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