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Bible Studies For Life
March 28, 2021
THE DEATH OF JESUS
John 19:8-11, 16b-18, 28-30
At the center of history, is Christianity. At the center of Christianity there is Jesus Christ. The universe and all its elements exist by Him and for Him, and all of history revolves around Him. The world—which He created—was drastically changed in the course of three days. Since then, all the past makes sense, and all the future falls into place. In those three days, The Son of God was crucified, was buried, and rose again. And nothing has ever been the same.
Control (vv. 8-11). Outside the palace, the crowd was losing control. The mob that gathered was clamoring for the crucifixion of Jesus. Pilate the governor was convinced the man was innocent. Twice in this chapter already, Pilate declared, “I find no fault in Him.” But now, even Pilate was losing control. Verse 7 sets the stage for the anxiety he felt in verse 8. Jesus had been called the Son of God, and “When Pilate heard this statement, he was more afraid than ever” (v. 8). Was Pilate afraid because this charge against Jesus would further incite the crowd? Or combined with the ominous tone of his wife’s dream, was the governor concerned that Jesus was indeed more than a simple Jew? As tensions rose, Pilate pressed the issue. His inquiry, “Where are you from?” was directed toward His deity rather than humanity because Pilate already knew Jesus was from Galilee (see Luke 23:6). In contrast to the crowd outside and the governor inside who were both losing control, Jesus was in perfect control. As the soon-to-be sacrificial lamb, He stood silent before His shearers (Is. 53:7). As Pilate raged about his own official powers over the condemned man (v. 10), Jesus reminded Him that He, the Son of God, was the true authority in the room (v. 11). For reflection: Read what Jesus said in John 10:18. How do His words from there, apply in this context?
Crucifixion (vv. 16-18). The Gospels, when taken together, describe the crucifixion of our Lord. But what is most striking to me is the lack of detail in each account. I fear we preachers are often guilty of dramatizing Christ’s gruesome death with graphic descriptions of what crucifixion was all about. And while historians tell us it was indeed a cruel way to die, the Bible gets right to the point. “There, they crucified Him” (v. 18). (We must be careful in our descriptions not to over-emotionalize the biblical account of Christ’s death, lest we push our listeners to somehow pity Jesus). The cruelty of the cross was a great reality. But the Bible’s emphasis is not on His great suffering as much as on His gracious sacrifice. For reflection: Why do you think it would be misguided to feel sorry for Jesus…or to pity Him? See Gal. 6:14.
Completion (vv. 28-30). It is important to understand that Jesus remained in control throughout this tortuous ordeal. He was never overwhelmed by His humanity; never ceased being God. Yet His humanity as well as His deity are on display here. As a man, he was thirsty. But that personal, physical need was only addressed after the eternal, spiritual need of humanity was met (v. 28). Commentators differ as to the effect of the sour wine. Some see it as an act of compassion; the wine acting to dull the senses. Others view it as one more act of cruelty; the sour vinegar burning the mouth more than quenching the thirst. In the end, Jesus declared, “It is finished.” He was not referring to His physical suffering only, nor His earthly death. Rather, the Greek implies a debt has been paid in full. The significance is furthered by the verb tense used. A very literal translation might say, “It has been paid in full, the results of which continue on.” For reflection: Why do you think Jesus used the verb tense He used? What results of His death go on even until today?
April 4, 2021
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
John 20:3-9, 19-23, 27-29
A church historian once said, “If Christ is risen, nothing else matters. And if Christ is not risen, nothing else matters.” That’s how important the resurrection really is.
We Monday morning quarterbacks often belittle the Lord’s disciples for their lack of support on Good Friday and their lack of belief on Easter Sunday. But I often wonder where I would have been in all of that. Would I have slipped into the shadows when Jesus was arrested? Would I have denied I knew Him when He was on trial? Would I have laid low while His cross was being raised? Would I have cowered in the corner when He arose from the dead? I guess I will never know. But this I do know: Jesus Christ is alive, and He appeared physically and bodily to His disciples.
There were those who were seeking (vv. 3-9). In contrast to the solemn tranquility looming over the garden all day Saturday, Sunday morning arrived with a burst of activity. In verse 1, Mary Magdalene arrived early to find the stone rolled away from Christ’s tomb. In verse 2, she ran back to tell the disciples. Even the verb tense is active; literally “she runs.” Can’t you picture her hiking up her skirt and sprinting back into town? At the news that His body was gone, Peter and John took off, again, running to the tomb (v. 4). John was a bit faster and outran Peter. He stopped abruptly at the tomb and peeked in, but Peter bustled on past him and entered the tomb, where he found the burial shroud and headpiece. The description is significant for two reasons. First, this indicated the body had not been stolen. If it had, the linens would have been gone as well. Second, the headpiece was separate and folded, indicating the deliberate care and control of the One who removed it. Up till this point, there were still some misunderstandings (v. 9). But now, John (the author of the account) confesses the evidence is enough…and he believes (v. 8). For reflection: Some say the famous Shroud of Turin is the burial cloth of Christ. What evidence from this passage might refute that claim?
There were those who were hiding (vv. 19-23). In contrast to the anxious activity of the morning sprint to the garden tomb, is the quiet fear that came in the evening. While John and Peter had at least gone to check things out, the rest of the disciples (except for Thomas, v. 24) apparently remained in fearful hiding with the doors locked (v. 19). Suddenly, Jesus appeared in their midst. In this scene, Jesus brought about four significant changes. First, He replaced their fear with rejoicing (v. 20). Second, He replaced their complacency with a commission (v. 21). Third, He replaced His physical presence with the promise of His spiritual presence (v. 22). Just as God breathed into Adam the breath of life giving him physical vitality (Gen. 2:7), Jesus breathed on them—in a foreshadowing of Pentecost (see Acts 1:8 and its fulfillment in Acts 2:1-4)—promising them spiritual vitality. Finally, Jesus replaced their passive acceptance of the message with the responsibility of actively proclaiming it (v. 23). For reflection: The Catholic church suggests that verse 23 gives the modern-day disciples (their priests) the authority to forgive sins. How would you answer such a claim?
There were those who were doubting (vv. 24-29). From this episode, poor Thomas will forever be known as “Doubting Thomas.” But in reality, all of the disciples were doubters (see Luke 24:36-43). By the time Thomas asked to see the nail prints, the remainder of the disciples already had! What is most important is not the doubt of Thomas, but the faith of Thomas. In the end, he had no need to touch the Lord. For him, seeing was believing (v. 29). And his acclamation, “My Lord and my God” remains a bold and definitive declaration of the deity of Jesus Christ. For reflection: Verse 29 indicates that those who believe without seeing Him (people like us!) are especially blessed. Do you think we have more faith than the disciples had? Why?
April 11, 2021
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
John 15:26-27; 16:7-15
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the promise of the Holy Spirit does not mean that He did not exist prior to Pentecost or was not active before then. We see God’s Holy Spirit at work in creation; in the empowering of judges, kings, and prophets; in the inspiration and revelation of Scripture; and in the work of regeneration. Yet Jesus promised an even more prominent role for the Holy Spirit following His own ascension into heaven. Here, as Jesus prepared Himself for the cross, and His disciples for His departure, He explained to them in more detail this enhanced role of God’s Holy Spirit in the life of the church and the individual believer.
Proclamation (15:26-27). It should come as no surprise that the Trinity always works in concert. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all active in creation; they were all represented at Jesus’ baptism; and they were all discussed in this portion of John. Notice all the inter-related activities mentioned here. The paraclete (consoler, helper, advocate, intercessor) will come to the disciples, sent from Christ, from the Father. He is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father but testifies about Christ. Just as the word paraclete means “advocate” in the legal sense, so the word testify means “to affirm,” “bear witness,” or “give testimony” in the legal sense. So, as the Holy Spirit affirms and gives testimony of Christ to the believer, the believer will affirm and give testimony of Christ to the world. Verse 27 reminds readers of the qualifications to testify. The Holy Spirit can testify, having been with Christ for all eternity. The disciples too can testify, having been with Christ since the beginning of His ministry. For reflection: Charismatic churches often focus on the Holy Spirit. Yet, this text says that the Holy Spirit will focus on Christ. So, a truly spiritual church will focus on Whom?
Conviction (16:7-11). This passage of Scripture explains two great truths regarding the Holy Spirit: First, there is the reward of His coming. Verse 7 is awkward if not considered in full context. Here, the Lord is giving comfort to His disciples. He is simply pointing out that His departure from them is a good thing. Jesus, in His bodily form, was only one in place, at one time, doing one thing. But the Spirit would grant God’s omnipresence in a very intimate and personal way. Second, Jesus gives the reason for the Spirit’s coming. Here, He describes explicitly the Holy Spirit’s work of conviction. We all understand what it feels like to be convicted of sin! But in this case, it is probably better to understand the word in the sense of convincing. Part of the Holy Spirit’s testimony will be to convince the world of who Jesus really is and the tragedy of rejecting Him. First, He will convince the world of sin (v. 8), because they do not believe (v. 9). Bible commentator Matthew Henry put it this way: “The Spirit convinces of the fact of sin; of the fault of sin; of the folly of sin; of the filth of sin, of the fountain of sin, and lastly, of the fruit of sin, (which is death).” Next, He will convict of righteousness, because “I am going to the Father and you will no longer see Me” (v. 10). This likely is a reference to Jesus’ personal righteousness. The fact of His resurrection and ascension would prove to the skeptics that He was indeed the righteous and acceptable Son of God. Third, He will convict of judgement, because “the ruler of this world has been judged” (v. 11). Satan’s once and for all defeat by the cross and resurrection spelled certain doom for those who, like him, reject Christ. For reflection: How does the personal conviction of sin differ from the concept Jesus described in these verses? How are they alike?
Glorification (16:12-15). Reality returns to the scene in verse 12. There was so much left to say, but neither time nor their state of mind and being would permit it. Nevertheless, Jesus reminded them that the ministry would pass to them by the Holy Spirit. Because He represented truth, He would keep them firmly guided by truth. He would speak to them of what was and is…but also of what would come (see the parallel idea in Rev. 1:4, 1;8, and 4:8). And He would continue to glorify Christ to them, in them, and ultimately through them. For reflection: How do you think the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ today? What evidence can you see of this in your own life?
April 18, 2021
THE RETURN OF JESUS
Matthew 24:3-8, 29-32, 42-44
In the Bible, angels ask some interesting questions. Two in particular come to mind at this time of year. The first is addressed to the ladies by the garden tomb: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” And then answered in the same breath: “He is not here but is risen!”
Another question is asked forty days later of the disciples, on a hillside outside the city: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?” And again, answered by: “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
The return of Jesus is every bit as certain as His birth, death, and resurrection. Article 10 of The Baptist Faith and Message declares, “According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness.” In the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24-25, Jesus gave His disciples some details regarding this event.
Indication (vv. 3-8). In the final week of His earthly life (what we call Passion Week or Holy Week), Jesus would frequent the temple in the morning, then retire with His disciples outside the city during the heat of the day. The grove of olive trees provided just the spot. On this day, prompted by the sun gleaming on the temple, and the Lord’s subsequent prophecy of its destruction, a few of His disciples (see Mark 13:3) inquired about the details of His “coming,” and the “culmination of the age” (v. 3). Two questions were on their minds: when will it happen? And what signs will signal its arrival? Jesus’ response was both dramatic and illusive. How often I wish there was a chapter or two in the Bible that spelled out exactly what would happen, when it would happen, and in what order! It’s important to remember that Bible writers painted the end times portrait with a very wide brush. Depending on one’s interpretation, the events that comprise the “Day of the Lord,” His “Second Coming,” or “the End Times” can cover over a thousand years! In this text, the future of Israel seems to be the focus. But some general principles can be gleaned. First, there will be indications that the end is near. Religious upheaval (the rise of false messiahs, v. 5), political upheaval (wars, military conflicts, vv. 6, 7), and natural disasters (v. 7) will all indicate the end is near. Second, Jesus tells believers to be cautious in both their spiritual discernment (v. 4) and their reaction to the “signs” of the times (v. 6). Third, Jesus points out that these occurrences are necessary (v. 6) and finally, that they signal only the beginning of many events to come (v. 8). Like birth pangs, they will increase in both frequency and intensity. For reflection: Obviously, many of the events described are happening right now (and have been for quite a while). What does that tell us?
Manifestation (vv. 29-32). The Bible predicts seven years of terrible tribulation (described in Rev. 6-18) in which God’s judgment is poured out upon the earth. In verse 29, Jesus explains that He will appear immediately at the end of the that tribulation period (in what we call His 2nd Coming). Just like the angels said, this same Jesus will appear physically, tangibly, and in person. The first time He came to earth in great humility, but this time He will arrive with power andgreat glory (v. 30). The people of the earth will mourn the judgment that is to come (v. 30) and His elect will rejoice in their salvation (v. 31). For reflection: What do you think Jesus meant by giving them the “lesson of the fig tree” in verse 32?
Preparation (vv. 42-44). Even with all the signs described, the exact hour when these events will begin is unknown. (I personally believe the rapture of the church is first, and that could happen at any time! See 1 Thess. 4:15 ff). While Jesus tells His followers not to fear these events, He nonetheless tells them to be prepared for them. For reflection: If believers have nothing to fear with His coming, why are we to be prepared? What kind of preparation might He have in mind?
During her 30 years as Florida Baptists’ director of communications, Barbara ventured across the state — and to Cuba and Haiti — to report on Baptist witness and, amid natural disaster, Baptist compassion.
Barbara and her husband, Dick, are currently enjoying spending time with their first grandchild, Finley, along with Finley’s parents Ashford and Chantal and Barbara and Dick’s daughter, Addie.
Keila earned a B.S. in Communications from Florida International University in Miami. She writes news and stories about Florida Baptist churches, creates and posts social content to the FBC’s social media channels, and is a Baptist Press contributor.
When she’s not working, Keila enjoys bike rides and spending time with her family.
Barbara, a member at Eau Gallie First BC, Melbourne, and a graduate of Florida State University, B.S., Speech Pathology/Audiology, taught Pre-K/VPK for many years. While living and serving in Maine, she wrote articles for the NEW ENGLAND BAPTIST, and currently writes for the Brevard Baptist Association’s newsletter, THE BRIDGE. She loves serving alongside her husband Mike (Associational Mission Strategist, Brevard Baptist Association), spending time with their three grandchildren, sewing and reading.
David Moore has been writing and editing for newspapers and magazines in Florida for more than 20 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. A proud member of First Baptist Church of Ocala, David serves in the worship, deacon and NextGen ministries. He and his wife Beth have three children.
Jessica received her B.S. in Biblical Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She contributes to Florida Baptist Conv, Biblical Woman, Baptist Press, The Devotional for Women, and Daily Devotional Bible for Women. Her greatest joy is serving beside her husband who is the Senior Pastor of Fellowship Church.
Brandi is a writer and editor for N2 Publishing, a community magazine that honors God. She and her family attend Fishhawk Fellowship Church and are a Host Family for Safe Families for Children, Bethany Christian Services. Her background is in Healthcare Management, Policies & Procedures.