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Day 266 – Thru the Bible
Today we complete John. Nice job!
John 19 – John’s account of the crucifixion is filled with gospel paradox and glorious providence. On the surface, Jesus seems to be completely subject to the whims of an approval-seeking Pilate and a frenzied mob of Jews. But when Pilate labeled Jesus “King of the Jews,” he was saying more than he knew.
Jesus was never more sovereign than when He submitted to death on the cross. This is why the refrain “to fulfill the Scripture” runs through the entire crucifixion story. Nothing was left to chance. No enemies—even as they acted according to their own volition—did anything that was unanticipated or outside the purpose of God’s sovereign providence and redemptive plan (Isaiah 53:10; Revelation 13:7–8). This was the climax of all of human history. Jesus is not only the main character in this doxological (giving praise to God) drama of redemptive history; He is its writer, director, and producer.
Death by crucifixion is considered one of the most barbaric, torturous, and humiliating of deaths ever conceived by mankind. Yet Jesus’ heart of care and compassion shone through even in those awful moments. At a time when the pain of crucifixion would have driven most into a self-absorbed survival mode, Jesus gave focused attention and affection to a small group gathered at the foot of his cross—specifically Mary, His mother, and John, His beloved disciple.
Jesus invites us to see ourselves in this familial community of compassion. Earlier in His ministry, Jesus identified all who do the will of His Father as His “brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46–50). Only the gospel can create this kind of mutually devoted community.
Along with the sovereignty and compassion of Jesus, John makes the substitutionary atonement of Jesus unambiguously central in his narration of the passion. Jesus didn’t just take Barabbas’s place on the cross (18:40), He substituted Himself for all those He came to save.
Jesus’ thirst was the thirst of the Messiah, anticipated in Psalm 22:15–18. But it was also our thirst. Jesus became thirsty for us so that we would never thirst again (John 4:14). His bones remained unbroken because Jesus died as the Passover Lamb (Exodus 12.46; Numbers 9:12). Jesus wasn’t just crucified between criminals, but for criminals as a criminal. God “made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Because Jesus cried, “It is finished,” and gave up His spirit, we now shout, “Hallelujah!” and receive His Spirit. Everything promised—everything needful for our redemption and for the coming “new world” (Matthew 19:28), was accomplished.
Nothing was left undone!
Jesus’ garments were not torn, because, unlike the first Israel, His kingdom will never be divided (1 Kings 11:29–31). “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
As you consider the all that Jesus’ endured and accomplished through the cross, how does this lead you to worship Him?
John 20 – How appropriate that Mary Magdalene was the first follower of Jesus to arrive at His tomb on resurrection morning. The Light of the World (8:12) had driven the darkness of seven demons from her soul (Luke 8:2); and now she came, while it was still dark, to witness the dawning of the new creation era. “Light and life to all He brings,” says the hymn, “risen with healing in His wings.” In the culmination of a principle that courses through all of Scripture, we see the supreme instance of the truth that through death comes life, and through darkness shines light.
Peter and John’s slowness to accept the reality and significance of Jesus’ resurrection shouldn’t surprise us. Like them, we too need the Holy Spirit to help us understand what the Scriptures (the whole Bible) reveal about the Person and work of Jesus.
After John “saw and believed,” he and Peter went back to their homes to share the good news with their families. At Jesus’ dedication as an infant, Simeon told Mary, Jesus’ mother, that a sword would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35). Now, after Jesus’ resurrection, John got to tell her that Jesus had pierced death’s soul and destroyed it (1 Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 20:14).
Mary Magdalene returned to the tomb, and lingered in her grief. At first she thought Jesus was a gardener, and indeed, He is; for where the first Adam failed his work in the garden, the last Adam has wondrously succeeded. The grain of gospel wheat died, and was planted in a garden tomb, and now the grand harvest begins (12:24–25).
It wasn’t until Jesus spoke her name that Mary recognized Him. The Good Shepherd had laid down His life and taken it up again. Now He called one of His sheep by name and she recognized His life-giving voice (10:4). The gospel is no mere invitation; it is a summons to glory. Each of us must move from the general of John 3:16 (God’s love for the world generally) to the personal of Galatians 2:20 (God’s love for me specifically).
Jesus’ encounter with the fearful, guilt-ridden disciples is a model of what should happen every time we gather together in Jesus’ name to worship God. Jesus comes into our midst and speaks to us by His Word, and then applies the gospel of peace to our souls and breathes His Spirit upon us, commissioning us to go forth as servants of the gospel.
The authority Jesus gave the apostles to pronounce the forgiveness of sins is extended through the church by the preaching of the gospel. Where can we go, with certainty, for the assurance of pardon? Not to the works of our hands, nor to the idols of our hearts. Only by believing the gospel of God’s grace can we expect to hear Jesus say to us, “Peace be with you.”
John wrote his Gospel, choosing from a large body of material from the life of Jesus. This editorial note should remind us that the Bible is not an exhaustive account of all things, but a sufficient account of necessary things—the things that reveal Jesus to be the Son of God, the Savior of all who trust Him.
How have you moved from a general knowledge of God’s love to the specific knowledge of God’s personal love for you?
John 21 – After writing what appears to be the perfect ending for his Gospel (20:30–31), John adds an epilogue which demonstrates that we never really come to the end of the gospel. We will never outgrow our need for the grace of Jesus.
Just as the apostle Paul would continue to make tents, so the apostles who preceded him continued to be fishermen. Whatever our vocation, Jesus meets us there, but He doesn’t leave what we do untouched. Fishers of fish are also called to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19), and both require Jesus. Peter hauled 153 fish ashore only because Jesus filled the nets. Peter would see 3,000 conversions on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41) only because Jesus is filling His church. Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Peter had felt freedom to move toward Jesus in his brokenness, and we see Jesus welcoming His beloved friend. Jesus provides for our every need, even our food. There are only two times when a charcoal fire is mentioned in the New Testament: here, and earlier in John’s Gospel, when Peter, while warming himself, denied Jesus in the presence of Israel’s high priest (18:15–27). Now, in the presence of heaven’s Great High Priest, Peter experiences the reconciling and restorative power of the gospel.
Jesus didn’t hurry the process of Peter’s restoration. The Savior asked three times for affirmation of the apostle’s love, reflecting Peter’s three denials during Jesus’ passion. Gospel surgery is free, but not always easy. Grace produces redemptive pain, not punitive pain. But pain is still painful. Indeed, the gospel brings an end to all deadening worldly grief. But the gospel is the beginning of enlivening godly grief (2 Corinthians 7:10–11). The law condemns, the gospel convicts; the law creates self-centered tears, the gospel creates God-centered tears.
“Do you love me more than these?” It would have been easier on Peter had Jesus asked him, “Do you promise not to fail me again?” But Jesus knew better than to ask that question, because, of course, Peter would (like all of us) fail again (see Galatians 2:11–21). Jesus is more jealous for our love than zealous for our works. If He has our hearts, He’ll have everything else.
Peter had just been told to expect a death similar to the one his Savior experienced, but his thoughts immediately shifted to John. A fully restored Peter is not a fully transformed Peter. How easy it is for us to become distracted and envious of one another’s callings. But the Good Shepherd, who knows us by name, leads us by decree. Jesus gives us saving grace and He also gives us serving grace. There are no little people or little places in God’s story.
All things necessary for our salvation are written in the Bible. But the gospel will continue to write stories of Jesus’ glory and grace wherever it is preached.
How does the way Jesus loves you (irregardless of your failure) encourage you today to continue to love God and people?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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