The Apostle John

Studies in his Life and Writings

By W. H. Griffith Thomas

Part 2. - The Gospel

Chapter 8



Chapter 13:1-17

The record of Christ's public ministry closes with chapter 12, and with chapter 13 the second division of the Gospel opens. In the first five chapters (13-17) we have the record of the last conversations of our Lord with his disciples, in which he revealed himself more fully to them and elicited their deepening faith (16:30). In chapter 13 he shows his love in action, and then, after the departure of Judas, he manifested his love in words (chapters 14-17). This occurred on the eve of his death, and the various events between the visit of the Greeks on the Tuesday ( 12:20) will be gathered from the other Gospels.

1. The Supreme Knowledge (vs. 1-3; Matt. 11:25-27).

(1) The time (v. 1).

(2) The feeling (v. 1).

(3) The authority (v. 3).

(4) The origin (v. 3).

(5) The destination (v. 3).

2. The Lowly Action (vs. 4-11; Luke 12:35-38).

(1) The service (vs. 4, 5).

(2) The expostulation (v. 6).

(3) The assurance (v. 7).

(4) The rebuke (v. 8).

(5) The revelation (vs. 9-11).

3. The Definite Example (vs. 12-17; 1 Pet. 2:21-25).

(1) The enquiry (v. 12).

(2) The reminder (vs. 13, 14).

(3) The purpose (v. 15).

(4) The illustration (v. 16).

(5) The proof (v. 17).

Let us see some of the features of true Christian service.

1. Based on Knowledge. We see this in verses 1, 3, 17. Notwithstanding the greatness of the Master, he was ready to stoop to serve. The motto of the Prince of Wales is "I serve," and there is nothing nobler or more royal than service.

2. Actuated by Love. We see the intensity of Christ's love for "his own," as he was about to leave them unprotected in the world (v. 1). Love is best proved by service.

3. Marked by Humility. James and John had just been striving for the highest places in the kingdom of God, and they were taught by Christ wherein true ambition and real greatness consisted (Matt. 20:20-28). So also when the Greeks came the lesson was taught of self-sacrificing, lowly service (John 12:24-26). In the same way Paul speaks of the restoration of the brother who had been overtaken in a fault, "in a spirit of meekness" (Gal. 6:1). There is scarcely anything so true to the Christlike spirit as humility. The Greek word for "humble" shows what the pagans thought of this grace, for they used for it a term expressive of the groveling of a reptile. Christ takes humility and glorifies it, so that now it is the highest, noblest, and truest expression of life. Augustine was once asked, "What is the first step to heaven?" and replied, "Humility." "And the second step?" "Humility." "And the third step?" "Humility." It has been quaintly said that when we attempt to wash the saints' feet, we must be particularly careful along three lines:(1) The water must not be too hot; (2) our own hands must be clean; (3) we must be willing for them to wash our feet.

4. Expressed in Helpfulness. There must be doing, not merely feeling (v. 17). Christianity is more than creed and includes deed, and our efforts on behalf of others will be shown in every circle of life.

Chapter 13:18-38

The conversation of Christ on this solemn and momentous occasion could not ignore the presence of Judas, and we now see how this fact affected our Lord's words and attitude. A last attempt was made to win the traitor.

1. The Unutterable Shame (vs. 18-30).

(1) Warning (vs. 18-20). The clear reminder.

(2) Sorrow (v. 21). "Troubled," perhaps because of the effect on the disciples. The word expresses great agitation.

(3) Enquiry (vs. 22-26). The request and the sign.

(4) Appeal (vs. 27-30). No effect. The failure of infinite Love.

2. The Unrestrained Fellowship (vs. 31-38).

(1) The Son and the Father (vs. 31, 32). The "now" of relief and conscious triumph. "Glory" was the dominant thought, and this "glory" was to come through the Cross.

(2) The Master and the followers (vs. 33-35). They are "little children," and their life was to be marked by reciprocal love.

(3) The impulsiveness and the reminder (vs. 36-38). Peter's characteristic enquiry and rashness, with Christ's revelation of the denial.

As we review this scene, the following points stand out with definiteness:

1. The Solemn Possibility. The very presence of Jesus had no power to change Judas, or even to check his downward course. All the circumstances were conducive to holiness, and yet with everything to help him he went in the opposite direction. He was lost even after all this. Evil has the awful power to defeat good.

2. The Splendid Prospect. "Glory" (vs. 31, 32). See also chapter 17:5. This was the supreme end of all Christ came to be and do.

3. The Surprising Power. This was threefold: Christ on the Cross; the Father in the Son, and the Son in the Father (vs. 31, 32).

4. The Simple Principle. Love. This was the bond of discipleship (vs. 34, 35).

5. The Searching Proof. "Know" (v. 35). Love is the real test.

Chapter 14:1-27

This section (chapters 14-17) has been called "The Holy of Holies" because it contains some of the deepest and most spiritual of our Lord's teaching. It has been described in general thus: Chapter 14, Consolation, an exhortation to Faith; chapter 15, Instruction, an appeal to Love; chapter 16, Prediction, an incentive to Hope; chapter 17, Intercession, an anticipation of Glory.

The keynote of chapter 14 is seen in the repetition of the phrase, "Let not your heart be troubled" (vs. 1, 27), and there seem to be seven reasons given why they were not to be troubled. Notice how each reason follows naturally from the one before.

1. The Future Home (vs. 1-3).

(1) The Place;

(2) the preparation;

(3) the reception.

2. The Perfect Way (vs. 4-11).

(1) The destination;

(2) the way;

(3) the condition.

3. The Guaranteed Life (vs. 12-14).

(1) Continued work;

(2) increased work;

(3) powerful work.

4. The Coming Helper (vs. 15-17).

(1) Substituting;

(2) abiding;

(3) indwelling.

5. The Present Lord (vs. 18-24).

(1) Returning;

(2) manifesting;

(3) abiding.

6. The Divine Teacher (vs. 25, 26).

(1) Illuminating;

(2) reminding;

(3) revealing.

7. The Abiding Peace (v. 27).

(1) The legacy;

(2) the gift;

(3) the comparison.

The chapter may be summed up as follows:

1. The Substance of the Consolation.

(1) Christ is still living and working.

(2) He reaches his people by the Holy Spirit.

(3) They reach him through faith and prayer.

(4) They manifest him by love and obedience.

(5) And so they are assured of present grace and future glory.

2. The Call to Consolation. "Let not your heart be troubled"; this is our part; we are not to allow ourselves to be troubled. But how is this possible?

3. The Secret of Consolation. "Believe." If God is real, there will be no heartbreak, but if we forget him all will go wrong. "Only believe," and there will be peace (v. 27; see also Isa. 26:3).

Chapter 15:1-27

After the discourses in chapters 13 and 14, it is probable that this one was spoken on the way to Gethsemane (14:31). It was intended to encourage the disciples by the assurance of their Master's presence, notwithstanding his approaching departure (14:18, 20, 27). This thought of Christ's presence is illustrated by the allegory of the vine, which would be familiar to the disciples as Jews. Three trees in the New Testament illustrate Scripture teaching; the olive (Rom. 11:17-24), showing the relation to Abraham the root, and the Gentiles the branches; the fig (Mark 11:13), illustrating religious profession; and the vine, expressive of fruitfulness (Psa. 80:8-11; Isa. 5:1-7; Jer. 2:21).

It seems important to get a general view of the whole chapter in order to see the fulness of Christ's teaching.

1. Our Relation to Christ — Union and Fruitfulness (vs. 1-11; Col. 1:20-22).

(1) The Vine (vs. 1,5).

(2) The Husbandman (vs. 1, 2).

(3) The Branches (vs. 4, 5, 6).

(4) The Fruit (vs. 2, 4, 7, 8, 16).

2. Our Relation to Christians — Love and Fellowship (vs. 12-17; Eph. 4:25-32).

(1) Love commanded (vs. 12, 17).

(2) Love illustrated (v. 13).

(3) Love proved (vs. 14, 15).

(4) Love inspired (v. 16).

3. Our Relation to the World — Hostility and Faithfulness (vs. 18-27; John 17:6-18).

(1) Expectation (v. 18).

(2) Inspiration (vs. 18, 19).

(3) Explanation (vs. 20-25).

(4) Vindication (vs. 26, 27).

Christ said four things: Come unto Me (as Saviour); Learn of Me (as Teacher); Follow Me (as Master); Abide in Me (as Life). So that to "abide" is the highest requirement of Christ, and therefore applies to his faithful disciples.

1. Its Nature. It includes union and communion. We are "in Christ" for life; including pardon, righteousness, rest, liberty, and purity. Christ is "in us" for life; including protection, power, testimony, and victory. From this union will come reciprocal communion. We are to abide in him and to allow him to abide in us. This does not mean seeking a new position, but remaining in one already attained, recognizing and living in the strength and satisfaction of our existing union.

2. Its Secret. It comes first from faith (John 6:56), and then it is maintained in fellowship; obeying (1 John 3:24); confessing (1 John 4:15); and loving(1 John 4:16).

3. Its Power. We find this in prayer (15:7) and in service (v. 5).

And thus we realize our position by the Holy Spirit (John 14:20; 1 John 4:13), and maintain it by the Word of God (1 John 2:14, 24, 28; 2 John 2, 9; John 5:38; 8:31 ). It is a real encouragement to remember that we abide even when we are unconscious of Christ. For just as when our body is asleep, natural food is in us and is being assimilated for our health and strength, so we rest upon the blessed fact of Christ's presence in us, whether conscious of it or not; and whenever there is an opportunity we realize it consciously and respond to it in surrender, trust, and obedience.

Chapter 15:26 to 16:14

Another part of Christ's farewell discourses on the eve of his crucifixion (13 to 16). In chapter 15 he indicates a threefold relation of his disciples: to himself (vs. 1-11), consisting of union and communion; to one another (vs. 12-17), consisting of love and service; to the world (vs. 18-27), consisting of enmity and persecution. In connection with the last point a promise is made of the Holy Spirit to vindicate Christ through his disciples after his departure. So that we have in marked contrast the enmity of the world and the power of the Spirit, the latter being the topic of the present lesson.

1. The New Helper (15:26; Acts 1:4, 5).

(1) The Divine Advocate.

(2) The Personal Witness.

2. The Clear Destination (15:26; 16:7; Gal. 4:4-6).

(1) To believers.

(2) To believers only.

3. The Divine Source (15:26; Acts 2:30-33).

(1) Sent from the Father.

(2) Sent by Christ.

4. The Specific Character (15:26; 1 Cor. 2:7-13).

(1) The Spirit of Truth.

(2) The world's hate.

5. The Strong Assurance (15:27; 16:8-11; Acts 5:29-32).

(1) Testimony about Christ.

(2) Vindication of Christ.

6. The Important Work (16:7-11; Rom. 8:9-11).

(1) Indwelling.

(2) Outworking.

7. The Great Results (16:12-15; Eph. 3:14-19).

(1) Guidance.

(2) Utterance.

(3) Revelation.

(4) Glorification.

This section provides an opportunity of concentrating attention on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as recorded in John's Gospel. There is a striking progress of doctrine which ought to find its counterpart in personal experience.

1. The Incoming Spirit (3:5). This is the commencement of the Christian life by the new birth of the Spirit.

2. The Indwelling Spirit (4:14). Under the same figure of water, the abiding presence of the Spirit in the believer is indicated.

3. The Out flowing Spirit (7:38, 39). Water again is used to suggest the Holy Spirit. The believer first drinks and then becomes a channel of blessing, rivers of living water flowing from him to others.

4. The Witnessing Spirit (14-16). This is the specific work of the believer through the Holy Spirit in testifying to the character of Christ, and thereby convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment. This is vital, because no one has heard of a conversion to God apart from some human agency, direct or indirect, personal or written. Our Lord said that the world could not receive the Holy Spirit (14:17), and no one has ever been led to Christ in any part of the world without some testimony to the Lord by life or word. This shows the solemnity and importance of our being filled with the Spirit, in order that the world may know of Christ, because it is only in proportion to our reception and experience of the Spirit that our witness to Christ will be effectual. The consciousness that if the world is not convicted through Christians it will not be convicted at all is one of the most solemn incentives to holiness, earnestness, and world-wide evangelization.

Thus we see that the Holy Spirit is a unique and distinctive feature of Christianity. Other religions have their founders, their sacred books, their philosophy and their ethics, but only Christianity has the Holy Spirit, and as the "Spirit of Christ," the "Spirit of truth," and the "Spirit of grace" he unites the Jesus of history with the Christ of experience. It is this that makes the essential message of Christianity not "Back to Christ," but "Up to Christ."

Chapter 16:16-33

The farewell counsels have been given, concerning the Lord's own departure and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Now we notice the immediate results of what had been said.

1. The Perplexity (vs. 16-19).

(1) The Statement (v. 16). Two different "little whiles," referring to Christ's absence through death and to his return afterwards.

(2) The Difficulty (vs. 17, 18). The discussion showed their bewilderment and inability to grasp the meaning.

(3) The Sympathy (v. 19). They had talked the matter over among themselves without consulting or asking him, and now he shows that he understands them. It is a comfort to know that he knows, and also is aware that we are "desirous of asking him."

2. The Promise (vs. 20-22).

(1) The sorrow (v. 20). Because of their forthcoming loss.

(2) The joy (vs. 20, 21). A glorious transformation.

(3) The explanation (v. 22). The presence of their Master. Their grief would end but not their joy.

3. The Power (vs. 23, 24).

(1) Fuller light (v. 23). No questions (Greek) would need to be asked "in that day" of the Holy Spirit.

(2) Richer prayer (vs. 23, 24). Asking "in thy name" meant a new and deeper lesson on prayer, because it was asking in union and communion with the revealed character ("name") of Christ, and this was an advance on everything they had done hitherto. (3) Deeper joy (v. 24). Fuller enjoyment because of fuller knowledge.

4. The Prospect (vs. 25-33).

(1) Knowledge (vs. 25,26).

(2) Love (v. 27).

(3) Revelation (v. 28).

(4) Confession (vs. 29, 30).

(5) Warning (vs. 31, 32).

(6) Assurance (v. 33).

These closing words (v. 33) may almost be said to sum up the great truths of these four chapters.

1. The Believer's twofold Life.

"In" Christ. "In the world."

2. The Believer's twofold Experience.

In Christ, "peace." In the world, "tribulation."

3. The Believer's twofold Secret.

The Fact, "I have overcome." The Feeling, "Be of good cheer."

Chapter 17

The most deeply taught believer pauses before this wonderful combination of simplicity and depth. Coming just prior to Gethsemane, it affords a most remarkable index to our Lord's attitude of mind and heart as he faced the great event of the Cross. Two ideas are seen to run through the entire prayer; the personal outpouring of the Son to his Father, and the intercession of the priest for his people. The lofty calm and victorious joy fulness in the very presence of death have often been noted. There seems to be a threefold petition.

1. For Himself (vs. 1-5).

(1) The Petition (vs. 1, 5) "Glorify." The willing acceptance of the Cross (v. 1, "the hour"). The conscious position of the Son (vs. 1, 5).

(2) The Purpose (v. 1, "that"). God, not himself, the only thought, "The self-abnegation of the Son."

(3) The Plea (vs. 2-4). The completed work.

2. For His Apostles (vs. 6-19).

(1) The Petition (vs. 11, 15, "keep").

(2) The Purpose, unity (v. 11); joy (v. 13).

(3) The Plea, relationship to God (vs. 6-8, 10); and to the world (v. 11).

3. For His Church (vs. 20-25).

(1) The Petition, "one," in character (v. 21); in abode (v. 24). Like Christ and with Christ.

(2) The Purpose, in the present (vs. 21, 23), and future (v. 24).

(3) The Plea, Christ's union with the Father (vs. 21-23), and his authority from the Father (vs. 24, 25).

And so the prayer is for the Glorification of Christ; the Preservation of the Apostles and the Unification of Believers.

Perhaps the entire prayer may be regarded as summarized in verse 18, where there are four references: "Thou"; "Me"; "the world"; "them." What Christ was to the Father then, we are to be to Christ now. "As... so."

1. Our Lord:

(1) Revealed God (vs. 3, 6).

(2) Conveyed God's Will (vs. 3, 6. 8 ff).

(3) Fulfilled God's Work (vs. 4, 12 ff).

2. Ourselves:

(1) Similar Authority (v. 18).

(2) Similar Object (vs. 20, 21).

(3) Similar Consecration (v. 19).

Chapter 18:1-18

The change from chapters 13 to 17 to chapter 18 is like going from warmth to cold, from light to darkness. After the farewell discourses (13-16) and our Lord's prayer (17) for himself (vs. 1-5); for his disciples (vs. 9-19); and for his Church (vs. 20-26), came the incidents of the betrayal and trial. As in 13 to 17, we have the development of faith, so in 18 and 19 we have the culmination of unbelief. The picture of Christ in these chapters is one of calm dignity and real majesty, showing that the last and supreme test was met victoriously, and that his closing hours were in entire consistency with his beautiful life and ministry.

Although John was one of the three taken apart from the rest in Gethsemane, and was thus fitted to write of that solemn time, he omits all reference to it, not only because what others had written was sufficient, but also and chiefly because the special line of his Gospel was the presentation of the Lord as the object of faith rather than as the suffering Son of Man. Thus we learn from John alone how the Lord's personal presence at first overawed the company who came to apprehend him.

1. The Betrayer (vs. 1-3; Psa. 41:5-8).

(1) The journey.

(2) The place.

(3) The meeting.

2. The Lord (vs. 4-9; Heb. 12:1-11).

(1) Calm majesty.

(2) Willing surrender.

(3) Self-forgetful care.

3. The Disciple (vs. 10-18; Isa. 50:4-7).

(1) Impetuous devotion.

(2) Loving admonition.

(3) Great danger.

1. The Wickedness of the Fallen Heart. This is exemplified in Judas. Notwithstanding the wonderful privileges of three years, he was ready to betray his Master. He does not seem to have been a monster of evil, but simply of selfishness, which led to insincerity as a disciple, falseness as an apostle, theft as a man, and at length perdition as a traitor. The cause of the crime may have been originally avarice, which perhaps developed into revenge. The sin had been growing for some time (6:64). All this shows the solemn truth that intellectual capacity is not everything and that formal adhesion to Jesus Christ, even to the extent of being numbered among his apostles, is not enough. We also see the awful possibilities of evil when the heart is separated from Divine grace. John Bradford, one of the martyrs in England at the time of the Reformation, once saw a criminal on his way to execution, and said, "There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford."

2. The Love of the Divine Heart. This is pictured in Jesus Christ. We see his willingness towards his Father (v. 11); we notice his effort, even at the last, to win Judas (Luke 22:48); we mark his thought for the safety of his disciples (v. 8); we note his attitude towards his captors; and we observe his reminder to Peter (v. 11). As we think of all this, we remember and rejoice in the love that gave Jesus to suffer and die.

3. The Imperfection of the Renewed Heart. This is illustrated in Peter. We naturally feel interested in the blessedness of enthusiasm (v. 10), and yet we must not fail to see the danger of mere impulse (v. U). Looking at the whole story of the denial (vs. 15-18. 25-27), we notice beyond all else the weakness which comes from loss of faith (Luke 22:32).

As we contemplate these three aspects of character, we cannot help realizing the solemn lesson, based upon two contrasted texts: "Apart from, me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5); "I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me" (Phil. 4:13).

Chapter 18:19-40

The particular purpose of each Gospel is not easily seen in the selections made of the events of the Passion. It has been suggested that John's account is marked by the proofs of consistency with what precedes, that the tests in all severity were triumphantly passed. "The end matches the beginning. The last scenes fit perfectly upon those that have gone before" (H. W. Clark, "The Christ from Without and Within," p. 217).

1. Christ and the High Priest (vs. 19-24).

(1) The Enquiry (v. 19).

(2) The Answer (v. 20).

(3) The First Challenge (v. 21).

(4) The Injustice (v. 22).

(5) The Second Challenge (v. 23).

(6) The Result (v. 24).

2. Christ and Peter (vs. 25-27).

(1) The Peril (v. 25). There was danger in the company he kept. John was in no such peril because he was known to be a disciple (v. 15), and was fearless.

(2) The Denial (v. 25).

(3) The Persistence (vs. 26, 27). "Having once committed himself, the two other denials followed as a matter of course. Yet the third denial is more guilty than the first. Many persons are conscious that they have sometimes acted under what seems an infatuation. They do not plead this in excuse for the wrong they have done. They are quite aware that what has come out of them must have been in them, and that their acts, unaccountable as they seem, have definite roots in their character. Peter's first denial was the result of surprise and infatuation. But an hour seems to have elapsed between the first and the third. He had time to think, time to remember his Lord's warning, time to leave the place if he could do no better.... The remarkable feature of this sin of Peter's is that at first sight it seems so alien to his character. It was a lie; and he was unusually straightforward. It was a heartless and cruel lie, and he was a man full of emotion and affection. It was a cowardly lie, even more cowardly than common lies, and yet he was exceptionally bold." (Dods, "The Gospel of St. John").

(4) The Reminder (v. 27).

3. Christ and Pilate (vs. 28-40).

(1) The Charge. Pilate and the Jews (vs. 28-32); insincerity (v. 28); evasion (v. 30); cruelty (v. 31).

(2) The Conversation. Pilate and the Lord (vs. 33-38a); the first question and answer (vs. 33, 34); the second (vs. 35, 36); the third (v. 37):the fourth question (v. 38).

(3) The Compromise. Pilate and the Jews again (vs. 38b-40); the confession (v. 38); the cowardice (v. 39); the compromise (v. 40). Pilate evidently saw that nothing short of Christ's death would satisfy the Jews, and yet, although he had declared the Lord innocent, he treated him as an evildoer.

In this episode we see four attitudes which tell their own story:

1. The Jews. Callousness. The degradation caused by wrongdoing.

2. Simon Peter. Carelessness. The duty of watchfulness — "resist beginnings."

3. Pilate. Cynicism. The danger of weakness.

4. Christ Jesus. Courage. The dignity of righteousness (see 1 Tim. 6:13).

Chapter 19:1-16

The Fourth Gospel gives a remarkable fulness of narrative in connection with the trial before Pilate, and very little of the proceeding before Annas and Caiaphas. The latter were powerless to accomplish what they wanted. Prudence also suggested that all possible consideration should be given to the Roman Governor, who is said to have been jealous of his own power.

The story is a wonderful study in human nature. It records a conflict between right and wrong and of the oscillations in Pilate's mind as he desired to do the former and yet succumbed to the latter. It is an illustration of what Simeon had long ago said, that in contact with Christ the thoughts of the heart would be revealed (Luke 2:35).

The passage seems to be naturally divided into four sections; verses 1-3; 4-8; 9-11; 12-16; and the recurrence of the word "therefore" is impressive.

1. The Injustice (v. 1). Although bent on saving Christ, Pilate compromises with the right.

2. The Admission (v. 4). We pity Pilate even though we deplore and denounce his weakness.

3. The Offer (v. 6). Pilate must have known that this proposal was impossible.

4. The Fear (v. 8). A new element enters into the situation and Pilate is awed.

5. The Anger (v. 10). The man's dignity was hurt and might asserts itself against right.

6. The Effort (v. 12). An evident impression was made and so Pilate tries again to release him.

7. The Mockery (v. 15). The fluctuations of the man's nature are sadly significant.

8. The Decision (v. 16). The evil prevailed, and to save his own position Pilate yielded to clamor and injustice.

The record shows the struggle between vacillation and malignity:

1. The Wickedness of Weakness. Pilate missed a splendid chance.

(1) Vacillation. Loss through weakness of will.

(2) Compromise shows the peril of expediency.

(3) Love of position. Danger of proud selfishness.

(4) One action determining the whole life.

2. The Weakness of Wickedness. The Jews made an awful choice.

(1) Decision is necessary, but they made it on the wrong side.

(2) Decision is important, and reveals what we really are.

(3) Decision is fraught with immense possibilities for good, or, as here, for evil.

(4) Wickedness is futile, if only men would see it.

Chapter 19:16-42

After the ecclesiastical trial (twofold) came the trial before Pilate, which is marked in John by seven aspects, the circumstances ''shifting alternately from the outside to the inside of the palace" (Whitelaw). Note also the solemn repetition of "therefore" all through the scenes. The result of Pilate's weakness in yielding was the delivering of Christ to be crucified. John's account is in some respects supplementary to, and in others independent of, the other Gospels, and seems to proceed along two lines, illustrating at once man's sin and God's purpose. The picture of Christ is also strikingly majestic, and his life is seen to culminate in the sacrifice.

1. Under the Cross (v. 17; 2 Cor. 5:14-21).

(1) The Weary Pilgrim.

(2) The Varied Attendants.

(3) The Sorrowful Way.

2. On the Cross (v. 18; Rom. 5:1-11).

(1) Prepared.

(2) Upraised.

(3) Placed.

3. Over the Cross (vs. 19-22; Heb. 9:19-28).

(1) Position.

(2) Language.

(3) Providence.

4. At the Cross (vs. 23, 24; Luke 23:32-43).

(1) Inhumanity.

(2) Insensibility.

(3) Instrumentality.

5. Near the Cross (v. 25; Heb. 12:1-11).

(1) The Names.

(2) The Position.

(3) The Privilege.

6. From the Cross (vs. 26-30; Psa. 22:1-8).

(1) The Church's Head.

(2) The Human Sufferer.

(3) The Father's Servant.

7. After the Cross (vs. 31-42; Isa. 53:1-12).

(1) The Sights Beheld.

(2) The Reflections Made.

(3) The Actions Performed.

1. The Cross is Central. We see this by a simple comparison of the passages in our Bible dealing with the events of the last week of Christ's earthly life, as contrasted with the lack of detail for the remainder of the three years. John gives nearly one-half of his Gospel to these few days. This alone shows the centrality of the crucifixion, but we may also look at it along these four lines:( 1 ) Predicted in the Old Testament; (2) Foreseen by Christ; (3) Emphasized by Christ; (4) Proclaimed by the Apostles.

2. The Need is Absolute. Why should the death of Jesus Christ be made so prominent? The answer is "to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). And we may think of the various aspects of sin, as they are dealt with by the Cross:(1) Sin as guilt; (2) Sin as bondage; (3) Sin as defilement; (4) Sin as enmity.

3. The Value is Vital. In every way the Cross is of supreme importance:(1) Against Rationalism, which tends to emphasize the life and forget the death, though Christ came into the world to die; (2) against Formalism, which tends to accept intellectually the fact without spiritually and personally trusting the One who died; (3) against Romanism, which, with all its emphasis on Calvary, tends to think only of the act and fact of the death of Christ rather than of the Christ who died and now lives forever (Rev. 1:18); (4) against Skepticism, which tends to deny the power of the Cross for human needs.

Chapter 20:1-29

This chapter Is the second part of the section 18-20, and as 18 and 19 record the climax of unbelief, so 20 tells of the culmination of belief, and gives the crowning joy of the entire section beginning with chapter 13. After the burial of Christ (19:38-42) and the Jewish precautions for security (Matt. 27:62-66) came the resurrection. John's account, while in some respects supplementary, is yet selected on the principle of 20:31, to elicit faith. The various appearances are not easily arranged in order, but this constitutes a proof of their accuracy in the absence of any effort to fit them in. Certain features are common to all four Gospels, including the omission of any description of the actual resurrection and the limitation of the appearances to believers (Acts 10:40, 41). If only we knew all the circumstances, the arrangement of the appearances would be doubtless quite simple.

1. The Fact of the Resurrection (vs. 1-10; Luke 24:25-35).

(1) First impression — Sorrow (vs. 1-3).

(2) Second impression — Perplexity (vs. 4-7).

(3) Third impression — Trust (vs. 8-10).

2. The Power of the Resurrection (vs. 11-29; Luke 24:25-35).

(1) First impression — Sorrow dispelled (vs. 11-18).

(2) Second impression — Perplexity removed (vs. 19-23).

(3) Third impression — Trust assured (vs. 24-29).

1. The Necessity of the Resurrection. Why "must" Jesus rise? (1) As a proof of the truth of his own words, for he had foretold it so clearly that his veracity was at stake, unless he rose; (2) as a testimony to the truth of the Old Testament, which had foretold it (Psalms 2 and 16; Isa. 53):(3) as a vindication of Christ's character, for a perfect life could not close in a cruel and shameful death; (4) as a vindication of God, for all through his life Christ had appealed to God, and, as Paul said afterwards, it would have proved God to be false if Christ had not been raised (1 Cor. 15:15).

2. The Proofs of the Resurrection. How may we be assured that Christ did rise? (1) The fact of the empty grave and the disappearance of the body. It must have been removed by human or superhuman power. (2) The remarkable transformation in the disciples from gloom to gladness, from despair to hope, and from sorrow to joy. Only three days and this change took place. (3) The existence of the primitive Church, for every one believes that the Church of Christ came into existence as a result of accepting the resurrection of the Master. (4) The influence of Christ upon men and communities from the time of Paul onwards. Only One who is living and Divine could affect men's lives in this way.

3. The Value of the Resurrection. For what reasons do we make it prominent? (1) Evidential (Rom. 1:4); (2) Evangelistic (Rom. 4:25; 1 Pet. 1:21); (3) Spiritual (Rom. 6:4); (4) Eschatological (1 Cor. 15:20,21).

Chapter 21

After 20:31 the addition of this chapter seems strange at first sight, but further consideration shows that it is an integral and essential part of the Gospel, and as an Epilogue answers to the Prologue and so completes the record of the glory of Christ as the Revealer of God and the Redeemer of man. There are three main parts: The Pre-Incarnate Life of Christ, 1:1-18; the Incarnate Life, 1:19 to 20:29; the Post-Incarnate Life, 21:1-22. This chapter forms a sort of parable of Christ's present life above in relation to his people. The keynote is Service.

1. Christ and the Christian Community (vs. 1-14). The seven men mentioned here may be regarded as representative of the Church as a whole (seven the perfect number).

(1) The Church's Failure (vs. 1-3). They had been told to wait for their Master, but apparently they had become somewhat impatient and had returned to their old work. But they were unsuccessful, as all work must be that is done apart from Christ and his command.

(2) The Church's Lesson (vs. 4-6). But the Master was watching and his enquiry was followed by his commission and promise of blessing.

(3) The Church's Faithfulness (vs. 6b-8). Obedience was honored by immediate results, and the disciples recognized who was the source of this success.

(4) The Church's Reward (vs. 9-14). On reaching the shore they found that their Master had prepared them a meal, and bringing their fish to land, they were welcomed and fed. See in this a symbol and foretaste of the future (Luke 12:37; Rev. i9:9).

2. Christ and the Christian Individual (vs. 15-22). The disciple is now commissioned for his work.

(1) The Disciple Tested. The one requirement for service is "love."

(2) The Disciple Commissioned. Three classes of believers are committed to his charge (see Greek and Westcott).

(3) The Disciple Taught (vs. 18, 19). His past is described, his future disclosed, and his present declared.

(4) The Disciple Rebuked (vs. 20-22). Curiosity is met by the assertion of Christ's sovereignty, by the reminder of varied service (working or waiting), and by the call to implicit obedience.

Looking on this chapter as typifying or symbolizing the entire period of the history of the Church, we may note how it is marked by service which' is to be crowned with glory.

1. Power for Service. The Lord's Will. Without Christ the disciples were unsuccessful, but in his presence and at his word came blessing.

2. Peace in Service. The Lord's Word. Amid weariness, depression, and discouragement, his instruction and promise, "ye shall find," brings rest and contentment.

3. Prospect after Service. The Lord's Welcome. When the night is past, we shall see him on the shore and shall hear his welcome.