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The Blue Letter Bible

Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Comments for John

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Chapter 1 There are three great building blocks of the prologue, and the other verses are the cement that holds them together. In each building block there are three great statements:

THE WORD (v. 1) Identification
(3 statements)
THE WORD (v. 14) Explanation
(3 statements)
THE WORD (v. 18) Declaration
(3 statements)

The contrast between Jesus and John the Baptist is sharp. Their relationship is set forth in the contrast:

Was from eternity Came
Word Man
He, Himself, God Sent from God
He is the light Testified concerning the Light
Object of trust Agent to point men to Christ

Chapter 2 Jesus came from heaven’s glory, yet He walks over a hill to Cana to attend a wedding. (He would like to come to your wedding also, and bless it.) Here He performs His first miracle (v. 11) and manifests His glory so that His disciples believe on Him.

Chapter 3 Nicodemus was probably sent by the Sanhedrin to align Jesus on their side, but he found Jesus to be concerned with him personally. Jesus said, “You must be born again, and therefore the Son of man must be lifted up” (see vv. 7, 14). The necessity of being born again makes imperative the lifting up of Christ on the cross. Jesus did not mean a second beginning, as Nicodemus interpreted it, but a different beginning — being born anew (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Chapter 4 Samaritans were despised by the Jews because they were the result of intermarriage of the poorest class of Jews with the hated Assyrian conquerors. This woman is not only a Samaritan, she is dissolute, rude, and stupid. That the God of eternity would stop to have an interview with her ought to tell us something about God! Notice how gently He deals with her, appealing first to her sympathy and then to her curiosity.
The period known as His great Galilean ministry begins with verse 46, dated December A.D. 27. The miracle (v. 50) is not so much the healing of the boy, but it is the faith of the father. Most of us would have said, “When I get home and see my boy running around, then I’ll believe.”

Chapter 5 The last of verse 3 and all of verse 4 is omitted in the best manuscripts. It has been inserted in the King James Version to let us know why that crowd of sick people were there. Today many folk are waiting for some mysterious moving. Notice Jesus did not offer to put him in the water, but said, “Get up. Pick up your mat. Walk!” (see v. 8). Because this was done on the Sabbath, it occasioned the final break with the religious rulers (v. 16). They understood perfectly that He was making Himself equal with God (v. 18).

Chapter 6 Mathematics of a Miracle

5 loaves 5,000 men
1 loaf 1,000 men
1 fish 2,500 men
1/2 loaf 500 men (about 1/2 a hamburger bun for 500 men)

Naturally this would remind them of Moses and the manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16). But manna did not give them life — they are dead. The true Bread is the Lord Jesus Christ; He gives life. Notice that the work of God (v. 29) is not that which is commanded by God, but that which is wrought by God.

Chapter 7 Notice that our Lord has become a controversial figure. The enmity against Him is beginning to break out like wildfire. At the feast of tabernacles they built booths and lived in them throughout the feast, symbolic of the wilderness journey. Every day there was the pouring out of water in the temple and a double portion on the last day, reminding them that God gave them water from the rock in the wilderness (Exodus 17). Using this symbolism, Jesus gives His invitation (v. 37). Drinking and believing are the same thing (v. 38).

Chapter 8 Obviously the scribes and Pharisees did not want to stone her; they wanted to stone Him (v. 6). If they had been sincere about following the Law, why didn’t they bring the man also (Leviticus 20:10)? Notice the requirement for judging another — sinlessness. Jesus is putting His cross between the woman and her sin. He did not come to judge. He came to save (John 3:17).
“I…came from God” (v. 42 — cf. John 3:17, 34; 5:36, 37; 8:18, 26, 29; 10:36; 11:42; 12:49; 14:10; 17:3, 8). “Ye are of your father the devil” (v. 44) — (see Matthew 13:38; 23:15; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 12:9). Notice the 7 “I AMs” in John 6:35; 8:12; 10:9, 11; 11:25; 14:6; and 15:5.

Chapter 9 The question in v. 2 was due to current beliefs in: (1) reincarnation; (2) heredity (Exodus 20:5); (3) sin of Adam; (4) a child in the womb could sin (cf. Jacob and Esau).
The condition of the blind man parallels our condition before we were saved:

(1) Outside the temple, shut out from God
(2) Blind, unable to see the Savior
(3) Blind from birth — we were born in sin
(4) Beyond human help
(5) Beggar — salvation is not for sale; it is a gift

Notice the syllogistic method of arguing (v. 16): Major premise — all people from God keep the Sabbath; minor premise — Jesus does not keep the Sabbath; conclusion — Jesus is not from God.
The blind man knew he was blind, received the light that was given to him, believed, and was saved. The Pharisees did not admit their blindness — the Light revealed their blindness.

Chapter 10 “Door” is used in three ways:

1. “Door into the sheepfold” (v. 1) — Sheepfold is the nation Israel. Jesus will lead His sheep out of Judaism, out from under the Law.

2. “Door of the sheep” (v. 7) — Jesus is the door for those coming out of Judaism (cf. blind man had no place to go after excommunication).

3. “The door” (v. 9) — He is the door of salvation for both Jew and Gentile (cf. John 14:6). He is the way in.

Jesus came into the fold the right way (v. 2), made under the Law, in David’s line. The porter (the Holy Spirit) opened the way for Him.
“Fold” (v. 16) means Israel. For over 2000 years He has been calling out Jew and Gentile. We are now one flock, the church.

Good Shepherd — Psalm 22 (John 10:11)
Great Shepherd — Psalm 23 (Hebrews 13:20)
Chief Shepherd — Psalm 24 (1 Peter 5:4)

Chapter 11 Here is God’s answer to the Jews’ question to Jesus, “Who are You?” He is the resurrection and the life!
Is illness in the will of God? Is it a sign that He doesn’t love you (vv. 3, 4)? “Sleep” (v. 11) always refers to the body. The believer’s body is put to sleep, to be awakened (in a new body) by our Lord. Science is helpless in the presence of death — Jesus began where man leaves off (vv. 14, 15). “…I am the resurrection, and the life; [How?] he that believeth in [trusts into or upon] me, though he were dead [in trespasses and sins], yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die [a penal death for his sin]” (vv. 25, 26). “Jesus wept” (v. 35) — this is how He feels at the funeral of your loved one; He weeps.
Notice how the enemy bears testimony to Him (v. 47). They are frightened of Him now (v. 48). Their only solution is murder (v. 53).

Chapter 12 While they were plotting His death in Jerusalem, those who loved Him made Him a dinner at Bethany. Mary expresses her devotion and adoration with this costly gift that is worth, according to Judas, 300 pence — the annual wage of a laboring man. It revealed her spiritual insight (v. 7), which none of the disciples had at this time.
Having presented His miracles (and they rejected Him), He now makes a definite claim to Messiahship and rides publicly into Jerusalem. It is to fulfill the Word of God (Genesis 49:8-12, “Shiloh” in verse 10 is the Messiah; Zechariah 9:9) and to fulfill the will of God.

Chapter 13 Evidently there is a meaning here not seen on the surface (v. 12). “He that is washed [bathed (louo), which is regeneration] needeth not except to wash [nipto] his feet” (v. 10). The spiritual meaning is that He is cleansing His own from the defilement of the world (1 John 1:9) in order to restore them to fellowship. He is sending them out to do the same thing (v. 14, cf. Galatians 6:1).
He is now warning His own and preparing them, since He would soon go to the cross.

Chapter 14 When man sinned back in the Garden of Eden, three things happened to him: (1) dead to God; (2) no communion with God; (3) no longer had knowledge of God. Christ restores these — “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (v. 6) — reconciliation, illumination, and regeneration.
Verse 17 reveals the great truth of this age. The Holy Spirit was with them in the Old Testament; He is in believers today.
Judas represents the devil, for the devil entered into him and overcame him.
Simon Peter was overcome by the flesh.
Thomas was overcome by the world — spiritual truth was dim and unreal to him.

Chapter 15 Everyone He is speaking to here is a believer. The prophets spoke of the nation Israel as the vine — Psalm 80:8, 9; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1. It was a degenerate vine, and Jesus now presents Himself as the genuine vine. Salvation is not by being in Israel (or being in a church), but being in Christ. A grapevine will never break at the place where the branch goes into the vine. “Abide” (v. 4) means constant communion with Christ — isn’t that what a branch is doing in the vine? “Fruit” (v. 5) is produced by the Holy Spirit in such a life (Galatians 5:22, 23). The fruit of soul-winning is a by-product. The fire in verse 6 is not hell, but being taken away from the place of fruitbearing (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Chapter 16 “He will guide you into all truth” (v. 13) is the ministry of the Holy Spirit completing the teaching of Jesus. We find this in the Epistles. “And he will show you things to come” (v. 13) is revelation. “He shall glorify me” (v. 14) — all of this is the unfolding of Christ’s person and His ministry.
I consider verse 28 to be the key to this Gospel. The eternal Son came to the earth for one purpose — to redeem man. When the mission is accomplished, He will return to the Father. This is the movement in the Gospel of John. Though they believe He is the Messiah, they still don’t comprehend His death, resurrection, and ascension. He has painted a black picture in this chapter; persecution is coming — “They have hated me and they will hate you; it will be rough going in the world — but be of good cheer! I have overcome the world” (see v. 33). His victory is our victory.

Chapter 17 Believers and the world:

(1) Given to Christ out of the world (v. 6)
(2) Left in the world (v. 11)
(3) Not of the world (v. 14)
(4) Hated by the world (v. 14)
(5) Kept from the evil one (v. 15)
(6) Sent into the world (v. 18)
(7) Manifested in unity before the world (v. 23)

Christ prays this for His own:

(1) preservation (v. 11)
(2) joy — fullness of the Spirit (v. 13)
(3) deliverance — from evil (v. 15)
(4) set apart — “sanctify” (v. 17)
(5) unity, “be one” — not union (v. 21)
(6) fellowship — “be with me” (v. 24)
(7) satisfaction — “behold my glory” (v. 24)

Are you finding it rough going down here? Are you having problems in this world? He said you would. But He has prayed for you, and the Father always answers His prayers.

Chapter 18 Notice the majesty and meekness of Jesus. Apparently He spent His nights under the open sky — born in a stable; arrested, not in a fine home, but in a garden. For a brief moment He revealed His glory (v. 6), showing that there could have been no arrest without His cooperation. Jesus is in complete charge (vv. 8, 9), even telling them whom to arrest and whom not to arrest.
Why did Peter lop off Malchus’ ear? Because he was a fisherman and not a swordsman — he was aiming for his head. Why was Peter not arrested? Because our Lord was in command.
“The cup” is the cross; Jesus came to die (v. 11).
Annas (v. 13), father-in-law of the high priest, was formerly high priest. Clever and satanic, he knew how to handle Rome. It was he who plotted the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. The trial was a mockery; they had already decided that He was going to die (v. 14).
If they had entered the home of a Gentile, they would have been polluted (v. 28) and unable to eat the Passover. In the name of religion they were plotting the death of the very One who is the fulfillment of Passover! Are you religious, or are you really joined to Christ?
Only Rome executed by crucifixion (v. 32, cf. Psalm 22).
He is not saying (v. 36) that His kingdom will not be established on this earth. “Of” means that it is not built on power structure and politics as are the kingdoms of this world.

Chapter 19 If Jesus was innocent, Pilate should have released Him; if He was guilty, he should have crucified Him — beating Him was a miscarriage of justice (v. 1). He thought it would satisfy Jesus’ accusers (vv. 4, 5). If you had seen Jesus it would have broken your heart — He was beaten beyond recognition. He did not even look human (Isaiah 52:14).
Hebrew was the language of religion; Greek was the language of culture, philosophy, and learning; Latin was the language of law and power. The superscription was written in the three languages for the three great sections of humanity (v. 20). Here is a man who was a carpenter, unheard of beyond the boundaries of that little land out in the hinterlands of the Empire. He dies on a cross as a criminal. And His gospel, the fact that He died for others, is to be preached throughout the world. More than 2000 years later, in a world of turmoil, this is still the hope of the world, the only hope for humanity.
Notice it is “when” they had crucified Jesus (v. 23), past tense. Not one of the Gospel writers gives the details. And God pulled down a veil of darkness for three hours while the transaction was taking place between the Father and the Son.
They shot dice for His garment (v. 24) to fulfill a little detail of prophecy (Psalm 22:18). That day while He was hanging on the cross, 28 prophecies were fulfilled. What was finished (v. 30)? Your redemption and mine was finished. By crucifying their own Savior, trying to observe the Passover that speaks of Him, they are fulfilling prophecy. Compare John 19:36 with Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20; and John 19:37 with Zechariah 12:10 and Revelation 1:7.

Chapter 20 Jesus came back from the dead on Sunday (v. 1), and from then on believers have met together on the first day of the week. Apparently Mary Magdalene came out ahead of the other women. When she saw the sepulchre open, she turned and left. When the other women arrived, she was probably halfway to the home of John. Notice that Peter is staying with John. After Peter’s base denial, John had taken him in. What was remarkable about seeing “the linen clothes lying” (v. 5)? Remember that Joseph and Nicodemus had prepared the body for burial (John 19:40). They sealed in the body with 100 pounds of ointment, wrapped it with strips of linen cloth, and prepared it like a mummy. Each finger was wrapped separately, then the hand, then the arms were strapped to the body and the body was wound. John and Peter knew that He could not have gotten out of that encasement. It would have been physically impossible to get that body out of graveclothes without unwinding them. “He saw” is a prolonged inspection (v. 8) which convinced John — he “believed.” Resurrection was the only answer. Mary did not recognize Him (v. 14), not because He was so changed, but she wasn’t expecting to see Him at all. She had great love and concern, but no faith.
“Touch me not” (v. 17) is “do not cling to me,” and He gives the reason — “I am not yet ascended.” Like the high priest on the Day of Atonement, He was on His way to present His sacrifice in heaven. I believe His blood will be in heaven throughout eternity to remind us of the price that was paid.
The disciples knew Him (v. 20) even before He showed His wounds. It is amazing that His wounds are still there in His glorified body. He will bear the scars of sin for eternity so that you and I can be presented blameless and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27).
During the interval between His ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, these disciples needed help. So our Lord “breathed” into them eternal life by giving them the Spirit of God (v. 22).
What will remit sin (v. 23)? The gospel. The gospel must be preached before sin can be remitted.
Thomas needlessly spent a miserable week of doubt and darkness (vv. 24, 25), but then he gives the highest testimony to the Lord Jesus (v. 28).
There are eleven recorded appearances of Jesus before His ascension, but these are recorded that we might believe (v. 31). John gives a very clear reason for his purpose in writing his Gospel.

Chapter 21 After breakfast is over and they are sitting around, Jesus asks three questions of Simon Peter, gets three affirmations, and gives three exhortations. His first question (v. 15) is, “Do you love me?” using the Greek word agapao, meaning “love with all your heart.” Peter’s answer is, “I have an affection (phileo in the Greek) for you.” Peter, who had insisted that he would die for Him and that same night denied that he even knew Him, is not boasting anymore. Keenly conscious of his own failure, he is being completely honest and is grieved that he cannot come up to the level of agapao. Notice that on the basis of his love — so weak that he is ashamed of it — Christ commissions him, “Feed my lambs.”

I. Interrogation II. Affirmation III. Exhortation
1. agapao 1. phileo 1. Feed my little lambs
2. agapao 2. phileo 2. Discipline my lambs
3. phileo 3. phileo 3. Feed my lambs

You and I must pass through that gate of affirmation before we can serve Him!

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