Theme: Outlining John
In this week’s lessons, we see how Jesus offers forgiveness and new life through his death on behalf of sinners.
Scripture: John 8:1-11
As I have said before, as we make our way through these various encounters Jesus had with people in John’s Gospel, these are not just stories that John is stringing together because they happen to be things he remembered and he thought they made nice stories. He tells what he’s been doing at the end of the book, when he says that there are many things that Jesus did that could be written in this book. He hasn’t written them all, but he’s written these things down so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, and in believing, you might have life in his name. So these stories are meant to teach certain things about Jesus, and about the gospel, and about the way in which people receive it.
This week we are looking at a story from John 8. Before we go on to look at this particular encounter, it might be helpful to give a brief outline of John’s Gospel up to this chapter where this famous story is found. There are a number of ways of outlining this Gospel, and I’m going to use the same one when I was studying the Gospel of John a number of years ago, when I preached through the whole book and then wrote the five volumes of those studies.
The ancients didn’t outline their books the way we do. We will indicate a sub-section of a chapter by putting a little title over it. The ancients, on the other hand, had other ways of indicating divisions, and one of them is to give a little outline in a verse, which is then followed in what comes next. So for example, in John 1:11-12 the Apostle John says, speaking of Jesus, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him, yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed on his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Now, I suggest that this is a three-part outline for chapters 1-12. First of all, you have Jesus coming to his own in chapters 1-4. He appears as the light of the world. John the Baptist figures in that, as does Nicodemus, and also even the woman of Samaria. Secondly, you have him rejected by his own, seen in chapters 5-8. That marks a period of opposition that grew up in response to him. Then finally, in the third section, chapters 9-12, you have him drawing out people to himself.
The reason I mention that is that this story comes in chapter 8, the second section, which is marked by the growth of opposition to the teaching and the person of Jesus Christ. By way of an example, you see that in chapter 5, the very beginning of this section. Jesus sees this paralytic by the Pool in Bethesda, and he heals him. But it says that the day on which this took place was the Sabbath. Now there you have the beginning of the conflict, because according to the teaching of the legalists of the day, you weren’t supposed to do anything like this on the Sabbath. They did provide for what we would call works of mercy, for example, if something bad were happening to another person. If their life were threatened, you were able to save them from that. But not something like what Jesus did. This paralytic has been around there for thirty-eight years; you don’t have to do that on the Sabbath. It could have been done the next day. They considered this act on the part of Jesus a violation of the law.
And so beginning at that point, you have not only a dispute over the Sabbath, but you also have the beginning of opposition to Jesus Christ on other accounts. You follow this through those chapters, and as you come to the end of this section in chapter 8, you find in the very last verse, “At this, they picked up stones to stone him.” You can’t have the opposition developing in any more radical way than that.
Study Questions:

Explain how John 1:11-12 can serve as the outline for John 1-12.
Review John 5-8, and note the instances of opposition toward Jesus.

For Further Study: To learn about another encounter Jesus had, download and listen for free to Richard Phillips’ message, “Jesus and the Scholar.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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