Gospel of John Summary
The Gospel of John begins with a lovely little poem about Jesus. Here's what we learn:
- He is God's word in human form.
- He's come to earth to be a light to everyone.
- He's going to destroy the evil of darkness.
All in a day's work for the savior of the world.
When Jesus appears on the scene, he starts to gather a nice little entourage of disciples. He travels with them around Judea bringing God's truth and racking up an impressive list of miracles. Turning water into wine? Check. Healing a blind man? Check. Raising a guy from the dead? Check. Jesus does it all without even breaking a sweat. Tons of people are starting to put their faith in him.
But not everyone is so thrilled with the coming of the messiah. The religious authorities in Judea are fuming at the idea that there's a man walking around who can raise people from the dead. They hatch an evil plot to have Jesus killed and then, we assume, they start practicing their maniacal laughs for when that day comes.
They don't have to wait long. The next time Jesus is in Jerusalem, one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, conspires with the religious authorities to have Jesus arrested. He's taken to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, and sentenced to death by crucifixion.
So, that's the end, right? Not a chance. Three days after he dies, Jesus comes back to life. He appears to some of his disciples and even gives out some pretty good fishing advice. Jesus tells them to keep spreading his story around. The disciples oblige and the rest is the history. The history of the western world, that is.
Make Way for Jesus
- In the beginning, there's Jesus.
- Jesus is God's word. He's always been with God and always will be. Word. (Sorry, we had to.)
- Everything in the world is made through this guy. He's the light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness can't do anything to stop him. So, yeah, he's a pretty big deal.
- John the Baptist is around, too, but he's just been sent by God to tell everyone about the light (i.e., Jesus). Hey, there has to be a messenger, right?
- Side note: for those of you who might be thinking that John is the light sent from God, John's gospel wants you to know that he is not. The light is Jesus, and people are about to get hit with that info—hard.
- Yes, it's true Jesus is already here, living in the world, but the people of the world don't know about him—yet. Some of them don't like or won't accept him either, but the ones who do accept him will be VIPs in God's book. That's a pretty good incentive, wouldn't you say?
- If that weren't enough, we're told that Jesus is also everything God says and thinks in human form. He lives among us and we get to see how glorious he is. He will show us all God's grace and truth. Well, then.
- Again, John the Baptist stresses to everyone that Jesus is the important one we should be paying attention to. John is not the light. Thanks John, we got it the first time.
- Why does Jesus rank above John? Because he's eternal and divine. Oh, got it.
- Moses might have given the people their laws, but Jesus will show all of us what God is really about. Sorry, Moses—at least you got to talk to that burning bush.
- By the way, no person has ever seen God, except those who have seen Jesus. Yep, that's right. Jesus = God.
- It's actually God who brought Jesus into the world.
John the Baptist Does His Thing
- John the Baptist is in Bethany, baptizing people by the Jordan River.
- The religious authorities there ask him who on earth he is. They're pretty nosy. It's kind of their thing.
- John quickly explains that he is not the messiah or one of the big-time Jewish prophets. Just for some added street cred, John quotes Isaiah.
Turns out, he's just there to announce the coming of the Lord. NBD.
- The religious authorities want to know why John is baptizing people by the Jordan River if he isn't really important enough to be doing so.
- Okay, baptism police…
- John's answer? He's only baptizing people with water, but Jesus is going to do a whole lot more. In fact, Jesus is going to be so much more amazing than John, that John won't even be fit to stoop down and untie his shoes.
- John might have a bit of a self-esteem problem.
Lost and Found
- The next day, John sees Jesus walking around and tells everyone: There! That's the guy I've been talking about!
- John explains that he saw a spirit come down to Jesus like a dove. God powers activate! Form of a dove!
- John didn't even know who Jesus was before this. But when he saw it, he remembered that God had told him that the person to whom the spirit comes is the messiah—the one he had been looking for.
- Oh, God also told him that this person is the Son of God.
- That's a pretty informative dove.
Jesus Gathers His Entourage
- Another day passes, and John is standing around again with some of his disciples.
- He sees Jesus walk by and again tells his disciples that Jesus is the VIP sent by God.
- Two of John's disciples decide that maybe they've been following the wrong guy, so they go to see what this Jesus person is all about. It couldn't hurt, right? Spoiler alert: It could.
- When Jesus asks them what they want from him, they call him "Teacher" and ask where he's staying. Jesus tells them to come and see his place. The two guys follow him back home and stay with him for the day.
- One of the guys who stays with Jesus is Andrew, the brother of someone named Simon. On an unrelated note, Shmoop is totally over the fact that, growing up, everyone always thought of us in relation to our brother. We swear.
- After meeting with Jesus, Andrew goes to find his brother and tells him that he has found the messiah. Well, that didn't take much convincing.
- Andrew takes Simon to meet Jesus and Jesus gives him a new name, Peter, which means "Rock." We didn't know Jesus was such a huge fan of wrestling. And children's movies.
- The next day, Jesus decides to head to Galilee. There, he meets a guy named Philip and invites him to join their group. Philip then tries to recruit a friend named Nathanael. Things are moving quickly.
- When Phillip tells him that Jesus is from Nazareth, Nathanael is skeptical, but Philip asks him to come see for himself.
- Jesus plays the creeper and says a few things that reveal that Jesus already knows who Nathanael is. Nathanael is majorly confused, but Jesus tells him that he saw him under a fig tree. Apparently, this is proof enough for Nathanael, and he decides Jesus is the messiah. That was easy.
- Jesus jokes with him: if he believes based just on the fig tree story, he's about to get schooled with amazing things.
- Oh, you want an example? Well, for one, heaven will open up and all the angels will come down to hang with Jesus. So there's that.
- More impressive stuff coming your way.
- Jesus and the disciples go to a wedding in Cana. Unfortunately, the open bar has to close down when the wine runs out. Jesus's mother is there with him and she lets him know that the party is starting to die down. Bummer.
- Jesus knows that she wants him to make more wine, but he explains that he can't just go around performing all kinds of miracles. He doesn't think it's the right time to out himself as the messiah just yet. Jesus: Judean man of mystery.
- But his mom doesn't really listen (typical) and tells the servants at the wedding that they need to follow Jesus' instructions.
- Jesus relents and tells them to take six giant jars and fill them up to the brim with water.
- When the head waiter (who doesn't know what Jesus has done) drinks some water out of the jars, it has miraculously turned into wine.
- The wine is so good, that the waiter runs up and congratulates the groom on serving such primo vino. See, usually hosts would bring out the best wine first; then, when the guests were less, um, discerning, out would come the so-so beverages. Needless to say, the waiter is very impressed.
- And there you have it: miracle #1. All of Jesus's disciples are sure of him now. They're probably also daydreaming about how easy and profitable it would be to start hosting heavenly wine tastings.
Jesus Trashes the Temple
- Soon it's time for Passover, so Jesus and the disciples head down toward Jerusalem. When they get there, they visit the temple in Jerusalem, but Jesus gets pretty annoyed when he goes inside.
- In the temple, there are merchants selling all kinds of stuff, instead of doing what you might expect people in a temple to be doing—worshipping God.
- Jesus makes a whip out of some cords and comes after the merchants. He throws their money on the floor, turns over the tables with their goodies on them, and yells at them all to get out because they're turning a holy place into a marketplace. Jesus never did learn to play nicely with blasphemers.
- People are not happy about the shenanigans. They demand that Jesus explain why he has rained on their parade. Sheep intestines don't grow on trees, you know.
- Jesus tells them that even if the whole temple were destroyed, it could be built up again in three days. Huh?
- The people have no clue what he's talking about. We feel their pain. They know the temple has been under construction for forty-six years, but somehow this guy is going to build a whole new one in three days? Who does he think he is? Bob Vila?
- Of course, the Gospel explains, they don't understand that Jesus is really talking about himself. He means that his body will be destroyed and raised up in three days. Thanks for clearing that up, Bible.
- The whole time Jesus is in Jerusalem for Passover, loads of people see the things he can do and start to believe in him. But Jesus isn't too thrilled: the people are just amazed by his miracles, but don't really get who he is. Emo Jesus is so misunderstood.
Jesus Chats with Nicodemus
- Nicodemus, one of the religious leaders in the Jewish community, comes to see Jesus at nighttime. He tells Jesus that he knows he's a great teacher and is clearly very important to God because of all the miraculous and amazing things he can do.
- Nice brown nosing, Nicodemus.
- Instead of soaking up all the accolades though, Jesus tells him that no one can really be one with God unless they are born again. Huh?
- Not surprisingly, Nicodemus is confused. He wonders how someone could be born twice. Would you have to get back in your mother's womb?
- Mom is not going to be pleased.
- No, Jesus tells him, but you do have to be reborn in water (through baptism) and also receive God's spirit. Okay, that makes a lot more sense.
- But Nicodemus still doesn't get it and wonders how all of this could be true.
- Jesus agrees—it is pretty mysterious. No worries, though. Jesus totally knows how God works.
- But since he's the only one who does, you'll just have to take his word for it.
Let's Get Theological
- Now the gospel takes a minute to explain the big question: Why did God send Jesus to earth? We're glad you asked, Gospel. And we're glad you answered.
- According to the writers, God set this whole thing up because he loves the world so much. God sent his only son here to die so that the people who believed in it all would live forever with God.
- They continue: Jesus isn't here to condemn anyone—actually, he's here to save everyone. If you just believe in him, you'll be spared from any judgment, but if you don't, well… it won't end well.
- Jesus gets compared to a light. But there are people who love darkness so much that they will turn away from the light because they just love doing evil deeds. And of course, light would illuminate your horribleness and show the world how awful you really are.
- But if you're a good person, you'll be drawn to the light so that everyone can see the goodness inside you and praise God for it.
- Bottom line: believers are like moths to a flame, and non-believers are go get the bug zapper.
John the Baptist Is Back
- Jesus and his disciples take a trip to the countryside, where they baptize people. Just another day in the life.
- John the Baptist is also there doing some baptizing.
- The disciples of John the Baptist start talking. They ask John about Jesus and how he's gotten in on the baptismal market.
- John tells them not to worry. If they saw Jesus there, it's where God wants him to be. Jesus has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
- John reminds them again that he (John) isn't the messiah. If you've been paying attention, you'll be sick of this comment by now.
- Instead, he's like the best man at a wedding. Sure, the best man gets to stand next to the groom and soak up all the happy, wedding-day vibes, but only the groom gets to marry the lovely bride. Unfortunately, both of them still have to rent tuxes.
- John is pretty excited about this whole arrangement, though, even though Jesus is going to outshine him.
- Jesus came from God, but John just came from the measly earth. That means he can only talk about earthly things.
- Jesus is going to tell everyone what he knows about God. Some people will believe him, and God will share the spirit with these special ones.
- But some people won't and… well, let's just say that God won't be too pleased. Yep. Bug zapper for sure.
- Jesus hears that the religious authorities are grumbling about him because he was hanging around baptizing more people than John. This doesn't sounds good.
- Actually, Jesus wasn't baptizing people—his disciples were—but he still decides it's best to leave Judea and head back up to Galilee. Good call.
All's Well That Begins at a Well
- Just one problem. Jesus has to go through Samaria to get there; Samaritans and Jews (like Jesus and his disciples) don't usually get along. In fact, they're sort of mortal enemies. So, if you were a Jew, you definitely wouldn't even consider speaking to a Samaritan. Ever.
- It's afternoon-time when Jesus enters a city called Sychar. There, he finds a well and sits down to rest while the disciples go to buy some food. Lunchtime already?
- A Samaritan woman comes to the well to get water from it. Jesus asks her if she can get him a drink while she's at it.
- The woman is shocked that a Jew would ask her, a Samaritan, for water. Remember what we said about them being mortal enemies?
- Jesus explains that if she knew who he was, she would be asking him for water, too—"living water." Hmmm.
- The woman is rightfully confused. The well is pretty deep and this guy doesn't even have a bucket, so how is he going to get this special water? Is Jesus about to invent indoor plumbing?
- Jesus explains that the living water he's talking about renews itself. People who get this kind of water from him will never be thirsty again.
- So the woman replies: Well, I'd like a nice tall glass of that!
- He tells her that she should go see her husband first. She tells him that she doesn't have a husband, but apparently Jesus already knew that.
- In fact, he knows quite a bit. He says that she actually had five husbands, but the guy she's with now is not her husband.
- The Samaritan woman is floored that Jesus knows the details of her personal life, and she decides that he must be a prophet. Or be on Facebook.
- She wants to know where she should be worshipping. On the nearby mountain? Or in Jerusalem, maybe?
- Jesus explains that a time is coming when it doesn't matter where you worship. Soon, people who understand the truth are going to worship God in a totally different way.
- What does this mean?!
- The woman says that she knows the messiah is coming soon. He'll explain all this stuff to them further, no worries.
- Little does she know…
- Jesus breaks the news: he is the messiah. Her mind is officially blown.
- Just then, the disciples return and are promptly weirded out by the fact that Jesus is talking to a cootie-ridden Samaritan. Oh, disciples.
- The woman leaves and runs back to the city to tell everyone what she heard from Jesus. She wants the entire village to come see this guy who knew about her past and might just be the messiah they've been waiting for. (Spoiler alert: He is.)
- The disciples are concerned that Jesus hasn't eaten in a while. Wait, weren't they supposed to be bringing back lunch?
- Jesus brushes them off and says that he is fed by doing God's will. That sounds delicious. He explains that while they're all waiting for the fall harvest (which will happen in the next four months), what they don't realize is that the harvest is actually happening around them right now.
- Because of his conversation with the woman at the well, many of the Samaritan people in the city start to believe in Jesus. In fact, they like him so much, they invite him to stay for the next two days. That's quite a welcome.
Jesus Heals a Dying Boy
- After two days, Jesus leaves Sychar and heads back to Galilee. He's pretty sure he won't get any respect, though, because his hometown of Nazareth is in Galilee. Things are tough on the homefront, you know?
- But when he arrives in Galilee this time—surprise!—the people welcome him with open arms. Turns out, they saw what he did in Jerusalem during Passover and heard about changing the water into wine at the wedding. He had them at "miracle."
- In a town called Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee, one of the royal officials has a very sick son who's about to die.
- The people ask Jesus to come to Capernaum to heal the boy.
- Jesus is a little annoyed. He thinks that all the people are interested in is seeing fancy miracles. Oh, and he's right.
- But the official visits with Jesus personally and begs for him to help his son before it's too late.
- Jesus seems to be moved by the father's pleas on behalf of his son and tells the man that he should head back home and his son will be fine.
- The man honestly believes that what Jesus said will happen—that's what we call gullib…ahem, trusting—so he starts on the journey back to his house.
- The next day, as he nears his home, all his servants run to tell him that the boy has recovered. In fact, his fever broke around the same time that the man had been talking to Jesus the day before. Coincidence? We think not.
- Now the man and everyone who lives in his house believes in Jesus. Win win. Win.
Jesus Heals a Sick Man at the Pool
- Next up, Jesus and his disciples head back to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals.
- Jesus visits the Pool of Bethesda while he's there.
- Helpful historical note: This was just one of several pools around Jerusalem where sick people would gather hoping to be healed. They were kind of like day spas specializing in miracles.
- One of the people there has been sick for a very long time; thirty-eight years to be exact.
- Jesus sees him lying next to the pool and asks if he wants to be well again. Um… yes?
- But the man doesn't have anyone to help him get into the pool to take advantage of the healing waters. Whenever he tries to get down there, other people just push him out of the way. Not cool.
- Jesus tells him all he needs to do is stand up, grab the mat he's been lying on, and walk away.
- And this is exactly what the man does.
- Touchdown. Another miracle.
The Legal Eagles Try to Trip Up Jesus
- The religious authorities are not amused. It's the Sabbath, a day of rest during the Jewish week, and people aren't supposed to be doing any work at all. That includes carrying mats. Call the authorities! A mat!
- The man tells them that he was just healed by a really nice guy who told him it was okay to pick up his mat and start walking. So it's cool, right?
- Nope. The religious authorities are horrified and demand to know who exactly this healer is who instructs people to disobey the Sabbath.
This is not looking good for Jesus.
- But the man can't identify Jesus because he has disappeared into the crowd of people. Lucky break.
- Later, Jesus runs into the formerly sick man, who rats him out to the religious authorities. A simple "thank you" would have sufficed.
- The religious authorities start to verbally attack Jesus, asking why he would be doing work on the Sabbath. This is turning into Law & Order: CE.
- But Jesus replies that, since God is working on the Sabbath, he will, too. He calls God his "Father." Take that, legal eagles.
- These words make the religious authorities even more outraged. First he works on the Sabbath and now he's calling God "Father"? This guy is cruisin' for a bruisin'. Enough is enough.
- Now they want Jesus dead.
Jesus Lays the Smack Down
- Now the gloves are off, and Jesus begins to tell it like it is.
- He explains to the religious authorities that he can't do anything that hasn't been okayed by God. More info from Jesus: God loves his son and tells him everything he knows so that the son can astonish people with all his good works.
- God isn't going to be pleased with the people who don't accept Jesus; if you don't accept Jesus, you aren't being faithful to God. We're looking at you, religious authorities.
- He criticizes the religious authorities for searching through the Bible to try to find the secret to eternal life, but still refusing to believe in Jesus who is standing right in front of them. Oh, snap.
- Then Jesus tells them that they don't really love God at all. Them's fightin' words.
5 Loaves + 2 Fishes = 1 Miracle
- Now Jesus heads back up to Galilee to a town on the sea called Tiberias. It's almost time for Passover again.
- A huge crowd keeps following him around. They're obsessed with him—they clearly know that he has performed miracles and healed the sick.
- Jesus climbs up a mountain with his disciples and even then, the massive crowd follows them. Can't these people take a hint?
- Jesus sees how large the crowd is—we're talking five thousand people—and worries aloud about how they're going to buy bread for all these people to eat. Of course it's just a test. Jesus knows he's got a bread hook-up.
- But Philip takes the bait anyway. He tells Jesus that even six months wages wouldn't be enough to buy bread for a crowd like this.
- Then Andrew pipes in: There's a boy who has five loaves of bread and two fish. Sure, he's willing to share, but those few bits of food won't feed all these people. Things are not looking good for mealtime.
- Jesus ignores their doubts and, instead, tells the disciples that they should have everyone sit down and settle in for a meal. Hmmm.
- Jesus takes the bread from the boy and gives thanks to God. He does the same thing with the fish. Then he passes it out to the people and everyone eats until they are completely full.
- When everyone in the crowd is done eating, Jesus asks the disciples to gather up what's left. Remember how they started with only five loaves of bread and two fish? Well, they still they collect twelve baskets full of leftovers. That's quite a doggie bag.
- Everyone knows it's a miracle and that Jesus must be a prophet. People get so carried away that they actually want to force Jesus to become their king. Whoa, slow down, guys.
- This worries Jesus, so he retreats further up the mountain. Good call.
If He Could Walk on Water
- That night, the disciples take a boat down to the Sea of Galilee. They are trying to cross over to Capernaum, but there are strong winds blowing and the sea becomes rough.
- The disciples row out three or four miles. When they look out through the raging storm, they see Jesus walking towards them. Needless to say, they're completely freaked out.
- Jesus reassures them. It's just him—no need to be afraid. Says the guy walking on water…
- The disciples ask Jesus to come into the boat and, instantly, the boat reaches land. Impressive.
- The next day, the crowd sees that Jesus and his disciples have gone, so they get into their boats and head over to Capernaum, too. This is all becoming a bit Fatal Attraction-y.
- When the people manage to track down Jesus, he tells them that they're looking for him not because of the miracles, but because they ate their fill of the bread and fish from the day before.
- He urges them not to look for food that will rot and spoil, but to search for spiritual food, which will never go bad. Once again, Jesus, way to get deep.
Jesus Shares His Recipe for Everlasting Life
- The people want to know how they can do God's work. Well, they might want to think about cutting back on the stalking a bit.
- Jesus tells them they just have to believe in him, the one God sent. Sounds easy enough.
- But the people have short memories and want to know how he will prove to them that he's really the one that God sent. They explain that God gave the Jewish people bread from heaven when they were wandering in the wilderness (remember that way back in Exodus?). How is Jesus going to prove his credentials?
- Jesus tells them that it's true that God gives bread from heaven that makes everything in the world seem alive.
- The people decide that, yes, they'd like to have some of this special life-giving bread. And maybe seconds, too.
- So Jesus tells them that he is this special bread of life. Anyone who believes in him will never be hungry again. Or thirsty, for that matter. Jesus is pretty handy with the miracles, after all.
- Some people have seen and heard what Jesus had to say and still don't believe. Guess they won't be enjoying any of the bread we've been hearing so much about.
- Any person who does come to Jesus, though, will be accepted and get raised up with God at the end of time.
Oh No He Didn't
- Again, Jesus' words send the religious authorities into convulsions.
- They start complaining about Jesus. How dare he say that he is a special life-giving bread from heaven? God is not made of sour dough.
- They keep asking each other: Isn't this just Jesus, Joseph's son? We know this kid's parents, but here he is telling us he came down from heaven…?
Oh, Yes He Did
- Jesus tells everyone to knock off the complaining. No one can know God unless they know him first. Period. End of story.
- Jesus explains again that he is the bread of life. Got it. If a person eats the bread, they'll live forever with God. Actually, the bread he'll give to the world is his own body. Wait, what?
- Of course, this upsets the religious authorities even more. Now, they grumble, Jesus is saying that he wants people to eat—actually, physically eat—his body in order to become closer to God. Gross.
- Yep, Jesus tells them. Unless a person eats his flesh and drinks his blood, they won't be able to have a life with God.
- Well, there you go. His body is the true food and his blood is the true drink. By eating them, a person will remain with him forever. Whoever eats his body will live forever with God, too. It's just like the bread from heaven that God gave the people in the wilderness. But this bread will sustain the person who eats it forever.
- Still sounds a little gross.
The Band Starts to Break Up
- Now some of the disciples are starting to get a little bit freaked out. They think it's pretty hard to believe that they have to eat Jesus's body and drink his blood in order to live forever with God.
- Yeah, that's a tough one to swallow.
- But Jesus isn't worried. Are his disciples offended? Sure, but what's true is true.
- Jesus knows, though, that some of the disciples still don't believe him. In fact, after he tells them all this, a few of his disciples decide to pack their things and head back home.
- When he sees that twelve of his disciples remain, he asks them if they want to leave him, too. This is getting sad.
- Peter tells him they have nowhere else to go because Jesus is everything they want and need in life. He tells Jesus that he believes he is holy and from God. Good ol' Peter.
- Jesus informs them that there is evil in their midst. He tells them that even though he chose these twelve disciples, one of them will betray him in the end.
- The Gospel writers tells us that this person is going to be Judas Iscariot, but the other disciples don't get the spoiler alert.
Jesus Heads Back to Judea
- Jesus keeps doing his thing all around Galilee. He's a bit leery about going down to Judea because he's worried that the religious authorities there will want to kill him. That's probably because they do want to kill him.
- It's fall now, around the time when the Jewish people will celebrate the festival of Sukkot.
- Jesus's brothers tell him that he should take a trip back to Judea so that everyone can see all the things he can do. After all, if he wants to be famous, he can't go around doing miracles and healing people in secret. If Jesus can do everything he claims, they tell him, he should go out and show the people. Do we sense a bit of sibling rivalry?
- Big time. Jesus knows that his brothers don't really believe in him. (You try hearing your mom say, "Why can't you be more like your brother? He's the son of the living God," a thousand times a day and see how you feel.) So Jesus tells them it's not the right time for him to go to Judea.
- Then he suggests that maybe if his brothers are so big on spreading the word about him in Judea, they should try going down there. And see how much you like getting executed, he adds under his breath.
- Jesus stays in Galilee until his brothers leave for the festival. Smart move.
- Oh, but then he secretly follows after them.
- At the festival, the religious authorities keep an eye out for Jesus.
- The people in Judea keep talking about him, too. Some of them think he's all right; others think he's a liar who's just conning people. But no one wants to speak openly about him because they're afraid of what the religious authorities might do. These guys are scary.
Jesus Teaches in the Temple
- During Sukkot, Jesus goes up to the temple and starts to teach. So much for keeping a low profile.
- Surprise, surprise, the religious authorities are mad again. After all, Jesus has never been formally taught about Jewish laws and scriptures, so what gives him the right to say these things? Where's his diploma from divinity school?
- Jesus tells them he has the authority because what he says comes directly from God. Basically, he studied under a pretty important professor.
- He also accuses the religious authorities of trying to get him arrested and killed because of the incident back in Chapter 5 when he healed a man on the Sabbath.
- The crowd is shocked by this accusation and the idea that someone is trying to have Jesus killed.
- Wait, shocked? Have they been paying any attention?
- Jesus then explains that the religious authorities know that killing Jesus would be against Jewish law. They're just bent out of shape because he healed someone on the Sabbath. And because they really love cracking down on hipsters like Jesus.
- Showing his mastery of Jewish law, Jesus asks them why, if it is okay to circumcise a baby on the Sabbath, it would be against the law to heal a grown man on the Sabbath? Riddle him that.
- When the people hear this exchange, they are stunned. Here is the man the authorities have been looking to have killed and yet they're just standing there tongue-tied. Maybe Jesus really is the Messiah after all.
- Then again, he was born in Galilee. That place smells like fish, so they're not impressed.
- Jesus tells them that he doesn't really come from Galilee, but from God in heaven. Nice save.
- The naysayers in the crowd try to have Jesus arrested right then and there because this is total blasphemy as far as they're concerned. However, no one can touch him because it isn't the right time… yet.
- But after hearing this, some people in the crowd start to believe in Jesus. They question the religious authorities and want to know if Jesus could really be the Messiah.
- Again, the religious authorities are very threatened by this and try to have the police at the temple arrest Jesus. They never learn, do they?
- Jesus explains that he will only be among them a little bit longer. After that, he is going to God. They can try to search for him, but they won't be able to find him. Toughest game of hide and seek ever.
- Jesus's enemies obviously don't understand. They wonder if he plans to go into hiding in Greece. Why wouldn't they be able to find him there?
The Living Water
- On the last day of Sukkot, Jesus again compares himself to water. Hey, if a metaphor is working, why not keep it going? He tells the crowd that anyone who is thirsty can come to him.
- Again, some people in the crowd believe what he says. They think he might be a prophet or the Messiah. They get it.
- Other still have their doubts. Would the Messiah really come from Galilee? The Bible says that the Messiah will be a relative of David and be born in Bethlehem, but Jesus was born in Nazareth.
- Now we know why Matthew and Luke had to get poor pregnant Mary down to Bethlehem.
- So there's a division among the people, but no one does anything just yet.
I'm Rubber and You're from Galilee
- The religious authorities get a full report of everything that happened from the temple police force. They are outraged; why didn't the police just arrest Jesus when they had the chance? Arrest first, find probable cause later.
- But the police say they were in awe. They had never heard anyone say the things Jesus has said before.
- The religious authorities are annoyed because the temple police officers have now fallen under Jesus's deceitful spell. Non-believers are dropping like flies.
- But there is one thing they can be glad about: even if the police and crowd have Jesus's back, at least none of them—the educated, religious elite—believe in him.
- Irony alert! Enter Nicodemus again from Chapter 3 (who, if you'll remember is one of these religious elites and is sympathetic to Jesus). He tells everyone that it's illegal for them to pass judgment on Jesus without first giving him a trial. A very, very early sixth amendment challenge.
- Now the other religious guys start to resemble a bunch of mean girls. "You're not from Galilee, are you?" they ask Nicodemus as they giggle and twirl their hair.
Girl Gone Wild
- Jesus returns again to the temple and the people all gather to hear what he has to say. But the religious authorities decide to set a trap for him. Come on guys—this better be good.
- They bring in a woman who has been caught committing adultery and explain that the law (Deuteronomy 22:22) requires that they stone her. That means they get to beat her to death with heavy rocks—pretty gruesome.
- The religious authorities want to know what Jesus thinks they should do.
- Some scholars think that the Romans might have forbidden the Jewish people from putting anyone to death, which, if that's right, means that Jesus is now caught in a pretty tough Catch-22: If Jesus says the woman should be stoned, he'll be rejecting Roman law. If he says that she shouldn't be stoned, then he'll be rejecting Jewish law (source, p. 965). Hmmm, looks like a no-win situation.
- But Jesus is much too smart to be tricked by these guys. Instead of responding to their questions, he says nothing and bends down to write on the ground. When in doubt, stall for time.
- The religious authorities aren't having it. They keep questioning Jesus about the woman.
- Finally, Jesus stands up and tells them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." So, go ahead, throw a rock. He dares you.
- After they hear his answer, the religious authorities leave one by one, until no one is left standing there but Jesus and the woman. That's what you get for messing with the Messiah.
- Jesus asks her if there is anyone left to condemn her.
- Nope. They're standing there all alone, so the woman tells him that everyone who accused her is gone.
- Jesus replies that he won't condemn her either and that she should go on her way and not sin again.
Jesus, the Light
- Jesus speaks to the crowd again. They seem to have magically reappeared even though we were just told that everyone left.
- He tells the crowd that he is "the light of the world." If anyone follows him, they will be constantly illuminated with life instead of following the dark path that leads to evil. Light = good. Dark = bad. Got it.
- But the religious authorities, who also swooped back in, tell him that he's just talking about himself—that means what he says isn't true. You can't witness to yourself, can you?
- Too bad the religious authorities have no idea what they're talking about. Jesus knows where he's been and where he's going, but these guys have no clue.
- The religious authorities judge people by human standards, but Jesus doesn't judge anyone. But, if he did judge, he would totally have every right to, being that he's been sent by his Father (capital F!).
- When the religious elite hear Jesus calling God "Father" again, they want to know where Jesus's father is.
- But Jesus tells them that they don't know him or his Father. If they did, they wouldn't be asking such stupid questions.
- Jesus says all this in the temple, but no one tries to arrest him there. But we're guessing the religious authorities aren't very happy with the verbal spanking they just got.
So Long, Farewell
- Jesus explains again that soon he's going to be gone. Non-believers will look for him, but they won't find him. Instead, they'll die weighted down by their own sin. Yikes.
- The people worry that Jesus is talking about committing suicide.
- Jesus repeats again that he is from heaven and will be returning there, while those who refuse to believe in him will die in sin. Whoa, we get it. The wages of sin is death. Ease up a little.
- The people are confused and ask Jesus who he is. Seriously guys?
- This makes Jesus wonder why he even tries talking to these people—they clearly don't seem to get it. He explains, yet again, that when he's gone, they'll realize who he is. Don't hold your breath, Jesus.
- Lots of people start to jump on the believers' bandwagon after they hear this comment.
- Jesus tells the Jewish people who believe in him that if they continue following him, they are his disciples and will be set free by the truth of God. So… they're in.
- The people counter that they are not slaves and so they can't be set free. Guys, ever heard of a metaphor?
- Jesus explains that anyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave doesn't have his or her own room in the big house, but the master's son has a room there. If the master's son frees these slaves, they will always be free. Behold, the awesome power of metaphor.
Who's Your Daddy?
- Jesus also reminds the crowd that some of them have been trying to get him killed. Not cool. It also doesn't help if they want to get in good with God.
- The people tell him that Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, is actually their father. Can we get a paternity test?
- Jesus reminds them that if they were really Abraham's children, they wouldn't be trying to have him killed. The only crime he has committed is telling the truth. Abraham wouldn't be very happy about his children's behavior.
- The people change their mind. They decide that they're actually children of God. Okay, just call Maury already.
Jesus replies that if God were really their Father, they would love him, but instead they follow a different father—the father of lies (a.k.a. the devil). Zing.
- The religious authorities try to insult Jesus by saying that he must be a Samaritan who is possessed by some kind of demon. Hey, who you calling a Samaritan?
- But Jesus swats down their schoolyard taunts. He isn't possessed by demons. He only wants to honor what God wants, but people keep bullying him. Don't worry, Jesus, they'll be pumping your gas someday. Or maybe not…
- Jesus tells them again that if they believe in him, they will not experience death. A pretty good deal.
- Now the religious authorities are sure that he's been possessed. After all, everyone dies. Even Abraham died, they tell him. Jesus doesn't think he's greater than Abraham, does he? Just who does Jesus think he is?
- Jesus replies that if he is glorious, then it's because God is glorious. Clearly, the religious authorities would know this if they truly knew God. He also tells them that Abraham is overjoyed that he has come. So there.
- The religious authorities are starting to get annoyed. Jesus isn't old enough to have ever seen or talked to Abraham. Liar, liar pants on fire!
- But Jesus tells them that he existed before Abraham, echoing God who, in Exodus, calls himself "I am." Oh, it just got real.
- This completely sets the religious authorities over the edge. They start hurling rocks at Jesus and he has to run out of the temple and hide from them.
- What can we say? Jesus just loves to stir up a crowd.
Seeing is Believing
- The disciples are walking along with Jesus when they see a man who was born blind. The disciples want to know why God would have punished this man with blindness. Did he commit some terrible sin? Or were his parents sinners? (Yeah, people had some strange ideas back then.)
- Jesus says that neither is the case. The man was born blind so that God's good works could be shown off. Jesus: always keeping it positive.
- With this, Jesus spits on the ground and mixes the dirt with his saliva to make mud. Um, ew. Then he spreads it on the man's eyes. Double ew.
- Then he tells him to go wash the mud off in one of the healing pools—the pool of Siloam—on the south side of the city.
- When the man washes his eyes, his sight is restored. Whoa.
- Afterward, the man's neighbors see him and ask what happened. He explains what Jesus did.
- When they hear this, his neighbors demand to see Jesus. But the man doesn't know where he is, so they drag him out in front of the religious authorities.
- Uh-oh. This isn't looking good.
Let's Play Twenty Questions
- The religious authorities question the man and, again, he explains how Jesus healed him.
- The religious men are divided. Some think that a real man of God wouldn't disobey the Sabbath. Others think that only a man of God would be able to perform such incredible miracles. To persecute or not to persecute? That is the question.
- So, they ask the healed man what he thinks about Jesus. Tread carefully, sir.
- The man replies that Jesus must be a prophet.
- Nope. Wrong answer. The naysayers among the group refuse to believe the man's story. They think he might be lying about having been blind. Oh, conspiracy theories.
- But when the religious authorities call the man's parents, they confirm that their son was actually born blind. The conspiracy theory hits a snag.
- The religious authorities are frustrated. They demand to know the truth. They know that Jesus couldn't have healed him because Jesus is a terrible sinner. Plus he smells.
- The man says he doesn't know if Jesus is a sinner or not, but what he does know is he's not blind anymore—and that's pretty much all he cares about.
- The authorities ask him again how Jesus healed him. This guy must be holding back a pretty big eye roll at this point.
- Wow, he tells the religious authorities, you guys must really love hearing stories about Jesus. Are you thinking of joining his disciples?
- The religious men start falling all over themselves with disgust. They are disciples of Moses because they know that Moses has spoken to God, but they don't know that Jesus has come from God. Don't touch Jesus! You don't know where he's been!
- That's funny, the man says. You don't know where he came from, but yet, he healed me. You say God doesn't listen to sinners, but God listened to him. No one in the entire world has ever been cured of blindness, and yet this man cured me. If he weren't from God, how could he do this? Booya.
- Another wrong answer. The religious authorities insult the man and throw him out of the temple. How dare this man try to teach them? He's just a sinner who was born blind anyway. And… the story officially comes full circle.
- When Jesus finds out that the man has been treated this way, he seeks him out. Jesus asks the man if he believes in him. Fingers crossed.
- The man says that he does. He has regained the power of sight, after all.
- Jesus explains that he has come because there are those who are blind and those who see. The religious authorities overhear Jesus saying this and ask him to clarify. Surely, Jesus doesn't mean that they are among the blind? Hmmm…
- Nice try, guys. Jesus tells them that though they claim to see, their sin of disbelief remains.
The Good Shepherd
- Jesus uses the metaphor of the shepherd to explain his role in the world. Jesus really loves his metaphors.
- He says that people who are going to a farm must go in through the front gate. If they try to sneak in another way, they're just thieves. (Or possibly Santa Claus. Just a thought.)
- The shepherd also goes through the front gate to tend to his sheep on the farm. Inside, the sheep know him and follow the sound of his voice. Sheep are natural followers.
- The Gospel explains that Jesus is using figurative language to try to describe himself, but the people still don't understand what he means. What else is new?
- So, Jesus tries again. And speaks very, very slowly.
- Jesus = the shepherd. He leads his flock and protects his sheep. He'll even die for them. That's one hardcore shepherd.
- If he were just some hired sheepherder, making minimum wage out in the pasture, he wouldn't care less about the sheep. If he saw a wolf coming, he'd just step aside and let the wolf gobble them up. Poor sheep.
- The good shepherd is different, though. He'll fight that wolf if he has to. He'll even get mauled or killed just to protect the sheep from harm. Like we said, hardcore.
- Jesus tells them again that he's going die. If this seems like a bummer, don't worry. No one's going to force death on him. He's going to let himself die. All of this is God's will. Harsh, God, harsh.
- As usual, the people aren't sure what to make of Jesus. Is he insane? Is he holy? Only his God knows for sure.
Who You Calling a Sheep?
- Now we move ahead. It's wintertime in Jerusalem and people are celebrating Hanukkah.
- Jesus is walking in the temple when some of the people there corner him. They tell him to stop toying with them and just tell him if he is the Messiah. Haven't they been listening?
- Jesus has been over this before. He's told these guys who he is and they don't believe him. It's probably because they don't belong to his flock of sheep. Take that, non-sheep.
- Again, the people are ticked. They pick up some rocks and try to stone him again. This is becoming kind of a recurring thing for Jesus.
- What, he asks them, are you going to stone me for this time? Is it the miracles? My divine teachings? Don't you like my tunic?
- None of the above. The people want to stone him because he's a huge blasphemer. How dare he pretend to be God? The nerve!
- They try to get him arrested yet again. But Jesus, ever the escape artist, manages to sneak away unharmed.
- Jesus has a moment of inspiration. He decides to leave Jerusalem and the angry mobs and head east to Jordan.
Death Comes for Lazarus
- In Bethany, which is in Judea, one of Jesus' friends, Lazarus, is very sick.
- Lazarus lives with his sisters, Mary and Martha, who send a message to Jesus telling him that his friend is sick. Hurry, Jesus.
- Jesus gets the message but isn't too concerned. Huh? Two days later, he finally decides to head to Bethany.
- But the disciples are a little leery. Didn't an angry mob just try to stone Jesus in Judea? Didn't this happen a couple times?
- Jesus isn't worried. Cool as usual. He tells them that Lazarus is asleep and that Jesus will wake him when he gets to Bethany.
- A nap sounds nice to the disciples right about now. So, Lazarus will be fine, right?
- Jesus has to come out and say it—Lazarus is dead. But, don't worry, it's all good. Jesus feels a miracle coming on.
Is There Life After Death?
- When Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for four days. In fact, he's already been put in a tomb. Things are looking pretty hopeless.
- Since Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem, some of the people from the city have come to offer their condolences to Mary and Martha.
- Jesus comes to the house, and Martha goes out to meet him. She tells him that, if he had come sooner, her brother wouldn't have died. But she also has a feeling that Jesus could still do something for them. Not even a "hello" first?
- Jesus tells her that Lazarus will rise again.
- Sure, Martha says. He's going to rise up at the end of time like you're always saying.
- But that's not quite what Jesus has in mind.
- Jesus tells her that he is "the resurrection and the life." People who believe it are never really going to die. Does she get it now?
- Martha tells him that, yes, she believes all this. She knows that he is the Messiah, God's son, and all that jazz.
- After he finishes with Martha, Jesus has the same conversation with her sister Mary. If only Jesus had come earlier, Lazarus wouldn't have died.
But Wait, There's More
- Mary takes Jesus to Lazarus's tomb. When he gets there, he breaks down and cries. How human.
- Some of the people think it's touching that Jesus is weeping because he loved Lazarus so much. Others think that, if he loved him so much, maybe he should have come earlier and saved him. The guy healed a blind man—he couldn't keep someone from dying?
- Jesus dries his tears and surveys the tomb; it's a cave with a stone lying against it as a door. He tells them to remove the stone.
- Martha is a little skeptical. She reminds Jesus that Lazarus has been in there for four days. It's going to smell pretty bad when they open the tomb. But, for Jesus, anything. So she has the stone removed.
- When the tomb is open, Jesus says a prayer to God and then yells, "Lazarus, come out!"
- And out pops Lazarus, still wrapped up like a mummy, but now very much alive. Miracle complete.
The Last Straw
- Because of all this impressive stuff, lots more people start believing in Jesus. But others sneak off to let the religious authorities know what Jesus is up to. Thanks a lot, guys.
- As you might imagine, they're pretty miffed. Jesus's miracles are getting bigger and better all the time. They can't complete with this guy. Soon everyone's going to believe in him. If all your friends started following the Messiah, would you?
- This could be not so good for Judea. If the Romans—the guys in charge of the country—catch wind of this, they will not be amused. They might even march in with an army and destroy the city. Or worse, destroy the temple.
- Caiaphas, the high priest, tells them all that it would be better for just one man to die than for the entire nation to be destroyed. You know, for the greater good.
- So, that day they decide: they are going to have Jesus executed.
Will He or Won't He?
- Because of all the we're-going-to-kill-you craziness, Jesus doesn't go to Jerusalem anymore. Good move.
- He and the disciples head for Ephraim, which is north of the city.
- Later, as Passover nears again, many people start going to Jerusalem to get ready for the festivities.
- The people in the city keep wondering, will Jesus show up for Passover? Is he going risk death to come to Jerusalem? Dun dun dun.
Dinner and Death
- Six days before Passover is going to start, Jesus heads back down to Bethany to stay with Lazarus and his sisters. They host a dinner party in his honor. Fancy.
- After dinner, Mary takes a huge jar of very expensive perfume and pours it all over Jesus's feet. Then she wipes his feet with her hair. Guess she couldn't find a towel.
- Judas suddenly pipes in: Why is this perfume being wasted like this? They could have sold it and raised tons of money to give to the poor.
- Of course, the gospel tells us, Judas doesn't really care about the poor. In fact, he is in charge of the money the disciples give to the poor and steals from this stash all the time. Major jerk alert.
- Jesus defends Mary, explaining that she has anointed him with perfumes because he will be buried soon. Poor Jesus. He died for the sins of the world and all he got was some lousy perfume.
- Later, other people figure out that Jesus is in Bethany, and they start coming to see him. Everyone wants to catch a glimpse of the guy who raised Lazarus from the dead.
- Speaking of Lazarus, the religious authorities have decided that while they're at it, they're going to kill him, too. After all, it's kind of his fault that people are so worked up over Jesus, right?
- The next day, the people hear that Jesus has come to Jerusalem for Passover. He just couldn't stay away.
- They pull branches from palm trees and yell "Hosanna!" as he enters the city. No point in trying to keep a low profile now.
- The religious authorities watch all this and are convinced that the whole world has gone Jesus-crazy.
- In Jerusalem, Jesus explains to the people that he's going to die. Bummer. But to be fair, we knew that already.
- And anyway, it's okay. He tells them that a grain of wheat is just a single grain until it is placed in the earth and dies. Then, in death, it creates food. Yes, it's time for more metaphors.
- If you love living too much, you will die, he explains. But if you don't care much what happens, you will live forever. Reverse psychology gets death every time.
- Is Jesus worried about this? Yeah. But, he knows he can't escape death and disobey God. Jesus always takes his Father's advice.
- Suddenly, God's voice speaks to the group. God tells them that Jesus is right. Everything is going to be fine.
- The people are a little confused, but Jesus tells them not to worry. God told them exactly what they needed to hear.
- The light is going out pretty soon, Jesus explains. And people better recognize it before they're plunged into darkness. Spooky.
Workin' at the Foot Wash
- It's just before Passover, and Jesus and his disciples are enjoying their last meal together. Jesus knows that he's going to die and that Judas is going to help him along.
- During the meal, Jesus gets up from the table, takes off his robe, and ties a towel around himself. He pours water into a bowl, washes the disciples' feet, and wipes them with the towel.
- When he comes to Peter, Peter tells Jesus not to wash his feet. He's not worthy!
- Calm down, Jesus tells him. He has to wash Peter's feet, otherwise he's not going to get a good place among the disciples. Clean feet are, apparently, a major criterion for discipleship.
- If that's the case, Peter replies, then wash my hands and face, too. Peter's always overdoing it.
- Jesus tells him that it's cool. He's already clean and only needs to wash his feet. In fact, all the disciples are clean… except one. Looking at you, Judas.
- After Jesus finishes washing the disciples' feet, he gets dressed and sits back down at the table. He tells the disciples that this is a thing now—he washed their feet, so they need to wash each other's, too. Sounds like a good system.
The Betrayer Unmasked
- Jesus tells his disciples that one of them is going to betray him. Just thinking about this is pretty upsetting to him.
- Even though he's told them all this before, the disciples are totally in the dark. They look at each other. Who could Jesus be talking about? Hint: Maybe it's the liar and the thief?
- Peter asks one of the other disciples to question Jesus further. (The gospel tells us that this is the one that Jesus loved—the Beloved Disciple, if you will.) So, the Beloved Disciple asks the question on everyone's mind: who is it?
- Jesus tells them that whoever he gives a piece of his bread to is the one. Behold, the power of bread.
- Then, he hands the bread to Judas (da da dum!) and tells him to go ahead and do his dirty deed.
- The other disciples are still kind of confused. Judas holds all their money (and steals from it, too). Did Jesus just send him out on an errand to buy food? Did Jesus just want him to give some money to the poor? The disciples can be a bit thick sometimes.
- Judas high-tails it out of there. Did we mention it's also the middle of the night? Someone isn't walking in the light of day.
Love One Another
- Now, Jesus begins, he's only going to be around a little bit longer. Then, he's going to a place the disciples can't visit. Maybe a nice time share or something?
- But Jesus has a new commandment for them: love one another. Just like Jesus loves them, that's how they should treat each other. That's how people will know they're his disciples, because they'll be filled with love. Talk about your warm fuzzies.
There's No Denying It
- Peter—who, again, just does not get it—asks Jesus where he's going.
- Well, Jesus explains, you can't come just now, but you might be able to join me there later.
- Peter wants to know why he can't come. He'd do anything for Jesus—even die for him. Bold words.
- Really, Jesus says. It's funny you should say that because pretty soon, you're going to deny that you know me. Three times actually. So, yeah…
- Awkward silence.
- Don't worry, Jesus tells the disciples. Just believe in me and believe in God and things are going to be great. See, God has this amazing house.
- He's a bit of a real estate mogul. Anyway, the house has tons of rooms in it. I'm going there to get a room ready for each of you. You guys know the way to get there, right? Jesus asks the disciples.
- Nope, Thomas answers for the group. Completely clueless.
- Here, we think Jesus may be resisting the urge to sigh loudly.
- "I am the way," he tells them. He's also "the truth" and "the life." You need to go through him to get there, otherwise you'll never find God.
- Why doesn't Jesus just show them God? Phillip asks. That would be way easier.
- Jesus may be resisting the urge to smack Philip just a bit. Haven't I been with you this whole time? Haven't I been talking about this for fourteen chapters now? If you've seen me, you've seen God. I thought I made that clear.
- Jesus really has his work cut out for him with these guys.
The Advocate Is Coming
- Jesus tells them that God is going to send them an Advocate (a.k.a. The Holy Spirit). The world isn't really going to get the Spirit, but the disciples will. He'll be with them always. Sound like anyone we know?
- Jesus promises that he'll come to them, too. If they love him, he'll be there for them forever. What a romantic.
- Anyone who loves Jesus will be welcome with God. But anyone who doesn't love Jesus won't be so lucky. Don't blame Jesus though—those are God's house rules.
- Jesus isn't going to be around much longer. His bags are packed and he's leaving very soon. But if the disciples really loved him, they'd be happy to see him go. After all, he's going back to God.
The Vine and the Branches
- Jesus tells his disciples that he is like a vine and God is the caretaker of the vineyard. He's never out of metaphors, this one.
- God cuts off all the branches on the vine that don't grow grapes. The branches that do produce grapes, though, he prunes and trims, so that they can make even more beautiful, delicious grapes. Everyone wants to be a delicious grape.
- Without Jesus, the branches can't grow at all. If people don't believe in him, their branches will be cut off from the vine and end up dead and withered. Branches like that are usually gathered up and thrown in a bonfire. Very subtle, Jesus.
- If the disciples listen to Jesus, they'll know what love is. He's got the secret.
- The greatest love in the whole world is self-sacrificial love—when you lay down your life to save your friends. So, the disciples have some pretty big shoes to fill.
- Sure, Jesus is the boss, but the disciples are no longer just his underlings. They're his friends. That's why he's going to die to save them.
Haters Gonna Hate
- Jesus tells the disciples that people are going to hate them. That's not good news.
- The naysayers came after Jesus and they're going to come after the disciples, too.
- These people are filled with hate and they don't know or understand God. So watch your backs, disciples.
Outlook Not Good
- Jesus tells all the disciples to watch out so they won't trip up along the way.
- He wants them to have a heads up because the people that hate him aren't going to stand by and let the disciples just run around worshipping and teaching. Nope, they're going to try to kill them. Some of them will even think that, by killing the disciples, they'll be doing right by God.
- But, they'll be wrong. Very, very wrong.
- In case it wasn't clear, we're reminded that Jesus is telling them all this so they don't forget—not much chance of that—and so that when all this stuff happens, they'll remember that Jesus predicted it.
- Major you-heard-it-here-first moment.
- All this talk of endless persecution has got the disciples seriously depressed.
- Don't worry, Jesus tells them. It's all for the best, really. You'd rather know than not know, right? Um, they might be going with "not know" right about now.
- Seriously, though, when the Holy Spirit comes, things are going to be much better.
- First, the disciples will be suffering. Then they'll be overjoyed. It's kind of like a mother giving birth. The labor pains are terrible, but once she holds that baby in her arms, it's all forgotten. All forgotten? Obviously Jesus has never given birth.
- So it's going be tough for a little while (when Jesus dies), but then things are going to get way better.
Plain and Simple
- Before, Jesus used all kinds of metaphors to tell the people what he meant. Now he's just going give it to them straight.
- Jesus came from God. Now, he's going back to God. The end.
- The disciples are excited. Jesus has finally gotten through to them. No questions, right? And they all believe in him to boot.
- Sure, but Jesus reminds them that one day they're going to leave him all alone. We're thinking this day is coming pretty soon.
Jesus Prays for His Friends
- Once Jesus says all this, he looks up to the sky and addresses God. He tells God that he knows he's going to die and that's just fine by him.
- But he does have one teensy little favor to ask before he goes: he wants God to protect the disciples. It's going to be rough out there for them in the future and they're going to need some serious divine intervention to keep alive.
- This is really the least God can do since he's the one who has commanded them all to go out and speak the truth. Especially since the truth tends to enrage the people in power.
- Jesus ends by asking God to always be with the disciples and to love them.
The Not-So-Secret Garden
- After Jesus says all these nice things, he and his disciples go to the Kidron Valley where there's a garden. Think Jesus might spend a leisurely evening watering some roses? Not so much.
- Judas leads a group of soldiers to the garden to arrest Jesus. They're carrying torches and all kinds of weapons, so they clearly mean business.
- Jesus, of course, knows that this is all going to happen. Probably because he's been building up to this moment for the last three years. The men come into the garden and Jesus identifies himself. He'll go quietly, but Jesus wants the soldiers to let the disciples go unharmed.
- Not so fast, Jesus. Peter springs into action. He whips out a sword and cuts off one of the soldiers' ears. Well, then.
- Jesus quickly does a little damage control. He tells Peter to cool it and put the sword away. This is what God wants to happen, remember?
- The soldiers and the temple police tie up Jesus's hands and lead him away.
Denial: The First Stage of Grief
- The first place they take Jesus is to the house of Annas. Annas is the father-in-law of Caiaphas (the high priest from chapter 11) and a former high priest himself.
- Peter follows Jesus there, but has to wait outside the gate to the house. The woman guarding the gate sees Peter and asks if he was one of the people she has seen following Jesus. Peter denies that he is. Strike one.
- Meanwhile, inside the house, Annas questions Jesus about his disciples and the things he taught.
- But Jesus isn't too big on keeping secrets. They've all heard what he had to say before. Are they seriously going over all this again?
- One of the soldiers doesn't think Jesus's answer is very respectful, so he gives Jesus a smack. Literally.
- Whoa, Jesus says. I'm just telling the truth over here. What's the deal?
- While this is all happening inside the house, Peter is still outside, warming himself by a fire. There are other people standing around, trying to keep warm, too. One of them asks him if he is one of Jesus' disciples. Again, Peter denies that he is. Strike two.
- Another guy starts to question him, too. He happens to be related to the solider whose ear Peter cut off and was there when they arrested Jesus. "Didn't I see you in the garden with him?" he asks Peter. But Peter denies it again. Must have been his evil twin. As he says this, a rooster crows in the distance. That's strike three. You're out, buddy.
Trials and Tribulations
- The soldiers take Jesus to see Caiaphas, and from there, they take him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman emperor of the province of Judea. It's his job to determine an appropriate sentence for Jesus. That's some heavy responsibility.
- The religious authorities are there, of course. Except they won't go inside Pilate's house. It's going to be Passover soon and they want to avoid "ritual defilement," so they remain outside. Good luck with that, guys.
- Pilate wants to know what Jesus has done. The religious authorities tell him that Jesus is nothing more than a common criminal. Guys like him need to be off the streets for good.
- Well, Pilate tells them, if he's a criminal, then sentence him yourself under Jewish law. Problem solved.
- Ah, but the religious authorities aren't allowed to put anyone to death under Jewish law. They won't settle for anything less than execution. Not a lot of sympathy from these guys.
- So, Pilate goes back inside and questions Jesus. Is he "the King of the Jews?"
- Did you come up with that on your own? Jesus asks. Or is that just what you've been hearing around town?
- Pilate tells Jesus that he could care less what the Jews say. He isn't a Jew. But, if Jesus's own people turned him in, he must have done something terrible. What is it?
- Jesus answers that his kingdom is not in this world. If it were, he wouldn't be in this predicament.
- Oh, so you are a king? Pilate asks. Now we're getting somewhere.
- Jesus tells him he was just born to tell the truth. He'll swear to that on a stack of Bibles.
- "What is truth?" Pilate asks, but we never get any answer. Too bad—we'd like to know.
- Again, Pilate goes outside and tells the religious authorities that he can't figure out what Jesus has done wrong. He's feeling generous today, so he'll release one prisoner. How about Jesus?
- No way. The religious authorities immediately shout that they want a thief named Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. So much for keeping the dangerous criminals off the streets.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
- Things start to go downhill from here. Pilate orders Jesus to be flogged.
- The soldiers take branches from a plant with sharp thorns and weave them into a crown shape and place it on Jesus's head. They take a purple robe, the color of royalty, and drape it around his shoulders. Then they mock and bully him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and hit him in the face. Yikes.
- Pilate thinks that this small gesture of torture might make the crowd happy. Jesus has been whipped, but that's as far as he'll go. Jesus hasn't done anything wrong, so he can't just sentence him to die.
- Oh, yes, he can. The religious authorities see Jesus standing there beaten, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe and start screaming bloody murder. Literally. They demand that Pilate crucify him right now. He broke the law! He claimed to be God's son!
- This makes Pilate a little worried. He tries to question Jesus again, but Jesus is unwilling to contribute to his own defense. He just stands there silent.
- Pilate tells him that he has the power to have him killed. Afraid yet?
- Not a chance. Jesus replies that Pilate actually has no power. God's the one with the power. He's already set all this in motion.
- Again, Pilate tries to release Jesus, but the religious authorities are not having it. They tell Pilate that if he lets Jesus go, he is a traitor to the Roman emperor. Jesus has claimed to be king, which means he has set himself up as a political opponent to the emperor.
- Fine then. Pilate brings Jesus outside and asks the people if he should really crucify their king.
- No, you've got it all wrong, they shout. We love the emperor! He's our only king! Crucify Jesus! Crucify him now!
- And with that, Pilate gives the order for Jesus to be executed.
- The soldiers take Jesus to Golgotha. There, they will crucify him with two other men.
- Pilate also orders that a sign be put on the cross saying, "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews." This further annoys the religious authorities.
- They tell Pilate that it should really say that Jesus says he is the King of the Jews. But Pilate doesn't really care what they think.
- Four soldiers nail Jesus to the cross. They strip him naked and tear his robe into four pieces, one for each of them to take. They also take his tunic and "cast lots" to decide who gets it. Talk about insensitive.
At the Foot of the Cross
- Standing by the cross are four women: Jesus' mother, his aunt, Mary (who is the wife of someone named Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. The Beloved Disciple is also there, standing beside Jesus's mother.
- Jesus tells the Beloved Disciple to take care of his mother after he dies. He knows that his life is almost over.
- He tells the onlookers that he is thirsty, and they put a sponge soaked in wine on a branch and hold it to his mouth. The Romans didn't usually serve up a great last meal.
- After Jesus drinks the wine, he says his last words: "It is finished." Then, he lowers his head and dies.
- Passover will start soon and the religious authorities don't want bodies left up on the crosses during the festival. So, they ask Pilate to have the soldiers break the men's legs.
- The soldiers break the legs of the other two men crucified with Jesus, but when they come to Jesus, it looks like he's already dead.
- One of them tests this by stabbing him in the side with his spear. Blood and water flow out of the wound.
- Joseph of Arimathea (who was never mentioned before but is secretly one of Jesus's disciples) asks Pilate if he can take Jesus's body away for burial.
- Nicodemus helps by bringing one hundred pounds of spices in order to prepare Jesus's body for burial.
- They wrap the body in the spices and some linens and place it in tomb in a nearby garden. This happens to be a new tomb, where no one has ever been buried before. Foreshadowing? Just a bit.
- Three days after Jesus is killed, Mary Magdalene comes to visit the tomb. It's very early in the morning, so it's still dark outside. When she comes closer to the tomb, she sees that the stone that laid over the opening has been removed and the tomb has been open. That's weird.
- Mary runs to tell Peter and the Beloved Disciple this odd piece of news.
- Peter and the Beloved Disciple rush with her back down to the tomb. When they arrive, Peter goes inside and sees the linen cloths that had wrapped Jesus's body lying on the ground.
- The Beloved Disciple sees it, too, and believes that Jesus has risen from the dead. This guy just gets it.
He Is Risen
- The two men return to their homes, leaving Mary alone at the tomb, weeping in despair. Thanks a lot, guys.
- When Mary looks into the tomb, she sees two angels dressed in white sitting in the place where they laid the body of Jesus. Whoa.
- The angels ask Mary why she is crying. Apparently, talking to angels is just another day at the office for Mary.
- She tells them it's because someone must have taken Jesus's body and she has no idea where they could have put it. A good guess, but keep going.
- As she says this, she turns around and sees Jesus standing there, only she doesn't recognize him. Being resurrected is very slimming.
Like the angels, Jesus asks her why she's crying.
- Mary thinks that he must be the gardener and asks him if he took the body. Mary, you're so close.
- "Mary!" Jesus says to her, and—light bulb!—she recognizes him. Jesus tells her not to touch him though; he hasn't yet gone back to God. But, what she could do is go tell his disciples that he is going to God. That would be great. Okay, thanks. Bye.
- Mary rushes back to the disciples once again to give them the good news.
In Lock Down
- That evening, the disciples meet at a house. They lock all the doors because they're still afraid of what might happen to them if the religious authorities find them. Probably smart.
- Suddenly, Jesus comes into the room and greets them.
- He shows the disciples the wounds on his hands and in his side, and the disciples are thrilled to see him again.
- Jesus tells them that they are being sent out, and then… he breathes on them. They have now received the Holy Spirit and have the power to forgive the sins of others. Pretty cool.
No Doubt About It
- Thomas, however, wasn't around to see any of this. Later, he rejoins the disciples and they tell him everything. Thomas isn't buying it. He says that, until he sees the nail marks and wounds on Jesus first-hand, he's not going to believe their story. Thomas needs proof of life.
- A week later, the disciples are meeting again in the same house and Thomas is there. What could possibly happen? Oh yeah. Again, all the doors are locked, but again, Jesus comes. Of course.
- He greets the disciples and then tells Thomas that he's free to put his hand in the wound in his side and shows him the nail marks on his hands.
- Jesus heard what you said, Thomas. Don't you feel silly now? Jesus tells him not to doubt, but to believe.
- Faced with some pretty strong evidence, Thomas believes whole-heartedly. Duh.
- Jesus says it's great that he believes, but it's even better when people who haven't seen him believe. Like Christians are going to have to do for the next couple millennia.
Lots of Fish in the Sea
- After this, Jesus appears again to the disciples on the sea near Tiberius, back up in Galilee.
- Peter is there, along with Thomas, Nathanael, the Beloved Disciple, and three other unnamed disciples. The group decides to go fishing, but they don't catch anything that night. Night fishing is not their best idea.
- At dawn, Jesus stands on the beach and calls out to them. He tells them that if they try casting their nets on the right side of the boat they're sure to catch some fish.
- The disciples don't realize it's Jesus, but since they always listen to fishing advice shouted by random people, they follow his instructions anyway. They catch so many fish that they can barely haul them all into the boat. Bring on the tartar sauce.
- Then the Beloved Disciple realizes—that's Jesus standing on the beach. Ding ding.
- Peter is so excited to hear this that he jumps out of the boat and swims to shore. Oh, Peter, you big goon.
- The other disciples are only about a hundred yards off, so they bring the boat in along with the gigantic catch of fish. When they reach the shore, they see a fish cooking over a fire and some bread. Jesus tells them to bring the fish they caught. Peter helps bring in the haul.
- They've caught 153 huge fish. Not only is that a really specific number, it's amazing because their net isn't even torn.
- Jesus invites them to have breakfast with him. He takes the bread and gives it to each of them and does the same with the fish.
- He fishes. He cooks. He rises from the dead. What can't Jesus do?
Do You Love Me?
- When they all finish eating, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him.
- Of course, Peter says.
- Jesus asks Peter a second time if he loves him. Maybe his hearing is going.
- But—get this—Peter still does.
- Then, Jesus asks him a third time. Come on, Jesus. Seriously?
- Peter is starting to feel a little hurt. Of course he loves Jesus. Jesus knows everything—he should know that, too.
- Jesus explains to Peter that when he (Peter) was young, he could go wherever he wanted, but when he gets older, he will be taken by force somewhere he doesn't want to go. Translation? Peter's going to be a martyr.
- Peter doesn't seem too excited by this. He asks what's going to happen with the other disciples, specifically The Beloved Disciple. Will they be sharing a cross built for two anytime soon?
- Nope. The Beloved Disciple looks like he's going to die a natural death. Peter really got the short end of that stick.
- The gospel writers tell us that the Beloved Disciple is the one who saw all this and wrote it down. He's vouched for it, so no worries.
- The stories in this gospel are just the tip of the iceberg though. Jesus also did so many other amazing things. If someone ever tried to write them all down, there wouldn't be enough paper in the entire world. And just imagine the hand cramps.