Word Live - Scripture Union

Bible studies from Scripture Union

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  1. ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:9,10).

  2. The Plot to Kill Jesus
     45Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

       "What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."

     49Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! 50You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."

     51He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

     54Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

     55When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, "What do you think? Isn't he coming to the Feast at all?" 57But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.

  3. Miracle reactions
    Having seen a man unquestionably raised from the dead, how would you expect the witnesses to react? Belief in Jesus? Yes (v 45). Galvanised opposition? Unfortunately, also yes (vs 46–48).

    No two ways about it, Jesus divides. He told us this would happen: ‘Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters’ (Matthew 12:30). In this case, the Pharisees and Council felt their ruling position threatened by Jesus (v 48) and therefore could not allow him to go on living (vs 49–53). So blinded were these rulers that they began to plot to kill the man who had just brought life to a corpse.

    Modern reactions
    When we explain the gospel or even pray for the sick and see them healed, we should not be surprised when people either respond in faith towards Jesus or reject him. Jesus still divides today, and to such an extent that sometimes we will be rejected (see Luke 10:16).

    This is part of the dynamic that comes with the kingdom of God breaking into our everyday lives, turning over the tables and unsettling the status quo.

  4. ‘Lord Jesus, please increase my faith so that you can use me in this world. Please strengthen me so that I no longer fear rejection if people reject you.’

    James Davies

  5. ‘We have all received grace in place of grace already given.’ (John 1:16) Thank God for when his grace has surprised you, in your life and the life of others.

    All through his Gospel, John has hinted that not all will respond to Jesus with faith. In the prologue he comments with poignancy: ‘He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him’ (John 1:11). In this narrative, he highlights the division between those who accept and those who reject him. The scepticism in verse 37, ‘Couldn't he have done something…?’, anticipates the abuse Jesus receives on the cross, ‘Save yourself!’ (Mark 15:30).

    John’s account of the Jewish leaders’ dilemma is full of irony. The only mention in the Gospels of the ‘Romans’ (v 48) identifies a real problem – the oppression of Roman rule and the danger of military action. It also identifies the leaders’ real failing – their anxiety is not who Jesus really is but whether people believing him will get them into trouble. The ultimate irony is that it is their rejection of Jesus that leads to the Romans destroying ‘both our temple and our nation’ (v 48). ‘If only you had recognised the time of God’s visitation – but you would not!’ (Luke 19:42–44, free translation). Because of their own self-interest, they actually put Caesar in place of God; their later acclamation ‘We have no king but Caesar!’ (John 19:15) is a re-writing of the Jewish prayer ‘We have no king but God’!

    Caiaphas thinks that Jesus’ death will save the nation from the Romans, but in fact it will save the nation from the power and penalty of sin. Jesus is the sacrificial ‘lamb of God’ (John 1:36), who gives his life ‘as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). And not just for the Jewish nation but for the ‘scattered children of God’ (vs 51,52), those ‘other sheep’ (John 10:16) ‘who believed in his name’ (John 1:12). Where grace is hemmed in by unbelief, it spills over to others who will respond to the good news.

    Ian Paul