April 19 — John 9 — Legalists. Jesus performed a first-ever miracle when He healed the man who had been born blind. His disciples thought he was blind because of sin but Jesus said he was blind, “that the works of God might be displayed in him” (v. 3). It was a Sabbath day, so the amount of “work” done was the critical question. God had two purposes for giving the Sabbath, a spiritual one and a physical one. The Bible’s first mention of it stated that it was a day of rest and that it was holy to the Lord (Exodus 16:23). Worship rather than work. What was “work”? God said it included cooking in your house (Exodus 35:3). What else? Well, over the years, the Jews made many rules to try to define what constituted “work.” That is the reason the question “How…?” was asked five times in this chapter, to determine if Jesus “worked” when He healed the man. He made mud with saliva (v. 6)—hardly “work.” He sent the man within Jerusalem to the pool of Siloam (v. 7)—also less than the human-defined “Sabbath day’s journey” (Acts 1:12), which was a little over a half of a mile. Even so, some of the legalists called Him a sinner (v. 24) because “he does not keep the Sabbath” (v. 16). The response of the formerly blind man was entirely different: “’Lord, I believe,’ and he worshiped him” (v. 38).
April 20 — John 10 — Bad Guys. There is a lot of figurative speech and also much about relationships in this chapter. The primary relationship is that of Jesus as the Good Shepherd (vv. 11, 14) and secondarily we believers as His sheep. There are other non-believing, non-belonging sheep: “You do not believe because you are not among my sheep” (v. 26). It is faith that brings a human “sheep” into a relationship with the Good Shepherd. There are also non-caring shepherds. In fact, in contrast to the Good Shepherd, there are three “bad guys” in this story. First, is the sheep-stealer, called a “thief” (vv. 1, 10) and a “stranger” (v. 5). They might be like religious leaders today who try to drag believers into their cults. Next, is the “hired hand” (v. 12). This is the leader who is in it for the money and “cares nothing for the sheep” (v. 13). There are some Christian leaders today who are getting rich by fleecing the sheep. Finally, there is the wolf that “snatches” (v. 12) the sheep in order to destroy them. True believers, however, are protected by the Good Shepherd so that “no one will snatch them out of my hand” (v. 28).
April 21 — John 11 — Life and Death. Figurative talk concerning life and death dominates this chapter. There was such a mixture of literal and figurative references about death that the disciples were confused. Jesus said figuratively that “Lazarus has fallen asleep” (v. 11) and then literally that “Lazarus has died” (v. 14). Later, He declared to Martha, “I am … the life” (v. 25), that although believers will die physically, they will live spiritually and eternally (v. 25), and that believers who are living physically will never die spiritually (v. 26). Earlier, Jesus said that the one who believes in Him, “has eternal life” and “has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). Although we are born physically alive, we are spiritually dead, but when we surrender to Christ in faith, we become spiritually alive—born again.
April 22 — John 12 — Circumstantial Excuses. It seems to be common in human experience to read into circumstances what one wants to believe and then cover one’s actions with excuses. The chief priests saw the circumstance that “many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus” (v. 11) so they used that as an excuse to plan to kill not only Jesus but Lazarus whom He raised from the dead (v. 10). They considered that keeping the crowd had a higher priority than murder. Also, when the circumstance of the audible voice came from heaven, Jesus said that “This voice has come for your sake, not mine” (v. 30), yet the crowd sidestepped it with two reactions. Some attributed it to thunder, avoiding the supernatural and understanding nothing, while others said it must have been an angel’s voice intended for Jesus but not for them (v. 29). Both had an attitude that didn’t want to get involved. Although many saw the circumstantial signs Jesus did, “they still did not believe in him” (v. 37). Even some of the Jewish authorities believed in Him (v. 42) but they did so secretly because being accepted by their peers was more important to them than God’s approval. Excuses.
April 23 — John 13 — The Second Love Chapter. 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the Love Chapter but John 13 is a close rival. The Greek word for “love” in these two chapters is agápē (verb: agapáō), used 9 times in 1 Corinthians 13 and 7 times in John 13. Jesus’ love was an enduring love: “… having loved his own … he loved them to the end” (v. 1). His love was an individual love, like that for John, “whom Jesus loved” (v. 23). And, His love was an exemplary love: “… just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (v. 34). Love is the distinguishing mark of a Christian. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (v. 35). Our love should be enduring, not just until someone better comes along or only as long as we have time. It should be individual, not like “I love everybody!” but “I love you!” And it should be exemplary—catching—so that others will see your love and say, “I want to be like that!”