10) John 1:19–23: According to Mal 4:5, the prophet Elijah would return from heaven to precede the coming messiah at the end of the age (2 Ki 2:11–12).[1]

In response to questions by the Jewish leaders, John quoted a portion of Isa 40:1–5. That chapter of the Old Testament (OT) concerned God’s promise that he would bring Israel back from exile.

a) Why did John the Baptist’s assertion that he came to fulfill v. 3 of Isaiah’s prophecy indicate that Israel’s time of exile had not yet ended?



b) John 1:24–34: John the Baptist was born several months earlier than his cousin Jesus (Luke 1:24–27).

What is the significance of John’s description of Jesus?



[Related posts include In the Beginning Was the Word (John 1:1–2); The Firstborn of All Creation (Col 1:15–18); Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); and Taking the Form of a Slave (Phil 2:7)]


11) John 8:12: In this verse, Jesus addressed those who gathered in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:1–16).

This celebration commemorated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (Lev 23:1–2, 39–44). The people also expressed their hope for a second exodus, when the pillar of fire would guide them to the promised land of the age to come (Cf. Exod 13:20–22).[2]

The Babylonian Talmud gives this depiction of the celebration:

At the conclusion of the first festival day of Tabernacles…they had made a great enactment. There were there golden candlesticks with four golden bowls on the top of each of them and four ladders to each, and four youths drawn from the priestly stock in whose hands were held jars of oil containing [almost ten gallons] which they poured into the bowls…

There was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that was not illuminated by the light…Men of piety and good deeds used to dance before them (b. Sukkah 51a 39–47).[3]

a) Read John 8:12. Why did Jesus describe himself as “the light of the world” during this festival? How is he similar to the pillar of fire for those who belong to him?



[Related posts are Ancient Literature; and The Light Shines in Darkness (John 1:3–5)]


b) John 8:23–30: Here Jesus continued his discourse during the Feast of Tabernacles. In v. 28, he said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM” (Cf. Dan 7:13–14; Exod 3:14).

Here the word, “lift up” (hypsoō) merges two events: Christ’s crucifixion and his post-resurrection exaltation (John 3:14–16; John 12:32–34; John 17:1–5). Faith involves both believing that something is true and delivering our loyalty to the object of our belief.[4]

What would prevent the people from dying in their sins? Why can we trust what he says?



[A related post is Conversion of an Executioner (Matt 27:54)]


c) John 8:31–47: Why didn’t the Pharisees recognize that Jesus was speaking of what he had seen in his Father’s presence? How did Christ describe the devil? What event does this bring to your mind?




[Related posts are Serpents in the Ancient Near East (Gen 3:1); A World-Altering Conversation (Gen 3:2–5); The First Good News (Gen 3:15); A Murderer from the Beginning (John 8:42–44); Falling for Deception (2 Cor 11:3–4); and An Angel of Light (2 Cor 11:13–15)]


d) John 8:48–59: What astounding claim did Jesus make which incited the Pharisees to try to stone him for blasphemy (Cf. Gen 12:1–3; Exod 3:13–15)?




[Related posts include Dead in Adam but Alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–23); Perishable Flesh and Blood (1 Cor 15:50); We Shall Be Changed (1 Cor 15:51–52); and Victory over Death (1 Cor 15:53–55)]


12) John 11:47–53: Immediately after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the religious leaders met in Jerusalem. They discussed their concerns about the number of people who began to follow Christ as the messiah, fearing that Rome would step in to crush any sign of rebellion.

a) What did the high priest mean by saying, “It is advantageous for you that one man die for the people and not that the whole nation be destroyed.”? How did the Apostle John interpret and expand that prophetic statement?




[A related post is Betrayed (Luke 22:1–6)]


13) Mark 14:60–65: This occurred soon after the temple guards arrested Jesus. In response to Caiaphas asking whether he was the messiah, Christ quoted part of Dan 7:13–14.

a) Why did the high priest accuse Jesus of blasphemy?



[Related posts include In the Beginning Was the Word (John 1:1–2); Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); A Summary of Trinitarian Creeds (Appendix to Phil 2:5–6); Taking the Form of a Slave (Phil 2:7); Obedient to the Point of Death (Phil 2:8); and The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11)]


b) Mark 15:1–14: What did Pilate recognize about Jesus’s accusers? Why didn’t he release Christ, even though he knew the arrest was unwarranted?




c) Mark 15:15–32: Scourging a convicted man with several leather straps to which sharp items had been attached was a standard practice prior to crucifixion.[5]

The Jewish historian Josephus (37–100 AD) described a man who was “whipped till his bones were laid bare.”[6]

As the most extreme form of execution, Roman officials reserved crucifixion for mutinous soldiers, conquered peoples, inhabitants of rebellious cities, and slaves.[7]

Typically pious women prepared a narcotic solution of myrrh and wine to relieve the sufferer’s pain (Prov 31:6–7). However, Jesus refused to drink it.[8]

Those who taunted Christ referred to his statement after he cleansed the temple of its desecration and to the many miracles he performed (John 2:18–22; Luke 7:18–23). [9]

Read Mark 15:15–32. What did those who mocked Jesus misunderstand about his suffering? How did these events fulfill Gen 3:15 and Ps 22:1–18?





[Related posts include The First Good News (Gen 3:15); A Most Cruel and Ignominious Punishment (Matt 27:26–37); and Our Certificate of Debt (Col 2:13–14)]


d) Mark 15:33–41: In contrast to the Jewish meaning of a “son of God”—which denoted a person who kept the law of Moses perfectly—for Romans the term referred to a semi-divine hero or the son of a deity. Beginning with the reign of Augustus (27 BC–14AD), Roman emperors claimed this title for themselves.[10]

Who witnessed Jesus’s death? Why do you think his executioner recognized that “Truly, this man was the Son of God!”?




[Related posts include Forsaken (Matt 27:38–49); The Death of God (John 19:28–30); God Rends the Barrier (Matt 27:50–51); and Conversion of an Executioner (Matt 27:54)]


e) Mark 15:42–47: Tacitus, a 1st century AD Roman historian noted that officials refused burial to those they executed,[11] unless the condemned person received permission by a magistrate.

Thus, those crucified usually remained upon the cross to rot or to be eaten by birds and wild animals.[12]

Pilate was surprised because crucified people often languished for two or three days before death came.

By asking for the corpse of a person executed for treason, Joseph risked the same fate for himself. Yet, as a member of the council which had asked Pilate to execute Jesus, this threat was likely reduced.[13]

In addition to seeking to honor Christ, Joseph acted in light of Deut 21:22–23.

Read Mark 15:42–47. Why do you think Pilate granted Joseph’s request? How did Joseph’s actions exalt the Lord?





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[1] Burge, John, 72.

[2] Beasley-Murray, 127–8.

[3]Talmudist, “English Babylonian Talmud,” in English Babylonian Talmud, https://archive.org/stream/babyloniantalmud07unknuoft#page/n181/mode/2up.

[4]Matthew W. Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017), 95–6.

[5]Craig A. Evans, Mark 8:27–16:20 (WBC; Dallas: Word, 2001), 483–4.

[6] Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 6.5.3, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0148%3Abook%3D6%3Awhiston+chapter%3D5%3Awhiston+section%3D3.

[7] O’Collins, “Crucifixion,” ABD 1:1207–10, 1207–8.

[8] Keener, IVPBBCNT, Mark 15:23.

[9] Beasley-Murray, John, 39.

[10] Keener, IVPBBCNT, Matt 27:54.

[11]Cornelius Tacitus, Annals, in Complete Works of Tacitus (ed. William Jackson Brodribb and Sara Bryant; trans. Alfred John Church; New York: Random House, 1942), 6.29, Http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0078%3Abook%3D6%3Achapter%3D29.

[12]William L. Lane, The Gospel of Mark (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 577–8.

[13]Garland, Luke, 597.