Doctrine Article
Expanded Internet Edition - June 1, 2007 

The New Apostle John

by Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1979
Transcribed and Edited by David Sielaff, June 2007

Read the accompanying Newsletter for June 2007

 

This is part 2 of 3 articles about the Apostle John and the Gospel of John.

The third article in the series titled "The Apostle John, The Lamb, and the Spirit" is at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d070701.htm.

The first article titled "The Two Apostle Johns" is at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d070501.htm.

In a former lecture on the apostle John’s Gospel we showed that a profound change took place in the thinking of John in his religious philosophy once the final teachings of God were revealed primarily through the apostle Paul but also through John himself. No longer were physical rituals or ceremonies necessary in the worship of God. 1

If there was one description of the Gospel of John to show what he is really talking about, it would be that he is trying to show that physical rituals and ceremonies, no matter what they are, are no longer necessary in an efficacious way to approach God. The essential teaching comes from chapter 4 of John when Christ met the Samaritan woman at the well, and she asked Him, where should we worship God? In a sense she was saying how should we worship Him, where should we worship Him, who are the people who are His representatives?

Salvation and Worship

He pointed to Jerusalem and admitted that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Granted. But then He came back to her and said, “But the hour comes …” (John 4:23). John then adds his own comment parenthetically “and now is,” when the true worshippers of God shall not worship a person in Mt. Gerizim (which is 35 miles north of Jerusalem, which is what the Samaritan woman was thinking about), or down in Jerusalem. The holy Temple was in Jerusalem. Here was Christ saying “Woman the hour is coming,” and John says “and now is.” John said that God does not wish (or need) anybody to worship Him at a geo­graphical location on earth — be it Jerusalem, Mt. Gerizim, Pasadena, Chicago, or Salt Lake City. It does not make any difference.

All of these physical things have been taken away. What is left? Jesus answered very clearly. God the Father wishes those to worship Him “in Spirit and in truth.” That requires no geographical locations whatsoever. It requires no rituals. It requires no ceremonies. It requires nothing but love, faith, devotion, and trust in God through Christ. That is what John is trying to show.

In the 1st lecture I mentioned how John’s Gospel differs quite a bit from the former Synoptic Gospels, and how even his Gospel and the teaching of it differs from some of his own earlier writings because John’s mind changed as time went along. When he wrote this Gospel which was undoubtedly written in the last decade of the 1st century, John wrote it with the full, final, mature teachings of God that had come to man through the aid of God’s Holy Spirit.

The Emphasis of John’s Gospel

What John emphasizes in his Gospel is how the customs of the Jews, even biblical ones such as feasts, sabbaths, rites of purification, and all of these things, were no longer relevant in the worship of God. That is what John is really trying to show.

In this lecture I want to emphasize that point, because John is emphasizing the overthrow of all rituals and all ceremonies, even those ceremonies which God Himself had formerly ordained. The Jews were still staying with them, some Christians were still staying with them, but John in his Gospel is emphasizing their complete overthrow for something that is better.

His Gospel shows an emphasis away from anything Jewish coming out of Jerusalem. By that I do not mean for a moment that he is angry with the Jewish people from a racial point of view. He is not angry with them at all, let us put it that way. He is not thinking of the Jews as being bad, evil, or anything from a racial point of view. In fact he is not thinking of them being bad at all. What he is trying to show throughout this entire Gospel is that what the Jews back in John’s day, some 1900 years ago, were looking on as absolutely essential for salvation, was not essential at all.

He is not hitting or disparaging Jewish customs or the Jews from a racial point of view because of who they were. No. But John is emphasizing getting away from everything or anything Jewish in a religious point of view, as though it is necessary. That is why he continually calls the feasts of the Old Testament, which obviously were God’s feasts at one time, the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles” (John 7:2), the Jews’ Passover” (John 2:13, 11:55). He calls the purification rites of the Old Testament coming from the Book of Numbers the purifying of the Jews (John 2:6). He talks about the law itself as being their law” (John 15:25), and even puts in the mouth of Christ the statement your law” (John 8:17, 10:34) says this and that, speaking to the Jews.

The whole emphasis of John is to show that what the Jews were saying — not that they are bad, that is not the point — but that what they were saying and what they were relying on, their physical ceremonies, rituals, and all such things, albeit though they were of the Old Testament, yet he is emphasizing in his Gospel that none of them are necessary.

In this lecture “The New Apostle John” I want to show those emphases. It seems like every time that John gets a chance to show something counter to the Jewish establishment which was in existence at his time, he does it. He does not do it in a vindictive way. He does not do it because he is angry. He does not do it because he has some chip on his shoulder. He shows that there are new teachings of God that have come along. Who is it that introduced these new teachings? God Himself!

John’s Beginning Emphasis

That is why John emphasizes from the very beginning of this Gospel the Word. The Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were created through the Word and He came and dwelt amongst us. John is trying to show from the very beginning who is giving these brand new spiritual teachings away from ritual, away from ceremony.

This time it was not Moses. This time it was not Elijah. This time it was not Isaiah or any of the other prophets. This time it was God Himself in the flesh who was doing these things. That is why John emphasizes getting away from the things that formerly were important, but in his time were not. That is what I want to show in this lecture. It is most remarkable when you look at it.

Look at John chapter 1 to see the emphasis coming out here concerning our Lord Himself, who He was.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”

The Word came into flesh. Go on down:

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

If what John was saying is true (and it is), then everything He would say from then on relative to what the Word was instructing should have precedence over all of the statements made in the Old Testament by the most holy of prophets or priests or kings, or you would think so. They were merely instruments in God’s hands to give teachings for ancient Israel, but here was God Himself in flesh giving teachings. What John is going to emphasize through the mouth of Christ is that all of the physical things which God Himself imposed upon man in the past have now been taken away.

The great exponents of those rituals and ceremonies were the Jewish people. When I say the Jewish people I mean the religious Jews who had their headquarters at Jerusalem. The Temple was destroyed by the time that John wrote his Gospel, that is quite true, but still the Jews looked toward rebuilding of the Temple one day, and all Judaism depended upon the Temple, the priesthood, the sacrifices, and all the other rituals.

Many Christians at first began to feel that some of these things were absolutely essential, but every time that John in this Gospel gets an opportunity to show (whether through the mouth of Christ or John’s own teaching) that Judaism is not the answer, he takes it.

The Marriage at Cana, Contrary to Custom, John Chapter 2

I will go to John’s second chapter for you to see how he shows Christ consistently going contrary to custom. What everybody would have expected to be done, Christ seemed to have done just the opposite when it came to Jewish matters. John is the only one of the Gospel writers to mention the marriage at Cana. It is mentioned in the second chapter of John:

“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there.”

At the marriage festivities it was discovered that there was not enough wine. We all know the story. Jesus’ mother came and asked Jesus to do something about it. She had recognized by this time that there was something certainly divine about her own son. He said it is not yet my hour to do anything. Going on:

“And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus says unto them, ‘Fill the waterpots with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim.”

The water was made wine in verse 9, but notice something concerning this matter. You may think this is a small point at first, but it figures in with all the other matters I will give shortly.

“When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And said unto him, ‘Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but you have kept the good wine until now.’ This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.”

Why am I bringing this out? Look at it here. This is a small point to begin with, but it will fall into the pattern of going against Jewish establishment or custom. Christ our Lord is doing it here. It is interesting that when He came along to give the wine, he gave the best wine last, going counter to custom. 2

Nicodemus and Customary Understanding, John Chapter 3

From now on you will see Christ actually doing things, in the words of John, counter to almost every custom in this Jewish environment. Let us go to chapter 3, which is a big point. You will see here how He goes counter to custom. Indeed, John emphasizes it. “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1). That first verse tells us a lot. The Pharisees, as Paul said, were the strictest of the sects of the Jews (Acts 26:5). They paid close attention to everything religious that had to be done.

Here is a man who was a Pharisee. His name was Nicodemus. Not only was he a Pharisee, he was “a ruler of the Jews.” Talk about a man having full knowledge of the Old Testament, the laws, the rituals, the ceremonies, how to teach people about all the customs, all the laws, pros and cons on the sabbath, and so forth. I suppose this Nicodemus would be a man who knows all about everything regarding the law. In fact I am sure he would. He was called

“… a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God ...”

By saying “we know,” it means that Nicodemus was sent there as a representative of other rulers of the Jews, other Pharisees, other top people who should have known all about Jewish religion. Here is a man like the Archbishop of Canterbury; not exactly, but something like that, one of the heads of a great religious body, with university rank training, who preached and lectured in synagogues and the Temple, and talked with people all the time. Nicodemus as one of the rulers of the Jews comes to Jesus by night saying “we know” that no one can do these miracles except that God be with Him. 3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, …” (John 3:3), to this “Archbishop of Canterbury” person of rank, to this great academic and religious leader:

“I say unto you [Nicodemus], Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said unto him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’”

This great scholar is asking a question. He does not know really what Christ is speaking about here. Here is a man who knows all about rituals, he knows all about ceremonies, he is a ruler of the Jews, but he does not know what Christ is speaking about when He says you need to be a new person.

“Jesus answered, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, You must be born again. The wind blows where it listeth [where it wills], and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell whence it comes, and whither it goes: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.’”

The emphasis of John here is upon the Spirit, not upon the flesh. This Nicodemus was shaking his head; he could not really fathom what our Lord was talking about, and yet he was one of the most profound religious leaders among the Jews of the time, representing the establishment of Judaism! This is what John is trying to point out.

By the way, John is the only Gospel writer who mentions this event. He is the only one who mentioned about the Cana event, how Christ went contrary to custom there. You will see that Christ goes contrary to custom and in almost every case it is contrary to physical, ceremonial, and ritual customs. That is what John is emphasizing. Christ is meeting this “Archbishop of Canterbury” person, so to speak, and He is telling him some simple principles about the Spirit, and the man is shaking his head. He does not get it. Nicodemus did not know these things.

“Nicodemus answered and said unto him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Are you a master of Israel, and know not these things?’”

The answer is no, he did not. What John is trying to show is, and listen to this: the Jewish leaders do not have the answers unless they are converted. That is what John is trying to show. Nicodemus later on accepted Christ. I am sure that is the case later on. But at this time this leader of the Jews did not know it. So many Christians were beginning to say in the time of John, look, the Jews have had the knowledge of the truth for years and years. John is saying by this incident here, oh, is that right? They do not even understand the simplest fundamentals of the truth about the Spirit. That is what John is saying here in this teaching.

John is showing how Christ is going contrary to the establishment, to the highest level you might say, and they do not understand.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and you receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?”

That is what John (a Jew himself) was saying about the Jews, they do not understand heavenly things. They know all about earthly. They will tell you everything about the Temple. They will tell you everything about what to do on the sabbath, and what not to do. They will tell you everything and they have it all right here in great big books. But they do not know much or anything at all about heavenly things. That is really what is being taught here.

The whole emphasis is away from Judaism and to show that they do not have the answers without Christ. Who is it that is making these statements? It is none other than the Word Himself, that is the Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of the Father. 4 He is the one who is saying this. So we find Him going contrary to the establishment and to custom. Go on to John chapter 4.

The Custom of Baptism, John Chapter 4

“When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.”

I ask this question: why is that little parenthetical expression in there? It was placed there by John himself to point out that when he wrote his Gospel at the end of the 1st century, that Christ Himself did not really pay all that much attention to baptism, that He would not baptize anybody Himself. There may be reasons why not, but it is interesting that John says that our Lord Himself had nothing to do with baptism Too many people were looking on baptism by the end of the 1st century as being very important. We know that in history.

It is still very important, but by the time of the apostle Paul, he said listen, there is only one baptism. Paul said that in Ephesians chapter 4, and the one baptism in that larger context is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It has nothing to do with water. It has nothing to do with fire. It has nothing to do with the baptism for the dead. One baptism remains, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That can be accomplished even without water. That is what Paul taught in the Book of Ephesians chapter 4 around 63 C.E.

John comes back some 30 years later at the end of the 1st century and he recalls what Christ did back there, and he says parenthetically that Jesus did not baptize; the apostles did, but He did not. It was necessary back in those days when Christ was teaching and proclaiming the Kingdom of God, but Jesus Himself put no one under the water. This chapter is most important to illustrate this point:

“And he must needs go through Samaria” (John 4:4). Samaria is north of Judea between Galilee and Judea, right in the middle of the country of Israel. In that area of Samaria lived the Samaritans who were not Jews, but they were close kin to a certain extent. Many of them were Gentiles but they had absorbed a great deal of the teaching from Moses, not all, but much of it. They had to go through Samaria. We all know also that the Jews and the Samaritans hated one another, they did not get along at all religiously.

“Then comes he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.”

When is the 6th hour? Normally there are 12 hours in a day as Christ said over in John 11:9. That is when man can work, the daylight part. Twelve hours of day, 12 hours night. We all know that they numbered their hours from either sunset or sunrise. This, the 6th hour of the day, He and His disciples were on their journey, He got hungry it says, and He sat down at this well. The disciples went on to buy some food from this little village. It was noontime, the 6th hour from sunrise.

“There comes a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus says unto her, ‘Give me to drink.’ (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then says the woman of Samaria unto him, ‘How is it that you, being a Jew, ask drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.’”

A Jew under normal circumstances would never have spoken to a Samaritan. Jesus sat right down there by the well and this woman walked up and He started talking to her. She is amazed. Not only was she a Samaritan, she had another strike against her; she was a woman. Women normally would not talk on religious matters, and most Jews would not have done that. They could come to get advice and things like that, but to carry on religious discussions, that was only done by the men. Here is Christ carrying on a discussion with this woman, a Samaritan woman.

Another factor against her, she had five husbands. He says the one you are living with is the fifth. She was a sinner, as you or I might look at it. Three categories are against that entire conversation Jesus had with her:

  1. She is a Samaritan. That is against custom. Christ is breaking it.
  2. She is a woman. That is against custom. Christ is breaking it.
  3. She is a sinner. No religious person would speak to such a sinner back in those days.

Christ is breaking all three of these customs.

The conversation that results is most interesting. I will not rehearse the whole thing, but you know what it is. When she perceived that He was a prophet telling her about her past life, then she said, well is it this mountain here that we are to worship God, or is it down in Jerusalem? She asked that because that was the major controversy between the Samaritans and the Jews. Here was this man who she looked on maybe as the Christ, and He certainly had the Spirit of God in Him. She says to herself I will just ask him and settle the argument. You know what Christ answered. He came back to her and said:

Verses

Dr. Martin’s Comments

“Jesus said unto her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain,

nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers

shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.’”

• John 4:21–23    

• That is Gerizim where the Samaritans had their temple with all their ceremonies and rituals.

• That is where the Temple was in Jerusalem.

• That is true, their Samaritan religion was wrong.
• Granted, because Christ was a Jew.

• John adds “and now is.” By the end of the 1st century it had happened.

• Without Jerusalem, without Gerizim, without all of these rituals that keep people apart.

The time is coming when the Father shall seek those to worship him:

“… in spirit and in truth, for the father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

You do not need geography. You do not need to go to Jerusalem or any place else. It is interesting that in the Old Testament you could not really worship God unless you went to Jerusalem, especially at the feast days? You had to go up to Jerusalem. That was commanded. Also, if you wanted forgiveness of sin, you had to sacrifice an animal or have one offered for you. Where was that? In Jerusalem. Always going to Jerusalem. But our Lord says the time is coming, and John says “and now is,” when worship is not to be restricted to one location.

When our Lord made that statement to the Samaritan woman Jerusalem was still thriving back then. The Temple was still there, still functioning. He had not died on the tree of crucifixion yet. The Holy Spirit had not come yet.

By the time John wrote he could say “and now is.” All of it had now taken place and Jerusalem had been wiped off the map. The Jews were still around, that was quite true, but God does not require, it says here, for anyone to worship Him except in spirit and truth. You do not have to go to the Jews in Jerusalem, to the Temple, or anything. Indeed, he had just said in John chapter 3 to Nicodemus that the rulers of the Jews did not understand the first principles of truth anyway. You do not need all of that.

So the emphasis again is against Jerusalem if you want to put it that way, or ritualism, ceremonialism, and all of the customs.

Jesus’ Healing and the Sabbath Custom, John Chapter 5

Now let us go to John chapter 5:

“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he says unto him, ‘Will you be made whole?’ The impotent man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steps down before me.’ Jesus says unto him, ‘Rise, take up your bed, and walk.’”

He was lying on a pallet of some kind. Jesus said:

“‘Rise, take up your bed, and walk.’ And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, ‘It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.’”

You know something? They were correct. In all the laws of the Old Testament it made it quite clear, you were not to carry anything of that nature. In Jeremiah 17:22 it says you are not allowed to carry anything out of your house on the sabbath day. 5 That surely includes a pallet or a bed. That is, after all, what is usually in a house, is it not? Here is this man violating Holy Scripture! The only trouble is the man who made him whole told him to pick it up and carry it. Who was it? It was none other than the Lord from heaven in the first place, who was owner of the sabbath. He made the earth. He made the man. He made the pallet. He made the Jews who were criticizing Him. He made the whole thing. The man was carrying his pallet.

The Jews did not like this. So the healed man goes back to see Jesus and Jesus tells him, carry right on. You are made whole, just do not sin any more. Do not sin any more, yet he is carrying his pallet on the sabbath. That is sinning itself, is it not? But if our Lord tells him he can carry on the sabbath, let me tell you, he can carry it on the sabbath.

The whole confrontation here is not so much just over the sabbath day. The confrontation in John chapter 5 between the Jews on the one hand and Jesus is over whether or not He is divine. That is what it comes down to. Because if they would have recognized Him to be who He was, as John was showing, that He was the Word made flesh, if they would have recognized that, they would have had no comeback against Him whatsoever. He could have told a man to go out and pick tomatoes, if they had them over there, on the sabbath, and no one would have said anything to him because of who He was. He was God in the flesh. They failed to recognize that.

Have you ever noticed that throughout John’s Gospel, the confrontation is almost always over whether or not Christ is deity or whether He is not? Almost all of these situations that come up are in regard to that one point there. That was certainly the case here because it says:

“And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father works hitherto, and I work.”

“Hitherto,” it means “right up to this point.” And that was on the sabbath day. He was saying “My Father works on the sabbath day.” That is what He was saying. You know, not only does God the Father work on the sabbath day, it says “and I work.” That is pretty strong. This is going counter to custom. But who is it that is saying this? It is our Lord Himself. If He would have been recognized for who He was, then there would not have been any trouble.

“Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”

They knew what He was talking about there, clearly they did. So He says God the Father can work, and let me tell you, I can work. He admitted He was working, and that man was working by carrying that pallet. But I tell you, I hope I have enough gumption that if my Lord, and I know who He is, tells me to pick up a pallet and walk on the sabbath day, I do not care if He said 100 years ago not to do it, if He tells me to do it now, I had better be doing it. This was what the whole thing was about, whether or not Christ was deity. Indeed He was.

This John chapter 5 is John showing how Christ is going contrary to customs that the Jews have looked on as very sacrosanct. Most of us have looked on it that way too. What is our Lord doing? Look at the emphasis here. He is going counter to custom. In almost every chapter we find here counter to custom.

Jesus and the Passover, John Chapter 6

“After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. And the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.”

Notice that the Passover season was coming on, it had not arrived yet, but it was drawing near. Where was Jesus at this time? It says He was in Galilee up in a mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee. That is what it says in those first 4 verses. Where is a person, a good Jew, supposed to be at Passover time, according to the Old Testament Scripture? He is supposed to be at Jerusalem. Do you know that you could not have a Passover meal with a lamb or a goat unless you were in the environs of Jerusalem? You had to go to Jerusalem to observe the Passover. Here is Christ near the Sea of Galilee, in a mountain as the Passover is beginning to come along. Then He feeds the 5,000 people that come there and the whole story is given, so it was a great miracle, no question about that.

Some would say, why did He not start down toward Jerusalem to Passover? He did go on some occasions to Jerusalem at the feast, but a true servant of God would not be up 80 miles north of Jerusalem staying up there. He would be going to Passover.

I happen to know many, hundreds, I suppose thousands of people who are very interested in keeping Passover. If they feel they should keep it, then they should keep it, but they should do it very carefully and precisely as Scriptures commands, and not make up their own doctrines. 6

But back in Old Testament times, and even in the time of our Lord, if you were going to keep Passover, you had to go to Jerusalem to keep it. Most Jews went if they could, unless they saw some prophet around like Christ who they began to recognize as having profound power. There were 5,000 people accompanying Him, and none of them were down in Jerusalem for Passover. You can absolutely show that they were not because after this incident was over:

“And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.

So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. But he says unto them, ‘It is I; be not afraid.’ Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.”

I am quoting this because this incident again shows that it is clearly at Passover time when all of that took place. They were some 3 miles off shore trying to row and a heavy wind came up, and they see Jesus at a distance walking on the water. If you go over to Matthew’s and Mark’s accounts 7 it says they see Him at the 4th watch of the night. It does not say that in John, but the same incident is there recorded. Do you know when the 4th watch of the night is? It is between 3 and 4 a.m. They see Him walking on the water.

You could possibly see someone walking on the water only (and I know this is an astronomical point) when the moon is up at night. Then you could see Him. If there is no moon up whatsoever, it would be very difficult to see someone. But at Passover time, do you know what shape the moon is in? It is up there full, and it comes through. Just as soon as the sun goes down, the moon comes up in the east, and it comes all the way over. At 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning they could have seen Him walking 200 or 300 yards out there without any trouble whatsoever.

Somewhere between the 12th of Nisan and up to about the 24th of Nisan at 3 a.m. in the morning, there would have been a moon up there. This places Him right in the midst of Passover season. Do you know where He is? He is not at Jerusalem. He is up in Galilee. But a righteous person would be in Jerusalem celebrating Passover. Our Lord was not down there. He was up north. In fact we know absolutely He was because it says in John 7:1: “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry.” The phrase “in Jewery” means “in Judah.” He did not go down to Jerusalem. That entire Passover season He was up north.

Jesus and the Feast of Tabernacles, John Chapter 7

Any person that most Jews would have considered righteous would have gone to Passover like everybody else. But our Lord did not. Again, contrary to custom. But that is not the end of it.

“Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand. His brethren [family] therefore said unto him, ‘Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that your disciples also may see the works that you do. For there is no man that does any thing in secret, and he himself seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.’ For neither did his brethren believe in him.

Then Jesus said unto them, ‘My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready. The world cannot hate you; but me it hates, because I testify of it, that the works thereof [of the world] are evil. Go you up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come.’

When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.”

You will find down in John 2:14 that it was in “the midst of the feast” that He finally began to speak out. What did this show? Again, He was not all that concerned about getting down there for the feast of Tabernacles like some of us have been concerned about for years and years. Our Lord again was going contrary to custom. Granted He went up, but He went up and finally began to talk in “the midst of the feast.” At the end of it on the octave (on the 8th day), he had some things to say there which went along with the feast day, but the whole of the 7th chapter is again showing John putting in the mouth and the actions of Christ how He is going contrary to the Jews Feast of Tabernacles.

Jesus and the Woman Taken in Adultery

What do we have in chapter 8?

“Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, ‘Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what say you?’”

Then He begins to write in the dust. They all leave. We all know probably the reason why. He was putting their sins down there. They had done the same things themselves. They needed to be stoned like she did. At the end of it:

“When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, ‘Woman, where are those thine [of your] accusers? has no man condemned you?’ She said, ‘No man, Lord.’ And Jesus said unto her, ‘Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.’”

He told her to “sin no more.” But I want you to notice what He did not do. He did not pick up any stones to stone her. That again is contrary to the exact custom, in fact the very laws of the Old Testament which He Himself had made. He let the woman go in mercy, but He told her “go, and sin no more,” contrary to custom.

Jesus and Other Customs He Broke

Go to the 9th chapter of John’s Gospel. This is when Jesus restores a man’s eyes. Do you know on what day He did it? Again on the sabbath. They accused Him of that. It seems like every chapter as you go along here is something going contrary to the customs of the Jews, away from the customs of the Old Testament, and always toward the Spirit.

We finally come to John chapter 13 and this is the night before the Passover. But the Passover that our Lord kept here in the Gospel of John with His disciples was a day earlier than the Passover that the Jews were normally keeping and a day earlier than the Passover ordained in the Old Testament.

There has been a great controversy for a long time over when the Passover really was. Let me tell you it was on the 15th of Nisan. There is no question about it. The lamb was killed somewhere on the 14th after the sun started down from the meridian, from noontime “between the evens” (Exodus 12:6) 8 just to about sundown. It was killed usually at about three o’clock in the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan. Then it was begun to be roasted. By the time the sun went down and the whole community or family got together, by about 7 or 8 in the evening it was after sundown beginning the 15th of Nisan, the lamb would have had 4 to 5 hours of cooking time, and the 15th the great high day would been here, and that is the time for the feast.

That is exactly the case in the Old Testament. There is not a shadow of doubt about it. We have literature that absolutely proves it. 9 But John shows our Lord doing something else. John had His “passover” a day earlier than the Jews. That again is going contrary to custom. Did our Lord have the right or authority to change things if He wanted to? Yes He did.

Another point is that He had the authority to change things. He said the lamb is no longer necessary, but now it was bread and wine back there at that time (Matthew 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:19–20; and 1 Corinthians 11:23–26). Did He have the power to change that if He wanted to? Yes, of course He did.

He went contrary to the customs of the Old Testament. Almost every chapter of the Gospel of John is about how Christ was going contrary to Jewish customs. Is it because John hated the Jews? No, not at all. But the Jewish religion that is Judaism which had come from Moses, which they added many commandments to, that is true, but it is based primarily upon Moses. It was good for the time.

Here were the Jews depending upon Jerusalem, depending on the Temple, on the sacrifices, on the rituals, on clean and unclean food, on clean and unclean ceremonies, everything of that nature they were watching very carefully. Many Christians, particularly the Galatians and others in the earlier days were caught up in all of those things. This whole Gospel of John is to show that the Lord from heaven came down. The Word Himself became flesh and He went around, and do you know what He did, He went contrary to custom in almost every case.

John is emphasizing how Christ was going contrary to Jewish teaching, and he was trying to tell every­body at the time he composed his Gospel that if you want to be a Christian, the time has now come that worship is now in spirit and in truth from now on. Not Jerusalem. Not the Temple. Not ceremony. Not ritual. Not even baptism. But it is in the spirit and truth.

That is the message that John is trying to get across in his Gospel.

Ernest L. Martin, 1979
Edited by David Sielaff, June 2007

This is part 2 of 3 articles about the Apostle John and the Gospel of John.

The third article in the series titled "The Apostle John, The Lamb, and the Spirit" is at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d070701.htm.

The first article titled "The Two Apostle Johns" is at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d070501.htm.


1 See Dr. Martin’s other presentations about the Gospel of John. The latest is “The Two Apostle Johns” from May 2007 at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d070501.htm.  Also see See Dr. Martin’s excellent study “The 7 Miracles of John” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d020901.htm which discusses seven major miracles that Christ performed in the Gospel of John, and how they interrelate to a single purpose.  DWS

2 See Dr. Martin’s article, “The 7 Miracles of John” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d020901.htmDWS

3 After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the Jews still recognized that Jesus was a significant person who appeared to have (in their understanding) a relation to Suffering Servant of Isaiah chapters 52 and 53. See Dr. Martin’s article, “The Strange Ending to Sotah” at http://www.askelm.com/prophecy/p950801.htmDWS

4 He was the very Messiah that the Jews hoped for, prayed for, and expected, yet they did not listen to Him or His message. See my article “Christ and Messiah” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d051001.htmDWS

5 Jeremiah 17:22: “Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do you any work, but hallow you the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.”  DWS

6 If people keep Passover outside of Jerusalem and when there is not a Temple in place, then that is their own doing. They should not claim they are keeping Passover according to God’s requirements. Either do things God’s way or your way, but do not claim that your way is God’s way. This is “playing” at religion.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says YHWH. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

   In Bible Secret #81 Dr. Martin asks the question “Should Christians Keep Feasts?” Does the Christian today have to observe the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holydays given to Israel by Moses? The simple answer to this is no. Read his entire answer to the question at http://www.askelm.com/secrets/sec081.htm. The biblical feasts have marvelous symbolism that should be studied, but that is entirely different from observing and “keeping” the feasts, all of which have been fulfilled in Christ. See Dr. Martin’s article “The Symbolism of Biblical Holydays” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d950501.htm. Christ’s complete and total fulfillment of all of that symbolism is extensively discussed in Dr. Martin’s article “The Sacrificial System of Israel” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d950502.htmDWS

7 Matthew 14:22–36 and Mark 6:45–56 both parallel the Johannine account.  DWS

8 The Hebrew clarifies the matter considerably:

“And you shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [Hebrew, “between the two evenings”].”

9 See Dr. Martin’s discussion on this matter in his extended article “The Passover Contradiction” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d050401.htmDWS

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