Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for December 15

Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for December 15

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By Dr. Jim Barnette
Professor, Samford University
Senior Pastor, Brookwood Baptist Church

Does Absolute Truth Exist?
John 1:14–18; 8:30–32; 18:36–38a

Many wonder if we can really know the truth. (18:36–38a)

When Jesus tells Pilate that His kingdom is not of this world He is referring to its origin, not its location. John’s Gospel repeatedly asserts that Jesus originates from God and that His kingship has the same origin (see John 3:31; 8:23; 16:28). Some New Testament scholars remind us the word for “kingdom” can be translated as “reign” and this word can help highlight Christ’s lordship as God’s Son. 

Truth is a major theme of John’s Gospel. The word appears here 25 times but only seven times in the other Gospels combined. 

Pilate’s question is wrongly put. He is assuming that truth is a “what.” But the real truth is not a “what” but a “who.” Jesus is Himself the truth, the ultimate reality with whom people can have personal experience and relationship. 

We can know what truth is because Jesus has revealed it. (1:14–18)

John does not say that the Word became a man or even a body, but “flesh,” a crude, blunt word for sophisticated Greeks who assumed the body would be cast aside. 

The living God has made His great, decisive move in arriving to us in the flesh. 

In his first two epistles John goes on the offensive against the Gnostic sect, the Docetists, who taught that Jesus only appeared to be in the flesh. So heretical are those who were corrupting the truth of the incarnation that 1 and 2 John refer to these false teachers as “antichrists.”  

The eternal Word “became flesh.” This is the first time the verb “to become” has been used. Prior to verse 14 only the verb “to be” had been used. The verb changes in verse 14 to show that the Word has moved from the eternal to the earthly. Jesus, the begotten Son of God, has stepped out of eternity and into our world. 

The Word “lived among us” or more accurately, “made His dwelling among us.”  John’s Greek word means literally “tented” and is related to the Old Testament words for “tabernacle,” “tent” and “temple,” in which God lived among His people. 

In the days of Moses, God’s glory was seen in the tabernacle and later His glory was revealed in the temple. John’s Gospel will show that the glory experienced in the tabernacle and temple is now eclipsed by the glory of the living Christ.

When we trust and follow Christ we discover the truth and experience life and freedom. (8:30–32)

Some in the crowd heard Jesus and believed in Him. But how deeply were they committed and how long would their belief last?  

Jesus makes clear His expectations of discipleship for those who claim to believe. He does not seek fair-weather followers or short-term adherents who will fall by the wayside. They must “abide” in His word if they are to be a part of His movement. They must not only hear what He teaches but be steeped in it. 

This means not only hearing but obeying Him and submitting to His authority. Only through obedience can a disciple know the truth. A constant theme of John’s Gospel is that the deepest knowing comes through doing. This means far more than memorizing concepts to be verbalized. The discovery of truth comes from encountering and yielding to the Christ who is the living truth.

The connection Jesus makes between truth and freedom is vital to Christian faith. Truth never leads to bondage. The whole idea is perplexing to the Pharisees, who were not in the least convinced that they needed freedom. 

In spite of the heavy yokes they placed on themselves and so many others they never recognized the bondage under which they lived. Only the truth and freedom that Jesus provides brings light and life to those fortunate to receive it.