Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®
from the Golden Text
Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.
Although believers are to honor and heed Christian leaders (see v. 7), it is Christ Jesus alone whose message is lasting. The author’s pronouncement is viewed by some sources as a confession of faith—and as the basis for warning against false doctrines (see v. 9).
from the Responsive ReadingJohn 8:28, 29
When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
Speaking to a group of Jews at the Temple, Jesus alludes to his coming crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension—a reference he makes two other times in this Gospel (see 3:14 and 12:32–34). The Greek word translated lifted up (hypsoō) also signifies exalted. The Master’s declarations recall this prophecy from the book of Isaiah: “Behold, my servant . . . shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high” (52:13).
God’s pleasure in His Son is first articulated at Jesus’ baptism (see Matthew 3:17), and now Jesus describes his continuing commitment to pleasing God. One Bible authority writes: “Jesus’ ‘pleasing actions’ . . . are not a prerequisite for God’s presence; rather, they are an inevitable outcome of [the] relationship of God and Jesus. Because God and Jesus are united by love (3:35; 15:9), Jesus is intrinsically pleasing to God.”
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.
Discipleship, explains a scholar, involves “constant obeying of the word of Jesus. We study it not simply for academic satisfaction or for intellectual appreciation, but in order to find out what God wishes us to do. . . . The truth which Jesus brought is designed for action.”
indeed: in reality; in truth; in fact
from Section 1
2 | Isaiah 42:3
A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.
Martin Luther offers this interpretation of verse 3: “He does not cast away, nor crush, nor condemn the wounded in conscience, those who are terrified in view of their sins; the weak in faith and practice, but watches over and cherishes them, makes them whole, and affectionately embraces them.”
2 | Isaiah 42:1–4
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
• • •
“Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.
He is my chosen one who pleases me.
I have put my Spirit upon him.
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.
He will not falter or lose heart
until justice prevails throughout the earth.
Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction.”
—New Living Translation
3 | Matthew 4:23
Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
synagogues: Jewish centers of worship and education
Many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? . . . Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ.
From Jesus’ earliest works, people puzzled about his God-given status. Just prior to this, those present at the feeding of a multitude asserted, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world” (6:14)—referring to the oracle in Deuteronomy 18:15.
On this occasion, popular affirmation of Jesus’ Messiahship prompts one of the first attempts by Temple officers to take him captive. But “no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come” (John 7:30).
5 | I John 5:1
Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.
At this time, doubts about or rejection of Jesus’ oneness with the Christ existed even within the Christian community. Yet attesting to this identity was central to Christian experience—as seen, for instance, in the words of Lazarus’ sister Martha and the disciple Peter (see John 11:27; Matthew 16:16, citation 9).
First John repeatedly makes the case for believing in Jesus’ divine appointment (see also 2:23; 4:15; 5:5). One scholar suggests that “to believe that Jesus is the Christ, or the Messiah, is not barely to give an assent to this truth, or to acknowledge it; . . . true faith in him as the Messiah is a believing with the heart unto righteousness, . . . and a reception of him as the only Saviour and Redeemer.”
from Section 2
7 | I John 4:9
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.
—New Living Translation
manifested: shown clearly
begotten: created; brought into existence
8 | Matthew 14:14
Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
moved: stirred to action
compassion: deep understanding and tender desire to help someone
Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar–jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
• • •
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” Jesus replied, “Simon, son of Jonah, you are blessed! No human revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven revealed it to you.”
—GOD’S WORD Translation
10 | I John 5:20
We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.
• • •
. . . we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding. Now we can know God, the One who is true. And our lives are in that true God and in his Son, Jesus Christ.
—International Children’s Bible
from Section 3
12 | John 3:1, 2
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
Little is known about the Pharisee Nicodemus, who appears only in John’s Gospel. Though a member of the ruling council of Israel, he nevertheless recognizes Jesus as a “teacher come from God”—a portrayal not generally embraced by his fellow Pharisees—and as a worker of miracles.
It is to Nicodemus that Jesus directs one of his most deeply loved statements: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (v. 16).
13 | John 7:14–16
About the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
Some degree of literacy was usual among Jewish men, so Jesus’ listeners were probably not surprised that he could read. They did, however, wonder at the depth of his understanding of the Scriptures. Jesus’ response redefines doctrine solely as knowledge of his divine Father.
The feast mentioned here is the Feast of the Tabernacles, an annual Jewish celebration of the last and richest harvest of the year. Tabernacles alludes to small booths built to commemorate the Exodus, when the Hebrew people lived in tents (called tabernacles or booths). Leviticus 23:33–43 outlines requirements for the festival.
13 | John 7:17, 18
If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.
• • •
If anyone chooses to do what God wants, then he will know that my teaching comes from God. He will know that this teaching is not my own. He who teaches his own ideas is trying to get honor for himself. But he who tries to bring honor to the one who sent him—that person speaks the truth. There is nothing false in him.
—International Children’s Bible
from Section 4
14 | John 12:46
I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
• • •
I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.
—English Standard Version
15 | John 14:4–6
Whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
One of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Thomas is remembered largely for refusing to believe that his crucified Master had risen—and for his spontaneous cry “My Lord and my God” upon seeing Jesus alive (see 20:24–29). But earlier he proposes returning with Jesus to the hostile territory of Judea, displaying no small degree of courage. He is also present at Jesus’ appearance on the shore of the Sea of Galilee after the resurrection (see 21:2). Like Thomas in Aramaic, his Greek nickname Didymus (included only in John’s Gospel) means twin (see 11:16; 20:24; 21:2).
16 | Mark 10:46–48, 50
As he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimæus, the son of Timæus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou son of David, have mercy on me. . . . And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.
In the face of the crowd’s opposition, Bartimaeus’ continuing cries to Jesus demonstrate extraordinary persistence—and illustrate the faith Jesus commends (see v. 52). To some commentators, throwing off his garment symbolizes dropping hindrances to healing. One compares this act to an image in Hebrews 12:1: “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, . . .”
Nearly identical stories are found in the Gospels of Matthew, where two blind men are healed, and Luke (see Matthew 20:30–34 and Luke 18:35–43). Despite the differences in details, all three accounts place this episode just before Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem, making the healing one of the last of his career.
from Section 5
17 | Matthew 23:10
One is your Master, even Christ.
Jesus has been cautioning a large gathering against prideful displays of devotion (see vv. 1–7). Now he charges his disciples not to be called Rabbi or Master (see v. 8). Biblical use of the Greek word rendered master (kathēgētēs, signifying guide or way-shower) occurs only here and in verse 8. (Elsewhere master is translated from the Greek noun didaskalos, implying deep knowledge and expertise; see example in Luke 9:38, citation 18).
One source adds, “ . . . only God and Jesus are to be honored as real authority figures in the community. Jesus’ community is supposed to be led by servant leaders, who are busy humbling themselves, not seeking to establish their own honor . . . .”
18 | Luke 9:38–42
A man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him. And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not. And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither. And as he was yet a-coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.
Just prior to this scene of desperation and failure, an event of sublime success had taken place—Jesus’ transfiguration (see vv. 28–36). “But the two pictures are intended to stand together,” notes a scholar. “In both are Jesus’ true messianic status and power set forth: the one whom God approved on the mountaintop is he through whom God now acts on the plain; . . . Jesus’ messiahship is not a detached glory, but is relevant to even the most sordid human situation.”
besought: begged; requested urgently
cast . . . out: drive out; expel
rebuked: criticized; spoke sharply to
18 | Luke 9:41
Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither.
• • •
Jesus answered, O [faithless ones] unbelieving and without trust in God, a perverse (wayward, crooked and warped) generation! Until when and how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here. . . .
—Amplified® Bible Classic
from Section 6
20 | I John 4:14
We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
. . . we ourselves have seen (have deliberately and steadfastly contemplated) and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son [as the] Savior of the world.
—Amplified® Bible Classic
After Jesus’ ascension, his followers strongly testified to his identity as Savior (see examples in Acts 2:22–36; 13:16–39). This witness was crucial, forestalling doubts and addressing denials about him in the following years. Responding to his Jewish captors, for example, Peter unequivocally describes Christ Jesus: “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus is first called Savior in the angel’s proclamation to shepherds at his birth: “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Only one other instance in his lifetime is recorded, spoken by Samaritans near Jacob’s well: “We . . . know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world” (John 4:42). From the book of Acts onward, however, the term becomes much more common (see examples in Acts 5:31; Philippians 3:20; and multiple times in the letters to Timothy and Titus and in First and Second Peter).
22 | John 20:30, 31
Many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
• • •
. . . Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.
—Common English Bible
Related healing ideas
Read a related article at: jsh.christianscience.com/take-it-from-the-top
The Bible Lessons serve as weekly study guides as well as the sermon in every Christian Science Sunday church service. Learn more at BibleLesson.com
Resources quoted in this issue
RR: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 9, Luke, John. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996–2001; Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of John, Vol. 1. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of John, Vol. 1. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.
Cit. 2: Barnes, Albert. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible. New York, 1834–85. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.
Cit. 5: Gill, John. Exposition of the Old and New Testaments. London, 1746–63. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.
Cit. 16: Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1997.
Cit. 17: Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary Collection. Vol. 17, Matthew. Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys, 2000-2016.
Cit. 18: Buttrick, George Arthur, Harmon, Nolan B., et al., eds. The Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes. Vol. 8, Luke, John. Nashville: Abingdon, 1951–57.
Scriptural quotations marked New Living Translation are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked GOD’S WORD Translation are taken from GOD’S WORD®, copyright © 1995 God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of God’s Word Mission Society.
Scriptural quotations marked International Children’s Bible are taken from the International Children’s Bible®, copyright © 1986, 1988, 1999 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked English Standard Version are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked Amplified® Bible Classic are taken from the Amplified® Bible Classic, copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org.
Scriptural quotations marked Common English Bible are taken from the Common English Bible, copyright © 2011 by the Common English Bible. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
© 2021 The Christian Science Publishing Society. The design of the Cross and Crown is a trademark owned by the Christian Science Board of Directors and is used by permission. Bible Lens and Christian Science Quarterly are trademarks owned by The Christian Science Publishing Society. Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.