The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls

The Sermon Notes of Harold Buls

On the Gospel Lessons of the Ingrian Lutheran Church of Russia

Text from John 11:47-52

Lent VI

1. Before the Reformation in Germany (1517-1580) the Roman Catholic Church practiced allegory to interpret the Bible. That means that the Bible has several levels of interpretation. Luther and his colleagues insisted that each passage of Scripture has only one intended sense. Our text, especially vss. 50-52 is unique. It has two meanings, that of Caiaphas and that of God. But that double meaning is the intended sense, for God tells us so.

2. The Gospel of John is composed around six signs or miracles: turning water into wine in chapter 2, the healing of the nobleman's son in 4, feeding the 5,000 in 6, healing the sick man at Bethesda in 5, healing the man born blind in 9 and the raising of Lazarus in 11. The first three happened in Galilee, the last three in Judea. As the signs progressed, Jesus' enemies became more vicious and hardened toward Him.

3. The unbelieving Jews wanted an earthly, physical kingdom of God, not a heavenly, spiritual kingdom of God. They wanted a secular Messiah who would throw off the yoke of Rome. But in the final analysis they did not want even that kind of Messiah. Unbelief is self- contradictory.

4. One scholar has said: "The alternative which Caiaphas presented was false because it was based upon a presupposition which was the exact opposite of the truth. His reasoning was: Follow Jesus, and the nation perishes; put Jesus to death, and the nation is saved. Conclusion: Jesus must be put to death. But by the irony of history the exact opposite was to happen: when the Jews murdered Jesus, they sealed their own doom.

5. Vs. 50 uses both "the people" and "the nation". Vss. 51 and 52 use only "the nation". That is important. "The people" means "the covenant people of the OT". In vss. 50 and 51 "the nation" means the Jewish people apart from the covenant. In vs. 52 "the nation" means also the Jewish nation but then also adds the redeemed of God among the Gentiles. When Jesus died, the Jews ceased to be the favored covenant people. From that point on salvation was open to all Jews and all Gentiles. Before His death Jesus limited the disciples' work to the Jews (see Mt. 10) but after His Ascension they were to teach all nations (see Mt. 28).

6. The preposition "instead of" occurs three times, once each in vss. 50, 51 and 52. It indicates Jesus' substitutionary death. Caiaphas thought of Jesus' death "instead of the people" as salvation from the Romans. God thought of Jesus' death "instead of the nation" as salvation for all people.

7. Caiaphas told the Sanhedrin that they knew absolutely nothing and that they could not even think correctly. That's how the unbelieving world speaks to people. But the unbelieving world in its ignorance of the truth is absolutely wrong. That's what St. Paul is discussing in I Cor. 1:18-2:16. The unbelieving world thinks it is so wise but is actually ignorant while the believers appear to be ignorant but are actually wise. They have the wisdom of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit.

8. Vs. 45 informs us that the miracles of Jesus caused many people to believe in Jesus. Vs. 48 informs us that Caiaphas feared that all would believe in Jesus. That is exactly what God wills. Natural man fears what God wills. That is why we are told in vs. 53 that from that day forward the members of the Sanhedrin plotted to kill Jesus. By the way, in vs. 50 Caiaphas speaks of Jesus "dying". Actually he meant that they must "kill" Jesus. He hides his real intention under nice words.

9. It is a principle of the Bible that, for His children, God turns evil into good. The brothers of Joseph meant evil but God meant good. See Gen. 50:20. All things work together for the Christian's good. Rom. 8:28. The death of Jesus, evil caused by Jesus' enemies, is for our good. Job's losses and crosses were turned into good. Trust in the Lord when you innocently suffer evil. He will bring good out of it.

10. Caiaphas put ONE meaning into his words. God had ANOTHER meaning. To Caiaphas faith in Christ was a threat but the faith of Christians condemns the world. Heb. 11:7. His thinking was a mixture of envy, rejection, unbelief, lies, hatred and illogical thinking.

The Sermon Outline of Harold Buls

On the Gospel Lessons of the Ingrian Lutheran Church of Russia

Text from John 11:47-52

Lent VI



It is a principle of the Bible that for His children God turns evil into good (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28). But the greatest example of that principal is the death of Jesus Christ. It was an evil thing which Satan and the world planned for Jesus. But God turned this curse into the greatest blessing (Gal.3:13).

I. The World Chooses the Evil Rather Than the Good

II. But God Turns Evil Into Good


What is the answer to the Christian who is suffering from pain? What is the answer to the believer who is racked by sickness? What is the answer to the faithful child of God who is plagued by temptation and fear of death? We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22. God will never leave us or forsake us. Heb. 13:5. The disciple is not greater than his teacher. What happened to Jesus may happen to us. But, just as God turned evil into good for Jesus, so He turns evil into good for us. Trust Him.

This text was converted to ascii format for Project Wittenberg by Cindy A. Beesley and is in the public domain. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text. Please direct any comments or suggestions to: Rev. Robert E. Smith of the Walther Library at Concordia Theological Seminary.


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