I am going to add a bit to the blog. In the business of things, I don’t spend enough time writing and getting thoughts out, so one way I am going to use the blog to speak into our church is to post a devotion once or twice a week. The idea is to encourage readers to check out the Scriptures, interact, and apply what God has said through His incredible Word. The devotions will work through books of the Bible. I am going to start with the Gospel of John. I hope you enjoy!
When I begin a new book in the devotional thoughts, I will start by giving some background material on the book so that you can understand the setting and context of the book.
Incarnation. This is a word that you probably don’t use in every day language. No, it’s not powdered milk. The word “incarnation” is a word Christians use to describe God becoming a man. God took on flesh and dwelt among us, in the person of Jesus Christ. The greatest thing that has ever happened on the face of this earth took place about 2000 years ago when God Himself became a man, lived among men, performed miracles, changed people, and then died on a cross.
We have four different biographies of Jesus in the Bible, (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Each of these tell the stories about Jesus from a different point of view with a different goal in mind. Matthew was written to demonstrate that Jesus is the promised Messiah to the Jews. Luke wants us to realize that Jesus is the ultimate in humanity. John was written to show that this man who walked the earth was also completely Divine. He is 100% God and 100% man.
While you read the Gospel of John, you are going to meet Jesus face to face. We will see Him interact with some incredible people, and He will change their lives. We will also find Him doing things only God could do, like healing the blind and raising the dead. John will also take us in depth into some of the great teachings of Jesus. In the end, we will watch as the Son of God is hung on a cruel Roman cross, but we will also rejoice when He arises from the grave on the third day. As you encounter Jesus, John hopes you will believe. Not a head belief that recognizes some facts about Jesus, but a heart belief that will surrender all of life to Him.
Church history tells us that this book was written by the Apostle John. John was one of Jesus closest friends and disciples. John was a fisherman by trade, and come to follow Jesus Christ when He called John and his brother James to be disciples (Matthew 4:21-22). For about three years, John watched Jesus as He performed His ministry. John was there when the events of this book took place. He was the healings and other signs with his own eyes.
John was very close to Jesus. The Gospels teach us that Jesus had twelve disciples, and John was one of the them. Jesus called John from his profession as a fisherman to be a fisher of men. There were three men that were extra close to Jesus, Peter, James, and John. In the Gospels, these three men seem to be around Jesus all the time, and have the closest relationship with Him. A funny things about this book. John never refers to himself by name. The title given to John throughout the book is “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” This seems to be a proud and stuck up designation of himself at first glance. You can almost imagine John writing this title for himself with a bit of a snobbish grin, “I am the disciple that Jesus loved… I must be important.”
Actually, just the opposite is true. I believe that John calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” is a sign of incredible humility. John looked at his life, his failures, his weaknesses, and his times of abandoning Jesus, and he realizes that there is no way he deserves the love and grace of Jesus. He is overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of God. When he refers to himself in this book, he uses this phrase to indicate his gratitude and humility. It is almost as if John is saying, “I can’t believe Jesus loves ME!” I can imagine John looking back on his life, and seeing everything that Jesus had done for him. John must have been completely amazed at the wonderful grace of God, to the point that he couldn’t even bring himself to write his own name as he wrote the story of Jesus. After reading the book of John, we do know this one fact, that Jesus loved John, and Jesus loves you.
John is very creative in weaving some key themes through his biography of Jesus. As he tells the story, he focuses on some key ideas that he builds through the book, and it is important to notice these ideas as you read. I am going to give you a brief introduction to a few of these ideas, and will develop them as we find them in the study.
Belief – John’s goal is to lead you to believe in Jesus Christ. But he also wants us to wrestle with what it means to believe. Sometimes those who “believe”in Jesus don’t really believe. At other times, there are people you would never expect to believe who are significantly changed by Jesus. In the end, John wants us to be sure our belief in Jesus Christ is genuine saving faith.
Signs – In the Gospel of John, Jesus performs a number of key miracles. But John never uses the word miracle, he uses the word sign. A sign always points to something bigger than itself. For example, a Stop sign is nothing more than a piece of metal on a pole. But it points to an authority that tells you that if you don’t stop you will get a ticket. When you find the signs that Jesus performs in John, the signs always point us to a greater reality about Jesus. Find the greater meaning and you will understand the sign.
“I Am” statements – Jesus makes seven statements using the Greek words “eigo eimi” or “I am”. He says “I am the bread of life.” “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “I am the light of the world.” These statements are closely associated with the name of God in the Old Testament. These statements definitely point us the truth that Jesus is God.
Grace and Truth – John 1:14 states that Jesus was full of grace and truth. Grace flows from God giving people what they don’t deserve. Jesus is the complete picture of God’s grace. Everything He does is full of grace. Truth is the absolute, complete, and honest revelation of God. Jesus totally represents the truth of God. Some people show grace to others but don’t stand for truth. On the other hand, some will stand for God’s truth, but treat people like dirt. Balance in these two issues is the key to Christianity, and Jesus Christ is the perfect example.
Life and Light – Jesus is the light of the world. He is the way, truth, and life. Life and light are characteristics of Jesus and the benefits given to people who believe. True belief can be seen in people who have spiritual sight as a result of being shown light and spiritual life.
KEY VERSES – JOHN 20:30-31
“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
This is John’s thesis for the book, his main point and reason for writing. The goal of this Gospel is belief, true belief. As you read John, pay attention to the actions and teachings of Jesus. You will come face to face with God Himself. And when you see Him and believe, you will have life in His name.