Introduction to John
Hello! For many weeks we have been looking to the living God tell us his story. It is the true story of his glory in Jesus Christ through salvation and judgment. We are now in the New Testament Scriptures, beginning with the Four Gospels. They along with Acts provide the historical narrative of what the Son of God accomplished. For this reason, it is essential that we know the Gospels thoroughly. God the Holy Spirit tells us about Jesus from four different angles, so that we can have a full view of Christ’s awesome majesty. In Mark we view Jesus as Lord and in Matthew as Teacher. Now in John the Spirit shows Jesus Christ as the Son that God the Father sent to be the Savior of the world.
Structure of John
- Prologue (1:1-18)
- Book of signs (1:19-12:50)
- Book of glory (13:1-20:31)
- Epilogue (21:1-25)
Ideas and features of John
- John uses simple words to express profound ideas; this combination makes it easily accessible to those apart from the Lord and to those who have recently been born again from above, and at the same time it serves as solid food for very mature believers; for example, a spiritually instructed reader is going to see many themes of the OTS fulfilled in Jesus
- John declares his purpose for the Gospel in 20:31; we can term this purpose evangelistic, but not merely in a simple sense; the apostle wants his readers to come to a full understanding of Jesus as the Messiah and the full meaning of that in light of his fulfillment of the OTS
- To carry out this evangelistic purpose, John has a number of “witnesses” testify about Jesus identity, purpose, and glory: John the Baptist, the Samaritan woman, Moses, the Father, Jesus himself (including his works), the Holy Spirit, the disciples, and the Apostle John himself
- To present Jesus and his mission to his readers, John uses seven miraculous signs and seven “I am _______” sayings (6:35 & 48; 8:12 & 9:5; 10:7 & 9; 10:11 & 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1 & 5); there are also a few absolute “I AM” statements by Jesus
- The Fourth Gospel is very Trinitarian; here we learn more about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in their inter-Trinitarian relationships than anywhere else in the Holy Writings
- John records a number of “conversations” that our Lord had with people: the new birth (3:1-15), the water of life (4:1-42), the Father and the Son (5:16-47), the bread of life (6:25-59), true freedom (8:12-59), the good shepherd (10:1-39), the theology of unbelief (12:37-50), and the upper room discourse (13:1-17:26)
- In the Gospel of John we receive teaching on important subjects: the doctrine of God, the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of the new covenant community, and the doctrine of last things; for example, in regard to the doctrine of salvation, Jesus talks much about the sovereignty of God in salvation—what we call the doctrines of grace
I. The source of Christ’s coming (12:44-45)
A.A mysterious saying
1.At first glance these words do not make sense. How can a person believe in Jesus and yet not believe in him but in someone else? (The NIV adds the explanatory word “only”, but it is better to omit it. Jesus wants people to think.)
2.The answer is found in the unity between the God the Father and God the Son. The apostle has already given his readers an extended section of Jesus’ teaching on this subject (5:19-30). Since the Father sent the Son and the Son always does the Father’s will, to believe in the Son is to believe in the Father who sent him (cf. 5:24). It is also true that no one can believe in the Father unless you believe in Jesus.
B.The missional perspective
1.“Mission” comes from a Latin word meaning “the act of sending”. So then, if you are sent, you are on a mission. Jesus always lived with the perspective that the Father had sent him to do his will (cf. Heb 10:7; etc.) When Jesus came to the final week of his earthly ministry, his mission from the Father filled his mind. Nothing could deflect him from it.
2.Christ is the Sent One, and we his followers are in him, and he has sent us into the world (Jn 17:18; 20:21). We must view our lives as sent ones; as Paul wrote, we are “Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Cor 5:20). We do not have the same mission the Son of God had, but we must share in his outlook. You and I are not here to please ourselves but to do God’s will. Do you live according to this missional perspective?
II. The purpose of Christ’s coming (12:46)
A.Jesus came into the world as a light.
1.We meet this idea in the prologue of the Fourth Gospel (1:5-9). Light speaks of revelation of the way of knowing God and salvation. If you have such light, you also live in the light. Your way of life conforms to the truth of God (cf. Eph 5:8-14; 1 Jn 1:5-7). You know God as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, and that light transforms you. You love God, and you want to live for God, because you know the awesome, beautiful glory of God. You are committed to Christ, because you know he is the Light of the world (8:12).
2.Jesus acted as the Light that he knew God had sent him to be. He did mighty signs to demonstrate the reign of God over all. Was someone in need for wine? Jesus gave them the best wine. Was a Jewish teacher confused about God’s word? He explained it. Had a man been hopelessly paralyzed for thirty-eight years? He restored him to reveal the goodness of the Father? Was there a hungry crowd? He fed them. Had a man been blind since birth? He gave him sight to glorify God. He constantly demonstrated that God’s reign brought life to people. As long as he was in the world, he was the Light of the world (9:5). People could know God by looking at him, by believing in him.
B.Jesus came as a light to rescue people from darkness.
1.Darkness is the opposite of light. Darkness is what people naturally are and where they live. Sin suppresses the knowledge of God, and people love that darkness, but they suffer its tragic consequences. Sin corrupts, degrades, perverts, defiles, dehumanizes, deceives, and destroys people. This is true about all people by nature, whether the arrogant, self-consumed academic or business person that tears apart everyone under them or the homeless and hopeless street person, and everyone else in between. “Ruin and misery mark their ways” (Rm 3:16).
2.But the good news is that Jesus came so that no one who believes in him should remain in darkness. Christ makes great changes in people. He gives “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair” (Is 61:3). People in Christ know joy and peace and their hearts overflow with confident expectation by the Holy Spirit (Rm 15:13).
III. The consequences of Christ’s coming (12:47-50)
A.The consequence for those who reject Christ as the Light of the world
1.They will be judged. Christ will not have to judge them, because the word, the revelation that he gave, will judge them. Notice that they reject him and do not receive his words. It is a package deal. You cannot have Jesus unless you accept his words. True spirituality is always based in the words of Christ and God. You cannot meet Jesus apart from his words.
2.They will be condemned at the last day. History is headed somewhere. Jesus constantly taught that there will be an eternal destiny for people. For those who reject Jesus and his words that destiny is the wrath of God (Jn 3:18, 36). Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone in the Bible. Hell is the place of eternal punishment. Thank you, Father in heaven, that we do not have to end the message here.
B.The consequence for those who accept Christ’s words and believe in him.
1.Jesus says that his whole message is a command from the Father, and that this commanded message to trust in him leads to eternal life. This is the joyful consequence. God sent his Son to save or rescue people from their sins (3:14-17). Jesus came to save people, even the worst of people (1 Tm 1:15).
2.Jesus reaffirms that his words are also the Father’s words. The Father offers you life in his Son, Jesus Christ.
Apply: Today, the living God invites you to come to Jesus, to trust in Jesus, and to receive the free gift of full forgiveness, and eternal life and glory.