Gospel of John Bible Study: The Gospel of John is an incredible insight into the life of Jesus. Join with us as we investigate the Claims of Christ in John's Gospel.
31But 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.
Major Themes of John’s Gospel
We have spent about two years covering the Gospel of John in all of its richness and all of its glory. This spiritual Gospel points us to Jesus Christ in all of His glory, and to the hope of being born again by the power of His Holy Spirit. John closes this Gospel in the most interesting of ways.
John 21:24-25 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
What is the Testimony that we see in the book of John about Jesus? There are several key themes that are beneficial to remember as we study the Gospel of John. As it is with the last verse in this Gospel, I could write multiple books about the themes covered here.
Jesus is God.
First and foremost, we see Jesus presented very clearly in this Gospel as God. While many who hold modern liberal interpretations say that Jesus never claimed to be God, we see this disciple who Jesus loved opening up the Gospel with the proclamation that
“1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God 2The same was in the beginning with God.” John 1:1-2
Jesus existed eternally before the creation of the world. He is ‘of old’ and he made this claim himself as John quoted him in John 8:58 in one of Jesus’ “I AM” statements: “Before Abraham was, I AM (John 8:58) in other words, He was God before Abraham existed. Jesus also stated “I and the Father are one (John 10:30) meaning that they are one in essence and will. Jesus was ‘sent’ by God, yet since He shares the will of God that mankind be saved from sin, He submitted to the will of the Father and volunteered for the rescue mission to save us from our sins, noting that he has the power both to lay down His life and take it up again.
Further evidence given by John that Jesus is God is that He demonstrated supernatural knowledge, or omniscience. While Jesus was on this earth, he was somewhat limited in his attributes as God , that is, obviously He could not while humbled as a man be everywhere present (omnipresence). But he did seem to know information that no man could know without the help of God. There are several examples. In the very first chapter of John, verse 48, Jesus meets Nathaniel for the first time, and commented on his character. Nathaniel was shocked, having never met Jesus, and asked how he could know him. Jesus stated that he had seen him under the fig tree when Phillip had invited him to come meet Jesus. He knows the Samaritan woman intimately (4:17-18) before she even reveals herself fully. ‘ye say well ye have no husband, in fact, you have five husbands’. He knew before He was betrayed that one of the twelve was a devil ( 6:70) and He knew who it was who would betray Him (13:10-11) and that Peter would deny Him three times (13:38) and how Peter would eventually die (21:18-19). Only God and His inspired prophets were able to have this kind of precise knowledge of future events. Also, we see Jesus multiple times stating awareness of a divine timetable, saying that ‘my time is not yet come’ (2:4) and knowledge of his ultimate purpose (2: 19, 3:14, 6:51) Only God could know what was happening everywhere around Him and before it would happen, having a specific and intimate awareness of people and purpose. Jesus is God.
Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God
The purpose for which Jesus came, and his position or relationship to the Father in the trinity is demonstrated multiple times in John. Jesus came to save people from their sins; the proclamation of John the Baptist in 1:36 is that Jesus is the ‘Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world’ Jesus came to be the promised Messiah, the one to whom the patriarchs looked forward to and the prophets predicted. When Jesus revealed Himself to people, they would recognize who He was. Andrew was a follower of John the Baptist, and He knew when John proclaimed him as the lamb of God that he had found the Messiah (1:40-41) When Phillip brought Nathaniel to Jesus, and Jesus revealed who Nathaniel was and where he was before he met Jesus , Nathaniel also recognized Jesus as the Son of God and the King of Israel (John 1:49) Jesus revealed Himself to the Woman at the Well (4:25) and she believed and proclaimed Him to the townspeople as Messiah (4:29). People wondered aloud because of the way that Jesus spoke openly and yet the authorities could not shut Him down if He was the promised Messiah (7:26,27, 31, 41-42) Mary proclaimed it (11:27) before Christ raised her brother. But it was not only the people who proclaimed Jesus the Son of God, and this is an important point. Jesus Himself proclaimed his purpose and position. To the woman at the well, Jesus says that He is the Christ (4:26) He told people plainly (John 10:25, 30) and still they did not believe. Before He raised Lazarus, He identified Himself as the Son of God (11:4) He came to proclaim the words that God had given Him (12:49-50) and also to do the works that confirmed Him (10:17-18). Ultimately, it was this self-recognition, combined with the unbelief of the Jewish leaders that put Him to death (19:7) and it is with the belief, and only this belief that you can be saved from your sins.(John 20:30-31)
Jesus used many I AM statements to describe Himself as God and God’s Messiah. We have already seen His testimony to the woman at the well- ‘I who speak to you am He’. (4:26) but also, He uses terms we can understand to describe His spiritual purposes as Messiah and God’s one and only Son.
I AM the Bread of Life (6:35) Jesus compares Himself to the manna sent to the Israelites in the wilderness for sustenance, and it, like He, was sent by the Father to feed the people, providing for their hunger.
I AM the Light of the World (8:12) Meaning that Jesus is pure and Holy, as is God, and His holiness exposes sin and illuminates darkness.
I AM the door (10:7) Jesus is the only way to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Indeed, the gate (door) is narrow, and few will find it (Mt 7)
I AM the good Shepherd (10:11,14) David penned these words in Psalm 23 ‘the LORD is my shepherd’. This means that He cares for, protects, feeds, and guides those that are His.
I AM The resurrection and the Life (11:25) Jesus Christ is our only source and hope for resurrection from the dead and life everlasting.
I AM The Way, the Truth and the Life (14:6) Jesus Christ is the only path to peace with God, His words reflect all the truth of God, and he is the only way to eternal life.I AM The true Vine (15:1) Jesus is our source for all that is life in Him. We must stay connected to Him or we will die.
In these statements, and in many more in the book of John, Jesus clearly proclaims Himself as God’s one and only Son and as the Savior of the world. There is no doubt that Jesus knew, understood, and proclaimed that He was indeed God. So we see that God the Father, God the Son, and those who followed Christ proclaimed Him as the unique Son of God and the Messiah. There was also the signs that Jesus performed to confirm His position as God’s Messiah. His first sign that John records is the turning of water into wine at Cana. The quantity and the quality of the wine here was a sign to the disciples demonstrating who Jesus was. His second sign recorded in John is the healing of the Centurion’s son (4:46-54) demonstrating Christ the Messiah as the healer, but also that he could do these signs from a distance and that he knew (omniscience) that the sign was done. John records the feeding of the five thousand, which is a Messianic demonstration that had many wanting to make Jesus king. In this miracle, he reveals Himself as the God who provided manna in the desert, indeed, as the bread of Life (6:35). He healed a man born blind (9:1-41) and revealed Himself as the one who gives sight to those who are spiritually blind, indeed, only by the grace of God can sight be restored from the blinders put on by Satan (1 Corinthians 4:4). Finally, in the most miraculous of signs outside of Jesus’ own resurrection, is the raising of Lazarus who was four days dead. In raising Lazarus, there was no doubt that Jesus was God Himself with power over life and death. Of course, Jesus’ own resurrection stands alone. Jesus prophesied that He would be lifted up (John 15) and told His disciples that He lays down His life only to take it up again. He has the power and authority to do both, revealing Himself as the unique Son of God.
Jesus Christ is Savior, the Giver of Eternal Life to those who Believe
Jesus Christ is Life (1:4) and it is only through Him that man can be saved. The way (John 14:6) is exclusive, that is, there is no other name under heaven by which man can be saved from sin and death (Acts 4:12). This salvation from sin and from death was the very purpose for which Jesus came, the very reason that the Father sent Jesus (3:16-19, 36) was because He loved the world so much. John identified Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” (1:36) which is a description of the prophetic fulfillment of the Passover- one of the Jewish festivals that foreshadowed God’s promise of salvation to the world. Jesus Christ, the lamb of God, was sent to take away our sins, and to save us from death. Indeed, Jesus Christ was slain from the foundation of the world, showing that God’s eternal purpose was to save His people from their sins.
There have been many other religions before and since that have promised to earn their god’s favor through a system of keeping rules and following laws. Even the Jewish religion for many of its followers and contemporaries of Jesus believed that the keeping of the Torah and even the extra rules that came from the Priests and traditions would earn God’s favor. From the very beginning, as we learn in the book of John, Salvation is a work of God (John 1:12 3:3,) that is accomplished through Jesus. One must believe, that is, they must have knowledge of the true Jesus, they must put Him on, and with their will follow Him. No one can do this unless they are drawn by God (6:44) . The people who are drawn by God will hear the voice of Jesus (10:27-28) and they enter in to God’s family only through Jesus (10:7, 14:6) and they follow Him and abide in Him (John 15:1-5). When we respond to the call of God, and we repent from trust in ourselves, trust in our own goodness, trust our way of doing things, and trust in Christ alone, God will grant us eternal life in His Son, Jesus. (1:4; 3:15–16, 36; 4:14, 36; 5:24, 26, 39–40; 6:27, 33, 35, 40, 47–48, 51, 53–54, 68; 8:12; 10:10, 25, 28; 11:25; 12:25, 50; 14:6; 17:2–3; 20:31). If you have the Son, you have life. If you do not have Jesus, you do not have life. It is just that simple.
Everything is vain, life is worthless outside of Jesus Christ. We can labor to be good and please God with our lives. We can be recognized as good by our church, our parents, our friends and our families. We can be the most charitable, and the most loving people around. We can graduate with honors, have a good marriage, raise good kids, and have a wonderful reputation in the world. Outside of salvation provided in Jesus Christ it all means nothing. If you do not believe, you will not, indeed you cannot, have life. Do you have life in His name?
Finally, as followers of Jesus Christ, ultimately our call is to continue Jesus’ mission by the indwelling Holy Spirit. There are many things that Jesus accomplished while He was on the earth, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are called to even greater things by His name. We have been sent (17:18) in His name into the world. We have the privilege to reap (4:38) where others have sown. We get to bear fruit as we abide in Him (15:16) and the fruit we bear in Him will remain. He has given us the power of the Holy Spirit as He has sent us in his name (20:21-22). Why has he sent us in His name? Because we are here to complete his mission, to accomplish what He has called us to do. Through Him, the story is still being written by us when we share the good news with others and they repent and put their trust in Him. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus lives through us and in us so that Christians become more like Him and testifies through their words and their lives that Jesus Christ is King. The world really cannot contain the stories and the powerful impact of the grace of God that has been manifested through His Bride each and every day and over the years. If you are part of His Bride you are part of the continuing story. What are you doing for Christ? What story is being written in you and through you?
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