John (Jn)

This fourth book in the NT has 21 chapters. This gospel written by the disciple John (not John the Baptist) about AD 85, is different to the other three gospels in that it is not so much an account of Jesus’ life but a powerful structured argument for the incarnation – that He was the heaven-sent Son of God and the only source of eternal life. Time to read: 2 hrs 35 mins.

Key people include: Jesus, the disciples, Mary, Martha, Lazarus.

Outline. John calls Jesus “The Word”. Although He is God, “He became flesh [taking on the form of humanity] and lived amongst us, as the Lamb of God” (Jn 1:1,14,29,36). This book contains what is probably the best-known Bible verse – “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). Love is the motive for all God does and is a major theme of this book, written by the
 one who called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (Jn 13:23, 20:2). Also included is the concept that “God is Spirit, and His worshippers must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23,24). Jesus on various occasions referred to Himself using descriptive images:  “I am...the bread; …the light; …the gate; …the good shepherd; …the resurrection and life; …the way, the truth and the life; …the vine” (Jn 6:35, 8:12, 10:7,11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:1). As with the other gospels, it climaxes with the death and resurrection of Jesus. It closes with the reinstatement of Peter after his denial of knowing Christ.

Main lesson. Jesus repeated numerous times, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (Jn 14:15,21,23, 15:9-14). As love is measured by obedience to what He says, how does my love rate?  Words are cheap. He isn’t so interested in hearing the words ‘I love you’ from us – He would rather a lifestyle demonstrating quick and complete obedience that proves our love for Him. “Do whatever He tells you”, involves hearing and responding (Jn 2:5, 10:27). We are continually presented with choices in life. The decisions in all areas of morality and relationships have at their root two options, manifesting either in love and obedience to His principles or, by our disobedience indicating we love self more than Him. The Bible makes it clear we are to love Him with our whole being (Mk 12:30). Jesus would repeatedly ask us too, “Do you love me?” (Jn 21:15,16,17).

Key verses and thoughts: * “To all who receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to be become the children of God” (Jn 1:12). To be a child of God is both inclusive, yet also exclusive, depending on the personal response. “Whoever believes” is an open invitation (however more than mental assent is required) but unless a person is “born again” they can’t enter the Kingdom of God (Jn 3:3,5,16-18,36).  Because of sin we are all condemned but by believing we come out from under condemnation, “out from the darkness into the light...To know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ is eternal life” (Jn 12:46, 17:3). How well do I know my heavenly Father?

* Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6)  “Whoever lives by the truth comes into light...If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free...So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed” (Jn 3:21, 8:31,32,36). We are freed from the bondage of sin and free to serve the Saviour. John uses a word picture to illustrate the relationship; only by living in connection with Jesus “the vine” can we, the branches, produce fruit. He prunes or disciplines us with the aim of increasing the harvest (Jn 15:1-8,16). Don’t you want to come into increasing wholeness and effectiveness for His glory? This can be stated as, “He must increase and I decrease” (Jn 3:30). 

* Using another word picture, he quoted Jesus saying “The water I give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4:14).  “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him” (Jn 7:38). This provision of personal benefit is to be shared, flowing out to bless others and bring them into the Kingdom.

* “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (Jn 13:15). Jesus had humbly washed the disciple’s dusty feet – the task traditionally allocated to the lowest servant. This was just another area He wanted His followers to replicate. Such actions were not to become cold, lifeless rituals but genuine expressions of love. “A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you have love one to another...Love each other as I have loved You...This is my command: love each other” (Jn 13:34,35, 15:12,17). Do we get the message, and do we do it?   Love is not an emotion, but an attitude that requires outworking in our individual lives, “Doing to others as we would they do to us” (Lk 6:31). This is a looking out beyond our little world, being involved in the lives of others, putting them before ourselves. “The man who loves his life will lose it...” (Jn 12:25). Love is costly as it put the interests of others before our own – but the payoff is worth it, gaining character qualities that are not possible by any other means.           

See also: disciples, gospel, I am..., incarnation, Lazarus, Martha, Mary, truth.