This is our "bonus" lesson in our series on the book of John. We have taken our time with this study going over every verse and following some key concepts throughout the gospel.
In this bonus lesson I would like to do 2 things:
- I want to give you a short quiz in order to drive home one more time the essential points of our series. This is just a personal exercise and no one will see it but you.
- I would also like to give us one more summary of John's gospel and a few more practical lessons we can take away from it.
-- TAKE QUIZ --
Summary of John's Gospel
The gospel of John, as I have tried to show you, has one main theme repeatedly presented in every single scene depicted by John. From the opening verses in the prologue where he describes Jesus' position with God before the creation of man to the post resurrection appearances, John is continually presenting Jesus as the divine Son of God.
This is the entire point of his gospel, that Jesus Christ, by His miracles, His ministry and His resurrection has proven that He is indeed divine.
Someone might say, "Well isn't this the intention of the other gospel writers as well? How is John special?" Each gospel writer had a point of view and audience target with his book and John was not different.
- Matthew demonstrated that Jesus was the Messiah according to the prophets. This is why he refers so much to the Old Testament in his gospel. He wanted to show the Jews that Jesus' miracles, ministry and resurrection were all done in accordance to what the prophets said would happen when the Messiah came.
- Mark's gospel is the eyewitness account of Peter the Apostle. We read Peter's words in Mark, who served him as secretary. Mark's work focuses on Jesus' power, recording more of Jesus' miracles than the other writers. The point to anyone who read was that the kingdom of God had come with awesome power in Jesus.
- Luke wrote his work from a historical perspective. He tells the same story but is careful to include details that will fix the incidents of Jesus' ministry in a proper historical framework. In the 1st century, Luke's gospel and the book of Acts were circulated as one book and seen as a definitive history of early Christianity and the church.
- In comparison to these, John is the only writer who directly engages his reader. His gospel is up close and personal. From beginning to end he focuses not only on Jesus' miracles, teachings and ministry, he also focuses on how people react to these things.
John describes how men, women, rich, poor, Jewish, Roman, High Priest or common fisherman react to the Lord. And John leaves no room for compromise, people are seen as believing Jesus or rejecting Him. In the end, after countless examples of faith or disbelief, he leaves the reader asking himself, "Do I believe or disbelieve?"
And so after reading John's gospel there is little doubt as to his point (that Jesus is divine) or to his purpose (making everyone choose to believe or reject Christ).
I hope that you have gained greater understanding of this gospel. I hope also that your faith has been strengthened as we have studied the lives and responses of others who have seen and believed in Jesus. I hope also that you will remember these last few lessons from John as we close out our study:
1. This gospel is for us today
It is easier to detach ourselves from the other gospel writers, saying that one wrote for the Jews (I am not a Jew), one wrote as an eyewitness (I was not there), one wrote for history's sake (I am not into history). But John had his eye clearly on every person who would read his book then as well as now. There is no escaping the fact that if you read this book, you are compelled to render a decision, whether you like it or not.
I used to say that if I was working with a non-Christian I would read Mark to him first because it is easy, short and to the point. But after studying John I understand why so many choose this gospel to begin teaching others, it is the one that asks the reader to decide whether they will be included with the believers or the unbelievers.
2. Christianity is about Jesus
We get wrapped up in issues, programs, systems, projects, budgets and debates. John's gospel, however, brings us back to the basics of our religion: the person of Jesus. John develops only one idea, one point of view in the 21 chapters of his book. That main idea is that Jesus is God!
Everything else about our faith and our practice of it begins and ends with this one basic truth.
When we begin having personal or corporate problems as individual Christians or congregations, we need to go back to this fundamental truth that John puts forth: Jesus is God!
- We need to think about it.
- We need to reaffirm our faith in it.
- We need to focus our attention on it in worship.
- We need to reteach it before looking elsewhere for solutions.
3. The best is yet to come
Note that for all those who said "yes" to Jesus, there was a reward given beyond their expectations. From the woman at the well who found a new purpose, to the blind man who found a new voice, from Mary Magdalene who found her beloved teacher risen from the dead, to Peter who found forgiveness and renewal.
All those who John describes as accepting Jesus were blessed for their faith. But Jesus speaks to all of us today when He says, "Blessed are they who have not seen but have believed." (John 20:29). Like Thomas, we have not seen, but are addressed directly by Jesus Himself (the rare instance where God, in context, speaks directly to the present generation).
Jesus bypasses John's commentary and promises us that we too will receive a blessing if we believe. Let us weigh the evidence and not be doubting, brethren, let us believe and continue to do so in order to receive the best gift yet to be given: fellowship with the Lord Jesus without end. Now this is a blessing worth waiting for.