The Gospel According To John: An Introduction

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John 20:30-13

For those who are regular readers, you know when you pick a book, you will often turn to the back or blurb to find out what the book is about. And by now you know every book of the Bible has a reason for why it was written, that is, the purpose. And often, the purpose is given to us at the opening of the book. But this book we are coming to study is different. It tells us it’s  purpose at the back of the chapter like a blurb.

So this morning, as we begin a new series through The Gospel of John, I will want to do an unusual thing. We will begin from the back, get the purpose statement from the back, then come back to plunge into the series. And today is going to be more of an introduction to The Gospel According To John. So for a title then, let’s just call it The Gospel According To John: An Introduction.

In this introduction, we will explore some general facts about the book and basically try to answer general questions, Who Wrote The Book, When Was It Written and Why Was It Written?

Uniqueness of John

One of the first things anyone who has read the gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John will notice is the difference between John and the other gospels. Scholars call the other three Synoptic Gospels. The word Synoptic simply means something written from the same perspective. So when you read Matthew, Mark, Luke you will notice they almost write about the life of Jesus from a similar perspective. There is a scholarly debate that suggests they wrote using one source material. But that will not be the view of this study.

Now the Gospel According To John differs in so many ways from the others because the author doesn’t include things the others included. Example, this Gospel doesn’t record Jesus’ birth. It introduces to us an adult Jesus. Perhaps he assumes that has already been addressed by his other evangelists. It also doesn’t tell us any of Jesus’ parables. Then concerning Jesus’ miracles, one commentator has noted that “out of thirty-five miracles of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, John relates only eight, seven of which are designated as signs”[1].

Who Wrote John?

The gospels originally don’t carry the names of its authors. Those names we see have been assigned by much debates in church history. And much of the reason for their names is internal, that is, there are clues about authorship within the books. And John for example gives certain information that points to himself

The author of John’s Gospel was almost certainly a Jew. He displays an intimate knowledge of Jewish customs, festivals, and beliefs. His detailed geographical knowledge suggests that he was a native of Palestine, and it appears that he was an eye witness of many of the events recorded in his gospel. Although the work is usually considered anonymous, it contains hints about its authorship. This is the only gospel that refers to one of the apostles with the expression “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:23;19:26) rather than by name. This disciple is identified as the eyewitness who is bearing witness about these things” (21:24)….Early church tradition, such as the second century writing of Iraneaeus (a disciple of polycarp, who in turn had direct contact with some of the apostles), consistently and explicitly attributes this gospel to the apostle John (Reformation Study Bible).

This out of the way, let’s now address the bigger question, which will occupy our attention the rest of the sermon.

Why Was John Written?

To Prove Who Jesus Is

The text we read is the purpose statement of John’s Gospel (20:30-31). John tells us Jesus did a lot of signs in the presence of his disciples which are not recorded in this book. This points to us that John was selective in what he chose to record. And he further continues to say what has been recorded is sufficient. It is sufficient for what? Sufficient to prove who Jesus is. And there are two things he says here (i) Jesus Is The Messiah, (ii) Jesus Is The Son of God. So with this purpose statement, when you go back to the beginning of John, you will see him working towards this particular agenda of proving who Jesus is. Let’s tackle the first agenda

Jesus Is The Messiah

I don’t think we even bother to make a differentiation between the name Jesus and Christ. Maybe because of how we name ourselves, First name and second name, we may unconsciously think that Jesus Christ is first name and surname. But if we look closely at what John does, he makes a distinction between Jesus and Christ: “Jesus is the Christ”. The word Christ is actually not a name, but a title. It is like saying “Nana Akufo-Addo, the President” We all know President is not his name, but a title and an office he occupies. That is the same thing with the word Christ. It is not Jesus’ surname, it is his title, a title that points to his purpose. The word Christ, is the Greek word “The Anointed One”, the Hebrew equivalent of The Messiah.

In the life of the Jews, God made a promise of a Messiah who will bring deliverance to them. The Messiah then is a Deliverer. So in the life of every generation of Jews, they looked forward to this Messiah especially in their captivity. Indeed there are many places in the Old Testament where we see the prophetic proclamation of this Messiah. The first picture of the Messiah promised is Genesis 3:15. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” In this text, the battle lines were drawn between the seed of the woman, who is Christ and the serpent who is Satan and evil. And this great battle culminated on Calvary.

In Isaiah 42:1-3 also, we see a prophecy of The Messiah

1.Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.

Matthew picks this up and proves to us that Jesus is The Messiah

Matthew 12:15-21

Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all 16 and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Jesus himself at the beginning of his ministry pointed to himself as the Messiah from Isaiah (Luke 4:16-21)

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.  And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Now as John opens his book, he begins to select events in Jesus’ life that points to Christ as the Messiah. First we see John the Baptist declaring he is not The Christ or The Messiah (1:19-23). Again John tells his disciples he is not the Christ (3:26-30), Then again we see this displayed in the calling of the disciples (1:40-41). Then as the narrative progresses, we meet Jesus and the Samaritan woman where Jesus’ identity as the Messiah is revealed (John 4:25-26). We meet this same concept of the Messiah in (7:41-44). Jesus as Messiah—Deliverer is consistently pointed to by So you see how John is consistently building on what he set forth to do with his selective narrative?

Again John proves that Jesus is the Son of God. But I will leave this for next week when we come to consider The Prologue Of John, that is the opening words of Chapter.

Now most importantly, the end or reason for which John proves Jesus as the Messiah, is “ life”, “that by believing you may have life” Here John invites his readers to believe in Jesus for Salvation. That is the reason Christ came, that he will give salvation to sinners. That he will deliver sinners from their sins. Again we see this concept of life addressed right from the beginning of John (1:4-13). There is in these verses a contrast between life and darkness. The Bible clearly tells us that all human beings are sinners who are separated from God. And the only way by which we can be reconciled to God is faith in Jesus. Jesus Christ came into the world, suffered and died so that he will reconcile sinners to God. So that he will make those who will believe children of God. This is the message of John, faith in Jesus Christ.

Do you know this Jesus? Do you have a relationship with him. He calls you to come to him in faith and your sins will be forgiven.

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