This Sunday, May 28 we will conclude our study of the Gospel According to John. As I look back over the 70+ Sundays we have been in this book, I am amazed at how incredibly simple and yet incredibly profound it is. I will miss our studies together, but I also want to give thanks to God for this eyewitness narrative and for the Church, which is the family of God. It is in gospel community that we experience greater reality of God through His Word.
There are three questions of utmost importance that our study has answered. Who is Jesus? Who we are? And what must I do to be reconciled to God?
Who is Jesus?
The Gospel According to John could not be any clearer regarding the deity of Jesus. Although it’s true that there is mystery surrounding the nature of God, it’s also true that God has made himself clearly known in the person and work of Jesus Christ. We can know the one, true, Trinitarian God, who created the universe and all that is in it. John opens his narrative with these words:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
From his opening, John immediately wants us understand that Jesus is the same God of creation in Genesis 1. Jesus went to great lengths to unveil this truth. In John 5 when the Jews accused Him of “making Himself equal with God,” Jesus did not correct them but instead continued to make several claims that only God could make. He said that all will honor him even as they honor the Father (John 5:23), and all who believe in Him have passed from death to life (John 5:24). He claimed to be the source of life and thereby possessed the power to give it to whomever he wishes (John 5:21, 26). He claimed to have the authority to judge all people (John 5:22, 27), and that one day at his word all who have died will rise, either to eternal life or to judgment (John 5:28-29). Mere men do not make those kinds of claims. They don’t say, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30), “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), “I am bread of life” (John 6:35, 48), “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5), and “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)!
All these are clear claims to deity. Not only his words but also his works declare his deity. We’ve looked at seven major signs in this Gospel account – culminating with his resurrection – that show us that Jesus has power over death, power over blindness, power over nature, and power over illness, and power to create. Each one conveys the reality of his deity in order to arouse faith and belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, so that we may have life in His name. They are sprinkled throughout the Gospel account as signposts pointing to something greater than the signs themselves. John wants us to encounter the clear evidence to Jesus’ deity, beauty, and glory.
Who are we?
What God has shown us through this wonderful gospel account about ourselves is rather shocking: we are deeply loved and wonderfully valued by God. Jesus’ many miracles not only show us His deity and power, but his compassion and mercy. We read about blind men who are granted sight, a brother is raised from the dead and reunited with his sisters, and many other loving and compassionate works.
But the Gospel account also makes it abundantly clear that we are sinners who love the darkness. Even his own Jewish people rejected Him (John 1:11). The reason they rejected Jesus, and why we also reject Jesus is summed up in John 3:19-20: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” It is easy to look at the rejection of the Jewish people, the betrayal of Judas, and even the hatred of the Sanhedrin and think, “I am so glad I am not like them.” But the truth is, we are just like them. Apart from God’s work of revealing himself to us we are all “in the dark.”
Jesus states in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” Then in John 6:63-65, “‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.’” All of us are dead in sin and cannot do anything to save ourselves. We need a God-sent Savior, and Jesus is that Savior. The reason that the Jews needed a sacrificial lamb was to temporary atone for their sins. Jesus is that lamb, not just for the Jews but also for the whole world. He alone can completely cleanse us from sin.
What must I do to be reconciled to God?
One of the eye-opening realities that John revealed to us during our study was the existence of make-believe faith. Do you remember back in John 2 when Jesus performed his first miracle in Cana (turning water into wine) and then the many other miracles while in Jerusalem? The text says that because of the crowds’ “belief in the signs” that Jesus did not entrust himself to them. In other words, Jesus did not believe their belief. He did not entrust himself to those spurious converts who exercised “faith” simply on the grounds of having witnessed a miracle. Then in chapter 4, John writes that Jesus testified that a prophet has no honor in his home town. But when he went home to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him “because they saw the signs” that he had done. Their welcome was not based on faith in Jesus’ lordship. They welcomed him as a homeboy who does miracles, not as the Messiah that saves. It was a shallow, inquisitive, thrill-seeking, sign-based curiosity.
In John 6:2 it says that, “the people kept following Jesus and continually observed the signs that he habitually performed.” The people sought signs and missed the point. Jesus performed the miraculous signs to spur them to genuine faith. Evidence alone won’t save you, only faith in the person and work of Jesus on the cross can save. We must come to Him! And that is where the book of John ends.
In John 21:19, 22, Jesus commands Peter to, “Follow Me!” To follow Jesus means bowing before Him as the rightful Lord of all that you are and have. It means because of his grace and forgiveness, we continually seek and submit to his will for the direction of our life. True and genuine faith means turning from our sin and believing, yielding to, and trusting in Christ. Faith in Christ means depending on him to slowly but surely change us into his image (Romans 8:28-29).
Have you come to the place where you can say that Jesus is “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28)? Are you by God’s grace trusting in the work of the cross for the forgiveness of your sins? Are you by God’s empowering grace following Christ?