So what has John written in order to convince you of who Jesus is?
John’s prologue (1:1-18) reveals facts about Jesus that the participants in the narrative flow of the gospel do not know. Facts, such as the following, that orient us as we then read John’s narrative: Jesus is the Word who has existed from all eternity. He was with God for all eternity past, and He is God. As the Creator of everything, He gave life to all things. The life He gave humanity had light (light and darkness are major themes in John). The Word took on humanity as Jesus Christ, leaving the “bosom” of the Father so that He could reveal the Father to mankind.
All the gospels record miracles Jesus did. John identifies these miracles as signs. Turning water to wine (2:11), healing the Capernaum official’s son (4:54), feeding the five thousand (6:14), giving sight to the man born blind (9:16), and raising Lazarus from the dead (11:47, 12:18)—all these were indicators of Jesus’ identity as the promised Messiah, the Son of God. These were just a few of the signs Jesus did (20:30), and the purpose of these signs was to bring people to belief in Him.
Jesus’ I am statements
In addition, John reveals who Jesus is through various I am statements. I am . . . the Bread of Life (6:48), the Light of the World (8:12), the Door (10:9-10), the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14), the Son of God (10:36), the Resurrection and the Life (11:25), the Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6), and the Vine (15:1). How can Jesus be all of these things? The answer is what He told the Jews on one occasion that so raised their ire: “before Abraham was, I am” (8:58). Jesus takes to Himself the very name of Yahweh (Exod. 3:14).
Jesus as God
John’s gospel presses upon his readers Jesus’ claim to be God. This should be no surprise since one of John’s key purposes in writing is for a person to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. By saying Jesus is the Son of God, John is affirming the deity of Jesus. He is not a son of God, like we become through faith in Him (1:12), but rather He is the “one of a kind” Son (John 3:16). We and Christ both have the same Father but our relationship to that Father is different than His, as Jesus makes clear in His words to Mary Magdalene (20:17). Jesus shares the same essence with the Father (10:30). He shares the Father’s glory (17:3). He is to be honored just as the Father is honored (5:23). To know and see Him is to know and see the Father (14:7, 9).
Jesus as the One the Father sent
Repeatedly in John, Jesus speaks of Himself as the One sent by the Father (4:34; 5:24, 30) or asserts that He “came from God” (8:42; 16:27). His disciples’ belief in His divine origins marked an important milestone in their theological journey (16:30; 17:8). That Jesus came from God affirms both His ontological equality with God and his functional subordination to Him. His food is to do the Father’s will (4:34). He came to do the work His Father sent Him to do, and He exults because He has finished it (17:4). Jesus’ submission is not a contradiction to His deity but rather the real-time outworking of what John said in the prologue (1:18): Jesus divulged the Father by saying what the Father told Him to say and doing what the Father told Him to do. As He told the Jews after healing a sick man on the Sabbath, My Father is working until now and so am I (5:17). Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath was a revelation to the Jews of what His Father was doing on the Sabbath. His subordination to the Father is what made possible His unequaled revelation of the will, words, and actions of the Father. And His full subordination to the Father was only possible because He shared the same nature as the Father.
Jesus sends a Comforter like Himself
John 14-16 says more about the Spirit’s role in the disciples’ lives (and ours) than any other gospel. Naturally, Jesus’ disciples were disappointed as He taught them of His imminent departure and return to His Father. Jesus consoled them by promising to send them the Holy Spirit, who would be a Comforter to them just as He had been. In fact, to have the Comforter was tantamount to having Christ Himself. Old Testament Scriptures connected the future Messianic Age with the outpouring of the Spirit. That Jesus would send the Holy Spirit substantiates His messianic claims, a point that Peter makes in his sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-36).
Jesus, as the Messiah, must suffer and be crucified for the sin of the world
A full third or more of John’s gospel focuses on one week in the life of Christ—the week of His Passion (chs. 12-19). Jesus is going back to His Father but He is going by way of the cross. Why? If I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all peoples to myself (12:32). Jesus’ being lifted up will become the remedy for those who are perishing much as the serpent in the wilderness became the cure for those dying from fiery serpents (3:14-16). Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (1:29, 36).
John’s testimony is to be believed
Ever so often in his gospel, John gives us a glimpse of himself in the narrative (13:23; 18:15-16; 19:35; 21:24). His presence at key points in his narrative brings a feeling of surety about what he writes. He writes as someone who was there and someone whose testimony we can trust.
Which puts the ball in the lap of anyone who reads his gospel. He has borne witness to Jesus as the One sent by God and from God; that is, Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. He testifies to what he knows. To believe his witness about Jesus is to have eternal life. To not believe is to perish. What will your decision be?
- What verse in John summarizes his key purpose for writing his gospel?
- What does that verse say is his key purpose?
- What does John’s Prologue tell us about Jesus that those living during Jesus’ earthly ministry would not have known just by looking at Him?
- Name two or three of the “sign-miracles” Jesus does in John.
- What was so significant about Jesus’ use of the words I am?
- What are some ways in which John asserts the deity of Jesus?
- What does the fact that Jesus was sent by God and came from God affirm about Jesus?
- Give some specific examples of how John emphasizes that Jesus must suffer and be crucified.
- What in John’s gospel testifies to the surety of what he writes? (Do you believe what he writes about Jesus?)