The Gospel of John holds a special significance in that it was written by the disciple closest to our Lord. When you read the Gospel of Matthew, you are reading the record of our Lord as seen through the eyes of a loyal subject. Mark and Luke were dedicated believers who learned to know and love Jesus Christ, largely through the testimony of others. But John is called “the beloved disciple” and seemed closest to Jesus. He was the only disciple near the cross as the Lord was dying, and he was the one Jesus trusted with the care of His mother. Peter, James, and John were the inner circle of disciples who went with our Lord through the most intimate circumstances of His ministry.
John's Gospel opens with the short but accurate genealogy of Jesus Christ. It very much resembles the opening lines of the book of Genesis.
John 1:1-2. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”
"The Word," of course, is Jesus Christ. John begins his Gospel with the statement that Jesus, this man that John knew so well as a friend and companion, was nothing less than the Creator-God of the universe, who was there at the beginning of all things! John obviously knew Jesus better than any other person, and his writings prove he was absolutely convinced of the Lord’s deity.
Sometimes I think it is difficult to believe that Jesus is God. I believe that every Christian, at one time or another, has heard the argument that Jesus was a mere human being.
It’s difficult to comprehend all that is implied by the words, “In the beginning was the Word.” If we, with the benefit of the New Testament, find it difficult to understand, how much more difficult it must have been for His own disciples! They, of all people, would be least likely to believe that He was God, because they lived with Him and saw His humanity as none of us ever has or ever will. We know that even His own brothers found it difficult to accept who He was. However, all those who came in contact with Him during His earthly ministry admitted that “Never man spoke like this man.” John 7:46.
What kind of person can heal the sick, raise the dead, quiet the wind, and change water to wine?" One whose signs, miracles, power, and wisdom caused many a sinner to move from saying "this man, Jesus," to saying, "My Lord and My God!"
The evidence of the deity of Jesus was so overwhelming and convincing that John felt the need of boldly declaring it. It is the theme of the Gospel of John: Jesus is God.
Matthew is the Gospel of the King, Mark is the Gospel of the Servant, Luke is the Gospel of the Son of Man, and John is the Gospel of the Son of God.
The key to the Gospel of John is found in John 20:30-31. “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31: But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name.”
I believe that John actually ended his Gospel with these words and that chapter 21 is really a post-script concerning events that occurred after the resurrection of Jesus.
In John 3:16, God plainly states that anyone in any age, in any place, can believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that He is the Son of God in whom people may have eternal life through belief in His name.
The term ‘Son of God’ makes it seem as though there is a distinction to be made between God and His Son, but to the Hebrews, to call someone a "son" was to say he is identified with, or one with that person. To the Jews, the use of this term, the Son of God meant, "This man is God." He was actually God on earth. That’s why, when our Lord used that term of Himself, He was invariably challenged by the scribes and Pharisees. They didn’t believe Him and they confronted Him with "Who do You think You are? You are making Yourself out to be equal with God. That's blasphemy!" He did describe Himself as God's equal, but it wasn't blasphemy, it was just a simple statement of fact.
By the time John wrote his Gospel, Matthew, Mark, and Luke had already written theirs. He didn’t write his Gospel until the close of the last decade of the first century. He was an old man, looking back on these events that occurred over those amazing three and a half years he spent with the Lord.
His age, of course, has been used by critics to say that we can’t depend on the Gospel of John because it’s the account of an old man who is trying to recall the events of his youth. I’m sure it is more than that. The Holy Spirit inspired all Scripture and in John’s case, he was writing this Gospel to tie together the record that Matthew, Mark, and Luke had written.
John very definitely stated that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of God," the Messiah of Israel promised in the Old testament. In book after book, in one way or another, the Old Testament Scriptures continually repeat that, "Someone is coming! Someone is coming!" The question that divided the Jews in John's day was “Is this the Christ, the Messiah promised in the Old Testament?" I might say, it still divides them today.
Those who knew the Scriptures were looking for the coming of the "Sun of righteousness," the Messiah, who will rise with healing in His wings (Malachi. 4:2), and they knew that God would send "the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD." (Malachi 4:5).
When John the Baptist was asked,"Are you the Christ? Are you the one who comes before that great and dreadful day of the Lord?" And John the Baptist said, "No, but the One you seek is coming after me and He is so great that I’m not worthy to untie His shoes."
The Lord Jesus declared again and again that He was the Messiah. That’s what He meant when He said, “He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2: But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” John 10:1-2
The sheep fold portrays the nation Israel. Jesus said the true Shepherd of Israel would come by the way God has promised. If anyone comes any other way, his credentials are false and he is a thief and a liar. The One who enters by the way God has promised will be recognize as the Great Shepherd. The watchman who “opened the door” for Him was John the Baptist. He was the forerunner that announced the coming of the Messiah.
For His first public ministry, Jesus went to Nazareth and offered His credentials as the Messiah in the synagogue. He stood in the synagogue and read from the scroll of Isaiah. He read a passage from Isaiah 61 to these people that Luke records in Luke 4:18-19. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Jesus was the anointed One named in the scroll of Isaiah. "The Spirit of the Lord…has anointed me." When He stopped reading and put the scroll aside, He actually stopped in the middle of a sentence. The passage He was reading from in Isaiah 61, goes on to say, "and the day of vengeance of our God." Why didn't He read the rest of the sentence? Because the day of vengeance had not yet come.
In His first coming, Jesus came to fulfill the first half of the messianic mission, to preach good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free. The second half of the messianic mission, to proclaim “the day of God's vengeance,” would await His second coming.
Jesus stopped reading at that point and closed the book and sat down. He said to those in the synagogue, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Luke 4:21. In other words, "This Scripture passage is about Me. I am the promised Messiah."
The number seven is prominent in John’s Gospel. John offers further proof that Jesus was God's Anointed One, the Messiah, in seven events from His ministry.
The first proof that Jesus was the Messiah that John records was His first miracle, the changing of water into wine in John 2.
The performance of the miracle at the wedding in Cana of Galilee was a symbolic act. He took ordinary water and changed it into fine wine. Wine is a symbol of life and joy in Scripture. What He did was a symbol of what He came to do: to bring eternal life and great joy to the believers in Him.
He was making it known, in this way, that God could take ordinary human beings in their ordinary state of spiritual lifelessness and give them the joy of eternal life.
His second miracle was the healing of the nobleman’s son. John 4:46-54. The son was sick and dying, and his father was heart broken. He came to the Lord and the Lord healed the son through the power of His word from a distance and without any physical contact. As Jesus said, He was anointed to heal the brokenhearted. He not only healed the broken heart of this father, but He healed the son also.
The third miracle was the healing of the paralyzed man by the pool of Bethesda. John 5:8-9. That man was paralyzed and had lain there for thirty-eight years and he was unable to get into the pool in the hope that he might be healed. The Lord chose him out of the crowd and healed him, saying to him, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked.”
This man had been bound by an infirmity for thirty-eight years, but Jesus set him free instantly. It’s a picture of how Jesus can set us free from the prison of sin instantly through faith in Him.
His fourth miracle was the feeding of the five thousand. John 6:1-14. This miracle, or a another incident like it, appears in all four of the Gospels. When you read the story of the five thousand, you can’t help but see a wonderful picture of the Lord's desire to meet the deepest need of the human heart, the hunger for God. In John 6:35, He states what these signs mean. He says, "I am the bread of life." When He took the bread and broke it, and fed the five thousand men plus women and children, He was picturing how fully He is able to meet the need and spiritual hunger of human souls.
For His fifth miracle, He walked on water. After the feeding of the five thousand, He sent His disciples out into the storm and then came to them walking across the waves in the midst of the storm. The ship was about to sink and they feared for their lives until they saw Jesus walking on the water. John 6:20. “He said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid," and He quieted their fears and demonstrated His power over nature by calming the waves instantly.
The two miracles of the feeding the five thousand and walking on water are a double example of our Lord's ability to satisfy the need of human hearts and deliver the believer from our worst enemy, fear. This is good news! And this is one of the signs of the Messiah: He came to proclaim good news of salvation to the poor in spirit.
Jesus’ sixth miracle was the healing of the blind man in John 9:1-12. This story hardly needs comment. Our Lord said that He came "to give recovery of sight to the blind" in Luke 4:18. He chose a man who was physically blind from birth, just as human beings are spiritually blind from birth. He healed him and He can heal the spiritually blind also.
The seventh miracle was raising Lazarus from the dead, found in John 11:1-44. This is a picture of the deliverance we receive when we trust Christ as our Savior. We are born sinners and in our natural state, Satan holds us under the bondage of the fear of death and hell all our lives. But Christ is able to save us from the horrible pit and grant us eternal life through faith in Him and we pass from death to eternal life.
Jesus was using these seven signs to attest to the fact that He was the Messiah, the all powerful Anointed One, promised by God in the Old Testament.
In John's Gospel, we have seen Jesus in His delivering power and we have seen the fulfillment of the appearance of the promised Deliverer, the Messiah. But throughout all the centuries of Old Testament history, another secret has remained hidden. The prophets had expected the coming of the Messiah, a great man of God, but who would have known, who would have imagined, who would have expected that this man would be the Son of God, the very person of God in human form?
The Lord, in His humanity and compassion for lost souls, gave His life to ransom other human beings. The amazing truth is that when you stand in His presence, you are standing in the presence of God Himself! You see what God Himself is like!
In the opening chapter of his Gospel, John makes this statement: John 1:18 “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has declared him.”
"No one has ever seen God." That is a statement of fact. Man is born with a hunger for God, and is always searching for God, but no one has ever seen Him. But John goes on to say that the Son has made Him known. Jesus has unfolded what God is like to mankind.
John chose seven statements made by our Lord that prove Jesus is the Son of God. He bases them all on the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. When Moses saw the bush burning and turned aside to see why it wasn’t consumed, God spoke to him from the bush and said, "I AM WHO I AM" (Ex. 3:14). Just like the bush that wasn’t consumed, God is the eternal God. He is the expression of His own nature. He says, "I am exactly what I am.”
These "I am" statements by Jesus give further proof that He is God. Let’s look at the seven "I AM's" in the Gospel of John, starting in John 6:35. "And Jesus said unto them, `I am the bread of life:...'" Remember how He warned Satan in Matthew 4:4, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God'."
In John 8:12, Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” He is telling us He is the essence of eternal life, the one who can give you eternal life.
John 10:7 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.” Jesus stated that He is the only way that leads to eternal life.
In John 10:11, He said, "I am the good shepherd." Jesus is our Shepherd, He guides the life of the believer, He is the only one able to safely guide and protect us when Satan attacks us from every side. He holds the rod of discipline and staff of guidance. He can comfort us, give us peace, and lead us beside still waters, and restore our souls.
John 11:25. "I am the resurrection and the life.” He is the miraculous power of life, the giver and restorer of life. He holds the power of resurrection. His power of resurrection prevails over death. When death calls, Jesus appears and says, "I am the resurrection and the life."
John 14:6. "I am the way and the truth and the life." He is the real substance behind all things. Faith in Him is the only way to eternal life in heaven.
John 15:1 and 5. "I am the true vine…apart from me you can do nothing." Without Him, we can do nothing that will please or appease God.
Those are seven times our Lord made an "I am" statement. He took that great name of God from the Old Testament and linked it in simple and profound symbols for the New Testament. He used picture after picture to enable us to understand God.
Now let's take a look at the seven statements that Jesus said while hanging on the Cross. Turn to Luke Chapter 23. We’ll look at these seven statements in their chronological order in time, not according to their order in Scripture.
Luke 23:34, we find Jesus' first words from the Cross. “Then said Jesus, `Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do....”
We know that Romans and Jews were both involved in the Crucifixion, but Scripture primarily lays the blame on the Nation of Israel. Israel should have known Who He was because the Old Testament proclaimed it over and again. But the spiritual leaders of Israel refused to accept Him, so Jesus is referring primarily to the Jews. In the Book of Acts you’ll see Peter putting the full responsibility on the Jews.
The second statement Jesus made is in this same chapter. One of the thieves on the cross confessed Jesus as his Lord. Luke 23:43 "And Jesus said unto him, `Verily I say unto you, Today you shall be with me in paradise.'" He placed his faith in Christ's blood as an atonement for his sins. Jesus promised the thief he would be in paradise with His Lord and Savior that very day! He had no chance to do a good work, no chance to be baptized, his simple trust in the Savior’s blood shed on Calvary was all God required.
Now for the third statement Jesus made on the cross we have to go back to John's Gospel.
John 19:25-27 "Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved (that was John), he said unto his mother, `Woman, behold your son!' Then said he to the disciple, `Behold your mother!' And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."
John cared for Mary for the rest of her life. Joseph evidently had died and was not on the scene.
For the fourth statement, turn to Matthew 27:45-46. "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, `Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is to say, `My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'" I feel that it was during the three hours of darkness and silence, Christ, in the soul and Spirit, suffered the punishment for the sins of every human being.
We find the fifth of the seven statements Jesus made from the Cross in John 19:28. "After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, `I thirst.'"
And we find the sixth one in John 19:30. "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, `It is finished:' and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."
We have to go back to Luke 23 to pick up His final statement. Luke 23:46. "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, `Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.'
Those are the seven statements He made while He was on the cross.
God has made it plain that Jesus is His Son and that He died on the cross as a substitute offering for your sins and mine. All He asks is that we believe Who He was and that He died for our sins on the cross.
It’s summed up in:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be saved.
"He who believes in Him is not condemned;
but he who does not believe is condemned already,
because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."