“That You May Believe”

The apostle John was there when Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).  He heard Peter answer, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16).  He also heard Jesus’ reply: “Upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18).  And John’s purpose in writing his gospel, he plainly states, is:  “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31 New King James Version)  Believing in Christ is the only way to have life, and John writes his gospel that you may believe and live (John 1:12; Acts 16:31).

John’s gospel is relevant for life:

  • To rescue the perishing – John 3:16.
  • To convince unbelieversthese are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name (John 20:31 NKJV).
  • To instruct new believersTo the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NIV).  All believers are Christians, but not all Christians are disciples.
  • To answer significant questions – Greeks were philosophers – they thought a lot about life.  To know Jesus is to know LIFE:  John 14:6. Jews were theologians – they thought mostly about God. “The Word” or Logos (1:1) in the Greek means that Jesus is the full expression of the whole idea of God.[1]  A Chinese Christian woman was preaching Christ to the scholar of a market town. He heard her courteously and after a little while said, “Madam, you speak well, but why do you dwell on Jesus Christ? Let Him alone. Instead of Jesus Christ, tell us about God.” Whereupon she replied, “What, sir, should we know about God if it were not for Jesus Christ?” How true, and this is precisely the meaning of the second clause of John 1:18: No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is the same as God and is at the Father’s side, he has made him known (Today’s English Version).[2]

“Who was John and why should we listen to him?”

  • John was the disciple whom Jesus loved (Jn 13:23; 20:2; 21:7,20). John leaned a little closer to Jesus than the other disciples (21:20). God does not respect or love one person above another; however, He is respected and loved by some more than others. God invites us all to come closer (Ja 4:8).
  • John, James and Simon Peter formed an inner circle among Jesus’ disciples. They went with Jesus where the others did not (Lk 9:28). Paul later described them as pillars of the Church (Ga 2:9).
  • Only John was with Jesus at the cross, and Jesus committed Mary, his mother, to John’s care (Jn 19:26-27).
  • John also penned the three epistles that bear his name and the book of Revelation which he wrote while a prisoner on the island of Patmos.
  • His final years were spent in Ephesus preaching, teaching and writing. He was the last of the twelve apostles to die and the only one who died a natural death.
  • Strictly from a human perspective, John was probably the most qualified of anyone to write a biography of Jesus. He was closest to Jesus personally, was with Jesus at the most crucial moments of His life, and simply had the most time to reflect upon his time with Jesus and to establish a solid Christology concerning both the humanity and divinity of Jesus (Jn 1:1,14).

The term “life” appears 50 times in John. JESUS is LIFE and He came into the world that we might have it:

  • “I tell you the truth, whoever hears what I say and believes in the One who sent me has eternal life. That person will not be judged guilty but has already left death and entered life.” – John 5:24 New Century Version
  • “I am the bread of life.” – John 6:48
  • He came to give abundant life – John 10:10.
  • Jesus is life itself – John 14:6.

John wants his readers to know WHO Jesus is and WHY they should believe in Him. Peter confessed both the humanity and divinity of Jesus (Mt 16:16).  John explains how the Son of God became the Son of Man – the Word that was God already in the beginning became flesh (incarnated) and dwelt among us (1:1,14). Jesus is not partly human and partly God; He is FULLY HUMAN and FULLY GOD! 

  • Only God could save mankind from sin. Isaiah declared: God is my salvation . . . The LORD, the LORD, . . . he has become my salvation.” (Is 12:2). Jesus means “Jehovah is the Savior.”[3]
  • Only man could shed his blood for mankind’s redemption. Paul wrote: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. (Rom 3:23-25 NIV).
  • Any departure from either the divinity or humanity of Jesus is a heresy (untruth): The Word became a human being and . . . We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father’s only Son. (John 1:14 TEV).  John says in 2 John 7, anyone who does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh is the deceiver and the antichrist.

Jesus’ works (miracles) are why we should believe He is God: believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done (John 10:38 NLT). John references eight of Jesus’ miracles which he calls “signs” because they point to His divinity: 1) turning water to wine (2:1-11); 2) healing the official’s son (4:46-54); 3) healing the man at Bethesda (5:1-9); 4) feeding the 5000 (6:1-14); 5) walking on water (6:15-21); 6) restoring a man’s sight (9:1-41); 7) raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44); 8) the catch of fish (21:1-14). The last and greatest of all the signs, of course, was Jesus’ resurrection, which John records in chapters 20 and 21.

Jesus Christ is both the source of life and the light of truth to the worldThe Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to mankind (John 1:4 TEV).  Jesus answers life’s questions and satisfies life’s desires. Faith in Jesus Christ will transform your life: But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. (John 1:12-13 NLT) Those who hear His voice (His word) will LIVE! (Jn 5:25-27). The words of Jesus are God’s words to us: These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:24 NIV)

From chapter one to twenty-one, the gospel of John is about the Son of God who became the Son of Man so that the sons of men might become the sons of God. To know God is eternal life and the only way to know God is through His Son, Jesus Christ:  “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3 New King James Version)

[1] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p.1252.

[2] From Illustrations of Bible Truths Copyright © 1995, 1998 by AMG International, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

[3] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Word, p.614.

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