The New Testament gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are vitally important because they are our primary source of information on the person, life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Like four different news journalists, they all report on the same story but each from his own perspective and emphasizing the details most significant to him. Matthew wanted his people, the Jews, to recognize Jesus as the Messiah (Christ) and rightful king of Israel. So, he emphasized Jesus’ fulfillment of the ancient Messianic prophecies, i.e. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” (Mt 1:23; Is 7:14). Mark is essentially the gospel according to Peter and highlights the missional Jesus who did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mk 10:45). Luke carefully studied everything about Jesus and wrote an orderly account of His life so that others, like Theophilus, could be certain of the facts (Lk 1:1-4). Luke’s focus is on the Son of Man who came to seek and to save that which was lost (Lk 1:3; 19:10). John writes plainly and up front that Jesus is both divine and human: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . .The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (Jn 1:1,14 NIV). Furthermore, Jesus came into the world to bring us grace from God and to reveal the truth of God: We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:14 NIV).
John wrote his gospel last, somewhere between A.D. 80 and 95, from the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) where he spent his final years teaching, preaching and writing. John was the only one of Jesus’ apostles who did not die a martyr’s death, although multiple attempts were made on his life. According to Tertullian, an early Christian author and theologian, Emperor Domitian had John boiled in oil. But God supernaturally delivered him and all witnesses to the miracle in the Colosseum were converted. Unable to kill him, the Romans imprisoned John on the Greek island of Patmos, hoping that way to silence him. It was on Patmos, however, that John received his Revelation from Jesus which became the last book of the New Testament. John’s life and ministry prove – That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it (John 1:5 Holman Christian Standard Bible).
John was the youngest of Jesus’ apostles – perhaps only a teen when he began following him. He was personally close to Jesus and references himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and the “beloved disciple.” John, Peter and James were an inner circle of Jesus’ disciples. They were with Jesus at His transfiguration (Mt 17:1-8) and nearest to Him in Gethsemane the night He was betrayed (Mk 14:33). But only John leaned upon Jesus at the last supper, attended Jesus’ trial before the high priest, and stood at the cross when Jesus was crucified (Jn 18:15-16; 19:26; 21:20). And from the cross, Jesus chose John to take care of Mary, His mother, for the rest of her life (19:26). God does not respect or love one person above another (Job 34:18-19); however, He is respected and loved by some persons more than others (Mt 15:8). God invites us all to come closer: Come close to God, and he will come close to you. (James 4:8 God’s Word Translation).
Over 90 percent of the information in John is not found in the other Gospels. Only John tells of Jesus’ “Upper Room Discourse” (chapters 14-16) and His Intercessory Prayer in Gethsemane (chapter 17). Six of the eight miracles of Jesus cited by John are exclusive to his Gospel: 1) turning water to wine (2:1-11); 2) healing the official’s son (4:46-54); 3) healing the invalid at the pool of Bethesda (5:1-15); 4) healing the man born blind (9:1-38); 5) raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1-44); and 6) the great catch of fish after His resurrection (21:1-14). Also, none of Jesus’ parables are mentioned in John. John’s focus is on the Person and purpose of Jesus more than His teaching.
- Jesus is the Son of God (1:1-3). This is John’s first and most emphatic point. Many say they believe in Jesus, but not as the Son of God. Some claim that Jesus’ divinity is an idea superimposed on Him by fanatical followers years after His life on Earth. But John was with Jesus; he was his closest apostle; and he says about Jesus – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (1:1). It just doesn’t get any plainer than that! “The Word” or Logos (1:1) in the Greek means that Jesus is the full expression of the whole idea of God. 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 (TEV).
- Jesus became the Son of Man (1:14). The Son of God has always been, but He became flesh, i.e. the Son of Man (1:14). Matthew and Luke tell the story of His birth. Paul somewhat describes the act of Jesus’ incarnation (becoming flesh) in Philippians 2:5-11. God demonstrated His love for the world by sending His Son into the world to save the world (John 3:16-18; Romans 5:8).
- Jesus came to FULFILL the GRACE of God (1:14). The Greek term pleres translated “full” comes from a root term which means to accomplish or fulfill. Before sin ever entered the world, God already knew what He would do and how He would do it to save humanity. God’s plan was GRACE – UNMERITED FAVOR. But the whole plan depended on JESUS CHRIST and His completing all the Father required – and He did!
- When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30 NIV)
- And Christ himself is the means by which our sins are forgiven, and not our sins only, but also the sins of everyone. (1 John 2:2 Today’s English Version)
- Jesus came to TELL the TRUTH (1:14). “To Tell the Truth” was a TV game show in the 1950s. A group of three guests would pose as the same person and the show’s celebrity panelists had to decide which of the three was telling the truth. Very much like the old shell game – all three nuts look alike, but only one contains the prize. There are a lot of “nuts” in the world that claim to tell the truth. But Jesus not only tells the truth HE IS THE TRUTH! He came to tell the truth about God and how you can know Him for yourself: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7 New International Version). “Without the Way there is no going; without the Truth there is no knowing; without the Life there is no living.”
God’s plan of salvation has been summarized this way: “The Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of men could become the sons of God.” This is why the Apostle Paul said the gospel of Christ. . .is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Romans 1:16 New King James Version). The way to life is the truth. Knowing the truth will set you free to live the life God has always wanted you to have. Jesus knows who you are, and He wants you to know who He is; and that’s what the Gospel of John is all about – knowing the truth of Jesus, believing it and having new and everlasting life.
 Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p.1252.
 (from Illustrations of Bible Truths Copyright © 1995, 1998 by AMG International, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
 From The Biblical Illustrator, Thomas a Kempis, Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 Ages Software, Inc. and Biblesoft, Inc.