The overall theme or purpose of the Gospel of John is found in John 20:31 “These (accounts) are written so you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” I personally find it interesting that John chooses to give his purpose in writing account at the end of this Gospel instead of at the beginning. When someone writes something usually the author declares up front his purpose in writing. When I started this series and usually at the beginning of every devotional I stated my purpose in writing. John does not do this; instead he begins with a bold, up front and in your face declaration of the divinity of the One in whom he is writing about… Jesus. He spends a great deal of time telling the reader Jesus is not just a great man who came preaching and teaching nice things but that he was MUCH more than that. He is eternal. He is divine He was present and active in the creation process.
John calls Jesus, “the Word”… He writes, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word WAS God.” In reading the opening verses of John you find that Jesus was/is the Word and He was/is God. John begins his Gospel by declaring, “Bam! There you have it! Jesus is God! I know this because I was with him and what follows in the pages to come are my eye witness accounts of his teachings, his deeds and his ministry here on earth.” John waits until the end of the Gospel in verse 30 to declare his purpose in writing.
Read John 20:30 & John 21:25
Everyone has a purpose in life. The Apostle John wrote this Gospel account to be a biography of the life of Jesus and yet it is a Holy Spirit inspired account of his life, death, resurrection and the impact they had on the world. The Apostle John spends a great deal of time establishing some key truths about Jesus..
The same is true with Jesus (since he and the Father are one). We do not know everything Jesus did by simply reading the Gospels. We do know many significant things about him and we know all we need to know about who He is, his mission and how He fulfilled his purpose.
John speaks about the post resurrection appearances of Jesus to his disciples and most notably his encounter with Thomas, he writes a parenthetical statement about his purpose in writing this account in verses 30 – 31. There are many miracles and signs Jesus performed in his ministry that are not contained in this Gospel (or the Bible for that matter). We do not know they were they are left for our imagination. I don’t think they were omitted because they weren’t significant I would imagine they were left out because they were so numerous. We do know the miracles and signs that were recorded in John’s Gospel were intended to help those reading these accounts to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In believing this one will have life (abundant life today and forevermore). John, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has chosen these accounts to record in his Gospel so all who read (including you and me) can come to faith in Jesus Christ.
This brings up the question, “Has the Gospel of Jesus impacted your life at all?” Now that we near the conclusion of the Gospel of John it is important for all of us to take a collective look at all that has been read, preached on, consumed, and digested. If it has impacted your life then it would serve you well to ask yourself this question, “How has the Gospel of Jesus (written by John) directly impacted me?” When you look at the life, ministry and teachings of Jesus does a sense of awe overtake you? When you look at the plan of redemption as written in this Gospel do you see the great love the Father in heaven has for his children? Does this love give you a sense of wonder? Does it stir up in you an overwhelming need to fall to your knees and worship Jesus for all he has done? If the Gospel hasn’t impacted you in some way or to rouse your faith in Jesus then I encourage you to ask the Father right now to open your eyes to see Jesus for who He is. Ask him to help you understand what Jesus did for humanity (and for you in particular) so that those who believe can and will receive an abundant life in Jesus today and for all eternity.
who already believe and are obedient to his word I have dedicated this year in hopes that your faith would be stirred up and you would be motivated to live your life in a way that would draw others to Jesus Christ.
The life of Christ (his eternal existence, his incarnation, his ministry, his death and resurrection) has a purpose and it all was established for the benefit of humanity since the beginning of all things. John had a purpose in writing (so you may believe). Jesus had a purpose (to draw you to the Father and give life to those who believe). I had a purpose in writing these devotions (to have a better understanding of who Jesus is and to believe he is the way, the truth and the life). What is your response? How does it affect you? The Gospel is alive and it is able to transform. Will you allow it to be alive in you and to transform you into the person God created you to be?
I am an avid reader. I love books (almost to a fault) and I have loved reading since my late high school years. I read all kinds of books… fiction (i.e. Sci- Fi/Fantasy, horror, thrillers, suspense, & historical fiction), non-fiction (i.e. autobiographies, biographies, history, & leadership), and religious (i.e. theology, Christian living, Christian fiction, church history, & Bible commentaries). The key ingredients for a great book is an introduction that captures my attention, a theme, topic or storyline that is well-written a strong conclusion. I want to make sure the author ties up all of the loose ends? Does he/she resolve the conflict? Are all the questions answered or mysteries solved where I am not left guessing what happens? Did the author finish or accomplish what he/she set out to accomplish in writing the book? Nothing is more frustrating than a bad ending or a week conclusion. If you are a reader maybe you understand what I mean? I can’t tell you how many books I invested hours in just to be met with complete dissatisfaction in how the book or story ends. I occasionally enjoy a Stephen King novel. Mr. King is probably one of the best story tellers I have read. He is detailed in his writing and he writes in a way that really interests me. I know he is a horror novel writer but I do enjoy a good scare every now and then. It is not unusual for him to write a books that can be up 700 to 1000 pages reading one of his novels can certainly be a huge time investment. He is a genius writer but sometimes his conclusions are terrible. Every now and then I finish one of his novels and wonder what was the point of this book? I have one of his books on my shelf at home that is over 1000 pages and I am reluctant to invest in it knowing his track record.
Ultimately a book that does not deliver is disappointing and frustrating. A bad ending can ruin a great book.
Imagine if the end of the Gospel of John was chapter 19. Think about how dissatisfied you would be as a reader (and we as humanity). How disappointed would you be as a believer? Would you even be a believer? I wonder up to this point if the disciples who followed Jesus for the past 3 ½ years were staring at the lifeless body of Jesus hanging on the cross and thought, “What a waste of time.” At this point in their lives this was the conclusion to the story. It was over. Everything they were taught, believed and even fought for was seemingly thrown out the window. Jesus talked about eternal life, the abundant life and ushering in the Kingdom of God and there he hung lifeless on the cross. Thankfully, the story does not end here. In so many ways it is just the beginning. If the Gospel of John ended with chapter 19 then this book of the Bible could not be called the Gospel of John because the word Gospel means good news. A dead Jesus in a tomb is not good news. A risen Jesus who has ascended to the Father is Good News. In these remaining chapters we see the disciples will finally get the purpose behind all that has happened up to this point. They will see this story does have a happy ending and it ultimately ends as any good and satisfying story does, “And they lived (or will live) happily ever after."
Read John 20:1 – 10
This is the first day of the week the day after the Sabbath. The Sabbath began around 6 pm Friday and ended around 6 pm Saturday. It was early Sunday morning so it was still dark out. Mary Magdalene was at the tomb of Jesus (with other women). John does not mention these other women but the other three Gospels do and they were there to tend to the body of Jesus. This is a beautiful picture of Mary Magdalene's devotion to Jesus; even in death she care for and loved Jesus. When Mary approached the tomb she noticed the large stone had been rolled away from the opening. The tomb had been under guard by order of Pontius Pilate and it was sealed with the seal of authority of Pilate. She was concerned because she thought the body of Jesus had been stolen. She immediately went and found Peter and John.
Peter and John heard this news and immediately ran to the tomb. John felt it was important to tell the readers that he was faster than Peter. We are not sure why the detail is there but I find it curious and funny as I wondered if the two of them had a little bit of a competitive edge to them. They reached the tomb; John bent down and looked in and noticed the burial clothes were in tatters. Peter shows up later and pushes past John and goes into the tomb. In most instances the tomb opening was only 3 feet high. A grown adult would probably have to crawl in through the opening. Peter went in and he noticed the burial clothes were there in shambles but the face clothe (kind of like a handkerchief) was not with the rest of the clothes but folded in its own separate place. John went in after Peter and upon seeing the empty tomb verse 8 says, “He saw and believed.” Peter and John investigated for a bit and then they went back home. Maybe they were perplexed, maybe they were concerned or maybe they just needed time to digest what they just witnessed.
The Significance of the Resurrection
What is the significance of the resurrection? I would encourage you to read I Corinthians 15 to get a full understanding it. The reality for Christians is we put everything into the fact that Jesus Christ not only died on a cross but he also rose from the dead. The death of Jesus is essential to our Christian faith (without it atonement cannot be made) however we cannot stop with his death. The story does not end there. Good Friday is not the main point of Easter.
According to Romans 1:4 The Spirit/God publicly declares Jesus as divine by his resurrection and scripture also tells us that he has always been divine. We must always remember Jesus did not become the Son of God after he rose from the dead he always has been the Son of God from eternity past, present and future. The text implies here that Jesus was publicly declared the Son of God through the resurrection. The resurrection was his declaration of who he is. We now can accept, acknowledge and draw near to God as a result of the resurrection of Christ.
I have heard this question asked many times, “How can you be sure Jesus rose from the dead?” There are various accounts of Jesus’ appearances to people throughout the New Testament. I Corinthians 15:5 - 7 says that Jesus appeared to all of the disciples, to 500 brothers at one time and he also appeared to James (Jesus' brother) and all of the Apostles.
Just like a good story needs a conclusion a sermon needs a conclusion. When concluding one question I always ask is, “How does this passage/topic apply to us today?” What can we take home with us? The answer is quite simple… We can take with us hope. We can take with us the understanding that this life is indeed precious and we must live our lives in abundance for the Lord here on earth but also this life is not all we have. If you truly believe the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ then we have more to look forward to in this life and in life after we die. Last night I spent a few moments with a woman who is at the final phase of her life, the cancer has seemingly won and I know there is fear in the unknown. However I also know that when one has faith in Jesus one can face death without reservation. I was thinking on my way home, “It’s just a matter of time and this woman will be in the eternal presence of Jesus.” I couldn’t help but being a bit envious but the Lord has given to me another day to live here on this earth. Knowing that Jesus lived, died and rose again so that we can live, die and rise again gives me strength, faith and the desire to live fully for Him because he died willingly for His children so they may have life and have it abundantly.
Throughout this devotional series in the Gospel of John I have pointed out that every word and action of Jesus had a purpose. They were to promote and usher in the Kingdom of God. Everything Jesus said, taught and did was to prepare the people for work of salvation that God was doing through him.
In the beginning Jesus talked about how the times were changing; the traditions and the temple customs of the Jewish leaders were not being fulfilled for God’s intended purpose. The Israelite's had a blessed and wonderful calling of representing God to the nations through the temple and they had failed miserably. They were not the light of the nations instead the temple had become a symbol of division and repulsion among the nations. Israel abused her calling as the chosen nation which resulted in an elitist mindset. They felt they were above judgment, they were more righteous, and they believed God favored them thus they did not have to practice what they preached. Ultimately the temple system became about keeping traditions rather than obedience to God and unity.
Read John 19:1 – 16
It is interesting that Pilate finds no fault in Jesus; yet he is so insecure as a leader that he caves into the wishes of the mob. The flogging was probably done to try and appease the masses, they would not be satisfied with a token beating; they wanted death. Some had even thought that bringing Jesus out to the people in his robe and crown of thorns that the crowd would think he was punished sufficiently.
Pilate tells the Jews to take him and crucify him, but he knew they could not because Jews were forbidden to perform crucifixions. They brought up the law and one of Pilate’s jobs was to maintain the law and keep the peace among the people. Failure to do so could end badly for Pilate. He then takes Jesus into the Praetorium and questions him. This is an interesting conversation because Pilate says he has the power to set Jesus free yet Jesus corrects him and says he has no power whatsoever. Pilate must sentence Jesus to death in order for Jesus to accomplish his purpose. Pilate proceeds to sentence Jesus to death.
Read John 19:17 – 27
The death of Jesus is a graphic and gruesome thing. Many of us have either seen movies, read books or imagined what this horrific event was like, but I do not think we can fathom it at all. The death Jesus suffered was painful, humiliating and violent yet it was necessary in order to accomplish the will of the Father. Crucifixion was a method of capital punishment used by many nations including Greece and Persia. The Romans used it as a means to execute slaves and criminals.
In the Gospel of John the final two statements made by Jesus was first a personal need, “I thirst” and the second a declaration of completion, “It is finished!” What was finished? Jesus had accomplished what he came to do. The law had been fulfilled and redemption completed. Through Jesus’ death humanity can have have peace with God. He has bore the penalty of sin for humanity so that those who believe and obey would not face this penalty.
Sabbath was near and Passover was beginning (which was a high celebration and certainly significant that Jesus was crucified at this time) the process of death was going to be sped up by breaking the legs of those being crucified. They wanted to get this over so they could go ahead and celebrate the Passover. Jesus had already given up his spirit and was lifeless so there was no need to break his legs in order to fulfill prophecy. To ensure he was dead the Roman soldier pierced his side. The blood and water was significant to John and there are many theories as to why he put it in this account, it was written to show that Jesus did in fact die a normal human death.
It is believed that both Joseph and Nicodemus were Sanhedrin and followers of Jesus. Joseph must have been a person of influence because typically a person who was crucified was thrown in a common grave. The fact that Pilate allowed Joseph to take Jesus' body shows he may have had influence.
We can rejoice hat the story does not end here. This account is gruesome, brutal, and somewhat tragic but altogether necessary. The death of Jesus Christ establishes God’s new covenant of grace, atonement and redemption with humanity. It is important to understand that everything Jesus did on earth was for a higher purpose and the people of his time had difficulty understanding this. He took the world by storm and exposed the religious people of their errors and showed the public the true meaning of what it means to be a child of God.
We are truly the beneficiaries of the work Jesus has done and completed on the cross. We know with certainty that because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus anyone who believes, trusts and obeys his commands has been given the true grace of life everlasting (This is the Good News, this is the Gospel). It is available to ALL who believe and obey Jesus regardless of race, gender, or social status. God has established a new way through Jesus Christ that does not depend on works and legalism but is evidenced through good works. The way is no longer based on the sacrifice of animals but on the sacrifice of the Lamb. The way is not based on keeping the law but on a promise kept by God. The new way promotes freedom through submission. The way promotes living through dying. The way promotes loving all. The way promotes faith in God instead of faith in man or circumstances. The way is made available to us because Jesus willingly gave himself up so that humanity could be made right with God.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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