INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF JOHN
I must say that this is one of the most exciting things I have ever done. I am preaching through the Book of John, verse by verse. This book has blessed me so much that I thought I’d share my sermon notes with you. Stay tuned….I’ll be posting more each week!!
I love the story of two little boys watching grandmother read the Bible. Danny asked, “Why does grandmother read the Bible so much?” His brother David answered, “I think she’s cramming for her finals.” There is so much truth and knowledge in the book of John that we’re going to feel as though we are cramming for finals as we work our way through this wonderful book!
A pastor had been disturbed by a person who was a fast reader. “We shall now read the Twenty-third Psalm in unison,” he announced. “Will the lady who is always by the still waters, while the rest of us are in `green pastures, please wait a minute until we catch up?”(PastorLife.com Sermon illustrations). We should be like this Pastor and take our time and savor every single chapter, verse, and word! We want to take our time and carefully study all 21 chapters, all 879, and all 15,635 words of John’s account of the Gospel of our Lord (Statistics courtesy of Catholic Resources at www. catholic – resources . org).
We must ask the question, “Why four Gospels?” Well actually, there really are not four Gospels. There is really only one Gospel with four views, sides, or perspectives. Here’s how I think of the four Gospel accounts. Our church recently completed VBS (Hero Headquarters, June 2010). If you were to survey four of our members about VBS, you would get four varying accounts that overlap some, but have differences in them as well. Although the four accounts from the four church members differ, one would never assert that our church conducted four different Vacation Bible Schools, would they? AT our VBS, some may have experienced things that others didn’t, yet we only had one VBS. The same applies to the “four-fold single Gospel”. Different writers experienced different things and penned them down for us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So remember, it’s only ONE GOSPEL with four perspectives.
So what’s this Gospel account about? More than 50 years ago, the New Testament scholar Merrill C. Tenney entitled his commentary on the Fourth Gospel, “John, The Gospel of Belief”. This is so very true. This is the Gospel of belief. It is a Gospel that a lost person can read to really, really know Jesus. It’s where every New Christian should begin. This book will strengthen your faith and deepen your belief in Christ as God Almighty, the Creator of the Universe.
We must also ask, “Who wrote this book?” This book was written by John, the brother of James (commonly referred to as John the Beloved). His family had a fishing business in Galilee, centered around the Sea of Galilee. John the Beloved was a part of Jesus’ inner circle, with Peter and James. What we know about John comes from the other Gospel accounts, as John wrote very little about himself in his own Gospel account. We know that John had a temper, and was called the “Son of Thunder”. This is John was became angry at some Samaritans who wouldn’t lend a bed to Jesus (See Luke 9:51-55). John and his brother appear to have been ambitious, at least early in their relationship with Jesus. In Matthew 20:20-28 they had their mother ask if they could be first in Jesus’ kingdom. We know John was humble. John refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” 5 times (John 13:23; 19:26; 21:7, 20, 24), yet he never mentioned his name. This tells us that he was not concerned with drawing attention to himself. He wanted all the focus on Jesus, the eternal son of God. We do well to exemplify this characteristic in our lives. Do we want all the attention on Jesus, or is really all about us? May we pray as John did, “Lord, may you increase, and may I decrease.”
When was this Gospel written? Most conservative commentators agree with the Gospel account was written somewhere between 85 AD and 95 AD, at the end of the 1st century, just after John became the Bishop at Ephesus. This means that John the Beloved would have most likely written this account after his exile on Patmos, which is where he was when he wrote the Book of Revelation.
To whom was this Gospel account written? Matthew was written to the Jews, as is evident by the words he uses and the imagery in his book. Mark was written to the Romans. Luke was written to the Gentiles, since Luke himself was a Gentile. But the Book of John was written to the WORLD, not just a chosen few (See John 3:16).
Why was the Gospel account written? When you look at the Book of John in relationship to the other book of the Bible, the others seem to be a historical narrative, telling what Jesus did and giving historical facts. However, this book is a book about who Jesus is! This book is a deeply theological (about God and the teachings of God) and Christological (the study of Christ) book. John tells us near the end of his Gospel account why this book was written. “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name (John 20:30-31). John, then, wrote this book so people would believe in Jesus. In fact, “the key word in the Gospel of John is ‘believe’ (pisteuō), which occurs 98 times” (John F. Walvoord, “The Bible Knowledge Commentary”, 2:270).
It has been said that the Gospel of John is “a pool in which a child may wade and an elephant my swim” (David Guzik, Enduring Word Media). This is a book that was not only written to the lost, as was mentioned earlier, it was also written to the saved, to deepen their faith in Christ as the Messiah. You cannot read this book without having your faith deepened. This is a book that not only will deepen your faith, it serves as a barometer to see just how deep our faith us. What about you, how deep is your faith. May this book serve as a personal barometer in your life as we go through all 879 verses of belief. It is my prayer that your faith will be greatly deepened as your study each every one of the 15,635 words in this great book!
On a final note of introduction, you can’t read this book without knowing more and more about Christ and His role as the eternal Son of God. This is a book that speaks heavily of the eternality of Jesus, and is what I like to call “the Jehovah’s Witnesses Nightmare”. “From the manifestation of the Word in chapter 1, to the post-resurrection appearance to the disciples in chapter 21, we find John emphasizing over and over again the excellence and eternality of the Son of God” (Kenneth O. Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary: John, page 1). Through the lens of this book we see that Jesus is the Christ, the eternal Living Word and God Almighty in the Flesh – nothing less!
Key words: The Book of John, Commentary on John, Sermon notes on John, The Gospel of John, John, Background to the Book of John.