TODAY’S READING: JOHN 1-4
OVERVIEW: Christ is the Word (1:1-3, 14); Christ is the Light (1:4-13); Christ is the Son of God (1:15-18), 30-34, 49); Christ is the Messiah (1:19-28, 35-42); Christ is the Lamb of God (1:29, 35-36); Christ is the King of Israel (1:43-49); Christ is the Son of Man (1:50- 51); Christ and the disciples (1:9-2:12); Christ and the Jews (2:13-3:36); Christ and the Samaritans (4:1-54).
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
We have come to the fourth and final of the Gospels, the Gospel of John. One of the obvious questions that surfaces in every generation of believers is, why are there four Gospels, and not just one?
Certainly, the easiest answer is the simple fact that God wanted it that way! That’s good enough for me, but perhaps we can site three very basic reasons why God wanted that way:
#1 – The Practical Reason.
If you were a police officer investigating an accident at an intersection and had found four people who had witnessed the accident from the four different corners of the scene, it would provide you with all the information you would need to prove conclusively what had actually taken place. The four Gospel accounts allow us to do the same.
#2 – The Presentational Reason.
As we have seen, each Gospel is written to a particular audience with a very particular way of presenting who Jesus Christ actually is. We saw that Matthew was written to the Jews to present Jesus Christ as the King of the Jews. Mark was written to the Gentiles (perhaps more specifically, the Romans) to present Jesus Christ as the Servant of the Lord. Luke was written to the Greeks to present Jesus Christ as the Son of Man. And John is written to the world to present Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It is interesting to note that the word “world” is found 59 times in this Book (almost one-fourth of the times it is found in the entire Bible!). John wants every tribe, tongue, people and nation of the world to hear and understand that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, God in human flesh, and is the source and meaning of life. In fact, when John comes to the end of his Gospel he declares that very calculated two-fold purpose: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence!
of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ (i.e. the “anointed,” the Messiah), the Son of God (i.e. God in a human body); and that believing ye might have life through his name” (20:30-31).
In presenting this Gospel to the world, keep in mind that the greatest barrier to “world communication” is not geography. It is not monetary. It’s not even politics (the world is quickly moving to a one-world government!). The greatest barrier has always been and is LANGUAGE! So take just a second to look up these verses to see what this Gospel that seeks to present Christ to the world is so intent on: 1:38, 41, 42; 5:2; 9:7; 19:19-20. John wants every culture in the world to understand exactly what is being said, so they will BELIEVE Jesus Christ is God, and RECEIVE the life He offers.
#3 – The Peripheral Reason.
It is quite interesting to note what God reveals are on the four corners of His throne. In Revelation 4:6-7, John writes, “And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.”
The connection of the four beasts of Revelation to the four Gospels seems more than apparent by the likeness of each beast to the content of each gospel, right down to the very order in which they are listed.
•1st Beast: Like a LION.
As Matthew’s purpose was to reveal Christ as the King of the Jews, He is presented as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5).
•2nd Beast: Like a CALF.
As Mark’s purpose was to reveal Christ as the Servant of the Lord, He is presented as the One who MINISTERS in service and sacrifice.
•3rd Beast: Like a MAN.
As Luke’s purpose was to reveal Christ as the Son of Man, He is presented as the perfect Man.
•4th Beast: Like an EAGLE.
As John’s purpose was to reveal Christ as the Son of God, He is presented as the Word who descended from heaven like an eagle and was made flesh.
In keeping your bearings in the Gospel of John, it is important to realize that this Gospel is centered around the Passover Feasts. John takes us through three Passovers in this Book, which ultimately culminate with the crucifixion.
•1:1-2:13 is the beginning of Christ’s ministry up to the first Passover recorded in John’s account.
•2:14-5:1 takes us up to the second Passover Feast.
•5:2-6:4 takes us up “nigh” (near) to the third Passover to the actual record of Jesus eating the Passover Feast with His disciples in 13:1-2, and we move into the night before His crucifixion.
Why is everything built around the Passover? Keep in mind the things we saw in yesterday’s comments from Luke 22 — Jesus is none other than the fulfillment of the Passover Lamb (I Cor. 5:7)! That is why John the Baptist said what he said concerning Christ in today’s reading: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (1:29).
The Passover was the commemoration of the most significant even in Jewish history: God’s deliverance from the slavery and oppression in Egypt under Pharaoh, its wicked king. And how were they delivered? Through the blood of a spotless lamb! In this Gospel, John takes us to the final Passover, and the shedding of the blood of THE spotless LAMB of God! This one-time historical event has been delivering people from the slavery of this world (Egypt – Eph 2:2) and its wicked king (Satan- II Tim. 2:26) for nearly 2000 years! May God use each of us to declare what John the Baptist declared in 1:29 to the lost people in our world today!