The Four Gospels - 6. The Gospel of John
B Jones, Tycroes
6. THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
This gospel differs greatly from what are called the Synoptic records. There is no contradiction however; all is delightfully complementary. The main object of this Gospel is to show the Christhood and Godhood of Jesus by presenting irrefutable evidence in order to lead to faith in the hearts of men, 20. 30-31. Here, as nowhere else,, the divine Sonship and essential Godhood of our Lord are presented. Here we behold Him dwelling with God before time began and before any creature was formed. Here He is denominated ‘the only begotten of the Father’. Even John the Baptist’s witness is ‘this is the Son of God’. Creation is ascribed to Christ, 1. 3, and of this One we read ‘the Word became flesh’, 1. 14 R.V. He ‘became’ what He had not been previously, but never ceased to be what He was eternally. The testimony of those whose eyes had been opened by divine power and grace was ‘we beheld his glory’.
There is an evident difference between the dispensational bearings of this Gospel and the other three. In the latter Christ is seen in human relationship, as connected with an earthly people. Here He is viewed in a divine relationship as connected with a heavenly people.
In the first three Gospels, Christ is connected with the proclamation of the Messianic kingdom, a proclamation which ceased as soon as it became evident that the nation had rejected Him. In the Gospel of John, however, His rejection is announced in the very first chapter, ‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not’, 1. 11. The dispensational limitations of the first three Gospels are not in John’s.
The witness of John the Baptist is different in this Gospel too. Here there is no call to repentance, no announcement of the kingdom of heaven being at hand, no mention of Christ being baptised by his fore-runner. Instead we hear John say ‘Behold the Lamb of God,which taketh away the sin of the world’, and again ‘I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God’, 1. 29, 34.
The Word at Work
In John’s Gospel there are seven signs or miracles performed during the Lord’s public ministry. In chapter 2 we have the record of the first of these, the turning of water into wine. John alone records this, for only God can fill the human heart with that divine joy of which wine is an emblem. Here we behold the Word at work. He did nothing. He told the servants what to do and at His word the miracle was performed. The pertinent lesson for us is ‘Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it’, 2. 5.
John 11 records the last and the most wonderful miracle that our Lord publicly performed while on earth, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. His body had already begun to corrupt and stink and yet again we behold the Word at work. The Lord cried with a loud voice ‘Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth’, 11. 43-44.
Chapter 12 brings us to the close of Christ’s self-revelation to the world. The curtain rises to a scene that has won the hearts of all who have gazed upon it by faith. The Saviour is in the home at Bethany where out of deep gratitude they made Him a supper. Mary went even further by anointing His feet with fragrant and very costly ointment of spikenard, wiping His feet with her hair and ‘the house was filled with the odour of the ointment’.
In chapter 12 the feet of Jesus are anointed with costly ointment. Chapter 13, which opens the ministry of self-revelation of Christ to His own, presents the Lord washing the disciples’ feet with water.The anointing of His feet precedes the washing of the disciples’ feet, for in all things He must have the pre-eminence. Here also we behold the amazing condescension of the Son of God, stooping so low to perform the humble duties of a common slave, girding, pouring, washing and wiping. O that we would realise that the basin and the towel are important, as well as the bread and the wine!
A Remarkable Series of ‘sevens’
are to be found in this Gospel. Seven is the number of perfection and absolute perfection is not found until we reach God Himself.
- 7 different persons confess the Deity of Christ;
- 7 times Christ fills the ineffable title ‘I am’;
- 7 miracles or signs are performed by our Lord during His public ministry;
- 7 times we read ‘These things have I spoken unto you’;
- 7 times the Lord addressed the woman at the well in John 4;
- 7 times He spoke of Himself as the bread of life in John 6;
- 7 things the good Shepherd does for the sheep in John 10;
- 7 times Christ refers to the hour which was to see the accomplishment of the work given Him to do;
- 7 times He bid His disciples to pray in His name;
- 7 times the word ‘hate’ is found in John 15;
- 7 things are said about the Spirit of truth in 16. 13-14;
- 7 things Christ desired of the Father for believers in John 17;
- 7 times He refers to His own as His Father’s gift to Him;
- 7 times Christ is referred to as the sent One of the Father.
There are others. Search them out and meditate upon them.
Only in John’s Gospel is the Saviour’s triumphant cry recorded, ‘It is finished’, 19. 30. This Gospel will ever remain the Holy of Holies of the New Testament. It is the golden sunset of the age of inspiration. At every fresh revelation of Christ, there are those who receive Him and those who reject Him. Revelation, Rejection and Reception - these are keynotes found on every page. We bless the grace that brought us to Him, our Lord and our God. Let us speak well of Him and in the words of Isaiah direct others to behold your god.