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The Gospel of John 


Imagine yourself in just another day in your life, going about your business, working, shopping, gardening, and along came a man.  He walked right up to you bold, like the whole world is at His command.  He looked deep in your eyes and said, "Come follow me."  Would you go? Would you leave your home, maybe family, all your worldly possessions?  Your initial response would probably be, "No way!"  But, what would it take?

In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 4, Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee.  He saw Simon (who we know as Peter) and his brother Andrew.  They were fishing and Jesus said to them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.  They dropped their nets and followed Jesus.  The very next verse says:

19 When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. 20 And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.

This was a defining moment in the life of these men.  It was the beginning of an eventful life. From that moment of forsaking all and following Jesus, their lives were never the same.  What caused John to look at his father Zebedee and say, Dad, I gotta go?  We'll find out in John's gospel that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptists.  He was looking for the Messiah and he was there when John the Baptist said, Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.  Andrew went and told his brother Simon Peter.  When Jesus called to them, they followed.  There was another disciple of John the Baptist with Andrew that day.  We aren't told who it is.  It may well have been John, or even his brother James.  John never identified himself in his writing.

The apostle John may well have been looking for the Messiah when Jesus called to him.  The messiah, the long awaited One, called to him.  John walked away from his old life and started a new life with Jesus.  This is a level of commitment and devotion I'm not sure we can grasp.  So much of modern-day Christianity involves little or no commitment or devotion.  We might even say most who come have no understanding of the cost.  When the result of coming to Christ yields little or no change in the life of the person, it makes you wonder if there was, in fact, a change at all.

Our focus is on John.  He had an encounter with Jesus and we can see a life changed.  This was no accident!  This was a divine appointment.  I wonder if later in life John ever wondered what his life would have been like had he stayed in the boat that day.  What would an unchanged life of John look like?  It's hard to comprehend because after the resurrection, John's life was wholly committed to following after the Lord.  As we focus on John, we'll find him focusing us on Jesus.

John walked with Jesus and saw many things, some of which he will write about.  John saw Jesus crucified.  He saw the empty tomb.  And then he saw the resurrected Jesus.  John was there when Jesus told the apostles that the Holy Spirit was coming.  John was there when Jesus ascended to heaven.  Then the Holy Spirit came like a wind and tongues of fire.  John there at the birth of the church when Peter began to preach.  He was probably stunned to hear another fisherman like himself preach with authority and boldness.

Galatians 2:9 tells us John was a pillar of the church in Jerusalem.  We also know that John ministered with Peter.  It was John and Peter who came across the lame man in Acts 3 and said, Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.

It was Peter and John who stood before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4.  They spoke, filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed Jesus to them.  The Sanhedrin saw the boldness of Peter and John and it says "they perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men".  Apparently they could tell.  Yet, it says, they marveled and they realized that they had been with Jesus.  I would much rather be recognized as one walking with Jesus than one who is educated and trained. 

Being with Jesus had changed these fishermen.  As is often the case, with this change came a new name, or at least a nickname.  The sons of Zebedee, James and John, were renamed the sons of thunder by Jesus.  We really don't know the meaning of this phrase but there are 3 commonly held thoughts:  It's a reference to the impetuous nature of James and John; It indicates that James and John have an anger problem; Or Zebedee, the father of James an John, has an anger problem and they are, therefore, "sons of an angry man."  There is really no indication any of those are valid.

Many times in scripture thunder is used to describe God speaking.  And here John calls Jesus the very word of God.  So I think Sons of thunder means Son of God or Son of God's word.

Tradition says that John continued ministering with Peter in Jerusalem until he went to Ephesus.  He probably went there prior to 70 AD, less than 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus.  Ten or so years later, about 80 AD, John wrote the gospel of John.  When he wrote it the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke were already written.  John would have been aware of them.  So when John writes his gospel account he writes it with a different feel about it.  John's tells us his purpose of writing this in John 20:31 –

30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

John wrote this account so people may believe and that they may have life in Jesus.  This is an 80 year old man who's lived a lot of life and seen a lot of things.  Most of the other apostles were gone by now.  John saw the church being persecuted.  He saw other gospels making their way into churches.  He saw strange doctrine and weird understandings of Jesus.  The thing that is consistent throughout John's writings is that he keeps it simple.  Everything is black and white.  He forces you to see two choices, two ways.  There's no reason to make it any more complicated than that.  It's about light and dark, holy and profane, righteous and wicked, eternal life and eternal death, right and wrong. 

John was a fisherman, uneducated, unskilled and unrefined.  He probably didn't speak well, at least in the beginning.  But this man had been with Jesus and he had something to say.  John saw the other gospels look at human blood lines.  Matthew's message focuses on Jesus as the Messiah.  Mark's message focuses on Jesus as the suffering servant.  Luke's message focuses on Jesus being the Son of man.  John wants us to know who Jesus another way.  John's focus is on Jesus' deity and on Him being the Son of God.  John introduces Jesus to his readers as the Word of God, the Son of God, and the Lamb of God.

Jesus is God and He wants a close and personal relationship with you.  Being a Christian isn't just way of life; it's following Jesus.  Christianity isn't a philosophy of life, it is life.  It is life centered in a person who is the core of everything Christians believe, Jesus.  John will show us life and light and eternity with Jesus.

So, somewhere in Ephesus, around AD 80 this apostle of Jesus sat down to write.  He was filled with the Holy Spirit and burdened with a word that must be written down and passed along.  And it was written and passed so that we hold it today

The Anointing at Bethany;
The Plot to Kill Lazarus;
The Triumphal Entry;
The Fruitful Grain of Wheat;
Jesus Predicts His Death on the Cross;
Who Has Believed Our Report?
Walk in the Light
Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet;
Jesus Identifies His Betrayer;
The New Commandment;
Jesus Predicts Peter's Denial

The Way, the Truth, and the Life;
The Father Revealed;
The Answered Prayer;
Jesus Promises Another Helper;
Indwelling of the Father and the Son;
The Gift of His Peace
The True Vine;
Love and Joy Perfected;
The World's Hatred;
The Coming Rejection
The Work of the Holy Spirit;
Sorrow Will Turn to Joy;
Jesus Christ Has Overcome the World
Jesus Prays for Himself;
Jesus Prays for His Disciples;
Jesus Prays for All Believers
Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane;
Before the High Priest;
Peter Denies Jesus;
Jesus Questioned by the High Priest;
Peter Denies Twice More;
In Pilate's Court;
Taking the Place of Barabbas
The Soldiers Mock Jesus;
Pilate's Decision;
The King on a Cross;
Behold Your Mother;
It Is Finished;
Jesus' Side Is Pierced;
Jesus Buried in Joseph's Tomb
The Empty Tomb;
Mary Magdalene Sees the Risen Lord;
The Apostles Commissioned;
Seeing and Believing;
That You May Believe
Breakfast by the Sea;
Jesus Restores Peter;
The Beloved Disciple and His Book