Summary: The stories around John 3:10-21 show the purposes of the church with evangelism in the center.
When I was a freshman in High School I was a sprinter and a hurdler, but at the end of that year they discovered that for a sprinter I was, slow. So they moved me to the 400 as a sophomore and at the end of the year the coaches realized I was still, slow. But my junior year they moved me to the 800, ah for the 800 I was fast, it was my niche. I loved it and they actually were going to let me do it for my senior year. But then a problem came up. There was no one to run the hurdles, the coaches asked for volunteers to try it. So I did, amazingly I didn’t look that slow anymore. So they pulled me from my distance workout to work with the hurdle coach. So I went over and we began to work together. He ran me through all of the drills worked with my technique everything was going great until he wanted me to try it for real. The hurdles coach was a big, older, former, football coach he gives me a pep talk and sends me over to the starting line and tells me when he says go to just run down and try and take a hurdle or two, just to relax and get a feel for it. I’m feeling good, coach is pumping me up in that football way, he says go, I take off down the track everything is fine until I get to the hurdle and realize that somewhere I forgot how to translate moving this way, to moving this way. I stopped, he asked me what was wrong, I said it doesn’t feel right, he said, try it again. So I did and I stop again. So he pulls me aside and he gives me his best pep talk, you’re young, you’re strong and fast, don’t let that hurdle beat, this time when you run down that track don’t let anything stop you. So I line up, I’m fired up, coach says go, I’m running down the track everything is good, I come to the hurdle, my legs say stop, but I over rode their wisdom, nothing was going to stop me until I got to the other side of that hurdle, and nothing did, the problem was I didn’t jump, I just ran right through that hurdle and the thing that stopped me was my face hitting the ground. I looked up, coach could still run, ‘cause he was running to me, fortunately for me my distance coach could run fast, the hurdle coach got there and he asked are you ok, you gonna try it again, I said, yes, my distance coach said no, you’re not going to kill him, and you’re going back to the 800 where you belong. Sometimes it’s good to branch out and do more than one thing, but always we must be stick to the main thing.
It is true of people and it is true of organizations. One of the most important things that an organization can do is keep the main thing the main thing. What does that look like within the church? Well remember that if Jesus had a vision statement for His like it was Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus came to seek and to save, the lost the simplistic statement here is that the focus of Jesus like was evangelism, but realize that He was so focused on His mission that He died for it. That is focus.
It is that focus that inspired John to write his book the way he did. The gospel of John is a beautifully written book, he used several different literary devices to emphasize his theme, he writes from an omnipotent point of view, he uses irony as we’ll see in a moment. But because people fail to understand all of the literary devices he used sometimes his book can be misunderstood.
There several stories that John writes about that Matthew, Mark and Luke didn’t, this has made people question John over the years this is a controversial book. But perhaps the most controversial passage is a story we are about to look at when Jesus chased the money changers out of the temple. John writes about it at the beginning of Jesus ministry, Matthew, Mark and Luke place it towards the end. The question is, is this a problem. Well two things, one sometimes controversy is a marker. I believe that God is pointing us to something here.
What that something is, I believe, and my seminary professor who wrote a book on the subject, fortunately it hasn’t been published yet so that’s one less textbook to buy. But I believe that John used a Jewish literary device called a chiasm. It comes from letter “chi” and it speaks of crossing, within literature, it themes or stories that cross reference each other and point to the central theme. In language it sounds a bit confusing but let’s look at it, so you can see it.