Summary: Overview of John’s Gospel - "That You May Believe". (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

Reading: John chapter 20 verses 30-31.


• One of Penny’s favourite books is Hungarian writer Baroness Orczy’s novel;

• The Scarlet Pimpernel.

• It is a great adventure story about an English count;

• Who travels to Paris during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution.

• His mission is to rescue French aristocrats;

• Who have been sentenced to death at the hands of Madame Guillotine.

• The story has been called a precursor, a forerunner;

• To the "disguised superhero" tales such as Zorro, Superman and Batman.

• The Scarlet Pimpernel contains many adventures in which our hero;

• Manages to elude the city authorities and to snatch their victims from the jaws of death.

• To the French authorities he is a slippery and evasive man,

• Constantly fooling them with cunning disguises,

‘The Pimpernel’ actually taunts them with a piece of poetry, a short rhyme:

“They seek him here, they seek him there,

those Frenchies seek him everywhere.

Is he in heaven? Is he in hell?

That damned elusive Pimpernel!”

• Like Baroness Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel:

• John informs his readers that Jesus is on a salvation quest.

• Not a quest to rescue French aristocrats;

• But a much more democratic quest - to save humanity.

• Our hero too has his enemies – not the revolutionary tribunal of 17C Paris;

• But the Jewish authorities in first century Jerusalem.

But like ‘the Pimpernel’ our hero is also thoroughly elusive:

• Not in terms of disguise, but elusive in terms of movement (constantly evading capture);

• And elusive in language (constantly mystifying his hearers)


And if I can adapt Baroness Orczy’s short rhyme:

“They seek him here, they seek him there,

The people seek him everywhere.

Is he sent from heaven? Is he God or man?

Is he the fulfilment of God’s salvation plan?”

Well John in his gospel is going to answer all those questions and more:

• Is he sent from heaven – John says yes!

• Is he God or man – John says both!

• Is he the fulfilment of God’s salvation plan?

• John would say, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”


(a). His method (verse 30-31).

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

• Shakespeare (Hamlet) came up with the saying: “There is method in his madness”

• Or to quote it exactly: "Though this be madness, yet there is method In’t"

When John came to write his fourth gospel he chose a distinct method:

• He deliberately wrote in a style that was different from the other three gospel writers.

• i.e. Matthew, Mark and Luke.

• The Gospel of John differs significantly in theme, content, time duration,

• Order of events, and style, to the other three gospels.


• You can arrange a photo album in various ways.

• i.e. Chronologically – starting with the earliest pictures finishing with the latest etc.

• Or you can arrange them by events:

• i.e. Here are pictures of our holidays, family, friends etc.

• Or you can arrange them by people:

• i.e. All the pictures of the children, …pictures of Parents, …pictures of relatives etc.

• With the four gospels Matthew, Marl and Luke;

• Generally aim to put events chronologically starting at Jesus’ birth (Mark – baptism);

• And then finishing with his death and resurrection.

• John does not, he brings together eight important events & sayings of Jesus;

• And builds his gospel around these events and sayings.

• John tells us his method of recording the life of Jesus:

• Was a deliberate decision to edit his gospel around eight miracles.

• Although John does not use that word, he prefers the word ‘sign’.


• A sign always points to something beyond itself.

• On the motorway no-one comments what a great looking sign.

• The purpose of the sign is to point beyond itself;

• i.e. To tell you how many miles you are from your destination or in which direction to go.

The apostle John wants us to look behind these eight signs:

• And even though they are incredible miracles;

• He wants us to see beyond them;

• These miracles are ‘only the tip of the ice-burg’,

• John wants us to discover that Jesus is even more incredible!

• So the signs are pointing beyond the miracle.

• The apostle John wants us to understand and see who Jesus Christ was and is.

Question: What are these eight events & sayings?

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