Summary: Who is Jesus to you? Is He your friend? Is He your healer? Is He the One who does great things for you? I hope He is. But He is also so much more. As we start our journey through the book of John my prayer is you will see Jesus for who He is and that you
This morning, I have to admit that I am very intimidated. As most of you know, I am deeply committed to what can be called systematic consecutive expository preaching. Preaching is expository when it actually preaches the text instead of jumping from it. It exposes the true and accurate meaning of the text as God inspired it to be written. Then it applies that meaning to our lives so that we are challenged to be molded and changed and bent by Scripture rather than the other way around. I try to do that as faithfully as I know how and pray that God blesses His Word in spite of my shortcomings. But I’m not only committed to expository preaching, I’m committed to systematic consecutive expository preaching. According to Scripture in Ephesians 4, the job of the pastor/teacher is, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” That word “perfecting” there carries the meaning of equipping. In other words, as a pastor, God has called me to equip you for the work of the ministry. It is my pastoral calling to edify the church by teaching you how to correctly handle and understand and apply the Word of God. And the Lord has convicted me that the most effective way to do that is to systematically preach through the individual books of His Word, verse by verse. By doing that, I trust that you are able to see how Scripture fits together as a whole. And also by doing that, I trust that you will be protected from the wolves that will come in with false teachings that they base on individual verses pulled out of context. We are standing on the threshold of a time of great apostasy and falling away. And that time of great apostasy and falling away will be ushered in by well-intentioned church members who have fallen for good-sounding but false teaching. Because God has called me to equip and edify you… And because I don’t want you to fall for the lies that are leading many astray… I will continue to preach systematically, consecutively. And that’s what leads me to the feeling of intimidation and inadequacy I feel this morning. Because in seeking the Lord’s direction in the next book to preach through, He has led me here. He has led me to the Gospel of John. And as I have been reading and studying the book for the past several weeks in preparation, it is overwhelming. I feel as if we are standing at the bottom of Mount Everest this morning. Not as tourists, but as climbers. As we look up at the summit 5 ½ miles above us, I am in awe of the sheer immensity of the task before us. But no one has ever climbed a mountain in one step. And we won’t climb this mountain in one step. We’ll simply take it one step at a time. I don’t have any idea how long it’s going to take. I know that it took the great expository preacher, James Montgomery Boice, 270 sermons before he finished. I doubt it will take us that many. But even if it does, the journey will be well worth it.
Now, since I said all that about systematic, consecutive expository preaching, the place we’re going to begin is at the beginning, right? Not really. We’ll be in chapter 1 next week. But this morning, we need to understand why the Lord has called us to study this book. Why did God lead us here? Why did God lead John to write it in the first place? What is its purpose and why does that matter to us? And the wonderful thing is, God didn’t leave it for us to have to figure out. He told us in our passage this morning. In these two verses, He told us the nature of the book, the person of the book and the purpose of the book. The first thing he tells us is the nature of the book.
I’m sure if we were to take a survey in here this morning, many of you would say that the Gospel of John is your favorite book of the Bible. For many of us, it was the first book of the Bible we read all the way through. It contains the most widely memorized verse in the Bible and is beloved by Bible scholars and children alike. In his commentary, Leon Morris compared the Gospel of John to a pool of water. But not just any old pool of water. He said that John is like a pool of water that is shallow enough for a child to feel comfortable wading in. But it’s also deep enough that an elephant can swim in it. In other words, it is both simple and profound. It is perfect for the newest beginner and for the deepest scholar and most mature Christian. For that reason, many people consider John’s Gospel to be one of the most amazing books ever written. That shouldn’t surprise us either. Because the Apostle John wrote it as he was carried along by the Holy Spirit of God. But what is it? We know it’s an amazing, beloved book, but what kind of book is it? What is its nature? That’s where a lot of people get confused. They think that John wrote it as a biography. Since in many ways it is so different than the other three Gospels, some people think that John was trying to correct them or interpret them or replace them or add to them. That’s not the case. Because the other three Gospel writers were carried along by the Spirit of God as well. As simply as I can state this, John wrote this Gospel because God told him to. He didn’t write it to correct anything, because nothing in God’s Word needs to be corrected. He didn’t write it to give us a complete historical biography of Jesus life either. He clears that up in verse 30. He tells us that there were a whole bunch of things that Jesus did that he didn’t include. As a matter of fact, in the last verse of the Gospel John says, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” So, he tells us that he has no intention of giving us a completely exhaustive account of the life of Jesus. As a matter of fact, there are some pretty significant holes. He doesn’t do anything to clear up the biggest historical hole in the life of Jesus. The biggest historical gap in the life of Jesus is His childhood. And John says less about that than the others do. Instead of focusing on a historical biography, the Holy Spirit is writing through the Apostle John with a purpose. He focuses on a limited collection of the miraculous signs performed by Jesus. Once again, not all of them. But a limited number of them that would highlight certain aspects of Jesus nature. And that takes us to the person of the book.