Summary: An intro to the gospel of John
John 1 - Intro 2/18/04
This morning we start on a new adventure. We are going to begin a journey through the gospel of John. We are going to look at the life of Jesus, and begin an exploration to find out just what kind of man this Jesus was. And for our guide on this journey, we have the Apostle John.
When we think of the Apostle John, we remember that this was a man that Jesus loved, a man who spent much time with Jesus, a man who was an eyewitness. In 1 John 1, John begins his epistle by declaring that he was an eyewitness: “The one who was from the beginning is the one we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is Jesus Christ, the word of life. . . We have seen him . . . We are telling you about what we ourselves have actually seen and heard.”
John is an “eyewitness” to the life of Jesus, and he tells us what he knows firsthand: the power of Jesus Christ to change lives. After all, what kind of man was John? Remember that John is the son of Zebedee and Salome, and he had a brother James. Together they were called “the sons of Thunder.” You can almost imagine him walking around with a leather motorcycle jacket on. He’d have his wallet fastened to a big chain on his belt loop. He was a powerful man. This John was the disciple who tried to stop all competitors from driving out demons [Luke 9:49]. It was John who wanted Jesus to call down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans because they did not receive Jesus and the disciples. It is John who self-centeredly wanted himself and his brother to sit on either side of Jesus in glory. A rough and ready, no holds barred sort of guy.
But, after being with Jesus and learning from Jesus, we see John changed into a humble loving disciple. He is so humble that when he refers to himself in this gospel, he doesn’t mention himself by name, rather he just uses the phrase, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” [John 21:7]. He has become a disciple whose main focus in on loving one another. He commands the early church to do this several times in his epistles [1 John 4:7].
John’s gospel shows Jesus’ power to transform lives, and John’s life is a key example. As we go through this study, I’d ask you to look at your life and ask the question, “How does Jesus Christ want my life to change?” None of us like change, but if we never change, we never grow.
John is writing this when he must have been at least in his 80’s. At this time he is probably the last of the original disciples left alive. There were probably very few key eyewitnesses left alive who had seen Jesus. And John writes us this gospel with a key purpose. We see it recorded for us in John 20:30-31 - “Jesus’ disciples saw him do many other miraculous signs besides the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah [the Christ], the Son of God, and that believing in him you will have life.”
Many other miracles are recorded in the other gospels, and many were done that are not recorded, but John records 8 miracles, plus the resurrection, as signs that show that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah sent from God, and that by believing in him we might have life. Today we start our journey in learning from the witness of John about the power of Jesus to change our lives. Shall we pray together. . . . .
We live in a constantly-changing society. A generation ago people were questioning the existence of God - is there a God? Does he exist? But the times have changed. There are still some people who question the existence of God, but for the most part, we believe in God. Recent Gallup polls say that 96-98% of us in America believe that God exists. The question we are asking today is “Can God relate to me?” Is God relevant for my life today? Does he offer anything for me in this daily grind I plod through day after meaningless day?
One of 1995’s biggest songs was Joan Osborne’s “One of Us.” The song earned 7 Grammy Award nominations, and made a virtually unknown singer an overnight sensation. These are some of the words of that song:
“If God had a name, what would it be,
and would you call it to his face,
if we were faced with him in all His Glory,