ďThe Gospel of JohnĒ†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† September 7, 2014
John 1:1-5; 20:30-31
SI:† This morning we begin a new sermon series on the Gospel of John.
Iím not going to preach straight through John without stopping.
†† I plan to take breaks for Christmas and Easter,
†† and weíll study something different during the summer.
So it will take us maybe two years to get through the whole book.
But I do plan to move at a decent pace.
James Montgomery Boice preached a famous series on John and he had
†† 25 sermons just on chapter one, and a total of 270 for the whole series.
†† Many of his sermons would focus on just one phrase or idea.
That approach has advantages, but only very talented preachers can pull it off.
†† Iím no James Montgomery Boice, Iíll take John in bigger chunks.
But this morning, even though Iíd like to jump right into Johnís
†† magnificent account of the Lord Jesus Christ,
†† I think itís important to say some introductory things about John first.†
The main reason is because for the past 200 years or so,
†† John has been one of the most controversial books in the Bible.†
†† It has been under sustained attack from a certain class of enemies.
Thatís because John, perhaps more than any other book in the Bible, places before
†† the reader Jesus Christ as God and Man and the only possible Savior of the world.
And it demands that the reader believe in him and accept him as Savior and Lord.
One writer put it this way:
†† Unbelief must be offended at the Gospel of John.† It has been offended by it.†
†† Very clever people have done their best to undermine our confidence in it.Ē†
I think it would be helpful for us to understand a little bit of that before we
†† make our way into this wonderful book.
So letís read as an introduction the first five verses of chapter one,
†† and then the last two verses of chapter 20 which is Johnís purpose statement.
INTRO:† The Gospel of John has been called ďGodís love letter to the world.Ē
†† It has been called ďthe unique, tender, genuine, chief Gospel.Ē
There is a famous saying that Johnís Gospel is like a pool in which
†† a lamb can wade and an elephant can swim.†
In other words, it is both for people who are brand new beginners in their faith,
†† and it is for very deep and mature believers.†
Some of the most widely-known and best-loved texts in the Word of God
†† are in John.† Iím going to start some of these verses, you complete in your mind.†
*For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
†† that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
*The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
*I am the good shepherd. †The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
*I am the resurrection and the life. †He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.
*I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
*I am the vine; you are the branches.† If a man remains in me and I in him,
†† he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
*No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.
*Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
*God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.
*Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
*If you love me, you will obey what I command.
*I and the Father are one.
And many more.† In addition, in John there are many favorite stories.
Jesus turning the water into wine, Jesus and the woman at the well,
†† Jesus and Nicodemus, Jesus raising Lazarus, Jesus washing the disciplesí feet.†
Iím looking forward to this series and I hope you are as well.
†† Christians by instinct have a special affection for John, even if canít explain why.
It is the most theologically reflective Gospel.†
†† It is the most straightforward presentation of Jesus Christ as the Savior of sinners
That brings us to the three introductory points I want to consider this morning.
†† 1.† The uniqueness of Johnís Gospel
†† 2.† The enemies of Johnís Gospel
†† 3.† The purpose of Johnís Gospel
MP#1† The uniqueness of Johnís Gospel.
There are four Gospels:† Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
†† Each one tells about the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ
†† from a different perspective.†
But if you have spent any time at all reading them, you will know that
†† Matthew, Mark, and Luke are very similar.†
†† They tell many of the same stories with very similar wording.
†† They follow the same general outline and chronology.†
†† When Jesus speaks, he sounds the same in all of them.
Because of this sameness, Matthew, Mark, and Luke called the Synoptic Gospels.
†† Synoptic means having the same view.†
†† These three have the same view of the life of Christ.
And then there is John.†
90% of John is without parallel in the other three Gospels.
Even when John describes or reports an event the other Gospels also tell about,
†† he uses language and terminology that is very different.
When Jesus speaks in the John, he sounds different from the other Gospels.
†† John tells about Christís ministry in times and places that arenít mentioned
†† at all in the Synoptics.†
Almost all of our understanding of his ministry chronology comes from John.†
If all we had was Matthew, Mark, and Luke, would think Jesusí ministry one year.
†† Through John we understand the stories in Synoptics spread out over three years.
So what John does for us is that he fills out the picture of those three wonderful
†† years in a way that really needed filling out.†
And this gives us a real clue about why John may have been prodded to
†† write this Gospel in the first place.†
The early church could not put together the whole picture
†† of Christís ministry from the account of the Synoptics alone.
The church needed a fuller picture of Christís ministry that would fit
†† all the pieces together, and John was the man to write it.
The eyewitness generation was dying, and fellow Christians and church members
†† probably said to John, you have to write these things before you are gone.
So John wrote.† And it seems very clear that he wrote with a view of what
†† was already included in the Synoptic Gospels.† Thatís the reason he repeats
†† so little of what is in them.† Why retell stories already told three times?
Or if you re-tell them, why cover the very same details?
What John does is that he fills in a great many gaps.
Not just historical and chronological gaps, but theological gaps.
†† He explains why Jesus did and said things, what they meant.
Let me give you just one little example.†
The Synoptic Gospels tell us that at Jesusí trial, one of the main charges brought
†† against him was that he had threatened to destroy the Temple.†
†† By itself, that detail makes very little sense.† It comes out of the blue, no context.
But John tells us that very early in Jesusí ministry Jesus had said:
†† Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
And John tells us that the Jews heard it and it angered them deeply.†
†† So for three years they never forgot what Jesus had said and held it against him.†
And furthermore, John explains what Jesus meant.† He said:
†† But the temple he was speaking of was his body.†
†† And after he was raised from the dead, the disciples remembered what he had said.
So John enables us to understand Matthew, Mark, and Luke at this point. ††
†† Even though John is very different, there is an interlocking relationship between
†† John and the Synopticsónot contradiction or conflict.
In Manchesterís bio of Churchill, there are a number of famous photographs.
One is Churchill painting.† Manchester said he jabbed at canvas, aggressive.
Another is Churchill in East End of London during Blitz.† Being mobbed by
†† working-class Londoners.† He grinning, flashing V for victory.
Another is Churchill in an outlandish ceremonial uniform, with all sorts of sashes,
†† and a plume on helmet, and sword.† He loved wearing uniforms and costumes.
Three photographs capture a moment that show us Churchill the artist, the
†† politician, the show-offófit together to give sense of the personality of the man.
And then there is another picture, not a photograph, but picture of an oil portrait.
†† Churchill looking grander than he did in life, determined bulldog look on face.†
†† Itís Churchill the defender of the realm, leader in her darkest and finest hour.
Someone has said that