John 21:24-25: Scratching the Surface

Read: John 21:24-25

The purpose of John writing his gospel is found in John 20:29-30 where John states that he wrote the gospel so that its reader might believe in the name of Jesus. Here, in the last two verses John makes two final remarks concerning the veracity of the testimony that he had just written down. First, John says that the disciples testified and wrote these things, and that “we” know that his testimony is true. This seems to be a peculiar statement in some ways in that a John is self-validating. In other words, he’s saying that his statement is true because he said so. But rather than this, John is probably appealing to what others have said concerning Jesus as a witness of Jesus. When John says that they know his testimony to be true, he’s saying if you don’t believe him, just ask others. Second, John says that there were numerous other things that Jesus did that are not recorded. He supposes that there are not enough books in the world to contain all that Jesus did. John in a way then is only a highlights reel of what Jesus did. He’s just scratching the surface, as there are details that are not recorded concerning Jesus life. His hope is that what he has shown is sufficient to convince his readers to believe.

The eyewitnesses to Jesus have all passed away, but they did not leave their spiritual progeny empty handed concerning the works of Jesus. A few of them recorded what they saw themselves (as in parts of Matthew and John), and others reported it so that those collating these source could record it as in other parts of Matthew and the books of Mark and Luke. But the gospels are not the only records. In the Bible, there are the four gospels, Acts, and numerous letters by Paul, John, James, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews that all testify to Jesus and what he did. Outside the Bible are historians that account for Jesus as well. The biblical and extrabiblical accounts are corroborated with political history, social history and archaeology among other sources.

Skeptics today like to illustrate two problems they see with the Bible: the reliability of the documents that exist concerning the Bible and the historical accuracy. The Old Testament as delivered to the world today came by way of the work of the Masoretes. They meticulously copied the texts with a great deal of accuracy and attention to detail. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and compared to the Masoretic texts, the Dead Sea scrolls vindicated the reputation of the Masoretes reputation as the scrolls were almost exactly the same as the much later Hebrew texts available before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The New Testament is a different story in that there are over 5000 documents that make up the body of available texts, making it the most well preserved ancient document known to exist. From these available texts, scholars have been able to produce what they believe to be an accurate representation of the original manuscripts through careful study of the texts. The historical reliability of both Old Testament and the New Testament are vindicated in a number of ways. First, the writers themselves do not seem to be reporting what they witnessed about Jesus as something that was fictional, rather they believed what they were reporting was true. They paid attention to details concerning people, places, and events such that the events of Jesus’ unfolded in the context of real history. Second, and in part of the attention to details, the history of the Bible is corroborated by archaeology. And third, as mentioned, the extrabiblical evidence, and social history, and political history vindicate this as well.

The witness of John is a part of the whole of the testimony concerning Jesus. At the end of the book, John wants to make known the way of salvation and way to abundant life that can only be found in Jesus. Christians today have this testimony in hand and can use to understand the way of salvation and also give it to others to use so they too can have eternal life that is only found in Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world, the way, the truth, and the life, the good shepherd, the bread of life, the source of living water, the lamb of God, the savior of the world, and ultimately God himself! Believe in Jesus and be saved!

Lord, your truth is revealed! Help all to know it and believe!

John 2:13-25: Cleansing the Temple

Read: John 2:13-25

Jesus’ cleansing of the temple is one of the few stories that is recorded by all four of the gospels (Mark 11:15-18, Matthew 21:12-16, Luke 19:45-46). The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record the even occurring during the week before Jesus went to the cross, but, John records it early in his gospel. Some think that Jesus may have cleared the temple twice: once early in his ministry and once late in his ministry. The order of events in the synoptic gospels is known, but John does not give any indication as to when the event occurred. One would have to assume that John is writing about the events in chronological order in his gospel to affirm that it happened between the wedding fest and before his conversation with Nicodemus. At the same time, because it does not say, it is also possible that John was not written in chronological order, and this event is indeed the same one in the synoptic gospels, which is probably the case. In either case, there is no reason to think that John got the facts about the event wrong because he recorded them early in the gospel.

Apparently, there was a bazaar-like atmosphere at the temple in which vendors were profiteering off of temple worship by setting up booths to sell sacrificial animals for temple worship. Jesus, who was obedient to the law, went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover as many religious men would do. While he was going to the temple, he drove out the money changers and vendors. Jesus alludes to Jeremiah 7:11 (John 2:16), which is centered in the middle of a chapter about God’s wrath. Jesus calls the temple a house of prayer for all nations in Mark 11:15. It is probably the case that they had set up shop in the court of the Gentiles. Gentiles were allowed to worship here, but were not allowed to enter the temple as a Jewish man would be able to do. The disciples recall a verse from the Psalm 69:9 that talk about “zeal for your house” that had overcome the psalmist. The psalmist is overcome with grief because of sin and apparently has zealously gone to the temple to seek repentance. Jesus never sinned, but it is likely that he felt the weight of the sins of the worshippers calling out to God, and sought to restore this sanctity of the temple.

The Jews came to Jesus looking for a sign of authority to vindicate Jesus’ actions. Jesus answers them with a reference to his own temple – his body – but clearly the Jews did not understand this. Jesus was saying the sign would be manifested in his death, burial, and resurrection. The construction of the temple of Jesus day had taken some decades to complete, and was not completely finished until 64 A.D. and was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The disciples remembered what Jesus said here, and it became clear to them after the resurrection. Jesus had opened their minds to the Scripture in (Luke 24:27) so that they could understand this.

Some people did believe in Jesus as a result of the signs that he was performing. What’s interesting here is that Jesus did not go with them, but instead withdrew. While the people believe, Jesus in his omniscience knew the content of their hearts and didn’t need anyone to tell him about man, probably because these believers were fickle.

People here believed in Jesus – and this is a good thing – but what happens after belief can be detrimental. The Bible calls one’s body a temple (1 Corinthians 6:18-20) and commands us to flee immorality. Jesus is just as zealous, if not more so, for the sanctity of the temple of the Holy Spirit as he was for the temple in Jerusalem, and he too cleanses the filth therein. We can be lured into things that seemingly promote the worship of God but actually inhibit it. As Christians, we should come humbly to him in faith that is not fickle, asking for repentance so that he can cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

Lord, I believe, but help me to not be fickle in my faith.

Cleanse my temple and make me strong so I can be an instrument to lead others to you.

John 1:1-18: The Word

Read: John 1:1-18

Often times, this passage is called the “prologue” to the book of John, and in many ways it is. This passage is poetic and communicates some basic theology about who Jesus is in relationship to man, the world, and this witness of John the Baptist.

  • The Word present at the beginning (John 1:1)
  • The Word was present with God (John 1:1-2)
  • The Word was God (John 1:1)
  • The Word was present at Creation (John 1:3)
  • All that was created was created through the Word (John 1:3, John 1:9)
    • By implication, man…
  • Life was in him and life is light to man (John 1:4)
    • John the Baptist was a witness to this light. (John 1:6-9)
  • The Light and Word came into the World (John 1:9-11, John 1:14)
  • The Word and Light are the Son of God who is Jesus, full of grace and truth (John 1:14-18)
  • Those that believe become children of God (John 1:12-13)

The word translated “word” in the original Greek is “λογος”. This word in is a rather ambiguous term as it encompasses many things: a literal word, a thought, wisdom, a decree, an axiom, or a doctrine among many other things. In Greek thought Logos was thought of as being pure reason – the ideal or the essence of that which is. In Hebrew thought, the analog to “Logos” communicated the “Word of God” in the acts of creation (Genesis 1:3, Psalm 33:6) and as a manifestation of the mind of God.

What is clear, however, is that John is establishing that the Word is God and the Word is Jesus. He establishes that the Word was God by asserting this directly in attributing things to the Word that only God can do namely create all that was created (Genesis 1:1) and bring life to men (Genesis 2:7). John establishes that the Word was Jesus saying that the Word became flesh, the word was the Son of God – a title attributed to Jesus, and attributing the grace and truth to both the Son of God and Jesus. There can be no doubt here that Jesus is God as it is firmly established here and elsewhere in Scripture. (John 10:30-38, John 20:26-28, Romans 9:5, Philippians 2:6-8, Titus 2:13,  1 John 5:20)

John the Baptist came before Jesus as a witness to Jesus, and John knew this. John the Apostle wrote that John himself was not the light, but came as a witness to the Light so that those who here his message might believe and become sons and daughters of God. John was among the first witnesses to Jesus and saw a number of people repent. Matthew 3:3 establishes John as the witness from Isaiah 40:3 as the one calling out in the wilderness to make a way for the Lord. John did just this.

This prologue sets the stage for the rest of the gospel that picks up with John the Baptist. The Apostles John’s purpose in writing is to so the reader might believe and receive eternal life from Jesus. John testified to the truth about Jesus and the command to Christians today is no different. Jesus before leaving the earth told his disciples that they would be his witnesses to the ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8) the question is this: Do you know God such that you can bare witness to him and lead others to eternal life?

Lord, help be to know who you are so I can tell others about you!

The Gospel According to John

Read: John 20:30-31

The Gospel According to John as it is called in some translation of the Bible is as the title describes: good news from the perspective of the author, John the Apostle of Jesus. It was probably written in the late first century, and a tradition attributes the gospel to John, the Apostle of Jesus and one of the inner circle of Peter, James and John. John is unique among the four gospels in the Bible in that it differs in content and structure. Because of its authorship and the internal differences from the other gospels, most think that the content of the book of John is largely based eye-witness accounts of John himself and the eye witness of others. For more info on the Date and Authorship of John, check out the introduction to the book of John at bible.org.

John wrote his gospel with the intent of spelling out the life of Christ so that people would believe in Jesus and have life in his name(John 20:30-31). The content of the book should therefore point its readers towards faith in Jesus so they can have eternal life through him. John gives glimpses into the life of Christ before the week of his crucifixion. The content of these glimpses almost always attempt to establish some sort of spiritual truth about who Jesus is. Also, John places a great deal of importance on the crucifixion week as well giving it emphasis. The events surrounding the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus are quintessential elements to the Christian faith.

Theologically, John makes several points in his gospel throughout the book.

  • Jesus is God
  • Jesus is the Messiah
  • Jesus is the only way to God
  • Jesus came to make a way to eternal life
  • Jesus’ love compels us to love others

As mentioned, John’s gospel was written so that its reader might believe in Jesus. The testimony of John points to Jesus and we can take his word for it. But when someone experiences Christ for the first time, they become like the Samaritans who heard who heard the woman at the well’s testimony. They were drawn to Jesus by the testimony of another but believed even more so when they experienced Jesus himself (John 4:42).

Your testimony of Jesus’ work in your life (and the lives of others for that matter!) is a powerful tool when talking to people about faith. Think about how you can be like John and communicate spiritual truth of Jesus through the events of your life and others.

Lord, help my life be a living testimony to who you are.