Saturday, May 21, 2022

Son of God: Overview of the Book of John


The Gospel of John encapsulates much of Christian doctrine and Christology, for it teaches and shows us Who Jesus Christ is and how to get saved. It is an excellent place for an unsaved person to start reading to learn about God and His plan of salvation through faith in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), and for a babe in Christ to start studying the Bible.

Yet John is full of deeply profound truth for even the most mature believer. An anonymous commentator has described the Book of John as being like “a pool of water, so shallow at the edges that a child could wade, and yet so deep at the center that an elephant could swim.” It is easy to understand at the surface, but with a depth that Bible scholars who have spent their entire lives studying it have not fully exhausted.

The specific purpose of the Gospel of John is that the reader might believe, be born again (John 3:3-8), and have saving faith giving eternal life (John 3:16), as we see when the resurrected Christ encounters doubting Thomas, one of His apostles:

John 20: 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The book of John was written by the apostle John, often referring to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20). It is therefore a deeply personal, intimate portrayal of Jesus. John was part of Jesus’ inner circle, along with Peter and James, who were the only three to witness the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2; Mark 9:2) and various miracles Christ performed.

John was the only apostle who stayed by Christ’s side during the crucifixion; the one to whom Jesus entrusted the care of His mother Mary (John 19:26); and with Peter, one of the first men to witness the empty tomb (John 20:1-10). 

John and his brother James, also an apostle, were called “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). John wrote five books of the New Testament: the Gospel of John; letters I John, II John, and III John, and the book of Revelation. Historic writers say that John lived longest of all the twelve apostles and was the only one who died a natural death, whereas the others were martyred.

The Gospel of John is probably the last of the four Gospels to be written, likely between AD 85-90, before John’s exile to the Island of Patmos, where he wrote the book of Revelation.

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels, focusing on Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, and on what He taught and what He did, or concrete, physical, bodily things. In contrast, John highlights what Jesus said and did in Jerusalem, but more importantly, on Who He is, or spiritual doctrines.

Events in Jesus’ ministry included in Matthew, Mark, and Luke but omitted by John are Jesus’ birth, baptism, temptation in the wilderness, confrontations with demons, teaching in parables, the Last Supper, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion, and His Ascension into Heaven.

And yet, in keeping with John’s emphasis on theology, his Gospel gives the clearest presentations of the Trinity, not only among the Gospels but throughout the New Testament (John 14:9-20; 15:26; 16:10-28; 17). Jesus Christ the Son is the only Way to the Father (John 14:6), and He promised to send the Comforter, or Holy Spirit, to those who believed in Him (John 14:16).

The Book of John proves that Jesus Christ is not only the Son of God (John  1:34, etc.) but God Himself. It contains seven “I AM” statements, referencing the Name of God as “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). In other words, He is self-existent, not a created being, God Himself, ever present from the beginning (John 1:1).

The “I AM” declarations in John identify Jesus as the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the Light of the world (8:12), the Door of the sheep (10:7), the Good Shepherd (10:11), the Resurrection and the Life (11:12), the Way, Truth and Life (14:6), and the True Vine (15:1). He is also “One that bear witness of Myself” (8:18).

Each of the Gospels emphasizes a different origin of Jesus. Matthew, written primarily to Jews, portrays Him as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, and gives His lineage from Abraham through David (Matthew 1:1-17). This genealogy is necessary to prove Jesus’ origin from Abraham’s seed, in whom all nations are blessed (Genesis 17; Acts 3:25), and His legal entitlement to the throne of David (Isaiah 9:7; 16:5).

Mark depicts Jesus as the humble Servant from Nazareth (Mark 1:9), and Luke reveals Him to be the Perfect Man and Son of Man (Luke 5:24, etc.), descended from the first man Adam (Luke 3:23-38).Yet John identifies Jesus Christ as God Himself, Son of God (John 1:34, etc.), and Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36), from Heaven.

“Prince of Preachers” Charles Spurgeon wrote: “John is the majestic evangelist. He is the high-soaring eagle with piercing eyes. His is the Gospel of the Son of God. We cannot describe the deity of Christ in clearer language than John uses. He was with God. He was God. He did the works of God, for He was the Creator.”

© 2022 Laurie Collett


Saturday, May 14, 2022

What Time Is It?


I recently dreamt that I was attending a large congress held at a hotel, and it is the last day of conference activities. My mother calls and says I should get home before midnight, as my father is there. I realize that the home where I grew up is a 3-hour car ride from the hotel; I still have to pack; and I have no idea what time it is.

I have to attend the last lecture, for which I’m already late. A well-known Broadway director is lecturing and gives me a dirty look as I try to sneak in unobtrusively. I look for a seat in the darker part of the auditorium, but the only empty seat there is a high chair, like a director’s chair.

Once settled in, I look around for clocks but there aren’t any. When the lecture is over I leave and look for clocks in the hallways and lobby but there are none. I’m surprised to find myself in what looks like an ICU. Seven patients are in beds with monitors and lines, each with a clock over the bed, but they all show different times. One of the clocks is like a melting Dali clock with all the numbers on the left side.

There is only one staff member present, a nurse. I ask if she knows what time it is and she yells, “Can you please keep your voice down!” She points to the clock behind her, on which the hands show 9:50, and says “It’s 10:10.” I reply “You mean 10 till 10?” She yells again, “Can’t you even tell time?”

As I realize I’m not going to make it home in time, or accomplish what I need to before time runs out, I awaken in a panic.

When contemplating the meaning of the dream, the overriding theme seemed to be not having enough time to do what needed to be done, and even worse, not knowing how much time was left.

Much of my professional life has been spent in large conference or meeting settings, first as an academic neurologist teaching, giving lectures, or as an expert witness in a courtroom. More recently, my husband and I have danced at competitions or performances held in large hotels, venues or theatres. Deadlines and time constraints always loomed large in these settings, but at least the boundaries and expectations were clear.

The dream had more of a sense of urgency, as I didn’t know when I would be called upon or how much time had already elapsed. I had to return to my parents’ home, which I believe symbolized Heaven, as both parents have passed into eternity. I didn’t know how much time I had to get there, only that there were many demands on my time before I left.

Arriving late to the lecture and not being able to sneak in suggests that I already feel like I am falling behind in the race God has set before me (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1), and that my tardiness will be found out. The elevated chair may represent attention falling on my being late, or perhaps that I will unexpectedly be called on to speak or to assume more of a leadership role. We are to be ready to witness to the Gospel any time – in season or out of season (2 Timothy 4:2).

But again the nagging question – how much time do I have before the Lord calls me home, or before the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54), when no born-again Christian (John 3:3-8) will be left behind to complete the Lord’s unfinished business?

In the dream I sensed time was running out, but there were no clocks to tell me how quickly. The clocks in the ICU were all set to different times, perhaps reflecting the different numbers of days remaining that the Lord has appointed to each of us (Psalm 90:10). The surrealistic, distorted clock with all the numbers on the left side of the face may indicate how time seems to move more swiftly the older we get.

Perhaps the nurse did not want me to upset the patients by alerting them to the lateness of the hour, for her yelling at me suggested that noise levels were not her main concern. She did nothing to clarify how late it was, but chided me for being able to figure it out for myself.

Once we are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), our time is not our own, for we are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). The hour is coming when no man can work (John 9:4), and when we will give an account at the judgment for how we spent our time, talent and treasure when we had the opportunity (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

We are not promised tomorrow (James 4:14), and no man knows the day or the hour of our Lord’s return (Matthew 24:36,44; 25:13). But we do know that it is one day closer today than it was yesterday, and that yesterday’s hours are gone forever.

Man has created a “Doomsday Clock,” predicting the time of Earth’s apocalyptic destruction based on the likelihood of nuclear war and other annihilating forces. The planet has never been closer to midnight than we are now – just seconds away. But man’s “wisdom” pales next to God’s infinite knowledge of eternity past and eternity future.

Although no one knows when the Rapture will occur, Jesus taught us about the signs of the times (Matthew 16:3), indicating His soon return. As He predicted (Matthew 24), these have been like labor pains, intensifying in frequency and intensity. Just browse the headlines and you’ll see it all unfolding – wars, rumors of wars, plague, famine, evil running rampant, false prophets, apostasy, family members killing one another, earthquakes, signs in the sky, with blood-red moons (Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20) and even blood-red skies, recently reported in China.

May we not be alarmed by these devastating events but rather reassured that Christ’s plan is unfolding before our eyes, and that His return is ever so near. May we redeem the time in these evil days (Ephesians 5:16), and be not weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not! (Galatians 6:9). May we look up, for our redemption draws nigh! (Luke 21:28).

© 2022 Laurie Collett