About this book
Who is Jesus Christ? John answers this question in the first chapter of his Gospel. Using the words of an early Christian hymn, he calls Jesus the “Word” by which God created everything and by which he gave life to everyone (1.3,4). He shows how John the Baptist announced Jesus' coming, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1.29). When Philip met Jesus he knew Jesus was “the one that Moses and the Prophets wrote about” (1.45). And, in the words of Nathanael, Jesus is “the Son of God and the King of Israel” (1.49).
In John's Gospel we learn a lot about who Jesus is by observing what he said and did when he was with other people. These include a Samaritan woman who received Jesus' offer of life-giving water, a woman who had been caught in sin, his friend Lazarus who was brought back to life by Jesus, and his follower Thomas who doubted that Jesus was raised from death. Jesus also refers to himself as “I am”, a phrase which translates the most holy name for God in the Hebrew Scriptures. He uses this name for himself when he makes his claim to be the life-giving bread, the light of the world, the good shepherd, and the true vine.
Jesus performs seven miracles that are more than miracles. Each of them is a “sign” that tells us something about Jesus as the Son of God. For example, by healing a lame man (5.1–8), Jesus shows that he is just like his Father, who never stops working (5.17). This sign also teaches that the Son does only what he sees his Father doing (5.19), and that like the Father “the Son gives life to anyone he wants to” (5.21).
The way John tells the story of Jesus is quite different from the other three Gospels. Here, Jesus has long conversations with people about who he is and what God sent him to do. In these conversations he teaches many important things—for example, that he is the way, the truth and the life.
Why did John write? John himself tells us, “So that you will put your faith in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God” (20.31). How is this possible? Jesus answers that question in his words to Nicodemus:
God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.
A quick look at this book
1. In praise of the Word (1.1–18)
2. The message of John the Baptist (1.19–34)
3. Jesus chooses his first disciples (1.35–51)
4. Jesus' seven special miracles (2.1—12.50)
5. Jesus' last week: his trial and death (13.1—19.42)
6. Jesus is alive (20.1–10)
7. Jesus appears to his disciples (20.11—21.25)
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