... the Good Shepherd
The style of John’s Gospel is simple, but the thoughts are profound. Its great design is to set forth the Divinity of our Lord as the basis of faith and to meet the spiritual needs, not of a particular class of people, but of all men. That is why it is sometimes referred to as the “Spiritual Gospel” or the “Gospel for the Church.”
As Jesus tells John that He must go away, he hears Him promise His disciples a place in His Father’s house in heaven. He hears Jesus promise a new Helper, the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jesus tells His disciples that He, the Father, and the Spirit will come and abide within each believer. He hears Jesus promise peace and that their hearts are not to be troubled or afraid.
John was close to 90 years old as he sat and wrote his memories of his Lord, his Savior, his Friend. The more we know about John’s Gospel the more precious it becomes. For 60 years John thought about, and lived for, Jesus. Day by day, the Holy Spirit had opened to him the meaning of what Jesus had said. He remembered Jesus’ words: “I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” 16:12-13
John is selective both in what he includes and in what he excludes. This Gospel contains no account of the Birth, Baptism or Temptations of Jesus, because John emphasized Christ’s Diety. John does, however, describe the Word becoming flesh, the results of the Baptism and the encounter the Jews have with Christ because He claims He is the Son of God. John also chooses not to refer to demons, the Last Supper, or the agony of Gethsemane.
Throughout his Gospel, John tells his readers about people whose lives are changed because of their encounter with Christ. He tells us more about Andrew than the other writers. John identified a disciple named Nathanial, not mentioned in the other Gospels; and it is on the basis of John’s writings that we know about “doubting Thomas”. While the other Gospels speak of a disciple of Jesus who smote a servant at the betrayal of Jesus, John alone identifies the servant as Malcus and records that it was Peter who held the sword.
One cannot read this Gospel, written so long after the events occurred, without being impressed with the amazing number of details. John remembers the hour he met Jesus (1:39); that there were six water pots at the wedding in Cana (2:6); that the Samaritan woman left her water pot at the well (4:28); the number of years a man had been sick (5:5); the one who discovered the five barley loaves and two small fishes (6:8-9).
John was with Jesus when He raised Jairus’ daughter. He was also on the mount of Transfiguration and was nearest the Man of Sorrows as He wept and prayed in Gethsemane. He stood at the foot of the cross as Jesus placed into John’s hands the care of His own mother. Such details tend to verify his claim to have witnessed these things.
As we study together the life of Christ, as John has written it, we will come to know the heart of Jesus more deeply: His heart of love and obedience for His Father, His servant heart of unfailing love and service to everyone, His heart of forgiveness and compassion, His sacrificial heart when we were so unworthy. To be like Jesus should be the goal of each one of us. Taking this walk with John through the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will bring about a wonderful change in your own heart, changing you and molding you to be more like Him.
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