Lesson 3: The Gospel of Belief

This Lesson is part of John’s Gospel Easy Notes Series. 

Jesus—Waiting for Your Verdict
The key word in John’s gospel is believe. It is used 98 times.

We find John constantly giving the response of people to what Jesus said and did. Some believed in him. Some hated him. Some rejected him. Others tried to kill him. And some of his disciples walked away from him. A few stood near his cross till the very end (John 19:25).

The fact is that Jesus stands before you not only as a historical person but also as a Living Person demanding a verdict. He is like a fork in the road. You have to choose. There is no going back as your life is moving forward. Your decision affects where you are going to spend eternity.

John, at the very beginning of his gospel, points to the tragedy of God’s own people rejecting Jesus (John 1:11). But he also shows us the result of receiving Jesus—when you believe in his name, you are given the right to become children of God (John 1:12).

Do you believe in Jesus as your personal Saviour and Lord? Do you have the Spirit of God speaking that word of assurance in your heart that you are God’s child (Romans 8:16)?

The Purpose of the Gospel
“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20:31).”

The Cross as the Glory of Jesus
John describes just about twenty days in the earthly life of Jesus. Chapters 13 to 20 deals with the last 24 hours in his life. The emphasis is clear. It is the cross.

Let us look at some statements Jesus made emphasizing his cross:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” – John 3:14, 15.

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” – John 12:24.

“But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself”. He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die – John 12:32, 33.

“Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you”—John 17:1b. See also John 12:23, 27—30, 13:31, 32.

The Cross brought glory to God because all that needed to be done for man’s salvation was completed through the shed blood of Jesus. John’s gospel alone records the cry of triumph from the cross: “It is finished (John 19:30).”

“Our religion is one of four letters instead of two. Other religions say, “Do.” Our religion says, “Done.” Our Saviour has done all on the cross. He bore our sins and when He gave up His life He said, “It is finished!” This was the shout of a conqueror. He had finished human’s redemption. Nothing was left for people to do. Has the work been done in your heart?”
– from What the Bible Is All About by Dr. Henrietta C. Mears.

Jesus and His Conversation with Individuals
Come and see is his invitation (John 1:39)
Follow me (John 1:43) is his command. Those are also the last words spoken by Jesus in this gospel (see John 21:22).

When people met Jesus, they naturally invited others to come and experience him. We find Andrew finding his brother Simon and bringing him to Jesus (1:41, 42). We find Philip finding Nathanael and bringing him to Jesus (1:45). We find the Samaritan woman brining the whole town to Jesus.

One of the features of John’s gospel is the conversations Jesus had with individuals. Some of them are long. It is encouraging to note that even when Jesus was hard-pressed by crowds with all their needs he found time for individuals.

John’s gospel records the conversations Jesus had with Nathanael, Nicodemus, the Samaritan Woman, the Man born blind, Martha and Mary, with the disciples (his farewell address), with Pilate, with Mary Magdalene, with Thomas, and finally with Peter.

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the entire Bible. But it tells a lot about Jesus; doesn’t it?

Jesus’s prayer recorded in Chapter 17 is also a very special feature of this gospel. It is the longest prayer of Jesus of which we have a record.

Did you know that in this prayer, Jesus prayed for you too: “My prayer is not for them [disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message (John 17:20).”

Isn’t that awesome? He knows you. He loves you. He cares for you. He remembers you. And he prays for you!

All that he asks of you in response: “Come, Follow Me!” Will you?

Look Out for this Pattern in the Conversations
Dialogues that Jesus had with people seeking him in John’s Gospel follow a pattern. If you can keep that in mind it will help you understand the gospel better.

Someone asks Jesus a question.
He answers briefly in a way that is difficult to understand.
The listener misunderstands what Jesus said.
Then Jesus explains in ways more difficult to understand.
Jesus follows it up speaking authoritatively and by giving a long explanation.

John Uses Key Words and Concepts Again and Again
Great music often sets the theme early and uses repetition and contrasts later. John employs repetition of key themes time and again. One way to study the gospel is to look out for the repetition of key words. John also brings together opposing concepts so that we get a powerful realization of the truth because of the contrast.

Believe is the key word used ninety-eight times.
Jesus speaks of himself as the One sent by God. The word sent is used forty-four times.
He speaks of God as “my Father” thirty-five times.
Jesus speaks with authority. He uses “Verily, verily” (KJV) (Truly, truly) twenty-five times.
The word “Life” occurs 36 times. In many instances it is used in combination as “eternal life.”

John wants to help us understand the meaning of Christ’s coming. Therefore John pairs key terms. Look out for these contrasts.

Some other key words are Word, World, Know, Witness, Glory.

Value of John’s Gospel

“John focuses our attention on the need for a personal response to Jesus. The other Gospels invite us to watch as observers while Jesus performs his miracles or teaches the crowds and his disciples. We are moved to awe, to wonder, and then to worship at their portrayal of the Son of God. But in John each of us is directly confronted with the claims of Jesus: claims which demand a personal decision on our part. The issue of personal response is clearly drawn, and each one of us is invited to Believe!” —from Illustrated Bible Handbook by Lawrence O. Richards

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