St. John's Gospel Sermon - notes


Introduction to John's Gospel

To many Christians the Gospel of St. John is the most prized and cherished books of the New Testament. Someone once said that John wrote the most simplest of Greek in the whole of the NT yet the Holy Spirit took it and changed it into the most beautiful book ever written!

 It has many things to commend it. Perhaps above all it is a Gospel of individuals. John seems to take a keen interest in discussions Jesus had with people. The long discourse with the woman at the well, the intimate and important discussion with Nicodemus at night and the way he saved a wedding that was going wrong are all indicators of John's interest in them.

When I came to Christ on 2nd January 1949 at the age of sixteen and being hardly able to read I read the first chapter of John's Gospel and wept at such wonderful words I was reading. Reading Scripture from that age on has been a joy and a privilege.

1. Why did John write his Gospel?

John wrote this Gospel in his old age. He wrote it in about the year AD 99 at Ephesus where he He would have had before him the other three Gospels but made little use of them. Of the various theories offered many come to the conclusion that the disciple that Jesus loved, the Apostle John wrote this Gospel.

[A] He wrote an historical Gospel.

John could look back over 60 years of ministry and had seen the Church develop into a large mainly Gentile Church world wide. He was overseer in Ephesus and gave oversight to seven Churches in the region of west turkey (Asia).

[B] He wrote with detail geographical knowledge of Palestine and customs.

He knew the time it took to build the temple (2:20).
Knew that the Jews and Samaritans do not talk to each other (4:9)
Understood the Jewish view of the Sabbath ((5:10; 7:21-23; 9:14)
He knew that there were two Bethany's (1:28; 12:1)
Cana was in Galilee (2:1; 4:6; 21:2)
Sychar is near to Shechem (4:5).
He had an A-Z knowledge of the districts See sheepgate (5:1), pool of Siloam (9:7), Solomon's Porch (10:23), pavement called Gabbatha (19:13), Golgotha (19:17).

[C] He wrote an historical perspective.

He was able to put his writing in contact of what had subsequently happened. It was also time for a restatement to be made about the whole story of Christianity.

[D] He wrote against heresy.

John the Baptist: The Jews had a particular liking for John the Baptist and his followers. John's task was to point to the Lamb of God as John the Baptist did.
Heresy (Gnostics): There were those teaching that spirit and matter were apposed to each other. While spirit was good, matter was bad. God could not be involved in matter therefore he could not have come down to earth in the form of Jesus Christ.

2. Differences between the Synoptic Gospels and Gospel of John.

John's writing does not allow it to be compared with the other three Gospels. Matthew, Mark and Luke can be matched in many places called synoptics.

  • John alone describes the wedding of Cana of Galilee (2:1-11)
  • The visit of Nicodemus to Jesus (3:1-15)
  • The Samaritan woman at the well (chapter 4)
  • Raising of Lazarus (chapter 11)
  • Jesus washing the disciples feet (13:1-17)
  • Teaching of the Holy Spirit (13-17)
  • Jesus as the Shepherd discourse (Chapter 10)
  • John does not mention any of Jesus' parables

3. Jewish thought v Greek thought

When an orthodox Jew meets another one their discussion does not include what work they do or what care they drive it is who is your father? Genealogy is important for them. The Greek mind cannot comprehend this at all. If John had given a genealogy his readers would have been distracted from his main message. Tracing back to a Jewish King David would be met with total ignorance.

Greeks would understand the use of Logos. Read Acts 17 to see Paul discussing with the Greek philosophers about the Logos. This is why John starts his Gospel with the Logos.

4. Main Message of John

John wishes to convey two main teaching aspects. The humanity of Jesus and the Divinity of the Son of God.

[A] His Humanity

One the one hand he shows Jesus at his most vulnerable like when he shows tiredness at the well (4:6), his anger in the Temple (2:15), he showed concern for the hungary and those who feared (6:5,20), he could weep with those in distress(11:35). On the cross he showed sgns of physical thirst (19:38).

[B] His Divinity

John shows in the superb first chapter that before all things existed was The Word. Jesus was the creator of all things. He was before all things. He called himself I AM (8:58), he mentions the glory he had with his father before his incarnation. Christ's glory is scattered throughout his Gospel. In practical terms Jesus tells the woman at the well her life story (4:16-17). He knew how long the man had been at the pool waiting for healing (5:6). John saw that Jesus had answers to people's situations without any information being disclosed previously.

5. Who was John?

The strange aspect of this Gospel is that although the writer is clearly in the picture he never mentions himself.

  • John was part of the inner cabinet of Jesus' disciples.
  • Peter, James and John are mentioned several times.
  • He was present at the Transfiguration. (Matt 17:1).
  • Jesus disclosed the end times to them (Mark 13:3).
  • Jesus took them into the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33)
  • Peter and Andrew his brother were the first disciples but John and James his brother were called by Jesus almost immediately afterwards (Luke 5:10).
  • When the Ruler of the Synagogue's daughter was dying Jesus took the three and raised her from the dead (Lk 8:50-55).

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