John - Introduction

An Introduction to John's Gospel

John 1:14
‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’

Ephesians 1:7-8
‘In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.’
Recently I went to the cinema to watch the latest Spider-Man movie. Don’t worry, I’m not going to drop in any spoilers! It was a really good movie and once again Spider-Man proved strong enough to save the day and overcome the bad-guys.

In almost every scene we could see his super-human abilities. His incredible powers that no ordinary person possesses. Despite his desire to be seen as an average teenager, Peter Parker is not an average teenager. He is a super-hero.

Sometimes we unhelpfully make super-heroes out the men and women we see in the Bible. We picture them as some kind of next level Christian with super-Christian abilities, their Holy Spirit senses tingling at every turn, always able to overcome and always having pure heroic motives.

However, as we begin our journey through the Gospel of John, it’s important to understand who it is that’s giving us this account of Jesus’ life. John, the disciple of Jesus, who wrote this gospel didn’t have a very impressive list of credentials…

  • Anger Issues – Mark 3:17 ‘James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”)’ / Luke 9:54 ‘When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”’
  • Insecure / Divisive – Luke 9:49 ‘“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”’
  • Arrogant – Mark 10:35-37 ‘Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”’
  • Self-Seeking (through his mother) – Matt 20:20-21 ‘The mother of Zebedee’s children (James and John) came to Jesus with her sons. She got down on her knees before Jesus to ask something of Him. He said to her, “What do you want?” She said, “Say that my two sons may sit, one at Your right side and one at Your left side, when You are King.’
  • Persecuted and Exiled – Revelation 1:9 ‘I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.’
  • He loses his older brother James – Acts 12:1-2 ‘It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.’
  • Friends and Family Executed – Most of the other disciples he spent these intense 3 years with have now been executed and he wasn’t able to save them.

John is no super-hero. He is no Spider-Man. He is no super-Christian. He’s an ordinary fallible man.

But how does knowing this help us as we read John’s gospel? What does it teach us? It shows us that ordinary flawed people are the ones that Jesus loves and loves to use.

With all his faults and in all the realities of his personal tragedies, John was still the ‘disciple Jesus loved’ (John refers to himself as this five times in the gospel). In the realities of life John knew he was loved. He knew that God not only said that he was loved, but that God himself in Christ had come into the painful, the mundane, the flawed moments of life to be intimately with us; ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.’ (John 1:14)

We see clearly in John’s life the evidence of Jesus being the one who came to us ‘full of grace’ (John 1:14). It is astonishing that Jesus would call, use, and love someone like John. John was not a super-hero. He was a nobody. A not-so-friendly neighbourhood fisherman from Galilee. He was no different from us. But his life and account teach us that God is rich in grace and lavishes it upon us (Ephesians 1:7-8).

Apply

  1. Do you see yourself in any of John’s list of flaws?

  2. In what ways are you encouraged by John’s fallibilities?

  3. How does knowing that Jesus loves you, is gracious towards you, and is with you in the mess bring you hope?

Prayer

Father,

We thank you that you loved this broken and corrupt world so much that you sent your Son to rescue us. We praise you that you are pleased to dwell with us even as we recognise our flaws. Jesus, we praise you that you have shown us love and grace. We rejoice in the truth that you know what it is like to walk this earth and experience the things we experience. Remind us of your presence this week Lord.

Amen.
This Everyday Devotions was written by Zac Guy, who serves as our Worship Director.

Simon Elliott unpacks these themes in more detail in his sermon message this week on our website, YouTube Channel and at our Online Church Services.

This Everyday Devotions has also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube Channel.

Follow our Everyday Devotions Playlist for some songs to help you worship God in Spirit and truth this week.