BEFORE attempting to study the accompanying chart or read these notes, the student should re-examine the chart and notes, "Eternity or the Plan of the Ages". To do this is most important, because John in giving the life of our Lord lays emphasis upon His existence prior to the creation of the universe and His fellowship and association with the Father in eternity of the past.
John, the author of this book, states that his purpose in writing is to convince men that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, in order that they might have life in His name (John 20:30,31). He states that Jesus performed many more signs than those which are recorded in his book, but that those which he does describe were presented for the express purpose of creating faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God. John recounts seven miracles or signs which Jesus performed. They are found in 2:1-11; 5:1-9; 6:1-14; 6:16-20; 9:1-12; 11:1-53; and 21:10-14. If any unbeliever will, with an open heart, read the Book of John, there can be but one result: He will become a firm believer in Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, who is able to save unto the uttermost.
As indicated on the chart above, Jesusthe logos, the Wordexisted in the eternity of the past with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. Moreover the Word created the entire material universe. Since He called it into being, it is clear that He existed before He created the various systems of the universe. John, 1:1-18, lays emphasis upon Christ's pre-existence. He was indeed the branch of Jehovah (Isa. 4:2), which expression emphasizes His divine nature. Many are the passages which prove conclusively His eternal existence. Study, in their contexts, the following passages: Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Micah 5:2; I Corinthians 8:5,6; II Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:5-9; Colossians 1:15-17; and Hebrews 1:1-13
Christ was equally as divine as was God the Father or God the Holy Spirit. John 1:1 takes us back into eternity of the past as Genesis 1:1 does. This latter passage affirms that, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The Hebrew word for God is in the plural and is a distinct echo of the Trinity.
Matthew and Luke, as we have already seen, gave the facts relative to the virgin birth of Jesus. These two books were written about 60 A.D. John wrote about 80 or 85 A.D.twenty-five years later. It was not therefore necessary for him to discuss the matter of the virgin birth since that had been done by Matthew and Luke. It was John's special privilege to prove the divine nature of Jesus, the Son of God. He, therefore, declared that the Word, which was in the beginning with God and was God (1:1), "became flesh and dwelt among us" (1:14). He simply stated that the divine Word took upon himself the form of man and tabernacled among us. He was not led by the Holy Spirit to give the exact details concerning how the Word became flesh. As stated, that was well known.
There is another echo of the virgin birth of Christ in the slur that was hurled at Him by his opponents: "We were not born of fornication" (John 8:41). The implication was that He was born of fornicationwhereas they were not. Thus the distorted facts with reference to His virgin birth are reflected in this blasphemous statement.
The Apostle John tells of the ministry of John the Baptist, but he does not, like the other evangelists, give information concerning the baptism of Jesus. But that information is, likewise, presupposed by John. That he knew about this momentous occasion, when the Father acknowledged Jesus as His Son in a special and unique sense as the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, is evident from John 1:31-34. These words are indeed an echo of that wonderful experience.
In John 3:1-12 we have a discussion of the new birth which is indeed the most important of all personal matters. The truth regarding the necessity of regeneration is set forth in the conversation which Nicodemus had with Jesus. This ruler of the Jews came to Him by night and began his conversation by complimenting the Lord. Caring for none of those things, Jesus went to the real issue of life, telling Nicodemus that, "except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." John and Jesus had announced that the kingdom of God had come to hand. Nicodemus had been born into the kingdom of God as it existed in Old Testament times by virtue of his natural birth. His Jewish parentage could not, however, put him into that phase of the kingdom which was announced by John and Jesus. The Lord, therefore, informed him that he would have to be born from above or anew; otherwise, declared Jesus, Nicodemus could never enter the kingdom of God. The new birth, therefore, is essential to entrance into the kingdom of God. Put in other terms, the new birth or regeneration is essential to eternal salvation. Church membership avails nothing, although one should be identified with a local congregation that is faithful and true to the Lord Jesus; but having one's name on a church record does not put it on the Lamb's book of life. Only by personal faith in the Lord Jesus and surrender to Him, can one be regenerated and have his name put on the "page bright and fair." My appeal, therefore, to everyone who reads John is that he accept Christ now, if he has not already done so. Tomorrow may be too late.
John is the only one who gives us an account of the early Judean ministry, of which we read in John 3:13-36. This in all probability lasted about six months, although one may not be dogmatic on this point. As we have already seen, the Synoptics pass over this early ministry of the Lord. We are indeed thankful to God that He has preserved this account in John. One of the brightest gems of thought is the people's verseJohn 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his-only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." God loved the world to such an extent that He sent His only begotten Son in order to purchase redemption for man and offer salvation to all who believe. Christ tasted death for every man. If any one is lost, it will be due to the fact that he has rejectedor failed to accept the life and the salvation which are offered freely in Christ.
Another marvelous gem of thought is that which was expressed by John the Baptist in his settling a controversy that had arisen between his disciples and a Jew regarding purification. It seems that an attempt was made to stir up jealousy in John's heart against Jesus, because the latter had become so very popular whereas the fame of the former was waning. John, being equal to the occasion, declared, "A man can receive nothing, except it have been given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but, that I am sent before him. ... He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:27-30).
Jesus, knowing that the Pharisees were aware that His ministry was eclipsing that of John, left Judaea and went into Galilee. Instead of doing as the average Jew did, in traveling from Judaea to Galilee, or vice versa (going through Perea east of the Jordan to avoid the Samaritans), Jesus went directly northward through Samaria. He came to Sychar where he had the conversation at the well with the Samaritan woman. This is indeed one of the marvelous discourses of our Lord. He offered salvation to her upon the condition that she would ask for it. She did. Jesus gave her waterthe living water. She went into the city and told her friends about the man who told her everything she had ever done. They came forth, heard Jesus, and believed on Him. There was a mighty revival. He remained there two days. Then He went into Galilee. John alone recounts this unique ministry to these outcasts.
John is sermonic. He selected those messages and debates which Jesus had with the Pharisees and leaders of the Jews, and which reflect the divine nature of the Son of God. In chapter 5 we have the record of a discussion which Jesus had with the leaders of the Jews in Jerusalem. In verses 30-47 we have one of the finest statements concerning the witnesses that testified to the deity of the Lord. It is usually supposed, and that upon good authority, that the events of chapter 5 occurred at the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem. Those recorded in chapter 6 were in Galilee at another passover. In all probability one year intervened between chapters 5 and 6. The messages in chapters 7 and 8 were delivered at Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernaclessix months before the crucifixion. One can continue through the entire Book of John picking out the sermons and quiet talks of our Lord, all of which reach the loftiest heights and the greatest depths of thought.
In Luke 9:51-18:14 is a mass of material that is not found in Matthew and Mark. In this section we have three statements relative to journeys which Jesus made toward Jerusalem. They are found in 9:51; 13:22; 17:11. Various theories have been advanced to explain this new material, most of which are unsatisfactory. On the other hand, there is a mass of details in John 7:1-11:54 not to be found elsewhere. Furthermore, we here read of three journeys which Jesus made to Jerusalem. The first was at the Feast of the Tabernacles six months before the crucifixion (7:1-13); the next, at the Dedication (10:22); and finally His journey to Bethany (11:17f). May not these portions of Scripture be parallel and supplemental? This seems to accord with all the facts in the case.
A solution of this most difficult problem may be made in the following manner. The journey mentioned in Luke 9:51 is the one found in John 7:1-10. Jesus went to Jerusalem, where the events recorded in John 7:11-10:21 occurred. After the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus engaged in the latter Judean ministry, which is found in Luke-10:1-13:21. This campaign continued from the Feast of Tabernacles to the Feast of Dedication. He was present in Jerusalem at this latter date and gave the message found in John 10:22-39.
Thereupon, He departed from Judaea, according to John 10:40-42, and went into Perea, near where John was at first baptizing. He engaged in the latter Perean ministry afterwards as recorded in Luke 13:22-17:10. At this time Lazarus died. Martha and Mary, his sisters, sent for Jesus. He came and raised Lazarus. This is recorded in John 11:1-53. On account of the hostility on the part of the leaders of the Jews which was developing, Jesus left Bethany and went to Ephraim on the northern border of Judaea (John 11:54). From there He went northward and passed through the borders of Samaria and Galilee in order that He might join the caravan of pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem for the last passover during His personal ministry. This last campaign is recorded in Luke 17:11-18:14. At this point the Synoptic Gospels join with John in speaking of our Lord's final journey to Jerusalem.
This view of the three journeys mentioned by Luke and the three given by John, together with the labors between them, are seen to harmonize and to present a graphic picture of the last six months of our Lord's ministry upon earth. When all the facts of any given instance are learned, it is seen that there is perfect harmony in the Scriptures.
The crowning event of our Lord's life is seen in His triumph over death and in His resurrection. Jesus was declared to be the Son of God "with power ... by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4). The account of the empty tomb given by John is most graphic. On the morning of the resurrection, Peter and John visited it. The latter outran the former. Upon their arrival, they found the stone rolled away and saw the clothes lying and the headpiece in its place. When they saw the clothes lying undisturbed, they were convinced that Jesus actually had arisen from the dead. What in these circumstances would prove that He had been raised and that His body had not been stolen? The answer is most beautiful and positively convincing. The juices of the spices used in preparation for the burial had doubtless stiffened the grave clothes, which were wrapped around His body. Thus after three days the clothes would be stiff and would have the same form as they did when His body was shrouded in them. When, however, He was raised from the dead, His glorified body passed through these clothes, leaving them undisturbed and retaining the shape that they had when they were about His body. When they beheld the clothes in that form and saw that the Lord's body was not there, they were convinced that He had actually been raised from the dead. Thus the condition of the clothes was positive evidence of the resurrection.
Jesus triumphed over the powers of the unseen world and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Praise God for the victory which He won and for our hope of life eternal with Him in the New Jerusalem for ever and ever, because of His triumph over the powers of the darkness.