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II. Positive Features of John’s Gospel.
1. The Titles of Christ are very significant
Only here (in the four Gospels) is the Lord Jesus revealed as “the Word” (1:1). Only here is He declared to be the Creator of all things (1:3). Only here is He spoken of as “The Only Begotten of the Father”1:14). Only here was He hailed as “The Lamb of God”(1:29). Only here is He revealed as the great “I am.” When Jehovah appeared to Moses at the burning bush, and commissioned him to go down into Egypt and demand from Pharaoh the release of His people Israel, Moses said, Who shall I say hath sent me? And God answered, “Thus shalt thou say unto the Children of Israel, I am hath sent me unto you” (Ex. 3:14). And here in John’s Gospel Christ takes this most sacred title of Deity and appropriates it unto Himself, filling it out with sevenfold fullness: “I am the Bread of Life” (6:35); “I am the Light of the world” (9:5); “I am the Door” (10:7); “I am the Good Shepherd” (10:11); “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (11:25); “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (14:6); “I am the true Vine” (15:1).
2. The Deity of Christ is prominently revealed here.
Christ Himself expressly affirmed it: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (5:25). Again; “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee” (9:35–37). Once more, “His sisters sent unto Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (11:3, 4). Thirty-five times in this Gospel we find the Lord Jesus speaking of God as “My Father.” Twenty-five times He here says “Verily, verily” (of a truth, of a truth)—nowhere else found in this intensified form.
Including His own affirmation of it, seven different ones avow His Deity in this Gospel. First, John the Baptist: “And I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God” (1:34). Second, Nathaniel, ”Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God” (1:49). Third, Peter, “And we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (6:69). The Lord Himself, “Say ye of Him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God” (10:36). Fifth, Martha, “She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (11:27). Sixth, Thomas, “And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God” (20:28). Seventh, the writer of this fourth Gospel, “These are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name” (20:31).
3. There is a remarkable series of Sevens here
It is striking to discover how frequently this numeral is found here, and when we remember the significance of this numeral it is even more arresting. Seven is the number of perfection, and absolute perfection is not found until we reach God Himself. How wonderful, then, that in this Gospel which sets forth the Deity of Christ, the number seven meets us at every turn!
By seven different persons is the Deity of Christ confessed here, and, as we have seen seven times does He fill out the ineffable “I am” title. John records seven miracles performed by our Lord during His public ministry, no more and no less. Seven times do we read, “These things have I spoken unto you.” Seven times did Christ address the woman at the well. Seven times, in John 6, did Christ speak of Himself as “The Bread of Life.” Seven things we read of the Good Shepherd doing for His sheep, and seven things Christ says about His sheep in John 10. Seven times does Christ make reference to “the hour” which was to see the accomplishment of the Work given Him to do. Seven times did He bid His disciples pray “in His name.” Seven times is the word “hate” found in John 15. There are seven things enumerated in John 16:13, 14 which the Holy Spirit is to do for believers. There were seven things which Christ asked the Father for believers in John 17, and seven times over does He there refer to them as the Father’s “gift” to Him. Seven times in this Gospel do we read that Christ declared He spoke only the Word of the Father—7:16; 8:28; 8:47; 12:49; 14:10; 14:24; 17:8. Seven times does the writer of this Gospel refer to himself, without directly mentioning his own name. There are seven important things found in John which are common to all four Gospels. And so we might continue. Let the reader search carefully for himself and he will find many other examples.
4. Man’s futile attempts on His life
Not only was the Christ of God “despised and rejected of men,” not only was He “hated without a cause,” but His enemies repeatedly sought His life. This feature is noticed, briefly, by the other writers, but John is the only one that tells us why their efforts were futile. For example, in John 7:30 we read, “Then they sought to take Him: but no man laid hands on Him, because His hour was not yet come.” And again, in 8:20 we read, “These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as He taught in the Temple: and no man laid hands on Him; for His hour was not yet come.” These Scriptures, in accord with the special character of this fourth Gospel, bring before us the Divine side of things. They tell us that the events of earth transpire only according to the appointment of Heaven. They show that God is working all things after the counsel of His own will and according to His eternal purpose. They teach us that nothing is left to chance, but that when God’s “hour” arrives that which has been decreed by His sovereign will, is performed. They reveal the fact that even His enemies are entirely subject to God’s immediate control, and that they cannot make a single move without His direct permission.
The Lord Jesus Christ was not the helpless Victim of an angry mob. What He suffered, He endured voluntarily. The enemy might roar against Him, and His emissaries might thirst for His blood, but not a thing could they do without His consent. It is in this Gospel we hear Him saying, “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (10:17, 18). While He hung upon the Cross, His enemies said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself, if He be Christ, the Chosen of God” (Luke 23:35). And He accepted their challenge! He saved Himself not from death, but out of it; not from the Cross, but the Tomb.
5. The Purpose and Scope of this Gospel
The key to it is hung right under the door. The opening verse intimates that the Deity of Christ is the special theme of this Gospel. The order of its contents is defined in 16:28: 1. “I came forth from the Father:” this may be taken as the heading for the Introductory portion, the first eighteen verses of the opening chapter; 2. “And am come into the world:” this may be taken as the heading for the first main section of this Gospel, running from 1:19 to the end of chapter 12. 3. “Again, I leave the world:” this may be taken as the heading for the second great section of the Gospel, comprising chapter 13 to 17 inclusive, where the Lord is seen apart from “the world,” alone with His beloved disciples. 4. “And go to the Father:” this may be taken as the heading for the closing section of this Gospel, made up of its last four chapters, which give us the final scenes, preparatory to the Lord’s return to His Father.
The closing verses of John 20 tell us the purpose of this Gospel: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” John’s Gospel, then, is peculiarly suited to the unsaved. But this does not exhaust its scope. It is equally fitted for and written to believers; in fact, the opening chapter intimates it is designed specially for the saved, for in 1:16 we read, “And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.”
6. The account of His Passion is remarkable
Here there is no glimpse given us of the Saviour’s agony in Gethsemane: there is no crying, “If it be possible let this cup pass from Me,” there is no bloody sweat, no angel appearing to strengthen Him. Here there is no seeking of companionship from His disciples in the Garden; instead, he knows them only as needing His protection (see 18:8). Here there is no compelling of Simon to bear His cross. Here there is no mention of the three hours of darkness, nor is reference made to the awful cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Here there is nothing said of the spectators taunting the dying Saviour, and no mention is made of the insulting challenge of the rulers for Him to descend from the Cross and they would believe in Him. And here there is no word said of the Rending of the Veil, as the Redeemer breathed His last. How striking is this, for in John’s Gospel God is unveiled throughout; no need, then, for the veil to be rent here! John says nothing about Him eating food after the resurrection, for as Son of God, He needed it not!
7. Christ’s dignity and majesty comes out here amid His humiliation
John is the only one that tells us that when the Lord’s enemies came to arrest Him in the Garden that when He asked them “Whom seek ye?”, and they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth,” and he then pronounced the sacred “I am,” they “went backward and fell to the ground” (18:6). What a demonstration of His Godhead was this! How easily could He have walked away unmolested had He so pleased!
John is the only one to speak of His coat “without seam” which the soldiers would not rend (19:24). John is the only one to show us how completely the Saviour was master of Himself—“Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished”(19:28). His mind was not beclouded, nor was His memory impaired. No; even at the close of all His sufferings, the whole scheme of Messianic prediction stood out clearly before Him.
John is the only one of the four Evangelists to record the Saviour’s triumphant cry, “It is finished” (19:30), as he is the only one to say that after He had expired the soldier’s “brake not His legs” (19:33). John is the only one to tell us of Love’s race to the sepulcher (20:3, 4). And John is the only one to say that the risen Saviour “breathed” on the disciples, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit” (20:22).
The closing verse of this Gospel is in perfect keeping with its character and scope. Here, and here only, we are told, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (21:25). Thus, the last note here sounded is that of infinity!
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