How John Saw Jesus – Part 4
The final installment of Karen Murano’s essay on the Gospel According to John.
John’s gospel lights a path to develop the kind of disciple who sees himself as a sheep in the arms of Jesus, rescued and safely held. On a larger scale, to connect an overarching goal of spiritual formation, one must answer the question: Into what? Better yet: transform to be like Whom?
For the believer, formation needs to be rooted in Christ-likeness. John teaches the reader to heed the words of Jesus: to follow Him,
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 8:12
I believe John’s gospel can speak to the intrinsic and innate desire of mankind to be fully known, loved and cherished. He wants us to grow in our knowledge of Jesus’ identity, which John lays out in his opening verses.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” 1:1–4
Out of perfect love, that has always existed, the world was created and has life. The Gospel of John continues to lead the reader through a transformation process with a specific backdrop: eternal hope is in Jesus as the Messiah, the human and divine King, sent by the Father to provide a model for all to follow as His children
“But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” 1:12-13
This foundation helps us to discover the truth of our identity as beloved children of God who fulfill our unique calling: to carry His image as we rule and reign with Him, in His Kingdom. This is the kind of disciple John is hoping to form: image bearers. And so we end with the inspiring verse that John built his testimony to reveal at the start, look to the Father and you find the Son, image the Son by receiving grace and truth and you will glorify the Father,
“We have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
If a church community dedicated an entire year to reading this gospel while committing to living out the way of Jesus as presented by John many themes could be lived out, and the body of believers could image Jesus the Christ in this way: (not an exhaustive list!)
- They would represent the image of God as the light of life, and walk in freedom from the bondage of sin because they believe and abide in his word – “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.. … Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 8:12, 32-32
- They would not fear man, but God alone, and worship him freely – “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. … He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.” 9:22, 38
- They would know their worth, no matter the earthly origin, all who belong to him will be with him – “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” 10:16
- They would honor Jesus the Messiah as the eternal Son of God, because he is Life – “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” 10:17-18
- They would boldly declare Jesus is the resurrection and the life, especially in the face of devastating trials – “She said to him,“Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” 11:27
- They would be generous back to God in light of all He has done, like a fragrant offering – “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” 12:3
- They would be servant leaders, and lovingly put on the towel – “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” 13:14-15
- They would live out a new commandment of love as his disciples to make Him known – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 13:34-35
- They will do great works, empowered by the Holy Spirit, walking in peace and unafraid – “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. … And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, … But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you…. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 14:12,16, 26-27
- They would abide in the Lord’s love, keeping the joy, and loving others as He loves them – “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. … These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. … This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” 15:9, 11-12
- They will proclaim He is risen! – “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.” 20:18
- They would be compelled to share their own testimony, proclaiming Jesus is the Messiah, bearing his image as children of God who will rule and reign with Him in His Kingdom – “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” 21:24
Thank you, Karen, for sharing these weeks of insight into the gospel of John. I pray it helps us fully grasp more deeply how loved we all are by our heavenly Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit – One God with three distinct roles.