The book of John is the fourth book of the New Testament. It is often called “The Gospel According to John” because the first four books of the New Testament are known as the Four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four books tell the story of Jesus and his teachings.
The book of John is about Jesus himself, but it is also about the way people wrote about him. Since John was a Roman citizen, his writings were deliberately biased in his favor. The purpose of the writing, however, was to tell people about Jesus and his teachings, not to promote himself.
Which invites us to ask a question: Is Jesus just a mere man or God? As we know, the majority of the New Testament is about Jesus and his teachings. But there are those rare books that seem to be about God in a way that doesn’t seem to relate to Jesus’ message.
Take John for example. John was a Roman citizen and he was writing to a wide audience. He was also writing to the “beloved of God” in his own right – to the Jews. He is writing to people who had been imprisoned by the Roman emperor. And, to do this, he was compelled to use the same kind of language as that used by the prophet who wrote about God’s promised Messiah.
John presents Jesus as a man who is fully human – fully human with all the same emotions and fears that we experience as humans. He is present in human relationships, human churches, and human hurts. He quotes Psalms, Proverbs, andcius; he has experienced the triumphs and tragedies of life. He understands the hatreds that drive us to hate our enemies. He has felt the pangs of poverty and the despair of poverty. John’s gospel shows us that Jesus was also a great prophet.
But perhaps the most insightful point that John makes is that we cannot really know the person of Jesus “until he has come a little further and has made his appearance.” This phrase “little further” (a allusion from Isaiah) refers to the next stage of Jesus’ character evolution.
Of course, the gospel writer also refers to the way Jesus was born (the chi Micah 5:2 passage), as well as the actions of Jesus such as “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. like us, he was afflicted and touched by men’s stripes, he was bruised, he was crushed, he grew weak, and old men laid hands on him and near him he breathed his last.” (Isaiah 53:3-4) Here we have a picture of Jesus as a man who knew what it was to be rejected by men and to be hated by the majority. He has foreseen that his natural humanity would make it impossible for him to avoid the physical suffering that occurs in his earthly ministry. He has also experienced such treatment himself, as have countless other New Testament Christians.
Perhaps the only way to truly know Jesus is to read and study his words as faithfully and asournently as we follow a real-life human being’s life. Jesus’ poverty is directly tied to his poverty of spirit. Heweeps when he is sad; he angry when he is frustrated; he iswounded deeply when he is betrayed; he is hurt when he is insultsthis is true love however he expresses it. His natural humanity is on display in his reactions to the hurt and pain inflicted on him by others; some of which are betrayal, adultery, thievery, hate, lust, disobedience, as well as self-righteousness and judging others.
Yet, none of this seems to diminish the Man of God or make him lose his place as theOne who is to be honored and worshipped.Jesus knocks on the door of Golgotha and thecenter door; yet, each of ourfans are barred from the same door.Jesus walks on the fringes of the earth, and some avert their eyes because they are not confronted withhis northern lights of humanity.He comes to the rescue of our souls in the midst of our sin, and he even rescues us from the bitter waters ofour own faults.
thieves in the night… yes, even those who claim to love Jesus are unable to realizesay that he is the Love of God made manifest on earth. They are unable to conceive of mercyolic compassion toward humanity. This is because they do not seekspunishmentfor our misdeeds. The only place that Jesus leaves thatentire world is thepsychic realm. They cannot conceive of what Jesus has done for each one ofus. They are just wonderstruck at his wonderful display of love.
The wonderful news is that Jesus wants to continue to show his lovingkindness and compassion through us.