“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.” Luke 9:51-56 ESV
While reading and meditating on Luke during the week, this was one of the accounts that stood out to me. Amidst Peter’s confession of Christ, the Transfiguration, and the cost of following Jesus is this seemingly random insertion of a story. But as we well know there’s no such thing as a chance story. Everything Jesus did during his ministry had a purpose. Everything the gospel writers recorded were also therefore purposeful. Here in Luke 9 we see that James and John want to call down fire on the Samaritans for not receiving Jesus. Perhaps it was because they had just witnessed the Transfiguration and venerated Christ all the more so they were more incensed than usual that the Samaritans rejected Jesus. Perhaps they knew there were instances where Old Testament prophets called down fire. It was probably both. But when I read this account you know what I see? I see a vengeful, racist man. He was vengeful for a slight against his Lord and seemed to be just a little too eager to wipe out the Samaritans which was probably a result of his and many other Jews’ hatred of the Samaritans.
But what’s even more amazing? This man is called the Apostle of Love. Later when writing his own gospel account this man tells of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. This is a changed man.
So there’s my introduction for the author of John. And now for the book. John is the fourth and last of the Gospel accounts and focuses on Christ’s deity. While Mark begins with Jesus’ ministry and Matthew and Luke begin with His birth, John begins at creation. The first verse is this “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
As mentioned before the purpose of the gospel of John is to show Christ’s deity. We see this in seven “I am” statements throughout the book:
- “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35)
- “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12)
- “I am the door” (John 10:7)
- “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11)
- “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)
- “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6)
- “I am the vine” (John 15:1)
In his statement in John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am”, Jesus is making a claim to full deity. Not only does He claim to have existed before Abraham, but He takes for Himself the sacred name of God. The is the point of John: Jesus is the exclusive savior, greater than Moses and Abraham, God in the flesh, and we are to believe in Him.
“Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:30-31 ESV
We can divide John into 5 key sections:
- Beginnings (John 1)
- Miracles (John 2-11:46)
– Turning water into wine in John 2
– Healing the nobleman’s son in John 4:46-54
– Healing the sick man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5
– Feeding the 5,000 in John 6:1-14
– Walking on water in John 6:15-21
– Healing the blind man in John 9
– Raising Lazarus from the grave in John 11
- Final week and teachings (John 11:47-17:26)
- Betrayal, trial, and death (John 18-19)
- Resurrection (John 20-21)
The Gospel of John is about Christ and His deity. He is the main character and the focus should be on Him. As Christians Jesus Christ is the object of our affections and we delight in the Gospel of John because it is about Him. At the same time, the Gospel of John was written by the apostle John. It was written by a man that we see elsewhere as brash and bigoted. A man who is one of the sons of thunder, a pair of brothers known to give in to a wild and thunderous anger. But through the years of being with Jesus and learning with Jesus ultimately culminating in seeing his Savior die on the cross, John changed. He became the disciple whom Jesus loved.