The Gospel of John is one massive invitation; an invitation to “come and see” (1:46) Jesus – the one through whom everything was made (1:3) and the one through whom everyone can be redeemed (20:31).
John was written by John the Apostle (son of Zebedee), an original disciple and “beloved disciple” by Jesus (13:23). He, along with his brother James, were given the title “sons of thunder” by Jesus in Mark 3:17. After Christ’s ascension, he became a “pillar” in the Jerusalem church (Gal. 2:9), serving alongside Peter and James (Jesus’ brother), ultimately being exiled to the island of Patmos by the Romans. After suffering greatly (even being boiled alive and surviving!) he would die there an old man.
Most historians date John’s Gospel between A.D. 70-90 on the island of Patmos, after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (A.D. 70), but before his later writings of 1-3 John and Revelation. Unlike the synoptic (Greek for “together” or “same”) gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), John did not write his gospel with a strict chronology in mind. Again, John’s objective is a little different than the other gospel writers. He intends to tell the story of Jesus by explaining exactly who Jesus is and what Jesus came to do, but not simply through mere data, (information). Rather, John chooses to do so with data and with doxology (wonder and awe) so there is a much more profound and strategic emphasis on the glory of Jesus (1:14).
John’s audience was both Jews and Gentiles whereas Matthew wrote only to Jews and Luke wrote only to Gentiles (a Gentile, Theophilus).
More than anything else, more than even the great and mighty deeds that Jesus accomplished during his three year public ministry on the earth, John is focused simply on the person of Jesus. His thrust is this:
“You’ve got to see Jesus for yourself. There’s so much more to Him than you could imagine or hope.”
As we navigate through John’s Gospel over the next year, there are two questions in particular which we can ask along the way that will be helpful in keeping us laser-focused on John’s invitation to “Come and See!”
- Who is Jesus?
- What has Jesus come to accomplish in the world?
These questions are always answered most primarily at the cross and the empty tomb, and John intends to lead his readers to that ultimate end. This is evidenced in how 40% of the book is dedicated to the last week of Jesus’ life – the most crucial week of not only Jesus’ life, but in all of human history.
And why does John spend so much time giving us so much information and details about Jesus?
He does in order that “you may believe that Jesus Christ (is), the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in his name.” (20:30-31)