John, also known as “the beloved disciple,” was probably the youngest apostle, as well as the only one of the twelve who did not die a martyr’s death. Not only was he special to Jesus and a part of His innermost circle of three, he was used by God to do great things—especially in the writing of the Gospel of John and the letters he penned under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
In the gospel he wrote, he calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” This makes sense to me, because if you had the choice between calling yourself “John” and calling yourself “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” you would probably pick the latter, right? He was always in awe and wonder over the fact that he was so loved by Christ.
John’s portrait of Jesus is written as an eyewitness who was part of these infinitely important events. Five times in this gospel, we find the unusual words “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:23; 19:26; 20:2, 21:7, 21:20). For example, at the very end of John 21:20, it says, “Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them.” Then four verses later, in John 21:24, it says, “This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things and who has written these things.”
So, the one called “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” the one who was there leaning on his shoulder at the Last Supper (13:23), is the one who wrote the Gospel of John and the letters of first, second, and third John.
John starts out as “the son of thunder.” He has an older brother named James. Together, they are called the “sons of thunder.” This has to be one of the coolest nicknames in Scripture. John is known in history as the “apostle of love.” The reason he’s known as the “apostle of love” is because he makes reference to love 80 times in his writings—80 times!
The call of God on John’s life to write the Gospel of John has been celebrated by many throughout the centuries as “the Holy of Holies of the New Testament,” meaning it is one of the most sacred places you can go in order to know God. In fact, one of the most sacred chapters in the entire Bible is the 17th chapter of John. This is the only place we witness our Lord Jesus praying to the Father in that intimate, inter-trinitarian, high priestly prayer. The Gospel of John is also often called “the Holy of Holies of the New Testament,” because in this gospel, the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ is fully displayed.
Think about this with me for a moment: What was not accessible to people in the Old Covenant? It was the Holy of Holies. But it has become accessible to God’s redeemed people in the New Covenant because the veil is down, the way is open, and Christ, our promised redeemer, is now our perfect intercessor.
In Jesus alone, we come boldly into the presence of the almighty God. So, as we enter the Gospel of John, we, like the priests of old on the Day of Atonement, have access to the Holy of Holies to see the glory of Christ. I want you to really treasure with me the word of God and especially this word of God—this good news testimony of Jesus Christ. I want you not to miss how utterly supreme this treasure is to us —that Jesus is to us. We know Jesus in this precious Gospel of John in a very sweet and unique way.
There are four Gospels that tell the story of Christ. The first three, Matthew, Mark and Luke, are known as the “synoptic” Gospels because they “see together with a common view.” The word synoptic literally means “together sight.”
Matthew, Mark, and Luke cover many of the same events in Jesus’ life—most of them from Jesus’ ministry in Galilee. They even do it in much the same order. Nearly 90 percent of Mark’s content is found in Matthew, and about 50 percent of Mark’s appears in Luke.
All of the parables of Christ are found in the Synoptics; there are no parables of Christ told in John. The first three Gospels look at the birth, the life, the experiences, the travels, and the calling of Jesus upon His followers; as well as the events of His life including His arrest, trial, execution, and resurrection. John doesn’t give us the historical view of the life of Christ; John gives us the heavenly story. He gives us the supernatural view of Christ, and in that way, John is unique. Ninety percent of what is in John is not found in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Ninety percent of this is John’s alone to declare under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
John does not include Jesus’ genealogy, the testimony of His birth, His baptism, His temptation in the desert, His casting out of demons, His parables, His travels, His transfiguration, His institution of the Lord’s Supper, His agony in Gethsemane, nor His ascension into heaven. Why? Because John is not focused on the history of Jesus’ life. Instead, John’s Gospel stands, uniquely, as a beautiful, powerful look at who the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is and what He came to do.
A major body of the Gospel of John is what is referred to as the “Book of Signs” (chapters 2:1–12:50), which testifies of seven miracles or “signs” which proclaim Jesus as the messiah, the Son of God. Another notable, exclusive feature of John’s Gospel is the seven “I am” statements that were made by Jesus, identifying Himself as God and an equal part of the Holy Trinity.
Further, the testimony of Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, which includes the famous John 3:16 passage and His ministry in Samaria (including the woman at the well in John 4), are not found in any synoptic counterpart. The resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus’ frequent visits to Jerusalem, and His extended dialogues or discourses in the temple and various synagogues are also included only in the Gospel of John.
So, the point is God did something very important in and through John for him to write these important testimonies of Jesus Christ down for us.
Later, John penned three short letters that have become, for us today, a beacon of hope and our grounding of certainty in a hopeless, uncertain world. Let’s look at 1 John 2:12–14 today, to build on what we read this week and remind ourselves of the certainty we need to have in this uncertain world.
1 John 2:12 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
First of all, he is writing to the Church—to those showing evidence of salvation. He is saying, “Your sins are forgiven. You can be certain of this—nothing more to prove, nothing more to accomplish; It has been done by Jesus.”
1 John 2:13a I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
Notice he says “you know.” “You know” is affirmation language. These words are reminders of who we are. It is a plea for certainty. He is saying to those of us who are alive in Christ, “You know.”
1 John 2:13b-14 I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
Don’t forget it: You know! You have! You are!
John is saying to his brothers and sisters in Christ, “Be certain! Remember. You overcame the evil one. You are strong in Christ. The word of God abides in you!”
He wants them to be so certain that he says two of these things twice:
- “You know Him, who is from the beginning.”
- “You have overcome the evil one.”
1 John 2:14b “I write to you … because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”
Notice two things: the evidence of strength and the evidence of victory over temptation and sin. Why do they have these evidences? Because the word of God abides in them!
How does one navigate this uncertain world? How does one grow in maturity in faith and life in Christ? The answer is the word of God!
Don’t minimize the crucial place of the word of God here. We need to receive it, and we need it to abide in us. When we do this, we abide in Christ. We abide in His great accomplishment on the cross that defeats the accusations of the devil.
We overcome the evil one by the word of God because day by day this word is abiding in us. It is living in us.
The gospel—the great story of redemption, the great Christ of redemption, the great God of redemption, the great process of redemption, and the great effects of redemption—this gospel, this word of God, is not something to be believed once and left behind. We believe the word of God and then it “abides” in us.
Some of you really need this today. You need to stop trying to fight the evil one, with all his lies and temptations against you, on your own.
John is saying, “Know who you are in Christ. Know that, in Christ, you have defeated the evil one.” Don’t kind of know it. Know it. Claim it. Live out of it. Abide in it! Be certain in His victorious work on your behalf!
John was the beloved of Christ. The Scriptures say, again and again, that we who are in Christ are also His beloved. May we live our lives certain of these truths that change everything about us and give us a confidence, even when the world is coming at us all of the time. I am praying for you.
Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:3).
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC