We come to the last of the four gospels. After having descended from
heaven, having come down upon a mountain as a grand and glorious King;
after further descend, becoming a humble beast of burden and carrying the
sins of the world; after descending from Godís level and coming down to
the human level; we soar once again. Jesus Christ ascends from the grave
and soars triumphantly over the fallen human condition. His ascendancy
back to His Father and reclaiming the sovereignty over the earth which
Adam had lost is pictured like an eagle, high and lifted up. The gospel of John escorts
us to resurrection life with the Godhead. Yes, Jesus is King. Yes, Jesus
was the suffering servant. Yes, Jesus is the Man of all men. But He is
also the resurrection and the life. He is also pictured as a glorious
eagle that mounts up with wings above all human degradation and perversion
and restores us to right standing before the holy throne in the heavens.
We are given such a more far reaching vision in Johnís gospel. This
account stands so starkly different and unique
from the others that the Church over time has come to call the three
others the "synoptic" gospels, or those that can be compared side by side,
while John's gospel is on a level all its own. The other three
gospel writers were very good and faithful documenters of what they had
experienced and they presented Jesus Christ as they knew Him. John though
had a vision that stepped beyond the pale. He did not simply
document the physical experiences like the other three tended to do.
He reached out for the conclusion that the other three inferred. He
tried to put words to the indescribable inference that the other three
were making. He did not start where the others did. Matthew
began with the genealogy of
Abraham. Mark began with John the Baptist in the dessert. Luke
began in the house of Zechariah and Elizabeth. These three began
with human life on human soil. John transcends all this. He
takes the vision far beyond human life. He starts where the Bible
itself starts. He starts in the beginning.
"In the beginning God..." is how the Bible starts. John starts his
gospel in a similar way. "In the beginning," he says, harkening back
to the very first revelation that God had made to mankind, "In the
beginning was the Word..." John, in his very first phrase,
restates the very first phrase of the Bible. Not only does he
begin outside space and time, not only does he reach beyond created
existence into the infinite, but he also forms an equation, he draws a
parallel between the Jewish concept of the eternal God as stated in
Genesis with a Person that he has seen and touched and whom he defines as
"The Word." God is the Word. The Word is God. And this
Word is a person. This person is Jesus Christ the Lord. This
Person, as hard as it was for the Jewish mind to grasp, had an eternal
existence with the Father. This Person was "the Word" that God had
used to create all things. And this Person, the "Word" of God, took
on flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
John minces few words. Had John never penned his gospel, there would
still be ample evidence from the others that the Man Jesus Christ is God.
However, the work of the Church in clearly articulating this truth would
have been much harder. John very boldly and emphatically proclaims
it out of the gates. Jesus Christ is God. He is eternal.
He has ever been in existence. And He came down from His lofty,
prestigious abode, from His dwelling place with the Father; He humbled
Himself and became a man. Thence, Jesus Christ the man as is so
beautifully and warmly presented in Luke's gospel is also the eternal God
that the Jews had esteemed and even heathen cultures had recognized at a
distance. Here was God, the One who had created all things, the One
who had created their very being, who was responsible for their very
existence, standing in their midst. Here was God, who had
orchestrated the entire Jewish history, who came to His own Jewish people,
to fulfill and who was the great hope that He had instilled in their
teaching and culture. Here was their Messiah for whom they had long
awaited. But they rejected the very One who had given them this hope
and who was the fulfillment of this hope. This was their God, who
had come to them for the sole purpose of fulfilling the law that He had
given them and that they were incapable of fulfilling. But they
rejected Him. And their rejection of Him fulfilled the prophecies
that He had made through their prophets of old and opened this glorious
gospel of His atoning work to the entire gentile world.
Jesus Christ the Man is also God. This is a further, progressive
revelation. He identified with us in becoming a man. Now He
would have us identify with Him, through His manhood, to know the glory of
His deity. He desires to share His eternal, indestructible,
imperishable life with all the human beings that He has created.
He invites us to "know God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent." He has
come in order that we "might have life, and have it more abundantly."
"the way, the truth and the life. No person can come to the Father
but by" Him. He provides ample provision for the unity of the human
race and the unity of that race with God, "that they would be one" as He
is one with the Father. This is the profoundly powerful and
startling revelation from John, who seemed inadequate to find words to
express the glory that he beheld in this Man, the "glory as of the only
Son from the Father."
The revelation that Jesus Christ the man is also God continues as one of
the biggest stumbling blocks for many. The idea that Jesus was not a
man was a heresy which was easily adaptable where superstition abounded.
In our current day, where most superstition has been laid to rest, we
nevertheless encounter very strong opposition to this Man's deity, which
itself is claimed to be superstitious. If one can dismiss His
manhood then it is all a fable, a fairytale, since He could not be the
redeemer of mankind if He Himself is not human. But if one dismisses
His deity, then the plan falls short of total and complete redemption.
If He was simply a man like us, then at most He could redeem one other
man. Since He Himself was sinless, He being only a man could only
pay for the sins of one other man. Secondly, if He was more than
merely a man but not God, then He could only redeem us to some other level
and not to the level of God, not to the position of standing before His
eternal throne of grace. He could not redeem us to God if He Himself
was not God. There would still be required some further step in the
process to put us on equal footing with our Creator.
So John, more than the rest, locks down this very fundamental and glorious
truth of the divinity of this Man. John's gospel soars like an
eagle. It transcends the human plane and takes us to the eternal
throne in the heavens. Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, is
God. He is to be worshipped. Every knee shall bow to Him.
If He were not God this would be idolatry. He is to be adored.
The entire Bible ascribes to Him attributes which, if He were not God,
would be considered blasphemy. Even David in the Old Testament says,
"The LORD (that is, the eternal Father) says (that is, He speaks; He has a
conversation with someone) to my lord (that is, to David's Lord, David's
master, David's sovereign): 'Sit at my right hand...'" God the
Father is bidding someone else to sit next to Him. And this someone
is "lord" to David. If this someone were not God, then David could
be considered a heinous idolater. And also, the classic syllogism
which the Lord Himself used to silence Jewish questions confounded the
great teachers of the law who could come up with no answer. He left
them scratching their heads.
...Jesus asked them a question, saying, "What do you think of the
Christ? Whose son is he?" They said to him, "The son of David." He
said to them, "How is it then that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls
him Lord..." Matthew 22:41-43
The glorious gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ fully and
completely answers to this syllogism and causes anyone who is unwilling to
open their hearts to mock, ridicule, or turn away speechless. Jesus
the Christ is human through the lineage of David. The Jews
understood that part. He would be a man. Yet He also can be
called Lord by David because He is also of the lineage of God. Jesus
the Christ, with whom they were arguing, was that Man and He is that God.
Each gospel has a turning point. The turning point of the first
three is the revelation that came to Peter and the apostles in the region
of Caesarea Philippi regarding Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, the Son
of the living God. John however, characteristically, turns his
gospel upon something much more dramatic, having already established the
deity of this Man. The turning point of his gospel is found in the
eleventh chapter. Not only is He King over all the earth. Not
only is He the suffering servant who died for the sins of the world.
Not only is He a man, like us, who sympathizes with our weaknesses and
frailties and was the perfect stand-in for our deserved execution.
And not only is this Man also God the almighty, the eternal Sovereign who
has always existed. He is also the resurrection and the life!
John takes us forward to eternity. He gives us a glorious glimpse of
the destiny of redeemed humanity. Post-earthly life is resurrection
life. Post-earthly life is the true life originally given to Adam
and restored to us through Christ Jesus. Currently the whole world
is in the power of the evil one. Currently this earthly realm is
still beneath the bondage of corruption to decay, or death.
Currently every human life is terminal, facing the cessation of physical
life. But the great gift of faith with which the Father
blesses His chosen ones sees beyond death, hell and the grave. The
last enemy is death. And the life that is currently lived in Jesus
Christ has the assurance of victory over this deadliest of foes.
There is life beyond the grave.
Mankind is faced with termination. Mankind is faced with death.
And many Christians, though truly redeemed and restored to life, have
gotten caught up in lost mankind's dilemma. But we have a hope that
transcends the death and decay around us. We know by faith that
our Redeemer lives. We know of one life that passed through death
and could not be held by it. We know that His life is imperishable
"I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he
die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never
die." John 11:25 & 26
John gives us a glimpse of resurrection life lived in Christ Jesus.
Whoever lives in Him shall never die. The earthly, physical, carnal
corrupt life indeed will pass away. But the perishable will put on
the imperishable. The mortal will put on immortality. Death at
last will be conquered.
So the redeemed community has a life well worthy fighting and dying for.
She has a glorious King who reigns in the heavens, Christ Jesus Her Lord.
She is currently being fitted and made ready to rule with Him forever.
And part of the preparation process is learning to "put on Christ," to be
found in Him as She exists now, not having a righteousness of Her own, but
in accepting Him as Her righteousness, Her wisdom, Her justification, Her sanctification,
Her redemption. She is learning that She is the
righteousness of God in His Son and Her Savior, Jesus Christ. She,
being composes entirely of human beings is human. And She is His
body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. She is one with Him,
as He and His Father are one. And She is being prepared, being made
ready for a future life, a resurrection life with and in Him, which is the
quintessential and sought after dream of the race and is Her eternal reality.
This is Her living hope.
So John magnificently completes the gospel narrative. Jesus our
Savior was in the
beginning. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the
eternal hope for all mankind.
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which
are not written in this book; but these are written 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