You may have read through the Gospel of John in the past and noticed that his story of Jesus is a little different. In contrast to the other Gospels, John takes Jesus all the way back—to the beginning of Creation! This startling introduction presents Jesus as part of the Godhead. In words reminiscent of the Creation story, John begins his book: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1:1). Word is from the Greek term logos, which means different things to different people. The Jews think of it as the power of God, for all God has to do is speak the words, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3) and there is light. The Greeks think of it as cosmic reason, the well-designed frame on which the universe is built. Jesus is both of these—the power of God, and the one whose signature is stamped on the universe. But John takes the term still further. Just as a word reveals a thought, Jesus is the expression of God, physically revealing the invisible, spiritual presence of God. Jesus is God who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (1:14).
John also leaves out some things. Where are the parables? What about Jesus’ birth, His baptism, temptation, the Last Supper? What about His agonizing prayer on the night of his arrest, or His ascension into the sky? John, probably written last of the four Gospels, does not repeat most of stories that may have been circulating for decades. Instead, he focuses on Jesus’ deity, using carefully selected miracles and teachings that propel this theme.
John focuses on seven “signs” whose purpose is to reveal “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (20:31). John selected the signs he used with the apologetic purpose of creating intellectual (“that you may believe”) and spiritual (“that believing you may have life”) conviction about the Son of God. But there is also great depth for believers in this Gospel as well. John reveals that Jesus used seven “I am” statements to describe His ministry, each revealing something else about His ministry and each rich with symbolism and meaning. If the action-packed Gospel of Mark was written for shorter attention spans, John has the opposite end of the spectrum in mind: people who enjoy peeling off layer upon layer of dramatic, insightful symbolism, and people who want nothing more than extensive, detailed teaching sessions led by the Master Teacher.
I hope that you will continue with us on this exciting journey as we look at the Gospel of John over these next few months!
My hope is that my article this month will serve as a call to prayer — prayer for our nation, prayer for our leaders, and even prayer for our world.
As we gather to celebrate the birth of our nation, we would do well to remember what we have lost. I, unlike some, do not believe that America was founded as a Christian nation. I do, however, believe that America was founded on Christian principles and by men that had political ideals that were deeply informed by their Christian worldview. How else can you explain Benjamin Franklin’s call to prayer on June 28, 1787 (as recorded by James Madison) which helped reinvigorate a stalled Constitutional Convention?
And have we forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.’ I firmly believe this and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.
The men at the Convention couldn’t help but be influenced by a Christian worldview. Among the delegates were 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and only 3 deists–Williamson, Wilson, and Franklin–this at a time when church membership entailed a sworn public confession of biblical faith. They may not have had faith leading to salvation, but almost all thought biblically, which resulted in them forming a particular type of government.
- The Founders understood that fear of God, moral leadership, and a righteous citizenry were necessary for their great experiment to succeed.
- With a sober understanding of the fallenness of man, they devised a system of limited authority and checks and balances.
- They did not establish Christianity–or any other faith–as the religion of our nation, but they structured a political climate that was encouraging to Christianity and accommodating to religion, rather than hostile to it.
Remembering all this, this is what I mourn: the loss of a Biblical literacy. This is why I weep: the loss of religious liberty. This is why I fear: there is no common underpinning or understanding of the human condition that brings us together so that we believe in “one God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
(I am deeply indebted to Greg Koukl and his article on the Founding Fathers.)