This is the last in a series of five talks on Talking About Jesus. Different ways the Bible speaks about communicating Jesus / to people who don’t know him.
(slide) We’ve seen GOD’S perspective. That he’d always planned for Jesus to be a Saviour FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. To keep him for just one nation was TOO SMALL A THING. God’s love for THE WORLD was so great he sent Jesus.
Then we saw how JESUS went about the task of talking about himself. Jn 4. His conversation with the Samaritan woman. That he didn’t use excuses to remain quiet. But that he took the opportunities in normal conversations to talk about eternally significant things.
Then we saw how the APOSTLE PAUL went about his task. How he prayerfully, clearly, ly, wisely, and graciously MADE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY to talk about Jesus.
Last week it was the Apostle PETER’S turn. His approach was that when you suffer for being a Christian, respond to it WELL. And then ALWAYS BE PREPARED to give a reason for the hope you have when people ask.
This week, it’s the Apostle JOHN’S turn. The guy who wrote John’s Gospel, as well as the letters of John, and Revelation. And in a of verses near the end of his gospel we get an insight into his whole approach to telling people about Jesus. It’s an approach that focuses on THREE IMPORTANT WORDS.
Let’s pray and ask for God’s help as we look at Talking about Jesus JOHN’S way.
Three important words.
I’m not sure whether you’re someone who likes LISTS or not. When I was younger, there were whole BOOKS of LISTS. The ten BIGGEST, or the ten MOST, or the ten FASTEST. Ten WORST, and so on.
But I found a list of the MOST IMPORTANT WORDS for RELATIONSHIPS. See what you think. (slide)
The six most important words: (Any guesses?) “I admit I made a mistake”
The five most important words: “You are everything to me”
The four most important words: “How can I help?”
The three most important words: “I love you”
The two most important words: “I’m sorry”
The one most important word: “Us”
Not bad. Though I reckon the ONE most important word for relationships would be GOD, not US.
But what about for John? What are HIS most important words? In his gospel there’s a number of THEMES he keeps returning to. Big ideas that are significant in what John thinks about how he presents Jesus.
And in ch 20 v30-31, there’s THREE of these themes. And they’re the three important words I want to talk about.
So, have a look at the two verses. Let’s read them aloud together. 20:30-31. There on the screen (slide). And then I want to see if you can work out what the three key words are:
30 Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
SIGNS, BELIEVE, and LIFE.
Firstly, SIGNS. Jesus performed SIGNS. When John writes about Jesus’ miracles, he doesn’t use the word for MIRACLE, or WORK of POWER, like the other gospels. He uses the word SIGN.
When Jesus turned the water into wine in ch 2, we’re told
11 This, the first of his miraculous SIGNS, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. HE THUS REVEALED HIS GLORY, and his disciples put their FAITH in him.
The sing reveals who Jesus is. Reveals his GLORY. So people can see JESUS.
At the end of ch 4. Jesus heals the official’s son, and we read (v54)
54 This was the SECOND miraculous sign that Jesus performed,
And when he feeds the 5000, ch 6 v14,
14 After the people saw the miraculous SIGN that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely THIS IS THE PROPHET who is to come into the world.”
Do you see it? A sign SIGNIFIES something. POINTS to something. Helps people to take notice of something. In this case, to notice JESUS.
But a sign is never the centre of attention itself. Nobody goes to Sydney Harbour, or the Opera House to take a photo of the SIGN that points in that direction. The sign just helps you GET there. It’s all about the REALITY, not the sign.
Unless it’s a sign we saw at our church camp a of years ago (slide). That was a sign worth taking a photo of. Gordon Falls. And he did!
And it’s the same with the signs Jesus did. They’re designed to POINT PEOPLE TOWARDS JESUS. Not so people can marvel at the tricks, or enjoy a free feed, or simply so they can be healed. People need to SEE JESUS. And that’s exactly why John describes the signs Jesus does for us. Why he wrote the whole book. “Jesus did many other miraculous signs which are not recorded. But THESE ones are written that you may BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST”.
LOTS of things Jesus did. John didn’t describe ALL of them. But the signs he DOES pick are there for the EXPRESS PURPOSE of pointing people to Jesus.
And that’s something people sometimes MISS.
There’s a major evangelistic rally in October some of the Pentecostal churches are organising at Blacktown Showgrounds. They’re getting a German evangelist Suzette Hattingh to run HEALING RALLIES. And that’s the way they’re going to be advertised. And I really hope and pray lots of people become Christians. But I’m just afraid the focus will all be on the HEALING, and not on Jesus.
People will come because they’ve got a sore back, or cancer, or they’re blind, or can’t fall pregnant. Not because they want to be forgiven, or want to know God through Jesus.
And they MIGHT walk away with healed bodies. But still not know Jesus, and not have their sins forgiven. And that would be tragic! That’s getting distracted by the SIGN, and missing out on the REALITY it’s POINTING TO.
In the chapter after Jesus feeds the 5000, ch 6, the crowd follows him to the other side of the lake. And, in 6:26 Jesus says to them
“I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, NOT BECAUSE YOU SAW MIRACULOUS SIGNS but because you ATE THE LOAVES and had your fill. 27 DO NOT WORK FOR FOOD THAT SPOILS, but for food that endures to ETERNAL LIFE, which THE SON OF MAN will give you.
He’s saying, Don’t get distracted by the SIGNS. Bread and fish will go off tomorrow. Healing will only last for a few years. Keep your focus on ME. The one the signs POINT TO. And then, in v35 he says,
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to ME will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
Get your eyes of loaves of bread that will satisfy your hunger for a FEW HOURS. Fix them on ME, the bread that gives life. And I’ll satisfy you FOREVER.
And I want to scream out to people going to the rally looking to get their legs fixed, or their sore necks, or their indigestion. Look to Jesus – he’s the strength and the life and the power you need. Way more important than ONLY a body that works.
Word number one. SIGNS. Signs that point people to Jesus.
But let me ask you: Are YOU a SIGN? Do you point people to Jesus?
- Or do you make him FUZZY? Do you point somewhere else? AWAY from Jesus. Nothing turns people off Jesus quicker than individuals or churches that don’t do what they say. Hypocrites leave a bad taste in the mouth of EVERYONE. Be consistent! Point people to Jesus.
- Or perhaps you’re a GUERRILLA Christian. Largely disguised among the general population. Indistinguishable. Occasionally sticking your head out to make an attack. Then bolting back to safety. Nobody KNOWS you’re a Christian. That’s like an old sign the lettering’s fallen off. Points SOMEWHERE – just no one knows WHERE. Are you AFRAID to stand up for Jesus. That’s not being a sign!
Are you a SIGN? Do you point people to Jesus?
- Or perhaps you DO stand up. People know you’re a Christian. But you GET DISTRACTED? It’s a great approach to take when people start asking questions about Christianity. Try to turn them around and get people looking at Jesus.
- If someone asks, “How do you know God exists? What’s he like?” Say, “Jesus said he was the image of the invisible God. Let’s look at what he was like.”
- If someone asks, “what about other religions?” Say, “Jesus said he was the only way people could come to the Father. No one comes to the Father except through him. Let’s look at what ELSE Jesus said.”
- If someone asks about the reliability of the Bible, get them looking at the gospels.
- If someone want to talk about the mistakes the church has made through history. Talk about how Jesus d hypocrites, and wanted a pure church TOO. But that he also came to SAVE sinners who turned to him.
- If someone wants to talk about EVOLUTION. My advice is to say there’s some things Christians have a difference of opinion about, but who Jesus was is the most important thing. And the thing we ARE clear about.
Are YOU a sign? Do you point people to Jesus?
Or, here’s another mistake we make.
- Do you take the limelight for yourself? Are you more concerned for YOUR reputation than you are for that of Jesus? Are the things you say and do as a Christian determined by what will paint YOU in a good light? Or Jesus? Are they HIS priorities or YOURS that drive your agenda? HIS kingdom you’re building, or YOURS?
I’ve heard that sort of thing from some people starting out in Youth Work. I’m going to be cool, so the kids will LIKE me. Then I can show that following Jesus is cool too.
Is your attitude like that of John the Baptist. In Jn 3:30, his disciples are worried Jesus is attracting more followers than John. But John says he’s just like the best man. His job is all about MAKING THE BRIDEGROOM LOOK GOOD. Pointing everyone TO HIM. He’s just a SIGNPOST. V30. He must become GREATER. I must become LESS.
Is that YOUR declaration? Are you a SIGNPOST for Jesus?
Word number two. Believe. John described the signs Jesus did so we might BELIEVE that he is the Christ, the Son of God. It’s a major theme in John. 88 times he uses the word. It’s only used 36 times in Mt, Mark and Luke COMBINED.
To believe is to TRUST. To place your CONFIDENCE in. It’s more than simply taking Jesus’ advice. More than just following his example.
To trust Jesus means to trust his identity. And his work. Believe who he is. And trust what he’s done. To believe that he’s the Christ, the Son of God, means to recognise him as God’s anointed king, his Saviour, his representative, his ambassador, his spokesperson, his IMAGE.
And that’s not just something you do WITH YOUR HEAD. It’s not a theoretical thing. Like trusting that Nathan Rees is the Premier. Not that he might be for much longer.
To trust is to DEPEND ON. It’s being stuck down a well you’re drowning in, and when a rope lands next to you, and a voice calls out to put the harness on, and that he’ll pull you out, believing means to put the harness on, and hold onto the rope as if your life depends on it. Because it DOES. It’s trusting the voice at the top of the well.
Believing that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God is a matter of life and . John 1:12-13
12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become CHILDREN OF GOD-
Listen to his words. John 3:14-15.
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
In the desert, in Moses’ time, the Israelites were dying of snake bite. God told them to LOOK AT THE BRONZE SNAKE and they’d be healed. They’d LIVE. Look to Jesus, hanging on a cross, trust that God is saving you through that action. And eternal life is yours.
Trusting is a matter of life and . Listen to Jesus in John 5:24-25
24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and BELIEVES him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; HE HAS CROSSED OVER FROM TO LIFE.
Is that something YOU’VE done? Who do you think Jesus is? Today can be the day you pass over from to life. From condemnation to acquittal. From guilt to forgiveness. Trust Jesus. Trust his words, and his work.
The context of these verses in ch 20 is doubting Thomas. Jesus has been raised from the . Proving he’s God’s Son, God’s chosen king. But Thomas hasn’t seen him yet. And he doesn’t believe what the other disciples are saying. V25
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
Unless I SEE, I won’t believe. It’s what plenty of people say THESE DAYS. PROVE IT. Prove God’s real. Prove Jesus IS who he SAID he IS.
It’s a cheeky attitude, isn’t it? Daring the God of the Universe to prove he exists to an insignificant individual.
But it’s exactly what Jesus does for Doubting Thomas. V26.
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
And Thomas DOES. He responds, “My LORD and my GOD” The SIGN points to the REALITY. So that he might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.
And then Jesus has some words for US. Those of us eavesdropping in on the conversation a of thousand years later.
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have SEEN me, you have believed; blessed are those who have NOT seen and yet have BELIEVED.”
There’s something of God’s blessing for those who SEE THE SIGNS, recognise they point towards who Jesus was. And TRUST HIM.
Why are they blessed? Because of the RESULT of that faith. Our THIRD word. LIFE.
John says, “By believing you may have LIFE in his name” It’s another of John’s KEY WORDS. 49 times the word’s used by John. Perhaps the most well-known at Jn 3:16
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever BELIEVES in him SHALL NOT PERISH but have ETERNAL LIFE .
Having LIFE is the opposite of NOT PERISHING. Not being DESTROYED. Trusting Jesus is the way to avoid God’s judgment, and to LIVE INSTEAD.
And it’s ETERNAL. That’s life that DOESN’T FINISH. But it’s also about life that’s ULTIMATE. COMPLETE. Lived to full potential. Lived with the perspective of the ETERNAL ONE.
So, in that sense, John’s talking about life THAT BEGINS NOW. That’s the aspect Jesus is talking about in Jn 10:10. He’s the good shepherd who’s going to look after his sheep. Not lead them into danger. V10
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life , and have it TO THE FULL. OR ABUNDANT life.
That’s what John wants people to have when they recognise Jesus. Is that the life YOU’VE got?
It’s the sort of life people are HUNGRY FOR. SEARCHING for. But they’re searching for life in all the wrong places. In promotion, or renovation, or family holidays, or leisure, or retirement security.
How’s life for YOU at the moment? Distracted, busy, empty, uncertain, hollow?
Knowing and trusting Jesus is what LIFE IS ALL ABOUT. GIVE him your life. Hand it OVER to him. He’s DESIGNED you. He knows what’s BEST for your life. Living HIS WAY is the only way for HIS PURPOSES to be brought about.
Keep your eyes on Jesus. Do it JOHN’s way. Read John’s gospel. Slowly, meditatively, together with someone else, prayerfully
That’s John’s purpose. Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.