Jesus as the Bookends of John’s Gospel

Bookends hold upright and support a row of books from end to end.  Often times bookends are solid and sure.  John’s Gospel has literary bookends that hold upright the content of his writing.

John begins his Gospel with this intended purpose: Jesus Christ has always been and He will always be.  The Creator God is Jesus Christ.  In contrast to the other gospels, John begins from eternity past by saying, “In the beginning was the WORD and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” [John 1:1]

John concludes the gospel with this intended purpose: Jesus is and will always be human’s means for eternal life. The gospel of John is through and through a call to believe that Jesus is who He says He is.  For John says, “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 20:31]

All the content in-between the bookends of John 1:1 and 20:31 is proof that what John says about Jesus, the Son of God, is truth.  There is no other source of writing in the Scripture that so clearly and effectively declares Jesus Christ as God than the Gospel of John.  From beginning to end John helps us see the Jesus is God.

 

More on this in the weeks to come.

Jesus redeems man

superbad hero

If you could have any superpower you desired, what power would you have? Maybe you would want the power of invincibility, super strength, supersonic speed, or ninja-like fighting skills. Let’s say you were granted the power to have these super powers, what would you do with them? Would you do good? Or would you cause harm? We would like to think that we would be good superheroes, not reckless villains. It is interested to read into the lives of popular superheroes. Each superhero from Spiderman to Batman had an inner power struggle between doing good or evil. Is there any good super hero? Am I capable of doing any good?

here’s the bad news, but…

The gospel would not be good news if there were not bad news.[1] The bad news is that you are a deliberate sinner separated eternally from God and are without hope of saving yourself, but Jesus came as the eternal hope to deliver you from the punishment of your sinfulness. Now I am overjoyed that there is a “but” in the previous sentence. Have you ever received bad news with a “but”? As Greg Gilbert said,

“But. I think that must be the most powerful word a human being can speak. It’s small, but it has the power to sweep away everything that has gone before it. You have cancer. But it can be treated. Your friend was in a car wreck. But he is fine. [You failed the test. But you can still pass the class. You have sinned. But there is hope; Jesus has come.] Sadly, sometimes the but doesn’t come. Sometimes the sentence stops, and all we get is the bad news. Yet those moments only magnify for us the times when the but does come. And they are glorious.”[2]

He Is Your Hope

I am glad that God brings us hope in the midst of our sinful rebellion. Jesus is our hope. For centuries people have been looking for a hope only to be disappointed by not finding any, but the hope did come. God’s Word describes this hope as a Messiah who will come to redeem His people.

Adam and Eve around 4000 B.C. were promised a future offspring who would crush the head of the serpent [Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4]. Abraham in 2000 B.C. was promised a Messiah through his son Isaac [Genesis 12:3; Matthew 1:1-2]. The prophet Micah in 700 B.C. was promised a Messiah born in Bethlehem [Micah 5:2; Luke 2:1-7]. The prophet Isaiah in 700 B.C. was given the promise of a Messiah born of a virgin [Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-23], that He would be sinless [53:9; 1 Peter 2:21-22], that He would do miracles [35:5-6; Matthew 11:2-5] and that we would be beaten, hated, rejected killed, buried, and resurrected [50:6; 53:3-12; read the Gospels]. This is just a sampling of the slews of promises with fulfillments given in the Scriptures. For you and me, there is to little doubt, the promised Messiah—Jesus Christ—has come.

The question is not if Jesus came to this earth. The proof of Jesus’ reality is widely accepted even among skeptics. There is little doubt that Jesus was a real life historical figure. But, who is Jesus? What makes millions of people follow Him? Is He really who He says He is? Can He really save people from their sins?

Who is Jesus and what makes Him so special?

Jesus asks a very good question to His followers, “Who do you Say I am?” [Mark 8:29] Is He just some dude, spiritual sage, good religious teacher or prophet? When we take the time to dive into the life of Jesus we see that He is certainly more than a timeless superhero that did good for the people of planet earth. When Jesus came he was not wearing a cape, he didn’t have a catchy logo or cool theme song. He was not a motivational speaker with a message declaring the power of positive thinking. He is not the pasty white religious guru you see characterized on Family Guy, South Park or the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which take no shame in crossing the line of blasphemy and heresy. This is how the Bible describes Jesus:

Jesus is man. He was born a crying, diaper-filling, thumb sucking, cute-faced baby [Lk.1:34-35]. However, He did not have a normal birth because He was born of a virgin and His daddy was God the Father. He had a miraculous one-of-a-kind birth and sinless life.

Roughly two thousand years ago, Jesus was born in a dumpy, rural, hick town, not unlike those today where guys change their own oil, think pro-wrestling is real, find women who chew tobacco sexy, and eat a lot of hot pockets with their uncle-daddy. Jesus’ mom was a poor, unwed teenage girl who was mocked for claiming she conceived via the Holy Spirit.[3]

The Bible also tells us that He grew as a wise manly man [Luke 2:52]. Like my stepdad, he swung a hammer and built things with His carpenter’s hands [Mark 6:3]. He hurt [Matthew 26:37], He had humor [Mark 4:21], He cried [John 11:35], He was tired [Matthew 8:24], He got mad [Matthew 21:12], He had compassion [Luke 7:13], He felt betrayed [Matthew 26:47-50], He was tempted to sin [Matthew 4:1-10], He was hungry and thirsty [John 4:7; 19:28], He felt pain, and He died [Luke 23:46]. Jesus was a real man through and through from His blood to His bones to His breathe.

Jesus is God. [John 1:1, 14]. He claimed it [John 8:58-59; 14:6], His miracles claimed it [Mark 4:41; John 10:36-39], others claimed it [Matthew 16:16], and God claim it, “This is my son in whom I am well-pleased.” [Matthew 3:17] Jesus offered people forgiveness of sins [Luke 5:20-21; 7:48], asked people to worship and pray to Him [John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:24], and lived sinlessly to prove it [John 8:46]. Anyone who claimed to do these things would either be as C.S. Lewis said, “be a liar, lunatic, or Lord”[4]

Jesus is Prophet, Priest and King. He holds all three offices, and He holds them effectively and perfectly. As prophet He tells the truth about your life and future. At least 50 times in the Gospel of John He says, “I tell you the truth…” As prophet He calls us to repent of our sins. As priest He intercedes your prayers, worship, and cry for repentance on behalf of God [Hebrews 4:15-16]. As king He rules over the affairs of man fairly and sovereignly. He says to us, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” [Mark 1:15] When the Bible refers to Jesus as “Lord,” this is short hand for: master and commander-in-chief of my life. Jesus is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and ruler over all creation [cf. John 18:36-37]. His kingdom will always stand. Jesus does not want to be an inspiration role model or martyr; He wants to be the center of your universe and the champion of your soul.

Jesus is the Suffering Servant. He did not come to be served, but to serve [Mark 10:45]. This is different than most popular kings, priests or kings that you read about throughout humanities history. The Bible describes Jesus as the Lamb of God who became the bloody slaughtered sacrifice for the sins of mankind [John 1:29, 36]. His crucifixion was so grotesque and excruciating that He was unrecognizable. He willingly died as the penal substitute for sin taking upon Himself the wrath of God in my place [1 John 2:2; 4:10]. Nobody takes Jesus’ life from Him; He chose to lay down His life.[5] He took your bullet, sat in your electric chair, and bore your condemnation without an ounce of whining or wincing [cf. Isaiah 53].

Jesus has risen, indeed. He died, but He did not stay dead for long. Three days to be exact [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]. Now He is alive. We have recorded after Jesus rose from the grave He was seen by hundreds [cf. 1 Corinthians 15:5ff]. He conquered sin and death [1 Corinthians 15:55-56] ascended to heaven [Acts 1:6-11], and is seated at the right hand of the Father [Colossian 3:1; Hebrews 8:1]. Since Jesus resurrected, you and I have the hope to resurrect into eternal life too [John 11:25]. The impact of Jesus resurrection rippled through His followers who were transformed and went to their own deaths for the sake of getting Jesus’ life-saving earth-shaking message to the masses.

all this to say, “Jesus is Your Redeemer!”

Who do you say Jesus is? Is Jesus your Savior, Deliverer and Redeemer? If this is who you say Jesus is, then can you back that up? If Jesus is your redeemer, do live like you are redeemed? Jesus did not just come to save you, but to change you from the inside out. He saved you from sin and the need to keep on sinning. If someone saved you from falling off a cliff or paid your ten billion dollar bail bond would you treat that person like crap after the fact? Even if Jesus does not have a cool cape, kicker theme song, or super hero status in your book; He is still your one true to life Redeemer. Never will there be another. Never will you have a better time to bow your knee to Him than now,

Mark 1:14 Jesus came, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


[1] J. Mack Stiles, Marks of the Messenger. IVP Books. Downers Grove, IL. 2010. 27.

[2] Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? Crossway, Wheaton, IL. 2010. 59.

[3] Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears, Vintage Jesus. Crossway Books. Wheaton, IL. 2007. 11.

[4] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. Macmillan, New York. 1952. 40-41.

[5] Jared C. Wilson, Your Jesus Is Too Safe. Kregel Publications. Grand Rapids, MI. 2009. 201.

real questions: prove it?

Ned Anzers: God if you are real…why don’t you prove it?

If you were to draw a picture of God what would He look like? No one really knows what God looks like. Billions of people down through history have tried to paint God in the shape of an animal, as fire or water, in the stars or sun, as distant gods, inner gods, peaceful gods or fearful gods. Some even say there is no God. Almost everybody has a different view of God from each other. Wouldn’t it be nice if God decided to reveal Himself once and for all? Imagine what it would be like to see God, talk to Him, touch Him, sit down and eat with Him.

Jesus says something very amazing.

“Any one that has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:1-14) Many thousands of people saw, touched, talked and ate with Jesus. They kept record of it so that people would know that God does exist. As we read the Bible people tell us over and over again, “God does exist. We know because we met Him.”

Couldn’t these people make this stuff up? Jesus never claimed to be God, did He? In fact…

Jesus claims to be God more than once.

Jesus claimed to be equal with God got people mad (John 10:30-33). He also puts Himself on equal terms with God:

  • John 8:56-58 (Ex.3:13-14) “I AM.”—Jesus claims God’s name as His own.
  • John 8:12; 9:5 “I am the Light of the world.”
  • John 6:35, 48 “I am the Bread of Life.”
  • John 15:1 “I am the True Vine.”
  • John 10:10-11 (Ezek.34:11,14) “I am the Good Shepherd.”
  • John 11:25 “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
  • John 14:6 “I am the Way, the True, and the Life.”

These are stunning words from Jesus, but they are also dangerous words. It would be like going into Ross Aid Stadium and saying I am a Badger fan.

Anyone can claim to be God, can’t they? Yes. Muhammad Ali said, “I have wrestled with an alligator! I tussled with a whale! I handcuffed lightning, threw thunder in jail! Only last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalized a brick. I’m so mean, I make medicine sick! I am the greatest!” Ali knew that if you are going to talk this way that you better back it up or else you will be the laughing stock of the world.

Jesus did what He said.

He controlled the weather (Luke 8:24 “stopped a storm”, handcuffed lighting and threw thunder in jail)

Impressive, but that couldn’t it have been a coincidence? Sure. Yet everyone around Jesus agreed that He did amazing things. He feed 5000 people with a boys school lunch box, He walked on water, He cured sickness, paralysis, blindness, deafness, and brought the dead to life. When Jesus walked the earth, it was as if He owned the place. Well, He did create it (John 1:1-4).

Couldn’t He have tricked people into thinking He was who He was? What Jesus did were not tricks. There was no David Copperfield or CGI. Jesus enemies could not expose Him as a fraud. Jesus did not use His power for wealth, status, or fame. In fact, Jesus was prophesied about hundreds and thousands of years before He was born (where He was born, how He would die, etc.). He fulfilled every prophecy.

Jesus did what He did to prove that God exists.

When Jesus walked the earth that He proved God is real.