“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31
That you may believe. This is why John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote his gospel. In fact, the word “belief” occurs ninety-eight times in John, far more than any other book of the Bible. Belief is what God had in mind. But not just belief in the sense of acknowledging some fact of history. Rather, belief in the biblical sense – an ever-deepening trust in, love for, and devotion to Jesus Christ. That’s what God is aiming to draw us into through John’s gospel.
This Sunday we’ll begin what is sure to be a belief-strengthening journey through the Gospel of John. The book really is a remarkable one – and unique as well. The other three gospels are known together as the “Synoptic” gospels because of their similarities. John is different. God had something very distinct he wanted to convey through John. He wanted to highlight the identity of Jesus as the Son of God. At the same time, he wanted to show Christ’s personal, human nature by recording long and intimate conversations with individuals. God is revealing the fullness of the person of Jesus Christ so that we can indeed believe in him.
Yet it’s not an easy book. It’s full of the paradoxes that come along with Jesus being fully God and fully man. Several extended teachings from Jesus stretch our understanding. Jesus answers questions in ways that we would never expect. This book invites us to not just passively read, but to think deeply, to ask questions, and to cry out for understanding. But on the other side of that effort, there’s a rich and resilient faith.
So buckle up! As you come this Sunday and future Sundays, come ready. Read and reread beforehand. Pray for fresh insight. Write down thoughts and reflect on them later. Discuss these passages with friends and family. And then receive – receive a greater depth of belief in the Son of God who took on flesh.