John 20:30-31 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 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.
People that write books have different reasons for doing so. Some authors write books to make money, supporting themselves from the proceeds. People in the academic world write books because they are expected to do so. They must “publish or perish,” since only those that write well are able to get and keep a job in the academic world. Some write simply for the joy of writing, and some write to bring glory to themselves. John’s purpose for writing is different than any of these. John writes to bring glory to Jesus Christ.
Over the next few months, we will be going through John’s Gospel together as a church. It is appropriate, then, to think about John’s summary of his book, which appears in chapter 20:30-31. John wrote so that people throughout the entire world would be able to hear and understand that Jesus is the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament, who is both God and Man, and who died for the forgiveness of sin, so that those trusting in him would have eternal life.
However, there is another reason why these verses are so appropriate for us today. Besides serving as an introduction to the Gospel of John, they also help us to understand the role of a minister. These verses not on summarize John’s Gospel, they are closely related to the entire message of the Bible. The entire Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, teaches us about Jesus Christ and the salvation that he brings. Since this gospel is at the center of the Bible’s teaching, it should always characterize the messages that the pastor preaches. As a church, you must pray that I would preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and preach it well. Pray that our God would change the hearts of people so that they would be able to believe in him and trust in him for eternal life.
John begins by saying that Jesus did many signs, far more than John has written in his book. The signs that John has written about serve to help people to believe that Jesus is one sent by God who brings about salvation. Let’s think for a moment about some of the signs that John tells us about. Jesus’ first public miracle is his turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana. This sign had an affect on his disciples. John tells us that, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11). His disciples believed after they saw what he did. Likewise, when Jesus fed five-thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, the result was the same. People believe that he was the Messiah. John tells us, “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” (John 6:14).
Perhaps the greatest sign from Jesus was his resurrection from the dead. During one confrontation with the Jews, he explained the way that he would die. John tells us in 2:18-22 that “the Jews said to him, ‘What sign do you show us for doing these things?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” His resurrection from the dead served to confirm all that he had said, and it served to give hope to all of those who would believe. Jesus was the first to be raised into everlasting life, but he would not be the last. All who believe in him know that they will also be raised from the dead one day. Jesus’ miraculous signs were so clearly involved in all that he said and did that John feels free to use them to stand for all that he said and did. God used them to confirm Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God to all of those who had ears to hear and eyes to see (Matt 13:16).
John says that he writes so that people would know that “Jesus is the Christ.” Some people think that “Christ” is Jesus’ family name and that “Jesus” is his given name. However, “Christ” is more like a title that Jesus had. Just as we might use the title “sensei,” with someone who is a teacher, we use the title “Christ” with Jesus. John writes his book so that people would know that Jesus is “the Christ,” the promised one that the nation of Israel had been hoping to see for so long. He is the one who was anointed by God “with the Holy Spirit and power” (Acts 10:38) to reveal the things of God to his people and to bear the sins of his people (Hab 3:13). John says that he writes so that people would know that Jesus is the “Son of God.” That is to say, he is God. He is eternal, “He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2). He created all things, and “without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). John’s gospel tells us that Jesus is fully, completely God.
Furthermore, John’s gospel tells us that Jesus is fully, completely man. John says in 1:14 that “The Word [referring to Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us.” Since Jesus is both God and man, he is the perfect person to serve as a sacrifice for our sins. As a man, he is a fitting substitute to pay for the sins of men. As God, he is able to pay the infinite penalty that is due to men for their sins. By his death, we are able to have live, if only we would believe. John’s Gospel compels us to seriously consider Jesus’ life and the words he spoke.
This book was written with evangelistic purposes in mind, so that those who do not believe would be compelled to do so. Yet, the results of John’s writing extend past evangelism, since those who already believe will surely have their faith strengthened as they read this book. In light of this, there are several ways in which we can apply these verses to our lives. First, there is an application for those who are not yet Christians. John’s purpose in writing this book is primarily evangelistic. He writes so that those who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ would believe. John writes, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18).
When John says that God the Father “gave” God the Son, he is referring to Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus bore the full punishment for the sins of his people so that they would not have to be condemned for their sins. Also, he gives them his righteousness, so that they would be counted as righteous before a holy God. If you believe in him, trusting in him as your Savior, you will have eternal life. If you have never believed and trusted in him, the application for you is simple. Believe! Second, there is an application to Christians.
John knew that his book was going to be read and re-read by people in the Church. Though his main purpose in writing might have been evangelistic, his book has further results for Christians. As it is God’s word, it serves to strengthen the faith of believers. There is a certain misunderstanding with respect to the gospel that we need to avoid. Some people think of the gospel as something that is a part of the beginning of the Christian life, but that doesn’t have a great deal of importance for those who already believe. Yet, we need to understand that the gospel is a permanent part of our faith.
In the twelfth chapter of Romans, Paul tells us how we should go about living our lives as Christians. He says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:1-2). Listen closely to the first part of the first verse. “I appeal to you therefore.” When he says “therefore,” he is talking about everything that he has said up to this point. He is talking about the first eleven chapters, including the first five on the gospel.
The gospel itself is the foundation upon which we are to live as Christians. When Paul says that we are to live lives that are “holy and acceptable to God,” he knows that we will only be able to do so if we are thinking about the grace that God showed towards us when he saved us.
Third, as Christians we need to realize our responsibility towards the lost. In Central Okinawa (including the islands of Okinawa-jima, Iheya-Jima, Izena-jima, Ie-jima, Kume-jima), there are about 1.25 million people. Only about 7,500 Okinawans, less than .6%, claim to be Christians. If John were to examine the lives of most Okinawan people, he would tell us that they live in darkness. Rather than worshipping the one, true God, their lives are devoted to appeasing the spirit world so that they would be able to have a better life. They perform rituals for the well and spring spirits so that they would have water for their crops. They perform rituals for the tree and rock spirits so that the tree and boulder spirits would not hurt them. They perform rituals for their ancestors so that their ancestors would help them with all sorts of problems in life. Perhaps most of all, they perform rituals to the fire god, who they believe acts as a mediator between them and the higher gods. So, if someone is sick in the family, they might go to fire god, hoping that the fire god would be able to help cure that sick person.
Really, they don’t know that “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (Tim 2:5). They don’t know that only one person is really able to help them with the biggest problems in life. Jesus is the only one that men need to pray to in times of trouble. He is the Great Physician, the one who is able to heal not only the body, but the soul as well. He is the one who raises men from the dead spiritually as well as physically. And he doesn’t just heal people for a short time, but he heals them forever. Just as he was raised from the dead, so all who believe in him will also be raised from the dead. By believing in him, men are given eternal life in his name (John 20:31).
In light of this great salvation that Jesus offers (Heb 2:3), we at Central Baptist should have compassion for the Okinawan people, who are trapped in darkness. We know that all who receive Jesus and believe in his name, he gives the right to be called the Children of God (John 1:12), and we must bear the responsibility of telling them about the Christ who is able to set them free from their bondage to sin (Rom 8:2). It might seem like an impossible task. There are so many that don’t know. There are so many that are slaves to sin. Yet, we are able to go and tell them about Jesus, knowing that he is with us and that he has all authority in heaven and earth (Matt 28:18-20). He is the one who is able to save people here in Okinawa, just as he is doing in the rest of the world (John 3:16-19). Years from now we will be able to say that his “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). In the chapter that we have been looking at today, Jesus gives an instruction to the disciples that has bearing on how we should live today. He tells them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 20:21). You are sent to be a witness of the light in a dark world.