The Gospel of John now moves to the early ministry of Jesus, both in demonstrating his authority as from God, and reaching out to all beyond Israel alone. The message of Jesus has gone out from now from multiple witnesses, not just Jesus. From John the Baptist, following on the predictions and words of the Old Testament and of Moses. And even so: I know you do not have the love of God in your hearts (5:42), how are you going to believe what I say (5:47). And the challenge has been: No fence sitting now about the person of Jesus. The miraculous signs of John’s gospels now speak to the identity and authority of Jesus as the Son of God:
- Changing water into wine at the wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-11);
- Healing the royal official’s son (Jn 4:46-54);
- Healing the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem (Jn 5:1-15);
- Feeding the 5,000 (Jn 6:5-14);
- Walking on water (Jn 6:16-21);
- Healing the man born blind (Jn 9:1-7); and
- Raising Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:1-45).
This is a bitter-sweet time in the early ministry of Jesus. The text is clear. Because of Jesus’ teachings, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. John 6:66. But this is also a time of clear affirmation of the Person of Jesus among the core of the disciples. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God. John 6:68. These twin truths will frame the remaining years and work of the biblical narrative. Knowledge and belief – dividing the real from the counterfeit.
66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:66-69.
5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him. John 7:5.
37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”[a] 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. John 7: 37-39.
1. The Definition of True Faith. Peter got it right. There were three parts to faith and belief that changes lives:
1a. Lord, to whom shall we go? Jesus was not one option of many, a path to God that joined with other spiritual movements. There was no one else. No one spoke for God the Father, came from God the Father, and was the Way, the Truth and the Life, and to return to the Father after His death and resurrection, which offered redemption to all who would believe.
1b. We have come to know. This was true knowledge based on the Person and Words of Jesus. It is the foundation for belief.
1c. We have come to believe. True knowledge needs to belief, to believing in and receiving the One who offers eternal life.
2. Illustrations of Counterfeit Faith – Knowing but not Believing. Jesus was surrounded by the religiously curious, the inquirer, the ones who proposed alternative theories of who Jesus was. He was a good man. John 7:12. He was a deceiver. John 7:12. He was a prophet. John 8:40. He is the Christ. John 8:41. Many of the disciples were deserting him. John 6:66. Apparently the brothers who were in Jesus’ family (short of James, who apparently later believed) did not believe in him. John 7:5. And we know the demons had a monotheistic belief in one God, but without salvation, obviously. James 2:19. Intellectual or academic knowledge did not bring redemption, in and of itself.
3. Faith that Results in Salvation. Lord, you have the words of eternal life. it was the person and message of Jesus that was eternal life. It was believing in who He was, the Holy one of God, and that he came to save those who were lost, who needed to be born again (Nikodemus), who needed to drink of the eternal water (woman at the well), who needed to eat the eternal food (disciples following Jesus), who needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood (symbolizing believing in the word he would do on the cross).
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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:16-21.
From these clear teachings, Jesus next week moves into the compassion for the woman caught in adultery, and by that, contrasting the Law and Grace in human circumstances. Stay well.