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The Sign Language of John

Author: Rachel Kidd

Objective: To introduce the Gospel of John and understand its major themes and purposes.

The Gospel of John is the favorite gospel of millions of people because of how God has used it to bring them to faith in Jesus and to show them who He really is. It is unique in many ways; its purposes, its literary style, and its content are different from those in the other gospels.

Literary Style and Codes

The Apostle John wrote in a specific style, a beautiful and inspired Hebrew language of signs. Breathed by the spirit, John wrote a message to the people of God in a sort of code in both the Gospel of John and in the book of Revelation. In order to understand that message, you need the key in order to break the code.

1. Uniqueness

The Gospel of John is unique in that it was written approximately 60 years after the first three Gospels. The book is also made up of 90% original content, diverging from the content covered in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

2. Purpose

There is an idea that comes from Paul’s words in 2 Timothy, that scripture is addressed to the believer. That its purpose is to perfect and mold Christians to become more Christ-like.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God  may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. –2 Timothy 3:16-17 

God wants us to be prepared, to be equipped to be good servants. The book of John contains quite a bit of these teachings that would prepare good and faithful servants of Christ.

However, the Gospel of John also serves another purpose; to present the Gospel, the Good News to the unbeliever. John records signs, miraculous evidence that proves that Jesus was and is the Messiah, the savior of the world.

The Purpose of John’s Gospel

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. –John 20:30-31

John presents a compelling record of Jesus’ ministry that proves to all readers that Jesus was and is who He says He is; the Son of God, the Messiah.

3. Sign Language, a Deeper Meaning

The Gospel of John is written on two different levels, one which a child just learning to read can understand, and another more complex and symbolic.

On the surface, the language reads simple and is easy to understand. He uses more one-syllable words than any other Gospel writer.

While it appears to be simple, John uses complex allegory to delve into the complexities of faith.

4. A Systematic Argument

Unlike the other Gospels that simply recount the life of Jesus, John presents a cohesive and systematic argument. He is proving that Jesus is the Son of God with a very clear through line that you can trace from start to finish.

Now that you have the code, how should we approach the book of John? As you read, ask yourself these questions to help you understand the deeper meaning of John’s rich language.

1.      Who is Jesus?

2.    What is faith?

3.    What is life? (What is eternal life?)

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a revelation as you read the Gospel of John, to help you see Jesus for who He is.

The Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. –John 1:1-2

John tells us that Jesus is the word of God. A word is a vehicle of thought, a way to communicate. As John says in the first verses, Jesus was the expression of God’s thoughts, the manifestation of His thoughts to humanity. 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. –John 1:14 

God wanted us to experience Jesus, to see him and know him in the flesh. So He sent Jesus to earth, becoming flesh and bone, to show great love in the most tangible of ways. 

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. —John 1:12 

John also tells us that while His own people, the Jews, rejected Jesus, He offers eternal life to those who believe. He calls them children of God, who have been born of God, or of Spirit. Those who believe and follow Jesus are born again and given the birth right of children of God.

John the Baptist

John presents the case of John the Baptist and his relationship with Jesus as further evidence of His identity as the Messiah. Most importantly, we see the baptism of Jesus and how John the Baptist continually pointed to Christ.

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” –John 1:19-20

John tells us that when John the Baptist was questioned by the Jewish council, he adamantly denied being the Messiah himself, like many of his followers believed he was. Instead, he continually redirected them to Jesus.

“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. –John 26-27 

John’s unique style presents a compelling case for Jesus, written in a deceptively simple style that is layered with deeper meaning. In this Gospel, we see illustrations of who Jesus is, the light of the world, the Son of God, and a beautiful story of faith and eternal life found in Him.

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