Sunday, August 27, 2023

“Come and See” [Matt's Messages]

“Come and See”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
August 27, 2023 :: John 1:35-51 

Heather and I just recently bought a car. It’s out there in the car park.

If you’re one who likes all the details, it’s a 2007 Honda CRV with about 86,000 miles on it. And like all the other cars and trucks and motorcycles in our driveway right now, it is red.

We’ve been looking for another vehicle since January when my (also red) Ford Escape failed its inspection and had to be sold off to a guy in New York where they apparently don’t have inspections.

I spent a good deal of February and March scouring the internet for a vehicle that matched our wishlist (which actually does not necessarily include the color red!). And I just couldn’t find anything we liked in our price range.

A couple of times, I saw something interesting online, and then we traveled an hour both ways to look at it and came back disappointed and empty-handed. They looked a lot better in the pictures than in reality.

And our sabbatical was coming up fast, and we didn’t really need another vehicle to just sit there for three months, so we stopped looking, and what a relief that was! We borrowed for several weeks and got all the way to sabbatical. Three months of driving that little Renault across the UK.

Then, while we were in London, the week before we came back, I opened up my laptop and started looking again. And I found this CRV at a dealership in Dubois. And it looked good. As far as I could see, it had everything on our wishlist including low miles, and it was actually in our price range. And so I sent the listing to Peter and to my Dad, and they both came back, “That looks good. You should check that out.” And when we got home, I messaged the dealership and said, “Is that CRV still there?” And the guy said basically, “Yes it is. Come and see.”

I asked him about previous owners and how it looked. And he said there is a dent on the rear hatch but other than that’s it’s “crazy clean.” You love the salesmanship there. “Crazy clean.” Especially the underside. No surface rust. And it was two day back, and we still had jet lag, but Heather and I looked at each other and said, “There’s only one away to find out if it’s for real. Let’s go look at it.”

Come and See.

And you can tell what happened next. We looked it over for ourselves, took it for a test-drive, agreed with the guy about some things that needed fixed on it before we would bring take possession, and then shook hands on a price. We got it two days before the Crusie, and I took it to Ohio and back this week for an ordination council. So glad that’s over!


“Come and See.”

The Lord Jesus says those words or something like them several times in this short passage of the Gospel of John. Jesus invites several men to check Him out and then to become His followers.

Jesus has not yet spoken up to this point in this book. The Gospel opened with a Prologue that tells the story of the story that John is going to tell. And it’s all about The Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1). “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:14 NIVO)” (Jn. 1:14 NIVO). “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known” (Jn. 1:18 NIVO). And we know that the Word is Jesus. That’s from the Prologue.

Then last week, we received the testimony of John the Baptist, “Notorious JTB.” John insisted that he was not the Christ, but that Jesus was. And more than that, Jesus was the Lamb of God and the Son of God.

And today he’s going to i.d. Jesus once again, and then Jesus will speak, too. The Word will use words. And Jesus will invite five men, and by extension us, to follow Him.

Look at John chapter 1, verse 35. “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus” (vv.35-37).

Do you get the picture? It’s the very next day from when the Baptizer, “the Voice,” pointed his boney finger at Jesus and, in public, called Him the “The Lamb of God.” Very next day. He’s doing it again. And we don’t know how many other people were there, but two of his disciples, John’s followers, were with him. One of them was Andrew (according to verse 40), and we’re not told who the other one was (though I suspect it was the author of this Gospel, John). 

And John the Baptist says to them the very same thing he said the day before as Jesus is passing by, “Look, the Lamb of God!” The “Voice” speaks.

“That’s the One Who is going to be like the sacrificial lamb of the Passover. That’s the One Who is going to be like the lamb Who does not open His mouth from Isaiah 53:7 as He was being pierced for our transgressions. That’s the One Who will take away the sin of the world. That One right there.”

And John’s disciples believe him and start following Jesus!

That’s a big deal. It’s saying more than just that they started walking behind him. It’s saying that they transferred from John’s school into Jesus’ school. They were becoming Jesus’ disciples.

And Jesus is just fine with that. Verse 38. “Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, ‘What do you want?’” Literally, “What are you seeking?” “What is it that you are after in following Me?”

I love that He turned around to do this. He’s totally aware of what’s going on. And they are looking at Him full in the face. And He’s looking at them. “What do you want?” v.38

“They said, ‘Rabbi’ (which means Teacher), ‘where are you staying?’”

In other words, “Where are we headed? We’re with you now.” They aren’t just curious about where Jesus is spending the night; they are saying that they are joining His school so they need to know where to show up for class! “We are we going?”

I love that the first thing Jesus says in this Gospel is, “What do you want?”

I love it that it’s a question. Jesus always ask the best questions. And this one gets right to the heart. “What is it that you want?”

And then I love that the very next thing He says is, “Come and see.” v.39

“‘Come,’ he replied, ‘and you will see.’ So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.”

That’s four o’clock. I’m not sure why John tells us that except that it establishes that it’s history. He was probably an eyewitness at this event, one of the participants, and it nails the fact that this really happened, about four o’clock that very day.

And maybe it means that they stayed with him that evening, too. The day was getting on, and they not only “spent that day with him” and followed Jesus to where He was staying, but stayed there, too.

Either way, Jesus is fine with them coming around. He invites them to check it out and to check Him out, and see if He is the real deal. “Come and See.”

I love this about Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t just expect us to have blind faith. He invites us to investigate Him for ourselves. To kick the tires. To look under the hood.

The sales guy in Dubois actually put our car up on his lift so that I could walk around underneath it and check it out up close and personal. I was like, “Oh yea, that part there. I recognize that. That looks good.” The point was that there wasn’t any rust, which I could see. It must have been kept in a garage in winter or something. Not run along salted Pennsylvania roads from 2007 to today.

Jesus invites us to walk around and check Him out for ourselves, as well.

That’s the whole point of this book!

We learned a few weeks ago that John wrote this book to introduce us to Who Jesus really is. He lays out what He’s learned about Jesus so that we can follow Him, too. He said to us, this book was “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (Jn. 20:31, NIVO). Come and see for yourself.

I’ve got three points of application to share with you this morning, and that’s the first one of them:


You and I are invited to check Him out and put our faith in His name.

Notice the names for Jesus that are here in this passage:

He’s called the Lamb of God (v.36), which emphasizes His sacrificial death.

He’s called (v.38), “Rabbi, which means Teacher.” That emphasizes that Jesus has a philosophy of life that He wants to impart to His disciples. He is someone who is Teaching a Way of Life and invites us to follow Him in it.

And in verse 41, He’s called “the Messiah.” Look at verse 40.

“Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus...” (vv.40-42a, NIVO).

Come and See! Hey, Simon, come and see this man named Jesus.

Now, I love two things about that. One is that Simon (and by extension you and I) are invited to check out Jesus for ourselves. But I also love it that Andrew, after spending like just one evening with Jesus, was so convinced that He was ready to invite his brother to follow Jesus, too!

What do you think about Jesus? Are you so convinced that Jesus is the Lamb of God and the Teacher and the Messiah that you are ready to invite other people to check Him out, as well?

Andrew says to Simon, “Come and see.”

Every time we meet the disciple Andrew he’s bringing someone to Jesus. 

We need more Andrews these days. Not someone who has all the answers, but someone who is just simply willing to tell other people what they themselves have found. V.41 “We have found the Messiah. Just like John the Baptist said. This guy is the real deal. This is the One who has been sent to rescue us. Come and see for yourself.”

So Andrew brings Simon to Jesus. And look at what happens. Verse 42.

“Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas’ (which, when translated, is Peter).”

I love the detail here. He looks at Simon. And He knows him. He knows that Simon, at this point, is anything but a Rock. He’s more like sand-castle at this point in his life, but Jesus can see what Simon will be, and He tells him how He’s going to change him. You will be called “Rocky.”

And we know the story, how eventually Jesus will build His church on Peter’s understanding of Who Jesus really is. Peter will be a solid foundation stone that the church will be built upon throughout the ages. He will be Cephas. He will be Peter. He will be Rock. I love that Jesus can see that right from the git-go. 

In fact, let’s make that point number two:


The seeing goes both ways. When we come to check out Jesus, we will find that we are already known. V. 42 again. “Jesus looked at him.”

It’s amazing how many times the gospels tell us that Jesus looked at people. That they were under His gaze. It’s part of loving someone to look at them. And it’s part of truly knowing them.

Jesus truly knows us.
Jesus truly knows you.
And He loves you.

Come and be seen by Jesus.

That’s a big part of this next story, and it’s a miracle! It starts with a fourth new disciple named “Philip.” Verse 43. “The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee [He’s probably on the way to a wedding in Cana]. Finding Philip, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida” (vv.43-44).

It kind of seems like Philip probably knew Andrew and Peter. They were all from the same hometown. And probably they’ve been talking about Jesus and Who He is. Especially Andrew.

But here it’s Jesus that straight up invites Philip to follow Him. And Philip does. We’ll read more about Philip as the book unfolds. He’s great at saying what everybody else is thinking!

But he begins to follow Jesus and, like Andrew, to invite others to do so, too. Like his friend Nathanael. It’s great to see these guys all excited about Jesus and wanting each other to know Him and follow Him, too? That’s how we should be!

We need more Andrews and Philips! Not just come and see but come and share. We will all do it our own way, but we should all be doing it. Who was the last person you told about Jesus? Who was the last person you invited to check Him out? Who was the last person you invited to “come and see Jesus.”?

Philip invited Nathanael. Verse 45. “Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”

There’s a couple more names for Him:

The Promised One. Philip says that He is the One the Law and the Prophets had predicted. He is the fulfilment of Genesis 3:15, Genesis 49:9, Numbers 24:17, Deuteronomy 18:18, 2 Samuel 7, Jeremiah 23, Jeremiah 31, Isaiah 9, Isaiah 53. And Psalm 2 and Psalm 16 and Psalm 72 and Psalm 110. And hundreds of other passages.

He is the One!  “We have found the one....” And He’s the son (we know that He was adopted) of Joseph. Jesus of Nazareth.

Now, Nathanael is not impressed with one key word in that speech from Philip. It’s the word “Nazareth.” Nazareth was a podunk little town in Galilee that didn’t amount to much. It was kind of the Pinchatolee of Galilee. It wasn’t even the little town of Bethlehem where the Messiah was supposed to come from! So if Jesus came from Nazareth, Nathanael was not going to be impressed. V.46

“‘Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?’ Nathanael asked. ‘Come and see,’ said Philip.”

See for yourself. Don’t just dismiss Him out of hand. Come and see. So, Nathanael did. And Jesus had seen him. Verse 47. “When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.’ [That’s a big compliment, by the way. He’s saying that here’s a son of Jacob who doesn’t have any “Jacob” in him. He’s not perfect, but he’s honest. He’s not crooked. Nathanael would never make it in politics or selling used cars. Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false].” 

‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, ‘I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.’”

That’s a miracle. Jesus is saying that He somehow saw Nathanael sitting under this  particular fig tree before Philip had invited him over to check out Jesus. And He knew him. He knew his heart. He knew his ways. He knew what he was like. He knew how honest he was. 

And friends, He knows you, too. Your strengths and your weaknesses. He knows what you are good at and what you are bad at. He never overlooks you.

One of you told me last Sunday that I often skip shaking your hand before church. It’s like I don’t see you. I overlook you. I was embarrassed to hear that I had done that, and I’m very sorry for missing you.

Jesus never does that.  He knew Nathanael, and He knows you and me.  Nathanael was bowled over by this! That was all it took for Nathanael to jump on board. Look at verse 49. “Then Nathanael declared, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.’”

Nathanael did a 180, didn’t he?  He says, “Philip was right! You are the One Promised in the Old Testament.  You are the King of Israel. You are the Son of God.” Now, that last one could be just saying the same thing twice. The King of Israel was known as the Son of God. Check out Psalm 2. “I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’” (Ps. 2:7 NIVO). But we know that Jesus fulfills that to the greatest degree to that He is not just the Son of God, but God the Son. The Unique One and Only Son of God.

Nathanael probably didn’t understand that yet, but you and I do. That’s His name, and if we believe in it, we have life!

What do you think about Jesus?

Who do you think that He is?

If you are not yet sure, then I invite you and encourage you to come and see. To check Him out. To investigate Jesus and see if He is what you are looking for. One way to do that is to simply read the rest of this book. Keep reading to the end of the Gospel of John. Stick with us in this sermon series as we see Who John says Jesus is. There are lots of other good books that shed light on it, too. The other Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And books about them. I’ve got a pile up here for you to consider.

Don’t be afraid to look under the hood.

Christianity is no bait and switch. It’s not just shiny on the outside or from afar. Instead, when you get inside, you find out that it’s even better than advertised.

Because Jesus is better than advertised.

Most of us here are convinced, right?

That’s why we’re here today. But are we holding back? We’re convinced that Jesus is the Lamb of God, that He’s the Messiah, that He’s the Christ, that He’s the Promised One, that He’s the Son of God and the King of Israel.

But we are not convinced that we can trust Him with our:


So we’re holding back control of some of those.

Jesus invites us to try Him out. To give Him control of every area of our lives. And we will be amazed at what He does with them. He invites us to believe, and to have life in His name.

Nathanael believed, and Jesus said that he “hadn’t seen nuthin’ yet.” Verse 50. You can almost hear him chuckling.

“Jesus said, ‘You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.’ He then added, ‘I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man’” (vv.50-51).


That thing that Jesus had told Nathanael was just a taste of things to come. Jesus declared that Nathanael would see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

There’s another name for Jesus. That’s one of His all-time favorites. Son of Man. It emphasizes His humanity while drawing all kinds of Old Testament connections to emphasize His divine status, as well (see Daniel 7).

Jesus says that Nathanael will see angels of God ascending and descending on Him. 
What is He talking about? That’s a greater thing, alright! When did that happen?

He doesn’t mean literally. He’s drawing a picture of a spiritual reality using an allusion to the story of Jacob’s Ladder in Genesis 28. 

Do you remember that story? Jacob had stolen his brother’s birthright and run away from home and was given a vision in a dream of a ladder, or, better, a stairway, between heaven and earth. With angels ascending and descending on the stairway.

Do you remember this? Jacob didn’t deserve it. It was all of grace. It always was grace with Jacob! 

What was the point of that story? The point was that God has taken the initiative in His grace to make contact and connection between heaven and earth, between Him and His people. The point was that God, by His grace, had linked heaven and earth. 

And Jesus says in verse 51 that He. Will. Be. The. Ladder.

He’s not the new Jacob. He’s the new stairway! Jesus is going to be the connection point between God and His people. Jesus is going be our access to God!

“...ascending and descending on the Son of Man!”

Come and see greater things, like a restored relationship between heaven and earth! Like a restored relationship between God and His people. We can know God! Because Jesus has made Him known.

Jesus is the Way to the Father! Do you want to get to God? Do you want to get to heaven? You can’t get there on your own. You and I cannot build a stairway to heaven. But Jesus, at the Cross, was the Stairway.

Later on in this Gospel, Jesus is going to tell Thomas and Philip that He is “the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through” Him (Jn. 14:6 NIVO).

He is the connection point, the link, between heaven and earth.

Do you believe?

Come and see!


Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" - John 20:30-31
02. "In The Beginning Was the Word" - John 1:1-18
03. "John's Testimony" - John 1:19-34

Sunday, August 20, 2023

“John’s Testimony” [Matt's Messages]

“John’s Testimony”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
August 20, 2023 :: John 1:19-34 

“Who do you think you are?”

Depending on how you say it, we ask that question all the time. “Who are you?” “Who is that guy?”

When Heather and I went to Great Britain in April, we had to show people our passports. We had to prove our identity to get onto the plane, to get across the border, and to come back home in July.

Our identity matters. And it matters, not just who we are, but who we think we are. Especially if we are trying to do something that is tied to our identity.

At the Good News Cruise, I like to joke with people and say, “Which car to do you like? Just pick one out and take it home.” We all shake our heads and say, “I wish.” But we know that it doesn’t work that way. If we tried it, if we got into the driver’s seat and fired it up to swing it on back to our garage, the real owner would show up pretty quick with this question, “Who do you think you are? Where do you think YOU are going with that?”

Well, that’s the question that the Jewish Religious leaders posed to John the Baptist in today’s passage.

Who do you think you are?

And John had a ready and honest answer that makes all of the difference in the world.

<> Last Sunday in the mind-blowing Prologue of John’s Gospel, we learned about this astonishing Person called The Word. This whole Gospel is going to be about this wonderful Person. 

Every phrase was filled with fireworks! 

We learned that before creation, in the beginning, this Person, this Word existed with God and at the same time was God. He is eternal. He is distinct in some way from God the Father, and at the same time He is the very same thing in substance and nature as God the Father. The Word is God. He is the Creator. Through “Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made.” More than that, in Him was life, and that life was the light of men (vv.1-5). How wonderful!

And as if that wasn’t enough to take in, we also learned that this Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. One Person Who was fully God and now fully human, and we know the name the Word was given when He was born as a human, and it is Jesus.

And as if that wasn’t enough to take in, we also learned that He is the Unique Son of God, God the Son springing forth eternally from the Father and has come to make God the Father known.

How do we know all of that is true?  Well, the week before that, we learned that John the Evangelist wrote this book to make the case. He wrote these words in front of us so that we “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing [we] may have life in his name” (Jn. 20:31 NIVO).

And so, in many ways, John is making this case for us, and that requires some testimony. Some expert testimony.

In verse 6, John said that God sent a man named John (the Baptist) to be a witness and to give important testimony that needs to be heard. And so that’s where John starts as his finishes his prologue and begins his story proper. John chapter 1, verse 19.

“Now this was John's testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Christ.’”

You can sum up John’s testimony into three key points in verses 19 through 34, and this is the first one. John the Baptist testifies:


The Jewish Religious Leaders had sent an official delegation to ask John the Baptist, “Who do you think you are?” 

They are not just curious. They are examining him for his qualifications. John has exploded on the scene, and lots of people were coming out to the desert to hear him preach and to be baptized.

John the Baptist, the Notorious JTB, was quite a character! The other gospels tell us that he dressed like a prophet with  clothing made of camel’s hair and a diet of locusts and wild honey. And JTB was preaching repentance and the coming of the kingdom of God.

And he was very popular. Thousands of people were flocking to hear him. John the Baptist was a rockstar! And the Jewish Religious Leaders were probably getting nervous. Afraid they might lose their power.

Some people clearly were thinking that this weirdo, this popular preacher, just might be the Messiah that God had promised time and again in the Old Testament. People were on the lookout for The Christ (the Greek translation of “the Messiah”).  

Is John the Baptizer what we have all been looking for?

So some priests and Levites were sent to ask John, “Who do you think you are?” And John was really straightforward. V.20 again. “He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Christ.’”

“I’m not the One you are looking for. Don’t look at me.”

V.21. They press in. “They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’”

Why do they ask these questions? When did Elijah die? That was a trick question. Elijah didn’t die. The Lord swooped him up in a fiery chariot and took him straight to heaven.

And the Prophet Malachi said that Elijah will return before the day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5).

And so these guys want to know if John the Baptist is Elijah back from heaven.

And John says, “No.” {The truth is that it’s more complicated than that. Jesus will explain that John was the Elijah to come, in his role. But John is right that he is not literally Elijah returned on the chariot like some of them must have been thinking.}

And more than that, John knows that he is not the Great Prophet that was foretold in the Book of Deuteronomy (18:15). 

So, who is he? Verse 22. “Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ [Who do you think you are?] John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'’”

He is not The Word. He is only a voice crying out that the Word is coming. He is not the Christ. He is only a voice calling out that the Christ is on the way. 

John holds up his passport, and it says, “Isaiah 40, verse 3.” The mysterious prophetic voice arising from the desert, “... Prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isa. 40:3-6 NIVO).

John says, “That’s me.”

“I am not the Christ. I am only the Voice.”

Now, what do we do with that here in our lives today? 

Of course, first off, we should not treat John the Baptist like He was the Messiah. Anyone who tries to center their lives on John will be disappointed and be missing the point. 

And that’s true of everyone else who is not the Christ. We are so prone to making men into messiahs. We think they will save us if we just put our trust in them 100%. 

We make this mistake with politicians all of the time.
We make it with pastors.
We make it with celebrities.
We make it with business leaders.

We put our hope in false messiahs, and then we are surprised when we are disappointed! There is no life in John’s name. There is no salvation there. From Rome or from sin. John was just a witness. Just a voice.

And you know who also is not the Christ? You and me. I am not the Christ, and I have to be reminded of it. When I am not following someone else, I can also get the wrong idea that I need to save people.  Like I’m their savior. We call it a “Messiah Complex.” It’s our job to rescue people from everything they have gotten themselves into.

I have made that mistake more times that I can count, and it doesn’t just disappoint them, but it depresses me. Because I have fallen into a role I cannot fill with shoes too big for my feet. It’s one of the reasons why I needed a sabbatical this year, to undo the accumulated effects of pretending I am the Christ!

But if we are not supposed to follow John or to try to be the Messiah ourselves, what are we supposed to do?

We need to listen to the voice.

“Make straight the way for the Lord!” That’s a call to repent. That’s a call to change our ways. That’s a call to align our lives with the will of God. When the voice says, the valleys will be raised up and the mountains lowered, he’s saying that God’s people do what is necessary for the Lord’s coming to be smooth. So the king can ride into town in style.

And that means change for you me. John was preaching a message of change. “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near.”

What in your life needs to change? What in your life is displeasing to God?  Where do you know that you need to take a turn? What valley needs to be built up? What mountain needs to be leveled? What change do you need to make in repentance?

It’s easy to say where others need to change. I often can point out what others are doing wrong (and if you want some help, just ask me). But the question we should be asking today is where do we need to repent? What is crooked in my life that needs straightened for the coming of the Lord?

What attitudes need straightened?
What habits?
What relationships?

The Voice is saying that John is not the Messiah, but He is very near. So get ready for His coming.

And we need, like John, to point people to the real Messiah. Like we said last week, we need to be witnesses, too. Not pointing people towards us but towards Jesus. Just like we did yesterday out there.

Now, the Jewish Religious Leaders hear what John has to say, but they have some more questions. What does that mean that you are “the voice?” And how does it connect to all of this baptizing you are doing? Look at verse 24.

“Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’” “Who do you think you are? And why do you think you should do what you’re doing?”

And here’s where it gets really interesting.

Because John says, “Never mind who I think I am. I want to tell you about Somebody else and Who He is! I’ve been baptizing people to get ready to meet Him.” V.26

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

“I’m basically nothing. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait until you get a load of Him!”

What a thing to say! You need to know that in that day only slaves would be tasked with untying a master’s sandals. Disciples didn’t have to do it. A disciple could be asked to do all kinds of menial tasks for their teacher, but they didn’t have to put their hands on their teacher’s feet. Only a slave would.

And John says, “This One who is coming. I am not worthy to be his slave.” 

And John is not exaggerating! This is not a false humility or a beating himself up for not being good enough. This is true humility (which we should cultivate!), and it is a right estimation of the way things really are. The One to come is really truly that worthy!

And John says that He’s not just coming any more. He is here.

He is here.

And the very next day, John gets to testify about Him in person. V.28

“This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing.  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me. I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.’”

John says, “There’s the answer to your question about why I baptize. I baptize because of this person. This man right here. He showed up on the scene after me, but He is infinitely more important than I am because He was ‘before me.’ He is actually eternal. And He is “the Lamb of God.”

John’s testimony is that:


And that phrase means so much. Jesus is the like the sacrificial lamb at Passover. Jesus is a like the lamb that takes the place of the sinner who brings it as an offering. In fact, He is the fulfillment of all of those Old Testament Lambs who were slain.

Jesus is the Savior that the Old Testament promised! He fulfills all of the prophecies of the Messiah including the ones about the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53.

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. [Next verse.] He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isa. 53:6-7 NIVO). “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes the away the sin of the world!” 

John I.D.’s Him. “If you look on that guy’s passport, it will say, ‘The Lamb of God!’”

I wonder what that must have been like. Yesterday at the Cruise, I pointed out one of my kids to somebody, “Yeah, that guy right there is my son. That’s Peter.” But John points to Jesus, and says, “There He is. That’s the Lamb of God.” And He is going to take away the sin of the world!

That’s what was happening on the Cross. Jesus was bearing the sin of the world so that anyone who puts their faith and trust in Him will be saved! Your sin taken away. My sin taken away.

John never gets over this idea. Later in life he writes, “[Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2 NIVO).

And then in his Apocalypse, John keeps naming Jesus, “The Lamb.” 

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” (Rev. 5:12).

Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus for your salvation? It’s the only way for your sins to be “taken away.” For your sins to be removed. Somebody has to pay for them. And Jesus has done it for all who believe in Him. Whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (3:16)!

And the reason why the Lamb of God can take away the sins of the world is because He is more than just the Lamb of God. He is the Son of God. Verse 32. Last step in John’s testimony this week. Verse 32.

“Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him [Jesus]. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.’”


John the Baptizer is telling the story about the time when he baptized Jesus. That wasn’t this day described in John 1 but some day before this. The story is also in Matthew chapter 3 if you want to study it in detail.

John the Baptist says that God had sent him to baptize with water and had also told him that one day while he’s baptizing, he will see the Spirit of God come down on a man and remain on Him. Not just like the Spirit did in the Old Testament when He would clothe someone with power to do something, a prophet, a priest, a king, a judge. And then lift off.

But on this One–to come down and remain on Him permanently, in the fullest sense. In a unique way. An unique relationship with the Holy Spirit. And John says, “It happened to me. I saw it with my own eyes. I testify!

The Spirit came down from heaven as a dove!” (Not sure exactly what that was but it was unmistakable to John.)

Just like Isaiah said in his chapter 11 about the Messiah: ‘The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him–the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD–and he will delight in the fear of the LORD’ (Isa. 11:2-3 NIVO).

John says, “I saw it happen with my own two eyes.” 

Jesus has the Spirit without limit! And that means that He can baptize others with the Holy Spirit.

“I just do the water thing. It’s a symbol. A wonderful symbol, but just a symbol. But this One? He baptizes with the Spirit Himself, immersing His people in the Spirit and including them into His Body, His new community, His church (See 1 Corinthians 12:12)! He does for real what my water baptism just symbolizes!”

And John the Baptist would have heard the voice from heaven.  Not the voice in the desert, but the voice of God the Father Himself who said at the moment the Spirit descended at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17 NIVO).

So John says, verse 34, “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

And that means everything! John is the “monogenays.” He is the wholly unique Son of the Father that we saw last week in verse 14 and verse 18. 

It obvious from that holy moment of Trinitarian significance–the Spirit descending, resting, and remaining, the Father identifying and speaking His admiration for His One and Only Son.

And John the Baptist saying, “I saw it. I testify to it.” Jesus is the Son of God.

What do we do with that truth in our lives today? If this is true, and I believe it is, how do we live our lives today?

We worship!

What else can we do? We worship the Son of God who is God the Son. We give Him all of the praise and all of our lives in joyful worship. We head out those doors into our work-week and for many of us into our school-week with lives that centered on this Son of God. 

We live, not for our own glory. We are not the Christ! Who do we think we are acting like we are the Messiah?! We are not the Christ. But we know Him. We know He has come. We know that He saves. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

We’ve got to tell people about that. Kids, tell your classmates! Teachers, tell your colleagues in the teachers’ lounge. We are not the point, but we point people to Him.

Jesus is the Lamb of God. He sacrificed Himself in our place. 

“Guilty, vile, and helpless WE
Spotless Lamb of God was HE!
Full atonement! Can it be?
Hallelujah, what Savior!” - Philip Bliss

If we trust in Him, He takes away our sin. If we believe in Him, we get LIFE in HIS Name. And His name is the Son of God. And He wants us to change. We listen to “the voice.” We believe John’s testimony, and we hear his clarion call to repent. To make straight the way for the Lord. We allow the Lord to make the changes in our lives that He wants to make.

Because He is the Son of God.

Interestingly, the Word has not yet spoken in this book. Starting next week, He will begin to testify on His own account.

But right now, we have John’s testimony, and it is wondrous:

John is not the Christ (not even close!), but Jesus is.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Jesus is the Uniquely Spirit-Endowed Father-Beloved Son of God worthy of our worship both now and forevermore.


Messages in this Series

01. "That You May Believe" John 20:30-31

Sunday, August 13, 2023

“In the Beginning Was the Word” [Matt's Messages]

“In the Beginning Was the Word”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
August 13, 2023 :: John 1:1-18 

I don’t know what is the most breathtaking, astonishing, mind-blowing thing that the Apostle John says here in this passage in front of us.

Every phrase is full of fireworks!

Every phrase of John 1:1-18 is pregnant with precious, powerful, glorious truth. The deepest truth in the whole world!

And no matter what I say today, I cannot do it justice. This is just too good to summarize. We could spend the rest of the summer and all fall just working through these eighteen verses and never hit the bottom and never reach the top. It’s just that rich and wonderful! And what a high and holy privilege it is to study it with you today. 

Last week, we started our new series at the end of the Gospel of John where he told us his purpose in writing it. John said, talking directly to us, he wrote these words, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (Jn. 20:31 NIVO).

Life in Jesus’ name.

That’s the whole point of the book, and it’s the whole point of our series. And it’s the whole point of our church. And it’s the whole point of this sermon.

And we learned last week that His name is more than just the thing that He’s called. His name is Who He is. His name is His person, His substance, His character, His authority, His identity. His name is Who He really is.

And as John picks up His pen to tell us Who Jesus really is, He uses a name for Jesus that was His name before He was ever called “Jesus.”

John calls Him, “The Word.”

In fact, John doesn’t introduce the name “Jesus” until verse 17! Instead, at the beginning of John’s Gospel he goes back to the beginning of the world, and he names His subject, “the Word.” 

“In the beginning was the Word.”

Now, when you hear “In the beginning...” what do you think? You think of Genesis 1:1, right? That’s on purpose. John 1:1 is written to connect in our minds with Genesis 1:1. What does Genesis 1:1 say? “In the beginning, GOD created the heavens and the earth.”

And John says, right there at the beginning of creation, before there was anything but God, there was Something (or Someone) called “The Word.” “In the beginning was the Word.”

The Greek word there for word is “logos.”  It means “word.” It means “communication.” It means “message.” It means “disclosure” or “explanation” or “expression.”

It comes from the Old Testament talking about the Word of God, the powerful creative revelatory message of God. The speech of God. God telling us about Himself.

The Greeks loved that word, “logos,” too. Plato and them used it to convey the philosophical idea of logic and reason, the principle of reason rationally holding the world together. We get our word “logic” from it. In fact, we get a lot of words from “logos” including all of the “ologies” like “theology.” 

And John uses this word, “Word” as a name for a Person. And John says that this Word was in existence at the beginning. And look at the next phrase:

“...and the Word was with God.”

Isn’t that amazing? In the beginning there was God, and there was this Thing, this Person named “The Word” who was with God. 

And that word “with” is full of fireworks! It means there is some kind of a distinction going on there and also some kind of a close relationship. The Word and God were with each other. Interpersonal. Intimate. Both existing before creation. Both eternal.


And both together. “With-ness.” They had “with-ness.” 

But, here’s something that is even more amazing. Family, it only gets more amazing. It only gets more mind-blowing. Last phrase of verse 1.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

So now we know that the Word was God. Everything that it means to be God (the Ultimate Being over the universe), this Word had and has. The Word is fully God. And at the same time is with God.

Anybody confused, yet? Are they same thing or are they different?

Answer: They are the same one thing and yet also in another way distinct.

They have a relationship that is unlike any other thing in the world.

And that’s to be expected because God is unlike anything else in the world! Sometimes we want an analogy to help us understand something, but there are no analogies that help us to understand this about God. We just accept it the mind-blowing truth of it as we read about it. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Verse 2. “He was with God in the beginning.”

Now, why do you think that John emphasizes this name for this incredible Person? 

I think it’s because of this truth: God wants us to know Him.

God wants us to know Himself. And so He speaks. He tells us something about Himself. He gives us a message. And this message, this communication, is so Him that it is Him! When God reveals Himself, He does it through Himself. It’s a personal message, so it must come through a Person. God shares Himself through His Word.

Does that make sense? I know it’s a profound idea and hard to put into words, but John says it all in very small words: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Fully God. The Word is the Creator. Look at verse 3. “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." Notice that He Himself is un-made. He is God the Uncreated One, like we just sang. But everything that has been made, everything in creation was made through the Word. 

John says it again backwards so that we get the point, “...without him nothing was made that has been made.” The Earth, the sea, the sky, the planets, outer space. The molecule, the elements, the atom, the electron, the neutron, inner-space.

They were made through the Word. You and me! We were made through the Word. Say that to yourself, “I was made through the Word.”

This is Genesis 1 language, isn’t it? 

“And God said, ‘Let there be...light.’” Look at verse 4. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

Now there in verse 5, we learn about a cosmic conflict that has been going on for a long time. John is telling us a story. He’s telling The Story. And like all good stories, there is a conflict in the middle of it. This is the mega-conflict between light and darkness. Between good and evil. Between truth and lies. 

John says, in the Word was life–not just physical life but spiritual life, eternal life, abundant life (like we talked about last week) and that life was the light of men. The glorious light that all humankind so desperately needs.

And that light is shining in the Word!

BUT (here’s the conflict) the darkness (also personified here) has not “understood it.” 

Or your version might say, “overcome it.” The darkness has not comprehended the glorious light of the Word, and those embracing the darkness have rejected the light. 

But, in the end, they have not won. They have not overpowered it. The light ultimately wins. And what good news that is?!!


Now, in verse 6, John introduces a new character. He is telling us the story of the story he is going to tell us. 

Next week, we’ll see that John starts his story with John the Baptist. He’s like Mark in that and not like Matthew or Luke. They start with Mary and Joseph and the genealogies and so forth. But Mark and John, when they get going, start the story with John the Baptist. V.6

“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. [This is John the Baptist. Whenever John the Evangelist actually says the name “John,” he’s talking about the Baptist, not himself. John the baptist...v.7] ... came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe [There’s that word again!]. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:6-9, NIVO).

You get the picture?

The Word is coming into the world. God’s communication of Himself that is Himself a Person and is Himself WITH God and is Himself God [!] is “coming into the world.” He’s on the way. He’s arriving. And John the Baptist has been sent to tell people about Him.

John is a witness. He has expert testimony to offer.

V.8 is very clear that John was not the light himself. We don’t want any confusion on that point. John was great. He has great things to say and do, but He is not the point. His point is to point to the Light.

That’s a word for us today, isn’t it? Our job is not to point people to ourselves but to point people to Jesus. When we are good witnesses, we are not saying how great we are or even how far we’ve come or how smart we are to choose to be Christians, but how great Jesus is.

And what a wonderful privilege it is for us to point people to Him!

That’s the whole point of the Good News Cruise, isn’t it? We don’t want to people to think, “How great are those folks at Lanse.” We want them to think, “How great must their Savior be for them to want to give us this day?!” 

I kept saying that to Heather yesterday about this sermon. “If people walk away from my sermon and says, ‘What a great preacher, Matt is,” I will have failed.” Because want I want you to do is to walk away and say, “How wonderful Jesus is!”

How wonderful is The Word!


Notice what John says is the relationship between the Word and the world. In verse 9, he said that the Word was coming into the world. More on that in a second. But in verse 10, he says that when the Word arrived, the world didn’t like it. V.10

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. [Did not know Him. Didn’t want to know Him. V.11] He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.”

The Word showed up, and the World rejected Him. He was their Messiah. He was the Christ. He was everything God had promised in the Old Testament, and Israel said, “No thanks.” He had made the whole world, and the world said, “We don’t want you.”

We’re going to see this conflict again and again and again as we read the Gospel of John. John is telling us the story of the story he’s going to tell us.

And it’s a sad one. They even go so far as to kill Him.

But the darkness does not ultimately win. The Word comes back to life, and then He gives life to those who WILL BELIEVE! Look at verse 12.

“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.”

Isn’t that wonderful?! There are people who did not and do not continue to reject the Word but receive the Word instead. They “believe in His name.” They believe everything about Him that we are going to learn about Him in the next several months.

And what does belief lead to? What did say last week? Faith leads to...LIFE!

To those who embrace the Word, who listen to the Word, who welcome the Word into their hearts and lives, to those who believe in His name, He gave the new powerful status of child of God.

John can’t get over this truth. We who believe ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD! With all of the rights and privileges (and responsibilities!) that come with it. Say to yourself right now if you believe in this name, “I am a child of God.”

That’s life!!! That’s living. That means eternal life. Not just physical life. V.13 “...children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.”

Supernatural life. Not just sperm and egg, not just blood and DNA. But a new heart, a new birth, a new status, adopted into God’s own family.

Where we can say, “God is my Father.” And we can pray to God as our Father. And we can know that we’ll spend all eternity with Him because we are in His forever family. 

The Word “gave us the right to become children of God.”

And here’s how He did it:

(It only gets more astonishing. It only gets more mind-blowing.)


The Word was in the beginning. 
The Word was creating everything that has been made.
The Word was with God.
The Word was God.

And then...the Word did the unthinkable. Look at verse 14.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

That’s why we’re singing Christmas songs in August!

“Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.” 

“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity.
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.” - Charles Wesley

It takes poetry to even come close to capturing what this verse says God has done.

The Word is not only fully God, but He has become, in the incarnation, fully human!

John doesn’t give us Mary and Joseph or the shepherds or the wisemen, but he goes even further back to before the beginning and then gives us the whole point of Christmas in one verse. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

Everything that it means to be a human, He assumed. He took a human nature to Himself.

Theologians call that the “hypostatic union,” the Word was fully God and fully man in one Person.

The Word become flesh!

And lived among us. The Greek word for “made his dwelling among” derives from the word for “tent” or “tabernacle.” Just like God set up His home in the tabernacle tent at the middle of the people of Israel in the book of Exodus and Numbers, God has now made His home among us through this God-Man, the Word become flesh, coming to live here with us.

And John says that just like they saw God’s glory enter that tent, the apostles saw God’s glory in this Person.

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The Greek word translated “One and Only” is the word “monogenays.” The old way of translating it was “Only Begotten.”

It’s the same word (monogenays) that shows up in John 3:16 to describe how unique the Son of God is.

You see we are children of God, but not like this One is. He is unique. He is unparalleled. He is One of a Kind. One of a “genus.” 

There is no one else like the Word. He comes from the Father in a unique way. He has an unique from-ness. Not just an unique with-ness, but an unique from-ness.  He is the One who can be eternally with God and eternally from God and eternally be God. And became one of us!!!!

He didn’t just seem like one of us. He became one of us. 100%

We’re going to see that again and again and again as we read this book. He was fully human. He became so much like us that He could die a human death. And die He did.

That’s Who John is going to point to later on in this chapter. V.15

“John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, ‘This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.'”

We will get to that next week, Lord-willing. John the Baptist points at Jesus starting his public ministry after John but has always existed as the Word before John, so He surpasses John. And He surpasses Moses. V.16

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

And there he names Him. The name for the Word after He became flesh is “Jesus Christ.” It’s interesting, John never calls Him, the “Word” again in his gospel. From here on, it’s Jesus, and all of the other things we’re going to learn about Him. All of those things add up to what God was communicating in the Word.

Notice that Jesus is described as full of grace. “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” I love that. He’s like an endless fountain of grace. He’s like a bottomless ocean of grace. We’ll never get to the end of the blessings. “10,000 reasons and then forevermore.” So that if we know Him and belong to Him, we have received and are receiving grace upon grace. Life upon life. Blessing upon blessing. Blessing the supersedes blessing.

John says that the law was a blessing. It came through Moses. But something even greater than the law is here now. Grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ. Salvation in His name. Not because of anything we have done, but because of what He did for us on the Cross and at the Empty Tomb. Grace!

And our role is simply to believe. And then we can know God.

Every phrase is full of fireworks! I don’t know what is the most astonishing claim in these eighteen verses, but perhaps it is the notion that we can know God through Jesus Christ. Look where John ends up with his prologue. V.18. It gets even more amazing.

“No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.”

Nobody has ever seen God. So all of those times that God showed up in some way in the Old Testament. To Moses. To Isaiah. To Ezekiel. Those were just partial. Those were just shadows. They were just a glimpse of glory. Nobody has ever seen God except God.

John says, “But God the [monogenays] the One and Only, the Only Begotten, the Unique Son, who is at the Father’s side (with God!), has made Him known.”

Notice that two Persons are called God in that verse. God “the Monogenays” and God the Father who has never been seen. And there are not two Gods. Just one! These are the building blocks of our doctrine of the Trinity. One God in, here we have two, we’ll find out later that there are three, Persons.

And the One Person (the Word...the Son!) has taken on flesh and made God the Father known.

That’s why He’s called the Word. Because He is the Message of God come in the flesh so that we know God Himself! Isn’t that amazing?

Every phrase is filled with fireworks. And they are explosive and beautiful.

So what do we do with this? What is the application of John 1:1-18?

Let me briefly suggest three things as we close.


“To all who received him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (v.12).

If you don’t receive Him, you are not a child of God. You are part of the darkness. You aren’t recognizing Him. You are lost. But He invites you to receive Him, to believe on His name and to get the life that is truly life. Don’t let this hour go by without receiving Jesus Christ, the Word of God, as your own Savior and King. He has come to make God known. You can know God! In fact, you can know God as your own Father. You can be His child.


If Jesus is what and Who John says He is, then we need to tell people. This is everything! This is what we are trying to share and proclaim with the folks who are going to come on our campus on Saturday. We are not going to tell them how great we. Or how great our country is. Or how great our vehicles are.

Our message is that God has a message, and His message is Himself. His message has always been and has always been with Him and has always been Him. And His message, which was His one fabulously unique Son has become a human. God’s message has become a human and dwelled among us. And now His message has made Him known.

That’s what we have to share on Saturday and every other day.

And that’s why we need to worship with all of our hearts.


When the fireworks go off, say, “Wow! Look at that.” We marvel. We wonder. We are astonished. We shake our heads. 

We ponder it. We turn these things over and over again in our minds, asking if they could really be real. And when we see how wonderful they are, we rejoice.

We have received one blessing after another and another and another and another.

We have been created.
We have been redeemed.
We have been adopted.
We have been given new birth.
We have been given personal knowledge of God.
We have been given grace and truth.
We have been given light.
We have been given life!

All because “In the beginning was the Word...”

O Come, Let Us Adore Him!


Messages in this Series

Sunday, August 06, 2023

“That You May Believe” [Matt's Messages]

“That You May Believe”
Life in Jesus’ Name - The Gospel of John
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
August 6, 2023 :: John 20:30-31

The Gospel of John is one of the most beloved books in the whole Bible.

My guess is that it is the favorite gospel of many of you and the favorite book of the whole Bible for many of you.

Let’s take a quick poll:

I’m going to ask you to raise your hand to tell me which is your favorite of the four gospels that tell the story of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I know that’s a little like asking a parent of multiples, “Which one is your favorite child?” But I’m not asking which gospel is the best (They are all God’s Word!), but which is your most beloved gospel right now.

How many for Matthew? I think that’s my all time favorite, but maybe because it was the last one I preached. The theological biography of Jesus to help us follow Him as His disciples (2017-2020).

How many for Mark? Short and sweet and action-packed Mark? We studied that introduction to Jesus in 2005 and 2006.

How many for Dr. Luke? Luke the historian who helped us become certain of Jesus in 2009-2011?  

And how many for John? How many for I don’t know which one?! How many think of John as your favorite book of the Bible, not just favorite gospel!

John is beloved and rightly so. It is deep and sweet and simple and profound all at once.

I have preached all the way through the Gospel of John once before, but it was a quarter of century ago. I was finished with it before Robin was born. I started preaching through John just a few months after coming here to be your pastor in 1998. 

So as I’m now your “refurbished” pastor starting up again, I thought it would be good to start over again in the Gospel of John. 

Back to basics.
Back to the deepest truths in the whole world.
Back to Jesus. It’s the whole point of our church.

You have already received some great teaching from John the Son of Zebedee (whom I think is the author of this gospel, already) this year from the other elders.

Remember a few weeks ago when Joel preached through 1 John? A lot of the same key words popped up there. Simple words but fathomlessly deep:


And Cody, just a couple of weeks ago, was in the Gospel of John. I have listened to Joel’s, but I haven’t gotten up to Cody’s yet. So thankful that we record them.

And here’s why we’re going to study The Gospel of John together, not just because it’s beloved, but because of why it’s beloved.

And because of why it was written in the first place.

To know that, we need to start at the end. Next week, we’ll jump into chapter 1, Lord-willing, where John started writing, but today I want us to look at the two verses near the end of the book where he tells us why he wrote it in the first place. Do you have chapter 20 open in front of you?

Spoiler alert if you’ve never read it before. Chapter 20 is the climax of the whole book. The hero Jesus comes back from the dead! 

And He appears to His disciples, to Mary Magdalene, to the disciples behind locked doors, and to “doubting” Thomas to whom He said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.  Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (Jn. 20:27-28 NIVO).

Can you imagine?!!! What a moment!

And right then, if this was a movie, all the action would pause or fade to black and John, the Beloved Disciple, would step forward and talk right into the camera. He “breaks the fourth wall.”

Because in verses 30 and 31, John talks directly to his readers, to you and me.

And he says: “Jesus did many other miraculous 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 Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

And that “you” there is you! And it’s me.

John says that he was selective in what he chose to include in his gospel. There were lots of others stories that he could have told. In the next chapter, he guesses that there probably wouldn’t be enough room in the whole world for the books that could be written about Jesus (21:25)!

So he had to choose. And he chose many different things than did Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Those three are remarkably similar compared to John. They all fit together, of course, to give us exactly what we need as a composite picture of Jesus. But John chooses many different stories and many different teachings for his book.

John says Jesus did many other “miraculous signs” that are not written down here. [He knows! He was an eyewitness!] John does include a lot of miracles (at least 7 major ones), and he loves to call them “signs.” We’re going to see that again and again as we study this book. “Signs” are a great word for them because they aren’t just miracles; they point to something. They point to Who Jesus is. The signs are signposts to point us to Jesus.

And there is no greater sign than Jesus’ rising from the dead.

See how John carefully chose these particular signs and these particular things about Jesus (21 chapters-worth) to share with us for two main purposes. And they are the same reasons why we should read his book today.


Look at verse 31:

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God...”

John wrote this book to help people believe.

Joel Michaels made this very point in the spring. The Gospel of John is evangelistic in nature. It’s here for unbelievers to read and find out Who Jesus really is and put their trust in Him.

Notice that’s there is a specific thing to believe. This is not just a yard sign that says “BELIEVE” and doesn’t tell you what to believe. This isn’t just a generic, “Have faith.”

There is specific content that John wants people to put their faith in, specifically that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of God. That’s the whole point of why John wrote what John wrote.

He’s trying to make the case. He’s trying to persuade those who are not yet followers of Jesus to become followers of Jesus. He’s trying to awaken faith in those who have not yet placed their faith in Jesus Christ.

That’s why the Gospel of John is a great book to share with others. It’s a great book to hand to someone to read or to offer to read with someone.

How about identifying someone in your life who is not yet a follower of Jesus and invite them to read the Gospel of John with you in the next few months?

I’m hoping that this sermon series will be a good one for all of us to invite our friends and family to come listen to. 

Come listen to what John says about Who Jesus is.

And believe.

But the Gospel of John is not just for un-believers, is it? It’s also for you and me who are already believers, as well. To feed our faith.

Interestingly, there is a reading of verse 31 that could be translated, “that you may continue to believe.”

We don’t stop reading the Gospel John once we’re convinced. We keep coming back to it again and again and again to remind ourselves of Who Jesus is.

Jesus is the Christ. He is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. Remember all of those things we learned about the Messiah to come as we read through the Book of Jeremiah? 

Like chapter 23? “‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness’” (Jer. 23:5-6 NIVO).

In his own way, John aims to show that Jesus is the fulfillment of all of those great and precious promises. And we need to hear that again and again and again.

Some of this will be really familiar. Just a reminder to many of you. For some of you it will be fresh and new. All of us need to hear it.

Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Son of God.

As we study the Gospel of John, we’re going to learn about the deepest truth in the universe, that God is triune. That God has a Son. The Son of God who is God the Son. We’re going to see that mind-blowing relationship in the very first chapter next week.
There is only One God! And yet that One God is both God the Father and God the Son for all eternity. 

And by the time we’re done with John, we’ll find out God is Three in One. We’ll learn about God the Spirit. 

What simple words! Father, Son, Spirit, God. But how deep are their meanings!!! How profound. Simple but not simplistic in the slightest. The deepest truth in world.

And John wrote this all down so that we might BELIEVE it.

John uses the Greek word translated here “believe” nearly a hundred times in his gospel.

Do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? 

And only Jesus is? We are so tempted to put our faith in other people and other things instead of in Jesus alone. John says, “Jesus is the Christ” and nobody else is our Messiah. Don’t put your faith in me or some politician or some guru or some celebrity. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus is the Savior.

And Jesus is the Son of God. Do you believe that? That is dangerous to believe. In some parts of the world, that will get you killed. In some places, like social media, it will get you “canceled” or at least ridiculed. I don’t know about you, but I need to come back to this again and again so that my faith grows stronger and stronger in Jesus.

“O for grace to trust Him more.”’s the result. The second reason why John wrote this gospel is that when you and I do the first thing, believe, it leads to this second thing, which is so awesome! Look what he says at the end of verse 31.

“...these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”


It doesn’t get any better than that, brothers and sisters and friends. “By believing you may have life in his name.” 

Belief leads to life.

So that’s going to be the name of our series on the Gospel of John, “Life in Jesus’ Name.” 

What kind of life is that? Well, John is going to teach us that it is eternal life. Life that starts now and goes on for all eternity. It’s not just biological life, though it will be physical in the resurrection.

It’s spiritual life, and it is forever life. Imagine that. Forever life.

But he’s not just talking about after-life here. He’s talking about a life that starts right now when we believe. Jesus will call it “abundant life” or “life to the fullest.” When we believe in Jesus, there is a new quality of life that is birthed in us that changes everything for us now and forever.

It doesn’t mean that we’re happy all the time and everything always works out for us. Far from it. But it does mean that we have been invited to share in the very life of God. And we are like happy contented sheep who are well-fed and all-cared for and safe–ultimately safe from the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Jesus says in chapter 10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10 NIVO).

That’s why I want us to study the Gospel of John right now; so that we experience that kind of life in 2023. And rest in it and revel in it and rejoice in it.

Each and every week, I hope that the message is life-giving as we go deeper together into the gospel of Jesus Christ in the gospel of John.

Verse 31, “that by believing you may have life in his name.”

We must believe. The stakes are high. This life only comes through believing in Jesus. In His name.

Like Joel preached from 1 John chapter 5, this summer: “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 Jn. 5:11-13 NIVO).

Or as it says in this book, chapter 3, verse 16, “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” (Jn. 3:16 NIVO).

Do you believe in Him? If you have not yet put your faith and trust in Jesus, then I urge you to do so today. And I’ll urge you to do so next week and the week after that. If they come. Because we don’t know if we have next week or the week after that. We do know that if we believe, then we will have life and have life in His name.

We’re going to learn a lot more about “His name.” In the Bible, your name is more than just what they call you. It’s Who you are. It’s your identity, your character, your position, your authority, your Person.

And we’re going to learn lots about Who Jesus is, the name of Jesus. It’s the Gospel of John that has the seven “I Am” statements in it. Do you know what I mean?

Jesus says, “I am __________”

"I am the bread of life.
I am the light of the world.
I am the door of the sheep.
I am the good shepherd.
I am the resurrection and the life.
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
I am the true vine."

That’s all what John means by “in His name.” 

That and more! The Christ, the Son of God.

If Jesus is all that, then we get all of that when trust in Him.

Do you believe? John wrote this to you. That “you” in verse 31 is actually you, and it is me. If you don’t yet believe, then I encourage you to open up the Gospel of John and read it. Most of you could easily read it this week. Start today and read three chapters. Do that every day this week, and you’ll have the whole thing under your belt before we meet again.

Do you believe? John wrote this to you. That “you” in verse 31 is actually you, and it is actually me. If we do believe, then we have life in His name. Live that life. Live into that life. Live your life for Jesus and in Jesus and through Jesus. Both now and forever. Amen.

Worship at the Lord's Table

I was thinking about that phrase, “life in his name” for communion this week and about an experience we had at the Palace of Westminster in London a couple of weeks ago. That’s this building attached to this famous clock you may have heard of. Big Ben.

Actually, Big Ben is the largest of the bells in that clock that chime. But the clock goes by that name because of its most famous bell.

The big building attached to Big Ben is the Palace of Westminster where the Parliament of the United Kingdom meets. Here’s a couple of pictures we took when we got to ride a boat down the Thames and from another angle.

Here’s the thing. Heather and I got to go inside of that building. Do you know how we did it?

Here’s some proof. Here’s a picture I took inside of Westminster Hall.

Here’s a plaque on the floor to commemorate where Queen Elizabeth’s body lay in state last year after she died and before her funeral. If you saw the 10 mile long queue? This is where it ended.

But Heather and I got to go even deeper into that place. Past the guards. Past security. Into the Seat of Parliament where they all meet and yell at each other (if you’ve seen it on television), the green benches. And where they take their votes. You aren’t allowed to take pictures in there. You’ll have to take my word for it that we made it in there. But we did.

Do you know how we got in there?

We didn’t storm the gate. We didn’t knock down the doors or come up with some tricky heist thing like in a movie. We walked up to the guards and said, “We are Matt and Heather Mitchell from Pennsylvania, and we demand that you let us enter based on our names!”

Do you think we did that? No, we did not. It would not have worked. Massive security! The door was actually hundreds of yards away from the actual building. Across the street! You don’t get in there if they don’t want you to.

But we got in there because we knew somebody named Graeme. Actually, we knew somebody named Malcolm and Alison who had a daughter named Caitlin who had a co-worker named Graeme.

And Graeme had a passcard. His name would give you entrance into Westminster Palace. And if you were with Graeme, you could go places that most other people could not go, not on their own names.

Graeme took us one place in the basement that other even other official tour groups don’t go to!

We got in, not because of our names, but because of his. Doors opened for Graeme because he works for one of the members of parliament. Doors opened for Graeme’s name, not for ours.

You can see where I’m going with this, right? We have life, not in our own names, but in the name of Jesus.  Jesus Christ died on the Cross paying the debt for our sins that we could not pay. And He came back to life to give us the life that we do not deserve. 

You and I do not deserve to eat and drink at this Table. But Jesus does, and we come in His name. We come to the Father, we come to salvation, in His name. Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (14:6). But all who come through Him reach the Father!

The Gospel of John was written that you and I may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing we may have life in his name.