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The Gospel of John
Northwest London Christian Church

Background to John’s Gospel – Identity of Jesus

John’s Main Themes

We might expect that God would be a major theme in John’s Gospel, but in fact he isn’t! At
least – not directly. Thinking about it this makes sense because the Jews that John is writing
his book for won’t have a problem believing in God, but they will have a problem believing in
Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. So God is seen in two main ways: 1) the sending one
(5.37) and, 2) the Father of the Son. In both roles God points towards Jesus who is the real
focus of the Gospel. So what about Jesus?
Jesus Christ
Christology is a fancy word for the theology of the Christ – or ‘who Jesus is’. It is fine to take
Jesus at face value as God in flesh by faith. However, if we’re going to persuade our non-
believing friends to surrender their lives to Jesus, we may have to find ways of explaining to
them who Jesus was and ‘what’ he was. John’s Gospel is the one that tries hardest to give a
full-colour picture of Jesus as God and man. John is trying to show that Jesus is the Son of
God, the Christ (Messiah) – 20.30-31. He records seven ‘signs’ (in chapters 2-11) – we’ll hear
more about these later. Jewish audiences would have found the ‘Father/Son’ metaphor easy
to grasp. It was a common idea in that society that a father would send his son on an
important errand (especially the firstborn son).
Jesus as Deity
The image of Jesus as Son of God blends his deity and humanity. Some passages in the
Gospel are more explicit about these two aspects of his identity. Here are a few that
emphasise his deity:
Jesus as pre-existent 1.1, 14, 8.58, 12.41, 17.5
Jesus’ “signs” 2.11 etc. What other signs can you find?
Jesus’ “I am sayings” alluding to OT name of God (Ex 3.14) Have a look for them ….
Jesus’ possession of supernatural knowledge 1.48, 2.19, 11.14, 13.38, 21.18-19
Thomas’ confession of Jesus as “Lord and God” 20.28

Jesus as Human
John presents Jesus as fully human as well as divine:
He has a human family 1.45, 2.12, 6.42, 7.3-8, 19.25-26
He is worn out and thirsty 4.6-7, 19.28
He weeps when he loses a friend 11.33, 35
He is seen by others as being human 19.5
He dies and is buried 19.30, 38-42

What have you learned so far about God and Jesus? Why not keep notes of what this
Gospel is teaching you about Jesus? John’s Gospel is full of Jesus-treasure. Let’s go mining
and pray to love him more deeply and become more like him in heart and action as the weeks
go by.

Malcolm Cox