I love spending time watching a good movie. I enjoy getting lost in the story, trying to figure out what is going on and how things are going to go. However, I get very frustrated by movies that leave you confused about what happened. I’ve waited and waited for some sort of resolution or point to the story and there is none. My husband laughs at me when I see the closing credits start to roll and I say, “They can’t leave it there! What was the point of that?”
In today’s reading, in John 20:19-31, John neared the end of his gospel and he really didn’t want anyone to miss the point of why he wrote it. He didn’t want anyone to come away believing Jesus was just a good person or a great teacher or a prophet. John wanted his readers to know that Jesus is the Christ, God’s long-promised King. He wanted his readers to know this so that we can have life in Jesus’ name.
It is no accident that John’s purpose statement is recorded at the end of his gospel. John could have opened his gospel and said, “But these are recorded 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” (John 20:31).
Instead, he wrote it after Jesus had been resurrected, after the disciples realized who Jesus was, and after their eyes had been opened. He wanted his readers to realize this truth like the disciple Thomas did when he exclaimed to Jesus in verse 28, “My Lord and my God!”
John didn’t want his readers to have a head knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, he wanted them to be transformed, having life in Jesus’ name. John used the word ‘life’ 42 times in his gospel. Throughout his gospel, John built a picture of this life. Here are a few examples (emphasis mine):
- For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
- For this is the will of my Father—for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).
- The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life (John 6:63)
- Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God!” (John 6:68-69).
- Then Jesus spoke out again, “I am the light of the world! The one who follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
- The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (John 10:10-11).
- I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand (John 10:28).
- Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
- Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
- “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you— just as you have given him authority over all humanity, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him. Now this is eternal life—that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent (John 17:1-3).
John had been teaching his readers all along about the life Jesus had come to bring. It is like a great movie: near the end, a revelation occurs that changes everything, but if you re-watch the movie you can see all the hints and signs along the way!
Let us not lose the point of John’s teaching but keep in mind that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah, our King, and Deliverer. Jesus gave His life, so that we may receive life in His name–abundant, eternal life. He gives us an undeserved life of grace and steadfast love as children of the King of kings. It is a life that knows and continues to learn more about the only true God. This is the life we were created for, in communion with our Maker! Thank you, Jesus.
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