As a Christian saved some twenty something odd years, I have noticed that I would (on occasion) forget about my early days of salvation. I was saved perhaps too young (if such a thing is possible). I didn?t fall into any serious sin as some other brothers and sisters nor have I ever really had a conscious draw towards the baser life. "Too Young" because I never got the full appreciation which may be found in those to whom "much is forgiven". I have seen brothers who have led a very dark life, perhaps even to the point of being sent to prison and now that they are free and saved they are the most dedicated evangelists and preachers ravenous for the fishing of men!
There is such a tremendous zeal found in those persons who are recent believers who have tasted of the heavenly calling and are walking in the light. Sometimes it is important for us (who have been in the faith for many years) to look through the eyes of the recently converted. For example, one day my son (at that point about a year and a half years old) and I were going outside for a walk and he was looking up at the sky and with a sigh of tremendous joy he points and says ?It?s BLUE!? and I got down to his level, turned and looked up at the sky for the first time all over again.
Concerning our Christian life it would be good then to look at passages (which we often use for the preaching of the gospel) to try to recapture that refreshing exuberance found in early salvation. The word of God is like a diamond. It has immense value and is multifaceted.
John himself had multiple reasons for writing his gospel. There were already other gospels written and he seemed to know that based on how he left out some details. He tells us his reason for writing the book in John 20:30 and 31. John explains that there are many more signs that Jesus did but these were specifically chosen so that the reader may believe that a) Jesus is the Christ, b) Jesus is the Son of God and c ) and that believing you may have life in His name.
Therefore studying this book may help some of us to be saved or to be refreshed or find renewed vigor but it may even help us in explaining the very Message of God, proclaiming the deity of Jesus and touch on the profound blessings found in believing in Him. Much like the waters of an oasis give life, the waters which John offers in his retelling are also to bring life. A spring of life that will blossom out of us and flow out into everlasting life, our Lord says at one point in the book of John. A spring found in the very source of the word of God in which we drink. Some drink water because they are thirsty, others because they want something cool and refreshing and others because they love the taste of water. All are valid reasons for drinking water and for studying the word of God.
So when we look at the book of John and see how it is divided and what thoughts are repeated it is important not simply to take these things and put them in a file of ?Repetitions in John? but to labor at finding out why John thought they were important and how they speak to us of Jesus being the Christ (the sent one of God), Jesus being the Son of God (God incarnate) and that believing in Jesus results in life.
Let?s take two very well known passages and look earnestly at them. Both of these subjects deal with water.
Both of these events took place in Jerusalem near or around the temple, the House of God. It is interesting to mention this because the temple plays an important role in the book of John. The book of John, after the introduction, contains four journeys to Jerusalem and back to Galilee?that?s it. Even the portion where Jesus is walking through Samaria to speak to a woman by a well about living water is on a trip back from Jerusalem going towards Galilee. Each of these journeys is also punctuated by temple stories and Jewish feasts.
In the book of John chapter 5 we have the story of a man who has been sick for 38 years. The man didn?t have the ability to move himself and was found lying by a pool near the temple. This pool called Bethesda seemed to have some healing abilities and the people believed that an angel would stir up the waters and whoever got into the waters first after the stirring up would be healed of whatever infirmity they had.
Jesus walked amongst these teeming crowds of people waiting to be healed. Jesus asked this sick man if he wished to get healed. The man, yearningly looking at the waters of Bethesda, answers that he can not get into the waters after they?re stirred up nor is there anyone to help him over there.
Look at the eyes of those people waiting to be healed. They?re eyes were fixated on that pool of water perhaps waiting for the slightest of bubbles of stirring. The temple nearby was ignored?why bother seeking God?s help when you can do something right here. Just get into the water first, was the idea, while right next to them stood God In the Flesh?ready to heal yet ignored.
Oh don?t disparage God?s ability to heal the body and soul, God can do what He wants in the way He wants. If Christ so chose to dry up the Pool of Bethesda it would be His right?yet what does He do instead? He commands the man to take up his bed and to walk. As dead Lazarus couldn?t help it but rise up from the tomb, this man took up his bed and walked away?healed by the Lord. The man didn?t even know Christ?s name.
Some have taken this passage and warped it, illustrating God?s election?but the passage deals with no such thing. It is the Power of God to heal?not our power at all. It is His ability, His divine Grace to do such a work of salvation. Christ hung on the cross and paid the debt that we could not pay?we become partakers in what He did. He was obedient to the death on the cross?we enjoy the fruits of his labor.
And yet, in John Chapter 9, we have another sign by Christ this time to another man who is found begging near the temple, blind since birth. From this man’s standpoint, sitting there and begging, we can perhaps imagine his ears catching a conversation by some by passers. The by passers are asking speaking amongst themselves and perhaps referring to a certan Jesus in the group. When they get to the beggar they ask this Jesus about the beggar’s blindness: "who sinned resulting in the beggars blindness? Him or his parents?" This Jesus answers "Neither" and the beggar finds out that he was born blind so that God would receive the glory.
The next thing the beggar hears is someone spitting. This is followed by cold, wet mud being slathered onto his eyes. The one called Jesus tells him to ?go wash in the pool of Siloam? (and John finds it important to translate this Siloam?it means Sent. If he finds that pool important let us translate Bethesda as well?it means House of Mercy). This blind man obeyed Jesus and walked towards the pool called Sent with mud over his eyes. He didn?t go to the pool of Bethesda or any basins of water kept in or around the temple area?no he went to where he was sent. As he washed, something strange happened?color. He?s never seen it before. Perhaps he saw the silver sparkles of the sun?s reflection on the muddied water and was shaking thinking he was hallucinating and knowing he was not.
With each bit of clay which he washed off he saw more color and he came back to that temple area seeing. To every soul that asked him how it was made possible he would explain that the man called Jesus had done it and he doesn?t know how, but he can see!
It is an amazing thing that God presents himself to those who need him. Those who find themselves in the worst possible place or at the end of their rope?God is there, just in time to do a work. The first time Jesus presents Himself to someone in the book of John, removing the perception of His humanity to reveal who He truly is?was to a woman by a well. The first time God did as such after the fall was to a woman who had been cast out of her mistress?s house?.the Angel of God appeared to Hagar before Abraham ever saw Him!
Jesus indeed was sent to do His Father?s will. He came into the world to do this work on His Father?s behalf and yet He makes sure to chasten His disciples that this is something he wishes to do. He says in John 18:11 ?The cup that the Father has given Me to drink?will I not drink it??
Oh the wonder of it. God in His infinite grace and mercy and sovereign will has done a work that is able to save any and all by its tremendous outworking. A work that, according to Romans was done while we were yet sinners, as a demonstration of love, as a propitiation for the Father, which entails in it a justification of the ungodly, a sanctification of the spirit, an empowerment by the Spirit, an enabling and translating work by the Spirit and a defense by the triune God on our behalf starting at salvation and being held until glorification! God in His infinite love also made a way possible that if man so chose, he can go off on his own?yet there are those who will respond to Christ?s calling and repent.
Healing is for the sick and salvation is for the sinner and Jesus said it the best to those haughty Pharisees who sniffed at Him asking ?What, are we also blind?? He turned to them and said that they were not blind, for if that were the case they would need Him to heal them?yet they say they can see and that being the case their sin remains.
Jesus, on the other hand, revealed Himself to this beggar but not with sober warnings like the man at Bethesda or those ?blind-so-called Seeing?. ?Do you believe in the Christ?? He asked. ?Tell me who it is, my Lord, so that I may worship him?, said the beggar. ?I, who speak to you, am He.? Christ said this and the man fell down before Him and worshipped Him.
Oh the blessed wonder of it that we can fall down at the feet of Him who has purchased such a great salvation and that we can thank Him for the tremendous work that He worked on our behalf! Oh the wonder and riches found in our God and Savior, how unsearchable are his ways and His methods past finding out!