Nancy Taylor Tate
Where do the years go? I remember when I taught the Gospel of John as a class. Understanding its structure caused me to realize deeper truths and helped me come into a greater understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The structure of John’s gospel has always fascinated me. Its vocabulary is unique as well. There are four Greek words for “miracle.” It is significant that the Greek word most commonly used for “miracle” in John’s writing is “semeion.” This indicates that each miracle recorded is like a “sign post” pointing to a truth more important than the miracle itself.
The three main sections found in John’s writing include the prologue, main body, and epilogue. First, John points to Jesus in the prologue. Then in the main body are seven “miracles” or “signs,” all of which were done publicly. Each “miracle” or “sign post” again points to Jesus, the Son of God, and a particular aspect of His divine authority.
As John writes, his vocabulary is repetitive and full of contrasts. Words such as belief and unbelief; light and darkness; love and hate are used time and time again.
Conflict grew as Jesus made known who He was. In the midst of that hostility and conflict the word “believe” is used at least ninety-eight times. The word John uses for “believe” is the Greek word “pisteuo,” which speaks of a deeper belief than mere assent. It infers a settled faith and a personal commitment to the claims being made, as Jesus points to Himself and His deity as the Son of God.
After John shares seven “sign posts” pointing directly at who Jesus is, John then states his purpose very clearly: “But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name” (John 20:31).
In John’s epilogue, the culmination of his writing is found—the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! Our faith is not based on the death, but the resurrection of Jesus. The life that Jesus demonstrated is promised to all those who believe through faith in His name. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
As the Bible has foretold, today we are seeing the conflict of “belief” and “unbelief” growing in our society and around the world. Yet we have a clear mandate and promise:
“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1-2).
Recently, the director of a ministerial fellowship we are part of, returned from a trip to Europe. He was impressed by the natural beauty, architecture, and sites they visited. Yet he found the words of Isaiah describing “darkness covering the earth,” coming to mind as they traveled in the United States and abroad.
Of great comfort were the words of John: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5 NIV).
Some only see the darkness, but the Light is still shining! Other translations express it like this:
“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (KJV).
“So the light continues to shine in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it” (Williams Translation).
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (NLT).
Luke 18:8 asks, “…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” As the Lord looks upon the earth, He takes pleasure in faith. He is looking for a settled faith that rises above circumstances to take joy in the fact that “He is.” He is looking for that faith in your heart and in mine.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
There is an overcoming people whose hearts are set. Their faith is growing in the midst of conflict. They know the Lord is present and working today as His plans and purposes, unhindered, continue to unfold.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12) .
As we celebrate Jesus and His love for us, it’s not just His death but His resurrection that instills in us living hope. He lives! We know He lives because we have a personal relationship with Him. We live by His power. What strength this is to live by!
The light of the Lord has come! His light is penetrating and will continue to penetrate the darkness! We are a part of that light which brings hope.
In the midst of today’s increasing hostility and conflict, what beautiful assurance we find in scripture! May we keep our eyes on Jesus, His preeminence, and His power and might. May our faith reach out to know Him more and to receive Him into our life situations and circumstances.
May settled faith grow in our hearts and give us strength. May that faith be found pleasing to the heart of God. May our faith encourage others.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you” (Isaiah 60:1–2 NIV).
Thank You, Lord, for Your light that shines!