In John’s Gospel we have unfolded, as in no other portion of Scripture, the varied glories of the Son of God. I desire that these “jottings” may, under the Spirit’s instruction and guidance, be useful to some of the Lord’s dear people in leading them into a clearer apprehension and deeper appreciation of its treasures.
The book falls naturally into two parts. The first twelve chapters give the presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son become flesh, to a needy world. The last nine chapters present Him in various aspects for the contemplation of His own beloved people.
Each division begins with “His own.” In chapter 1, verse 11, after the wondrous introductory portion letting us into the glorious secret of the mystery of His exalted Person, we read that “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” The first expression is in the neuter, and might be rendered, “His own things,” or, “His own possessions.” The second is personal. He came, bringing grace and truth into the world His hands had made, and to the nation whose chief glory was the temple of which He was Lord; but alas, His own people received Him not. They were His own by creation, and, after the cross, by purchase, too, as are all men in this sin-burdened world today. But they had no heart for Him; for His coming, His ways, His words, and His life were the condemnation of their sin even though, in richest grace, He offered life and peace.
The second part also begins with “His own,” as we see in 13:1: “Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” This is precious indeed. Though the mass refused Him, a little company was “drawn by that love that knows no measure” unto Himself. He became their Saviour and the Object of their hearts. Therefore in a far fuller sense than that of chapter 1, they became “His own.” Not only were they His by creation and purchase, but also by redemption (for the cross is anticipated in this second division), and likewise His own by the Father’s gift, as seven times expressed in His high-priestly prayer of chapter 17. Nor was this all, for He had subdued their spirits and bound them to Himself, and therefore they were His own by subjugation. In this fivefold sense, they were linked with Himself.
Although the chapter and verse divisions are of human origin, we find in each chapter a characteristic revelation of Himself which, laid hold of by the soul, opens up the chapter and reveals the marvelous beauty of this divine portrait gallery.
A Revelation to the Unsaved
In the first division, we have a twelvefold presentation of the Lord Jesus to the world.
Twice repeated in chapter 1 is the Baptist’s cry, “Behold the Lamb of God.” On this the attention is focused. He is the Lamb for sacrifice and for example.
In the second chapter He is made known as the Creator, who turns water into the wine of gladness, thus “manifesting forth His glory.”
Chapter 3 presents Him as the Sin-offering, the antitype of the brazen serpent. Lifted up, He gives life to all who trust Him (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21).
To the thirsty Samaritan woman, in the fourth chapter, He makes Himself known as the Satisfier of famished souls, giving living water which springs up perennially unto everlasting life.
It is the Judge in chapter 5, who yet walks among men in grace, imparting strength to the helpless. Soon, as easily as He restored the paralytic with a word, shall He summon all the dead to appear before His face.
In chapter 6 He is the Bread of God come down from heaven, as the manna of old—the meat that endureth, like the living water, unto everlasting life.
In chapter 7, on the last day of the formal, lifeless feast of tabernacles, Christ declares Himself to be the One who gives the Holy Ghost, leading some to cry, “Never man spake like this Man,” while others deride and jeer.
Chapter 8 manifests Him as the Light of the world from whose presence hypocritical Pharisees hasten to go out, while the repentant sinner, left alone with Him, hears His words, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
But if He were only the Light, it would avail little for blind men; so, in the next chapter, He is also the Enlightener “whose glory shines through the darkened lids” of the man born blind and “lights them forever,” penetrating likewise to the depths of his moral being.
In chapter 10 our Lord cries, “I am the Good Shepherd,” and in one lovely picture after another, as also by plain and solemn statements concerning the death He is to die, He assures the hearts of His sheep of His unfailing care.
The special theme of chapter 11 is Christ as the Resurrection and the Life, while, in the twelfth chapter, He is the Touchstone of every heart, who, being lifted up from the earth, shall draw all men to Himself either in grace or in judgment.
It will be noticed that every fresh revelation of His glories is an added test to man. In each instance some hearts cleave to Him, leaving the mass whose enmity ever deepens, until at last He has to say in view of the cross, “Now is the judgment of this world.” He has been offered to men in every possible character. If rejected, God has nothing more for them but utter condemnation.
A Revelation to Believers
Turning then to the second division of the book, we find added glories made known to the hearts of those who have been won by the former presentation.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Advocate in chapter 13, keeping clean His people’s feet as they tread their pilgrim way, by the “washing of water by the Word.”
In the fourteenth chapter, above all else, He is the Coming One, whose return is to be the hope of all His own.
The True Vine, the source of all fruit for God the Father, is the character which He takes in chapter 15, while in the next, He is the Sender of the Comforter, who is to take of the things of Christ and show them unto us.
As we read chapter 17 we are permitted to listen to the breathings of the soul of the Son of God as He enters upon His high-priestly service as the Intercessor, bearing all His people on His shoulders and on His heart, like Aaron of old.
Chapters 18 and 19 are too closely linked to be separated, presenting Him in His perfect obedience unto death as the Burnt Offering, who “loved us and hath given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.”
In resurrection glory He appears in chapter 20 as the Gathering-center for His saints—“in the midst” when they are together in His name, speaking peace and showing His hands and His side!
The last chapter makes Him known as the Restorer of our souls, a character in which every saint has often had to meet Him.
Thus throughout this portion of the Word of God, the soul is led on step by step to “know Him, and the power of His resurrection,… being made conformable unto His death.” May our hearts be more and more occupied with Himself until we see His face and are at home with Him forever.