John’s Invitation to Faith and Life
Many Christians acknowledge the Gospel According to John as a major landmark in their journey toward personal faith in Jesus Christ. This is because the primary goal of the Gospel is to convince its audience to believe in Jesus. Near the end of his Gospel (20:30-31), John:
1. Acknowledges he has left out significant information about Jesus’ teaching and ministry (v30).
2. Tells his readers why he wrote the Gospel: “…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 20:31b ESV).
John’s Gospel has an intricate literary structure. The narrative is rich with symbolism that works on many different levels and has multiple layers of meaning. While it is true that much of John’s Old Testament references and sophisticated theological content will go over the heads of the unskilled Bible-reader, the call to come to Jesus in faith and find life is evident to all who read this Gospel. There is a persistent plea throughout the book to come to Christ in faith.
Jesus invites Nicodemus (and John invites his readers) to believe in Him and be reborn from above (3:1-21). He invites the Samaritan woman to come to Him for living water (4:1-26) and rebukes the Pharisees for refusing to come to Him and have life (5:39-40). He tells the multitudes they must eat His flesh and drink His blood to find life (6:22-59). He invites His spiritually thirsty hearers to come to Him and drink (7:38). He promises that those who follow Him will have the light of life (8:12) and that those who believe in Him will never see death (8:51). Before raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus promises Lazarus’ sister Martha (and John’s readers) that those who believe in Him will never die (11:25-26).
John tells us less about Jesus’ public ministry and more about His private ministry than Matthew, Mark, and Luke do. John’s Gospel shows us Jesus in a more intimate light. A unique feature of John is that it contains a lot of long, often one-on-one conversations and discourses with Jesus. John wants his readers to see themselves in Jesus’ conversation partners and hear His invitations as if they were directly from Jesus to the reader. John desires that through his Gospel, we would behold the glory of Jesus so that we might believe in Him and find life in His name.