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  • Writer's pictureJosh Wredberg

Keys to Teaching Christ in John

Updated: Jul 31, 2023


Sometimes you’ll see it in the stands at sporting events, a neon piece of posterboard with one word and a series of numbers: John 3:16. I wonder how many people watching think the sign refers to a player with the first name of John instead of a reference to the most famous verse in the Bible. There was a time when everyone seemed to know what John 3:16 was, but that time is no more. Yet, like the Gospel it comes from, John 3:16 articulates the gospel in a clear, purposeful, powerful way.

The Gospel of John is unapologetically a book with a purpose. It was written “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 ESV). The selection of signs and sayings of Jesus were purposefully written and compiled to convince the reader that Jesus is God and eternal life comes only by believing in Him.

Key Texts:

  • John 1:1–14—Commonly called “The Prologue” these introductory verses connect the gospel of John to the opening stanzas of Genesis and establish the deity of Jesus Christ.

  • John 3:1—21—In a memorable conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus tells this religious leader he must be “born again” in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Eternal life comes, not through keeping the law, but only through child-like faith.

  • John 4:1–26—In a conversation at a well, Jesus invites an outcast woman to drink living water that will quench her thirst. He connects it to worship of the true God and acceptance by faith of Himself as the Messiah.

  • John 8:48—59—Jesus claims to exist before Abraham and refers to Himself as God with the phrase, “I Am.” This clear statement of His deity leads the religious leaders to charge Him with blasphemy and plot His death.

  • John 11:1—44—After his good friend, Lazarus, dies, Jesus raises him back to life and calls Himself the “resurrection and the life.” He promises that faith in Him brings victory over death.

  • John 14:1—7—On the night before His crucifixion, Jesus promises His disciples a place with Him in heaven. He reminds them that He is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.”

  • John 17:1—26—Known as the high-priestly prayer, Jesus prays for himself, his apostles, and all Christians. He exposes the beauty of the Trinitarian relationship and wonder of the believer’s union with Him.

Key Themes:

  • Lamb of God—When John the Baptist sees Jesus, he immediately calls Him “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29). From that moment forward, the Gospel prepares the reader for the substitutional sacrifice of Jesus for sinners.

  • Hour—John uses statements of Jesus about His “hour” to show the plan of God and obedience of the Son as events move toward the cross.

  • I Am—Jesus makes seven different “I Am” statements: “Bread of Life” (6:10), “Light of the World” (8:12), “I Am” (8:50), “Good Shepherd” (10:14), “Resurrection and the Life” (11:27), “Way, Truth, and Life” (14:6), and “True Vine” (15:1). Each statement exposes more of His unique identity, and together they affirm His deity.

  • Believe—John not only ends the book by stating his purpose for writing—that all who read would believe—but he mentions the necessity of belief in the prologue (1:12). As he compiles the story, he carefully demonstrates that genuine belief requires whole-hearted personal commitment to Jesus as Lord and God.

  • Life—The reason John wants people to believe is because belief in Jesus leads to life. Jesus is the Creator of all life (1:3), He is the Resurrection and Life (11:27), He rose from the dead (20:1-10), and He promises life to all who follow Him in faith.

Key Resources:

  • The Gospel According to John, D.A. Carson. Widely considered the authoritative commentary on John. Carson interacts with all of the scholarly questions in a way that is accessible to the average reader.

  • The Gospel of John, Herman Ridderbos. Unlike many commentaries on John’s Gospel, this one treats the Gospel as a carefully crafted book, asking the key literary questions about the placement of accounts and the author’s design.

  • John, R.C. Sproul. A short, accessible, pastoral commentary on John. Though Sproul is an intellectual heavyweight, this volume reveals his warm, devotional heart.

  • Exalting Jesus in John, Matt Carter and Josh Wredberg. This book shows the relevance of the gospel of John to modern readers. Written by pastors, it includes applications and illustrations to highlight the text’s meaning and aid teachers in conveying the truth to their audience.


Many pastors direct seekers to two books of the Bible: John and Romans. While Romans unpacks the precious truths of the Gospel in propositional form, John shows us the Gospel is about the person and work of Jesus Christ. John introduces readers to the life of Jesus, not as an interesting historical figure, but as the only One with the power to defeat death and give life.

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