One of the words the apostle John uses over and over in his gospel is the word “life”. From beginning to end, the life imparted to us by Jesus Christ – life eternal and abundant – is a constant theme in his book. Here are just a few of those references to introduce us to John’s development of this topic.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men” (Jn 1:1,4). Jesus and the life He imparts was there from the beginning.
“He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (Jn 3:36). A pretty straightforward if-then regarding belief and eternal life.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (Jn 5:24). Believe and we literally cross over from death to life!
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst’ ” (Jn 6:35). I wonder what this “never hungry, never thirsty” promise is all about.
“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:40). It is not God’s wish, it is not God’s hope that those who believe in Jesus attain eternal life. No, it is God’s will, God’s determined plan that eternal life is the promise for those who believe in Jesus.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (Jn 6:47). Another if-then regarding belief and eternal life.
“I am the bread of life” (Jn 6:48). Jesus is the provision of this life eternal and abundant.
“Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life‘ ” (Jn 6:68). Peter acknowledges that Jesus’ words are the very words of eternal life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). Jesus’ promise of abundant life stands in contrast to Satan’s plans to steal, kill, and destroy.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies’ ” (Jn 11:25). Jesus’ own resurrection will be a picture of the resurrection life for us.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’ ” (Jn 14:6). Jesus is the only way (a theme repeated over 20 times in John’s gospel). Jesus says this because it is true; no other hidden agenda. If we believe Jesus, the truth about Jesus, we will have life.
“This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn 17:3). Believing that Jesus is the Christ and that God sent Him is at the heart of the promise of eternal life.
“These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn 20:31). Finally, John reveals his purpose in writing this gospel; that we would recognize Jesus as the Christ, believe that He is the Son of God, and by believing experience life in the name of Jesus.
And these are only scratching the surface. What I would like to do in the upcoming weeks is explore what kind of life is Jesus advertising in these consistent promises of life everlasting. Is it only a longevity promise; that is, life that lasts for eternity? Or is there a quality promise also? What does Jesus mean by an abundant life? Is the abundant life for the here and now or only in the far off future of heaven? And what about His promise of “never hungry, never thirsty” (Jn 6:35)? Never is a pretty strong word.
These are a few of the questions we will begin to answer next time.