Sermon – January 17, 2021

John 21:20-25 – The End of John’s Gospel (mp3)

Today, we reach the end of John’s Gospel. We will attempt to summarize the teaching of John’s lifetime of reflection on the wonder of Jesus, fine-tuned and clarified over decades, compiled in 21 chapters and some 866 verses. Surely, that is a tall order! And while any summary is bound to be, by nature, reductionistic, we can hit the highlights of John’s vision into the wonder of Jesus’ life and ministry. The ending of the book itself shows us that even John has summarized in order to write his Gospel! Let us, then, do the same, and recount what his Gospel has given to us, ponder it anew, and praise God for the wonderful gift that we have in Jesus!

1. Who are Jesus’ enemies?
Throughout his book, John highlights the nature of the enemies of the cross, specifically many of those who should have been excited at the appearance of Jesus – leaders who shared the Scriptures, seemed devoted to God, and were awaiting the Messiah. They were exposed, however, as people who didn’t truly believe, were utterly self assured and unmoved by facts, mis-handlers of Scripture, liars, loving the glory of the world, fighting for that glory with the weapons of the world, ultimately perpetuating violence and using God to get what they wanted. These are the enemies of the cross.

2. Who are Jesus’ people?
Jesus’ people, on the other hand, even if they notice the failures of others, have no reason to boast or brag. We are created by him, reborn by his will, so that we are his sheep. And even though that itself means that Jesus might use us as he chooses, in his grace and mercy he humbles himself to call us friends and siblings! What’s more, we are unified in him, have fellowship in him, and serve one another in Jesus. Therefore, by this love and service, we show the world the nature of Christ, and witness to his glory.

3. Who is Jesus?
This witness, of course, leads us to ponder Jesus. In John’s Gospel, more than any other, we see Jesus as the incarnate Son of God, the long-awaited King who serves his people, becoming a sacrifice for them. He is not an unwilling sacrifice though, and shows that he is in full control over his, and his sheep’s, fate. Ultimately, Jesus is presented in the Gospel of John as the one who provides for all of our needs: he gives us light, community, shelter, food, water, even air. The sum total: Jesus is life everlasting for his people, for those who believe in him and call upon his name. In him, we have everything, and lack nothing. Hallelujah!