Robert Morris - John
All right, we are in a series called Divinely Human, and we've been looking at Abraham and Sarah and Peter and Moses and Zipporah. And the first week, which you might not realize as a part of the series if you weren't here, was the message I preached, A Better Covenant. I really want you to hear that message if you haven't heard it, and I really want you to listen to it again if you did hear it, because I laid the groundwork that if you are in any way. And let me just say this. I believe all of us, including... I do this. All of us still think in Old Covenant terms sometimes and act in Old Covenant terms when we are living under the New Covenant. And so that's the most important message in the series that you might not think is the most important, but it is.
So we're in that series. All right? So this week we're going to talk about John. And what I did is we're in the series, if you're catching up, or maybe this is your first time to tune in or to be here or to be online or whatever it is. We're taking people in the Bible that we know as heroes, men and women that God used, and we're noticing that they were just humans. And not only did they make mistakes, but they actually even sinned. And yet God still used them to do great, miraculous, divine things. And we're using the scripture that tells us that we are partakers of the divine nature when we accept His grace. So, Jesus was 100% divine and 100% human on this earth. And I'm going to explain that to you, by the way, at Easter, we're going to unpack that. But we are not 100% divine, but we have someone living in us who is divine that we need to allow to live through us. So that's what we're doing. All right?
So hopefully I'm giving you all hope that even though you see your humanity and your frailties and your weaknesses, that you can still be divinely used by God because these men and women were. All right. So, we're going to look at John. So, I actually have points this week, even though we're going to still read a lot of John's story, a lot of Scripture. I have points. I only have two. And here's point number one: John's divinity. So we're going to look at that part of John that he allowed the divine to use him in the kingdom. First of all, I need to tell you some things about John. I'm going to ask a question, and I don't want you to answer out loud because you'll be wrong. Might be, you might not. You might be a Bible trivia person like I am, and so you might get the right answer, but don't answer out loud. And that is, who wrote most of the New Testament. Don't answer out loud. It was not Paul. Ha, see. Got some of you.
Paul wrote the most books. He wrote 13 out of 27 books, but not the most words. He wrote about between 32 and 33,000 words, but Luke wrote the most words. Luke and Acts are around almost 39,000 words. All right? But coming in third was John. John wrote the Gospel of John. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. And then the easiest book in the Bible to understand, the Book of Revelation. Many people have asked me why I don't preach on Revelation. I haven't preached a series on Revelation because I don't understand it. So, but I did preach on the seven churches of Asia Minor, and that's a good... I'm thinking about turning that into a book called Love Letters from Jesus, but we'll just see. So don't steal that title. I copyright that now in Jesus' name. All right, but John wrote five books of the Bible, and he was the third as far as words to the Bible. Okay.
Now, when we talk about the Gospel of John, I need to explain something to you about it. There are four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, right? But Matthew, Mark, and Luke are synoptic gospels. John is not a synoptic gospel. And I want to explain to you why. The word synoptic, I love words, and I hope you do, too. But the word synoptic comes from the word synonym. It means similar or same. It doesn't mean exactly the same. It means similar. Okay. So you need to understand, then, that Matthew, Mark, and Luke are similar gospels. John is not. Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote their gospels before John, and it is entirely possible that John read those gospels and then decided to write John because he wrote about things that are not in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote about the birth of Jesus, the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. And in between, they wrote about the third year of His ministry, primarily, the third year of His ministry.
Here's the reason. Two years into Jesus' ministry, John the Baptist was imprisoned, and in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, toward the beginning of each of their books, they say, "After the imprisonment of John the Baptist". Another way to understand this is they wrote about Jesus' ministry in Galilee, which was the third year of His ministry. John wrote about His ministry in Judea, which was the first two years, were the first two years of His ministry. All right, so let me just show you these scriptures and show you how soon they were in Matthew. So Matthew begins with the birth of Christ and then the wilderness and the baptism. And then in Matthew 4:12, it says, "Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed the Galilee". That's Matthew 4. Everything else is after He departed Galilee.
So the third year of His ministry, Mark 1, Mark... That's pretty soon. Mark 1:14, "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee". Everything else that's about His ministry in Galilee. Luke 3, 3, Luke 3. Luke 1 is a genealogy. If you read it in the Old Testament, it's so and so begot so and so, and so and so begot so and so. And if you read it, pretty soon you'll be-got tired. Okay? All right. So Luke 3:19 says, "But Herod the Tetrarch", and I didn't want to put all the stuff in the middle, "shut John up in prison". And then everything else is about Galilee. So, Matthew, Mark, and Luke begin with the birth of Jesus. Let me tell you something about John. John begins with the birth of time. He doesn't begin with the birth of Jesus, he begins with the birth of time. He begins with three words that are only found in one other, that only one other book of the Bible begins with, and that's the book of Genesis.
John begins John 1, "In the beginning". In the beginning. John 1:1. John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". Matthew, Mark, and Luke only record one Passover. That's because they're only recording the third year of Jesus' life. John records three Passovers. It is so unusual and so unique that John did these things. John tells us things that no other gospel tells us. For instance, John 2 tells us the first miracle that He ever worked, which would not have been the third year of His ministry, it would have been the first. John 2 is the turning of water into wine, right? And it even tells us, verse 11, "This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana". This beginning of signs.
So John 2 tells us about turning water into wine. That's not in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. John 3 tells us about Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus. That's not in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. John Four tells us about the Samaritan woman at the well. The conversation, the woman at the well. Do I need to keep saying, "That's not in Matthew, Mark, and Luke," Or y'all got that? Okay. John 5 tells us about the lame man healed at the pool of Bethesda. John 6 tells us about Jesus saying, "I am the true bread that came down from heven". John 7 tells us, Pastor Nathan at the Southlake campus shared about Jesus saying, "Come to me and drink". He told us out of our innermost being would flow rivers of living water. John 8 tells us about the woman caught in adultery. We would have never known that story had John not written John because Matthew, Mark, and Luke didn't write about it. Okay?
John 9 tells us about the blind man who was blind from birth, and Jesus healed him. I preached a whole message on that. It's one of the funniest messages you'll ever hear. John 10 tells us that Jesus is the good shepherd and that His sheep hear His voice, and they follow him. And one of the great things I love about that is He says, "My sheep hear My voice," which means Jesus speaks, and which means, if you're a sheep, then you can hear God. John 11 tells us about raising Lazarus from the dead. We wouldn't have known about that. John 12, let me remember here, tells us, oh, about unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit, foretelling His death. John 13 tells us about the washing of the disciples' feet. If you don't mind me saying this, I'd like to say it again, not in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. We never would have known that story had John not written that story. John 14, 15, and 16 (are you ready for this?) tell us the conversation Jesus had with his disciples at the Last Supper.
Would you like to know what Jesus said? I mean, it was only Jesus and the twelve disciples and Leonardo da Vinci painting his picture over in the corner. Would you like to know what Jesus said at the Last Supper? Read John 14, 15, and 16. John 14, "Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions". John 15, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Without Me, you can do nothing". Again, I like words. Let me explain a word to you. Without Me, you can do no thing. Philippians, Through me, you can do all things. Well, there's a lot of difference between "no thing" and "all things". And the only difference is through Jesus. John 16 actually explains the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I preached a series on the Holy Spirit, and I used John 16 to show you exactly what the Holy Spirit does. But it's only in John 16. John 17 is the prayer Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
And by the way, you've got, Peter, James, and John are there, and we know they all fall asleep. And then Peter comes down and reports it to Matthew. Matthew is the only one that writes this part. And Matthew probably said, "Wait, what did He pray? What did He pray? What did He do"? "Well, he prayed". "Well, what was his prayer"? "Father, if it be Thy will, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done". And then Peter fell asleep. John apparently stayed awake because he tells us the rest of the prayer, which is a lot longer than, "'Let this cup pass from Me.'" And then, "That was all I heard, and then I fell asleep". We would have never known that. If you would like to know what Jesus' prayer was, read John 17. John 18 tells us that He was questioned by the High Priest. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us He was questioned by Herod and Pilate, but not by the High Priest, Caiaphas.
John 19 actually tells us the last words of Jesus which Matthew, Mark, and Luke don't tell us. The last words were three words: "It is finished". Everything that needs to be done for man to have a right relationship with God has been done. It's finished. It's completely finished. John 19 also tells us that His side was pierced with a spear. Do you remember that? That's not... Do you mind me saying it again? That's not in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I am not putting down Matthew, Mark, and Luke because Jesus inspired the Bible. He inspired the Scripture, the Holy Spirit did, we're told. Holy men of God wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
So, I'm not putting them down. I'm simply saying that the book of John is an unbelievable book. John 20 tells us about Mary Magdalene's conversation with Jesus in the garden, which we would have never had, and it is one of the most important conversations in the Bible. I've preached on it at Easter before. You can find the Easter message where, literally, John meets with Mary in the morning and the disciples at night. And I show you, according to the Bible, that He was actually with the Father, Daniel 7, during the afternoon. You'll see it in Scripture. I've just listened to that message. I don't remember the name of it. You'll just have to find it. Maybe someone can find it and we can put it out. I don't know. That's John 20. And John 21 tells us about His conversation with Peter, where He asked him three times, "Do you love Me"? And He said, "Feed My sheep".
That's nowhere else in the Bible. The whole book of John is nowhere else in the Bible. It's amazing. Do you realize the first book that is translated by Bible translators today for new languages of the Bible? Would anyone like to guess? It should be easy to figure this one out. John. Do you realize what theologians tell people, if you can only tell someone, a new believer or a seeker, where to read in the Bible, tell them to read the book of... This is divine. John is the red-letter gospel. Do you know that? More red letters in John than any other book of the Bible? John tells us more of what Jesus said about Himself than any other book of the Bible. John has more of Jesus' words in that one book than any book of the Bible. Gosh, this is good. I don't know. Are you not jumping out of your skin right now, how good this book is? It's incredible.
John is the "I am" book of the Bible. Did you know that? By the way, Jesus did something that made the Pharisees very, very mad? There are two ways to say "I am" in Aramaic, which Jesus spoke Aramaic and it was translated to Greek and Latin and then to English and then other languages of the Bible, Spanish and all sorts of, I mean of the languages of the world. But He spoke in Aramaic, and there are two ways to say it. One is "I am" like, "I am going to the store". But the other way comes from the Hebrew word which means "I Am God". So every time Jesus said, "I Am," He wasn't saying, "I am the door," He was saying, "I am God the door". "I am God the bread". And it made the Pharisees very mad.
So, let me just give you the I Ams. Now they're going to be fast, so, John 6:35, "I am the bread of life". John 8:12, "I am the light of the world". John 10:7, "I am the door". John 10:11, "I am the good shepherd". John 11:25, "I am the resurrection". John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life". John 15:1, "I am the true vine". John 8:58 "...before Abraham was I AM". And that's the one, "For I Am God," for sure. And John 10:36, in case you ever wondered, He says, "I am the Son of God". He straight out says, "I am the Son of God". And without the book of John, we would have not had the I Ams.
Gosh. I am one of the best preachers in the world. This is amazing. Listen, do you know why I say that? Because it surprises me, too. It surprises me more than you, I promise you. I am human, and yet, I am divinely used by God. And you are a human, and you can be divinely used by God. I hope you get that to your mind because you work with people I don't work with. I can't reach them, but you can reach them. Ooh, I'm getting pumped up! I'm just going to preach, you know what else John gave us? The new commandment, a commandment from Jesus Himself. Nowhere else in the Bible. Not in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. John 13:34. Sounds like I'm really getting on to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, aren't I? But I'm not. John 13:34, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another".
Can you imagine if the body of Christ around the world, the different denominations, the different sects, the different beliefs, if we just loved one another? Matter of fact, here's what Jesus said, "By this, the world will know you're My disciples, not that you have correct doctrine; but that you love one another". Do you know why I have people stand in this pulpit that might not be from the exact same background that I'm from? Because they're part of the body of Christ. Jesus said, "If they're not against us, they're for us". Let me tell you something else about John. He's the only disciple that wasn't martyred. But let me tell you something interesting about him. They tried to martyr him, but he wouldn't die. They put him in a cauldron of boiling oil, and he preached. He came out of the boiling oil with no burns, just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the fire, didn't even smell like smoke.
I heard a young preacher, he preached, and sometimes they don't always pronounce biblical names correct. He preached on my shack, yo shack, and a bungalow. That's funny. And I don't care who you are, that's funny. My shack, yo shack, and a bungalow. Do you know what else they did, which a lot of people won't know? After they put him in the boiling pot of oil, and he didn't burn, they made him drink poison, and he didn't die. So then they banished him to the island of Patmos, where he wrote another book of the Bible, which, by the way, I told you this when I preached on the seven churches of Asia Minor. It is not, and I called it The Seven Churches of Revelation, I think I called it. So if you want to look it up. But it is not the revelation of end times. I'm so sick of hearing about that. I'm so sick of Christians waiting for the bus to come. We ought to be winning the world to Jesus Christ.
And I told you this before, I think pastor Jack, I preached this last week. I flew to Los Angeles, flew in the morning, came back at night, and preached the private memorial for Pastor Jack Hayford, one of our apostolic elders, went to be with the Lord. It's pretty tough. It was just, Ken Ulmer and I were the two pastors, and then the family spoke, each of the children spoke, and Ken began it, and I ended it. But it was a great honor, obviously, to be able to speak there. But Jack Haford said, "There are two things we know about the second coming. Number one, He's coming. And number two, nobody knows when". Because Jesus himself said, "Nobody knows". And listen what He said, "I don't even know. Only the Father knows".
So, when somebody tells you they know, they don't know. But here's what Jack said. He said, "I actually think Jesus might have come back years ago, except somebody might have figured out. And God went, 'Shoot, I've got to change it again.' Because when He does come, nobody's going to know when". Nobody. But we should be winning the world to Jesus Christ. John lived to be over 100 years old. John took the mother of Jesus in, Mary, because Joseph had already died, and she lived with him until she died. He lived in Ephesus, and history tells us that in the last five years of his life, he only said three words, but he said them over and over again. "Love one another". Love one another. One day... again, this is history. This is Tertullian that wrote this. They spotted John at the temple, the synagogue, coming to worship. Many of the Jews had believed in Jesus, and they said, "It's John. It's John, the only disciple left. It's John". They said, "Please come to the front and tell us about Jesus".
Wouldn't you have asked him to come tell you about Jesus, the only one left who had walked with Him? They said, "Please come, tell us what it was like living with Jesus. Please tell us what you remember most about living with Jesus". And he walked to the front of the church, and he said three words, "Love one another". And then he literally walked out. He felt like he had said what God told him to say, and then he passed away a few months or years, we're not sure, later, but we think it could have been a few weeks, could have been his last three words.
I attended the memorial for Billy Graham. 2000 people were invited. 70,000 asked to come. By God's grace, I was one of the ones that was invited. I was on the fourth row. Four rows in front of me was the President of the United States. Two rows behind me was a governor that came up to me and told me she watches me on TV. I sat there and I listened. And one of the men that spoke was Billy Graham's pastor in the last five years of his life. He didn't speak very much. By the way, Franklin Graham's a good friend. I asked Franklin, he gave me Dr. Graham's last book, and I said, "Is there any way you could ask your father to sign it"? He said, "I really don't know if he can. I don't know if he's able anymore, but I will, for you I will". He sent me a note, and I have the note, and I have it framed. It's got Billy Graham's signature. You can't hardly read it. It's kind of a doodle. And he sent me a note that said, "This is the last book that my father ever signed".
I was sitting on the fourth row, and his pastor from the last five years of his life, very small church. Billy couldn't attend service, so the pastor would go to his house and preach his sermon to Billy personally on Saturday and then go to preach it on Sunday. He preached his sermon one week, and when he finished, he said, "Dr. Graham, this is actually one of your sermons". He said, "You preached this in 19 so and so, and it broke the attendance record in whatever coliseum you were in". He said, "But over 5000 people accepted Christ when they heard this sermon". And Dr. Graham, he said, did not speak to him for those last five years because he couldn't speak. But when he said over 5000 people accepted Christ, Dr. Graham went like this. "It was all Him".
See, when I read about John, there was something divine in his life. He was named Jesus. Now, it's not going to take me long to cover this part, but John was also human. Would you like to see John's humanity? I'm not making fun of him. I'm just, it just makes me feel good. Luke recorded this. John didn't record this. He didn't write this part. Luke 9:51. "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for him", that's Jesus, "to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for him. But they", the Samaritans, "did not receive Him because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just like Elijah did?'"
That wasn't divine. Jesus even said it wasn't divine. He just didn't use those words. He said, "You don't even know what spirit you're of right now". He said, "I didn't come to destroy people. I came to save people". And then here's the other thing I think that's funny. I believe the Bible is inspired, believe it's inerrant. I believe all that. I just believe that God wanted me to read Matthew's version of what he saw, and He wanted me to read Mark's version of what he saw. He wanted me to read Luke's version. He wanted me to read John's version. So I believe God partnered with humans. Do you understand? So I believe totally in the inspiration of Scripture. You know that. But I just think He wanted us to read these things. And I think humans wrote the Bible, but the Holy Spirit inspired them.
I just want you to notice what John wrote about himself. John 13:23, "Now there was leaning on Jesus's bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved". "I was the disciple whom Jesus loved". Now, just for a minute, just come on, let's just be human about it. What if I told y'all, "I just want y'all to know I'm the pastor whom Jesus loves". Sounds a little arrogant, doesn't it? Not even, "I'm one of the pastors", and by the way, He loves all the pastors, and He loves all the people. He loved all the disciples, "but I'm the one whom he loved". John 21:20, "Then Peter turned around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved". But just notice who wrote this. Peter didn't write this. John wrote this, "who also had leaned on his breast at the supper". John 19:26-27, "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved". Then Jesus appears to Mary in the garden after He resurrected. And verse two says, "Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved".
Five times, he refers to himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved". Then watch what, then watch, this next part really gets me. "Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple..." "Just want you to know, I'm so humble, I don't even name myself. And we're going to the tomb". "So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first". Why did we need that in the Bible, that John was faster than Peter? "I won the race, by the way". "And he, stooping down and looked in, and saw the linen clothes lying there; yet he did not go in". Because he understood it would not be polite to go in. He did not go in. "Then Simon Peter came," who's like a big ox. I just think that's kind of what he's saying, "following him, and went into the tomb, and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed". "I was the first one who believed".
And then in John 21, Peter says, "I'm going fishing". And so they go fishing. They don't catch anything. And then Jesus is standing on the shore, and this is the first time they've seen Him. They didn't see Him when they went to the tomb. Only Mary did. First time they saw Jesus, He's standing on the shore, and they're about 200 cubits off the shore, which would be about 300 ft. And so Jesus says, "Have you caught anything"? They said, "No". He said, "Cast your nets on the other side of the boat". Says they caught 153 fish. And watch this. "Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it)". He was naked. He was fishing naked, again, or in his underwear, one or the other. Why do we need to know that? "And [Peter] plunged into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat". We had to take the little boat, "(for they were not far from land, but about 200 cubic's", watch, "dragging the net with fish". He could have said, "With no help from Peter, I might add. So I had to bring the net in with the other disciples. But Peter, he didn't help at all".
See, here's what we learned from John's humanity. We found out he was the disciple whom Jesus loved, he was faster than Peter, he worked harder than Peter, and Peter fished in his underwear. Now I just want to show you these two things. We're going to end on this. These two verses get mixed up in the Bible and I think because we don't understand that they're talking about two different things, we miss one of the greatest truths in the Bible. He ends John 20 with these two verses. And then he ends John 21, which is the end of the book, with these two, but they're not the same. You need to know that. John 20, he says, "And truly Jesus did many other signs, in the presence of His disciples", That's 33-and-a-half years, "which are not written in this book, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name". He's telling us, "That's why I wrote the book, so you would believe".
But notice he said there were many miracles and signs He did in the presence of his disciples, in other words, in 33 years which are not written in this book. But it's not the same as what he says after this. Please watch this, John 21. "This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things". By the way, that's how we know that John wrote it. And I could go into the theological explanation, but we don't have time. "And we know that his testimony is true". Now watch this. "And there are also many other things that Jesus did". He doesn't say, "in the presence of his disciples," in this verse. He doesn't say, "in 33 years". He says, "There are many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen".
And by the way, "Amen," remember, doesn't mean, "so be it". That's a layman's definition. It means, "This is true". This is true. Listen to what he's saying. Remember, John started his book with, "In the beginning". He's telling us that Jesus is God. Here's what he says. There are many other things that Jesus, since the beginning of time, has done in every person's life. Could you imagine if you could write down everything that Jesus has done in your life and every person's life in the world? See, that's how that statement is true. You could fill a room. The world could contain the books of what Jesus did in 33 years, but the world cannot contain the books of everything that Jesus has done since the beginning. And that's where John starts. Here's what John is actually telling us in these two verses. He was a human for 33 years, but He's divine forever.
Here's my point. Do you remember where we started with John about his humanity? Would you like us to call down fire from heaven and consume them? Okay. John was a human divinely used by God, and you are a human that can be divinely used by God. That's what I want you to get. I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes, and could you just for a moment let it sink into you that it's not about you, that it's not about your works, and whether you're good enough? Because let me just tell you, you're not good enough. I'm not good enough. It's about God, and He's good enough. He only needs a conduit. He only needs a vessel. He decided to partner with human beings to minister to other human beings. God can use you divinely, even though you are a human.
Lord, thank You for the truth that You are bringing to us through this series. And I pray, Lord, that we will begin to look for divine opportunities for You to use us to minister to other people. And I pray, Lord, that we will stop focusing on our frailties, our fears, our weaknesses, and even our sins, and we will focus on the goodness and the greatness of Almighty God and let you use us to change a hurting world, in Jesus' name, amen.