The Gospel of John is a book of conversations.
When we think of Jesus’s earthly ministry, we may immediately think of the signs that He performed. But John’s record is focused more on what Jesus said than on what He did. After all, John begins his Gospel by telling us that the Lord is the Word (1:1).
The eternal God, the creator of the universe, was incarnated to be a man in the flesh (1:14). What would He do as a man? He talked to people!
Some people initiated conversations with Him (4:46-47); others Jesus sought out (5:6; 9:35). He spoke to people one on one (3:1-2; 4:7); He spoke to crowds (6:24-25). Sometimes He conversed privately (3:1-2); other times He taught or cried out in the temple (7:37; 8:2). And if you take a look at His miraculous deeds, you’ll see that nearly all of them were accomplished simply by…speaking (4:50; 5:8; 11:43)!
Why is this important?
These days, we hang on the words of the famous. People follow breathlessly when their favorite singer or athlete tweets their thoughts on the news of the day. Such trivialities pale in comparison to the record John left—a record of the words spoken by God Himself!
Not only so, the Gospel of John shows us that it matters how we respond to God’s word. Some heard Jesus’ words and believed (4:42; 4:50; 6:69; 9:38); others heard His words and sought to kill Him (5:16-18; 8:37; 10:31). Some responded by speaking good news to others (4:28-29), and some shrank from speaking for fear of persecution (12:42-43).
How can we respond to God’s word?
Let’s look at a few ways we can respond to the Lord’s speaking, as seen in the Gospel of John.
When you come to the Bible, have an attitude of coming to the Lord.
Jesus told the leaders among the Jews—devout men, ones familiar with the Scriptures—that there was a problem with their Bible reading. “You search the scriptures,” He told them, “because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (5:39-40). Our coming to the Word should be our coming to the Lord. He is the Word!
Believe the Lord’s word.
We should mix the Lord’s word with our faith; then it will benefit us (4:41-42; 4:50; Heb. 4:2).
Interact with the Lord Himself, even if what you are reading is hard to receive.
Many who heard the Jesus’s speaking in John 6 were stumbled, saying “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (v. 60). Many stopped following Him that day (v. 66). When Jesus asked the twelve disciples if they also wanted to go away, Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (v. 68). It is doubtful that Peter understood the Lord’s speaking at that time, but he knew he needed to stick with Jesus!
Pass on the good news!
When she realized that Jesus was the Christ, the Samaritan woman in John chapter 4 left her water jar at the well and went into the city to spread the news. Her testimony was, “Come, see a man who told me all that I have done. Is this not the Christ?” (4:29). Initially the townspeople came to Jesus because of the woman’s testimony; after two more days, they told her: “It is no longer because of your speaking that we believe, for we ourselves have heard and know that this One is truly the Savior of the world” (v. 42).