John 20:30-31 – Gospel Writing and Signs

John 20:30–31 (ESV) — 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are 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 21:25 (ESV) — 25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

I want to deal with a couple of things quickly and then spend more time on:
·  John’s role in writing his Gospel.
·  The signs he wrote about.

John tells us that he wrote his Gospel “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ” (vs. 31).
·  We spoke last week of Thomas’ confession that Jesus is the “kyrios” which includes Jesus as Messiah.
·  So we needn’t revisit the meaning of this confession now.
·  However, we can quickly survey John for the presence of His stated purpose.

Jesus the Messiah – a few examples:
·  John 3:28 (ESV) — 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’
o   John the Baptist testifies that Jesus is the Messiah.
·  John 4:25–26 (ESV) — 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
o   Jesus tells the woman at the well that He is the Messiah.
·  John 7:40–43 (ESV) — 40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him.
o   A crowd at Jerusalem testifies that Jesus is the Messiah.

Now, the purpose of this purpose, John tells us, is to bring life.
·  If we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, we will “have life in his name” (vs. 31).
·  What is this life?

We recently spent 12 weeks or so studying resurrection.
·  We learned that the phrase “eternal life” literally refers to “life in the age to come”.
·  And in second-Temple Judaism, “life in the age to come” is bodily resurrection life.
·  Is John alluding to this?

I think it is clear that resurrection is a significant part of John’s meaning.
·  The intermediate stage of heaven, and even the present life lived before death under Jesus’ Messiahship can certainly be in view as well.
·  But the following texts are unmistakably resurrection verses.
·  John 5:24 (ESV) — 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
o   We know this is resurrection life both because judgment happens at resurrection and eternal life is “life in the age to come” which is resurrection life.
·  John 5:29 (ESV) — 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
·  John 6:40 (ESV) — 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
o   “life in the age to come” = “eternal life” = “raise him up on the last day”
·  John 6:54 (ESV) — 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
·  John 11:25 (ESV) — 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
o   Live how? – Through resurrection life.

D.A. Carson sums up well John’s stated purpose and the purpose of his stated purpose.
·  “He writes in order that men and women may believe a certain propositional truth, the truth that the Christ, the Son of God, is Jesus, the Jesus whose portrait is drawn in this Gospel. But such faith is not an end in itself. It is directed toward the goal of personal, eschatological salvation: that by believing you may have life in his name. That is still the purpose of this book today, and at the heart of the Christian mission (v. 21)” – D.A. Carson.


which are not written in this book” (vs. 30) & “many other things that Jesus did
·  When we think about the inspiration of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16) it is worth considering to the extent possible, what the writers’ role in this process was.
·  Clearly, we believe, as Jesus taught in John, that the Holy Spirit aided the disciples in remembering the words of Jesus and what they meant.
o   John 14:26 (ESV) — 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

But we need to be aware that the Gospel writers compiled Jesus’ teachings, His signs and wonders, and His actions in ways that reflected their personalities, style and purpose.
·  For example, “Peter and the Beloved Disciple represent two different kinds of discipleship: active service and perceptive witness” – Richard Bauckham.
·  These perspectives manifested themselves in their writings.

For example, John admits to us that he edited His Gospel to exclude many of Jesus’ signs – “Jesus did many other signs…which are not written” (vs. 30).
·  But he did so for a specific purpose – “so that you many believe” (vs. 31).
·  “John restricted his choice of signs to a group that were especially instructive” – Beasley-Murray.

Another example that may demonstrate John’s “perceptive witness” is how he weaves into his Gospel the story of a “cosmic lawsuit” – Richard Bauckham.
·  This lawsuit, “includes the literal events of judicial proceedings against Jesus by the Jewish authorities, acting in the name of the ‘law’ of Moses, and by Pilate. In deutero-Isaiah [Isaiah 40-55] YHWH brings a case against the gods of the nations and their supporters in order to determine the identity of the true God. He calls on the worshipers of the other gods to demonstrate their reality and supremacy, while he himself calls as witnesses his people Israel and the figure of the Servant of YHWH. It is this lawsuit that the Gospel of John sees taking place in the history of Jesus, as the one true God demonstrates his deity in controversy with the claims of the world. He does so by calling Jesus as chief witness and by vindicating him, not only as true witness but also as incarnate representative of God’s own true deity” – Richard Bauckham.

In Isaiah, we saw that the chief witness was the Servant of YHWH.
·  In John’s Gospel, this is Jesus.
·  But John also presents us 6 more witnesses for a total of seven.
o   We will encounter this number seven again in a moment.

“The seven witnesses, in order of appearance, are John the Baptist (1:7, etc.), Jesus himself (3:11, etc.), the Samaritan woman (4:39), God the Father (5:32), Jesus’ works or signs (5:36), the Scriptures (5:39), and the crowd who testify about Jesus’ raising of Lazarus (12:17)” – Richard Bauckham.
·  Isaiah 43:10 (ESV) — 10aYou are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.”
·  John 5:36 (ESV) — 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
·  John 20:30–31 (ESV) — 30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are 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.

Luke also shows us the nature of the Gospel writers’ involvement.
·  Luke 1:1–4 (ESV) — 1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
·  He tells us that he “followed all things closely” and that he was a recipient of eyewitness testimony.
·  So from both the eyewitness testimony and his own research, he decided to “write an orderly account” of what Jesus did and taught.

There are a few important implications concerning the writers’ of the Gospel from these insights.
·  (1) They weren’t robots.
·  (2) “The first Christians were not all illiterate peasant laborers and craftsmen, as the form critics supposed, but evidently included people who studied the Scriptures with current exegetical skills and could write works with the literary quality of the letter of James” – Richard Bauckham.
·  (3) “The early Christian movement was interested in the genuinely past history of Jesus…” – Richard Bauckham.
o   As we said last week, Christianity is not just spiritual it is profoundly historical.


John admits that there were many other signs Jesus performed.
·  However, he chose not to write about them.
·  What he did choose to do is to highlight signs that helped serve his stated purpose.
·  And in fact, He specifically highlighted seven signs just as he highlighted seven witnesses.

What are the signs?

Kostenberger, who specializes in John, spent a great deal of time seeking a definition of a “sign” from John’s Gospel and came up with the following:
·  “A sign [in John] is a symbol-laden, but not necessarily ‘miraculous,’ public work of Jesus selected and explicitly identified as such by John for the reason that it displays God’s glory in Jesus who is thus shown to be God’s true representative (cf. 20:30–31)” – Andreas Kostenberger.

There are six signs in John that are recognized indisputably as signs – Kostenberger.
·  1) Water into wine (2.1-11)
·  2) The official’s son (4.46-54)
·  3) The paralysed man at the pool (5.2-9)
·  4) Multiplication of loaves (6.1-14)
·  5) The man born blind (9.1-7)
·  6) The raising of Lazarus (11.1-44)

And most agree, given the symbolic importance in John of “seven”, that there must be a seventh sign.
·  The problem is that though “commentators widely agree on six Johannine ‘signs’” there is not much consensus on the seventh – Kostenberger.

The most common candidate is when Jesus walked on water in John 6.
·  Andreas Kostenberger makes a very good case that the seventh sign is when Jesus cleared the temple.
·  N.T. Wright, however, argues that the seventh sign is Jesus’ crucifixion.
o   I find his reasoning fascinating.

He says, “the crucifixion is the climax and culmination of the ‘signs’ which Jesus has given, following the sevenfold sequence of the old creation” – Wright.
·  The “climax and culmination” of creation was the sixth day – a Friday.
·  The “climax and culmination” of Jesus’ work was the sixth day – a Friday.
·  Wright suggests John wants us to make the connection.
·  Why?

He says that the sequence of the seven signs “was always about the new creation bursting in on the old” – Wright.
·  John wants us to see the parallel between these two creations and how Jesus was at the center of both.
·  In Genesis, creation burst into existence from nothing through the “Word”.
·  In John 20, new creation burst into existence from the resurrection of the “Word”.

How does John’s Gospel make this connection?

“John declares from the start, with the obvious allusion to Genesis 1.1, that his book is about the new creation in Jesus” – N.T. Wright.
·  Wright, and virtually everyone else, says that “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1) is a clear allusion to the beginning of creation in Genesis – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1).
·  And let’s not forget the parallel between the breath of life from Genesis and the resurrection breath of Jesus in John 20.

Additionally, we can’t forget the “first day” parallel.
·  And there was evening and there was morning, the first day” (Gen. 1:5).
o   In Genesis, creation began on the first day.
·  In John 20, John makes sure that we are aware that “Easter was ‘the first day of the week’” – N.T. Wright.
o   Now on the first day of the week” (John 20:1)
o   the first day of the week” (John 20:19)

In other words, in John 20, the “first day” brought the beginning of a new creation grounded in Jesus’ resurrection.
·  So “with the resurrection itself, the ultimate ‘sign’ which will explain what Jesus has been doing” new creation has begun – N.T. Wright.
·  “Easter is the start of the new creation” – N.T. Wright.

It is worth repeating.
·  In Genesis, creation burst into existence from nothing through the “Word”.
·  In John 20, new creation burst into existence from the resurrection of the “Word”.

Wright also suggests that the parallels John is drawing to Genesis 1 go beyond the first day of creation.
·  He argues that John intends us to note direct parallels to days 6 and 7 of creation as well.
·  “On the sixth day of the creation narrative, humankind was created in the divine image; on the sixth day of the last week of Jesus’ life, John has Pilate declare, ‘Behold the man!’ echoing the creation of humankind on the sixth day of creation” – N.T. Wright.
·  “And, On the cross [on the sixth day] Jesus finishes the work the father has given him to do (17.4), ending with the shout of triumph (tetelestai, ‘it is accomplished’, 19.30), corresponding to the completion of creation itself” – N.T. Wright.
·  “The seventh day is the day of rest for the creator; in John, it is the day when Jesus rests in the tomb” – N.T. Wright.
o   Genesis 2:2 (ESV) — 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.
·  We need to remember, the link is metaphorical here not literal.

 We could continue by now showing how these seven signs and resurrection demonstrated that Jesus is the Messiah.
·  The very thing John intended then to show.
·  But we dealt with that a little last week.
·  I think we get it.
·  They not only show that Jesus is the Messiah, but that the Messiah is God.