“For God so loved the world that He gave . . .”John 3:16
There’s no doubt that this is the most widely quoted scripture, and as a whole, the Gospel of John is the most read book of the Bible. But have you ever wondered why or taken a moment to learn a little more about the apostle who wrote it?
The Apostle John had a remarkable life and ministry. He was an ordinary young man who was privileged to walk closely with Jesus during His ministry on earth. He saw Jesus heal the sick, perform miraculous wonders, and step into glory on a mountain. John was also the disciple Jesus committed the care of His mother to when He was dying on the cross. And I believe, because of his close relationship with Jesus, John gives us insight into Jesus that’s nowhere else in the Bible. It’s the reason I tell new believers to start their journey by reading the book of John. Yet even those who’ve walked with Jesus a long time have so much revelation to learn from studying John’s words.
John’s Gospel account of Jesus’ life on earth is different from any other book in the Bible and distinct in comparison to the other three Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. All four Gospels are books of good news, but while Matthew, Mark, and Luke are synoptic—or similar—John’s Gospel is unique.
Matthew and Luke begin their Gospels with the birth of Jesus, and Mark begins his gospel with the birth of Jesus’ ministry. But John begins his Gospel with the birth of time! In fact, only one other book in the Bible begins the exact same way as the book of John with the words, “In the beginning …” and that’s Genesis. By tying his account of Jesus’ life to the beginning of all creation, John was letting us know that Jesus wasn’t only a man; He was also God in the flesh who had come to live among us!
We also know John wrote his book many years after the other three Gospels were written, which only cover the last year of Jesus’ ministry while He was here on earth. Yet John tells us about events during Jesus’ first two years of ministry that none of the other writers mention. (In fact, the primary reason we know Jesus ministered for three years is because John recorded Jesus observing and celebrating three different Passovers.) This is why John’s Gospel is paramount to our study of Jesus’ life.
John himself lived to be the oldest disciple (over 100 years old!), and he was the only disciple who wasn’t martyred. All the other disciples died a martyr’s death. So why didn’t John? Because every time they tried to kill him, he wouldn’t die! The same leader who crucified Peter upside down put John into a cauldron of boiling oil, but he continued to preach about Jesus while sitting in the oil! The leader was so intimidated, he took John out of the oil and banished him to the deserted Isle of Patmos, which was a place of exile for convicts.
John remained on Patmos for a year, which is where he wrote the book of Revelation. When he was released from exile, he returned to Ephesus where he spent the rest of his remaining days. For the last 10 to 15 years of his life, people would ask him to share his wisdom because he was the only person still alive who had walked with Jesus. Each time John would respond with these words: “Love one another.”
In the final years of his life, he would repeat these words over and over: “Love one another. Love one another. Love one another.” Finally, some people came to him and asked, “Why is that the only thing you ever say?” And he replied, “Because it’s the Lord’s command that we love one another. That is what He commanded us to do!” (see John 13:34).
It’s clear to see that John believed the most important message he could communicate was love. It is the defining theme of his life and this Gospel. In this book alone, John uses different variations of the word “love” 88 times! And throughout it, he refers to himself as “the one whom Jesus loved.” Now, at first glance, it’s a little suspect considering John wrote this about himself. (It’s kind of like Moses' writing in Numbers 12:3 that he was the most humble man on the face of the earth.) For a while I wondered, Why would he say that? Lord, did he not think You loved the other disciples? Did he think he was the only one You loved? But the reality is the Holy Spirit inspired both Moses and John to write those words about themselves. And I believe the reason John referred to himself this way wasn’t because he was trying to be exclusive. It’s because John had the understanding and revelation of how much Jesus really loved him. It’s as though he wanted to go around and tell everyone, “Hey, Jesus loves me! Can you believe that?! He loves me!”
My prayer is that you catch this same “He loves me!” revelation for yourself as you spend the next 21 days reading through the Gospel of John. I encourage you to let John’s words about Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit, soak into your heart each day as you read through each chapter of John and then the devotion that corresponds with that chapter.
God’s love for you is unconditional, inescapable, and unstoppable, which is why I love how the title of this devotional plays on the double meaning of “Know Love Like This” and “No Love Like This.” My hope for you is that you’ll truly understand that there is no love like Jesus’ love for you and know His love in your heart. And through that knowledge, I pray you will also fulfill His greatest commandment, the one John stakes his entire life on: love God and love one another (see 1 John 4:21; Matthew 22:37–40). I truly believe if we would fulfill this one command, it would change the world!
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Written by Robert Morris, Kemtal Glasgow, Adana Wilson, Steve Dulin, Lorena Valle, James Morris, Monica Bates, Phillip Hunter, Irini Fambro, Jeremy Meister, Dana Stone, Julissa Rivera, Janna Briggs, Sion Alford, Bridgette Morris, Matthew Hernandez, Elizabeth Demarest, S. George Thomas, Chelsea Seaton, Zac Rowe, Hannah Etsebeth, and Niles Holsinger.
Editorial Director S. George Thomas Executive Director of Gateway Media Lawrence Swicegood Senior Director of Gateway Publishing Stacy Burnett Senior Editor Katie Smith Project Coordinator Chasity Walker Creative Director Peyton Sepeda Designer Emanuel Puscas
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