Why Believe in Jesus' Words?

John begins his Gospel giving a simple, profound answer to this question. John introduces Jesus differently than the 3 synoptic Gospel writers. He does not mention Jesus' name until John 1:17, instead calling him by the name "the Word" for most of John 1:1-18.

John's introduction puts an emphasis on time. The phrase "in the beginning" hearkens all the way back to Creation. This contrasts to John the Baptist, who bears witness to Jesus, in verses 8 and 15. Jesus existed prior to the start of the universe and was directly involved in its creation (verse 3).

As has been mentioned before in our introductions of this book, the central message and question of the Gospel of John is "Since Jesus is God, what will you do?"

John gives Jesus the name "the Word" and repeats in three times in the first verse so that we will remember it. Greek culture had a certain understanding of the word "logos," but John is more likely referencing the Old Testament usage. God spoke to create; only He has that power. He makes and keeps promises by His word, which is always true and good. The prophets always spoke the word of the Lord, never their own. The Word revealed in John 1 is final. We don't need any more.

Jesus' words demand belief because He is God.

We must believe Jesus' words because they are God's words. John 1:14 says that Jesus is the picture of God's communication to us. God was not previously visible, but now is embodied in human form for us to see. His presence is intentional and directed to us. The purpose behind this communication is repeated throughout the book: to believe! (See John 3:34-36, 14:10, and 17:8.)

The product of God's communication through Jesus is that we might see His glory. The Old Testament shows God's majesty and power; however, there is no better way to show off God's grace than the life and work of Jesus. He also explains our deep need for mercy. There is nothing and no one else more worthy to follow and obey.

Jesus' words demand belief because they are life.

Here we begin to see one of the themes of John's book. Verse 6 may seem like a sudden interruption, but it is bringing to bear the power of contrast between John the Baptist's ministry and Jesus's. John's ministry is testimonial, while Jesus' is transformational. This is seen further in John 1:19-34.

The purpose of Jesus' words, as recorded in this Gospel account, are that people would believe, and as a result, have life in Jesus (John 20:35). He is the source of life in Creation and proves Himself so by the many "signs" or miracles John records in this book. He has power over Creation and to give life and forgive sin. The promise to become "children of God" means that those who believe are granted eternal life, sharing the life of God. (See also John 5:24, 6:68, and 8:51.)

Jesus' words demand belief because they bring judgment.

Jesus embodies "grace and truth" (verses 14, 16-17). He realizes grace through his atoning work which made our salvation possible. He manifests truth by the way his words draw dividing lines. For example, in John 12:44-48, he is very clear that those who do not believe His words will be judged on the last day. Belief also demands more than mental assent; if Jesus' words are truth, they must be kept and obeyed.

Jesus defines reality. His call to rightly align ourselves and our lives with the Word of truth cannot be ignored. (See John 8:44 and 14:23-24.) It is right to arrange our lives and priorities with Jesus Christ and God's Word.

We all need to grow in our belief. Where the synoptic writers record Jesus' disciples arguing about who is the greatest, John gives us a picture of Jesus living out the true disposition of a humble servant (chapter 13). He tenderly restores Peter when he returns to fishing after denying Jesus (chapter 21). He is the living answer to Pilate's question in John 18:38, "What is truth?" He will help us grow in Him as we submit to His Word.

Application Points

  • Make time to read the whole Gospel of John, whether in 1 sitting or several. Note repeated words as you look for the themes of the book.
  • Jesus' words demand belief and obedience. Do you believe Him? Have you repented and submitted to the truth of what He says?
  • Do you arrange your life and priorities with Jesus Christ and God's Word? How can you do so even more?

Tools for Further Study

A Hymn to Encourage: "O Word of God Incarnate"

O Word of God incarnate,
O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging,
O Light of our dark sky,
we praise thee for the radiance
that from the hallowed page,
a lantern to our footsteps,
shines on from age to age.

The Church from you, dear Master,
received the gift divine,
and still that light is lifted
o'er all the earth to shine.
It is the chart and compass
that, all life's voyage through,
mid mists and rocks and quicksands
still guides, O Christ, to you.

O make your Church, dear Savior,
a lamp of purest gold
to bear before the nations
your true light, as of old.
O teach your wand'ring pilgrims
by this their path to trace
till, clouds and darkness ended,
they see you face to face.