Warren Wiersbe divided his commentary on the gospel of John into two books. The first was Be Alive (John 1-12): Get to Know the Living Savior. The second is Be Transformed (John 13-21): Christ’s Triumph Means Your Transformation. The first twelve chapters of John “focus on our Lord’s public ministry, especially the signs (miracles) that Jesus performed and the messages that grew from them” (Location 150, Kindle version). Chapters 13-21 share more of the private ministry of Jesus with His closest disciples, “preparing them for their future service when the Holy Spirit would come and empower them” (Location 150). Chapter 13 opens with the Passover meal the night before Jesus was betrayed where He washes the disciples’ feet and institutes what we call the Lord’s supper (communion). The rest of John details Jesus private discourse with the disciples that night, His betrayal, arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection.
John shares his purpose statement in John 20:31: “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.” “The basic theme of John’s gospel is that Jesus Christ of Nazareth is the very Son of God, and all who believe in Him receive eternal life (20: 30–31). John’s subject is the deity of Christ. John’s object is to lead people into the life—eternal life, abundant life—that only Christ can give. John is both a theologian and an evangelist” (Location 150).
John attests to Jesus deity not only through His many signs, or miracles, but through other witnesses, through Jesus’ “I am” statements, through His fulfillment of the Old Testament festivals and prophecies about Himself.
John said throughout the first part of his book that Jesus’ “hour” had not yet come. Then in John 12:23, at this transition between public and private ministry and the week leading up to the cross, Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Jesus says a little later, in verse 27, ““Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.”
As I mentioned in Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled, Wiersbe points out that Jesus comforted and reassured the disciples that though He was about to leave the earth, they had the Father’s love and care, the peace Jesus gave them, the comfort and ministry of the Holy Spirit within them, access in prayer, and a home in heaven to look forward to.
He then teaches them to abide in Him, as a branch abides in the vine (John 15). “The key word is abide; it is used eleven times in John 15: 1–11 (‘continue’ in John 15: 9 and ‘remain’ in John 15: 11). What does it mean to ‘abide’? It means to keep in fellowship with Christ so that His life can work in and through us to produce fruit. This certainly involves the Word of God and the confession of sin so that nothing hinders our communion with Him (John 15: 3). It also involves obeying Him because we love Him (John 15: 9–10)” (Location 777). “This abiding relationship is natural to the branch and the vine, but it must be cultivated in the Christian life. It is not automatic. Abiding in Christ demands worship, meditation on God’s Word, prayer, sacrifice, and service—but what a joyful experience it is!” (Locaion786).
Jesus tells them more of the work the Holy Spirit will do in their lives (John 16) and then offers up His wonderful “high priestly prayer” to the Father for us (John 17).
Then John tells of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, His encounter with Pilate, His crucifixion, burial, resurrection, appearances to Mary and the disciples..
A few other quotes from Wiersbe’s commentary:
To “keep” His commandments means to value them, treasure them, guard them, and do them. “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23: 12) (Location 559).
Our English word comfort comes from two Latin words meaning “with strength.” We usually think of “comfort” as soothing someone, consoling him or her, and to some extent this is true. But true comfort strengthens us to face life bravely and keep on going. It does not rob us of responsibility or make it easy for us to give up. Some translations call the Holy Spirit “the Encourager,” and this is a good choice of words. Parakl ∑ tos is translated “Advocate” in 1 John 2: 1. An “advocate” is one who represents you at court and stands at your side to plead your case (Location 587).
Shalom—peace—is a precious word to the Jewish people. It means much more than just the absence of war or distress. Shalom means wholeness, completeness, health, security, even prosperity in the best sense. When you are enjoying God’s peace, there is joy and contentment. But God’s peace is not like the “peace” that the world offers (Location 662).
We do not study the Word of God in order to “argue religion” with people, or to show off our grasp of spiritual things. We study the Word to see Jesus Christ, to know God better, and to glorify Him in our lives (Location 1133).
“Be of good cheer!” is one of our Lord’s repeated statements of encouragement. Literally it means, “Cheer up!” There is the “good cheer” of His pardon (Matt. 9: 1–8), His power (Matt. 9: 18–22), and His presence (Matt. 14: 22–27). Here in John 16: 33, He announces the “good cheer” of His victory over the world. We are overcomers because He has first overcome for us (Location 1318).
Human history began in a garden (Gen. 2: 8ff.), and the first sin of man was committed in that garden. The first Adam disobeyed God and was cast out of the garden, but the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15: 45) was obedient as He went into the garden of Gethsemane. In a garden, the first Adam brought sin and death to mankind, but Jesus, by His obedience, brought righteousness and life to all who will trust Him. He was “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2: 8). History will one day end in another garden, the heavenly city that John describes in Revelation 21 and 22. In that garden, there will be no more death and no more curse. The river of the water of life will flow ceaselessly, and the tree of life will produce bountiful fruit. Eden was the garden of disobedience and sin; Gethsemane was the garden of obedience and submission; and heaven shall be the eternal garden of delight and satisfaction, to the glory of God (Location 1629).
It is a sad thing when well-meaning but ignorant Christians take up the sword to “defend” the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter hurt Malchus [the high priest’s servant whose ear Peter cut off), something no believer should do. Peter hurt the testimony of Christ and gave the false impression that His disciples hate their enemies and try to destroy them. (Note our Lord’s reply to Pilate in John 18:36.) (Location 1713).
The cup He prepares will never contain anything that will harm us. We may suffer pain and heartbreak, but He will eventually transform that suffering into glory (Location 1737).
God does not reveal new truth to us if we fail to act on the truth we already know (Location 2005).
I enjoyed spending time in December thinking of Jesus birth in the context of the rest of His life and ministry and teaching in John. Dr. Wiersbe, as always, was a helpful companion.