Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
In the Gospel according to John over half the content is dedicated to Holy Week and Easter. The author is making sure that everyone who reads this book will know that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the pivot point of our salvation. The rest of the Bible is a testimony directing us to that singular moment in history when God acted once and for all to save the world.
What Christ did on the cross for us cannot be undone. It is finished. It is the most certain thing you can know in this life and the next. Not only the Scriptures, but our whole existence hangs on that moment. That Christ died for us and that God raised him from the dead is the turning point of human history, and all history since creation. See how much he loves us! See how much he loves the world, and all of creation!
The Bible is the story of love because it is the story of God’s love in Jesus Christ. Sometimes, in the ups and downs, travails and sufferings, and occasional periods of peace in the biblical narrative, as well as in our own lives, we can lose sight of this magnificent truth which overcomes every obstacle that confronts us and would defeat us. God’s love in Christ conquers it all – even the clinging, stubborn sin that lives inside us, sin that corrupts our every motive, locking us into a limited, self-centred existence. Have you ever wanted to be free of that? Here in Christ that’s exactly what you have – freedom! You are free from evil, free from sin, free from the devil and free from the curse of death!
The centuries have not dimmed this truth. It still breaks through the darkness. It still penetrates our pride and our anxieties. It still cuts through the morass of humanity’s fateful obsessions with power, politics, wealth, prestige, success, self-image and personal glory. It reaches behind our felt needs to address our real need. It is a gift of love that none of us can reach without him – the gift of perfect peace. How we long for it!
This year, as you focus once more on the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, God will again take you on a journey. He will take you into the heart of Jesus. He will reveal to you the condition of your own heart. He will take you to hospital and heal you. No, more than that, he will go to the cemetery and raise you from the dead. For as Christ died and rose again so we die and rise with him. ‘We were buried with Christ through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we, too, are to walk in a new life’ (Romans 6:4).
As I write to you this week, I won’t pretend that everything is well in the world. I won’t even pretend that everything is just as it should be in the church. Everyone has their struggles in this world of upheaval and change, and we are no different. When we refocus all of that, however, and take our anxiety and fear to the foot of the cross, we can be confident that our Saviour also takes that load for us. In recent years, when my call has made me experience the struggles of the church in a very personal way, I have said, ‘The church isn’t ours to save, it belongs to God’. Therefore, we do not need to be afraid. We can step out confidently knowing that the God who saves is in front, behind, above, below and within us.
How do I know that? Because, like St John, I know that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything. God has acted once and for all for the salvation of the world, and that also means the salvation of each one of us. All we need, then, is to receive the gift of faith, and use it every day to tell the old trio of sin, death, and the devil that they have no hold over us any more. We are Christ’s and he is ours, today and forever.
God bless you this Holy Week and at Easter, and may the joy of the resurrection carry you forward into life like a gigantic tidal wave of joyous love.
Bishop John Henderson
Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand
Adelaide, March 2021