JOHN’S INTENTION IN HIS GOSPEL
In order to understand the Gospel of John, we need to know all the stories in this Gospel. However, it is not sufficient merely to know the stories. If we would get into the depths of the truth in this book, we need to have the extract of each chapter. All the messages in this series are actually concerned with the extracts of the Gospel of John. These extracts are related to the signs in this Gospel. John himself tells us that in writing this Gospel he selected certain signs performed by the Lord Jesus, signs that reveal different aspects of the divine life: “Many other signs therefore Jesus did before His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:30-31).
The record in the Gospel of John is different from that in the so-called synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It is not John’s intention to describe the miraculous acts of Christ. Rather, John’s intention is to depict the divine life, portraying this invisible life through a number of visible cases. All these cases are signs.
In chapter eleven we have the case of Lazarus. In this chapter the Lord says, “I am the resurrection and the life” (v. 25). Both resurrection and life are invisible. If we did not have a tangible case, we could not understand resurrection and life. Hence, here in this chapter is a specific case of a dead person who is resurrected. Through this case we can come to know what resurrection is. Actually, resurrection is the Person of the Lord Jesus Himself. This means that resurrection is not mainly what the Lord does; resurrection is primarily what the Lord is. Because Christ is resurrection, when we have Him, we have resurrection. When He is present, resurrection is present also.
In our study of the Gospel of John we need to see the significance of all the signs. Then we shall have the extract of this Gospel. Not only are the cases recorded in this Gospel signs, but the main points revealed in each chapter also are signs. For instance, in chapter eleven there are five main points: death, sickness, the Lord’s delay, men’s opinion, and resurrection. All these points are signs. Even the Lord’s delay is a sign. It is important that we understand what this delay signifies. The opinions expressed in this chapter are also signs. When we grasp the significance of these signs, we shall have the extract of this chapter.
THE SIGN OF DEATH
Let us now consider the signs in chapter eleven. The first of these signs is the sign of death. Death signifies the last of the negative things to be dealt with. This is proved by Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 15:26: “The last enemy that is being abolished is death.”
The last negative thing in us, the last problem that needs to be dealt with, is death. Many Christians know that they have weaknesses, but they are not conscious of the problem of death. In the sight of God, everyone is dying. As soon as an infant is born, that infant begins the process of dying. If we did not have eternal life, our whole being would be in this process of dying.
The older a person becomes, the more he thinks about dying. An elderly person knows that death awaits him. He realizes that most of the years allotted to him have been used up and that very little time is left. My point here is that, as far as the natural life is concerned, we all are dying. The more we realize this, the more we shall thank the Lord that we have eternal life.
Because we were born dead and because the element of death is in the fiber of our being, we need the Lord’s life-giving salvation. In John 11 death is a sign of the last negative factor that remains to be dealt with. This is the significance of the sign of death in chapter eleven of the Gospel of John.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 29, by Witness Lee)