Jesus is the antithesis of the kind of president or world leader we all long for. We want a powerful, wealthy, strong leader, but Jesus comes to us powerless, poor, and weak. We want a God who glories in the great and mighty in the highest of places; we don’t expect him to choose the small and scrawny in the lowliest of places.
Why was the Gospel of John written? We have a statement from the author himself saying,
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. (John 20:31)
John wrote this Gospel to tell his readers (and us!) who “the Christ” is. Notice that he said Jesus is “the Christ,” and not simply “Jesus Christ,” as if this were his first and last name. “Christ” is not our Lord’s last name in the same way my last name is Davis. Jesus Christ is actually his name and then his title.
This was the way of saying to a Jewish audience that Jesus was “the Messiah”—he had come to fulfill many prophecies that they long expected and awaited. Jesus is the “Anointed One,” and this term is loaded with Old Testament meaning.
The New Testament is rooted in the Old Testament scriptures. Understanding what happened in the pages of the Old Testament helps us to make better sense of references and themes that we find throughout the New Testament. In many ways, reading front to back—and back to front—is how we are supposed to read the Bible. We see each part as a piece of a greater whole.
The Christ That Nobody Wanted
Of course, John’s real purpose is not just to tell us that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ but to persuade us to actually believe in Jesus. We need to be convinced of this because a lot of our messianic expectations are way off. The Jews expected that the Messiah would come to overthrow the Roman Empire and give them supreme rule over the ancient world, but that’s not the kind of Messiah they got.
Instead, they got a crucified Lord and a dead King.
So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” (John 19:10–11a)
Jesus was the kind of Christ figure that nobody wanted. The whole Gospel of John is written in such a way as to show us that God’s plan from the beginning was to go straight to the cross. It tells us why Jesus came.