13 Ways to Preach the Good News From the Gospel of John

Every book of the Bible invites us to use different stories, language, themes, and metaphors to describe the good news of what God has done in Jesus. If you’re a youth pastor or small group leader, here are 13 ways to talk about Jesus in the book of John.

The Word Made Flesh

One of the most shocking claims of Christianity is that God became human. John says it this way: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

It’s interesting that John says that something immaterial like “words” are given a body in Jesus. But that’s because John knows that words alone cannot take away the painful consequences of our sins. The only way our sins can be removed is if the Word can bleed.

The Wine-Bringer

Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding because it’s a prophetic sign of the joy that Jesus intends to bring us through his death (John 2:11).

Like a good host, Jesus provides the wine for the wedding, but he does so by first filling ceremonial jars with water (John 2:6). These jars were used to cleanse people as they prepared to enter God’s presence at the temple. When Jesus turns the water in these into wine, he’s hinting that it will be the wine of his blood that brings us joy, forgiveness, and access to God!

A Savior For Anyone Who Will Believe

Jesus invites everyone to trust him, especially the marginalized. The Samaritans were religious and social outcasts to Jews. But a Samaritan woman is Jesus’ first missionary and her entire town believes that Jesus is their Messiah because of her (John 4:42). When Jesus offers living water to the Samaritan woman, it tells us that anyone who tells Jesus they are thirsty will be satisfied by him (John 4:14).

The Authority Over Life and Death

Jesus has the authority to grant life to whoever he chooses. That authority is confirmed when he lays down his own life and rises from the dead (John 5:27). Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for not acknowledging this authority. But Jesus promises that the dead will come to life, not by willpower, but by recognizing Jesus’ authority to judge and grant life.

Bread of Life

Jesus declares to a crowd of hungry people that he is the Bread of Life that doesn’t leave you hungry. Jesus proves this by actually feeding 5000 men and their families. But that’s actually the smaller miracle. Everyone who “eats” Jesus will be filled with eternal satisfaction and life.

Water of Life

On the last day of the Feast of Booths, the High Priest would take a golden flagon, parade it from the temple to the Pool of Siloam, fill it with water, and then return to the temple. This ritual celebrated God’s gift of water in the desert for wandering Israel.

And as the priest returns to the temple celebrating God’s life-giving water, Jesus interrupts the parade and says that the water being poured out is about Him and anyone who is thirsty should drink from him. Jesus is like the water, that saved Israel in the desert. But instead of water pouring from a rock, Jesus will pour out his own blood from his body on the cross.

The Light of the World

Jesus says the more we claim to see, the more we reveal our blindness. Religious leaders throughout history have all claimed to see the light, but all of them are buried in darkness. Even Abraham and the prophets of the Old Testament died (John 8:52-53). Everyone who has claimed enlightenment has died.

But when Jesus died, he also rose like the sun. Jesus is the Light of the World because he is the only one to have risen from the dead.

The Resurrection and the Life

When Jesus’ friend Lazarus dies we are told he approaches his friend’s tomb “deeply moved,” though a better translation would be “furious” (John 11:33). His cheeks are literally flushed in anger. But Jesus knows he’s going to raise Lazarus from the dead. His anger is not for his friend, but at death itself.

Jesus knows that everyone he loves will inevitably die. He is angry that the world he created and the people he intricately formed in their mother’s wombs will never escape death’s victory. The world he created without suffering, evil, and sickness has claimed the life of every person he has ever loved. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead angry, because he is angry at death’s tyranny and he has come to put an end to it (John 11:43). Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, and Lazarus’ resurrection is only the beginning of the resurrection work he will accomplish.

Humiliation Reversed

Jesus takes off his shirt, kneels in the dirt, and washes his disciples’ feet (John 13:3-5). Peter is offended that his Master would stoop so low. But Jesus explains that this is a symbol of salvation—if Peter refuses Jesus’ humiliation, he will never share the honor of Jesus’ eternal life (John 13:8).

Jesus’ humiliation deepens as he’s betrayed by one of the disciples whose feet he just washed. Jesus’ foot-washing points to Jesus’ cross. They are both acts of humility and humiliation that secure the honor of eternal life and forgiveness of sin.

This is not just an example for us to follow but a guarantee that as we follow Jesus our humiliation is never wasted. In Christ, death and humiliation always lead to eternal life and honor.

The Promise of the Spirit

For thousands of years, humanity has lived without the presence of Jesus. But the good news is: “It is to our advantage that Jesus left so we could be filled with the Spirit” (John 16:7). Jesus promises that the Spirit within us is even better than having him beside us.

Because while Jesus was God in the flesh, he could only be in one place at a time. But through you and by God’s Spirit, the animated life of Jesus lives in all of his followers (John 14:12). Because of the Spirit, you are closer to Jesus now than his disciples were while Jesus was alive.

One With God

Before Jesus dies he warns his disciples that they will suffer because they follow him. But he also prays that they would be one with God in the same way he is (John 17:22-23). Jesus understands that through his death he will unite his disciples with God. This is good news because being united to God through death means being united to God in power too. Death and suffering do not have the last words for followers of Jesus. We are one with God in his life and immortality.

Jesus Is King

The torture and crucifixion of Jesus are good news because the same act Rome intends to crush Jesus is the very act God intends to crown him as King. The crown of thorns was a true crown. The purple robe was a true symbol of his majesty. His cross was actually his throne. And the Roman soldiers bowed before the King of the Jews. What Rome meant for evil, God meant for good.

In his death, Jesus was crowned as the new Sovereign, able to save the people from their sins. In his crucifixion, he is crowned as the King over death with the authority to grant life to everyone. And in his suffering, he is crowned as the Lord of a New Kingdom, where there will be no more tears or sorrow.

Jesus Sends

After Jesus rises from the dead Jesus sends grieving women to tell the disciples the news of the empty tomb. Jesus sends Thomas with hope for doubters. Jesus sends Peter, the man who denied him, to establish the church. And Jesus sends all his disciples with the promise of the Spirit. This is good news for people like us because we are people like them—grieving, fearful, doubting, and denying.

Jesus’ resurrection takes people like us and turns us into spirit-filled new creations. Like Mary, we announce that the tomb is empty to people who have not yet heard it. Like the disciples, we are filled with God’s Spirit to announce the forgiveness of sins. Like Thomas, we are armed with eyewitness testimony for doubters. And like Peter, we are commissioned to lead in our circles of influence to glorify God in both life and death.

Seth Stewart is a husband and a dad, and after a decade in student ministry is now working as the Editor-in-Chief at Spoken Gospel. Spoken Gospel creates online resources that point to Jesus from every passage of Scripture. Seth spends his day writing, speaking, and being his family's chef.

More From This Author