Can anyone tell me what a biography is?
That's right, it's a written record of someone's life.
Lots of people write biographies and they are usually about famous people –
perhaps someone from history, like this one about Queen Victoria,
or a famous Christian:
here's one about William Wilberforce
or this one about Charles Simeon – one of the rooms in the annexe is named after him.
or a famous politician like this one about Winston Churchill.
Biographies can be very big can't they and especially when the person they are about is very famous.
But here's one more biography – can anyone guess who this one is about?
It's very small isn't it?
Perhaps it's not about someone quite as famous.
But this is a copy of John's Gospel, one of the four biographies about Jesus in the Bible.
And this one is written by John, who calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved”.
Surely he would have loads to say and write about Jesus!
Why is it so small?
Well in our Bible reading this morning John tells us why.
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but 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 doesn't want to tell us everything that Jesus did from the moment he was born.
He wants to tell us about the most important things.
You see, Jesus isn't just someone interesting to read about.
He isn't even just someone who was very important in history,
like Winston Churchill
or Queen Victoria.
Jesus is the Son of God!
He came and lived here with people so that they could have true life!
So when you listen to this biography of Jesus this week, think to yourself,
“What is John telling me about Jesus?
Why is he telling me this?
How does this enable me to believe in Jesus and have life?”
John wants us all to know Jesus and trust in him – that is why he has written this book.
And even though it is only small, it is very powerful.
None of these other books can give you life,
they can only tell you about someone else's life.
But John's Gospel tells you about Jesus' life and death
and gives you life when you believe in Jesus!
So here are some of the things to listen out for in John's Gospel:
Seven is an important number for John:
There are seven signs, pointing to who Jesus is,
like the miracle of changing water into wine
or of bringing a boy back to life
There are seven times when Jesus says “I am...”
like “I am the way, the truth and the life”
or “I am the bread of life”
There is also perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
There are many times Jesus meets with individuals and changes their lives:
A man called Nicodemus
A woman he meets at a well in Samaria
A blind man whom he heals
Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha
But in all of these things, remember why John wrote:
So that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ
and that by believing you might have life in his name.
So each day, ask yourself as you finish listening to the set passages:
Do I believe in Jesus?
Also this week you will be listening to the first half of the Acts of the Apostles.
This is the second half of Luke's Gospel, which you were listening to this past week.
Well Luke wrote the history of the early church, to tell people what happened next,
after Jesus had risen from the dead and returned to heaven.
So he writes about:
the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came
the preaching and miracles done by Jesus' friends and followers
the conversion of Saul, who became known as Paul,
from someone who hated the church to someone who loved Jesus
and who this church is named after
and the preaching of Paul to people of all nations.
Luke writes at the beginning of Acts that his Gospel was about everything that Jesus began to do and teach
and so Acts is still about Jesus,
but he is working through his followers.
So as you listen to Acts this week, think about the early church -
how were they different to us?
How are they the same?
How did they manage to do such amazing things?
You might want to listen especially carefully for the Holy Spirit,
who is central to the book.
And so this week as you listen, remember these things:
John's Gospel is about Jesus
and how by trusting in him we can have life
Acts is about Jesus continuing his work
through the Holy Spirit
working in his friends and followers.
These things are still true today:
We can have life through trusting Jesus
and we can follow him and do great things for him
when we have the Holy Spirit helping us.
So let's listen to the Holy Spirit as we listen to these great stories about Jesus and learn to trust in him more and more.