In this episode of the Radically Christian Bible Study Podcast, Wes McAdams interviews Dan Chambers about his current preaching series on the Gospel of John. They discuss some of the deeper theological themes and symbols that are found in John’s account, including how Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine foreshadows the coming Messianic banquet. The conversation focuses on how Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecies and institutions like the temple, and how believing in Christ is the only way to find lasting satisfaction and quench our deepest spiritual thirst.
Throughout the episode, Wes and Dan explore several passages from John, analyzing the rich symbolism and connections to the Old Testament. They talk about how Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of things like the temple and the law, and how the gospel of John repeatedly points people to find hope, meaning, and purpose in Christ alone. Even for those familiar with this gospel account, this conversation sheds new light on the profound truths found in John’s gospel.
Dan Chambers has been preaching and teaching the Bible for 15 years at the Concord Road Church of Christ. He holds a doctorate in applied theology and has written several books, including Churches in the Shape of Scripture and Bring on Heaven! Dan brings deep insight into the biblical text, challenging listeners to not just understand the gospel intellectually but to let its truth penetrate their hearts so that it transforms how they live.
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Transcript (Credit: Beth Tabor)
WES: Welcome to the Radically Christian Bible Study podcast. I’m your host, Wes McAdams. Here, we have one goal: Learn to love like Jesus. I want to start today by reading from John 1:1‑5. John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Today I’m going to be visiting with and studying with my friend, Dan Chambers, about his preaching and teaching from the book of John. But, first, I want to read for you Dan’s biography. Dan Chambers loves to preach and teach the Bible and does so every chance he gets. For the last 15 years, he’s been living his ministry dream as the preaching minister of the Concord Road Church of Christ in the Nashville area. He holds a doctorate, a D.Min. in applied theology, and has written several books, including Churches in the Shape of Scripture and Bring on Heaven! He and his wife, Leola, have two grown children, a son‑in‑law, a daughter‑in‑law, and one perfect grandchild. He likes watching action movies, good documentaries, and NFL football. He also loves reading books about history and culture, and he and his wife are a couple of certified travel nuts who are always plotting their next adventure.
I love Dan. I know that you’re going to love Dan. I know that this is going to be a wonderful Bible study and conversation, and, as always, I hope that this helps all of us to love like Jesus.
Well, Dan Chambers, welcome back to the podcast, and we’re going to try this again.
DAN: Thanks, Wes. I hope we can get it, man.
WES: We have recorded portions of this podcast multiple times now, and we’ve had technical issues all along the way. I’m not sure, at this point, if it’s on your end or my end or on God’s end. I don’t know who’s delaying this, but we’re going to try it one more time.
DAN: All right. That sounds good. I got my fingers crossed.
WES: Fantastic. Well, you’ve been preaching and teaching through the gospel account of John, and you’ve probably done a lot more of that since the last time we started to have this conversation, so tell us about John and tell us about what you’re preaching and teaching.
DAN: Yeah, I’ve got a few more weeks under our belt since we first started this, but a few more weeks for me usually means like maybe one additional chapter, so it’s a pretty methodical pace. I’m up into chapter 4. The last couple of weeks we’ve been spending time with the encounter of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. I could spend a couple of more weeks on that, but I’m moving on to the healing of the nobleman’s son this Sunday.
But it has been ‑‑ Wes, I just ‑‑ what a gospel John is. I mean, from a storytelling perspective, it is an absolute masterpiece. From a Christological perspective, you know, the focus is so much on Christ, and I think you get the essence of who Jesus is more fully in John than any other gospel. And so the emphasis on the Holy Spirit ‑‑ you know, there’s more teaching there ‑‑ explicit teaching on the Holy Spirit in John’s gospel than any of the other gospels, and there’s so much about the gospel that I like. John’s nuance that he uses that I think he wants us to draw out a lot of theological implications. I just love the book, and so it has been ‑‑ my biggest challenge has been to say, okay, I gotta move on. I gotta pick it up maybe just a little bit, because it’s so rich.
WES: Yeah, it’s ‑‑ I mean, it’s so deep and it’s not just surface level, like this is what happened. In fact, let’s dive into a couple of the sermons that I listened to. I listened to your accounts of ‑‑ or your sermons on John 2, talking about the water turned to wine, the cleansing of the temple. So, in your lesson of the water to wine, I loved your emphasis there and how this is a sign that’s pointing forward to the Messianic banquet, and you tied in Isaiah 25. I want to read Isaiah 25:6‑8 for folks because it’s so wonderful, and I think this is exactly what John is doing. But Isaiah 25:6‑8 says, “On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well‑aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.”
So talk about that, if you will, for a second, how what Jesus is doing at that wedding is not just about the wedding, but it is about another wedding feast. It is about something eschatological. So talk about that, if you would.
DAN: Yeah, absolutely. You know ‑‑ and that’s kind of what I meant when I talked about a lot of nuance in John and a lot of theological implications that he wants us to pick up on, and there is the perfect example. Here, you know, it’s the first sign that Jesus does, and, you know, I think it bears emphasizing that John ‑‑ that’s the word he prefers when it comes to miracles. He doesn’t use “mighty work” at all. He uses “wonder” once. Every other time, it’s “sign” because he knows and he wants us to understand that when Jesus performs these things, he’s pointing to deeper spiritual realities. And so here it is, the first moment, the first sign that Jesus is going to perform. It’s at the wedding. The wine’s gone, and when you understand a little bit about the historical cultural background, you know it is a catastrophe that is looming ‑‑ a social catastrophe that’s looming. Mary is just freaked out, and maybe that implies that she had something to do with catering, who knows, but that’s not really relevant. But she’s freaked out, so she goes to Jesus and she says, “The wine’s gone.” And his comment to her is, “Well, my hour hasn’t come yet.” And it seems so odd for him to say that, and so people go, “Well, what does he mean by ‘the hour hasn’t come yet’?” And I think the only way you can answer that is kind of track John’s use of that word through the gospel, and when John talks about “the hour,” he’s talking about the moment when Christ is going to go to the cross. And so I think any other way to use it in John 2:4 would be unnatural any other way. And so Jesus is basically saying to his mom in that instance, “Well, it’s not time for me to go to the cross.” And, again, that’s a head‑scratcher. Well, what in the world does that mean? She’s asking about wine, physical wine, and he says, “Well, it’s not time for me to go to the cross yet.”
And what we need to understand ‑‑ and, again, I use the words, you know, that John is wanting us to draw out theological implications. There’s this nuance there. And so what Jesus is doing ‑‑ he seems to be taking Mary’s concern about physical wine, and suddenly he’s going to take it to a deeper level, a more symbolic level. And when you go back and you understand what Messiah is going to do ‑‑ and that is he is going to ultimately flip everything back to the way it’s supposed to be. This broken world that we live in is going to be fixed, and that Messianic banquet, the glorious, consummated future of the kingdom is pictured ‑‑ as you so beautifully read in that Isaiah passage, it’s pictured as a banquet where the tables are just overflowing with food and the wine is just flowing abundantly. And so Jesus is basically saying to us, “Oh, yeah, I came to bring the wine. That’s exactly why I came.”
And then, as the miracle proceeds, you start seeing these important nuances, theological implications, like, I think, for instance, the fact that he chooses these ‑‑ you know, it’s pointed out ‑‑ John points out these vessels of water. He doesn’t say, “Nearby, there were some vessels of water.” He points out that these vessels of water were used for Jewish purposes, for ritual purification. And so when you understand, as Jesus kind of gives us an indication that he’s talking on a deeper spiritual level, then you start looking at those details and seeing that I really think that John means for us to see something there. And, for instance, there is ‑‑ I think what John’s telling us is that the wine that Jesus has come to give, it can’t be found in Judaism. It can’t be found anywhere. He is the only one that can bring the wine. He is a fulfillment of everything that the law was about, but you can’t get, from the law, what he’s going to offer. Only he can offer it.
And then you get to the taste of it, and the steward ‑‑ head waiter says, “This is the greatest ever. Why did you keep this?” And I think there’s some implications there that what Jesus offers ‑‑ the wine of eternal life that he is offering, that he’s come to give, it is better, it is ‑‑ there is nothing like it. You know, when we think about other religious systems, every religious system has something to offer and has some good things to offer, but it doesn’t ‑‑ what it offers and what they offer, whether it’s networking or moral teaching or anything like that, it doesn’t offer what Jesus offers. And then the amount ‑‑ the vast amount, when you understand how the Jews used wine and the enormous amount of wine that Jesus made on that occasion, it’s very unlikely that any wedding needed that much. But it just speaks, I think, of the lavishness of what God is providing for his people and what is to come. And so I think it is this amazing, amazing passage that is full of important things to see and contemplate.
WES: I love how you pull that out of the text, how John always tends to layer things. And even in the gospel of John, when Jesus talks about being lifted up ‑‑ if you talked about a king being lifted up, being exalted, you certainly wouldn’t think that he’s talking about a cross, that in the cross is both Jesus’ exaltation, his ascension to the throne, his ascension to the right hand of God, and so it’s all sort of layered there together. And so Jesus is foreshadowing, even right there in the second chapter, that his time is coming, his time of ascending to the throne. But you just don’t expect that his ascension to the throne will be through the cross. Not in spite of the cross, but through the cross will be his exaltation, and that he is going to bring all of these prophesied promises that God has been saying he was going to bring through his Messiah all along, and that this is going to happen through the crucifixion. It’s just an amazing thing. And then when you see all of these signs ‑‑ and I love the way that you point out this idea of signs. I see, in all of the signs in John’s account, but also in the other gospel accounts, this sort of what theologians call “the already and not yet of the kingdom.”
DAN: Oh, absolutely, that’s right.
WES: You see this, again, multi‑layered reality that, on the one hand, Jesus is saving someone from ‑‑ whether it’s a social catastrophe in a wedding, not having enough wine, or saving someone from blindness or saving someone from the inability to walk or saving someone from poverty, and he is lifting that person up. What he’s doing for them is real and important and tangible, but what he does for one in this sign, he is going to do for everyone in the age to come. Everyone is going ‑‑ you and I are going to get to sit at the wedding feast. We’re going to get to taste that wine that the steward talked about. Like we have been given this foretaste that this is what is available through Jesus, and we are going to be healed of our blindness. We are going to be healed of our inability to walk. We are going to be lifted up from poverty and oppression and have all of that lavish generosity that Jesus bestows on them. It’s going to be bestowed on all of his people. And so it’s ‑‑ I think if we just read these accounts and say, “Well, that was nice. Jesus is really generous and Jesus did something good for this person,” whether it’s a blind man or whether it’s a wedding ‑‑ a married couple, and we don’t see the sign of greater things to come because of Jesus, we, too, can miss out on the signs.
DAN: Yeah, I think you’re exactly right. And you’re so right about the layering. I think John does a lot of layering of that stuff. You know, you mentioned the healing of the blind, and, of course, we think about that in John 9, one of the seven miracles where the blind man is sent to wash in the Pool of Siloam. And it’s just such a ‑‑ you know, it does more than demonstrate Jesus’ power over physical ailments. Again, there’s something deeper there. It’s a picture of not only the gospel and what God can provide for us immediately ‑‑ because it starts with, “I am the light of the world.” And so this sign is going to point to the fact that he is the light of the world and that he can bring light to people, and so it’s a picture of the gospel. He sees this man who is ‑‑ he’s blind, and so Jesus goes up and he, you know, applies this concoction to the man’s eyes and tells him to go wash in Siloam.
And one of the things John does there is he points out ‑‑ he makes a special emphasis that “Siloam” means “sent.” “Go wash in the Sent pool.” But as you’re reading through John’s gospel, all in chapter 8 ‑‑ several times in chapter 8, right before this account, Jesus is saying, “I was sent from God.” “I was sent from God.” “I was sent from God.” And so John gets over here in the very next chapter and there’s this blind man there, and Jesus says, “Go wash in the pool called Sent.” And it’s that reminder of our helplessness that ‑‑ you know, and John does that a lot in a lot of these miracles, whether it’s the Pool of Bethesda in chapter 5, one of ‑‑ had to be the most depressing place in Jerusalem, where all of the depressed and dying and diseased and forsaken and alone people were tossed. All of it’s a picture of our helplessness, of our inability to do anything, and we are completely dependent on the initiative of Christ, who came to us in our helpless and our hopeless condition, and he is the remedy, the sent one, and we have to be washed in the sent one. And so we do ‑‑ as we are washed in the sent one, we receive sight. But this goes back to what you were saying; it’s only partial. It’s the now. Now we receive sight. But there’s another layer to it, and that is the not yet, and we are ‑‑ you know, it’s like salvation. We experience the fullness of salvation right now. The blessings of salvation we are experiencing now, but we don’t enjoy the blessings of salvation so much that we lose sight of our future hope, because there is a not yet.
And, you know, I don’t remember who first coined the imagery, but I love it. He says, you know, we live between D‑Day and V‑Day. You know, D‑Day, June 6, ’44, when we got that foothold, the Allies in Europe, and that was essentially the end. The Nazis were done for. It still took about ten months before V‑Day. And, you know, we’ve had our D‑Day and we’re gonna win, and we have salvation and blessings and we have sight, but there’s coming a V‑Day that’s still to come, and that is associated with the promised resurrection.
You know, John doesn’t really say a lot directly as much about eschatology as some of the gospel writers, but there’s eschatology all over it, and that future to come is based on the hope of our resurrection. John 5, Jesus says there’s coming a time when all who are in the tombs are going to come forth. And so the healing that we have now brings us sight on one level, but there’s still to come when, like you said, there is going to be, at that Messianic banquet, a fullness, a resurrection of the body, a brand‑spanking‑new body. We’re going to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually perfect. All the brokenness of creation is going to be redeemed, and Jesus is ‑‑ and all of that’s being foreshadowed. You got the immediate and then you’ve got the anticipation of still what is to come. It’s amazing. It’s fantastic.
WES: Yes, amen. Well, and speaking of restoring and healing the brokenness, your next sermon on the cleansing of the temple, I loved how you pulled out that eschatological hope there, as well, and you talked about Jesus using the whip to scatter animals and scatter coins in order to restore the temple to what it was supposed to be. In fact, here’s a quote. If I got this wrong, feel free to correct me, but you said, “God is developing his plan to redeem humanity and to purge this universe of all its brokenness and sin and restore things to his ultimate purpose of perfection. Perfect people in a perfect place in perfect fellowship with God.”
And I love how you describe the cleansing of the temple as an act of restoration. Too often, I think we look at that event and we think of Jesus throwing an angry temper tantrum. Now, I think it’s true that Jesus is angry, but the way I always describe it is it’s like those scenes in a movie where a dad will come home to his house where his teenagers had been home alone and they were throwing a party, and there’s teenagers everywhere doing all kinds of things that they shouldn’t be doing, especially in his house. Is he angry? Of course he’s angry. But as he goes in, he may throw some things out, he may throw some people out, but he’s not intending to hurt or maim or destroy. He’s there to restore. He’s there to put things back to the way that it’s supposed to be because he is ‑‑ or in Jesus’ case, he is and represents the one who owns that house. “This is my Father’s house,” and what they’re doing there, and, in a way, doing in the entire world, is wrong and broken. And he’s there to bring restoration, even if it is, in a sense, wrath, but it’s not a wrath that destroys; it’s a wrath that restores. And I loved how you described that.
DAN: Absolutely. I think you’re exactly right. Yeah, everything that Jesus did was with purpose, and, you know, he wasn’t just flying off the handle. But, you know, as God is looking forward to the restoration of all things and as ‑‑ and, by the way, that’s from Acts 3:21. That’s a direct statement that Jesus is in heaven and will remain there until the restoration of all things that the prophet spoke about. As he is, you know, anticipating what he’s going to accomplish through Christ, God knows that the only way that we’re going to participate in the consummated kingdom and experience the fullness of a relationship with God eternally, with all of the blessings that will come with that ‑‑ the only way that’s going to happen is through a relationship with him, and that calls for purity. It calls for transformation. And the temple was intended to be a place where people could come and they could contemplate their brokenness, and they could contemplate God’s mercy, and they could contemplate what God is accomplishing and what he is ‑‑ how he’s moving history.
And so it’s important for people to contemplate those things, because if we don’t contemplate those things, we’re going to miss out on it. And it’s so critical to have our minds full of these spiritual realities about where we are and what we need and what is to come and the power to accomplish that. And so, yeah, those things are so important. And God, it looks like, again, like you said, you know, it’s just that he’s this angry, wrathful ‑‑ but there is purpose there, because if he doesn’t, and he leaves us to ourself, then we’re going to stand before him on the day of judgment and we are going to experience nothing but his infinitely holy wrath. That’s why, you know, one of the things Jesus is going to say later, in John 3, is, “I didn’t come to condemn the world.” Jesus didn’t come to condemn. We’re already condemned. That’s the thing. We’re already condemned. He came to deliver us. And so the whole cleansing of the temple is to prepare us for that ultimate ‑‑ to restore our relationship with God in view of the ultimate restoration to come.
WES: Amen. Well, I love how both John’s account, but also your sermon, focuses in there on that conversation that Jesus says that the temple will be destroyed and rebuilt in three days, and the emphasis is that he’s talking about his own body, that he is the temple of God. And your emphasis there was on Jesus being the tent of meeting, the place where people come to meet God, the place of true worship, that Jesus is centering himself as the place where people come to meet God. And that is the gospel of John, is that it is all about the Messiah; it is all about the Son of Man; it’s all about Jesus, and how believing in him, trusting in him, giving him your loyalty and allegiance, that is the work of God to which we are called. And so I love how you always bring things back to it’s all about Jesus and it’s all about putting your hope in him, your trust in him, that you can’t find what you need in any other place, whether it be the temple or whether it be a life of sin, whatever it may be, whether it be other religions or other philosophies or ideology. It’s in Jesus. Our only hope is in him.
DAN: Yeah. Yeah, you’re exactly right. You know, when you think about his ‑‑ you know, when he wrote in probably middle to late 80s, maybe, the temple has been destroyed in 70 AD. Probably several years have passed because there’s no reference made to it, and so it’s probably not a fresh event. But suddenly you’ve got this Jewish community, and the center of their world was the temple. It’s where God dwelt among his people. It’s where one went to meet with God. And that’s why, you know, in Matthew 24, on the Olivet discourse, that ‑‑ you know, when Jesus told his disciples that there’s a time coming when not one stone’s going to be left on another, and they kind of huddled up, his disciples, and they came back with a question. We know what they concluded. They concluded, well, if the temple is going to be gone, it must be the end of all things because that’s where God dwells among his people, and so they couldn’t conceive of anything continuing if God’s house, his presence, is gone.
And so Jesus ‑‑ you know, as John is writing this ‑‑ I think John is so evangelistic in his purposes. You can see that from the purpose statement in John 20:30‑31: “These things were written so that you can believe that he is the Messiah, and that by believing, you can have life in his name.” And he’s thinking about ‑‑ it seems to be that the Jews, especially, who had put all of their hope and all of their faith in the Old Testament system ‑‑ and the temple was the very center of that. John is trying to show that, “Oh, no, no, listen. Jesus is the fulfillment of all of that. There’s no need to worry. Now you can rejoice because what the temple was intended to foreshadow has arrived, and you thought that it was in that physical structure that you would come to meet God in worship. No. Now Jesus is the place where you come to God and meet him and have fellowship with him.”
And you’re right; it’s all about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. It’s kind of like when you get into John 4 ‑‑ and I’ve been, the last couple of weeks, on the woman at the well and that incredible encounter. And Jesus, just when he asked for a drink, and she basically said ‑‑ you know, she expressed a shock because of, you know, so many cultural protocols were violated, and Jesus just immediately takes the issue to what matters most. And he says, “If you knew who it was talking to you, you would ask and you’d get living water.” And that started this conversation that basically was emphasizing ‑‑ and the message ‑‑ what she needed to hear, we all need to hear; and what he needed to teach her, he needs to teach us, and that is there is this thirst. We’re all thirsty. There is this internal urge within all of us for satisfaction and fulfillment, and we exhaust ourselves trying to find fulfillment and satisfaction, and we run to everything that we can possibly think of ‑‑ experiences, people, activities ‑‑ and we get some satisfaction there, but it’s not lasting. And we know Jesus was pointing out to her where she was trying to find fulfillment and satisfaction in life when he said, “Go get your husband.” She said, “Well, I’m not married.” He goes, “I know.” He says, “You actually have five husbands, and now you’ve got a boyfriend,” and so she’s been trying to find fulfillment through, you know, one bad relationship after another and one bed after another.
And, you know, we need to hear that because, you know, whether it’s through our, you know, professional development or even family, things that aren’t inherently wrong ‑‑ education, vacations, material things ‑‑ you know, we all are looking for ‑‑ there’s this inner quest, that urge, that impulse for satisfaction, and Jesus is saying the only place where you’re going to have lasting satisfaction and fulfillment is me. If you will drink deeply of me, only then, when everything else ‑‑ when the career goes away, when nobody wants to hear me preach anymore, and when my granddaughter, who is three and a half years old, who I’m the center of her world, and when she stops crawling all over me and she’s more interested in her friends, and when people that I love deeply and dearly and had such an intense relationship with, when they’re gone ‑‑ when all of that happens, things that I found deep fulfillment and satisfaction in, I’m not going to be thirsty if I’ve been drinking of Jesus, because he is the ultimate source of quenching our thirst. So you’re right. As John works through his gospel, starting there, you know, in John 2 there with the cleansing of the temple and just moving on, it is all about that. It is all about, “Look at me. I am here to bring you what you may not understand right now that you need, but I’m going to help you understand it, and in me, and in me alone, will you find just the ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment.” It’s so powerful.
WES: Amen. Yeah, yeah. Amen, Brother. Amen. And I feel like that’s what’s so often lacking in our pulpits. You know, in so many pulpits that ‑‑ we preach all kinds of ideas, we preach morals, we preach systems, we preach religion, but if we’re not preaching Jesus, we are not preaching the gospel. I love the way Tim Keller used to say that the gospel is not good advice; it is good news. It is what Jesus has done, and that’s where our faith is. And yes, there are things we need to do. Jesus says, “My commandment is to love one another. This is the new commandment I give you.” So there is definitely something we need to do. There are ways that we need to live, but it has to be rooted in our faith, our trust, our allegiance to King Jesus. And if he is who he says he is, it changes everything. And if we don’t believe that and that’s not the center of our world, it doesn’t matter what else we do. We’re never going to have enough. We’re never going to be satisfied.
Let me kind of switch gears just a little bit and ask, what initially made you want to teach this? This is a long series, to go through the gospel of John, to spend all this time in John. What initially prompted you to want to do that?
DAN: Well, that’s a good question. I mean, probably, honestly, the first ‑‑ the most basic reason was because what I like to do is, every few years, preach through one of the gospels, and the last gospel that I did was about five years ago, and I preached through Mark. And when I first started my work at Lebanon Road ‑‑ Lebanon Road was like two works ago. When I first started my work at Concord Road, I preached through Matthew, and so it was time. You know, I’m an expository preacher. On Sunday morning, almost 98% of the time it’s through books, and I just finished 2 Corinthians, and then I had done Judges and Ruth and I bounced back between Old and New Testament. It was time for the gospels. It was time for a gospel. And I had taught a number of times on John. I had preached sometimes on certain aspects of John. John is written in such a way that you can do a lot of stuff thematically and topically; you know, the seven “I am” statements, or if you just want to focus on the seven miracles, or the encounters, you know, Nicodemus and the woman at the well. And so I’ve done some of that, but I’ve never, since I’ve been here, preached all the way through the gospel of John, and so there was that.
But another reason that I wanted to was just so many aspects of John that I find to be so helpful to me personally in my own development and maturity as a Christian, because like I said earlier, it’s so Christological in its focus. If you want to understand deeply the nature of Christ, the work of Christ, the mission of Christ, then John is, I think, the gospel to go through. And so ‑‑ and it’s evangelistic in its purpose. It really ‑‑ I think that’s such an important thing. It’s not just for us, good news for us. It’s good news to take to the world. You know, that’s an important thing. I’m afraid that sometimes we drop the ball on evangelistic emphasis. Not everybody, certainly. I don’t like to paint with broad strokes, but sometimes it doesn’t maybe get the emphasis that it desperately needs because that’s Christ’s mission, and it’s so ‑‑ John’s message is so evangelistic, and so that part of it appealed to me, the repeated emphasis.
In fact, you know, it’s like the woman at the well. I’ll talk about that again. And, you know, you have so many important things to remember, you know, especially when you contrast the woman at the well in chapter 4 with Nicodemus in chapter 3. You’ve got two people, different statuses, different genders, different ethnicities, and yet they needed the same thing. And you got Jesus going through Samaria. And why did Jesus go through Samaria? Jesus went through Samaria because there was a woman who needed him, and the emphasis of Jesus on one soul. It’s kind of like when he goes over, you know, and the Gerasene demoniac, and after ‑‑ you know, that’s not, of course, in John’s gospel but in the synoptics, and you go, why did Jesus do that? Well, because there was a man who needed him, and that’s me. And it’s just a reminder that everybody needs Jesus, and we’re all going to have those moments where we meet someone at the well. The well may be the office. The well may be, you know, the backyard. It could be at the ballpark. And so the emphasis ‑‑ John’s focus on evangelism, I thought, was really, really important and critical. So there’s a lot of things like that. Just so many things coalesced into, man, it’s time. It’s not only the time to teach the gospel ‑‑ another gospel, but John needs to be taught. I need to spend some time there.
WES: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Let me ask you this, Dan. I know it’s only been, you know, a few months since you’ve started this, but how has, even just so far ‑‑ and, you know, I know, obviously, you’ve studied this gospel account many times, but I’m sure, like with all of us, every time you preach through something, it changes you, you know, it has an impact on you. So, so far in your study of John this time around, how has it impacted you and changed you?
DAN: You know, you’re absolutely right. Every time I preach ‑‑ I don’t know, but I’m going to speculate that it changes and impacts me as much as it does anyone there. I am always convicted as I study. You know, it kind of reminds me of what Peter says in 2 Peter 1 as he’s writing. He says, “You know this, and you’re established in this, but you need to be reminded.” And that’s a reminder that Christian truth needs to be preached over and over and over and over and over again, because even those of us who just spend so much time in the word and love spending time in the word, just ‑‑ what we are called to be and what we are called to do, we’re still dragging around these unredeemed bodies, and so we still begin to neglect things. We still tend to, you know, get overwhelmed with discouragement, and so we need these same principles.
And, you know, I’m thinking, as I’m preaching this, I’m like, wow, yeah, I need to start recognizing more of these well moments. That is, the woman‑at‑the‑well moments, and I need to keep my ‑‑ I don’t need to lose sight of the fact that everyone around me, regardless of their status, their gender, their race, their ethnicity, they all need the same thing, and they all need living ‑‑ they’re all seeking satisfaction somewhere. And, you know, I can get lost in ‑‑ I can get lost in my study and I can get lost in my ministry and I can forget things like that. And then ‑‑ so I’ve got things like that that have just awakened me again to some realities that I just needed to have the dust blown off of.
Or, you know, just a constant sense of dependence on Jesus and reminders like I just talked about, about having our thirst ultimately quenched, that I can find myself finding and pursuing satisfaction and fulfillment in a lot of things. And, again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with those things that I find satisfaction and fulfillment in, but it’s reminding me, and it has reminded me, okay, that’s okay as long as those things don’t become your ultimate quest for satisfaction and fulfillment. I’ve got to develop my ‑‑ spend more time in seeking to know Christ more deeply in authentic communion with him personally so that I can find that and always have that quenched thirst. So those are the things that, you know, I just naturally find myself, as a Christian, in the same place that most other Christians do, and that is we know these things, but we just ‑‑ we forget them and they kind of fade and they need to be brought back into our consciousness. And so all of those principles needed to be brought back into mind, and I’m already benefiting from it so much.
WES: That’s awesome. Well, and this probably parallels with what you just said, but what are you kind of hoping that the congregation is both learning intellectually and understanding that maybe they didn’t understand before and also applying that to their life?
DAN: Yeah, you know, I guess, if I had to kind of sum it up, I would say that, you know, it’s pretty easy to believe the gospel in your mind, but it’s not as easy for the gospel to become operational in your heart. And I want these truths ‑‑ and, you know, John just, again, it’s, like, cyclical, these same truths he just pounds in with different miracles or different images, and I really want to drive these truths so deeply into the hearts of my listeners that these truths change them. It changes them and it transforms them, and it transforms them in how they relate to others; it transforms them when there are deep, troubling times of life that overwhelm them and discourage them. When they are on fumes, I want these lessons to be a gas station because it’s the person of Christ, it’s the promises of Christ that makes our cylinders fire, and that’s the gas. And so I want them ‑‑ again, I want these truths to get so deep into their heart that it really changes them and they find in Christ everything that they need at every moment of their life.
WES: Yeah, amen. Amen. Well, I’m so thankful that you’re preaching the good news that way. Let me ask this. This will probably already be ‑‑ you’ll already be done preaching this by the time this episode is published, but what are you preaching next? What’s coming up on Sunday?
DAN: Well, yeah, what I’m doing this Sunday is I’m still ‑‑ I’m going to finish up John 4. I thought about one more week in the woman at the well, but I’ve got to move on and I’m going to do the nobleman’s son, and then, of course, get into John 5, and looking forward to that, one of my favorite miracles there at the Pool of Bethesda. It is just one of the great things. And so just progressing there, looking forward to that. I don’t know how long this series is going to last. I’m kind of notorious for long series, but, you know, I find that the church really appreciates and delights in the discovery of so much that’s packed into the word, and so it’s just a ‑‑ it’s a fun journey and I’m loving every second of it. I don’t know when it’s going to end. I’m not one of these preachers that maps out my lessons, “These are my next 52 lessons.” People will ask me a lot of times what’s next, and since I’m preaching through a book, it depends on what time of the week they’re asking me that. I say I’m not 100% sure. It just depends on where the text leads me because I might start on Monday with one thing in mind, but as I begin to study, I go, “Oh, I’ve got to ‑‑ we’ve got to hover there for a while. I can’t go to where I want. I’m going to hang out here for a while.” And so I’m just enjoying the journey through John, and it’s been such a blessing to me. I hope it is to the church and anyone who takes a minute to listen.
WES: That’s fantastic. Well, Dan, thank you for this conversation, but, more importantly, thank you for your work in the kingdom, Brother. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you.
DAN: Wes, thank you very much. I appreciate you. I appreciate the great work you do. Thank you for having me on. It was truly a pleasure, Brother.