Welcome friends to the Gospel of John! You might wonder why we are going out of order and that is a completely fair question. It's mostly because Acts throws a wrench in things as Acts is written by the same author as the Gospel of Luke. Its actually more accurate to say that Luke-Acts used to be one single document but was split up to reference the witness of Jesus vs the acts of the apostles. So, we come to John now. John is also different from the other gospels in that it is a gospel of symbolism. It's also one of the most beautiful in its writing. John does not seek to answer the question "who" Jesus is but rather the question "why" Jesus came. This is because John was written about ~120 years after Jesus had died and the christian communities were already very familiar with Mark, Matthew, and Luke. John's gospels introduces us to the theology of the Trinity and has a heavy focus on Jesus' divinity. It's safe to say that if you are looking for an accurate historical account of Jesus, John is not the gospel to consider. If you are looking for an accurate account of "why" Jesus, then John does it better than any other. If you have any questions as we go along just lemme know!
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach you about Jesus?
What does this teach you about God's relationship to Jesus?
What is different so far from the other gospels? Why do you think it is different?
- Context -
This isn't quite a "my thoughts" section but will now be context from commentaries or esteemed scholars. The distinguishing factor here is that it's not my speculation but the re-sharing of affirmed content and material. Many of you commented that you appreciated the extra insight provided by this section as it helped make sense of what the scripture was saying. So I hope this will new thing will provide that once more while keeping our focus on the scripture.
The First Evidence of the Trinity: John starts off with the powerful language of "in the beginning the word already existed, it existed with God....the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot extinguish it." John is very intelligently sharing the same opening words from Genesis 1 with "in the beginning" but this time not referring to the general "God-head" but to "Jesus." The word that John uses is not Jesus, but "the word." So, what John is saying is that Jesus existed with God all along, even in the beginning because Jesus is the "the word incarnate." (The word being the Old Testament.) Therefore, we know the Spirit existed with God and we knew "the father" existed with God, but now we know that Jesus did too. Therefore, the first theological evidence for the Trinity that has caused headaches and confusion for centuries among church leaders.
The Kingdom of God on Earth vs Eternal Life: You might notice that Jesus is speaking more about eternal life and the keys of salvation and things like that. John's gospel more than any other reinforces the theme of atonement whereas Jesus death atones for our sins and unlocks the gates of eternal life to all those that believe in him. (John 3:16 for example) The other gospels aren't always as clear about the intention of Jesus ministry whether it was about establishing a kingdom here and now or that the purpose was to achieve heaven. John makes it quite clear that Jesus was here for heaven.
Not Leaving Room for Doubt: You might notice that in John's account of John the Baptist John denies that he is Elijah or the Messiah and points directly to Jesus. This is mostly the same from the other gospels except for one difference...the Elijah bit. What's most interesting is that in Mark, Matthew and Luke's account of this story it is Jesus himself that tells the people that John (the Baptist) was Elijah. So why does the gospel of John say otherwise? For the Jewish people they have been longing since the prophet Malachi for the return of Elijah and he would be the messiah. It's likely that the people of John's era were still struggling (as were the scriptural accounts in all the gospels, you'll notice) whether Jesus was the Messiah or John was the Messiah. John's gospel takes out the room for doubt or confusion by changing it to say he was not Elijah. It's up the reader to decide whose account is correct here.
Looking for a little more contextual fun? Check out today's Bible Project video!
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is O Wondrous Sight! O Vision Fair from our hymnals. This hymn is inspired by the transfiguration of Jesus so try to put yourself in the shoes of Peter who was amazed at this sight and trying to make sense of it. However, as you now know from Jesus' rebuke - our faith ins't about understanding God, it's about experiencing God.