I love John’s Gospel, definitely my favourite of the four. We all know verses like, “I am the resurrection and the life…”, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…”, “For God so loved the world…”, “In the Beginning…” (Always in Morgan Freeman’s voice). John has impacted many of us as we find and grow in our faith; however, there have been critics. Why is John’s Gospel so different to the other three? Some argued that John was a made up story. Differences in sequence and content and emphasis on different parts of shared stories all lent ammunition to the critics. Why was this story before that one and how did they get from there to there in just a day…?
This misses the point completely. The real Jesus was and is so much more than the brief sketches in the Gospels. The real Jesus is not in, but is beyond, the texts. The writers were doing their best to show the Jesus they knew personally or had heard about from people who had actually met Him.
John balances beautifully the Divinity and humanity of Jesus. John helps us to find the human Christ to redeem us, the divine Christ to reveal the Father and the Spirit-filled Christ to help us, guide us and inspire us.
John kicks off by saying Jesus was there doing creation, past, now and to come. Wow. Storytelling and sharing news in the first century was mostly by the spoken word. The audience would probably have been aware of the story and it was up to the speaker to make it interesting and exciting. Individual events such as teachings by Jesus, miracles and events could be woven together to make the point. The audience would have jumped on any attempt to change one of these sub-stories, but would accept a re-sequencing if it still made sense in the narrative.
The first three gospels appear to be built on the Gospel of Mark and possibly one other lost document. John expands on this feast and writes for an audience who already knew these stories from the other Gospels. He uses his literary genius to assume or imply that those stories are there and he is calling to mind other tales and events to reinforce his underlying message, building on and expanding our understanding of Jesus as Messiah, Adam and God.
The Fourth Gospel is not in conflict with the Synoptic Gospels (Mathew, Mark, Luke). It enhances, illuminates and expands the narrative, helping us to understand our individual relationship with the Father through Jesus.
We are the beloved of God, sibling of Jesus and in joyful relationship with the Spirit.
Join us each day, read the chapter of John and comment about how that chapter affected you. It will be a great journey as we search for the Jesus that John loved.