JOHN: AN INTRODUCTION
Good morning! Today, as we continue our journey through the Bible we are going to begin looking at the Gospel of John. I think you will enjoy this study. We will see things in John that we did not see in the other three gospels. Through the years I have heard new Christians ask; "As I begin reading the Bible, where should I begin?" Often the answer is; "The Gospel of John." While it is ok for anyone to begin by reading this gospel, let me say that I do not believe that it is the simplest gospel to read. No, on the contrary! It is the most complex of the four. I would even argue, and I do when teaching on John, that one can not truly understand the Gospel of John without understanding the Book of Exodus. I believe they go hand in hand.
You may remember that I have referred to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke as the Synoptic Gospels. There are so many similarities running through each of them. John's gospel, however, is simply referred to as the "Fourth Gospel." There are so many things in John that set it apart from the other three.
*There are no parables, nor sayings about children in John.
*There is no birth narrative in John.
*There are no exorcisms, nor agony in the garden in John.
*There is no apocalyptic discourse in John. (talk about end time events)
What else is unique about John's gospel?
*The attack on the temple is at the beginning of Jesus' ministry as opposed to the end.
*John contains "I Am" statements.
*John does not baptize Jesus in John's gospel.
*Jesus goes to Jerusalem three times in John. (as an adult) (compared to one time in the other three.)
*The timing of Jesus' death is different in John.
*In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus says very little about himself. In John, he speaks of little else.
*In John, Jesus delivers longer discourses.
*In the Synoptic Gospels Jesus speaks a lot about the kingdom of God, but in John he does so only once.
We will look into many of the above mentioned events as we go. The Gospel of John is divided up into two parts. After the prologue (1:1-18) we find part one which is known as "The Book of Signs." Then part two is referred to as "The Book of Glory." Now, I want to throw a term out at you, but I don't want to scare you with it. I'll explain what it means and how it relates to the understanding of John. The term is "Christology." Yes, it's a fancy seminary word. Christology refers to the ways in which Christians evaluated Jesus expressed in terms of titles, functions, and assessments of his relation to God. For example: Do we refer to Jesus' divine nature, or his human nature. In the Gospel of Mark we often discovered Jesus being presented as a servant. Jesus often taught on levels of human understanding. These would be examples of "low Christology" exploring Jesus' human side. "High Christology" is concerned with showing that Jesus came from God and was above all. It can be argued that the whole point of John's Gospel is its High Christology. John, believe it or not, focuses more on Jesus than the other three gospels. *We will discover how as we go.
John presents Jesus as being a stranger from heaven. In the synoptic gospels there is the understanding that before Jesus arrived at the river he had been somewhere else for all his life. What he was doing, who knows? *Although we know he was the carpenter's son we really don't know much else. But, we can assume that he was in Nazareth doing something. John begins differently.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." (John 1:1-2) See the difference? Jesus has been in heaven. Although the angel announces the birth in Matthew and Luke the angel simply indicates that a baby will be born. *a natural birth, with conception and nine month waiting period. *NOT conception in way we understand it, but still a conception as to when the birth process begins. John, tells us Jesus came from heaven.
John's prologue (1:1-18) is in the form of a poem or a hymn. He tells us that in the beginning was the Logos (Word). The Word was co-eternal, creative, Life, Light, and stronger than darkness. John takes us all the way back to Genesis in the very beginning. John goes on to tells us that the Word became flesh. (John 1:14) We can assume that this means he was born, but John has no desire to go there. "The Word became flesh" is another way of saying "The Word became incarnate." Incarnation means "enfleshment." Flesh is used in the biblical sense of a full human being. In Jesus, God became a full human being. (both divine and human.) Therefore, the Word lived among us. John says that he "made his dwelling among us." (John 1:14b) The word used for dwelling is the same word from which the word "tabernacle" is derived. It means "pitch a tent." In other words "Jesus pitched his tent among us." The tent was his body, but God dwelt in the body. *He used the human form as cover.
Well, there is so much more to say, so we won't say it all today. I invite you to join me daily as we look further at this wonderful gospel. Have a blessed day! -Pastor Rick