Week 40: The Gospel According to John

“Jesus’ disciples saw Him do many other miracles besides the ones told about in this book, but these are recorded so that you will believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing in Him you will have life.” John 20:30-31 (TLB)

What’s Going On?

This week we are going to read one more account of the life of Jesus, but this week you’ll notice the story unfolds in an entirely different way. The first three gospel are often referred to as the “Synoptic Gospels” which uses the Greek roots “syn” meaning ‘together’ and of course “optic” meaning ‘to see,’ so they are “seen together.” While Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us so much about the teachings, the parables, the miracles, the familiar stories of Jesus that are so often found in stained glass window images, John is written not so much to tell us what happened, but to tell us WHY.

John was one of the twelve disciples and one of Jesus’ earliest followers. While there is no way to know for sure, many believe that John was one of the two men referenced in 1:35, along with Andrew: “The next day John (the Baptist) was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” He replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where He was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. (John 1:35-39) I love what William Barclay says about this while speculating if John was one of those two men: “He could tell you the very hour of the day and no doubt the very stone of the road he was standing on when he met Jesus. At 4 pm on a spring afternoon in Galilee, life became a new thing for him.”

John might have been present during some of the events during Jesus’ early ministry in Judea, before the other disciples were present, explaining why some of the information in chapters 2-5 aren’t included in the other accounts. When Jesus first arrives in Galilee, after the miraculous catch of fish, we read that Jesus called out to two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who are in their boat preparing their nets. Immediately they left everything and began following Jesus. (Mt 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20; Luke 5:10-11) So James and John join Peter and Andrew into a full time ministry that would not only shape their own lives, but the lives of all who would read of their encounter with Jesus. These men would have had opportunity to hear Jesus talking to the large crowds that followed Him, but they would also have had some quiet moments of personal conversation and private teachings that would surely shape their faith and understanding that is so beautifully revealed in John’s writings.

Time and time again, we’ll see John refer to himself as “the one whom Jesus loved” which kind of puts a lump in my throat. Not only were John and his brother James, along with Peter, the earliest followers of Jesus, they will be part of the inner circle that will experience some things that the other disciples won’t be a part of. They were there for the Transfiguration, found in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9 but again, is left out of the book of John. Why would John not tell about the day he saw Jesus turn into a dazzling white light talking with Moses and Elijah? You’d think John would have a lot to say about that day! But he IS the one who tells us that Jesus is the “Light of the world” and references Light more than any other author in the Bible.

The Gospel according to John contains some of the most loved words in the Bible and should be read with a different expectation than the other accounts. We read Matthew, Mark, and Luke to learn about Jesus, but we fall in love with Him in the book of John. We can feel John’s love for Him and it is contagious. It’s no wonder that this book ends the four Gospel accounts. It was likely written many years after the first three and so John is looking back through aged eyes that see things in retrospect, reflecting wisdom and insight guided by Holy Spirit to bring us into a closer relationship, not with Jesus the man, but with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: John 1-3
  • Tuesday: John 4-7
  • Wednesday: John 8-10
  • Thursday: John 11-14
  • Friday: John 15-17
  • Saturday: John 18-21
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