The book of John is probably the most familiar book that we’ve covered so far. It is one of the four gospels containing the story of Jesus. Since it is Holy week, I thought it best to reflect on one of the gospels and introduce this book. You’ve probably read many of the stories in John and it also contains a lot of quotable verses. Examples include:
John 1:1-5 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The author of John is the apostle John. He was also very prominent in the early church but is not mentioned by name is this gospel. He only refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). He knew Jewish life very well, as well as the geography of the Holy Land. The gospel has many verses that appear to reflect the recollections of an eyewitness – John was with Jesus when these things happened. An example is chapter 12:3 when the author refers to the house at Bethany being filled with the fragrance of the broken perfume jar. An observation that only someone in the room could have observed.
John’s gospel is very different from the other three gospels. In fact, it’s debated whether or not he even knew any of the other gospel writers. John focuses on the ‘signs’ of Jesus’ identity, mission, and Jesus’ theologically deep discourses. John begins with the announcement that Jesus is the “in the beginning” creative Word of God who had come to earth as a human being to be the light of life for the world. The other gospels slowly reveal who Jesus is, John comes right out and tells you.
John also states very clearly his main point in writing this gospel in chapter 20:31; “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” A helpful way to think about John compared to the rest of the gospels is this: John has a strong emphasis of heaven coming down, while the other three gospels have a strong emphasis of earth going up. What I mean by that is that John is all about connecting Jesus to God from the start, he is the Son of God come down to save us. The other gospels (as mentioned before) slowly reveal the fact that Jesus (the man) is actually the Son of God. It is revealed that this earthly man points towards and is God.
This Holy Week (Palm Sunday through Easter) is going to feel different than any other in our lifetimes because of our current situation. We will not be able to gather for services on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, or Easter. That does not mean, however, that we can’t experience and appreciate them in perhaps a new way.
John’s purpose for writing the book “that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name,” (John 20:31) hits home for me during this time, especially the last part. Our lives have dramatically changed this past month with school cancellations and home lock downs. Sometimes it feels like our ‘lives’ have literally been taken away from us. This Easter season I want you to reflect and think about that last line, “that by believing you may have life in his name.”(John 20:31). What does it mean to have life in his name for you this season of life? How can you let God enter your life and give it new meaning? Times may seem strange, hard, and dark right now but remember the beginning of John, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness HAS NOT overcome it.” (John 1:5). Celebrate that this Easter Season, the fact that God’s light is shining right now. Coronavirus is creating a very dark time in many lives right now, but it HAS NOT overcome God’s light.
Questions for Discussion/Contemplation