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A close reading of John’s Gospel Epiphany 2020


Readings in John The Gospel according to John “The Fourth Gospel”, The Book of Signs” A favorite of many… What are your reasons? Most “spiritual”? (Along with Luke and Paul, Holy Spirit is evident and powerful) The Love Gospel … except for the “Jews” (Along with Matthew — most used anti-Jewish abuses) 75 times! Jesus speaks… (a lot) Highly supportive of “community”


Comfortable Words — Familiar words of faith John 3:16… “God so loved the world…” Nicodemus meeting Jesus at night, “You must be born again…” “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places… (mansions in KJV)” “Just as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.”


Organization •

Four sections… • Prologue • Book of Signs - not “miracles” they point to divinity of Jesus • Book of Glory - last days with disciples before trial and cross • Passion and Resurrection with several post-resurrection appearances

More MYSTICAL… “higher” Christology. “Son of God” “I AM” sayings


Divine “Son of God” …. YET also very human “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” While John will underplay suffering on the cross, Jesus shows reality of incarnation Jesus becomes “exhausted” (4:6); suffers anguish (12:27, 13:21); weeps profusely over friend’s death (Lazarus 11:33-35); changes his mind (7:1-10); and gets irritated (2:4 — with mom!, 6:26, 7:6-8, 8:25) Jesus has some disciples he prefers and bonds with followers calling them “friends” Cries bitterly over Jerusalem… “would have gathered your children”


Unique to John • • • • • • • • • • •

Pre-existence claims (prologue, other) Jesus “omnicient” (Nathaniel under the fig tree and much more) Jesus self-aware from the start… Organized by 3 years of Jewish feasts Wedding at Cana Nicodemus Raising of Lazarus Woman at the well Last supper is NOT Passover Washing feet of disciples Mary Magdelene as disciple / preacher


Comfortable words… But deceptive simplicity? Johannine studies: field in itself. Simple words, understandable, but claims complex Portrayals of Jesus, Jews, the Church: very different from “Synoptics”, MORE demanding of disciples “I AM” sayings abound (echo Exodus)… “I am the Light of the World” Warm, universal… but light is in conflict with the “darkness” in complex ways “I am the way, the truth and the life.” … AND followed immediately by “No one comes to the Father, but through me.” Many controversies… THEN, … not just now.


“When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” “So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.” –John 6:60 ff


“But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.” Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him.” John 6:60-66


KEY THEMES • Conversion to following Jesus — •

• •

maybe competition - John the Baptist HIGH commitment for discipleship — constant confrontation and choices… Truth / lies, light / darkness, no sidelines where you can avoid “Realized eschatology” — you can experience kingdom living now (“the time is coming and is now” 4:23, 5:25) Beginning all over again… “In the beginning”

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The Gospel of John  

The Gospel of John