SHORT NOTES ON THE BIBLE (11)

The Gospel According to Saint

John

(Part 2)

Characteristics of the Gospel of St. John (contd.):

(5) One obvious characteristic of the Gospel of St. John is showing that Jesus cares for the individual. St. John did not care to mention the sermon on the mountain whereas he wrote chapters on the meetings of the Lord with: 1) Nicodemus (ch.3) and His teachings on the new creation from water and the spirit, 2) with the Samaritan woman (ch.4) crossing the barrier of the sexes and sin, 3) with the paralytic man of Bethesda (ch.5), and 4) with the born blind (ch. 9), challenging the exaggerated literal keeping of the Sabbath. (ch.4). Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 to search for the lost sheep. He is the one that "calls His own sheep by name and leads them" (John 10:3). It is as if St. John in his missionary work invites every man and any man, to meet Jesus who loved him and gave Himself for him. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

(6) St. John did not care for the historical sequence of events as much as he cared to introduce a complete spiritual and theological road map of the new creation in Jesus Christ. This becomes clear as we follow the ministry of the Lord as noted by St. John:

1- St. John mentioned the purging of the temple from money changers and sales people in the beginning of his Gospel, although other gospels mention this in the last week of His ministry. So, St. John introduces to us the repentance and cleansing as the first step of the new creation in Jesus Christ.

2- St. John continues on his spiritual road map by mentioning the dialog between Jesus and Nicodemus (ch.3) concerning the new birth from water and Spirit, which man achieves in Baptism.

3- Next, St. John introduces the dialog between Jesus and the Samaritan woman (ch.4) regarding the living water i.e. the Holy Spirit given to us by God the Father to live by Him in the Lord Jesus Christ.

4- Then, the gospel declares that Jesus is "the living bread which came down from heaven: if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever", and the bread that He will give is His flesh, which He "will give for the life of the world." (John 6:51)

5- In the ninth chapter, Jesus is revealed as the Light of the world and whoever follows Him will never walk in darkness but will have everlasting life.

6- St. John introduces to us the characteristics of the new creation in chapter 13 in two virtues: (a) Humility: following what Jesus did in the last supper when he washed the disciples’ feet and commanded them to do the same, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet." John 13:14. (b) Love: He said to his disciples, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I loved you, that you love one another." (John 13:34)

7- St. John concludes his gospel by the Lord Jesus Christ’s request for the sake of His disciples and all who will believe in His word, "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us." (John 17:21) And this is the whole purpose of the Divine incarnation, that he who has received the new creation, being born of God, has the possibility of communion with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ.

(7) St. John does not introduce God and His knowledge (Theology) to us on intellectual basis, as meditation on what is beyond nature (metaphysical), or as an ascetic practice or experience. But he presents God and eternal life in the person of Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God, incarnated and made man, to reveal to us Himself and His Father whom no one has seen except Him. Thus, in the gospel of St. John, you are invited to meet with the person of Jesus Christ with love, so that He reveals Himself and His Father to you. That is exactly what St. John wrote in his gospel "He who loves me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21).

 

Outline of the contents:

I. The witness, John the Baptist:    
A- Prologue         1:1-18
B- The mission of John the Baptist     1:19-51
     
II. The Word incarnate transfigures creation:    
A- The new creation prefigured:      
  1- Water changed to wine   2:1-12
  2- Jesus cleanses the temple   2:13-25
B- Baptism manifested:      
  1- In Jerusalem with Nicodemus: Water and the Spirit 3:1-21
  2- In Judea with John the Baptist: Jesus is God!   3:22-36
  3- In Samaria: The Samaritan woman at the well   4:1-42
  4- In Galilee: Healing of a Gentile   4:43-54
  5- In Jerusalem: Healing at a pool   5:1-47
C- The Eucharist manifested:      
  1- Feeding of the five thousand   6:1-21
  2- Jesus is the Bread of Life   6:22-72
D- The old creation transformed:      
  1- The Feast of the Tabernacles fulfilled by:    
    a. The Son and the Holy Spirit   7:1–8:11
    b. The Light of the World   8:12–9:38
    c. True love: The caring Shepherd 9:39–10:21
  2- The Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) fulfilled   10:22-42
           
III- The Word incarnate transfigures all humanity:    
A- Through death and resurrection: Lazarus     11:1-12:11
B- Through ascension into the Kingdom: Palm Sunday   12:12-50
C- Through the Messianic Banquet of the Kingdom:      
  1- New Commandment: Love   13:1-38
  2- New Covenant     14:1–16:15
  3- Preparation for the Passion   16:16-33
  4- Prayer for the Church     17:1-26
           
IV- The Paschal offering:      
A- Death: The Passion of Christ:        
  1- Betrayal and arrest     18:1-11
  2- Trials: Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate   18:12-19:16
  3- Crucifixion and burial     19:17-42
B- Resurrection of Christ:        
  1- The tomb is empty     20:1-10
  2- Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene   20:11-18
  3- Jesus appears to His disciples   20:19-29
  4- First epilogue: Purpose of this Gospel   20:30, 31
  5- Further appearances of Christ   21:1-14
  6- Peter is restored and commissioned   21:15-23
  7- Second epilogue: John’s personal witness   21:24, 25

 

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