This past Sunday we started our journey into the book of John. The book of John is an interesting read because it is so different than the other three Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). In fact 92% of John is unique.
From what I can tell, and even experienced, for many years Christians have encouraged unbelievers and/or new believers to read the book of John. They make one believe that it is so easy to read, but is it? John presumes that his readers already now the story. An example is the first time Judas is introduced, the reader is told that he is the one who betrays Jesus. Talk about giving away the climax of the story. Or how about how John introduces Lazarus in chapter 11? He introduces him as the brother of the Mary who anointed Jesus (which takes place in chapter 12).
On top of that, John is telling the same story but in a new sequence. Did chronological order matter to John? Did it matter to the other Gospels? An example is of Jesus clearing the temple. In John we find it in the second chapter and in the other Gospels it’s much later in the story. There’s also the question of when was Jesus crucified? The Gospels state that it was on Passover but John makes note that it was on the day the Passover lambs were slain. As one reads through the book of John, one wonders if John is concerned with being historically accurate, and then you come across what seems to be insignificant facts – like the 153 fish caught because of Jesus instructions. Perhaps he’s more concerned with being historically accurate than one knows?
As you read through this Gospel it’s important to understand what is taking place in the culture at the time. The new believers in Christ are being expelled from that which they’ve known all their life, the Jewish synagogue. The synagogue was the center of their life. It was more than just a place for spiritual matters but for community. They were being expelled from their community. As we progress through the Gospel over the next several weeks we’ll touch on the reasons and ramifications of being expelled.
I encourage you to allow yourself, as you read the Gospel again, to read John as if your reading it for the first time. Stop along the way and ask questions. Allow yourself to be transformed by the story and the one whom the story is about. Most importantly enjoy the journey!
In the sidebar to the right I’ll post the chapters we’ll be reading each week. As we progress feel free to make a comment to this post with any questions or observations you may have. This will allow each of us to journey together and interact with the Text by responding to one another.