Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Reading Through the Gospel of John #1 (Intro, 1.1-18)

JohnWith this post we begin reading through the Gospel of John accompanied by John, vol. 4, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series, by Rodney A. Whitacre. John clearly announces the purpose of His Gospel to be “that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.”  I am posting from my reading in the New Testament accompanied by various commentaries on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book. As usual my comments are in black and quotes from the book are in blue.

The Gospel of John is quite differently than the other three. It is organized more in a theological than chronological arrangement (except in the Passion section), it emphasizes Jesus' Divine transcendence more than the coming kingdom, and seems to show later theological reflection, with the direction of the Spirit, on what Jesus said and did. John shows that Jesus is the Light, the ultimate revelation of God; the Life, the One who provides the eternal life from God to people; and Love, revealed by a God who is the Creator (Logos), and yet is willing to wash disciples' feet and give His life, so created beings can gain life.  John calls disciples to strengthen their faith, despite persecution, and live a life of humble service that witnesses to the light, life and love that Jesus displayed.

John is thoroughly committed to the importance of history, but he wants to tell the story of Jesus as interpreted by the abiding Spirit. One of the themes throughout the Gospel is how cryptic Jesus’ words and deeds are within the story. What was cryptic then is now clear in the light of the glorification. John wants us to understand Jesus’ identity and significance in a way no one at the time possibly could, in order that we may respond in faith, continue to respond in faith and thereby share in the very life of God. 24

John proclaims Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament in its legal, prophetic and wisdom traditions and also of all religious and philosophical insight. In part this is accomplished by using such archetypical symbols as light, darkness, wine, water and bread, and also by revealing Jesus as the focal point for such universal religious concerns as truth and love. 34

The Prologue of the Gospel summarizes its message. Jesus, in eternity past, is God and was with God. He is the eternal God who has become a human being. Jesus is the full expression of God the Creator in a fully embodied human being, and ultimate communication of God to the world, so that people would put their trust in him and have eternal life; and that believers live in intimate connection and dependence on Jesus, through the Spirit, to the glory of the Father and Son. That is, Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of the One God who is the Creator of everything. As God in human flesh He calls people into a relationship of total commitment with him.

Here at the outset we have the two most fundamental affirmations about Jesus in this Gospel, namely that he himself is the presence of God’s own life and light and that he makes this life and light available to human beings. In one profound sentence we have the central assertion of this Gospel concerning the revelation of the Son and the salvation he offers. John 1.1-5, 53

John is claiming that in Jesus we have received the real thing, the truth from which all truth flows and the criterion for recognizing truth wherever it may be found. John 1.6-13, 54–55

To say the Son is full of truth is to claim he is the perfect revelation of the divine reality (cf. 15:15; 17:10), and saying he is full of grace expresses the character of that reality, the truth about God. “The glory of God is shown by his acting in faithfulness to his own character, and by his character’s revealing itself in mercy.” John 1.14-18, 60

No comments: