May 28, 2013

windows into the reality of God

Yesterday I read through the entire Gospel According to John.  I did this, and will hopefully do this several more times, as preparation for our upcoming study on this Gospel.  I also started blogging my way, verse by verse, through this book.  I am up to John 1:12 as of this morning.  To cap it off, I started reading some commentaries on John, to get a better feel for the book.  It has been very interesting and enlightening, after only a few days, but it has also had a negative effect on me: I am starting to feel overwhelmed by this task. I am starting to realize that this Gospel account, even though the simplest of people can read it and find encouragement and insight, it is also very, very deep.

It's uniqueness was my first clue.  Now, I have known for quite a long time that John was different than the other three gospel accounts, but I didn't realize how unique it actually was.
It omits so many things that [the other gospel accounts] include.  The Fourth Gospel has no account of the Birth of Jesus, of His Baptism, of His Temptations; it tells us nothing of the Last Supper, nothing of Gethsemane, and nothing of the Ascension.  It has no word of the healing of any people possessed by devils and evil spirits. And, perhaps most surprising of all, it has no parables...
William Barclay, The Daily Bible Study Series, The Gospel of John (Volume I)
Some of those differences I was aware of, but more than one of them was a surprise to me.

These unique aspects, along with many other tidbits that John includes, that the other Three Gospels do not, are not meant to be interesting points of trivia, so you can win that next game of Bible Trivial Pursuit.  No, this is important to the whole understanding of this book.  Why did John not include these other items, what was his goal, what was he trying to get across.  Why was John so selective in the stories that he did include?

William Barclay, learning from Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 230), shares what he believes is the key insight into understanding this Scripture.
The feeding of the five thousand is followed by the long discourse on the Bread of Life (chapter 6); the healing of the blind man springs from the saying that Jesus in the Light of the World (chapter 9); the raising of Lazarus leads up to the saying that Jesus is the resurrection and the life (chapter 11).  To John the miracles were not simply single events in time; they were illustrations, examples, insights into that which God is always doing and what Jesus always is; they are windows into the reality of God. ...
He goes on to say,
John did not see the events of Jesus' life simply as events in time; he saw them as windows looking into eternity, and he pressed towards the spiritual meaning of the events and the words of Jesus' life in a way that the other three gospels did not attempt.
William Barclay
I am seeing these glimpses through the windows already in my own reading of John, and it is making my head spin.  I wish I had more time to study this book before I start preaching it, but I believe that God is leading me to this Gospel account for just these reasons.  With several new people at our church, I believe that what they need to see and learn most of all is who this Jesus actually is.  I suppose I will just have to use the extra time that God has given me.

If you are the praying sort, I would appreciate your prayers, that I might speak boldly the mystery of the gospel. (Ephesians 6:19-20)