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“The Gospel of John” is a symbolic biography of Jesus.
Need we say more?
Who Should Read “The Gospel of John”? And Why?
Oh, come on!
We choose to not dignify these questions with an answer.
“The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved” Biography
All that we know about the author of the Gospel is that he is Jesus’ beloved disciple.
Some people say it must be John the Apostle – hence the title – but others claim that it might have been Lazarus.
The Gospel of John is the fourth and final of the four canonical gospels which form the first four books of the New Testament.
According to most scholars, the Gospel can be easily divided into two halves (Jesus’ public and Jesus’ private ministry), framed by a prologue (a poem celebrating Jesus’ coming) and an epilogue (happening after Jesus’ death).
I THE PROLOGUE (1:1-18)
The Gospel of John begins with a splendid prologue, essentially a marvelous poetic hymn/invocation expressing the author’s knowledge of and love for Jesus’s deeds.
The prologue first informs the readers of Jesus’ true identity and then, in much the same vein as “an overture does for a musical work,” states all of the themes and motifs which will be scrutinized in detail throughout the rest of the Gospel.
The first verse of the Gospel is one of the most memorable ever written:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
II THE BOOK OF SIGNS (1:19-12:50)
The second part of the Gospel of John is rightly called the Book of Signs, since, for the most part of it, it’s a retelling of seven important miracles performed by Jesus which the poet of the Gospel has selected personally and has chosen to refer to as “signs.”
We know that these seven are selected by him and that the author is mainly interested in their significance because he tells us so late, late in the book (John 20:30-31):
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book. 31 But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
#1. Changing the Water into Wine (John 2:1-11)
This is “the beginning of [Jesus’] signs in Cana in Galilee.”
Jesus, his mother (who is not named in the Gospel of John, but let’s just save us some trouble and call her Mary), and his disciples are all invited to a wedding in Cana.
After some time, the wine runs out, and Mary tells this to Jesus. Jesus replies: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”
But you know how mothers are and, lo and behold, before you know it, Jesus turns the water of six stone water jars (used for Jewish ceremonial washings) into the best wine anyone has ever tasted.
(If you want to hear Rowan Atkinson’s version of this story, click here).
#2. Healing the Royal Official’s Son (John 4:46-54)
Now, even though Jesus is still at Cana, he successfully performs his second miracle at some distance away.
A royal official comes to him and asks Jesus to cure his child.
“You may go,” says Jesus unto him, “your son will live.”
And true, once the royal official comes home, he learns that the fever left his son at the same time that he was talking to Jesus.
#3. Healing the Paralytic at Bethesda (John 5:1-15)
This miracle is a bit controversial since it happens on the Sabbath, the day of rest according to the Old Testament.
Jesus visits Jerusalem for a feast and encounters a man who has been paralyzed for almost four decades. Jesus tells the paralytic to pick up his mat and start walking. Immediately he is able to do so.
Apparently, however, it is unlawful to carry your mat on a Sabbath, so the Jews scold this man, who tells them that he was told to do so by Jesus.
The Jews are mad, but once they face Jesus with this allegation, he answers them like a boss: “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.”
#4. Feeding the 5000 (John 6:5-14)
One of Jesus’ most famous miracles, also known as the miracle of five loaves and two fish.
You already know why: Jesus needed merely five barley loaves and two fish provided by a small boy to feed the five thousand people who had come to him.
No wonder they afterward concluded: “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.”
#5. Jesus Walking on Water (John 6:16-24)
Well, this is probably the most famous of them all.
Jesus’ disciples board a ship and try to cross to Capernaum, to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.
It’s dark and a storm is brewing, and Jesus is still not with them.
And then, after they manage to row “about three or four miles,” they notice Jesus “walking on the sea and coming near the boat.”
Needless to say, they are terrified.
“It is I,” says Jesus. “Do not be afraid.”
#6. Healing the Man Blind from Birth (John 9:1-7)
Jesus sees a man blind from birth.
His disciples ask him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answers: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”
After this, Jesus spits on the ground, makes some mud with his saliva and lays the mud on the blind man’s eyes.
After the blind man washes his eyes, he is finally able to see.
Jesus explains the metaphorical significance of this miracle a bit later (9:39):
I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.
#7. The Raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-45)
Speaking of symbols – the raising of Lazarus is the climax of the seven signs, foreshadowing Jesus’s own resurrection.
Lazarus – we are told – is one of Jesus’s dearest friends. His sisters – Mary and Martha – send a messenger to Jesus, to tell him that Lazarus is deadly sick.
Surprisingly, Jesus isn’t in any hurry. He remains where he is for the next few days only to find – when he finally arrives in Bethany, that Lazarus is already four days dead and buried in his tomb.
Jesus orders for the gravestone to be rolled away.
“Lazarus, come out,” he says.
And Lazarus does, his face wrapped in cloth, his hands and feet tied with burial bands.
III THE BOOK OF GLORY (13:1-20:31)
Once Jesus has prepared the scene for it, he is ready to tell his disciples of what’s about to happen to him and how they should go on in his absence.
He washes their feet and teaches them that the leaders eat last, i.e., that everyone should serve everyone and that everyone should love everyone as well.
Then, he tells them that even though he is about to be betrayed by one of them, His Father (aka God) will leave the Spirit of God with them, to guide them through the rough times.
And they will be as rough as they come, since – Jesus says – his followers will be persecuted the same way he had been.
You know the rest of the story: the next time Jesus goes to Jerusalem, Judas Iscariot betrays him with a kiss and Jesus is taken to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, who next sentences him to death by crucifixion.
Death-shmeath, says Jesus from the cross, and three days after he dies, Mary of Magdala finds his tomb suspiciously empty.
Thinking that his body is stolen, Mary weeps at this revelation, but the tears turn into tears of joy once she sees the gardener.
Because – wait for it – it’s not the gardener, but Jesus himself!
Everyone believes this but Thomas – which is how he gets his unflattering nickname: The Doubting Thomas.
The Gospel of John Epilogue
There’s one more chapter in the Gospel (21), telling of Jesus’ appearance to his disciples in Galilee, his miraculous catching of fish, as well as the prophecy of the crucifixion of Peter.
It ends with a twist worthy of a film adaptation (remind us: have they made one?).
Once told of his future destiny, Peter sees behind Jesus “the disciple… whom Jesus loved, the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper and had said ‘Master, who is the one who will betray you?’”
Surprise, surprise: “It is this disciple,” concludes the Gospel, “who testifies to these things and has written them.”
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“The Gospel of John PDF Quotes”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. Click To Tweet In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Click To Tweet Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Click To Tweet Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. Click To Tweet Jesus said to him: Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
We don’t know if everybody agrees, but, in our eyes, the Gospel of John is the most beautiful of the four gospels.
And that should tell you enough.