Teaching on the Gospel of John by Rev. Dr. Nadine Burton

“The Word became flesh and lived among us”

The gospel of John is one of four synoptic gospels written with its own distinctive intent to show Jesus as God’s only son, the one who “takes away the sins of the world.” Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark and Q to interpret and write their versions of the gospel. However, the writer of John wrote this last synoptic as a “supplement” or “theological interpretation” of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

The writings suggest that John was written for those already on the inside of the Christian community familiar with the traditions of that day. A minority band of Jews, while enmeshed with the Jewish community, responded to the invitation from Jesus, to seek to find a new identity as followers of his way. These Jewish followers of Jesus could have been classified as a sect, cult, just as some of the other groups, i.e., Gnostics, Essenes, Zealots, etc. Not all Jews accepted Jesus. Many of them rejected him.

John Chapter one is characterized by some scholars as a reflection of Genesis chapter one, with a focus on where our humanity started, with creation “in the beginning.” It presents the story of Jesus Christ as “the word, or Logos, who was there in the beginning” to a Jewish audience and eventually a gentile audience.

John’s only testimony was to “bear witness to the light, which is Jesus Christ.” John stated that he was not the “Christ,” he was not the “light,” nor Elijah or one of the “prophets,” but he came to prepare the way for Jesus to be revealed. Jesus came into a world that did not notice that he was the Messiah. Can you imagine waiting for the Messiah to come and failing to recognize him when he shows up? John points us to this new way, through his own wilderness experience, of the one who was to come. Jesus arrives on the scene in this narrative, calling ordinary men and women to follow him, revealing his supernatural knowledge of people’s hearts and lives.

The Disciples confess early in the gospel of John to who Jesus is, the Lamb of God, Rabbi/Teacher, Messiah/Christ, son of God, King of Israel, Son of Man,” while in the other synoptics, their faith developed more gradual as they came to witness Jesus’ teaching and miracles.

The highlight for me in John Chapter one is the invitation “to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood, or the will of the flesh or the will of man, but of God.” And then to know that while the law came through Moses, “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” What the law could not do for us, grace and truth did – opening the door of life through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. What resonates for you from John Chapter one? I pray that you will think and reflect on these passages of scripture in your own quiet time.

The gospel of John is one that we often recommend to groups who need a starting place for studying the scriptures, i.e., new Christians, those who desire to study the bible, but don’t know where to start, and for many of us who need a refresher course on who Jesus is from the gospel writer’s perspective. I encourage you, if you need a place to start a bible study, to investigate the gospel of John.