Today we finished Luke and read all of John as well as the first two chapters in Acts. I will focus on John today, and Acts tomorrow.
There was what is referred to as "400 years of silence” between the Old Testament and the New Testament. During this period, God did not speak to his people through prophets. Now in John, he once again speaks to his people through John the Baptizer, the last prophet before Jesus. Though John the Baptist should not be confused with the author of John, who was an apostle.
The Gospel John is unlike the other three gospels (which are synoptic, Matthew and Luke having borrowed information from Mark). It was written by the "disciple whom Jesus loved" as late as 85-95 A.D., decades later than the synoptic gospels. John's approach to his gospel is for the belief of the Jews that Jesus was truly Divine, God in the flesh. Note: John the Apostle was the son of Zebedee and the younger brother of James. John and James were likely disciples of John the Baptist prior to Jesus. John was a prophet, but he denies being the prophet. He’s obsessed with pointing people to Jesus instead of himself. The Jews were expecting the second coming of Elijah based on Old Testament prophecies, specifically Malachi 4:5. Luke 1:17 says that John came in the “spirit” of Elijah, and then Jesus says that John actually was Elijah who was to come in Matthew 11:11-13. John's humility is incredible as he laid the foundation for Christ's ministry. John intimately understood that Jesus was Divine, and his life mission adequately reflected that.
There is discourse between the Jews and Jesus throughout John, often due to Jesus' claims of divinity.
Jesus had seven "I am" statements in the book of John, all which certainly directed the Jews' attention to God's response to Moses in Exodus 3. Moses asked God what he his name was, and God said "I AM," or "I AM WHO I AM." Likewise, Jesus says "I am" in the gospel of John, something considered blasphemy to the Jews.
- Bread of Life (John 6:35)
- Light of the World (John 8:12)
- The Gate (John 10:9)
- The Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
- The Resurrection and the Life(John 11:25:26)
- The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6)
- The Vine (John 15:5)
Jesus often spoke these "I am" statements around specific feasts or festivals, which is further indicative of Old Testament fulfillments. A study on the festivals and feasts of John is fascinating, but I don't have the time to discuss in length.
From the beginning of the book of John, the apostle John writes concerning the coming of God in the flesh. John 1:1 uses very similar language as the beginning of Genesis: "In the beginning", however, John shows that Jesus was also with God in the beginning, and that Jesus was/is God.
"Logos" is the Greek word that John uses to introduce Jesus (the Word). Logos is what is behind the universe that orders all things. “Logos” is John’s very intentional introduction of Jesus’ divinity. By using the word Logos, he is communicating that Jesus is what bridges the gap between the transcendent and the material universe. Jesus is what holds ALL things together. “Through him all things were made.” This idea is the foundation for the Gospel of John. John 20:31 says that John's Gospel is written so that people might believe.
Jesus is referred to in John as the Lamb of God (1:29). Exodus 12:11-13 is a foreshadow of Jesus’ atonement on the cross. Jeremiah 11:19 and Isaiah 53:7 prophecy that Jesus would be brought like a lamb to the slaughter. John 1:29, from the beginning of John's gospel, prophecies that Jesus “takes away the sins of the world"!
John's gospel also records Jesus' first use of God as Father, an intimacy with the Creator that was offensive to the Jews, as it set Jesus as equal to God. (John 2:16)
John is an amazing Gospel, and is very different than the other three in many ways. Close study of each of the four gospels is recommended.