We turned the final page of the Gospel of John this week. We’ve been traveling with him since mid-July and I am sad to part ways. The kids and I have discussed in detail how John didn’t tell everything he knew. He relayed only what was important. The kids have been writing bug stories this week and we have edited ruthlessly so that only the ideas that tell the clearest story and create the best word pictures have remained. They get it. They have enjoyed the richness of John’s writing and they see the value in emulating his style.
This is my first time studying John in depth and the beauty of this book and the genius of his writing have overwhelmed me. He writes tightly. He writes with a purpose and must leave much of what he witnessed in his time with Jesus out of his work. This enables him to pack a solid punch. All that is included in the twenty-one chapters supports the first sentence: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John is a book of signs, of miracles, each included so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
I learned much about Jesus’ public ministry that I had not noticed before. I was surprised that the religious leaders became antagonistic to him so early in his ministry. Jesus’ resolute march to the cross began in earnest, long, long before the final week in Jerusalem. I saw that He was in command of His death from the beginning of John’s gospel until the moment He took His last breath. As I studied the history surrounding Caiaphas, the high priest, Annas, his father-in-law, Pontius Pilate, and Herod Antipas, I learned each was reacting to circumstances beyond his control. None got what he wanted by having Jesus crucified during Passover Week. None but Jesus. His deity became clearer, more certain to me as we poured over the chapters. It is good to be able to pick apart my Bible a sentence at a time and find that my faith is not diminished but strengthened.
When we came to passages that were difficult to understand, we stopped and prayed for understanding and often it came. The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery was particularly helpful, both in understanding the structure of the book and the imagery. John is a master of word pictures. I spent hours at bible.org reading Bob Deffinbaugh’s commentaries. His work is contemporary, scholarly and alive.
I said before I started this book that this is the place many people recommend starting with when reading the Bible and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. I read through this book in my early years as a Christian and found myself thoroughly confused. I don’t know that I would jump on the bandwagon and say that this is the place where one must start but it is not a book to be missed. It cannot be a book that one just zooms through a chapter or two a day in their hurry conquer the Bible. John is a book to be savored, a book to soak in. If you have not yet spent some time here, do. You’ll be amazed all over again at your God.