Thursday, October 11, 2007

Reflecting on John

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.

13 comments:

Elise said...

I've got goosebumps. I think I must dive in, and deeply, too. Savoring, soaking. Thank you for sharing this. I am anxious to read the Gospel of John again, but slowly.

Faith @ The Great Adventure said...

My husband and I have been studying John lately, too, so this is great timing. :)

And it's good to have you back. :)

Janelle said...

I have read John, but have been more confused than ever. I like that you say it is to be savored not rushed. I think I will consider spending time there again.

I am wondering how you structure your Bible reading with your kids? I would love to start with my 6yr old, but need some help. Would you consider writing a post that explains HOW you do this? What your time looks like? How long you spend? Where to start?Etc... I just need help in this area.

Thanks!

Xandra said...

You are so right about soaking John in. I have been leading a bible study at work for over a year on John, and we still aren't finished. It has so much meat to it, and to skim over any of it would be missing so much blessing!

Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

This was a good reminder not to rush through God's word!

It's great to have you back!!!

steph.

Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

Hey- I need to ck out that commentary. I have been enjoying the other enduring word one. I am excited you posted something new. I will read it in a minute but I wanted to tell you I have something for you over at my blog.

Much love,
Angela

ValleyGirl said...

Thanks for giving those links to the sites you used in your studying. I think this is maybe just what I need right now.

Alana said...

Guess which book I am heading next?? Thanks for the recommendation and the insight. I studied John during college, but I think much of that knowledge has been pushed out by soccer schedules, grocery lists, and nursery rhymes.

Heather C said...

I was so thrilled when I visited today and saw a new post. :) Welcome back!

My ladies' Bible Study tackled John. We spent a year and a half! I loved every minute. I also frequent Bob Deffinbaugh's commentaries often! :)

"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." Amen & Amen!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always enjoy them :)

Jennifer said...

Kate,
I recently discovered that John "walked through the Tabernacle" as he wrote, using the furnishings to guide his writing and thought. Isn't that intriguing? It made me look at John all over again, and there it was...
"He tabernacled among us."
The Bible is an amazingly constructed book, living and active and limitless.
Your kids will remember that for a lifetime.

Susan Kelly Skitt said...

How great to see others, including whole families digging into the Word. Praise God! I'm here via Angela's site and will return again.

As for why to start in John? My guess is John 3:16... "For God so loved the world..."

Have a great day!

Jthemilker said...

I've been wondering what to suggest for the next study in my Ladies Group and thus I shall bring your recommendation forward. I can't wait!

Kate said...

Jennifer,

I see the concept of the tabernacle in John's writing particularly in Revelation. In the gospel of John I see that it is more structured around the Jewish feast days.

Kate