The Gospel of John has been called the literary masterpiece of the ancient world. John Calvin remarked that while the first three Gospels reveal the body of Jesus, the Gospel of John reveals the soul of Jesus. John’s poetic style of writing is distinctive from the other Gospels. Simply put, it is many people’s favorite Gospel.
Who was John?
John was one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples. In this Gospel he refers to himself simply as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” John was brothers with James, another of the twelve disciples, together forming the sons of Zebedee. John was exiled to the island of Patmos as an elderly man. It is there that he wrote the book of Revelation.
John carefully chose particular stories of Jesus to tell in his Gospel. 90% of the material in John is unique to John— meaning it is not found in any of the other Gospels. It is likely that John had copies of the other Gospels and intentionally included some of the stories that they had left out. John was the last Gospel written.
Some of the most well known stories of Jesus are told exclusively in John’s Gospel. The story of Nicodemus (you must be born again), the adulterous woman (he who is without sin can throw the first stone), the healing of the blind man (I once was blind, but now I see), and doubting Thomas (touch my wounds, and believe) to name but a few.
Can you imagine if we did not know these stories of Jesus? How sad would that be!
One unique characteristic of John is found in the way he speaks about Jesus’ crucifixion. In John, Jesus’ crucifixion is the time when God’s complete demonstration of love for humanity is on display. Jesus’ crucifixion is actually the ultimate exaltation. Salvador Dali captured the essence of this reversal in his painting Christ of Saint John of the Cross. You can see in his painting that Jesus is lifted high above the world (he is exalted!) even when hanging on a cross. The cross equals Jesus’ ultimate example of love.
Speaking of love, John has more to say about love than the other three Gospels combined. The word love occurs over fifty times. How will the world know that you are a Christian? When you love one another.
Here is the final verse of John’s Gospel:
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
John contends that he had so many stories about Jesus to choose from that, if all were written down, the whole world would run out of room. I’m so glad we have John’s Gospel!
You’ve now received an overview of all four Gospels— and I want to hear from you! Which one is your favorite and why??
This Sunday Pastor Dana continues our series on the parables. We will also begin our Volunteer Fair— please stop by the Fellowship hall in-between services and learn about the many opportunities to get involved at Unity.