Sunday, March 29, 2015

The theme of the Gospel of John: Who is Jesus?

The Gospel of John is the last-written of the gospels in the New Testament collection. But John has the same main idea as the gospel that was probably written first, the Gospel of Mark: Who is Jesus? As we saw last time, Mark carries the question on quotes from the Old Testament, on the testimony of John the Baptist, and largely on Jesus' miracles. It is only after a long build-up in Mark that we see Jesus address the question himself.

In John, we see a very different approach to the same main idea. In John, we have a whole collection of times when Jesus comments on the question of who he is. There are known as the "I am" sayings, and they are a common enough topic for study among Christians. Rather than study them individually here, I want to mention them as backdrop to another, closely-related point. Here are some of the key statements of Jesus from the Gospel of John:
  • I am the good shepherd
  • I am the bread of life
  • I am the vine, you are the branches
  • I am the light of the world
  • I am the way and the truth and the life
  • I am the resurrection and the life
At times we see things that sound like divine traits; after all, this culture took for granted that "The LORD is my shepherd". Throughout, we see claims of Jesus' unique place in our relation to God. But to get some perspective for what he is saying, take a look at some "I am" sayings that are not said:
  • I am your boss
  • I am the great and powerful
And when he comments on receiving the title "Master" from them, he makes those comments while he is washing their feet.

All of the "I am" sayings are about how he provides for us, guides us, leads us, helps us, pours out his life in love, and restores us to life. All of the "I am" statements show him as a blessing to us.

If our idea of "divinity" is master / boss / great and powerful, then it is not a claim to that kind of divinity at all. He rejects the self-serving approach to power -- not just for himself but implicitly on the Father's behalf as well. Jesus' sayings are a challenge to see God in a different way: that is who Jesus is.

And as he says, "He who has seen me has seen the Father."


Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for the contrast between what was and wasn't said.

Weekend Fisher said...

He doesn't always do what we expect. It helps sometimes to realize what we might have expected, so that we realize he picked something else.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF