This is session four of this six part series looking at the gospel of John. This series is designed to encourage you to read the book of John as a group or individually. It uses the wonderful commentary from David Ford – The Gospel of John, to guide us through this Gospel of abundance. Each session is designed to generate discussion after a week of reading. There is also a video to watch each week recorded by David Ford to bring to life the main themes of the readings. As you read the weekly plan use the commentary from David Ford to assist deeper understanding.
The heart behind this course is that you would become habitual re-readers of John, so that you might more deeply have relationship with Jesus.
The first point and overarching theme of John is that it is a gospel of abundance, like the gift that keeps on giving. Each time you read and re-read the gospel it offers deeper and deeper revelation of who God is and His love for each of us. The abundance of the book of John is as John himself writes in 1:16 ‘Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.’
The second point is that this gospel is written in easy Greek which means it is accessible to the beginner, but it also has the capacity to go on to challenge the mature believer. John is a teaching gospel which wants us to meet Jesus but them also abide in Him. John teaches us to be learners, prayers and have a life of inspired loving.
The third point to understand is the structure of John . It starts with a prologue where it gives a big framework for God and all reality. It them moves onto the ongoing drama of Jesus, which is the central part of the book. Finally it move into the ongoing drama where we live now in the spirit and in community with each other.
Throughout the book of John there is a huge emphasis on the presence of Jesus. Jesus is present as God is present – the great I am! Today, we are in the presence of God, the living and resurrected Jesus Christ – that is very hard to comprehend. The commentary delves into this in great detail as every chapter of the book of John speaks into this.
The greatest intensity of this is found in the many ‘I am’ sayings throughout the Gospel. For example, I am the bread of life or I am the light of the world… In Chapter 10 there are two mentioned, I am the gate of the sheep and I am the good shepherd. These have great synergy as they focus on Jesus being like a shepherd protecting his sheep. This is especially relevant in the culture of the day as a shepherd was seen as a key image for leadership in the Roman empire. When Jesus says. I am the good shepherd it has political and leadership institutional implications. A difference when Jesus speaks of being a shepherd or a leader is that he knows each by name – it is a personal relationship, not a leadership of the masses. When Jesus describes a disciple who is not named, the crucial one to whom the whole gospel is ascribed, the beloved one; this could be so we can put our own name to this position. It’s everyone – each of us is the beloved disciple.
The thought that each of is is known and loved by Jesus right now is incredible. It changes everything! The scripture goes on to say that each knows His voice. How we get to know and trust the voice of Jesus in today’s world where we are bombarded with different voices is so important. John’s gospel is written to help us identify the voice of Jesus in our lives wen the voice could so easily be missed.
John 10: 14-15 says, ‘I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father;’ This speaks to the closeness of the relationship between Jesus and the Father. This relationship of love is at the heart of all reality and the one we are invited into.
We see another example of shepherding in Chapter 21 where Peter meets the risen Jesus and is asked, do you love me, by Jesus. The Restoration of Peter (also known as the Re-commissioning of Peter) is an incident described in which Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, and spoke to Peter in particular. Jesus restored Peter to fellowship after Peter had previously denied him, and told Peter to feed Jesus’ sheep. ‘When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.’ (John 21: 15-17) Pete is restored to love even after he had denied Jesus. He is then given the vocation to feed the sheep. Each of us is given the same vocation of love to feed the sheep.