Let’s get this Bible Reading Challenge show on the road…
Read the New Testament over a span of three months. A rather simple and straightforward goal. We’ve organized a few things in order to help cheer you on in that goal: these weekly blogposts, the Facebook group, and the weekly Kirkers Read podcast (hosted by the Christ Kirk podcast). Remember, if these help spur you on in reading your Bible, great. But don’t let these become a good thing keeping you from the better thing of, you know, actually reading your Bible!
Week One – John’s Gospel
A couple things to keep in mind as you read through the Gospel of John in this first week. Of the four Gospels, John was written last. Matthew, Mark, and Luke largely present the public ministry of Christ––His miracles, teachings, passion, and resurrection––in a chronological fashion. These Gospels present a factual gospel proclamation. By contrast, one thing to notice in John’s Gospel, is that it carries a reflective quality. John has clearly spent his life preaching, defending, and explaining the gospel, and his Gospel record unpacks the theological implications of Christ’s Incarnation, Life, Death, and Resurrection. Leon Morris points out that “it is undoubtedly an interpretive document. In selecting its material it omits much that the other Gospels include and includes much that they do not.” We should not view this difference with the other Gospels as contradictory, but as complementary. John’s Gospel is a barrel of well-aged whiskey, which offends both Jews and Greeks with its theological presentation of Christ’s saving work.
Another thing going on in the background, is that John employs Greek philosophic terms, but in adopting them, he adapts them and incorporates them into his theological presentation of salvation in Jesus Christ. The most prominent and famous example of this is in the “prologue” of John (John 1:1-18) where John speaks of the “Word made flesh.” “Word” here is the Greek word––and philosophical term––logos. Morris again comments: “Though John would not have been unmindful of the associations aroused by the term, his essential thought does not derive from the Greek background. His Gospel shows little trace of acquaintance with Greek philosophy and less of dependance on it.” In essence, John takes Hebrew ideas, shows Jesus as the fulfillment of those ancient doctrines and prophecies, all in terms of Greek philosophical notions.
Finally, as you read, notice the motif of “signs” throughout the book. For John, presenting the miracles of Christ was not a means of showing the mere wonder of the miracle; rather, the miracles were a means of signifying something beyond the amazement of the act itself. All of this culminates in the epilogue of the book: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name (John 20:30-31).” John wants to make sure that these miracles compel us to evangelical faith in the salvation found in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.