We have several (3) groups in the church who are now engaged in the latest UCC Bible study curriculum which is called “The Listen Up Bible Study”. The curriculum covers a number of our Bible’s books, but not all. One of those covered is the Gospel of John. And all three groups have decided that they wanted to study John.
The Spiritual Formation group began the first section of John in our last meeting. I am glad, because I have always enjoyed John’s Gospel. It is the most mystical of the 4 gospels. John’s main themes are light and darkness, seeing and blindness (not seeing), and it has the highest Christology of the all the gospels. That means the writer(s) of John focus(es) on Jesus divinity or “god-ness” more than any of the other gospels – recall the open of the Gospel: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. Jesus has been with God from the beginning of God, and was part of the creative process that created everything! That’s HIGH Christology!
One of my professors in seminary used to call the Gospel of John the “House of Seven Gables Gospel”. If you recall, the House of Seven Gables had many secret passages – you could be in one room, open a panel in a wall, and walk up or down hidden stairways or down hidden hallways and come out into another room, unnoticed by anyone who might be in the main hallways of the house. Well, in John’s Gospel, there are many passages in the gospel that lead you forward or back to other passages in the gospel. Let me give you an example.
I read a devotion this week that was on John 1:35-42. It is just after Jesus’ baptism, and John is standing with two of his disciples. Jesus walks by and John says, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples follow Jesus, and at one point Jesus stops and turns around and asks them, “What are you looking for?” The two ask where he is staying. Jesus says, “Come and see.” They came to where he was staying and stayed with him for the rest of that day. Then one of them, Andrew, found his brother, Simon (Peter), and told him, “We have found the Messiah!”
In John 18:1-15, Jesus has had his final meal with his disciples, washed their feet, and then gone out to the garden to pray. Soon Judas leads a detachment of the Temple Police who come with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus asks who they are looking for. We are reminded of Jesus question at the very start of the gospel when Andrew and James were following him – What are you looking for?
The connection of the two events draws a sharp contrast between those two disciples who followed Jesus because they were seeking the Messiah, and were able to “SEE” that Jesus was the Messiah, and the Temple leaders (the Chief Priests and the Pharisees) who have been plotting to kill Jesus for the last 6 chapters of the Gospel, because they cannot “SEE” (are blind) who Jesus is, and what he came to reveal.
The point of the contrast the writer creates is to help us, the readers, see that we must seek Jesus with open minds and hearts, without presumptions, with eyes willing to see what he wants to reveal to us so we might live fuller, richer, more abundant lives, and make it possible of others to do the same. Andrew and James came seeking, and saw. The Chief Priests and Pharisees claimed they were waiting for the Messiah, but they could not see him because their hearts and minds were occupied with other things, and not open to receive The Messiah.
Each of us, at different times in our lives, stand where all those who encountered Jesus stood in the 1st Century. We hear Jesus’ words, but for us to ”SEE” what Jesus came to reveal, we must not allow our hearts and minds to be focused on other things – they must be open to receive him.
What are you looking for in your life this week? Happiness? Security? Or maybe relief from some stress, or pain, or struggle? The best way to find it, is to first look for Jesus, with an open heart and open mind. He is the way that leads to all you really need in life. He is the truth that sets you free from all that shackles, holds you back, and the things that imprison you. He is the life that God created you to live. And only He can help you “SEE” that.
Blessings and Peace,
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life. – John 8:12
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me
will never be hungry. – John 6:35