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Two signs – both pointing to a change of the old and the coming of the new. The first sign (miracle) of Jesus at Cana, is transformation of (ritual/purification) water into wine at a wedding celebration. Mary’s faith is the catalyst for Jesus first sign. We also start to see the tradition of Jesus challenging faith. Jesus is reluctant at first to do the miracle his mother seems to want because it starts him on the road to the cross. There are many levels of faith. Mary’s faith, bold, audacious – she doesn’t take no for an answer is an example for us.

The second sign Jesus cleanses the temple, reveals, zeal for his father’s house (he cannot bear God to be dishonored), and in the short section, 2: 23-25, Jesus knows what is in man, we see the foreshadowing of the old order of worship (rituals and legalism) being replaced with the new (faith in Jesus, honor for God) and a note about superficial faith. Superficial faith is sign (or signs) faith – it wants signs, miracles and even then is not satisfied, tends to fall off, have doubts, etc.

These words, “know” “believe” and “receive” all have very distinct and deep meanings in John and this is made clear in John chapter 1. All of the themes that John will discuss later are also presented here as a set of contrasts:

Light and darkness; Life and death; Truth and falsehood; Heaven above and earth below

Life, Light, Truth, are not merely abstractions; they are embodied in Jesus. Similarly, Jesus is not merely flesh but comes from heaven above, in his Father’s name. He is God.

Jesus followers are to

believe in his name 1: 12, 2: 23, 3: 18

receive life in his name 20:31

ask in his name 14: 13-14, 15: 16, 16:23 and

expect to suffer for his name 15:21

Know – (v. 9) enlighten (become enlightened by the light – step out of darkness), truth

Believe – (v. 12) allegiance – faith + obedience

Receive – eternal life – this is always in the present; we’re transformed, rejuvenated, refreshed by our allegiance to Jesus. We have this LIFE right now (we don’t have to wait until after we die!). John will flesh out for us in subsequent chapters what it means to have this sort of abundant, glorious, faith-filled LIFE in Jesus.

John begins lyrically, philosophically, most beautifully and here’s the Message version:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift…This endless knowing and understanding…all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.”

John’s chapters can be divided thus:

  • Prologue (The Word became flesh and revealed the Father) – 1:1-1:18

  • Book of Signs (Jesus reveals his glory to the world) – 1:19 – 12:50

  • Book of Glory (Jesus reveals the glory of his death and resurrection to this disciples) – 13: 1 – 20:31

  • Appendix (Epilogue) – 21:1 – 25

John is sometimes alos called the Gospel of Unbelief – because John goes to some lengths to show why many of the Jews did not believe in the divinity of Jesus. Thus, in John we see a lot of models of belief and unbelief in Jesus. John, more than any other gospel, shows how much God loved us and inspires us to a response to that love.

Hummingbird sipping nectar from a flower

Hummingbird sipping nectar from a flower

Welcome to our year long study of The Gospel of John. Read the IPCBibleStudyBooklet08-John, the Hummingbird Booklet, as we call it because of the Hummingbird image on its cover.  It has complete details of our study’s guiding principles and guidelines, syllabus, study goals; the spiritual disciplines we’re working on, and a short, informal how-to for lectio divina and exegesis, besides of course my references are also there. The blog posts here will summarize my lectures. Major study resources include:

1) The Bible – any version, although I recommend and will use the NRSV (for lectures) and ESV (for discussion)

2) John, The Way to True Life – a study guide of 26 lessons by Douglas Connolly published by InterVarsity Press. You can browse this guide online at Google Books –http://books.google.com/books?id=VsdCiuOgyFEC

3) The Gospel of John – a movie by the Visual Bible people using the Good News Bible translation word for word (no script). The movie’s website is here – http://www.gospelofjohnthefilm.com/.  You can also watch this entire movie in ten minute segments from youtube! Here’s the introduction: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMVej6QXwhk. Just look in the Related Videos section to see the other video clips from the movie.

For my lectures, I’ve been using Craig Keener’s 2-volume (2004) Commentary of John as my primary reference; the socio-historical coverage is excellent and the commentary recommended by D. A. Carson. I double-check with F.F. Bruce’s (1983) Commentary on The Gospel of John and R.V.G. Tasker’s (Tyndale) Commentary of The Gospel of John. Connolly uses Leon Morris’ guide (according to Carson, Keener replaces him) and so our reference and scholarship background is very well-balanced, thanks be to God and the Holy Spirit who is our guide and teacher.