The Gospel of John has been called the ‘universal gospel’. It is different from the synoptic gospels; Matthew, Mark and Luke are directed at different audience, each of the three traces Jesus’ public ministry more or less chronologically. Each tends to focus on Galilee, where most of Christ’s public ministry took place.
John’s gospel is significantly different; the very first few words bring us into the central mysteries of faith, as John challenges us to look back at the very beginning – and to find there a Jesus who exists not an the son of a carpenter in Nazareth but as God, distinct from and yet with and equal to God.
John selects seven miracles and uses these as the setting for reporting deeply who Jesus really is; John concentrates on events in Judea and he casts Jesus’ teachings in universal categories: light versus darkness, life versus death, truth versus falsehood, love versus hate, belief versus unbelief. John set down his most vivid memories to Christ to be both God and Man and he wrote “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31).
John reminds us that in Jesus Christ God not only revealed Himself to the Jews as their Messiah, to the Romans as their ideal Man of Action, and to the Greeks as the one Model of Humanity. In Jesus Christ God revealed Himself in His Son, as the one and only answer to the deepest, universal needs of a lost mankind.
We have covered John 1 to John 10 previously. We are now studying the second half of the gospel of John, beginning with Chapter 11.
It may be helpful to recapitulate: the gospel of John is distinct from the other three gospels (collectively known as the synoptic gospels). John wrote so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in His name (John 20:30,31).
Compared to the synoptic gospels, there are no narrative parables in John, no account of the transfiguration, no record of the institution of the Lord’s supper. John’s accounts of the miracle of the changing of the water into wine, the conversation with Nicodemus and His ministry in Samaria are not mentioned in the other three gospels. In fact, what is highlighted in chapter 11 on the raising of Lazarus from the dead is only found in the gospel of John.
John is customarily divided into two parts: chapters 1-10 and chapters 11-21. Part 1 describes Jesus as the Christ and the Son who has come from the Father in heaven to reveal His Father. Part 1 (chapters 1-10) is sometimes called the ‘book of signs’; here John deliberately selects a number of key ‘signs’ and ‘miracles’ to make clear who Jesus really is. Part 2 (chapters 11-21) focuses on the Son returning to His Father in heaven to open the way to His Father.