The Gospel of John gives us a beautiful glimpse into the mystery of the person of Jesus, his eternal origin and divine nature. This gospel differs from the other three gospels in the Bible (often referred to as the “Synoptic Gospels”) of Matthew, Mark and Luke in style, order, and content, both in what it contains, as well as what it doesn’t contain. It does not differ, however, in presenting Jesus as the Son of God, the crucified and exalted savior of hu-manity, through whose innocent self-giving death the power of sin, death, and the devil are destroyed.
Some interesting aspects of the Gospel of John:
• Length: Twenty-one chapters.
• Authorship: Popular tradition assigns the authorship of this gospel to John, son of Zebedee and brother of James, one of Jesus’ original twelve disciples.
• John’s gospel claims to be based on the testimony of someone referred to as “the beloved disciple” (21:23-24), who we meet several times throughout the text (chapters 13, 18, 19, 20, and 21).
• Date: John is believed to be the last of the four gospels, written some time at the end of the first century.
• John’s gospel begins with a hymnic prologue that presents Jesus as the pre-existent Word made flesh, and makes clear that Jesus was not simply with God, but that Jesus IS God. (John 1:1-18). John’s gospel therefore provides the foundation for the doctrine of incarnation, that, in the person of Jesus, God became human.
• It is only in John’s gospel that we find the stories of the wedding at Cana, Jesus’ conversations with Nicodemus and also the woman at the well, the raising of Lazarus, Jesus’ washing his disciples’ feet, and Jesus’ post resurrection appearance to his disciples by the shore of a lake as they were fishing.
• In John, there is no story of Jesus’ birth, no parables, no accounts of Jesus casting out demons, no account of the transfiguration, and no record of the Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist.
• Like Luke, John gives particular attention to women characters (Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman, Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, among others)
• There are several notable “I Am” sayings of Jesus which use symbolic imagery: Jesus says, “I Am…the bread of life” (6:35), “the light of the world” (8:12; 9:5), “the gate” (10:7,9), “the good shepherd” (10:11,14), “the resurrection and the life” (11:25), “the way the truth and the life” (14:6), “the vine” (15:1,5)
• In John, Jesus’ miracles are referred to as “signs” which serve to reinforce Jesus’ teaching and reveal Jesus’ glory.
• The Gospel of John states the purpose of its composition, that it was “written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name”.